“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.
A fact which will interest many people is communicated by Andrew Carnegie in his article in the “Nineteenth Century” for March. He says: “In speaking to Mr. Spencer of Mr. George’s book [“Progress and Poverty”], Mr. Spencer told me that he had read a few pages, and then thrown it down as ‘trash.’”
During the “railroading” of the international copyright bill through the last congress in its expiring hours, the senate amended it in such a way as to completely abolish domestic copyright. Unluckily the mistake was discovered in time to be rectified. The only good that congress does is done by accident.
“It is unfortunately to be remembered,” laments E. C. Walker in “Fair Play,” — and our hearts go out to him in sympathy,— “that the ‘Twentieth Century’s’ literary guidings are decidedly Will-o’-the-Wispish, as is evidenced by its extremely wild and hyperbolic praise of that semi-Christian piece of rhodomontade, ‘Valmond, the Crank,’ a work as utterly lacking in purpose, point, coherency, and intelligible and useful lesson, as is its congener, ‘Bounding Bob, the Bold-Browed Buccaneer of Borneo.’”
So boundless is my admiration for the colossal qualities of Zola and his works that I cannot bring myself to write soberly on the subject. For this reason I have asked Mr. Yarros, who is not yet as crazy as I am in this direction, to write an article for the next number on Zola’s latest novel, “Money,” which I have just translated and published. Meantime I congratulate myself upon my self control in confining myself to the moderate remark that “Money” is perhaps the greatest novel yet written by the greatest novelist that has yet lived.
The “Freethinkers’ Magazine” for April contains: Portrait of the Horace Seaver Monument; “Life and Career of Charles Bradlaugh,” by George Jacob Holyoake; “The Evolution of the Devil,” by ex.-Rev. Henry Frank; “Spiritualism,” by Lyman C. Howe; “Shall the Bible be read in the Public Schools?” by Richard W. Westbrook, M. D.; “The Samarian on Change,” by Moncure D. Conway; “The Secular School Manual on Morality,” by Ida C. Craddock; “The Dirge of the Sea,” by Voltairine DeCleyre; poem, “Dwight L. Moody,” by Parker Pillsbury; “Doubt,” by “Agnosticus,” and much other matter.
A very intelligent student of Anarchism, in a private letter, refers to certain objections to the single tax doctrine and observes that she is after economics, and not after sentiments. While the purely economic objections to the single tax are neither few nor insignificant, it is to be regretted that the shallow pretensions of ignoramuses who fancy themselves great authorities on political economy, entitled to dismiss all ethical and philosophical considerations as “sentiment and not economics,” should mislead persons of ability and penetration into repeating or echoing this absurdity. It is Ruskin, I think, who says, that it is only a sentiment which keeps a man from eating his mother. With the political economy which contemptuously ignores “sentiment” it is too late to quarrel. It was killed and buried long ago. My friend should distinguish between sentiment and sentimentalism. By the way, is “Progress and Poverty” a severely economic book? Followers of Henry George cannot fairly object even to sentimentalism and theology.
The “New York Financial and Commercial Chronicle” reasons with the Farmers’ Alliance on the question of currency, and reasons surprisingly well. It agrees that “more currency is wanted in the West,” but doubts whether, “if more of the kind we now have were issued, the West would get more.” The “Chronicle” clearly appreciates the dangers of monetary fiatism, and therefore calls the attention of the Alliance to the real solution of the financial problem. It expresses its belief that the general principle by which Congress should control itself is as far as possible to give to commerce the liberty to shape its own currency; and says: “It is a question with us whether the most suitable legislative act that could he taken today is not the simple repeal of the tax on circulation. Of course, that proposal suggests visions of the diversified mixture of worthless stuff which obtained before the day of national bank note currency. We have no fear of the revival of any such situation. The commerce of today, if free to act, would not tolerate, but would detect and reject, any insecure circulating medium. Besides, did not commerce make the check, with the clearing house to facilitate its movement, the most perfect instrument which exists? The bill of exchange, too, for international trade is also the creature of commerce.” Labor has cause for rejoicing: industrial freedom is ahead.
The London correspondent of the New York “Times” writes: “It is a long time since England has had a social drama which has excited such universal interest as is still felt in the case of Mr. Jackson, who a fortnight ago forcibly abducted his unwilling wife and kept her in captivity in his house until the courts finally compelled him to let her go free. The lower court, indeed, supported him, but on appeal he was beaten, and all the untamed husbands of the realm are writing indignant letters to the papers about it. If a husband is not to coerce his wife, then they feel that the British constitution is truly in a perilous state. The decision does indeed create an absurd anomaly in the marital relation, for the Lord Chancellor has, in substance, decided that the wife may, with or without cause, leave her husband, refuse to return to him ever again; but this gives him no ground for legal complaint, much less for divorce. It is small wonder, then, that the emancipated class of females are kicking their heels with glee, or that the ‘Pall Mall Gazette,’ their special mouthpiece, apotheosizes the Lord Chancellor as a second Daniel come to judgment, but the sheer folly of the whole situation must hasten forward a root and branch reform of the divorce laws here.” A repeal of the marriage laws, I should say. But does not the English law provide that a husband may use “reasonable force” — beat her with a stick of a certain size — to make his spouse obey him?
The newspaper paragraphes all discuss Oscar Wilde’s article on “The Soul of Man Under Socialism” and talk of his conversion to Anarchism, thus again showing that they are hopelessly incapable of understanding either what Oscar Wilde says or what Anarchism means. Oscar Wilde’s position is that of a Communist, although his ignorance of all economic questions renders him a very poor advocate of the system. He insists upon the abolition of private property and the adoption of the principle, To each according to his needs and whims not even possessing the practical sense to supplement it by the demand, From each according to his capacities. He will have neither property nor regulations of any kind; yet he speaks of the State producing all useful things. How is the State to produce anything if no man may be compelled to perform this or that task? How can private property be abolished if no force and no despotic measure may be resorted to? These questions Oscar Wilde does not answer, and none but a simpleton would expect him to answer them. The man who attributes any importance to Oscar Wilde’s contributions to the literature on social, ethical, and political questions is a man whose own opinions are of no value whatever. I am aware that the editor of the “Twentieth Century” has spoken enthusiastically about Oscar Wilde’s article, claiming to have found in it extraordinarily fine and convincingly clear arguments for human freedom; but I am sure that Mr. Pentecost had not read the article when he praised it so highly. The intemperate abuse of the reactionary press must have led him to presume that the article was excellent. It is to be hoped that he will read it and hasten to assure his readers of its utter worthlessness. If Pentecost does not do this, some people, less charitable I than I, may be bold enough to suggest that he himself is hopelessly incapable of distinguishing between reasoning and claptrap, between science and nonsense.
