“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 Congressmen have gone home. Of course the treasury is empty and there is a big deficit for us to make good. Long live “law and order”!
The French Government, with the view to “encourage young people to become merchants,” is offering bursarships, to be gained by competitive examination. “If the French Government,” says Auberon Herbert, “would grant itself a perpetual vacation, allow France to enjoy Free Trade, leave the mercantile and industrial life free of restrictions, and cease to be the worst tax-grinding machine in Europe, its young men would not require bursarships to attract them into commerce.” I cheerfully exonerate Mr. Pentecost from the suspicion entertained by Robert Reitzel (see article in another column) that his criticism of “My Uncle Benjamin” was prompted by a desire for revenge against me. I am sure that he gave his honest opinion. Comrade Reitzel, who has heretofore taken off his hat to Mr. Pentecost’s honesty, need not feel obliged, on account of the review of “My Uncle Benjamin,” to stand covered hereafter in Mr. Pentecost’s presence. The editor of the “Twentieth Century” did not speak from malice; he simply spoke from the depths of a huge intellectual vacuum.
It was only a few months ago that, according to John Most, my influence was confined to a small circle in Boston composed mainly of old women; now, in the eyes of that doughty champion of Communism I am so well worth killing that my violent taking-off would be an unparalleled service to the world. Filled with jealous and brutal rage at the brilliant success achieved by Mr. Yarros when lecturing recently at Chicago, this Tuckerphobist vomits his venom in a column of the “Freiheit,” the closing spurt of which I here reproduce (in translation) just as it appeared, black letter and all. “Unfortunately many otherwise good persons (but who are at sea in social matters) have allowed themselves to be led astray by Tuckerism, to the extent, indeed, that these crack-brained ‘ideas’ are being aired in most of the English and also in two German reform papers, causing great confusion in the minds of the respective reading constituencies, a circumstance surely not calculated to dispel the fog in the ranks of the American labor movement. America seems to be a land where humbug and confusion of ideas constitute the foundation of the intellectual life and where the only use of logic is to be abused as sophistry. The man who could bring about a change here would do the world a service such as was never before accomplished by a glorious deed.” Johnny, get your gun, get your gun, get your gun!
A woman writes to the Galveston “News” favoring factory laws and restrictive legislation of a certain kind. Among other things she contends that “if a woman does as much work as a man, let that woman receive man’s wages.” The comments of the editor upon this observation are so logical and keen that I reproduce them here in full. He says: “Taken in connection with the subject under discussion,— the resort to legislative authority as arbiter of an economic question,— the proposition carries considerable significance. Such a suggestion is of course unexceptionable as a moral rule, but in that respect it would leave the case practically as it is before the law. Some employers are more liberal than others toward women in employments. Moreover it is seldom that the woman is not handicapped with some circumstances creating more or less unavailability in an employment as compared with a man. Where no such condition exists and the employment is reputable it will generally be found that a tendency exists to the employment of women in that particular branch. Then the comparatively smaller demand elsewhere for women’s labor creates a competition among women workers in the smaller number of employments well open to them, and so, if demand and supply is to rule in wages, the wages in such employments under the circumstances must be somewhat lower than in others unsuited to women. Any departure from this rule by an employer would be simply generosity, not business. What then is the pertinence of the demand for equal wages when presented in connection with a legislative scheme, if it be not a demand for legislation fixing wages to the extent intimated as fair and equal? But employers may prefer men when equal wages are ordered in some future development of the State verging upon a Socialistic order. Hence, after the women were found to be neglected as Workers under the arbitrary rule commanding equal pay, the new regulation of industry would have need of reinforcement by yet another rule restraining the employer from exercising any discrimination in the selection of his employees as regards sex. Having gone thus far would it be worth while to continue in a pretended adherence to the present basis of business relations? Ultimately the aim of much which gains the support of a majority of organized laborers must be understood and acknowledged. It contemplates a State organized somewhat on the lines laid down by Mr. Edward Bellamy. There is logic in acts and it is a progressive logic. All classes should perceive what is the tendency of any act of the legislature and look to the good or evil of the system of which such an act would be a logical part, as nearly as they are able to appreciate its bearings.”
Sentimental and Incomplete.
[Tak Kak in Egoism.]
Reading the article by Mr. Westrup on “Scientific, Against Religious Methods” I agree with him that Mr. Pentecost’s treatment of the interest question is unsatisfactory. It is not only because a sentimental consideration predominates in Mr. Pentecost’s presentation of the case, but also because that presentation is very incomplete.
The man who by economy and self-denial has saved $1,000 has probably done much more than $1,000 worth of work in exchange for that sum. His labor products are somewhere in the mass of wealth and not his possession. While he has the money there exists a suspense account between him and capitalistic society. Let ns assume that it has $1,500 of his product. If now necessity compels him to spend his $1,000 for immediate support, he has lost $500 worth of his labor. But say this man is not compelled to spend his $1,000. So much the better for him. He has been underpaid in amount, but paid in a privileged money. The possession of it affords him a prospect or chance of ultimately getting $1,500 worth of products,— or what he has earned. We can leave out of account the unscientific nature of the arrangement, which may give him more or less, while we are analyzing a pretence that the man is not entitled to more than $1,000 worth of products. The persons who paid him in money could not pay him in full, because money was with them a scarce thing. They paid him a sum with a potentiality of recovering from society the balance due him if he can wait. This is one point which Mr. Pentecost has not considered..
If now he lends his money at interest he is told that he will be appropriating from among the borrower’s goods a sum that he will have done nothing to earn. Has the borrower no judgment about that? The lender who saved “by economy and self-denial” bas already earned more than he lends if he lends without interest, for he has earned $1,000 worth of scarce, interest-commanding money, which is a very different thing from earning $1,000 in a free currency I that would represent only labor value and that value fully paid up at the time. But the principal thing to which I now wish to direct further attention is in this question: from whose goods is the interest taken? Mr. Pentecost says from the borrower, and he means it strictly, of course, for he suggests a loan without interest; a loan, mark, of this very monopoly money which one has worked disadvantageously to get. But the fact that the borrower pays the interest and has more left than he would have if the loan had been refused, may be deemed proof that the interest does not come out of the borrower’s goods. It comes out of the general stock of wealth through the borrower.
One must smile when one hears the assertion that the borrower under the present regimen performs for the lender a service for no equivalent. The borrower who could get money without interest would compete with others who have to pay interest and would put so much more profit in his pocket.
To view this subject the better let us suppose that the owner of the $1,000 locks it up instead of lending it. Mr. Pentecost has aroused the man’s conscientious scruples or his pride and he will not take interest, but he does not feel in duty bound to lend, neither willing to allow another to perform a gratuitous service for him, and after all he is not such a ninny as to pay the borrower for taking his precious monopoly money and exploiting society with it. So he does nothing. Now society has provided little currency and has not calculated upon men’s refusing interest, what will be the effect of locking the money up? That the would-be borrower may seek elsewhere, with a tendency to higher interest; that some labor seeking employment will come to a stand; and that while the owner of the money will not draw from the general store any products in excess of $1,000 valuation, the interruption of labor caused by his withdrawal from circulation of $1,000 In money under present circumstances will arrest production so as to leave the total stock smaller than it would have been if he had accepted interest and let the money go into circulation. These points also Mr. Pentecost does not touch upon, yet they concern one taking any comprehensive view on the subject.
There is one expression used by Mr. Westrup which is perhaps questionable. He says: “It is the very essence of Egoism that if the ends sought by Altruists are ever attained they will be reached through Egoism.” I think that nothing which is contingent or doubtful can be logically of the essence of Egoism. But I will take it that Mr. Westrup means: the essence of Egoism is such that an inference may be drawn to the effect mentioned. With this understanding Egoism is logically as independent of any process of negation or deliverance from altruistic dogmas as Freethought is independent of any negation or deliverance from the dogmas of Christian or other theology. The transition stage, however, presents certain phenomena in modes of expression and in eagerness by the individual to vindicate his new tenets with special comparisons. A general unconcern about any sort of Altruism that does not seem to interfere with the enjoyment of life will be found to characterize the mature Egoistic mind. With Mr. Pentecost Egoism is probably as yet a theory rather than a condition — a theory which he perhaps understands well enough and which he would have applied better if he had looked carefully into the complicated question of money as it is.
For Those Afflicted with Mental Myopy.
That lively magazine, “Today,” takes exception to an argument against copyright illustrated by the supposition of perpetuity as in other property, by wondering if the argument would not be as good in principle against copyright for a short time. What if it would? Some people can see a mountain who cannot see a marble at a certain distance.
A Brush with Bibliokleptomaniacs.
[Wordsworth Donisthorpe in Personal Rights Journal.]
