“For always in thine eyes, O Liberty!
Shines that high light whereby the world is saved;
And though thou slay us, we will trust in thee.”
On Picket Duty.
The “Nationalist’s” reviewer says: “The individualist considers man as the unit of intelligent organized life, while the Socialist regards the large living organism, society, as the true unit.” How scientific! How philosophical and profound! Society is the unit of society! Or, better still, society is the unit of the individual! Is there anything in the world that the Nationalist writers may be credited with knowing or understanding?
How much the Nationalists know about Anarchism may be seen from the fact that Mr. J. H. Levy’s “Outcome of Individualism” is characterized in the “Nationalist” as “one of the most logical short treatises on the aims and desires of the so-called scientific Anarchism.” Mr. Levy, my readers will remember, favors compulsory taxation and land nationalization — things which only editors and reviewers of Nationalist papers can regard as compatible with consistent individualism, or Anarchism.
A writer in the “North American Review,” dealing with the police outrages in the city of New York, states that “the records of the Police Commissioners show that within a few years hundreds of complaints have been made by reputable citizens who have felt that their persons have been most shamefully abused by policemen.” We must remember that the average citizen has neither the opportunity nor the inclination to lodge complaint against police ruffians, and that only in exceptional cases are complaints made. This gives us an idea of the kind of protection we receive from the hands of the police.
When J. Armsden declares in “Free Life” that he dissents from my position and that he takes his stand upon the open market and the principle that the desires, feelings, and needs of men are a truer guide than the regulation of the same by others, he shows that he does not understand what my position is. Mr. Armsden has been writing some very excellent letters to “Free Life,” and with almost all that he says in them I am in thorough sympathy; but, as he is a reader of Liberty, I cannot excuse him for falling in with Mr. Herbert’s misconception of my views and then uniting with him in dissent therefrom.
The “Nationalist Educational Association” advertises and recommends, in its organ, a number of books dealing with industrial and economic subjects, presumably for purposes of propaganda. But think of my astonishment when I found in “The Nationalist Bookcase” such works as Bastiat’s “Sophisms of Protection” and Bonham’s “Industrial Liberty”! Do the Nationalists recommend these works? If so, it must be because they are ignorant of the positions of the authors and the contents of the books. If the Nationalists wish to prosper, they should discourage the study of such writers as Bastiat and Bonham, who really clear the ground for Anarchism.
Moses Harman has received official notification that he is to be tried in Judge Foster’s court on the charge of mailing the copy of “Lucifer” containing the O’Neill letter before his appeal now pending in the superior court can possibly be reached. Mr. Harman makes this announcement without any comment, saying that he prefers to let each reader draw his own conclusions as to the animus of the prosecution against him. For my part, I can find no words to express the anger, indignation, and disgust with which I am filled when I think of the villainous cowards and miserable hypocritical scoundrels who seem to be determined to crush the unpopular editor and honest man.
Ten persons were arrested and brought before a Baltimore justice on the charge of creating a disturbance at a meeting of revolutionists. The individual who addressed the meeting denied the existence of God and urged revolution and the abolition of private property. His opponents, very orthodox people, became excited and threatened to assault the speaker and his sympathizers. The justice, addressing the prisoners, said: “It is a pity that the police did not bring every person in that hall to this station. Without question that meeting was an unlawful assembly. You assembled there on the Sabbath to discuss the questions, ‘Is there a God?’ and the like, and Socialism, Anarchism, and so on. I regard any assembly to dispute the existence of God as unlawful, and particularly by a lot of unnaturalized foreigners who have no sympathy with our government. Those who believe in God had no right to go there. No one had a right to go there to discuss Socialism and Anarchism. It is unlawful to do so, and I shall do all in my power to punish such offenders brought before me. I do not propose to have a repetition of the Haymarket riot of Chicago, and the police department, too, will prevent such a riot. But you had no right to go to this meeting. By doing so you placed yourselves upon a level with the Anarchists, if you say you are not such, and, as you certainly aided in creating the disorder, I fine each one dollar and costs.” The list of immortal asses on the bench is getting long.
In an interview with a reporter of a New York daily, Col. Ingersoll, after an eloquent talk on Sunday observance, generously added the following remarks: “I take a great interest, too, in the working-women — particularly in the working-women. I think every working-man should see to it that every working-woman has a good time Sunday. I am no preacher. All I want is that everybody should enjoy himself in such a way that he will not, and does not, interfere with the enjoyment of others. It will not do to say that we cannot trust the people. Our government is based upon the idea that the people can be trusted, and those who say that the workingmen cannot be trusted do not believe in republican or democratic institutions. For one, I am perfectly willing to trust the working people of the country.” Had the warmhearted Colonel stopped here, no fault could be found either with his sentiments or with his style. But he did not stop here; and his next sentence makes an anti-climax that irresistibly provokes a smile at the expense of the impulsive but uncritical orator. “I do,” said he, “every day, trust the engineers on the cars and steamers. I trust the builders of houses. I trust all laboring men every day of my life, and if the laboring people of the country were not trustworthy,— if they were malicious or dishonest,— life would not be worth living.” Who, dear Colonel, does not similarly “trust all laboring men every day”? Who can avoid it? What can we do but trust them?
Some people are wondering why the editor of the “Arena,” who has been so hospitable to the Nationalists and governmentalists, has not yet found it possible or advisable to give the Individualists and Anarchistic Socialists a hearing. It certainly would be incorrect to say that he does not duly appreciate the importance and scientific weight of the sociological views of the reformers who follow the evolutionary philosophers instead of the sentimental theologians and philanthropic dreamers. His own political opinions, as vigorously and eloquently expressed in the following extract from an editorial note of his in the October “Arena,” are individualistic: which makes it all the more surprising that he has failed to give the radical antagonists of paternalism and regulation an opportunity to state their reasons for the faith that is in them on the pages of his catholic and progressive magazine. Dealing with the subject of the decline of reverence for law, Mr. B. O. Flower writes: “In former days liberty was accounted of the first importance and great reliance was placed on the inherent manhood and instinctive sense of right and justice that pervaded the masses. Few* laws, and those based strictly on universally accepted principles of justice, were deemed necessary, while the greatest possible toleration characterized the policy of the early statesmen who laid the broad foundation for this Republic. Since then a great change has taken place. The baleful miasma of European paternalism has insidiously permeated the atmosphere of liberty. The old ideals have long been vanishing. That healthy confidence in manhood that was such a strong characteristic of our people has in a great measure given place to the pernicious doctrine of governmental, State, or municipal protection and intervention. The reaction of late years has taken the form of a craze — for everything we must have a law. The people are incapable of self-government; they must be treated as children. They must be looked after by the State. Usually behind the pleasing front of the protective law stands an interested party. The glove of philanthropy generally conceals the hand of tyrannical monopoly or selfish avarice. In other cases lawmakers are anxious to make a name. They seize on every ill-considered suggestion advanced by the press or on the passing sentiment of the hour and promptly come forward with a bill to regulate this or that, quite reckless as to what it may injure or upon whose legitimate liberty it may infringe.” But why does Mr. Flower deplore the decline of reverence for law? He ought to welcome the fact as a healthy sign of a new tendency, as I do.
War on the Lawless “Think Retort.”
Those who have happened to be in the postal car on a hot day when an impure thought was in transit will agree with the writer that it ought to be stopped, especially during the crowded seasons, when the mails are already overtaxed with their burden of lottery business.
If I could have my way I would have appointed by the President a large committee of mind readers to have general supervision of the United States, and the moment any person was detected having an impure thought the committee should have power to hit him back of the ear with a club and take him before the cadi.
The time is surely coming when the now lawless think retort of the great thinking world will have to become subservient to the laws of the land. This will be general at that time. People who have surreptitiously thought damn for centuries will be brought up and exposed. It will astonish a good many, I think.
It will create a complete panic.
No one but the dignified and non-committal idiot will be safe.
Love and Sex.
It is a physiological truth that the sexual nature of individuals is the last to mature. It would seem that the same truth applies in sociology: ideas may be matured on other matters, but even advanced thinkers have very undeveloped ideas on the matter of sexual relations. Not long ago Grant Allen had an article on the marriage question, in which he spoke somewhat depreciatingly of those “advanced women who are above sex,” and declared for the women who had the healthy desire to be mothers. Of one thing he was sure,— that the perpetuation of the race positively required that there should be mothers; — of the necessity of wives he jauntily remarked that it was of little or no importance. A correspondent took exception to the seemingly lax morality of the article, and the editor of the “Popular Science Monthly” pacified his correspondent and belittled himself by endeavoring to shield Grant Allen from the plain inference of his words, saying that, as the article was a scientific one, only a scientific and not a moral interpretation should be given to his meaning.
But the marriage and population questions are up to be settled. It is impossible to talk of population without talking of marriage, or to talk of marriage and not bring in sex relations. There is no half-way house or logical resting place between Catholicism and Atheism, fir between despotism and Anarchy; neither is there any resting place between bond or slave love and free love; and whoever undertakes to discuss the question has sooner or later to strike this rock. Two esteemed radicals, Mr. Pentecost and Mr. Alfred Russell Wallace, have recently been driven in this direction, and both have endeavored to evade the necessary consequence, one from a sentimental, the other from a scientific standpoint; but they both closely agree in the end, Mr. Pentecost’s sentiment and Mr. Wallace’s science merging in a common conclusion.