Referring to the declaration of the Philadelphia “Times” that it opposes all encroachments of the State upon the rights, business, or duties of the people, Mr. Bellamy exclaims: “If Republicanism be not a sham, the State is the people, and to talk about the State encroaching on the people’s business is to talk about the people encroaching on their own business. A ‘sovereign people’ which had not the right of attending to its own business would be a joke indeed.” Evidently M r. Bellamy does not know what Republicanism is. The difference between sham Republicanism and genuine Republicanism is that under the former a minority of the people is the State, while under the latter the State is a majority of the people. The question then is whether the majority has a right to encroach upon the rights of the minority, to enslave the minority, and the Nationalists had better frankly answer the question once for all. It is futile to rant about the State being the people. If that were the case, we should not be now engaged in these controversies; unanimity of opinion would naturally lead to harmonious action. Now, are the Nationalists willing to defend the right of the majority to enslave the minority? If not; if they allow that the minority has rights which the majority is bound to respect,— will they specify those rights and inform us how the minority comes into possession of any rights? Will they tell us how they arrive at the conclusion that it is right for a man to choose his religion, his wife, or his food, and wrong for him to choose his employer or his occupation? The State, the Nationalists say, exists for the protection of the people against abuses (by the way, if the State is the people, and the State exists to protect the people against abuses, then the people protect the people against the people’s abuses of the people!); it is manifestly impossible to do any rational protecting if no clear definition of abuse is given. Let the Nationalist, before making another effort to convert us, define “right” and “abuse.”
Proudhon, the Father of Anarchism.
His Personality and His Philosophy.
[From Dr. S. Engländer’s “Abolition of the State.”*]
“For many centuries the spiritual has been separated from the secular power in accordance with the adduced formula. By the way, I may remark, that the political principle of separation of powers or functions is one and the same as the economic principle of the separation of industries and the division of labor. On this point we see the identity of the political and social constitution already foreshadowed.
“Now, I hold that the spiritual and secular powers have never been wholly separated, that consequently their centralization, to the great detriment of the Church Government and of believers, has always been unsatisfactory. The separation would he complete if the secular power ceased to mix itself up in the celebration of the mysteries, the administration of the sacrament, in the management of the parishes, and also took no part in the appointment of bishops. Centralization would be greater, and the Government far more regular, if the people In every parish had the right not only to elect their pastor, vicar, or, if they pleased, none at all; if the priests of every diocese elected their bishops; if the Assembly of Bishops alone had the power of regulating religious affaire, theological education, and public worship. By this means the clergy would cease to be an instrument of tyranny over the people in the hands of the political Government. By this application of universal suffrage the clerical regiment, which is centralized in itself, receiving its inspirations from the people, and not from the Government or the Pope, would remain in constant harmony with the requirements of society and with the moral and intellectual condition of the citizens.
“But what do we see in place of this democratic and rational system? Certainly the Government has nothing to do with the questions of public worship; it does not teach the Catechism, or give instruction in the seminaries. But it selects the bishops, and the bishops select the priests and vicars, and send them, without in the least consulting the people, into the parishes; so that Church and State, intimately connected one with the other, though often quarrelling, form a species of offensive and defensive alliance against the liberty and autonomy of the people. This joint Government, instead of serving the country, oppresses it. It would be useless to enumerate the various results of such a state of affairs; they are palpable to every one.
“Therefore, to regain organic, economic, and social truth, the constitutional cumulus must first be abolished, by depriving the State of the right to appoint bishops, and sharply dividing spiritual from secular affairs; secondly, the Church must be centralized in itself by a system of graduated elections; thirdly, the clerical power, like every other in the State, must be based upon universal suffrage. This system transforms the present Government into a simple administration; all France, so far as regards clerical functions, will be centralized.
“By this simple fact of the electoral initiative the people thus governs in sacred as in secular matters, is itself governed no more. And we can easily imagine that if it were possible to introduce an organization of secular affairs throughout the whole country, with similar bases to that proposed, for the administration of clerical affairs, the most perfect tranquillity and the most powerful centralization would obtain, without the existence of anything of what we of the present day call established authority or government.
“One more instance. Formerly, in addition to the legislative and executive, a third power was reckoned,— the judicial. It was a deviation from the separating dualism, a first step towards the complete separation of the political functions as of the industrial forces. The constitution of 1848, after the pattern of those of 1814 and 1830, speaks of only one judicial class.
“Class, power, or function I find here, as in the Church, a fresh example of cumulus by the State, and therefore afresh wrong done to the sovereignty of the people.
“The various specialities of the judicial functions, their hierarchy, the irremovability of the judges, their cohesion under a single monarchy, all show a tendency towards centralization. But the judges do not in the least stand under the rule of those persons for whose benefit they were appointed; they are entirely at the disposal of the executive power, and are not by election subordinate to the country, to the president, or prince, by appointment.
“Thus it happens that those persons for whose benefit judges are appointed are just as much banded over to their own natural judges as the parishioners to their priest; and the people become the heritage of the officials; the plaintiff is for the judge, not the judge for the plaintiff.
“But let universal suffrage and a graduated system of election be adopted for the judicial as for the clerical function; let the irremovability of judges, that surrender of the right of election, be abolished: let the State be deprived of all power and influence over the judicial body; and let this exclusively centralized class stand only under the people, and the most powerful instrument of tyranny would have been taken from the governing power. The administration of justice will then become a principle of liberty and order. And if we do not assume that the people, from whom, by means of universal suffrage, all power emanates, is in contradiction with itself, that it requires in the administration of justice a different system to what it requires in religious matters and vice versa, we can rely upon it that this division of power will bring about no conflict. We can calmly lay down the fundamental law that separation and equilibrium are synonymous.
“I come now to another sequence of ideas: the military system. Is it not true that the army belongs to the Government? That it, by permission of the constitutional dreamers, belongs far less to the country than to the State? Formerly the general staff of the army was the military court. Under the Empire, the united corps d’élite were called the Old and Young Imperial Guard. Every year the Government takes, but the country does not give, 80,000 conscripts. Government in the interest of its policy, and to carry out its will, appoints commanders, orders the movements of the troops, at the same time as it disarms the National Guards. The despotism of its armed force, of its noblest blood, does not appertain to the nation which arms for liberty and glory. Thus here again social order is endangered, not from want of centralization, but in consequence of defective division.
“The people has a confused idea of this preposterous condition of affairs, since in every revolution the withdrawal of the troops is urgently insisted upon; Also a law on the recruitment and organization of the National Guards and the army is demanded. And the authors of the Constitution marked well this danger when, in Article 50, they ordained that the President of the Republic has at his disposal the armed force, without, however, commanding it in person. Really! Wise lawgivers! And what object is obtained in his not commanding it in person, if he appoints the commanders, if, according to his good pleasure, he can send them to Rome or Mogador, if he can dispense advancement, orders, and pensions, if he has generals who command in his stead?
“It belongs to the citizens hierarchically to appoint their military commanders, since the soldiers and National Guards would choose the persons to fill the lower and the officers the upper grades. Thus organized, the army retains its feeling of citizenship, and is no longer a nation in a nation, a fatherland in a fatherland; no longer a wandering colony where the citizen, naturalized as a soldier, learns to fight against his own country. It is the nation itself centralized in its strength and youth, independent of the Government, which cannot command it or dispose of it as now, when every judicial functionary or police agent can, in the name of the law, invoke the armed power. In times of war the army only owes obedience to the National Assembly and the commanders appointed by it.