On November 2, 1887, my neighbors, or a majority of them, perpetrated a most unneighborly trick, which naturally brought about a quarrel between us, lasting till last summer. They decided to rob me of a sum of money (only a small sum) to be spent in buying themselves some novels and magazines. They were careful to tell me that the sum was very small — “equal to one forty-fourth part of the current Poor Rate.” Now, first of all, I am a bit of a stickler for a principle, which was not affected by the smallness of the theft; and, secondly, I have had sufficient experience of this sort of thing to know that it was only a case of getting in the thin end of the wedge. I therefore sent my share of the cost of lighting, sewage, etc., to our common treasury together with the following letter:
“January 2, 1888.
“To Mr. W. S. Mayers, Rate-Collector.
“Dear Sir: — I have pleasure in enclosing checque for £11 18s. 4d. for services rendered in the way of lighting, sewage, etc. I observe I am asked to contribute two shillings and threepence halfpenny towards a public library; but with this request I am unable to comply. Having bought a large number of books, and being a subscriber to a lending-library, I have no use for the library you purpose, nor do I feel called upon to subsidize any such institution. Those who require it should pay for it. Failing that, there is charity to fall back upon; and inasmuch as I am credibly informed that more than half the inhabitants in this district are willing to subscribe, there seems no cause whatever for “requisitioning” on the unwilling.
“I am yours, &c.,
In reply to this, instead of a friendly explanation, I got the funniest letter you ever saw in your life,— not from Mr. Mayers, but from a gentleman signing himself H. B. Halswell. He may be a very good fellow (I believe he is), but he ought not to write so pompously. Here it is:
“February 18, 1888.
“To Wordsworth Donisthorpe.
“Whereas Walter Samuel Mayers, one of the collectors of the Parochial Rates of the Parish of St. Mary Abbots, Kensington, in the said County of Middlesex, hath this day made Oath before me, one of Her Majesty’s Justices of the Peace in and for the said County of Middlesex, that you, being charged or assessed to the undermentioned rates or assessments of the said Parish, made as hereunder set forth, have refused or neglected to pay the said Rates or Assessments, although the same have been duly demanded of you, I, the said Justice, do therefore, in pursuance of the Acts of Parliament in that respect, SUMMON you and require you personally to be and appear before me, or any one or more of Her Majesty’s Justices of the Peace for the said County, who shall be then present at the VESTRY HALL, KENSINGTON, on Thursday, the 23rd day of February instant, at TEN o’clock in the forenoon of the same day, to show cause why you refuse to pay the said Rates or Assessments, so charged and assessed on you as aforesaid. Given under my hand this 18th day of February, 1888.
“(Signed) H. B. Halswell.”
This effusion was followed on the 9th of March by a little note from Mr. Mayers himself:
“March 9, 1888.
“To W. Donisthorpe, Esq.
“Sir,— I beg to give you notice I hold a warrant for the recovery of the Libraries Rates which you have refused to pay, and to say I am instructed to levy for the amount, unless the same be paid to me by Wednesday next.
“W. S. Mayers.”
You will have observed that Mr. Halswell spelt SUMMON all in large capitals, thereby, as I think, taking a mean advantage of my nervous temperament; and now the words “warrant” and “levy” are enough to curdle my blood. However, I sent Mr. Mayers a letter the following day, in which I said:
“Of course, if the Majority (i. e. the strong and arbitrary) have made up their minds to take away from me by brute-force, they are quite capable of doing so. But they must do it by force, and not by threat. I shall be much obliged if you will let me know the precise day and hour at which the State-sanctioned burglary will take place.
I have little doubt that Mr. Mayers regarded these words as a sort of declaration of war. Anyhow, he was careful not to advise me of the hour of invasion, and instead of the usual tottering old gentleman, he despatched an army of three stalwart ruffians to my house. Fortunately, I am not altogether friendless and forlorn. Otherwise the consequences might have been different. I also admit that my bullying neighbors (the Majority) might have sent six men or twelve. And then who knows what might have been. As it was, after the last of the three men had been deposited in the gutter outside, I read with some amusement the somewhat lofty epistle with which he was armed, and which bore the noble motto, “Dieu et mon droit.” And here I may be allowed to admit that the language used by the Majority to the other fellows is really awe-inspiring and majestically conceived. For instance, I got a letter from the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis last week, in which he “acquaints me that. . .”! A well-educated shopman would be content to “inform me.” A gentleman would sink so low as to “tell me,” but an official “acquaints me.” However, here is the little communiqué of the gentleman in the gutter:
“Mr. Donisthorpe, or whom this may concern. Take Notice, That by the authority and on behalf of Mr. Mayers, Collector of Rates for the Parish of Kensington, I have this 21st day of March, in the year of our Lord 1888, distrained the several Goods and Chattels specified in the schedule or inventory hereunder written, in your Dwelling House at 32, Pembridge Villas, in the Parish of Kensington, in the County of Middlesex, for Rates due to the same Parish, and if you do not pay the said Rates so due and in Arrear as aforesaid, together with the costs and charges of this distress, I shall cause the said Goods and Chattels to be Appraised and Sold, pursuant to the Statute in that case made and provided. GIVEN under my hand the Day and Year above written. Frederick Church, 266, Portobello Road.
“The Schedule or Inventory above referred to (viz.); — Oak Side Board. In the name of any other goods on the premises sufficient to pay the Rates and Expenses of the Distress.
After translating all this glorified patter into plain English, I sat down and wrote to the Vestry Clerk, saying that “if the rate-collector has no more civility or tact than to proceed in this insolent manner, he must be taught his place, and a suitable servant put in his stead. I shall be obliged if you will kindly look into this matter. — Yours truly, W. Donisthorpe.” I have said I wrote this letter to the “Vestry Clerk.” I cannot swear to this. It may be that I addressed it to the “Clerk to the Vestry.” Anyhow I got a reply from the Clerk to the Vestry saying that he had handed my letter to the Vestry Clerk, “it being a matter not under the control of the Vestry.” Three days later, I received a singular communication from the said Vestry Clerk. It is dated March 27, 1888, and is as follows:
“March 27, 1888.
“To W. Donisthorpe, Esq.
“Sir,— I beg to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 23rd instant, with reference to the recent action of Mr. Mayers, one of the Rate-collectors of this Parish, in enforcing the payment of the Public Libraries Rate; and in reply thereto have to state that the Acts being adopted upon a poll of the Ratepayers, the Overseers have no alternative but to require their collectors to collect the rate from all persons duly rated. I have communicated with Mr. Mayers as to the steps taken by him, and am informed that as you objected to pay this rate, you were summoned, when an order for payment was made in your absence; and the money still not being forthcoming, a Warrant of Distress was granted by the Justices, of which due notice was given you. I am further to state that the fact of the men having been forcibly ejected from your premises does not relieve you of your liability, and the amount will be carried forward and included with the demand for the next six months Parochial Rates to be made in April.
“R. Green, Vestry Clerk, &c.”
Now, if it is not libellous to say it, I do not consider Mr. Reuben Green by any means an ideal official. I like a bouncing, insolent, vulgar, Bumble: whereas Mr. Green is courteous, gentlemanly, and patient, even under some provocation. He is, in short, just the sort of man you cannot decoy into an excess of zeal and then trample upon. He reminds me of Mr. Gladstone in the Transvaal. Said he to the Boers: “The fact of your having blown our army to glory on Majuba Hill is a regrettable circumstance, but let us shake hands and say no more about it.” Said Mr. Green, “the fact of the men having been forcibly ejected from your premises does not relieve you of your liability.”
Meanwhile I went to Yorkshire and the Collector went to bed. So that it was not till April 13th that I received this polite and characteristic note from Mr. Green: —
“April 13, 1888.
“To W. Donisthorpe, Esq.
“Sir,— I beg to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 7th inst., which I have been unable to reply to earlier, owing to the illness of Mr. Mayers the rate-collector. . . . with reference to that officer’s enforcing payment of a Public Library Act Rate, and to state in reply to your enquiry that the law vests in the overseers of Kensington and many other Metropolitan parishes the duty of collecting, and if not paid, the levying for Poor and Library Act Rates, hence the reason of Mr. Harding the Clerk to the Vestry forwarding to me your former letter, and my explanation of the circumstances as Vestry Clerk, an appointment held by me in no way connected with the Metropolis Local Management Act of 1885. With reference to your enquiry as to the course of procedure for the recovery of the Library Rate, adopted by the Collector, in default of payment a summons was obtained against you on the 18th of February last, requesting your attendance at this Hall on the 23rd of that month to show cause why you refused to pay, in accordance with the verbal statement made to you by Mr. Mayers, and that in your absence an order for payment was made by the sitting Justice. Also that Mr. Mayers informed you by letter unless the rate was paid, he should have no alternative but to distrain in the same manner as for a Poor Rate upon your effects. With respect to the warrant of distress, it was actually signed at the Vestry Hall by the Rev. Darby Reade, M. A. It would appear that as the ratepayers have at a Poll adopted the Acts, and the duty of collecting the Library Rate in the same manner as a Poor Rate is cast upon the overseers, their officer has only adopted the usual course for enforcing payment. May I repeat the suggestion contained in my former letter to you, that as the Library Rate is now a recoverable Arrear, it will be better to include it again in the demand for the six months Parochial Rates shortly to be made, and if you care to raise any question as to the validity of same or otherwise, you can do so at the proper time.