It seems that Grant Allen has been at it again. He has lately written an article in which he says that girls should be taught that it is the duty of healthy and intelligent women to become mothers, and recommends them to choose as temporary husbands the finest, healthiest, and most intellectual men. This Mr. Wallace denounces as detestable and so revolting to his moral nature that he enters into no argument against it, but simply asserts that it would “impair family life and parental affection, and increase pure sensualism”; and so he endeavors to steer between the ideas of a writer in the “Arena” who would institute a degrading despotism of State control that would relegate women to the function of reproductive machines, and the ideas of free love asset forth by Grant Allen. He believes in permanent monogamic marriage, and quotes Miss Chapman, who argues that nature, instinct, history, science, and experience prove “that marriages turn out well or ill in proportion as husband and wife are loyal, sinking differences and even grievances for the sake of children and for the sake of example.”
That free love would impair family life,— “as generally understood,” — is true, though why it should destroy parental affection and increase “pure sensualism” is not so plain. The parents, being intellectual and healthy, self-contained and self-respecting individuals, are not likely to call out less intelligent love in their offspring, and are themselves less likely to be the victims of unrestrained feeling. As to Miss Chapman’s argument that experience shows that loyal couples are most worthy, experience has also shown, as Mona Caird puts it, that “the result of such marriages is that husband and wife become mere echoes, half-creatures, useless to the world, because they have run into a groove and let individuality die. There are few things more stolidly irritating than a ‘very united couple.’”
However, Mr. Wallace sees that there are many industrial changes to be brought about before society will be able to entertain intelligent ideas on the marriage question, and so he proposes the cleansing of the Augean stables of our existing social organization and the realization of some sort of; society (like Bellamyism) where the education of both sexes would not be complete till twenty-one. People would be taught the duty of late marriages, and the duty would be enforced by public opinion; the young women would be trained to look with scorn and loathing on all bad men, and be taught that the happiness of their whole lives depends on the care! and deliberation with which they choose their husbands; and they would be urged to accept no suitor until he has proved himself worthy. As the society he contemplates renders women absolutely independent and gives them all the pleasures of society with all the refinements of education and culture, he says it is not probable that women will marry till twenty-five or thirty. But this is all supposition. Women are taught precisely this morality now, and are instructed that the highest virtue consists in making a good match, and are taught that the happiness of their whole lives depends more on property than love. Furthermore, why women who would enjoy all the advantages of high life and ease and culture and the luxury of independence should be less amative than now is not quite clear. This point brings Mr. Wallace to the scientific side of the question, and he takes as proven Spencer’s theory of individuation and genesis.
Before considering this subject let us go back to Mr. Pentecost, who does not believe in free love,— that is, in free love based on sex. As there is no other love in dispute, it would be useless to refer to any other. There is no statute or social custom that limits any other love relation: a man or woman can be promiscuous in any other love relation, and so far from being ostracised, will gain credit and renown. A woman may lavish all her sentiment on great men and poets or stupid priests or heathens, so long as she draws the line at sex love; and a woman who loves all humanity or devotes herself to increasing the comforts of the sick or reforming her “fallen brothers,” individually or collectively, is generally considered a “good” woman, and her self-sacrificing qualities are set forth in dramas and novels as virtues; but if she oversteps the forbidden sex line, her virtues are forgotten and her vice is made the lesson. If Mr. Pentecost would not have love based on sex, on what would he base it? Age, weight, color, opinions, or what? The reason why present relationships result so often in misery and failure is not because they are based on sex, but because they are also based on an element that would wreck any other union that men or women can enter into, i. e., the element of Communism. Marriage, whether legal or free, that involves the idea of “duty” as generally understood, and eliminates individuality, is bound to result in failure.
Ibsen is the true prophet, not Tolstoi. Mona Caird’s articles and novel show far clearer scientific spirit than Tolstoi and his followers. As to Mr. Pentecost’s remark that the sexual passion is something of which “all but beasts are ashamed,” he goes back with Tolstoi to the ignorant and degraded Christians who believed that through woman’s charms sin and damnation entered the world. St. Paul and the Christian fathers looked upon the sex relation as an unclean thing. Tertullian said that woman ought always to feel repentant, seeing that she has been the destruction of the race, and he calls her the gate of hell. Origen said that marriage was an unholy and unclean thing and a means of sexual lust, and made a eunuch of himself,— which, by the way, does not destroy the desire. And Augustine said that celibates will shine in heaven like dazzling stars, while the parents who begot them will resemble stars without light. Not only in this matter did the “pure and holy” early Christians despise carnal and fleshly pleasures, but in many others. The uncleanly saint who starved his sex nature for the glory of God also neglected all hygienic measures. To have enjoyed the carnal luxury of a Turkish bath would have been as sinful as to have enjoyed a woman. Physical pleasure was tabooed: music, dancing, tasteful food, or bodily ease. To mortify the flesh was moral, and to contemplate the divine, “live out of themselves” in a realm of fantasy and insanity, was the highest height of spiritual perfection, though their bodies were foul and diseased. But why be ashamed of one function more than another, or one faculty more than another? Does Mr. Pentecost take Comstock as his patron saint in preference to Walt Whitman? Is a beautiful living body more objectionable than a beautiful bit of sculpture? Is he ashamed of the necessary functions of organs for maintaining life as well as of the reproductive organs, and does he eat and drink in shame and in the dark? Is he ashamed to sweat, or to know that his liver secretes bile, and is it obscene to kiss and to feel the warm sweet breath of one he loves? Why call one attribute higher than another? A man may be a great mathematician and a bore; a great physiologist and a brute; a great orator and a beast. He may have a passion for music and painting or poetry and be very illogical. To be an Apollo and nothing more; or a musician and nothing more; or a logician or mathematician and nothing more, is to be but a one-sided, badly developed individual. To be a great thinker with a large frame and a powerful digestion and a beautiful form is to come nearer being a perfect man than to be a weakling and a dyspeptic. There is nothing sublime in dyspepsia, nor anything low in robustness. Goethe was an Apollo; would he have been a greater poet if he had been decrepit like Pope? Of course, exaggeration or perversion of any faculty or appetite is unwise and unhealthy, and therefore bad. But who is to determine the limit? The small eater, the! weakling? Certainly not. Then why should Comstock and his kind decide where the line should be drawn as to amativeness and as to what are the higher and lower faculties? A perfectly rounded-out man is equal in all his attributes; and he only “lowers” himself when he injures his health; and wrongs others only when he invades their equal liberty to live out their life.
But here Mr. Pentecost falls back on science and says that as the brain increases the sex nature grows less. And here he joins with Mr. Wallace, who cites Mr. Spencer’s theory as if it were proved. Grant Allen has shown that to keep the population stationary it is needful that every pair of human beings should produce four individuals. Mr. Spencer’s perfect equilibrium will be arrived at when such a condition will be the natural and normal state. Mr. Spencer says that we shall first have to attend to the due peopling of the globe and the raising of all its habitable parts into the highest state of culture; bring all processes for the satisfaction of human wants to perfection, and develop the intellect into complete competency for its work and the feelings into complete fitness for social life. But there are many incalculable elements to be allowed for. Says Mr. Spencer: “Supposing the sun’s light and heat, on which all terrestrial life depends, to continue abundant for a period long enough to allow the entire evolution we are contemplating, there are still certain slow astronomic and geologic changes which most prevent such complete adjustment of human nature to surrounding conditions as would permit the rate of multiplication to fall so low.”
So, supposing the theory to be true in the long run, it has no practical value as a guide to present generations. But I maintain the theory is not true. It is mainly made up of conclusions drawn from analogies. The only direct inferences are like those made by Mr. Wallace, that it is a “common observation that intellectual people do not as a rule have large families” and that many geniuses have died celibate or childless. It is also observed that intellectual people suffer from neurasthenia and chest troubles. To base a theory on such slim facts is weak; first, the facts prove nothing in particular; factory women and puritans are often observed to be sterile. But I doubt the facts. It is “commonly observed” for the reason that highly intellectual people are more conspicuous than ordinary people, and when the fact is true it is noted because it is peculiar. Reference to a biographical dictionary would throw light on this matter and be more reliable than common observations. But supposing it true, it does not follow that they are less fertile,— it proves only that they have less children. French people generally have less children than Germans, and Americans less than the English, but it does not follow that their sexual nature is weaker. Some moralists are sorely troubled over the fact that geniuses are commonly observed to be immoral, and are asking why the sins of geniuses should be condoned more than the sins of everyday people.
There is an immense amount of hypocrisy in dealing with this subject. An English statistician has been compiling figures to show that the “better classes” marry less and later than the worst classes, and the implication is — or the figures mean nothing — that the lower classes are more carnal than their saintly superiors. No one, so far as I know, has publicly put the true interpretation on these facts, which is that the “better classes” are pecuniarily better able to resort to “better class” prostitution. A syndicate article that has run through many large Sunday papers has recorded investigations as to bachelors of the better classes — those who belong to clubs and keep snug little suites and valets — and has discovered why men don’t marry. It goes into every petty detail as to their furniture, their habits of eating and dressing, how they spend their time, their amusements, and some of their vices, and the conclusion arrived at is that they lead such a jolly, free life that they do not care to restrict their pleasures by having such an expensive bit of property as a “better class” wife. The idea is carried through that these men are chaste, whereas there is not a reader, nor the writer either, who does not know that as a rule prostitution is the substitute for marriage; or rather as things are among this class, one form of prostitution has supplanted another.