“When the humanitarians among the Socialists see these papers, they will perhaps ask if I look upon public worship, justice, and war as eternal institutions, and if it is really worth the while of a reformer to take so much trouble for their organization? But it is clear that all this does not in the least prejudice the necessity and essence of these great utterances of the social thought, and that we, if we could appeal to the sole competent verdict of the people as to the independence and duration of these institutions, have nothing else to do but to give them, as I have already said, a democratic institution. Religion and justice belong to that class of things which I have called organic, and it is for the people alone to decide whether it is to be overthrown or maintained. Every other initiative in this direction would be either tyranny or deception. In war at least every one recognizes a sad necessity which will doubtless be abolished by the progress of liberty. Will you anticipate this abolition by some centuries? Then begin by separating and centralizing the functions, by disarming government. I now proceed.
* Continued from No. 180.
Legislation and Catastrophes.
The recent collision in the New York tunnel has directed public attention to the legislation against stoves in passenger cars. The indignation over the failure of the New Haven Company to remove the stoves and substitute steam heat is as boundless as it is universal. It appears that but a few days before the New York wreck the railroad commissioners of Massachusetts submitted a report to the Legislature in which they declared that “in the present development of train-heating systems there would be no excuse for the management of a railroad on which there should be any loss of life by fire started by individual heaters.” The loss of life having occurred, the public indignation is great. But, as is commonly the case, the good people are slow in learning the real lesson of the deplorable accident. The New Haven “Register” unfolds this interesting tale: “For years the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad has been conspicuously opposed to the substitution of steam for car stoves. Every excuse that au elastic imagination is capable of making has been made to delay a peremptory order to make the change. The heater (stove) has been declared the only safe means of heating cars, all other methods being condemned as imperfect and unsatisfactory. Bills have been introduced in every legislature for years prohibiting the use of car stoves by railroads in this State, but in every instance the magic of railroad influence has succeeded in strangling them at their birth. Occasionally an aroused public sentiment, the outcome of a, timely accident and holocaust elsewhere, has required the use of extra influence, but, unless we are mistaken, no one of these bills ever succeeded in finding its way from the committee room into either House. They have all died a-borning, and a community not very vigilant in watching legislation has soon forgotten that the effort was ever made. A stringent law was passed a few years ago in New York State, but thus far the consolidated road has succeeded in escaping its enforcement. It has attacked it in every court up to the highest, and has been as persistently defeated. It is now, we believe, straining every nerve to secure from the General Assembly of that State an exemption from its operation on some one or more of the many plausible arguments successfully made in the committee-rooms of our State Legislature.” The “Register” does not believe that the company will succeed in its object, for “general attention having been drawn to the fact that it is evading a law . . . public opinion is sure to assert itself.” In other words, while legislation against stove heating has proved futile, public indignation, aroused by “timely” catastrophes and wrecks, has brought about certain improvements, and is expected to be productive of further improvements. But, then, what is the use of legislation? If nothing can be done without the aid of “timely accidents,” why appeal to the legislators at all? It ought to be easy for those who admit that legislation has not prevented catastrophes to see the folly of depending on legislation, even though they may not see — what, nevertheless, is true and manifest,— that between legislation against stoves, and fires from them, there is a relation of cause and effect. Did not the people trust to legislation so much they would watch the policy of railroad companies, and compel them to adopt all necessary precautions. They would not need to be aroused by actual disasters; the possibility of disaster would make them vigilant and careful in dispensing their custom, and under such conditions no railroad could afford to display indifference to public safety. The consciousness that legislators are regulating the matter removes anxiety and occasions a feeling of unconcern and a sense of security,— with what results, we know. The more legislation, the more catastrophes. Will the public ever discover that it is imperative to put an end to legislation against catastrophes? The wages of the public’s sins of omission is disaster and death.
A Superficial Examination.
Some months ago Liberty administered a sharp rebuke to Gen. Trumbull, of Chicago, for a thoughtless sneer at the plan of mutual banking which he did not understand. It now takes pleasure in reprinting, from the “Open Court,” some extracts from his critical report of the Sunset Club debate on money,— extracts in which considerable advance and improvement may be discerned. Mr. Trumbull, if not yet a believer in mutual banking, is at least a believer in free money.
They had a most animated and exciting debate at the banquet of the Sunset Club on the 19th of last month, for the subject was “Money and its Functions,” a theme fruitful of political superstitions, and illuminated by a spiritual faith in the omnipotence of government to make the numbers three and five exactly equal in quantity and value to each other, an innocent belief in the miraculous power of Congress to engraft new laws upon the ancient scheme of Nature, so that we may gather grapes of thorns and figs of thistles, or pluck dollars from the tree of legislation, a feat which amounts to the same thing. . . .
With much enthusiastic feeling, and a good deal of eloquent “spellbinding,” Mr. Furbish glorified the legal-tender greenback, and sneered at the gold bug and the silver bug. In the creation of abundant fiat money he beheld the relief and the regeneration of the poor, the solution of the social problem, and the coronation of justice as king over all the nations. As a basis for fiat money, after scornfully rejecting gold and silver, Mr. Furbish offered this, “the power of the people to collect a revenue.” In explanation he said: “It rests on the power of the government to collect a revenue beyond a tax, wider than a tax, taking more than you conceive is necessary for a tax, because it takes that value which the community created, which belongs to the community.”
The chief speaker on the other side was Mr. Lyman J. Gage, who traced the evolution of money from shells and coonskins up to gold and silver, which now hold supreme dominion as money, by virtue of the inexorable sentence that the fittest shall survive. . . . .
Several other members of the club reinforced the arguments of Mr. Furbish and Mr. Gage by pertinent remarks, but nobody exposed that arrogant presumption of governments which impels them to interfere with money and its functions, especially that dishonest usurpation of authority to make anything whatever a legal tender in payment of debts. No earthly power can do that. The law that attempts to do it is void in morals as it is mischievous in policy. A debt contains a moral obligation which none but the debtor can discharge.
So, also, nobody denied the right of government to nickname coins in order to give them an arbitrary and artificial character expressive of no quality in the coins. Why not make an honest ounce of silver a monetary unit and name it truthfully an “Ounce”? If the name of every coin expressed the actual weight of it, the multiple or fraction of an “Ounce,” the people would not be so easily deceived by the fiscal tricks of governments. Florins, francs, dollars, and shillings, are deceitful nicknames, intended to conceal the quality of the money they pretend to describe. They may be of different weights at different times, but no government could coin three hundred grains of silver and call it an “Ounce” without being at once detected, nor could such a coin be made available to cheat the workingman out of a part of his wages.
The debate at the Sunset Club, while excellent as far as it went, would have been more instructive had it reached further down towards the moral elements of money and its functions.
The Kind of Revolution Needed.