“R. Green, Vestry Clerk.”
On July 7th I again paid my rates, less the library-tax, and improved the occasion by telling Mr. Mayers a little anecdote:
“July 7, 1888.
“To Mr. W. S. Mayers.
“Sir,— I enclose Cheque for £13 5s. 10d. for rates due next September for the then past half year. Services are usually paid for after they have been rendered. And this rule would seem to apply more particularly to those services which are unasked. Yours truly,
“P. S. — It may interest the class you represent to learn that I lost a pocket-handkerchief in a crowd the other day. The gentleman who annexed it explained that its value was exactly one fifty-second part of the value of all the clothes I was wearing; and furthermore that the transaction was in accordance with the interests of the great majority — those who have no pocket-handkerchiefs. This struck me as so satisfactory that I had no more to say except to apologize for having questioned the propriety of his conduct. — W. D.”
I do not think our Collector saw the point of the story, for the next exhibit (as the lawyers say) is another portentous document, signed H. B. Halswell, in which the sonorous word SUMMON is again spelt with the largest capitals in the Municipal case; and “Whereas” is printed in early English type, which being utterly illegible to the untutored mind, must be wonderfully persuasive in some quarters. I hardly felt equal to answering Mr. Halswell’s invitation in the same grandiose style, and so I let it pass altogether without comment. But I did not go. Whereupon Mr. Mayers took up his parable in good Municipalese:
“October 20, 1888.
“To Mr. Donisthorpe.
“I hereby give you notice that a warrant has been issued by the Magistrates for the recovery of your quota of the Public Libraries Rates amounting to 6s. 7d., and unless the same be paid to me on or before Wednesday next, it will be forthwith levied on your Goods and Chattels as the Law directs, and with all reasonable Costs and Charges attending the said distress without further notice. Dated this 20th day of October, 1888.
“Walter S. Mayers, Collector.”
Nothing of importance takes place, beyond an interchange of compliments and some little Notices, for the next four months, when I again sent Mr. Mayers my share of the common expenses, together with the following ultimatum:
“February 13, 1889.
“To Mr. W. S. Mayers.
“Dear Sir: — I enclose cheque for rates £12 2s. 11d. I see that in your bill there is an additional item of 6s. 10½d. for books and reading facilities of which I have an ample supply. As I have before said, if there are persons who have the will and the strength to come and take my books by force,— or the value of them in sideboards and other furniture,— let them do so openly and above board. I cannot help it. But I positively refuse to stand and deliver.
“Yours truly, W. D.”
Then came another invitation from Mr. Halswell “Given under my Hand this Twenty-third day of February, One Thousand Eight Hundred and Eighty Nine.” No less than ten capitals in that! I should have put “Yours truly, W. Donisthorpe, Feb. 23, 1889.” But then think of the Municipal printer. I did not attend that little “function” either. And then came the County Council, and up went my rates from £12 5s. 2½d. to £15 7s. 1d. — a pretty smart jump for a beginner. They seemed rather ashamed of it themselves, for they sent three excuses with the bill, marked a, b, and c. Firstly, the discredited Board of Works had got them into a hole and left them a damnosa hereditas. Secondly, they were young things, and ought to have a fair start and something to go on with. Thirdly, they had lost the Coal and Wine Dues. It was touching, no doubt, but I felt it my duty to be firm. I deducted the book-extortion and sent the balance, with a note, to Mr. Mayers, saying: “This is a pretty heavy order, even after deducting the absurd book-subscription. I cannot accept the shuffling excuses a, b, and c. No sensible person supposes for a moment that the County Connell will do better, or extort less, than the gang they have superseded.
“July 23, 1880.”
This kindly warning was lost on the heart of Bumbledum.
On August 23, the Importunate Mr. Halswell again invited me to look in and have a talk with him at his little room in the Town Hall, Kensington High-street, but I had, unfortunately, “a previous engagement.” And so nothing came of It after all. In June, 1890, I promptly sent my cheque for the rates, less the Library-tax, and was gratified, though surprised, to get a receipt in full.
One word more: in the application for rates made April, 1889, the Library Rate was printed as a separate item. In that of April, 1890, it is swallowed up and hidden away in the Poor Rate. There is, it is true, a note in small print, to the effect that it equals one seventy-fourth part of the total amount of the rate. Now, am I expected to make this calculation pro bono publico every time I pay my rates? What is the seventy-fourth part of £14 8s. 9½d.? I see that in the latest application, made October, 1890, the Library Rate is set down as “one sixty-sixth part of the total amount of the rate.” At this rate of progress, what will it be in the year 1900?
Letters from Italy.
To the Editor of Liberty:
The predictions which we made in our last letter regarding the elections have been entirely verified, and the government has bad a considerable majority, almost four hundred deputies out of the five hundred and eight of which the Chamber is composed.
To obtain it it appealed principally to conservative sentiments, and Signor Crispi presented himself before the country as the champion of the monarchy against the Radicals,whom he accused of being republicans. As everybody was clamoring for economy, he promised economy; as they did not want any new taxes, he assured them that he would impose none. The deputies friendly to the ministry said to the electors: “You want economy and no new taxes? For that purpose it is needless to turn to the Radicals; elect us, we will satisfy you.”
All that went very well as long as it was a question of words only; the difficulties began only after the election. Signor Crispi and his party had an impossible problem before them: to establish the equilibrium of the budget without reducing the army and navy expenses and without imposing new taxes. To understand the difficulty one must know that the budget of 1888–89 amounts to seventeen hundred and forty millions of francs, divided as follows: expenses which cannot be touched (interest on the debt, etc.), six hundred and sixty millions; expenses for the collection of taxes, one hundred and eighty millions; military expenses, five hundred and sixty-five millions; all other State services, three hundred and thirty-five millions. And it was within the limits of this last figure that they must make a saving of almost eighty millions in order to establish the equilibrium of the budget! It is evident that that was impracticable.
But that was not Signor Crispi’s principal difficulty. He, as well as his majority, could have very easily forgotten the promises made to the voters, and they could have agreed to impose all the new taxes which the country could yet endure in its present economic situation, which is very bad.
The difficulty arose from the composition of the majority itself. If the reader has followed the exposition given in my last letter, he will know that the majority was composed largely of persons who had no personal esteem for Signor Crispi. They supported him simply because he was in power and they needed him, either for their private affairs or to defend the Conservative party against the Radicals. But after the elections the Conservative party, finding itself much stronger, thanks to the support of the government, began to think that it could very well manage its affairs all alone, without further recourse to Signor Crispi. From that moment the latter had only this choice: either to become the servant of that party, or to abandon power. He did not realize this; he hoped to balance the forces of the Right with those of his friends of the Left, and remain master of the situation. The Right wanted four ministers; on this condition it consented to continue its support of Signor Crispi, and would have voted all the taxes which he desired. So, when Signor Giolitti, the minister of finance, resigned because the ministry was not keeping its promise to balance the budget by economy, the Right did not abandon Signor Crispi, but contented itself with more persistently claiming the price of its services. Signor Grimaldi, the successor of Signor Giolitti, lately made his financial statement; be favored an increase of certain taxes, among others of that on spirit of wine and liquors, and for this purpose be demanded an immediate vote of the Chamber, effecting this at least temporarily, in order to prevent speculators from buying up alcohol and liquors in anticipation of the increase of the tax. No one dreamed that the ministry could fall on such a question; though the majority, It is true, were in ill humor on account of a law proposed by Signor Crispi, which would suppress a certain number of prefectures. The bourgeoisie, which had allowed the people’s bread to be taxed without a word, were much agitated by a law which injured its interests in the provinces where the prefectures were to be suppressed. But it was said that Signor Crispi would have yielded and would finally have withdrawn his bill. On the other hand, it appears that he had promised the ministry of the treasury to a deputy of the Right, Signor Luzzatti, who had reported the bill for the tax upon alcohol. Everything seemed to be going, therefore, in favor of the ministry, when, on Saturday, January 31, Signor Crispi allowed himself to be led into a violent attack in the Chamber upon the ministries of the Right which had been in power up to 1876, accusing them of having presented budgets which balanced only in appearance, and upon having maintained a servile foreign policy. This let loose a perfect tempest. One of the ministers, Signor Final!, who had been a minister of the Right before 1876, abandoned the ministry’s bench. Signor Luzzatti, who had reported and defended the bill, declared that, after these offensive words from Signor Crispi, he would vote against it. Other leaders of the Right made the same declaration. The telegraph has already told you the upshot of all this; the ministry had only one hundred and twenty-six votes in its favor, one hundred and eighty-six pronouncing against it, and Signor Crispi tendered his resignation.