Then again we are told that women who use their brains, college graduates, etc., are generally sterile. As in the case of highly intellectual men, it is also commonly observed that these women are knock-kneed and flat-chested. There is a theory — a satire, I believe — that the coming man will be hairless and toothless and cold-footed; but as this theory depends upon the mothers being as intellectual as the fathers and as it is asserted that the brain-working women are generally sterile, this theory would seem also to be sterile. Possibly it may be true that the flat-chested college women are generally sterile,— which is not the same thing as lacking sexual feeling,— but is it a necessity that they should forever remain physically inferior? Physiologists have shown why the average woman is weak and muscle-bound and short-winded; but all this is being changed. With woman’s entrance into colleges has come her development in the gymnasiums attached, and recently, at Harvard, Dr. Sargent made a fine showing of what can be done for women in this line. After a time there will be no reason why a female graduate shall be less athletic than the male graduate or why she shall not compete in throwing handsprings, swinging Indian clubs, sprinting, and doing other feats of nerve and strength. When the weak class of graduates is supplanted by the robust, healthy class, is there any analogy to show that her sex nature will decline? Nobody will pretend that the male graduate is anywhere near chaste as a rule.
Again, the eliminating of the sex nature is not necessarily dependent upon intellect.
“In the time of St. Cyprian, before the Decian persecution it had been common to find clergy professing celibacy, but keeping, under various pretexts, their mistresses in their houses; and after Constantine the complaints on this subject became loud and general. Virgins and monks often lived together in the same house, and with a carious audacity of hypocrisy, which is very frequently noticed, they professed to have so overcome the passions of their nature that they shared in chastity the same bed.” (Lecky, History of European Morals.)
It will be noticed that Lecky throws scornful doubt on the truth of this conduct, though, if the intellect vs. sex theory is true, the facts of his own nature should have helped him to believe it.
Human nature is substantially the same in all civilised communities, at all times and places: different social institutions and environments may warp and give more or less play, but the nature of Greeks and Romans was little different from that of modern French, Americans, etc. Diogenes or Socrates, Cleopatra, Aspasia, Hypatia, and Theodora were pretty much the same sort of men and women, at bottom, as Carlyle and Schopenhauer, George Eliot and Sarah Bernhardt, or Emerson. The differences between Rameses I. and Abraham, or Mahomet and Brigham Young, or St. Augustine and Cardinal Newman, are differences of time and age, and not differences in nature, or physiological differences.
But while human nature will remain the same, institutions and creeds and ideas will change and grow, and the sex impulses will have freer scope, and the result — as in all other matters where freedom has prevailed — will be greater happiness. This is the peculiarity of the modern progressive spirit,— that it claims freedom in all things, and the individual is becoming more and more individualised. Never was the spirit of liberty so dominant as now — whatever may be said of its realization. History records no age when the idea of liberty was so broad, or when there was such a spirit for disintegrating institutions and customs. Never, before the present age, was the idea of free love conceived as being possible and desirable,— i. e. free all round, free for all: no castes, no classes, and no exceptions. So there is no evading the issue now. It is the old question of freedom against restraint, fought out in new fields. And the freedom means real freedom, freedom from spooks as well as “institutions.”
As for the consequences of this freedom, Mr. Pentecost and others need not fear. Intellect will not eliminate amativeness, but it will regulate and control and adapt the passion to newer conditions. Pleasurable feelings are more intense now than formerly; “worldly” joys are more varied and refined, and there is a greater desire to eat, drink, and be merry in proportion as the idea prevails that this life is our first, last, and only chance. But there is less coarseness and brutality, and a more artistic taste in all our enjoyments. There is a wide difference between the iron-fisted gladiator of Rome and John Sullivan of Boston, and in all our sports and pastimes more skill and less barbarity is in demand — though the nature of the sports be the same. So, in our sex relations, freedom will develop more refined natures and more considerate feelings. The barbarisms of marriage, involving the idea of chattel property in the wife; the indecencies of prostitution, the concomitant of marriage; the vulgar depravity of divorce courts and breach of promise cases, and the shootings and crimes committed by “outraged” husbands, will all be looked upon, in an age of freedom, as we moderns look upon wife-sellings, wife-beatings, etc., of the not very remote past. The average American woman with her idea of freedom is far from anything ideal, but as she is, she has too much sense of her own individuality to tolerate anything like sinking her personality, totally and unconditionally, in the family or the State, as did the Roman matron. Freedom will work many changes, but it will never eliminate the sexual feeling — even to the extent of only half a dozen desires in a lifetime. Nor is it reasonable to suppose that desire will follow reason and a purpose only — the purpose of procreation. This is simple, sentimental teleology, that can find no support in biology. In order that such a new variety of human beings may grow up, free play must be given to natural selection — as in the case of the brutes. Scientific knowledge may teach man how to modify consequences and how to adapt himself to new environment,— but science can not teach him how to change “himself.” A. H. Simpson.
[Walter F. Wells in The New Ideal.]
Although the “Nationalistic method” is to extend the functions of government to the inclusion of all industries, it is claimed by its advocates that the relations of individuals to this government will be purely voluntary, and that the government will never be felt. If it is true that this “government theory” can ever be realized without force,— be purely voluntary, and one in which the government will never be felt,— it must also be true that its individual units will have attained to such a degree of perfection as to render government by physical force unnecessary. In this case, by falling into disuse, such government will cease to exist. Consequently, such a voluntary coöperation as this of perfect individuals, whose freedom were limited only by a like freedom for all, would be a fulfilment of the highest dream of Individualism.
An application, however, of this “government theory” with force — and only with force under our present semi-civilized state of society could it be applied — would produce all the evils which are inevitable under Militant Socialism, and would hasten what is termed “The Coming Slavery.”
Nationalism, then, means coöperation — but one of two kinds: if voluntary, it means coöperation under Individualism; if compulsory, it means Militant Socialism.
Yet in seeking the ideal of the former, Nationalism adopts the method of the latter. This method is based upon the idea that the great economy in production under Nationalism — giving men so much leisure — will so far hasten development that force will soon become unnecessary. But are we sure that development is best attained in that way? Is there not truth in the saying that “men will always be as lazy as they dare to be”? The same law that made the Orient, with its luxuriant means of subsistence, produce a race inferior to that produced by the more rigid conditions of Europe — though the races are of common origin — seems ever active. Men need a vigorous and healthful exercise of all their faculties in order to attain complete manhood.
In pointing out the evils of our present social condition, and in showing the advantages of coöperation, Nationalism is doing good work. But when, in seeking “voluntary coöperation,” its advocates put their trust in political agencies and recommend governmental interference, do they not then evince more sentiment than real knowledge of “first principles”? For it must be remembered that government of man by man implies coercion, that coercion begets hatred, and that hatred begets crime.
Individualism, like Nationalism, recognizes the importance of environment in developing man; and it also seeks to improve this environment. In considering the method by which to accomplish this, we are brought to the principal difference — nay, the only difference — between Nationalism and Individualism.
The method of Individualism is, 1.) to hold high its ideal,— “the perfect freedom for the perfect man,” — knowing that each is thus doing his part towards moulding that power which is mightier than the sword, and before which thrones will crumble to dust — the power of public opinion. And again, 2.) Individualists are ever mindful that the trend of progress should be toward, and not away from their goal. They insist that men, when shown the advantage of coöperation, will voluntarily seek such advantage.
Are there any who think that coöperation, or mutual dependence, is a new phase in Individualism — perchance forced upon it by the Nationalistic movement? or who think that the principle of the “brotherhood of man” is wanting in its philosophy? If there are, and if we consider Herbert Spencer competent to speak for Individualism, we may note what he said upon the subject as far back as 1850: “How truly, indeed, human progress is toward greater mutual dependence, as well as toward greater individuation — how truly the welfare of each is daily more involved in the welfare of all — and how truly, therefore, it is the interest of each to respect the interest of all, may with advantage be illustrated at length; for it is a fact of which many seem wofully ignorant.” And again: “No one can be perfectly free till all are free; no one can be perfectly moral till all are moral; no one can be perfectly happy till all are happy.” Certainly no clearer statement of Individualism need be given; yet its opponents persist in representing it as an unsympathetic condition — one in which the interest of each is a perpetual conflict with the interests of all. They forget that they are portraying a condition (which now exists) in which the action of the individual is hampered by a vast network of hindrances by this very government whose powers they seek to augment. The competition they denounce is one in which labor — rendered helpless by being denied natural opportunities — is hopelessly competing against capital which, combined with government, is enthroned upon the monopoly of the vacant land, the money, and the commerce. When, conversely, we portray the individual with his fetters broken,— with free land, free money, and free trade,— we find that his interest and the interest of all are inseparable. For, manifestly, each, as a producer, is benefited by the greater consuming ability of all; and each, as a consumer, is benefited by the greater producing ability of all.