People can become accustomed to a great many things. They are accustomed to the system by which lucrative offices are used as bribes. There is really no essential difference between bribing with money and with any other valuable consideration. Such things make the Senate unpopular, but there is the same tendency all the way through practical politics. Of course, as the people begin to reflect upon it, they know that it is useless to expect the passage of just and equal laws by men who secure their election through the means of bribery. Still It seems as if the people could control the election of senators. If there be anything that the people have within their control it is the election of the Legislature. But the people are not a unit. They are attached to various leaders of factions and parties, and the masses are dependent to a great extent in their business circumstances. It is quite a question whether shameless political jobbery will not go on until it is fetched up sharply by popular revolution. No revolution will do any real good except a revolution in the ideas of men, which will drive out party slavery and mental subserviency, but the seemingly useless disturbances will come, and again and again States and governments will be overthrown in blood unless men learn better use of reason before conditions become keyed up as tightly as they were before former revolutions. The masses of mankind have little to lose except life. Life has always been held cheaply by the upper minority in dealing with the lower majority, and since the age is almost agnostic, life is held cheaply by.the masses. There is, however some hope in the placidity of the people. It is surely better that they should not become excited about what occurs. They should know and feel, but not so as to become unbalanced and fighting hot. They cannot do better than keep cool and study the principles of government. A magical transformation may be effected when the people come to think and refuse to be organized in fighting factions; when they think and discover that economic and personal liberty are all that they need. Laws? Yes. All the laws needed can be written in the space of the ten commandments. Courts? Yes. There must be a court in every town.
Confidence and Economic Liberty.
Professor Eliot appears to have enunciated an important proposition often heard: the foundation of all prosperous business is confidence. But this must be qualified or explained. The confidence which is ill-founded is on the road to ruin. Just confidence is meant. Just confidence demands as a preliminary proper evidences of credit. The professor’s idea that the foundation is not“more or less circulating medium” is true in a sense and false in a sense. It is as true that the prosperity of a country lies not in “more or less imports,” but it may probably lie in freedom for such importing trade as arises under demand, and it would be assisting in an outrage for one to use the premise as a sophistical excuse for prohibiting importation. The prosperity of the United States would doubtless be greater with well-secured bank notes, drafts, and bills in needed quantity, and the present quantity of government money, than with trainloads of greenbacks and an enforcement of “cash” payments; but President Eliot should not forget that a circulating medium properly secured is one of the essential conditions of wisely reposed confidence in many hand-to-hand transactions, and that consequently when there is less circulating medium than is demanded by those who can give perfect security for it there is a break in the current of confidence at those points where no other evidence than circulating medium can be conveniently or inexpensively employed. The truth, then, is that prosperity, so far as circulating medium is concerned, depends not on the “more or less,” as fixed by an arbitrary authority, but on there being not less than those with proper security demand and are willing to pay for the creation of. It is precisely as if one should say that the prosperity of a country does not depend upon the deposits in savings banks, the number of sewing machines, or the amount of life insurance. Surely it depends upon there being economic liberty that af! these facilities for conserving and mobilizing wealth may exist to the extent to which they are demanded by honesty and responsibility.
Early American Ideas.
The common fallacy at the root of all class legislation is the assumption rebuked by Madison and Jefferson, that public administration may properly invade individual liberty. In the writings of Madison, vol. iv., page 422, he says: “The sovereignty of society, as vested in and exercisable by the majority, may do anything that could be rightfully done by the unanimous concurrence of the members; the reserved rights of individuals (conscience, for example) in becoming parties to the original compact being beyond the legitimate reach of sovereignty, wherever vested or however viewed.” And Jefferson asserted the same thing in his letter to Gilmer, June 7, 1816, in these memorable words: “Our legislators are not sufficiently apprised of the rightful limits of their power, that their true office is to declare and enforce only our natural rights and duties, and to take none of them from us.” European ideas of government and sovereignty have in appearance almost supplanted those early American ideas, and society suffers accordingly; but still the fundamental thought of the declaration, individual sovereignty, lives in intelligent minds free from the taint of ambition to enslave others and from the servility which endures enslavement to the will of others without protest and passive resistance. The greatest of all political inconsistencies is interested class legislation sanctioned by professed followers of American principles of liberty. The complexity of modern industrial arrangements is a lame excuse for it. The greater the complexity the greater the danger of any tampering with the mechanism of nature. Now industrial production, demand and supply, are of individual contrivance, and it is entirely an innovation and empirical scheme to interfere with them by authority.
Evolution in Finance.
Nothing more striking in finance than the extent to which payments are assured by means of checks and similar devices. If the evolution of precious metals as standards of value is the cause for admiration, surely as much can be said for the means of payment. By banking facilities ultimate payment in commodities is assured and paper in the form of orders and certificates serves as the intermediary in nine-tenths of the transactions which occur through the banks. Then why is it that the admirers of evolution as regards gold as the standard are not likewise avowed admirers of evolution as to the means of payment? They must know that when parties are willing to refer to the standard, but when law compels the actual presence of the standard, law prevents the action of evolution by free contract. A contract to deliver 500 pounds of cotton is fulfilled by the delivery of a bale which weighs 500 pounds or more if thrown on the scale by the buyer. The seller is not bound to furnish a pair of scales, whereas on the other hand the debtor’s check may be good for ten times the value in property of his debt, but he is in default if he fails to tender as means of payment the coin or paper designated as the standard, made by law the means of payment in violent subversion of the tendency of evolution to separate the two functions. Banking science can and does separate them where the evolution is permitted to occur in the form which it will assume in freedom. Panics occur mostly by temporary absence of the technical legal means of securing a release; in other words, from the mandate of law that the banking method shall give place again to the mediæval method in which the standard of value must be used as the means of payment. In material form, subject to conditions of time and space, the disastrous results of concurrent demand for its literal presentation are witnessed at intervals in every civilized country, and when they are averted in threatening circumstances it is by the address and courage and sagacity of great bankers availing themselves of the substitutes for mediæval money. The world owes much to the art of banking, and it will become a science when legislation becomes more liberal.
Stray Signs of Sanity.
To the Editor of Liberty:
I thought perhaps the readers of Liberty would like to hear of the numerous defences of liberty that were made at the last meeting of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, held recently at Philadelphia. The paper of the evening was by Mr. Frederick B. Hawley of New York on “The Preliminaries to Socialism,” and it was an interesting paper, although at times absurdly illogical. The speaker presented statistics compiled from the reports of Prof. Adams, United States Commissioner of Railroads, and from the United States Census, to show that only about one half of the total annual production of wealth goes to labor, the other half going to capital; thus negativing the conclusion of Edward Atkinson that labor gets about ninety-five per cent., and of George Gunton that it gets about eighty-five per cent. (I think), of the total wealth produced. He, however, while not advocating Socialism, attacked free competition, claiming that its results were disastrous, and that the consensus of economic opinion is that the functions of the government must gradually be broadened and enlarged. This attack on free competition called forth a gratifyingly large number of replies at the close of the paper. The sentiment seemed largely Anarchistic. Only one speaker argued for Socialism, or rather for Nationalism, which is really Socialism. Some seven or eight spoke for competition, most of them asserting that competition had never been free, and that the evil results spring from that very fact. Among others who held this was your friend, Mr. Bilgram. Another showed in short how the denial of competition in the issue of money led to interest. Prof. Giddings of Bryn Mawr College thought that many evils resulted from the inability of society (owing to manifold rules and regulations) to change its organization freely to conform with its ever-growing complexity. This was a good argument for Anarchism.