This situation is not very well understood abroad. The French newspapers believe that the Chamber has given a vote against Signor Crispi’s politics; this is an error; it is only a family quarrel between Signor Crispi and his allies of the Right regarding the number of portfolios to be given the latter. The person who should read only the report of the proceedings of the Chamber would get no idea of this. Here were deputies who were all favorable to the bill, one of them even, Signor Luzzatti, having reported it, who suddenly voted against it on account of a word which Signor Crispi let fall, and which he even tried to take back, saying that he had intended no offence to any one. This seems an enigma. But the explanation is that Signor Crispi’s words meant something quite other than a simple historical blame upon the ministries of the Right previous to 1876; they meant — a much more serious matter — that Signor Crispi wished to govern in his own fashion, and did not intend to give the Right the four ministers which it claimed. It was on this point that he fell, and any other interpretation could only lead to error.
Now what will happen? When this letter shall reach America, the telegraph will have already told you whether Signor Crispi has been charged with the formation of a new cabinet, or whether that duty has been entrusted to some deputy of the Left, like Signor Zanardelli, or even some deputy of the Right, like Signor Rudini; but, whatever the solution, the conditions of Italy will be very little changed.
Italy will continue to belong to the triple alliance, for the king is favorable to it, and the bourgeoisie believe that the triple alliance protects Europe against the propagandism of republican ideas, and that it is favorable to the interests of the Italian dynasty and to those of the bourgeoisie, which can thus continue to exploit the country. Now, as long as Italy shall belong to the triple alliance, she can scarcely reduce her military expenses, which are the country’s real plague.
The only difference will be this,— that, if Signor Crispi is no longer in power, more politeness at least will be shown toward the government of the French Republic. If the latter shall be satisfied with this; if French capital shall again come to the aid of Italy,— the existing economic crisis will be relieved for a moment. But it will not be slow in reappearing, unless an attempt is made to reestablish the equilibrium of the budget by the reduction of military expenses.
Florence, Italy, February 1, 1891.
The Poor Devil’s Reply to Pentecost.
When I read the sickening review of “My Uncle Benjamin” that lately appeared in the “Twentieth Century,” my first thought was: How Pentecost will catch it from his admiring friend Reitzel for this drivel! And I waited eagerly for the next number of “Der Arme Teufel” (The Poor Devil). It came, and I was not disappointed. Under a heading difficult of translation, but which means that such an assault as Pentecost’s puts a new feather in Uncle Benjamin’s cap, appeared an editorial article, of which a translation is given below for Mr. Pentecost’s benefit, lest his partner, Mr. Lenbuscher, may not have read it to him.
I should never have dreamed that I would ever be called upon to defend the Uncle Benjamin, My Uncle Benjamin, all good men’s uncle; and defend against whom? against a man whom I was proud to call my colleague, because he also, alone, and without the backing of any boasted organization, lifts his voice in the wilderness; against Hugh O. Pentecost.
Under the signature of the editor the “Twentieth Century” printed a review of Tucker’s translation of “Mon Oncle Benjamin.” When I had read this astonishing document, I could think of but two explanations: either Pentecost is still smarting under Borne critical blows that Tucker dealt him as editor of Liberty, and is taking his revenge by according full tribute to the translation, the merits or demerits of which he cannot appreciate anyway, but attacking the character of poor Uncle Benjamin in a way that is a disgrace; or Pentecost bas, is . . . but of that later.
That the man, in some hidden corner of his brain, had a suspicion of the weakness of his opinion is shown by the fact that be repeats it several times unnecessarily and in a confused manner. He says something like the following: There are indeed some pearls of wisdom scattered through the book; but to my mind to get at them is much like grubbing in a dunghill. Uncle Benjamin is a man who devotes his life to getting drunk and consuming other people’s wares without paying for them. To be sure, he has much sang froid and “some” wit, but one cannot but wish that he might associate with more cleanly and honorable people than one meets with in this book.
This is about all that Pentecost wanted to say, but he feels constrained to repeat: The philosophy is indeed admirable, but the character of this Benjamin ought to have been left in obscurity; he is a common, worthless drunkard, “without a single virtue” except a certain goodness of heart which almost every frequenter of barrooms has.
Besides the assurance that the book contains one or two excessively vulgar chapters, the assertion is now also made two or three times that it is not worth reading, and that he himself has not been obliged to labor through such stuff for a long time, etc., etc. But the suspicion lurking in the hidden corner of his brain impels this sorry critic to repeat ad nauseam that this is merely his, Pentecost’s, opinion, and that others may think differently.
But this apparent toleration counts for nothing in such a case. I am quite intolerant here, and I say: whoever judges such a book in such a way has sat in judgment on himself. If Pentecost were publishing a Catholic paper, I should consider him natural; for if one cannot strike an intelligent student of the holy sham splendor in any other way it will suffice to take up his character, which in such cases must always be immoral. It bas ever been so. That Giordano Bruno liked good wine just as well as the holy father, that he did not leave the joys of love exclusively to the monks and priests as a privilege, must at the present day still compensate for and cover up the fact that his philosophy shook the foundation of the church. If Pentecost were a puritan, I should forgive him; the man who pays his dinner with kisses and compels a marquis to kiss his posterior must of course be an abomination in the eyes of one who from pure fear of hell can no longer see the blue sky and who from pure earthly lust of power acts the meek to perfection.
But bold, that is surely one of the chapters which appear as “excessively vulgar” to friend Pentecost. Here I must refer him and those like him to the defence made by Fr. Th. Vischer against a similar attack: He who delays at the one point and expostulates on it, it is he who is vulgar! But whoever reads Tillier’s book understandingly, and not like a child, will see that this point, in this case, and in view of the historical conditions, was a moral necessity, the only satisfaction that could come to our hero for the ignominy he had been made to suffer.
But, our hero?! To Pentecost he is only a common drunkard! I understand the editor of the “Twentieth Century” is very fond of beer, very fond indeed. May he experience many such drunks as Uncle Benjamin’s! It will only be to the advantage of his paper. But the physician Benjamin does not pay his debts! It all depends on what one calls debts. A model citizen considers the man who refuses to pay his taxes also as a swindler, and him who does not pay his rent as a delinquent; but friend Pentecost openly counsels persons not to pay taxes and regards the collection of rent as robbery. Here he ought to take Uncle Benjamin for his ideal. But if the critic had read carefully, he would know that Uncle Benjamin cheated nobody, that he only worried the mighty, the stingy, and the small-souled, but that he was at all times the friend, the very welcome friend of the poor, the honest, the poor devils. Pay! Does one pay only by money, then? The pretty Manette would surely not have taken my money for the kiss of Benjamin; not even a hundred of Pentecost’s I O Us. Is it nothing to be the sunshine and the helping hand to the hearts and the wounds of the weary and heavy-laden?
Of course, the bad company! Kinship with a poor process-server, an itinerant soldier who devoted his life to his country and who out of all dangers rescued only a healthy thirst and a healthy appetite, a quack who taps the rich in order to be more to the poor than ten physicians, a humorist who, back of all hocuspocus, conceals a heart of gold, and others such. If Benjamin had only led a respectable life, kept on a good footing with the mayor and the judge, be might have been invited to the soirées of the marquis and found an opportunity for strewing his pearls before the feet of the ladies of high degree! To be sure, the carpenter’s son of Nazareth also kept company with publicans and sinners; but Pentecost left him in the church.
Except a certain goodness of heart this poorest of critics could discover no virtue in Benjamin. He knows nothing of the serenity that will not bend under the blows of fate, that, like a tree, will send forth new shoots from just where it has been Injured; one can forgive him that. But it is a literary vulgarity not to know or not to want to know of that sublimest courage that lives in Benjamin, the courage of telling the truth to the might; and of putting a life fed by a thousand joys in pawn for the least of the children of men.