It may, however, be urged that though we have outgrown the militant regime of the past, we are not fully fitted to the industrial regime of the future, and there must yet needs be some coercion. Granting this, still he who thoroughly believes in coercion needs it most; while he who needs it least can scarcely see its need. Could absolute honesty of opinion be established, the amount of coercion and the need of it would balance. The harmony thus gained must ultimately produce the highest ideal of Nationalism, and at the same time the highest ideal of Individualism.
Beauties of Government.
[Clippings from the Press.]
Denver, Col., Sept. 25. A special to the Republican from Lamar, Col., says:
Word has been received of serious trouble between the towns of Boston and Springfield, in Baca county. Since Baca county was made from Los Animas county by the last General Assembly, there has been strife between these two towns as to which should have the seat.
The act organizing the county provided that Springfield should be the county seat, and, at the election held last fall, it is alleged, by the manipulation of the ballots, it was made the permanent county seat. The only available building for a county court house was a hotel building in Boston. A few weeks ago this was sold at a sheriff’s sale, and was bought by Springfield people.
Saturday night a party left Springfield for Boston with machinery costing $1000, intending to move the building to the former town for use as a court house, and thus prevent the county-seat issue being raised again this fall. Rollers were put under the building, which is the finest in the county, and three stories high, and twenty teams were hitched to it. Inside the house were stationed 12 men with Winchester rifles. The building was moved about five miles toward Springfield, which is about 25 miles from Boston, when the people of the latter place discovered the trick, and immediately organized. All available horses and rifles were brought into requisition, and pursuit was made.
Upon overtaking the Springfield party they commanded a halt, which was answered by a volley of shots from the men in the building. The Boston crowd then fired, and a fierce battle raged, which ended in the Springfield contingent being driven from the building. Coal oil was then procured, and the building was set on fire and entirely consumed.
Great excitement prevails, but, owing to the isolation of the towns,— Springfield being over fifty miles from Lamar, which is the nearest railroad station,— news is hard to obtain. Several persons arrived here from Springfield last night and departed hurriedly, after buying all the cartridges they could find in town. It is reported that several parties were seriously wounded and two killed during the fight, but the news is not authentic.
Guthrie, Ok., Oct. 2, 1890. This was a day of extreme excitement in the Legislature, the occasion being the consideration of the bill for the permanent location of the territorial capitol.
The lower house yesterday passed the bill locating the capitol at Oklahoma City. Before action had been taken on the bill in the upper house, a motion in the lower house to reconsider the action of yesterday was adopted. The friends of the measure, however, prevailed upon Speaker Daniels to sign the bill after the vote on reconsideration, and Representative Perry quietly took the bill and started for the chamber of the upper house to obtain the signature of the presiding officer of that body.
The enemies of the measure observed the move, and the legislative body became a howling mob. The spectators joined the members on the floor, and an attack was made upon Speaker Daniels. It was demanded that he see to it that the bill be returned to the clerk. Daniels referred the crowd to Perry, who was just about to escape from the hall, and who, in the meantime, had handed the bill to Representative Nesbitt.
Perry ran into the street, with the mob at his heels. He was caught. Some one cried, “Hang him!” The cry was taken up and became general. The crowd was in earnest
Perry begged for mercy and turned his pockets inside out. “Nesbitt has the bill,” he cried. Nesbitt was in the crowd, and a rush was made for him. He kept ahead of the mob for four blocks; then his strength failed him and he surrendered. He was marched back to Representative Hall, where he was compelled to deposit the bill on the clerk’s desk.
Speaker Daniels took the bill and, accompanied by W. C. Thompson of the News as a witness, repaired to the Governor’s mansion, where, in the presence of the Governor, he erased his name, saying: “I signed this bill under misapprehension.”
In the meantime Captain Cavenaugh and United States Marshal Grimes appeared in Representative Hall and calmed the excited crowd, which still demanded the punishment of Perry and Nesbitt.
Great excitement prevails tonight.
Guthrie, O. T., Oct. 3. The excitement over the capitol location, which reached its climax yesterday, continued today. After the demonstration against Messrs. Daniels, Perry, and Nesbitt last evening had subsided, S. R. Mitchell, city attorney of Oklahoma City, who chanced to be in town, sent this telegram to one of his friends at home:
“Your representatives were mobbed on the street today. Send 100 armed men.”
The armed men arrived on the first train this morning and were among the first to secure seats of advantage in the hall of the lower House before the body met in its regular session.
Fully twice as many friends of the Guthrie measure, equally strongly armed, were also present.
Their presence caused intense feeling and it would have taken but the slightest outbreak to have caused serious trouble.
Speaker Daniels was too ill, suffering from nervous exhaustion caused by the exciting scene of which he was the centre yesterday, to preside over the session.
As soon as the House was called to order, Representative Terrill introduced a resolution calling attention to the presence of armed men in the chamber, declaring their presence to be undesirable and directing the sergeant-at-arms to eject all spectators, newspaper men excepted.
The resolution was voted down, 20 to 50.
Considering the probability of a repetition of yesterday’s riotous scenes it was deemed advisable to postpone until tomorrow further action on the capital question.
Speaker Daniels has framed a resolution which will be introduced tomorrow, providing for the recall of the Oklahoma City bill from the Senate. When this resolution is presented a lively time is expected. The Oklahoma City force is still here, and its motto is: “Fair Play for Oklahoma City.”
The Guthrie force is determined that its city shall also have fair play, and unless both agree as to what constitutes fair play, trouble will doubtless ensue.
“In abolishing rent and interest, the last vestiges of old-time slavery, the Revolution abolishes at one stroke the sword of the executioner, the seal of the magistrate, the club of the policeman, the gunge of the exciseman, the erasing-knife of the department clerk, all those insignia of Politics, which young Liberty grinds beneath her heel.” — Proudhon.
The appearance in the editorial column of articles over other signatures than the editor’s initial indicates that the editor approves their central purpose and general tenor, though he does not hold himself responsible for every phrase or word. But the appearance in other parts of the paper of articles by the same or other writers by no means indicates that he disapproves them in any respect, such disposition of them being governed largely by motives of convenience.
An Unwarranted Question.
Auberon Herbert, in his paper, “Free Life,” asks me how I “justify a campaign against the right of men to lend and to borrow.” I answer that I do not justify such a campaign, have never attempted to justify such a campaign, do not advocate such a campaign, in fact am ardently opposed to such a campaign. In turn, I ask Mr. Herbert how he justifies his apparent attribution to me of a wish to see such a campaign instituted.
It is true that I expect lending and borrowing to disappear, but not by any denial of the right to lend and borrow. On the contrary, I expect them to disappear by virtue of the affirmation and exercise of a right that is now denied,— namely, the right to use one’s own credit, or to exchange it freely for another’s, in such a way that one or the other of these credits may perform the function of a circulating medium, without the payment of any tax for the privilege. It has been repeatedly demonstrated in these columns that the exercise of such a right would accomplish the gradual extinction of interest without the aid of force, and the nature of this economic process has been described over and over again. This demonstration Mr. Herbert steadily ignores, and the position itself he never meets save by a sweeping denial, or by characterizing it as un philosophical, or by substituting for it a man of straw of his own creation and then knocking it down.
The Anarchists assert that interest, however it may have originated, exists today only by virtue of the legal monopoly of the use of credit for currency purposes, and they trace the process, step by step, by which an abolition of that monopoly would gradually reduce interest to zero. Mr. Herbert never stops to analyze this process that he may find the weak spot in it and point it out; he simply declares that interest, instead of resting on monopoly, is the natural, inevitable outcome of human convenience and the open market, and then wants to know how the Anarchists justify their attempt to abolish interest by force.
It is as if Mr. Herbert were to maintain (as I suppose he does maintain) that freedom in the domestic relation would, gradually lessen and perhaps abolish licentiousness, and I were to answer him thus: “Oh, no, Mr. Herbert, you are unphilosophical; prostitution does not rest on the compulsory marriage system, but is the natural, inevitable outcome of human convenience and desire; how do you justify, I should like to know, a campaign against the right of men and women to traffic in the gratifications of the flesh?” In such a case Mr. Herbert. I imagine, would say that I had studied his teaching very carelessly. And that is what I am forced to say of him, much against my will.
If it be true that interest will exist in the absence of monopoly, then there is some flaw in the reasoning by which the Anarchists argue from the abolition of monopoly to the disappearance of interest, and it is incumbent upon Mr. Herbert to point this flaw out, or else admit his own error. It is almost incredible that an argument so often reiterated can have escaped the attention of so old a reader of Liberty as Mr. Herbert, but, lest he should plead this excuse, I will state that it is most elaborately and conclusively set forth in the pamphlet, “Mutual Banking,” by Col. Wm. B. Greene. If, after mastering the position, he thinks he can overthrow it, I shall be glad to meet him on that issue.
Meanwhile, before parting with him for today, I venture to remind him that our controversy on the land question is still unfinished and that the floor belongs to him. T.
Anarchism and Scientific Reform.