These expressions were gratifying, in that they demonstrated that there are still a good many obstacles in the path towards more government and Socialism, the tendency to which, I think, is clear.
The Academy has about sixteen hundred members, including many of the first economists in the world. Its president is Prof. James of the University of Pennsylvania.
Chas. L. Serrill.
326 Walnut St., Philadelphia, March 18, 1891.
Beauties of Government.
[Clippings from the Press.]
The record of the first session of the Oklahoma Legislature, filed in the Congressional library, closes with the following resolution:
“Whereas, it is now the day of final adjournment of the first Legislative Assembly of the Territory of Oklahoma; and
“Whereas, all the members of said Assembly who filed their certificates of election for record among the archives of the Territory of Oklahoma are now alive, after having passed through the ordeal usually attending legislators without any perceptible danger or marks of displeasure of the Creator of all law-makers; therefore be it
“Resolved by the House of Representatives of said Assembly, that the adoption of this resolution by the House shall be an expression of the members of thanks to him, the speaker of the Upper House in Heaven, to which House all members of this House should hope to be elected.”
Complaint was made to the county attorney yesterday that the circulation of the Kansas City “Sunday Sun” in that city was in violation of the State law prohibiting the circulation of indecent and immoral matter. Warrants were at once issued for the arrest of all parties found to be engaged in circulating the “Sun.” When the express train arrived from Kansas City last night, a man named Campbell, from Wamego, who had been sent here by the proprietors of the “Sun,” was seen to take a package of papers from the express office. He was promptly arrested and the papers seized, but as no sales or distribution of the papers had been made he was released, with the understanding that the papers should be returned or destroyed.
Several prominent ex-Republican members of the House are remaining in Washington, hoping that they may be appointed circuit judges under the law passed in the last hours of Congress, authorizing one new judge in each of the existing judicial circuits. It was discovered after the bill creating these new judicial officers had received the President’s signature that by a serious inadvertence the Circuit Court of Appeals would relieve the Supreme Court of all of the cases now on the docket of that court. The discovery was made but a short time before the. final adjournment of Congress, and a resolution was rushed through both Houses which corrected that mistake. The resolution also rectified the palpable error with regard to the first term of the court. In the bill it was stated that the first term should be held in January, 1891.
The police of Berlin, Germany, have entered upon a conflict with their superiors. Under-payment is at the bottom of the trouble. The policeman receives from thirty to thirty-five marks per month, aside from his clothes. He pays eighteen marks per year into the pension fund. The pensions these men receive after ten, twenty, or thirty years of service are 108, 147, and 215 marks per annum respectively. Recently the Police President declared that pensioners who are still able to perform any kind of remunerative work will hereafter be excluded from the benefit as long as their ability to earn a penny lasts. The overburdening of the fund is given as the reason for this arbitrary decree, which came like a thunderbolt on the heads of the poor men, who now for the first time learn that they have been paying half their lifetime into a fund the control of which is entirely at the discretion of their chief officer, who manages it after regulations laid down in the year 1848. Long and demonstrative petitions have been drawn up by the victims of red-tape protesting against the proposed forestalling of their pensions, and a mass meeting is to be held if the Chief of Police gives his consent. If this fails to bring about the recall of the order, an appeal will be made to the Emperor.
“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.
To Fair Play’s Subscribers.
It is with feelings of the most:poignant sorrow that we announce the suspension of “Fair Play.” We have worked very hard to maintain it, to make of it a worthy exponent of the principles of Anarchism,— as we understand those principles,— but the support has been inadequate; our circulation has never been sufficient to meet more than fifty per cent, of the expenses, and at last the hour has come when we must most reluctantly sever our relations with you. We thank you all for your sympathy and assistance, and trust that none will grow weary in the good cause of liberty, as certainly we shall not while health and thought remain.
We have transferred your credits to Liberty, knowing no other journal that is so nearly in alignment with our views and purposes. Liberty was the pioneer in the distinctively Anarchistic propaganda in this country, and is today the foremost representative in the world of the principles we cherish. We hope that you will give it your earnest support and multiply its readers by thousands. Clear, coherent, scientific thought is the world’s most pressing need. In our opinion, no other radical journal even approaches Liberty in its fullness of possession of those attributes.
For ourselves, personally, we need say no more than that we have no thought of abandoning the work in which we have so long ardently engaged. Our lines of activity are changed somewhat, that is all.
Regretfully, but still hopefully,
E. C. Walker.
Mr. Walker Joins Liberty’s Staff.
In welcoming “Fair Play’s” readers who come to Swell Liberty’s constituency, a hearty word of tribute belongs to its valiant editors, who have struggled so steadfastly under such disheartening conditions. “Fair Play” dies as it was born, a plumb-liner, and during its short life it has had an effect upon public opinion in its neighborhood which cannot be measured by the results manifest today. These little Anarchistic journals that spring up here and there throughout the country, and that live a month, a year, five years, and then die, are slowly shaping a force that will one day be felt mightily. And if in this movement Liberty was the pioneer, E. C. Walker was one of the earliest recruits.
It gives me great pleasure to state that Mr. Walker will hereafter be a frequent contributor to these columns, a fact which will partially console, I hope, the readers of “Fair Play.” He will also take the field in the West as a canvasser and traveling salesman for Liberty and my other publications. This is a line in which he has already proved himself an effective worker, and I trust that his new efforts may be crowned with more than his old-time success. T.
Proudhon at a Dollar a Volume.
It has often been complained that I sell Proudhon’s works at too high a price. I have always maintained in answer that nearly as many people will purchase them at $3.50 a volume as would be willing to pay $2.50 or even $2 a volume. Lower than the latter figure no one expected me to go, as $2 is considered a low price for books of that character, size, and quality. Lately, however, I have determined to try the experiment of going to the other extreme and making the price almost ridiculously low. Hereafter the price of “What is Property?” and “System of Economical Contradictions” will be $1 a volume, and any works of the same author that I may publish later will be sold in the same style at the same rate. T.
The Scientific Basis of Individualism.
In reviewing Mr. Donisthorpe’s treatise on the limits of liberty, I have concurred in his conclusion that “we cannot draw a hard and fast line between the proper fields of State-interference and the field sacred to individual freedom,” — that “there is no general principle whereby the effective majority can decide whether to interfere or not,” while intimating the need of certain qualifications of his statement. Before specifying and justifying the qualifications, let us refer again to Mr. Donisthorpe’s presentation of the general position. “We must give up all hope,” he says, “of deducing good laws from high general principles, and rest content with those middle principles which originate in expedience and are verified by experience. And we must search for these middle principles by observing the tendency of civilization. . . . By induction from the cases presented to us in the long history of mankind, we can, I believe, find a sound working answer to the question we set out with. All history teaches us that there has been an increasing tendency to remove the restrictions placed by the State on the absolute liberty of its citizens. . . . There has been a marked tendency (in the main continuous) to reduce the number of State restrictions. . . . State-prohibitions are becoming fewer and more definite, while, on the other hand, some of them are at the same time more rigorously enforced. . . . The proper aim of the reformer, therefore, is to find out, by a study of history, exactly what those classes of acts are in which State-interference shows signs of becoming weaker and weaker, and what those other classes of acts are in which such interference tends to be more rigorous and regular. He will find that these two classes are becoming more and more differentiated. And he will then, to the utmost of his ability, hasten on the day of absolute freedom in the former class of cases, and insist on the most determined enforcement of the law in the latter class.”