Enough. Uncle Benjamin would not thank me were I to enumerate his virtues. Pentecost too can point to others in justification of this criticism which he ought not to have written. No less a man than the naturalist Dubois-Reymond once declared in the tone of a schoolmaster that Goethe’s “Faust” Is an immoral play, Faust a seducer of girls, and Gretchen a prostitute! He reaped the scorn of the world. And I — I shall in future put reins to my enthusiasm for Pentecost. For I have made the experience that one must beware of men who absolutely lack the sense of humor, this grandest gift of the gods.
“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.
A Trip to Chicago.
The friends of Liberty and of liberty of Chicago having secured for me an opportunity to present my Anarchistic views on the modern social problems to their Economic Conference, I visited Chicago in February for the purpose, and passed a few days of busy and delightful activity. Some of the things I have seen and heard there I now wish to communicate to the reader, taking his interest in them for granted.
I arrived Saturday evening, February 14, and met all the “plumb-liners” at the office of Comrade Schilling. Chicago, by the way, has sixteen “plumb-liners,” and many sympathizers, or candidates for that title. I was assured that individualistic Anarchism was growing and making excellent progress in Chicago, while so-called “Communistic Anarchism” was speedily becoming a thing of the past, ancient history. The meetings of the revolutionary Communists are very poorly attended, and intelligent men have ceased paying them attention. On the other hand, the interest in radical individualism, in philosophical Anarchism, is spreading among students of social movements and principles.
The Sunday evening meeting I shall never forget. The hall — Recital Hall, in the Auditorium — was crowded, over six hundred men and women being gathered to listen to a presentation of Anarchism. The Economic Conferences have been arranged for the purpose of bringing business men and workingmen together and helping them to understand each other, to become acquainted with each other’s views on theoretical as well as practical questions relating to industrial and political relations. These conferences have accomplished a great amount of good, and Chicago is justly proud of them. To Mr. Salter, the leader and teacher in the ethical culture movement, is due the credit of having conceived and organized these conferences, now in the fourth year of successful operation. At the meeting which I addressed there were present all sorts and conditions of men and reformers. Workingmen were there and millionaires, bankers, manufacturers, professional men, and politicians. State Socialists were there and Communists, as well as single-taxers and conservative labor reformers. In a word, the audience was an intelligent one and inclined to be critical — which made my position very critical. I had never addressed such an audience before, nor in any other capacity assisted at such a gathering. I do not think any other city in the country can boast of harboring such an institution as the Economic Conference, and he must regard himself fortunate indeed upon whom the privilege of appearing on that platform is conferred. No man with firm convictions and a good cause to champion can reasonably wish for a more discriminating audience.
I may as well confess that I rose to speak with the fear — perhaps expectation — of failure. Nothing hurts a sound case so much as loose and faulty arguments advanced in its behalf; and I had not been able to prepare any careful essay or address, and was obliged to do my talking and thinking simultaneously. Even the few disjointed notes I had jotted down I had forgotten to take with me. But a pleasant surprise was in store for me. I had not used up ten minutes of the hour allowed when I was made aware that the audience was friendly,— I may say enthusiastically sympathetic. The most radical of my utterances, whether in reference to the condition I advocated or to the condition I denounced and ridiculed, were vehemently endorsed, and the favorable demonstrations continued to the end, not merely of my address, but of the evening’s programme. My answers to the many questions from the different schools represented in the audience seemed to be regarded as more than satisfactory, and such of the questioners as attempted to be sarcastic at my expense at once incurred the displeasure of their fellow-auditors. I mention all these facts because nobody was more astonished at them than myself. The enthusiastic endorsement and cordial treatment which I received at the hands of my audience was, and is, really a great surprise to me; and not to me alone, but also to my comrades in Chicago. Schilling could not account for it, or any other of the plumb-liners who was present.
All the Chicago papers had reports of the lecture, and many contained editorial criticisms of it. But as the reports, with one exception, were misrepresentations, the editorial criticisms, based upon these reports, were not, of course, criticisms of my position, but of the reporters’ interpretation of my position. I am positive, however, that none of the reporters meant to do me an injustice; on the contrary, they vied with one another in paying me compliments. But the unfamiliarity with the thought expressed made it next to impossible to them to represent me fairly. Even the editor of the Chicago “Arbeiterzeitung,” who ought to be able to grasp the ideas and point of view of his individualistic opponents, showed in his report that he had misconceived my position and that my elaborate explanations on certain important points had been utterly wasted so far as he was concerned.*
Besides the Economic Conference I addressed the “Working People’s Social Science Club” at the Hull-House on “Socialism and Individualism” and spoke at a “parlor meeting” arranged by Mrs. Charlotte C. Holt, the Hyde Park plumb-liner, in her own house. Both these gatherings were truly successful. I regret not to have been Able to accept the kind invitation of that other remarkable Chicago institution, the Sunset Club, to attend their gathering on February 19 and discuss the money problem. Nothing would have pleased me more, had circumstances permitted it, than to lay before that intelligent body the plan of mutual banking — which was the subject they themselves suggested for treatment by me; but there were so many things for me to do, to see, to hear, and so little time to accomplish all that in, that some had to be sacrificed.
For the people of Chicago — of the city itself (stockyards and all) I am too charitable to speak — I have nothing but praise and admiration. A more tolerant, hospitable, social, liberal people it would be unreasonable to wish to deal with. The manners, spirit, and habits of the New Englanders had almost led me to doubt the validity of the generalization regarding man’s being a social animal. My Chicago experiences, however, have strengthened my confidence in the correctness of that induction, and I now am ready to look upon the New Englanders as exceptions that only prove the rule. I am aware that many will smile sadly and wonder at my unstinted praise for the people of Chicago — the people who a few years since put to death some of the noblest and best men they ever were called upon to honor and appreciate; I am aware that during the entire period between the deserved punishment of the ruffianly police who undertook, contrary to express orders, to suppress a peaceable meeting of workmen, and the execution of the Communistic reformers on the charge — never legally proven — of responsibility for the death of the police in the street,— that during that whole period the people of Chicago, with but few exceptions, showed themselves bloodthirsty beasts rather than human and rational beings. I am aware of those facts, and they are facts. But what I have personally seen and heard in Chicago are also facts, and I state them as such, without pretending to explain the apparent paradox. No doubt the growing conviction that the treatment of the Communists was a shameful outrage and a criminal blunder has a tendency to make the Chicagoans somewhat more tolerant to those on whom, broadly speaking, the mantle of Spies and Parsons has fallen; but human nature is not revolutionized in the course of a few years, even in the West, and it would obviously be absurd to attribute all the good qualities displayed by the Chicagoans to the anxiety to atone for previous wrongdoing. My Chicago comrades claim that their fellow-citizens have always been distinguished for liberality and simplicity and sincerity. I am obliged to admit the justice of the claim, and content myself with noting the facts which are certainly strangely and strikingly inconsonant with the flattering view of Chicago humanity which my comrades take and which my own limited opportunities for observation appear to warrant.
But to proceed with the story. I was taken by friends to the famous Cook County bastile, the jail in which Spies, Parsons, Lingg, Fischer, and Engel were murdered according to Gary-Grinnell law, and was allowed to inspect the cells which the seven prisoners occupied. The exact spot in the north-side corridor upon which the gallows was erected was pointed out to me, as was also every other spot of interest connected with that memorable tragedy, including the scene of the police riot and the bomb-explosion, the Haymarket monument, and the places where the supposed conspirators were wont to congregate.
With Schilling I went to Joliet and had an interview with Fielden, Schwab, and Neebe. I found them in good spirits, and was sincerely glad to perceive that Fielden and Schwab took a philosophical view of the situation. They are not without hope, and their friends in Chicago are not inactive; but they are endeavoring to make the most of their present condition. They are treated well by the officers, and are not obliged to work hard. They have plenty of time for reading, and a good library to make selections from. Painful as it was for me to see them in convict garb, the hour’s chat we had was of a nature to inspire optimistic sentiments. Schwab and Fielden, I can state positively (and, I think, Neebe also), now realize the utter idiocy of the revolutionary programme of the “whoop-her-ups” and have lost all faith in the absurd method of the revolutionary Communists. They read and greatly enjoy Liberty and the “Twentieth Century,” derive a good deal of pleasure from “Free-thought,” especially from George Macdonald’s “Observations,” and generally watch social and reform movements with interest. Any radical papers sent to them will be duly delivered; only it would not do for editors of dull publications to take advantage of this circumstance. Fielden thought the “Truthseeker” rather dull, and commented upon its neglect of vital social and political problems. Pentecost, he said, he liked exceedingly, but he justified Liberty’s criticisms of his inconsistent attitude. He thought Mr. Tucker’s comments àpropos of Mr. Pentecost’s refusal to print my reply to Helen Gardener entirely pertinent and forceful. He said they had all enjoyed Mr. Simpson’s compliments to the whoop-her-ups; but wanted me to remind Mr. Simpson that he was one of the whoop-her-ups himself a few years ago.