According to Mr. Daniel G. Thompson, who may be considered a representative of the modern evolutionary school and the scientific sociologists, the scientific method of promoting reform, the only way of perfecting civilization, is that which “allows the individual to have his own will in the most complete liberty” and which at the same time “aims so to mould his character that his wishes and desires shall coincide exactly with the demands of social welfare.” The two complementary precepts which theoretical science furnishes to practical reforms are: “To keep limiting the sphere and diminishing the functions of government, reducing both as fast and as far as is consistent with security; and to foster in every conceivable way the formation and maintenance of the altruistic character in individuals.”
Now this is a tolerably correct statement of the Anarchistic method of reform. I am glad to find so close an agreement between us and the philosophical sociologists, and I wish to emphasize the fact that the Anarchists are the only practical reformers who work in obedience to scientific social laws and principles. But one question remains: How are these precepts to be carried out and realized? Touching the first, it is sufficiently obvious that the only efficacious and proper way of diminishing the functions of government is to persuade the people that their advantage lies in that direction. If liberty is better than compulsory regulation, then all that is needful, and indeed possible, is to disseminate widely the knowledge of the facts and considerations conveying that lesson. But how to foster the formation and maintenance of the altruistic character, is not so clear. It is desirable that people should know and follow their interests in the sense in which they are coincident and identical with the interests of others; it is granted that the happiness of each would be increased, rather than lessened, by what is called altruistic conduct. But nobody will pretend that under present industrial and social conditions, where there is so much to divide men and so little to unite them, altruistic conduct meets with any encouragement or reward. Neither the victims nor the victors of our industrial warfare are disposed to listen to theoretical lessons in altruistic morality, the practical lessons of their daily necessities being decidedly unfavorable to that higher view. It is therefore in vain that Mr. Thompson reminds us of the necessity of promoting liberalism and humanitarianism; all who have attempted such work are ready to testify to the sterility and uselessness of such efforts.
John Stuart Mill furnishes a better statement of the problem with which we are dealing. He writes:
To do as you would be done by, and to love your neighbor as yourself, constitute the ideal perfection of utilitarian morality. As the means of making the nearest approach to this ideal, utility would enjoin, first, that laws and social arrangements should place the happiness or (as, speaking practically, it may be called) the interest of every individual as nearly as possible in harmony with the interest of the whole; and, secondly, that education and opinion, which have so vast a power over human character, should so use that power as to establish in the mind of every individual an indissoluble association between his own happiness and the good of the whole,— especially between his own happiness and the practice of such modes of conduct, negative and positive, as regard for the universal happiness prescribes,— be that not only he may be unable to conceive the possibility of happiness to himself consistently with conduct opposed to the general good, but also that a direct impulse to promote the general good may be in every individual one of the habitual motives of action, and the sentiments connected therewith may fill a large and prominent place in every human being’s sentient existence.
There is reason to think that, in saying that the law should place the happiness or the interest of every individual as nearly as possible in harmony with the interest of the whole, Mill implied something different than the demand for equal liberty and equal opportunity, which the Anarchists, and individualists represented by Mr. Thompson, make. Mill was not altogether opposed to government regulation of industry and commerce, while we are, thinking as we do that men’s interests cannot be made identical by any positive regulation and intervention on the part of government. But what concerns us here is the fact that Mill laid stress on the urgency of securing harmony between men’s material interests as a condition of ethical progress. This is what, in effect, Mill inculcates: “Do you wish to improve social relations, to reform prevailing maladjustments? Make men’s interests harmonious and coincident, and dwell on the higher advantages of mutualism and just dealing.”
Now what the Anarchists say is this: Let us have complete industrial liberty; let government cease to interfere in matters of finance, trade, commerce, and production. Such liberty would bring us as near to the point of identity of interests as it is possible for us ever to attain. And then let culture and education do all that may be done to eliminate the remaining elements of compulsory government and elevate men so that they will neither command nor obey,— in a word, be free.
The only objection I anticipate from the individualists to such a statement of Anarchism is that society never will reach that stage of development where all governmental compulsion becomes superfluous and impossible, and that, consequently, a certain amount of direct compulsion will always be found necessary in dealing with invasive individuals. Mr. Thompson distinctly says: “While governmental control is necessary to some extent, no doubt, the needs of a higher civilization demand its continual limitation within narrower bounds and its reduction to a minimum.” And Mr. Thompson agrees with the Spencerians that there can be no objections against a government which really restricts itself to the function of protecting life and property and liberty.
But it would be a mistake to imagine that Anarchists protest against this “minimum of government” favored by the individualist, and insist on the entire abolition of government, solely because of their belief that society will reach that ideal condition and will live under perfectly Anarchistic conditions. Were this the case, the present Anarchistic movement might reasonably be ignored by practical individualists as a sentimental and utopian affair. For surely it would be folly to waste time on the discussion of such an idle question as the ultimate possibilities of humanity. Whether the possibility of reaching a state of perfection and absolute adaptation is granted or not the certainty that the elimination of the last vestige of compulsory government is not to be thought of now, would justify level-headed reformers in pursuing their useful practical plan of limiting government without the least concern about the trivial complaints of idealists and extremists.
It is important, therefore, alike for reasoning friend and opponent, to understand that we Anarchists regard our improvements upon the platform of the more popular individualists as improvements, real and vital; and that we claim not merely theoretical soundness, but practical superiority. We ask the individualists and the scientific sociologists represented by men like Mr. Thompson to accept the principle of voluntary taxation and to be consistent and logical enough to pronounce in favor of competitive protection. Compulsory taxation, even for the purpose of defending liberty and property, cannot be justified theoretically, if the principle is once admitted that force should be exercised against force only. Those who decline to support a government instituted for purely protective purposes cannot be said to invade the rights of their fellow-men. If they choose to run risks, it is their affair. People who decline to enforce the virtue of temperance cannot, without stultifying themselves, claim that it is right and proper to compel others to take certain precautions to preserve their own possessions. We charge that individualists flagrantly and blunderingly violate their own basic doctrine when they refuse to endorse the Anarchistic demand for voluntary taxation and competitive protection. We insist that voluntary taxation is practicable among people very far from perfect, and that it is essential to emphasize here and now the right of the non-invasive individual to ignore the reorganized and improved State. It is sufficient for us to recognize that there are now in our midst very many individuals who would never willingly aggress or invade or tyrannize, and there is no reason why these (who may be very imperfect when judged from a higher standard than the readiness to do simple justice) should not be left free to protect themselves as they deem best. We may be, and doubtless are, imperfect enough to need some kind of protection against anti-social people; but we ought to possess sufficient intelligence and sufficient regard for elementary equity to appreciate the absurdity of the act of taxing and punishing non-invasive and just individuals.
Touching the practical aspect of the matter, it seems to me that both our general conceptions of human nature and our numerous daily experiences abundantly establish the fact that inefficiency, slackness, and dishonesty are inseparable from monopoly, and that only the wholesome fear of competition can secure proper and prompt discharge of obligations. If we desire protection, we must abolish official monopoly. We are convinced that the facts do not support the assumption that government based on compulsory taxation would cease to be tyrannical and become pure and competent if it were entrusted with no function save that of administering justice. Therefore, while ready and eager to help the individualists in their efforts to restrict and limit governmental authority, we do not propose to stop where they stop, since we can discover no valid objection against continuing the war upon compulsion in the name of liberty and justice and eliminating the element of tyranny from social organization altogether. V. Y.
Nationalism: Two Views.
In the last “Nationalist,” a writer who undertakes to enlighten us upon the blessings of true democracy says: “Voluntary association, the cry of the individualist, is as incompatible with civilization as voluntary association of the organs of our body would be to our well-being.” — “Majority rule is not tyrannical where the mind is free to express itself. A minority can easily become the majority if it is right. Majority rule is the crucible of public opinion, the conservator of thought, the test of the merit of all ideas.” — “Destroy private enterprise at all hazards.” — “For salvation look to the State.” The individual who writes thus is, of course, a fool; but he is a true and consistent Nationalist. In the same number of the magazine, however, another writer, who is anything but a fool, after declaring that “it is manifestly an injustice to compel any adult citizen of sound mind to work under any arbitrary authority, individual or social, at least before he is given free access to the natural resources and opportunities necessary to become a self-sustaining and useful member of society and to prove his ability and efficiency”; that “these natural opportunities have never been secured to all the people of any nation that was large and strong enough to protect itself from foreign interference”; that “till we have equal civil freedom we cannot know how much restraint and compulsion is necessary to protect liberty and secure the best and most happy individual and social life”; that “if State Socialism is the true ideal, man will voluntarily choose it when he is in freedom, and he cannot be forced to accept it before,” — after saying all this, which no Nationalist ever held, understood, or dreamed of, the writer makes the following statement with regard to the aims and methods of the Nationalists:
Nationalists do not propose to force State Socialism on any of the people. At present they only propose that government assume control of those industries and functions which are manifestly of public — State or national — uses, and of necessity must be under some kind of public government; and which, if not conducted by the responsible government for the equal benefit of all the people, are sure to be monopolized and used by irresponsible petty governments for robbing and oppressing the mass of the people to gorge the few and demoralize all. Then, if government gradually assume the administration of any other kinds of industry, it will be experimental, and in free competition with private industrial enterprises. The producers will be free to work for either themselves, an individual, a company, or the government; all who seek it will have steady employment; no one will work for another unless he can do as well as, or better than, for himself; and the consumers will all be free to buy of those who can serve them best. This would give free scope to test all the different ideals and choose the best.