Mr. Donisthorpe is well aware that it is not always an easy task to determine whether a given case does or does not call for interference, but he would probably (as I have endeavored to show he must) coincide in the view expressed by Mr. Tucker with regard to such cases,— namely, that, where the propriety of interference is not absolutely clear, force is not to be resorted to unless no other means are available and the necessity of immediate solution unquestionable. According to Mr. Donisthorpe there is no way of deciding the question of jurisdiction between liberty and State-regulation save by determining to what class a given case belongs. History teaching us that government interference is futile in one class of cases and effective in another, all we need to do, all we are able to do when in presence of a new case, is to satisfy ourselves as regards its associations and family ties. If found to be a member of the family or class of cases known as “lower competition,” State interference in the matter is legitimate. If not, it may rightfully claim liberty for itself.
That this is satisfactory as far as it goes, I do not believe any defender of absolute political ethics would be disposed to deny. But let me ask Mr. Donisthorpe, in the language of Spencer, “whether it can be by mere chance that this kind of action works evil, and that works good”? Why are certain interferences futile, and certain other interferences effective? Are these results purely accidental? Suppose State Socialists, or other foes of individual liberty, were to argue (as indeed some do) that history does not repeat itself, that the lessons of the past offer no guidance for future policy, and State-interference, though in the past productive of mischief, is now becoming capable of producing blessings? Suppose they were to point to the present tendencies toward more government and claim that these are permanent rather than temporary, and that State Socialism rather than Individualism is the ultimate condition of civilized humanity? Surely Mr. Donisthorpe would not be nonplussed by such argumentation and would not find himself reduced to the answer, Time will tell. Surely Mr. Donisthorpe does not think that we need to undergo a century’s experience of State Socialism in order to gain justification for rejecting it. Surely he does not think that an accumulation of new facts — facts furnished by practical State Socialism — is requisite to a successful overthrow of theoretical State Socialism. Surely Mr. Donisthorpe would assure the Socialists that the same causes always produce the same effects, that the good and bad results of State interference “cannot be accidental, but must be necessary consequences of the constitution of things,” inevitable as parts of a necessary order among phenomena; and he would tell them that it is absurd to insist upon trying State Socialism in practice, when there is sufficient knowledge of the constitution of things to enable us to foresee the effects of it. But if Mr. Donisthorpe admits prevision, he admits the existence of social science, and hence admits the existence of general principles from which it is possible to deduce good laws or rules. This is not saying that we can always decide whether to interfere or not: for even if we have determined to abide by a general principle, we are not always sure as to the bearing of the general principle on particular cases. We may be ready and eager to faithfully adhere to the principle of equal liberty, but it may often be difficult to decide whether an infraction of the principle has actually occurred and interference thus authorized. I need only instance the unsettled question of copyright. Does anybody reject the principle of equal liberty? No; it is, on the contrary, strenuously insisted on by both sides. But the difficulty is in deciding whether property in ideas does or does not involve, necessarily, a violation of equal liberty. To me, it seems perfectly obvious that property in ideas is consistent with equal liberty; while Mr. Tucker claims that copyright plainly conflicts with equal liberty. There is no “high general principle” by which such questions as these can be solved. The general principle that A is equal to C if both A and C are equal to B, does not supply us with an answer to the question whether A or C is equal to B. Such questions depend for correct answer upon our knowledge of the facts and the quality of our logic.
I do not anticipate any opposition from Mr. Donisthorpe to this amendment of his statement. It is perfectly obvious that no profit and instruction are to be derived from a study of history,— of the fortunes of past legislators and regulators,— if the admission of the existence of social science is withheld at the start; while to those who admit a science of society the facts and lessons of history are valuable only in so far as they may be explained and accounted for by the fundamental laws or principles of that science. These fundamental laws or principles are not à priori assumptions, but laws and principles in the true scientific sense. We can and must determine the condition of harmonious social life by studying men and man biologically and psychologically. The actions of men being determined by their feelings and ideas, it is impossible to influence conduct without some knowledge of the laws of mind and of the laws of life. It follows that complete knowledge of these laws must reveal the principles of associated existence. The real and ultimate argument for liberty, therefore, is not that “history teaches us that there has been an increasing tendency to remove the restrictions placed by the State on the absolute liberty of its citizens.” This may be (and is) “an observed fact which brooks no contradiction”; yet it proves nothing. It only becomes important when interpreted in the light of psychological principles, when, in fine, it is demonstrated that liberty is essential to life and health and that inequitable regulation, arbitrary restraint, and tyranny of any kind are fatal to health and normal existence. The individualists are right because their position rests on a thorough knowledge of human nature, because they know what men’s instincts and feelings and ideas are better than those who antagonize liberty and favor more regulation and government.
After these preliminary explanations I may, without fear of being misunderstood, proceed to state my objections to Mr. Donisthorpe’s treatment of the question of Justice and its fitness as a guide to the solution of political questions. Provided his definition is accepted, all that Mr. Donisthorpe says with regard to the impossibility of deducing good laws from the principle of Justice must be concurred in. But Mr. Donisthorpe’s definition of Justice is wholly unsatisfactory. It is a legal rather than a philosophical definition, and I am at a loss to account for Mr. Donisthorpe’s failure to consider the definition of Justice accepted by Spencer and all philosophical individualists and Anarchists. That the definition of Justice as Impartiality makes the principle worthless as a guide to the solution of political questions is scarcely to be wondered at. But how about the Spencerian definition — the only definition that Mr. Donisthorpe was bound to adduce and examine in philosophically discussing the limits of liberty? Justice is the word by which we express the fulfilment of the first principle of social life, of the first essential condition of human happiness. That is just which is in harmony with the principle of equal liberty; justice is coextensive with equal liberty. Justice is not all that is needed to the obtainment of the greatest quantity of happiness in social life, but it is all which we may compel every member of society to observe and respect. The sentiments of love, generosity, kindliness, and superior intellectual development, are admirable, indispensable to the realization of the greatest happiness; but force cannot stimulate or maintain them. Justice can and must be enforced, and with it alone need we deal in considering political questions. Now, is it not true that Justice, thus defined, is the safest and clearest guide? Do not all of Mr. Donisthorpe’s difficulties vanish the moment the principle of equal liberty is invoked? All except one, which is purely subjective,— namely, the difficulty that we are not always in possession of all the requisite facts and mental properties and fitted to decide whether a given act is or is not a breach of the law of equal liberty. (And, as I have shown in my first article, this difficulty can never become the source of any great social calamities or disturbances.) From the principle of Justice, as thus described, it is possible to deduce good laws; indeed, in political science, this principle is the only one we have for absolutely safe guidance, and without it nothing is stable or certain. Justice, in this sense, is not a member of the same family as Beauty and Virtue; it is a scientific law. Mr. Donisthorpe says himself that, thanks chiefly to Spencer, “even the most impatient reformers now recognize the fact that the State is an organism”; he must be aware then that Spencer has also demonstrated that equal liberty or justice is simply the sociological aspect of the biological necessity of keeping up the due correspondence between the processes of waste and repair. What that correspondence is to the individual organism justice is to the social organism.