I met many of the Chicago leaders in reform, and I have abundant reason to think that the principles of Anarchism will rapidly obtain wide recognition in intellectual circles. In mutual banking many of the prominent business men are interested, and nowhere will it be found easier to gain support for a movement against government monopoly of money, mails, and similar functions, than in Chicago. Many years ago I heard John Swinton speak, on a New York platform, of the rapid growth of labor organizations and the sentiment in favor of labor reform in Chicago “under the genius of Geo. A. Schilling.” I am happy to assure the grand old man, John Swinton, that Geo. A. Schilling now finds more important work to do than agitating for tradesunionism. He leaves that to others, and successfully works for the popularization of the principles of true individualism and Anarchistic Socialism. He is a power in the community, and he is ably supported by his comrades.
I am deeply grateful to the Chicago plumb-liners for the honor and pleasure which they accorded me in arranging my trip to their city, and rejoice in the knowledge that they think that my visit may result in some good to the movement. V. Y.
* In a characteristically stupid and mean deliverance, Herr Most, in the “Freiheit,” commented upon my alleged strictures upon strikers, boycotters, and other persons fighting monopoly. As Herr Most based his comments on an incorrect report of my remarks, they cannot concern me. I am resigned to Herr Most’s condemnation, but in this instance he condemns something for which I am in no manner responsible. As to Herr Most’s personalities, I have too much pity for his intense misery to say even one harsh word against him. I can only fight strong and more or less successful people. Poor, desperate wretches appeal to my generosity and are always sure of indulgence.
One is always anxious to place a charitable interpretation upon the conduct of a friend when he suddenly takes a surprising course that has a very questionable look. Hence, when I saw in the Chicago “Fackel” Mr. Bechtold’s editorial assault on Mr. Yarros’s lecture in Chicago, in which the most despicable motives were unhesitatingly attributed to the lecturer and outrageous sentiments placed in his mouth which he never uttered, I tried to think of it as some woful mistake which would be followed by adequate explanation and rectification. But this hope almost entirely disappeared when I was shown, a few hours later, the following extract from a letter written by George A. Schilling of Chicago to George Schumm:
If you have such a severe censure for Mr. Schultze, what must you say of our plumb-line friend, Mr. Bechtold, who, In two columns of Sunday’s “Fackel,” roasts Yarros on what he did not say? I confess I do not understand it, because Bechtold was at the meeting, and, on account of his poor hearing, I gave him a chair in the front row. Notwithstanding this, he takes the report of the “Times,” which was full of falsehoods, and uses it as the sole basis of his article. And, wont of all, he called my attention to the “Times” next day, and I told him, In the presence of Schultze, that the report was entirely unreliable. I had a talk with Schultze yesterday, who was also present sitting on the platform, and be admitted that Bechtold’s article was not warranted by the facts.
Unless Mr. Bechtold can offer some defence of which I do not dream, my former feeling of great respect for him will speedily change into one of great contempt. His course seems to me inexcusable. T.
Let Us Have Justice.
When Victor Yarros went to Chicago in response to an invitation from the “Economic Conference” to address its members and the general public on the subject of Anarchism, it was of course to be expected that but scant justice would be done him by the capitalistic press. We were indeed all prepared to see his utterances twisted out of all resemblance to their original shape and his true position grossly misrepresented. And without entering into detail, our fears in this regard came true to the very letter.
It was also to be expected that but little, if any, more justice would be meted out to Mr. Yarros by the daily organ of Communism published in the Western metropolis, the “Arbeiterzeitung.” The very tone of the announcement made of his forthcoming lecture by that paper led us to look for the worst for our friend at its hands. Yet in this case things turned out differently. For, while the “Arbeiterzeitung” did indeed grossly misconstrue, and utterly fail in perceiving the true import and significance of, the remarks of the lecturer (which I half think due to a constitutional incapacity of the Communistic mind for grasping the Anarchistic ideal), it was on the other hand exceptionally just and even highly complimentary to him personally. So far as it went, this was rather an agreeable surprise.
But there was also awaiting us a surprise of a totally different nature. For while we had not expected anything except abuse and misrepresentation of Mr. Yarros at the hands of our enemies the capitalists and the Communists, we did look to Mr. Bechtold of the “Fackel” for enlisting in his defence against calumny and hostile criticism. We had every reason to entertain such a hope. Mr. Bechtold is one of the very few German editors who understand individualistic Anarchism, and he is neither a Communist nor a State Socialist. Besides, he had warmly bespoken the attention of his readers for Mr. Yarros’s lecture. His conduct in this respect, it will be remembered, was in noble contrast to that of the editor of the “Arbeiterzeitung.” And last, he is generally known as an eminently just man.
However, notwithstanding these promises of fair treatment at the hands of Mr. Bechtold, we were Borely disappointed. Instead of getting a faithful report of what Mr. Yarros said and commenting on that, he accepted the report of the “Times” and made it the basis for a bitter attack on the lecturer and on what he slightingly terms the Quaker school of Anarchism. According to this report, Mr. Yarros denied some of the cardinal principles of Anarchism and spoke contemptuously of August Spies and his comrades. And on the strength of this version, false on the face of it, Mr. Bechtold charges Mr. Yarros with having made a bid for popularity among the ranks of the capitalists and with having proved recreant to the cause championed by Liberty. He does not seem to have verified this report. No misgivings as to its correctness appear to have entered his mind, for he uses some of the most objectionable passages therein attributed to Mr. Yarros as if they were literal quotations from his lecture, passages which ought to have aroused the suspicion of any fair-minded man, especially when put forward by a journal with the motive and the cue for misrepresentation that characterizes the “Times.” Such conduct is indefensible, and I grieve to think that Mr. Bechtold made himself guilty of it. I readily admit that if Mr. Yarros had betrayed his cause in the manner charged, and had employed the language in reference to the Chicago revolutionists, ascribed to him by a prostitute press, he would have richly deserved the castigation administered to him by the “Fackel.” It would indeed come in bad grace from any Anarchist to speak sneeringly of “the Hay-market riot-inciters” and of “the crime committed by bomb-throwers at the Haymarket” before a mainly capitalistic audience. But no one appreciates the gravity of this offence better than Mr. Yarros. And, as he would be the first to condemn it in others, he would be the last to commit it himself. As we know him here it would be utterly impossible for him to belie his entire past, and to say aught that might allow the Chicago bourgeoisie to lay the flattering unction to their souls that an Individualist-Anarchist could have anything but respect for the characters of the men who are now sleeping at Waldheim, or anything but absolute horror for the crime of the Eleventh of November. But I have still stronger reasons for considering Mr. Yarros innocent of the offence imputed to him. A number of my friends who attended his lecture and who are exceptionally reliable and trustworthy in such matters, assure me that the “Times” report is false from first to last and that Mr. Yarros said nothing like what is there attributed to him. That settles the matter tor me.
But if the “Times” report is a fabrication, Mr. Bechtold’s criticism falls to the ground. It will be a difficult task to repair the wrong done Mr. Yarros, but I trust Mr. Bechtold will not be frightened from attempting it. G. S.
Copyright. — II.
Mr. Yarros is an easy writer. A proverb tells the consequence to readers. He began on copyright by designating the “notion” of a perpetual monopoly of ideas as “too silly to require any force for its refutation.” But in his second article he says that “it is only the difficulties in the practical application of the general principle that necessitate the abridgment and limitation of the right of property in this particular sphere,” and, as to the perpetual and unlimited right to property in ideas, “there is no argument against such a monopoly which does not apply equally well to monopoly in things material produced by labor.” In his third article, he claims by the general principle of equal liberty property in ideas as having “the same sanction as property in material things,” and says: “In no case does the author or inventor who has the monopoly of the use or sale of his invention or discovery infringe the equal right of others.” But the application of the principle is difficult, hence “where absolute justice cannot be had” a temporary protection is accorded. As to literary works he says: “I see no reason for violating the general principle in this case.” Now then, was it excessively silly (if all this be so) for anyone to entertain the notion of a perpetual monopoly of ideas, at least until the practical breakdown of the general principle was discovered? Is it too silly a notion to need refutation, though Mr. Yarros’s refutation does not directly affect the notion, but affects a line of conduct? Can every one be expected to know off-hand when a general principle must be violated?
I gather that Mr. Yarros believes in two kinds of copyright: perpetual as to the exact form, and temporary as to the ideas,— temporary protection against plagiarism. In saying “ideas”, I am reminded of a question how far form of expression is idea and bow far it is labor. I feel quite certain that it is both combined in varying proportions; but, to proceed, I will say of form, to eliminate all question of coincidence, here is a book with the author’s name on the title page.