Although the editor of the “Nationalist” allows this statement to appear without correction, we all know too well that the writer does not voice the sentiments of the followers of Bellamy or any other leading and representative Nationalist. What he says is astonishingly excellent — for a Nationalist; and I honor him for his mental and moral superiority to the crowd with which he needlessly and unwisely identifies himself; but he evidently speaks without knowledge of the origin, condition, and prospects of Nationalism. He has not studied Nationalist writings, and is altogether mistaken in his impressions as to what Nationalists do and do not propose to do. He should read the article of his fellow-contributor whom I quoted in the opening paragraph, and who shows what Nationalism really is. V. Y.
State Patronage of Literature.
One cannot help admiring the eleventh chapter of Buckle’s “History of Civilization,” in which he lays bare the causes which produced such a degenerate literature in France in the latter half of the seventeenth century and part of the first half of the eighteenth. It contains such clear and unmistakable evidence of the results of social meddling that anyone possessed with reasoning powers cannot help drawing important lessons therefrom.
In 1661, when Louis XIV became king, a system of patronage was practised in order to improve literary productions. Prior to this device, literature was the expression of the most profound investigations; but from the moment that governmental favoritism became felt, the objective method of investigation was displaced by the metaphysical method, and literature degenerated into a mass of fluent dialectics. That this degeneracy was due to the intervention of the king is verified by the fact that, during the same period, English learning, which was free from sovereign influence, was making wonderful progress. The tendency in England was toward a contraction of the sphere of government, thereby affording wider scope to individual activity. The pursuit of knowledge being less hampered than in France, those who really excelled rose to the front ranks. Instead of the subjective method dominating the mind, the objective method was pursued, and the generalizations were rich with useful information.
What a splendid lesson this contrast conveys to the student who intelligently observes the social speculations of our day. He sees that every theory seeking recognition can be placed in categories which reflect the English experience on the one hand, and that of the French on the other. No theory can escape this alternative, and the division in which one is placed determines its possession of the elements either of progress or retrogression.
If, as is the opinion of competent writers, the experiences of France and England are but instances of the general experience of Western civilization, the element representing paternalism is judged beforehand, for the application of this principle negatives the conditions necessary for further advancement; while the recognition of liberty as a social guide contains the elements of further development, unfolds all the good possible in society, and renders attainable a more complete adaptation of the individual to his environment. The theories advanced by modern governmentalists take on a somewhat scientific coloring, but surface speculations cannot long survive the diffusion of more accurate thought, and the future promises the entire extinction of “that spirit which weakens whatever it touches.” Wm. Trinkaus.
Tort and Retort.
The editor of “Today” does me the honor to criticise a recent article of mine in Liberty, and he opens his criticism with the following very respectful remark:
It would be difficult to match the superficiality of the statements made by Mr. Yarros in reply to Miss Gardener’s letter on .Women, published in the “Twentieth Century.” Of the letter itself I cannot speak, but the reply to it is simply absurd.
And here is the rest of the courteous criticism:
“Neither the Socialists nor the Anarchists have neglected the ‘Woman question.’ ... Socialists and Anarchists have abundantly discussed the question.... The sources of information are open, the knowledge is easily acquired,” etc.
What stuff is this! I almost thought that I was reading in the “Nationalist,” one of whose correspondents asked to be supplied with a hand-book containing the “facts and statistics bearing on the various sociological topics.” Only Mr. Yarros is worse, for he seems to think that the handbook has been compiled already. Socialists and Anarchists may have discussed the question abundantly, and, some will say, having regard for the equipment of the disputants, over-abundantly, with a net result of nothing to show for their pains. It is astonishing what feats of ratiocination philosophers have accomplished by simply passing over facts and spinning a world out of their own bowels. What do Socialists and Anarchists know about biology? Well, let it be confessed, they know almost, if not quite, as much about biology as biologists do about sex.
Leaving the Socialists out of the question, as persons not worthy of consideration in a scientific discussion of society, I suppose that I am right in assuming that Mr. Yarros regards Evolution as the factor (or fact) to which we must look for guidance in this matter. Very well; let us look there for guidance: so far so good. What do we find? Let Evolution be our guide: agreed; but the region through which we are to be guided is one of facts, is it not? Now what are the facts? I do not ask for Socialist facts nor for Anarchist facts, but just plain, ordinary facts. For instance, by way of illustrating the kind of facts to which I refer, as distinguished from that abounding mass of Socialist and Anarchist facts,— just by way of example, of plain facts,— what is Sex? I do not, of course, aspire to admission to those inner sanctuaries where Socialism, or Anarchism, as the case may be, stands guard over vast treasures of knowledge. I apply merely as a foot-sore wayfarer, asking humbly for alms, and ready to pour forth from an inexhaustible fountain the blessings of gratitude. Alas! how unkindly fortune has used me! While Anarchists and Socialists have been laying up great stores of knowledge, “easily acquired,” a cruel fate has left me naked and starving. What is Sex?
Socially, industrially, politically, poetically, historically even, something may be known of sex. But I beg leave to call attention to the incident that sex is also a biological fact. And it is quite within the range of tenable hypothesis that the physiological fact must be learned before any of these others will be rightly understood. If I had a few of the priesthood of Socialism or of Anarchism here ready to band, I am not so sure but what, if muscle were able, the spirit would be willing to ram a few copies of the “Origin of I Species” and the “Principles of Biology” down their I throats, to see what effect their stomachs could produce on what their minds have been unable to digest.
Aware as I am of the uselessness of any attempt I might make to emulate the editor of “Today” in gentleness, I can do no better than say at once in my own blunt way that I consider the criticism both silly and unfair. And so little difficulty is there in exposing the blundering wrong-headedness of my critic that I am reluctant to waste space on a superfluous counter-criticism.
In the first place, I did not say in the article that knowledge on sex is “easily acquired.” The editor of “Today” has, in fact, misquoted me: I said “knowledge is easily acquired,” — referring to general sociological knowledge,— not “the knowledge [on sex] is easily acquired.” The first sentence which the editor quotes occurs in the middle of my article, in a paragraph answering Miss Gardener’s absurd charge that Anarchists and Socialists pay the tribute of a thoughtless yes to the pauper status of women and justify certain restrictions upon their freedom. The second sentence occurs in the concluding paragraph of the article, and deals with an entirely different question,— the question, namely, whether Anarchists have really found a scientific solution of certain social problems, and whether Miss Gardener, who confesses to her inability to give positive remedies, is entitled to criticise and denounce established institutions and creeds. The knowledge which I advised her to acquire, and which, I added, might be easily acquired, was the knowledge which enables the editor of “Today” to assume the rôle of a teacher and guide, and which enables me to agree with him in many things and to differ in certain other things.
The editor of “Today” admits that “socially, industrially, politically, poetically, historically even, something may be known of sex.” Now, what I ventured to assure Miss Gardener of was that Anarchists and Socialists have abundantly discussed the “Woman Question” in the light of this available knowledge. Is this knowledge insufficient? Possibly; but this has nothing at all to do with the issue between Miss Gardener and myself. The conclusion is being more and more forced on me that the editor of “Today” is an extremely careless and hasty reader and writer. He is not anxious to be just to his opponents, and he frequently commits very serious offences,— offences of which people with half his intelligence might be ashamed.
No better proof of my editorial critic’s superficiality and unfairness is needed than his readiness to make the gratuitous statement that Anarchists have been unable to digest the “Origin of Species” and the “Principles of Biology.” In the first place, he knows nothing about the accomplishments and scientific qualifications of Anarchists; and there is certainly nothing in their teachings to warrant the inference that they are ignorant of biological science. I am bold enough to say that I understand Darwin and Spencer as well as the editor of “Today”; and if I happen to disagree with him, it may be (may it not?) because I am a more consistent and anxious reasoner than he is. What the Anarchists have written on the “Woman Question” may be very imperfect and inadequate; I never claimed absolute truth for their views; but I call the editor’s attention to the remarkable fact that a biologist like Grant Allen finds it possible to fully accept their solution of the problem. On the other hand, we find Wallace taking the Socialist solution of the problem and endorsing Nationalism in general. Grant Allen and Wallace, I suppose, know as much about biology as the editor of “Today”; yet their biological knowledge does not authorize them to dismiss the views of Socialists and Anarchists on the “Woman Question” as whimsical notions born of audacious ignorance.
Doubtless it is “quite within the range of tenable hypothesis that the physiological fact must be learned before any of these others will be rightly understood.” But would the editor of “Today” discourage any and all efforts to provisionally solve the “Woman Question” in the light of what is socially, industrially, politically, and historically known of sex? If so, he has no conception of the development of scientific and philosophical knowledge, and he does not deserve to be consulted. It behooves him to sing small when the Socialists and Anarchists have the authority of such biologists as Wallace and Grant Allen for continuing to offer solutions of the “Woman Question” and doing the best they can with the material at hand. V. Y.
Tolstoi, Ingersoll, and Pentecost.