Evolutionists, indeed, have many ways of satisfying themselves of the reality of justice, or of the absolute validity of the law of equal liberty. The survival of the fittest implies the reaping of the reward of conduct by each and the absence of any forcible artificial interference with the natural relation between capacity and enjoyment. Equal liberty alone can preserve this natural relation. Then the evolutionist, prepared by his fundamental doctrines to expect to find feelings and ideas to correspond and answer to any deep-seated necessity to which men may be subject, only needs to attend to the evidence in the case to become convinced that, justice being an all-essential prerequisite or condition of harmonious society, a sentiment of justice has grown up which prompts men in their efforts to realize the condition conceived as just. Every man believes in fair play and equality of liberty — as far as his powers of abstraction and generalization permit him to apply the principle. The most cultured and refined representatives of civilized humanity present the highest development of the sentiment as well as the idea of justice, and the degree of perfection they have reached is a degree every human being may and will reach, even though we still find that men who profess to be, and actually are, governed by the principle of justice are ready to advocate measures involving outrageous violations of liberty. Lack of logic and imagination and penetration is what these inconsistent men suffer from. In some men the sentiment of justice is very weak, owing to unfortunate material circumstances and other causes, but this no more militates against the general position than the fact that some men commit suicide militates against the position that the love of life is our most powerful instinct.
To sum up: Were I to discuss the limits of liberty, I should insist upon the “high general principle” of equal liberty or justice as the first and fundamental principle of social life, and test and pronounce upon every proposal, every institution, from the point of view of equal liberty. This principle of justice negatives all compulsory government and establishes the fact that Anarchism is the political ideal, defining Anarchism as that state of society in which no restraints are imposed on men save those essential to the maintenance of equality of liberty. I should emphasize the scientific character of the law of justice, showing that it is based on biological and psychological facts. And I should urge the immediate adoption of a plan of practical work looking to the gradual realization of the political ideal. That practical plan would have a negative and a positive side: the negative side is the systematic abolition of all institutions conflicting with the principle of equal liberty, beginning with those that are most clearly indefensible and fatal to social wellbeing; and the positive side is the education of the people and the development of their progressive ideas and sentiments.
I have given expression to all that Mr. Donisthorpe’s essay suggested to me, and hope that he will frankly give his opinion of my criticisms and qualifications of his statements. V. Y.
Cardinal Manning is the latest expositor of the distinction between tweedledum and tweedledee. In the Paris “Figaro” appears an account of a very interesting interview with the Cardinal on Socialism and the labor problem. The reporter having referred to the fame achieved by his Eminence for his Socialistic convictions and inclinations, the Cardinal, with the modesty and frankness befitting his station and rôle, gently demurred. “You talk to me about Socialism,” he said. “Now, do you even know what Socialism is? I don’t. Oh, I have occupied my whole life in endeavoring to find it out, and probably that is the reason why they call me a Socialist. But I have never been able to discover it. . . . I asked four persons to write out for me a definition of Socialism, and they gave me four different answers.”
The interview did not end at this point. The Cardinal went on — to tell what the four definitions that had been written out for him were? Not at all. But what could he go on to say, seeing that he has just confessed his ignorance of what Socialism is? — the impatient reader will doubtless ask. Why, to discuss Socialism, to be sure. Are only those to be permitted to discuss Socialism who know what it is and what it means? What intolerable tyranny I Has ignorance no rights which well-informed men are bound to respect? Listen, then, to the Cardinal’s exposition:
I believe that Socialism is evil. Everything that is social is a benefit, but between the social and Socialism there is as much difference as between reason and rationalism. Society is as beneficent as reason; Socialism is as injurious as rationalism. Civil and political society is nothing more than human society, and, consequently, all legislation ought to be essentially social and conservative of society. On the other hand. Socialism, which aims at the overthrow of actual society, is subversive and destructive. We have, therefore, the “social organization” and “Socialism.” The first comprises every social phenomenon, and is dominated by two factors, the moral and the economic. The moral factor consists in the sentiment of reciprocal duties, the unity of the human race, and the benefits of the social union. The economic factor consists in the practical execution of these sentiments. This Socialism is the Socialism of organization and of legislation. The other Socialism, on the contrary, has almost nothing in common with the organic and social phenomena. It is purely political, and is formulated by two factors, the immoral and the turbulent.
The impatient reader doubtless feels that the writer of these lines has imposed upon him and proved himself guilty of a grave injustice towards the Cardinal. The eminent truth of the distinction between “social organization” and “Socialism,” and the entire correctness of the sentiments expressed in harmony with the distinction, must have caused the reader to forgive and forget the Cardinal’s minor contradictions and fallacies, and he is getting ready to throw the paper into the fire and write an angry letter stopping it from invading his peaceful home wherein truth and virtue dwell. But really, there is no occasion for any apology on my part; the reader should not condemn without hearing all the evidence; and the Cardinal is not done yet. He proceeds to explain himself:
The immoral factor consists in the progress of individualism in this conceited age, which destroys families and divides interests that are common by nature. The second factor consists in the troubles produced by this individualism in which there can be no connection between laws and needs. Such a Socialism is a Socialism of disorganization and revolution. That is the one that is referred to when Socialism is spoken of; and it is the complete denial of Socialism, because, when we say “Socialism,” we should mean society, legislation, evolution, transformation, and not destruction. Consequently, I wish it to be clearly understood that I am not a Socialist. I don’t believe that the way to make people happy is to destroy them.
Social organization is thoroughly English; Socialism, on the contrary, is Continental. Therefore we must not confound them. And when people speak on the Continent about my Socialism, they are mistaken, because I cannot be a Socialist, being an Englishman, and Socialism having na existence in England. In fact, with us this organization, moral and economic, has existed for hundreds of years. Co-operation is the typical form of Socialism, and coöperation has existed for more than a thousand years in this country, It constitutes, so to say, the bed rock of it. Our modem English towns are nothing more than agglomerations of coöperative industries; and our laws, which consecrate customs, are entirely in accordance with the needs of our people, whose customs and affinities have ever been industrial. Our laws are the laws of labor, and our labor troubles come only from accidental and superficial causes. Mora over, these industrial coöperations, having grown into cities, are subject to the great social factor, the moral factor. England is not a Catholic country, but nevertheless she has within herself such a profound religious feeling that the purity of her sentiments has outlived that of her acts. You have recently had an opportunity to judge of this in the fall of that wretched Parnell through his miserable adventure.
On the Continent Socialism exists, and you must combat it. You must resist that individualism which renders the governing and the governed strangers to each other. I firmly believe in the solution of the social question, which is doubted only by those who do not understand it. A single man, Lord Shaftesbury, has been able during his lifetime to ameliorate the condition of 2,500,000 persons, thanks to the laws in regard to the labor of women and children in workshops. You can do as much, provided you resist Socialism and unite in one single political party.