Mr. Yarros professes to diverge from the Spencerian position,— to make a distinction between the right to property in inventions and the right to literary property. Was it not an unnecessary distinction to be paraded in front of Mr. Tucker in view of the fact that Mr. Tucker was not attacking merely perpetual copyright and patent right but the temporary right also,— and in view of the fact that Mr. Yarros believes in the right of protection in the one case for some time and in the other for all time? Tucker is after the Canaanites and the Amalekites, whereupon Yarros comes in and says: l perceive a distinction. These are not all Amalekites!
The alleged divergence of Mr. Yarros from Spencer appears to consist not in a distinction between copyright, in the broad sense in which Spencer uses the word, and patent right, but in a distinction which leaves a great deal of copyright still in the same category with patent right and separates one conceivable kind or degree of copyright from the rest so remaining with patent right. Though Spencer does not make that distinction, there is nothing to show that he would be unwilling to make it. Had Mr. Yarros repudiated property in ideas and held to property in the form, there would have been a difference between him and Spencer instead of there being simply a distinction in that he analyzes a point which Spencer leaves untouched, but which Spencer’s argument would lead Spencer to analyze to the same effect were he considering copyright more minutely and not with relation to first the general principle and secondly his expedient abandonment of the general principle on account of practical difficulty. But were Spencer making such distinction, he would not call this a distinction between patent right and copyright, but a distinction between (1) that copyright which protects against plagiarism and with this all patent rights, and (2) that copyright which might be given to an author for his work say with his name on the title page.
Says Mr. Yarros: “I cannot follow Spencer in his attempt to abridge the right of authors to their literary works.” Yet Mr. Yarros has avowed himself in favor of abridging something which goes by the name of copyright — the protection of a monopoly in ideas — which is what Spencer had in view, as witness the quotation from Spencer made by Mr. Yarros. Spencer speaks of “new knowledge,” being claimed as private property, of “property in ideas,” which “it seems difficult to specify,” and thereupon he couples the inventor and author together, “patent and copyright.” All this shows that the abridgment spoken of was conceived with reference to that element in copyright which protects property in ideas.
On the Spencerian argument itself, I will claim a hearing in another article, but I will now draw attention to these facts, namely, that whereas Spencer introduces assertions with the phrases: “It is tolerably self-evident,” “It is clear,” “It is further manifest,” Mr. Yarros predicates that “property in ideas is logically deduced by Spencer from the principle of equal liberty.” Spencer’s language does not lead me to think that Spencer would make quite this claim. He finds himself prepossessed in favor of property in ideas, and, as far as shown by the quotations, he does not perceive any violation of liberty in reaping a harvest from the activity of others whom he may assume to have been aided by the ideas. He does not see the harm of the method by which the man who supplies the idea is aided to secure his alleged share in the results of its application. The most I make of Spencer’s position as viewed by Spencer is that he thinks property in ideas is not vetoed by the principle of equal liberty; and included in his notion of property in ideas is a projection of power which I shall not admit to be part of the science of industrial relations.
Prohibition and Equal Liberty.
“We didn’t suppose the Anarchists were going to repeal even the laws of logic,” sneers the “Voice” in winding up a reply to my criticism of its position on prohibition. In this sneer I find cause for regret as well as satisfaction. The sneer is unworthy of the fair and sober-minded “Voice” which I have learned to appreciate in a comparatively short time; it would do well enough in a shallow paragraph of a “popular” paper, but to see it in the “Voice” makes me ashamed of and sorry for — the “Voice.” On the other hand I cannot but derive satisfaction from the reflection that, if the “Voice” is losing temper and getting angry, this is an indication of its consciousness of failure and weakness.
As the “Voice” has not grasped my point about its change of the line of defence, I will not occupy space with a reiteration of it, and will proceed to show that the two charges made by the “Voice” against me,— namely, that I offend against common sense, and that I reason in a circle,— are totally unfounded. The “Voice” says: “The first point sought to be made is this: If it is the duty of the Government to protect society from the violence and other kinds of injury instigated by the saloons, is it not also the duty of Government to protect society against the injury caused their families by men who work too much, smoke too much, eat too much, speculate too much, or become too excited over religion? And since many men use weapons to shoot down others, ought not the business in fire-arms to be suppressed? Put in another form, this argument would read as follows: If the Government finds it unwise or impracticable to protect society against all kinds of evil, then it ought not to protect it against any. The proper answer to this is an appeal to common sense.”
I have no doubt the “Voice” thinks this crushing. As for me, I am simply amused. I have not the slightest objection to an appeal to common sense. What does common sense say? Why, that government is to protect society only in cases where it deems it wise and practicable to interfere. Isn’t the whole question made clear and settled finally? I fear not. The real question hasn’t been touched at all. How is the government to decide where it is wise and practicable to interfere, and where it is not? As the “Voice” knows, opinions differ on this as on all other questions. Some good people are not ready to stop where the “Voice” does, but wish to go much farther in the direction of interference; while others stop short of the “Voice’s” goal, and still others decline even to take one step in line with it. How, then, is the government to decide? Let the majority decide, let the government enforce the opinion of the majority duly expressed, will the “Voice” say? But this necessitates merely a slight modification of the phraseology of my question, which I put in this way: How is the majority to decide? Manifestly the majority cannot make any decision if no guiding principles are offered. Has the “Voice” a guiding principle? It claims to follow the principle of equal liberty. In other words, it professes to think that it is unwise and impracticable for government to interfere except where equal liberty is violated. And I, for the sake of the argument, concur in its view, adding only that where equal liberty is violated, government interference is imperative, and that government is equally bound with the rest of us to respect the principle of equal liberty.
Now, I claim that it is no violation of equal liberty to buy or sell intoxicants, that the liquor traffic is a legitimate activity. The “Voice” denies this, saying: “The whole question is begged by ‘V. Y.’ The very point he assumes is the point in dispute, namely, whether it is a ‘legitimate activity’ to sell liquor. He assumes that it is, and triumphantly asks whether the government has a right to interfere with such activities! Before such a circular argument, which ends just where it begins, we drop our pen in despair.” To which I answer: No, good friend, I do not beg the question, and do not assume the point in dispute. You must have been in despair before you took up your pen. Didn’t you admit yourself that, “if A wants a drink and B sells it to him,” “no one is wronged if A does not drink to excess”? That admission disposes of your case. I am strictly within my right in wishing to buy or sell a drink. To prohibit me from doing this is to violate equal liberty. What right have you, or the government, to assume that I will drink to excess and commit a crime? Does everybody who drinks drink to excess and commit crimes? No. Then it is a crime to prohibit men from buying and selling intoxicants, and prohibition is a violation of equal liberty. Some men, you cry, drink to excess and commit crimes, but this has nothing to do with me. Is my liberty to be violated because other men misbehave? Nobody objects to your punishing the criminal, be he drunk or sober. And this is all that equal liberty warrants you in doing. If, however, you are so illogical as to pretend that, in offering to purchase or sell ardent spirits, I violate equal liberty because some other man may drink to excess and commit a crime, then I point out to you that it is equally a violation of equal liberty to buy or sell a knife, because some man may buy a knife for purposes of homicide. Remember that, as we have premised, government is to interfere in every case where equal liberty is defied and disregarded.
No, no, it is useless for the prohibitionists to profess adherence to the principle of equal liberty. Prohibition is tyrannical, unwise, and impracticable. The “Voice” will some day be forced to choose between equal liberty and prohibitionist tyranny. It cannot serve both. V. Y.
Weak and Illogical Criticism.
On Sunday evening, February 22, Master in Chancery I. K. Boyesen lectured before the Chicago Economic Conference upon “Liberty Regulated by Law.” The lecture was in the nature of a reply to Mr. Yarros’s address at the previous meeting. One of Liberty’s friends and contributors writes as follows with reference to Mr. Boyesen’s reply:
I was at the Auditorium last night and heard Mr. Boyesen on “Liberty Regulated by Law.” It was far below my expectations. A much stronger case can be made against the Anarchist than the one made by him. While he took the position that government has no right to exist for purposes other than protection to life and property, his arguments were so contradictory of this principle that he was not even interesting. You have often read articles in which the general proposition is made that governmental functions should be restricted to protection of life and property, and in dealing with particulars violate the principle continually. His remarks were of the same nature.
He opened his address with the statement that, if your presentation of Anarchism is Anarchism, then there surely is nothing dangerous in it,— not even practically dangerous. He said, “My ideal of government is the same as that of Mr. Yarros. If the people of any community were developed to an extent that there would be no desire to encroach upon each other it could no doubt be realized, but that not being the case, it must be recognized only as an ideal with no practical connection with the present. Taking things as they are, no one can rationally assume that freedom of action without the restraint of law would not lead us into chaos.”