Mr. Pentecost writes:
It would scarcely be possible for a man of Colonel Ingersoll’s ability to write anything so foolish as his review of the “Kreutzer Sonata” in the “North American,” unless, indeed, be should again expend his eloquence in eulogizing a Beecher or a Blaine. The following sentence is enough to show that he does not in the least understand his subject: “Count Tolstoi would establish slavery in every house; he would make of every husband a tyrant, and every wife a trembling serf.” This is the most glaring absurdity in the article, but there are plenty like it, e. g., the assertion that Tolstoi prefers seeking a heaven somewhere else to making one here. The long and short of it is that Tolstoi is altogether a bigger man than Ingersoll, and the latter’s critique on the former is, to adopt a figure of his own, the glow-worm trying to elucidate the sun. Ingersoll is a master of rhetoric and a master of “sense.” His affections are tender, his nature magnanimous. But he never went below the surface of anything. That institutions have no other basis than force or fraud; that property is robbery; that marriage is female slavery; that the sin of sensuality is punished by the hell of jealousy — these, and a few other now familiar truths of the same sort, neither irritate his conscience, nor provoke his anger, nor stimulate him to attempt refuting them, but simply run over him like water off a duck. He can see no more of Tolstoi than his resemblance to a Christian. Neither does he appear capable of distinguishing between the author and the characters, or perceiving that the logic of a self-justifying murderer is not likely to be quite that of the Quaker novelist who creates the murderer. The last error is absurdly common, but a critic who reads Shakspere so much should have escaped it.
I am glad that Mr. Pentecost is independent and virile and belligerent enough to deal with Col. Ingersoll’s sentimental and shallow deliverances as they need to be dealt with, though I must point out to Mr. Pentecost the inconsistency between this harsh and vigorous method and the precept of non-resistance to evil which he professes now to admire. It is not Christian-like to be thus provoked and angered; it indicates a haughty and proud spirit, which the faithful must seek to restrain and repress and discourage. With most of the points made by Mr. Pentecost I am of course in hearty sympathy. But, if Ingersoll fails to understand Tolstoi, Mr. Pentecost is not the proper person to take him to task for his ignorance, since the simple truth is that he understands Tolstoi still less. Ingersoll, perhaps, underestimates his claims; Mr. Pentecost ridiculously and arbitrarily overestimates them. Ingersoll is a greater thinker than Tolstoi, a more scientific and philosophical reasoner. Tolstoi is a mystic and religious fanatic, and is absolutely incapable of scientific thinking. It may be said of him that he never went below the surface of anything, for his opposition to existing institutions and beliefs does not emanate from any intellectual source. In Tolstoi we simply see another Buddha. His disgust is the product of satiety; his asceticism is the extreme into which he has been thrown by a natural reaction after a long period of luxurious and indolent existence. But Ingersoll certainly did go below the surface of some things, although he knows next to nothing of political and social science.
It is amusing to witness Mr. Pentecost’s confident and dignified air when he talks of the “absurdly common error” of holding the “Quaker novelist” responsible for the logic of the “self-justifying murderer” who is his hero. Mr. Pentecost is not aware that Tolstoi has repeatedly declared that the agreement between him and his hero is absolute. Every word uttered by Posdnicheff is approved by Tolstoi, and the “Kreutzer Sonata” was written for the purpose of giving to the world Tolstoi’s views of love and marriage. That Tolstoi himself was shocked and terrified by the conclusion on his last page is true; but Posdnicheff is not without his author’s sympathy. In fact, the conclusion is more natural to the ascetic and cranky Tolstoi than to the worldly Posdnicheff. The only strange thing is that such hopeless lunacy should find a response in Mr. Pentecost’s rationalistic mind. V. Y.
A Privilege Forfeited.
“The Lounger” writes in the New York “Critic”:
Several principals of public schools in Brooklyn have protested against the retention of Longfellow’s “Building of the Ship” as a subject of literary study by the school children of the City of Churches. Erotic literature of a pronounced type has become so common of late years — we are so used to seeing exposed for sale on every news-stand works written with no other motive than to pander to the lowest tastes,— that our eyes have become blind to the immorality that taints so many of Longfellow’s popular lines. Most of us have become so hardened, that we might read any poem the author of the “Psalm of Life” ever wrote, without suspecting that the poison of eroticism lurked in its mellifluous syllables. Of course, we have not been on the lookout for this hidden bane; we have taken the poet on trust,— have accepted his words in the sense in which he apparently wrote them,— with that result we now see.
There is always this danger in reading a poet reputed to be moral: we are apt to be taken off our guard. Relying on his excellent general reputation, he will now and then spring upon us a poem calculated to bring the blush of shame to the cheek of any well-regulated reader; and that proves to be what Longfellow did when he wrote “The Building of the Ship.” Now that he has been exposed, in all his naked naughtiness, his power for evil is gone. To think how long we have read the following lines without a suspicion of their wickedness:
She starts — she moves — she seems to feel
A thrill of life along her keel,
And, spurning with her foot the ground,
With one exulting, joyous bound
She leaps into the ocean’s arms!
This is not the only passage against which a tardy outcry has been uttered; but the others are too terrible for reproduction in this column. The need of the hour is an expurgated Longfellow, edited under the supervision of the Brooklyn principals, and printed from entirely new plates. When all the objectionable lines have been elided, a pretty duodecimo may remain. All editions previously existing should be burnt by the State.
The Lounger should have written in a foot-note that “the above is ‘sarkasm’.” There is certainly ground for apprehension that many readers will regard the piece of writing as a sober and earnest expression of honest opinion. Nor has the Lounger a right to blame such readers or feel offended at their failure to appreciate his (or her) true quality. The Lounger has been absurd and reactionary and faithless to the interests of literary art on occasions not greatly dissimilar to the present. From the justification and approval of Wanamaker’s attempted suppression of the “Kreutzer Sonata” to the cordial acceptance of the Brooklyn censors’ view of Longfellow, there is but a short step. Is not the way of the transgressor very hard? The penalty for the unworthy attitude of the Lounger on the “Sonata” affair will be that hereafter nothing will seem, to many intelligent readers, too ridiculous and cowardly for the Lounger to be responsible for. The Lounger has forfeited the right to depend on the readers’ acuteness, sympathy, or generosity, having once at least outraged their sense of dignity and individuality. V. Y.
An Old Error Revived.
In the “Twentieth Century” of September 25th, Mr. Pentecost said: “Without perfect persons there can be no perfect society. Individuals must do that which is followed by happiness before social miseries will cease.... Prostitution will only cease when each man and each woman is unwilling, under any circumstances, to be a prostitute. The same may be said about stealing and murder. Individuals must be ‘ethically’ developed before society can be regenerated.” This compels me to say that Mr. Pentecost has not yet wholly emancipated himself from the theological spirit. I have noticed several times that that spirit has obscured his logical thinking. The preachers will soon say with surprise: “If that which Mr. Pentecost now advocates is Anarchism, then we always were, and are, Anarchists! Do we not say that it is not the fault of the rich that poverty exists? Do we not say that people are poor because they are lazy and immoral? Do we not seek to improve their morals by telling them that, if they want to be happy, they must first become good, kind, and industrious, or, in Mr. Pentecost’s words, ‘ethically developed’?”
If Mr. Pentecost means to tell us that we must not expect that even after the abolition of privileges and monopolies society will become perfect at once, since the individuals will still be imperfect; that he, as an evolutionist, does not think, with the Communists, that it is only necessary to abolish monopolies and live in communes in order to achieve a perfect state of society,— then he is right, no doubt, but scarcely original. But it seems to me that he is far from meaning that.
Mr. Pentecost, as an Anarchist, believes that the main cause of involuntary poverty is governmental privilege and monopoly. He also must know that ignorance goes hand in hand with poverty, and that we cannot ask poor and ignorant people to be very “ethical.” Does he not know that most of the prostitutes are prostitutes because they do not see any other way of living? Does he not know that to tell them not to be prostitutes means to tell them to starve and die, and that with such prospects it is impossible to make them think or feel that they ought to abandon their only means of living? If be realizes all that, then what is the use of saying that prostitution would cease if the prostitutes were unwilling under any circumstances to be prostitutes? I do not think that Mr. Pentecost really blames them for preferring to live, considering their mental and moral condition. “The same may be said about stealing and murder.”
But let us see whether even those people who have a conception of a better society, and know what it is necessary to do in order to approach their ideal of living, can justify Mr. Pentecost’s expectations. To my mind, to have ideas about life means to have at the same time a desire to propagate them, to do all in one’s power to show that happiness follows from their adoption. In private life, a person who is not a hypocrite will always try to live up to his ideal as much as circumstances permit, not because he wants to be an example to others, but for his own satisfaction. Therefore it seems useless and ridiculous to urge others to satisfy their own desires, or to prescribe how to do it. If we do things to please ourselves, as Mr. Pentecost admits, then nobody has a right to tell us how to act in our private life. Who knows what kinds of actions satisfy us best or pain us least? Nobody can tell us whether we ought or ought not to consent to compromise our principles. I can hardly believe that Mr. Pentecost thinks it possible to live an ideal life under the present conditions. But how shall I explain his remark that “individuals must be ethically developed before society can be regenerated”? Does he mean that there must be individuals who hate compromise, who are averse to doing things which do not harmonize with their ideas? If so, then I understand him. We certainly must have such individuals, for it is they who work for change and progress. But if he means that there must be individuals who are determined to live up to their ideal, no matter what they personally may suffer, then it is as if he were to say: “The best thing for you who have sound ideas about life is to die.” For it is impossible to live an ideal life under the present conditions.
I would like to know what Mr. Pentecost’s advice would be to an honest reformer who has no work, who on principle objects to scabbing, but who has a family which happens to be very dear to him, and which suffers from hunger and cold? If Mr. Pentecost were one of the enthusiastic reformers who think that the “future” is very near, then it would be wise to advise the reformer to wait. But Mr. Pentecost is not one of the Utopians: what, then, would he say?
Should people ask me, Where is the line to be drawn in this matter of compromise? I will answer, Let everybody be his own judge. I believe that every sincere and intelligent individual tries to do his best (we may differ as to what is really best, but we have no business to denounce a person’s private conduct if to him it appears best). I also think that society cannot be perfect unless there be perfect individuals; but I deny that individuals can practise perfect rules under imperfect conditions. I do not say, Die, if you cannot be perfect; I say, Do and live as rightly as possible. It is better to live and do something than to die in the attempt to do everything. S.
Mr. Pentecost and the Sex Question.
To the Editor of Liberty:
Mr. Pentecost has spoken. Drawn out by certain editorials, he said: “I do not believe in ‘free love’ as that phrase is commonly understood,” but immediately added: “Men and women should certainly be free to arrange their relationships to suit themselves.” Now, if this is not “free love as that phrase is commonly understood,” then I must plead ignorance of the common understanding. But to follow Mr. Pentecost: “If they were thus free, I think they would arrange those relationships better than they are at present arranged by the politicians and clergymen. I think they would eventually learn the wisdom of establishing them on some other basis than that of sex.” It would be interesting to know what other basis Mr. Pentecost could suggest. He continues: “As the brain increases, the sex nature decreases.” Again it would be interesting to know on what facts he bases the assertion. I believe the contrary is true. Mr. Pentecost evidently confounds sex love with brutish lust; they bear about the same relation as gluttony and epicureanism, or the crab-apple of nature with the luscious fruit of our orchard. One has evolved from the other, even as civilized man has evolved from the savage. Continuing, he says: “As the ‘union of beings’ grows, sexual love dies.” Just what he means by the “union of beings,” I can only conjecture from his brief extract from the “Kreutzer Sonata.” (I have never read the book.) There seems to be a law which humanity must carry out to attain happiness — the bliss of heaven, I suppose. “This union is thwarted by the passions, and that is why, if the passions disappear, the union will be accomplished. Humanity then will have carried out the law and will have no further reason to exist.” Splendid reasoning for Tolstoi, who evidently believes this life to be merely a caterpillar age in which we should simply employ our wisdom in preparing for that butterfly stage of existence in the “home not made with hands, eternal in the heavens”; but the veriest drivel in the mouth of Pentecost. “The more we are men and women, the less we are animals.” Very true, if he means by men and women creatures of reason, and animals as representing instinct; and in the same ratio will sex love grow and invasive lust die. “Why advocate conduct of which all but the beasts are ashamed?” Why indeed! There is really no necessity of it. You might as well advocate the conduct of the old lady who “lived upon nothing but victuals and drink.” Everybody accepts it now, except perhaps a few religious fanatics like Tolstoi. And even he is reported to not exactly follow his own teaching, but to have contributed his share towards “multiplying and replenishing the earth.” And as for the feeling of shame in this connection, it reminds me of the prude mentioned by Sada Fowler, who thought the words Father and Mother “so suggestive of obscenity.” Mr. Pentecost may be ashamed of conduct which makes these two words possible, and join Tolstoi in advocating the extinction of the human race; he certainly has a right to believe what he pleases, but in my humble opinion he is “’way off,” and as much in the mire of superstition as when, in the pulpit, he expounded the scheme of Christian salvation. And not he alone among the liberal writers is befogged in superstition. Many, if not most, of the writers who make sex reform their theme display the grossest superstition. Perhaps it is because I am a “brutal materialist” that I cannot see anything sacred, holy, divine, etc., but a simple natural process as necessary to health and happiness as to perpetuate the race when reciprocity is the law. And let me say that to me the superstition which cries “an awful crime,” “sickening and disgusting,” “a horrible disclosure,” at the recital of a case of self-abuse is really more disgusting than the act complained of. All vice is self-abuse, and the rights of the individual include the right of self-abuse. “Men and women should be free to regulate their conduct towards each other to suit themselves,” said Mr. Pentecost. But the fact that he believes that in their freedom they will “eliminate sexual passion” is of no consequence whatever. Voltairine de Cleyre says: “As for the final outcome, it matters not one iota. I have my ideal, and it is very pure, and very sacred to me. But yours, equally sacred, may be different; and we may both be wrong. But certain am I that, with free contract, that form of sexual association will survive which is best adapted to time and place, thus producing the highest evolution of the type. Whether that will be monogamy, variety, or promiscuity matters nought to us; that is the business of the future, to which we dare not dictate.”
In conclusion let me say that I have no criticism for the course of Brother Pentecost in avoiding the sex question. Let every man be persuaded in his own mind and pursue the plan best adapted in his opinion to further the cause he advocates. So long as he stands for freedom, “he’s all right.” And it is true, as he says, that “the settlement of the woman question is the same as the settlement of the man question. It is found in freedom, and only in freedom.... When men and women are thus free, they will own their own persons. When they own their own persons, the man and woman question will be settled.” If this “consummation, devoutly to be wished,” can be reached by a direct propaganda, let those who so believe “fight it out on this line.” The object and the aim, the means and the end, is LIBERTY.
A. L. Ballou.
Buffalo, N. Y.
Time — 1940 — Union Hall.
Chairman of Employers’ Committee (to Chairman of Union Committee, with great meekness) — We have come, gentlemen, to ask the privilege of putting more capital in our business.
Union Chairman (gruffly) — You have deceived us, then. We supposed you had already put all your capital into your business.
Employers’ Chairman — We kept a little back for an emergency.
Union Chairman (haughtily) — Bring the money here; we will invest it for you.
Employers’ Chairman — We haven’t received from our employés the percentage coming to us for last year’s business.
Union Chairman — That will be attended to in due time. We had more than the usual number of Union balls and Union picnics last year, and according to the rules of the Union the expense must be borne by employers. Have you been informed of the new holiday the Union has created?
Employers’ Chairman (aghast) — A new holiday! Why, the workingmen have three holidays every week already, without counting Sunday and the Saturday three-quarters holiday.
Union Chairman (sternly) — It makes no difference. The workingman owns the earth now, and he can make every day in the week a holiday if he chooses.
Employers’ Chairman — Isn’t it a little hard to make us pay our men double wages on a holiday?
Union Chairman — I don’t think it is. You see, the workingman’s expenses go on just the same on a holiday as on any other day, and he wants as much more to spend.
Employers’ Chairman — But we have no holidays at all.
Union Chairman — You don’t need any. It would only be a temptation to spend money that belongs by right to the laboring man. Any other complaints to make?
Employers’ Chairman. — Your new rule requiring us to act as nurses for our employés when they are ill, furnishing medicine at our own expense, is oppressive. I haven’t had a good night’s rest since the rule went into effect.
Union Chairman — Can’t help it. It is the duty of an employer to look after the health of his men. Anything more? Be quick about it (looking at his watch); our Committee is engaged to dine at Delmonico’s at six, an I we have a theatre party arranged for the evening,— a compliment from the Scene Shifters’ Union, who are running all the theatres in New York now.
Employers’ Chairman (hesitatingly) — I wanted to ask the Union if — if I might be allowed to retire from business at the end of the year.
Union Chairman — Retire from business? No! We don’t allow any man to retire from business while he has breath or a cent. What d’ye suppose the Union is for? Now git!
Don’t keep Liberty to yourself, share it with others!
Leonard E. Read: Accent On The Right: To Frederic Bastiat (1801–1850), who sought for truth rather than outcome and never witnessed the fruits his labor bore. Obedience to conscience was his first rule; we witness the results.
Leonard E. Read: Anything That’s Peaceful: Many favor peace but not many favor the things that make for peace. — Thomas à Kempis
Leonard E. Read: Awake for Freedom’s Sake: Finally, share with others. Forget about “reforming” them! The more we share, the more we learn. This is in the interest of self and freedom!
Leonard E. Read: Castles in the Air: If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; there is where they should be. Now put foundations under them. — Henry David Thoreau
Libertarian Anarchy: Against the State: Political philosophy is dominated by a myth, the myth of the necessity of the state. The state is considered necessary for the provision of many things, but primarily for peace and security. In this provocative book, Gerard Casey argues that social order can be spontaneously generated, that such spontaneous order is the norm in human society and that deviations from the ordered norms can be dealt with without recourse to the coercive power of the state.
Major Conservative and Libertarian Thinkers: Murray Rothbard: Murray Rothbard (1926–1995) was an economist, historian, philosopher, and legal theoretician. His work was unified by a passionate and resolute commitment to a libertarianism that may be characterized as ‘anarcho-capitalism’ and which implied a belief that even the legal system may be provided privately without the need for a coercive collective authority. Hence, anarcho-capitalists envisage a society where the traditional role of government is wholly subsumed by private, profit-making enterprises and all social relationships are ultimately founded upon consent.