He looks upon government as an iron band which encircles society and prevents its members from violating the law of equal freedom,— at least in so far as its function is restricted to the protection of life and property. In taking exception to your statement that taxation without consent la robbery, he says, “If men seceded from the State, the remit must be social war.” He takes no consideration of the fact that men who would or do withdraw from State protection, withdraw because protection is offered at a lower rate by an organization or organizations In competition with it (that is, if protection is at all necessary).
His criticism of State Socialism was rather good. While not making any philosophical argument against authority per se, he cited numerous cases of State enterprise which performed the functions in a slow, cumbersome, and extravagant way, concluding his criticism by saying that be cannot see how government which does the most simple things badly should do everything good. No doubt be was unconscious of the fact that his criticism of Anarchism fell flat because of his criticism of State Socialism.
He knows absolutely nothing of economics. He says the working people are receiving a larger proportion of their product than they ever did and that that proportion Is constantly increasing, and looks to the time when they will receive all they are entitled to. One of the obstacles to this attainment is the tariff. The attendance was not extra large, about 350 persons being present.
The Importance of Money.
Senator Stewart and ex-Congressman Warner having delivered addresses in Faneuil Hall, Boston, on the economic condition of the country with special reference to the money question, the Boston “Herald” criticises Senator Stewart. The article may be profitably reviewed as an interesting mixture of sound sense and unconscious dropping into fallacy. It says:
Senator Stewart’s economic theories seem to be based on the notion that money is a more important factor in the prosperity of a community than almost any or all other circumstances. He asks why it is in this age of plenty, when there are good crops, no famines, no pestilence, no wars, that millions are starving for bread, that willing workers are out of employment, and that bankers stand behind their counters fearing disaster.
There is indeed much ground for emphasizing the importance of whatever serves to carry on trade on a secure basis in a condition of society where exchange of products is the most prominent feature in connection with production, and this is the case throughout the modern civilized world. Want of confidence is terrible in its effects. This evil is not to be dealt with as a moral defect, for it will scarcely be contended that in business it is one man’s duty to have confidence in another to the point of dispensing with evidences of credit. Money or its equivalent commands confidence. The government can not stand clear of blame for want of confidence in business circles if it has done and is doing anything to prevent sound tokens of credit from coming into being. The “Herald” says:
Assuming, for the argument’s sake, that this is a fair picture of our present condition, it is hardly likely that $1,000,000,000 of additional currency, either of gold, silver, or paper, would materially mend matters. The economic trouble, we are now contending with, and which, as Senator Stewart sees it, threatens the commercial and social future of this and other countries, is not the want of a circulating medium, for it is conceivable that gold and silver might be entirely exhausted without making men any poorer than they now are.
There is truth in the last words but the argument is grossly faulty. It is conceivable that a world without gold or silver might be a prosperous world with plenty of well secured currency. But it is scarcely conceivable that as long as the people rely upon gold and silver these might be exhausted without making them poorer until they took a new turn and supplied themselves with other currency. Under the existing circumstances of the present dependence the want of gold and silver coin is a want of circulating medium. The “Herald” makes an unproved assertion in saying that the trouble is not in the want of a circulating medium. Almost everybody realizes that if there were no circulating medium there would be a general collapse of trade. Men are made poorer by arrest of production whenever their activities are paralyzed. These are paralyzed by want of transferable security. Society has tied itself to certain forms of evidence of credit, and if these were suddenly exhausted there would be sudden ruin for want of a circulating medium. What might be a matter of no importance under a scientific currency system may be of the greatest practical importance under actual conditions. To illustrate this in another sphere. Undoubtedly in the abstract the people of the United States, though this country were all the land in the world, could prosper. But if tomorrow all the foreign markets were closed against American wheat and cotton, that would be quite a blow at American wheat and cotton producers. To take a more parallel case. In some small city the epizootic appears and the street car service is affected. Pooh, says a theorist like the “Herald,” how can the street car service suffer for want of horses? If there were no horses In the world it is conceivable that there would still be excellent street car service. Truth — truth impressed into the service of error. The “Herald” concludes:
What we have to take into account is the question of distribution — the problem of whether each man receives, in the general division, all to which he is justly entitled. Whether this division is represented by gold dollars, silver dollars, or is measured in some other manner which meets with worldwide approval, Is of small concern compared to what the proportionate allotment may be.
Money or currency is one of the important agencies in affecting the distribution, and let it be remembered that though a large proportion of the nominal exchanges be made by paper, the disability imposed upon other property than coin as to use in assuring just confidence in the paper, leaves confidence trembling when the coin is absent, known to be absent and expected to be demanded in any quarter.
Two Ways of Keeping House.
[George E. Macdonald in Freethonght.]
I am keeping home now-a-days in an absurd and incongruous fashion up on Yerba Buena street, just over the brow of the eminence known as Nob Hill. There is a noticeable difference between being on Nob Hill and over the brow to the north of it. On my way home I pass the residence of Stanford, walled and banked by a million of gold; also the Huntington residence, shut off from the thoroughfare by impregnable gates; likewise the Hopkins house, turreted, cupolaed, and minaretted like a Mohammedan mosque; and Flood’s mansion, a sarcophagus of brown stone.
As I went by Flood’s house the other day, a seedy individual accosted me for a nickel, which he got. He had applied at the north door of the millionaire’s residence in vain. “It is hard lines, podner,” said he. “Away back in the fifties, many’s the time the owner of that house has wiped off the bar after I had taken a drink.” And I said sternly, “Learn therefrom a lesson; to wit, you were on the wrong side of the bar.” And he went away murmuring.
So I passed by the sarcophagus that occupies a whole square, with its ornamented brownstone fence and great towers of the same material four feet square and four feet higher than my head, and bronze casting costing twenty-five dollars per foot, and gates of bronze valued at more than I expect ever to be worth. Over the expensive sidewalk I passed, and I saw the tramp squirt tobacco juice upon it, and I saw that the vagrant cur respected not the gate-posts of the rich man: and I saw no lights in these houses save in the servants’ quarters; and I asked, “What is wealth?” and replied to myself that it is something I would risk being possessed of all the same. Over between the houses of the rich men I went to the cottage on Yerba Buena street, where there is a light in the window of the parlor, the sitting-room, the dining-room, and the kitchen, which are all one room; and in the same window is a girl that knows me, with a baby that doesn’t know me from his worst enemy; and here I enter. The interior is absurd and incongruous, but it has evidence of occupancy. On the mantel is a vase of rose leaves and a can of condensed milk. On the wall hang a parasol, a broiler, a pair of hunting-boots, and a woman’s veil side by side. There is a typewriter with some dishes on it; on the trunk a clothes-basket with a baby’s bed in it; in the corner a pine chiffonier supporting a tea-pot and some bacon; on the backs of chairs square white cloths enough to start a nunnery; in the corner a wooden box containing books, with a damask curtain draped around it; on the table a bottle of cologne and a plate of potatoes; on a blacking-stand a square coal-oil can supporting a music-box; here is a wash-stand and dishpan, and a painted plaque, and a bag of potatoes. Everything is here,— art, music, literature, food, domesticity,— all at an expense of a dollar a day. The owner of the brownstone mausoleum can have no more. He cannot come buoyantly home at night with a pound of liver in one hand and a quart of onions in the other. He cannot see Mrs. Flood bold a youngster on one arm and flop over a piece of frying bacon with the other. He cannot sit in the midst of his household, as I can, and reach everything he wants. I sometimes think, too, that with all his acres, he has not so large a ranch as I have. He has not so many intelligent people within the sound of his voice. Perhaps he has not so many friends who would give him a dollar if he was broke, and a dollar would not do him much good anyway.
Do not Flood, and Stanford, and Huntington represent a class that is passing away like a shadow? Will there be any more of their mansions built in San Francisco? They were in with the State at the start, and they hogged it. Is there virtue in Koch’s lymph to revive the uncrowned kings? Shall they rest with the Pharaohs and be mummies? Will the descendants of the tramp who squirts tobacco juice upon their sidewalks perform the same office for their monuments, while their seed, wasted by dissipation and disease, disappear beyond the help of ten-thousand-dollar funeral sermons to save them? The boy that with just opened eyes looks out from the window on Yerba Buena street may see new things in his day and generation. He may, perhaps, Bee the wrecked sons of the opulent gazing upon the ruins of the mansions their fathers built with ill-gotten coin. Or he may see existing a half-century from now the same vast and echoing mausoleums that I see today, and he may keep house in the same absurd and incongruous fashion that his irresponsible progenitor does at the present writing.
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.