So, after all, Socialism has no existence in England! When we, poor fools, talk of English Socialism, the Socialistic tendencies of English legislation and English trades-unionism, and the Socialistic opinions of His Eminence himself, we are simply wandering and blundering. England is totally free from the Socialist evil, and everything there is “as beneficent as reason” and “in accordance with the needs of the people.” But how about the English Social-Democratic Federation and the Fabian Socialist Society? How about the platforms of these societies, indorsed by thousands of laborers, which demand the abolition of all private capital and enterprise, and the State monopoly of production and distribution. Are these “Socialism,” or “social organization”? Are they “beneficent as reason,” or “injurious as rationalism”? Does his Eminence agree with the English — Socialists, I think, they call themselves? Unquestionably he does — in everything but the name. How absurd for them to insist upon calling themselves Socialists, when they really mean “society, legislation, evolution, transformation”! It is to be hoped that the Cardinal will succeed in bringing his fellow- . . . social-organizationists! . . . to a realization of their tactical errors, as he has succeeded in convincing me that there is no Socialism in England. See what it is to be logical, to believe in reason and not in rationalism! V. Y.
Col. T. W. Higginson recently lectured at the Old South Church on “The Aristocracy of the Dollar.” The value of his philosophy and logic may be judged from the following gems of thought: “We don’t know with what weapons to limit the power and excesses of this aristocracy of the dollar. Henry George knows, Edward Bellamy knows, and so does Herbert Spencer, and I honor them for their views; but when you bring their views together, their arguments neutralize each other so effectually that but little is left of either. I think none of their panaceas are worth so much as the courage of the men who bring them forward. It is this courage and self-sacrifice that will eventually solve the problem. We have had problems before us in the past that seemed as great; one of them, slavery, was solved by the civil war.” In other words, provided there is sufficient courage and self-sacrifice, no means and no weapons are necessary to the solution of the problem. We need no knowledge; let us simply be brave. But if we do not know what to do and how to proceed, of what use will our courage be? Col. Higginson agrees with the crazy revolutionists of the “Beacon” variety. They too despise and ridicule “philosophy” and “theory”; the readiness to fight is all that is essential. Fight, though you do not know whom to attack, how to fight, where to look for the enemy, and what weapons to use.
“Woman,” a London journal, has been asking its readers the question, Is a husband worth having? The majority of the answers quoted declare that, on the whole, it is better to have a husband than not. But “to tell the truth,” says the London “Standard,” “the issue is not encouraging. As the first prize-winter says, ‘This momentous question would have been laughed to scorn fifty years ago.’ We might put it more strongly all round. Fifty years ago it would hardly have been safe for a respectable journal to profound the query, unless in joke. Twenty years since no one would have replied seriously. At the point we have reached nobody is surprised; the answers are many and grave, and their purport is by no means decided. Remembering that women are by nature conservative, very slow to adopt new ideas in others, this hesitating tone seems significant. It is rather alarming to speculate how the question will be treated ten years hence. Ladies who reply fail to grasp the abstract view, as might be expected. They all declare that a good husband is worth having, and a bad one decidedly not. These, however, were not worth a question — they speak for themselves. Probably women will be more logical in the years to come; but goodness only knows to what conclusion more accurate reasoning will bring them.”
The “New Nation” says: “There are just two ways by which a man can live on this earth, human ingenuity having thus far failed to discover a third: He can work, or he can live on those who do work. Not to require a man to work is to permit and invite him to live on those who do.” Wonderful logic, this. Perhaps an object lesson will have some effect on Mr. Bellamy’s understanding, and make him realize the fundamental mistake of Nationalism. Mr. Bellamy does not (as yet) “require” men to subscribe to his paper; does he imply by this non-requirement that everybody is “permitted and invited” to invade his office and help himself to copies of his paper, printed at his expense, without paying for them? Would not even Mr. Bellamy see the propriety and rationality of saying that, while each must have the liberty to take or decline to take his paper, no one can claim the liberty to take it without giving an equivalent? Logical people will tell Mr. Bellamy that he has no business to require them to do anything so long as he is not interfered with. He has no right to require men to work; but he has a right to refuse to share his earnings with the man who declines to provide for himself, just as he has a right to refuse to aid a man who does provide for himself but who wants more than he can get by his own efforts.
Talks on Nationalism.
[Note. — The editor of the “New Nation” occasionally regales his readers with imaginary conversations between a convert to Nationalism and alleged representatives of various schools and systems of thought more or less radically at variance with the former system. It is needless to say that Mr. Bellamy’s convert invariably emerges triumphant and succeeds in completely nonplussing his antagonists. It is equally needless to add that the doubtful credit for the proselyting convert’s easy triumphs is wholly due to Mr. Bellamy, who carefully selects imbeciles to defend the cause of his enemies. But lest some should charge Mr. Bellamy with intentional misapprehension of the system, which his protégé combats, it is needful to state that, in the opinion of the writer, Mr. Bellamy is innocent of any, such unfair design, being simply considered a victim of encyclopedic ignorance. The basis of Nationalism is ignorance, nothing worse. Did Mr. Bellamy really comprehend the position of scientific sociologists, he would not write his imaginary conversations, for the sufficient reason that he could not then entertain any such preposterous notions as are now advocated by him with unmistakable sincerity. The writer, having the advantage over Mr. Bellamy in that he does understand the position of those who quarrel with Nationalism, thinks he can do Nationalism (which he also thoroughly understands) a service by taking a hand in the little interesting talks on Nationalism arranged by the editor of the “New Nation” and bringing out the real objections to Nationalism. In Mr. Bellamy’s organ of March 14 there appears an imaginary conversation between the Nationalist missionary and “an evolutionist,” — that is, an individual who delivers himself of sentiments which Mr. Bellamy, in his native simplicity and natural ignorance, calls evolutionary doctrines. I take the liberty of revising that conversation and of substituting arguments which evolutionists would advance, should they enter into a discussion with Mr. Bellamy, for the lame and weak representations of Mr. Bellamy’s “evolutionist.” No changes will be made in the substance, and but few in the form, of the Nationalist’s argument. No thanks; Mr. Bellamy is quite welcome. — V. Y.]
Evolutionist. — It is a sufficient objection to Nationalism that it guarantees to everybody an equal livelihood, without regard to difference in performance, only requiring that everybody should do what he or she can.
Nationalist. — How do you make that out?
Evolutionist. — The main idea of evolution is the survival of the fittest as the result of the struggle for existence. Your plan involves the elimination of this struggle to a great extent.
Nationalist. — I don’t see that at all.
Evolutionist. — Is it possible that you do not understand your own plan and the nature of your proposal? Why, if a fixed income for livelihood is guaranteed every one who behaves decently, and he cannot get more in any event, then all struggle is eliminated so far as the industrial sphere is concerned.
Nationalist. — But did you ever observe that a man’s contentedness had anything to do with the amount of his possessions or achievements? Did you ever hear of Alexander, who, having obtained the whole world, wept because he could not conquer another? There is no end to the desires and aspirations of the human heart. As fast as one is realized, another takes its place, and so on to infinity. Unless human nature suffers some unprecedented modification under Nationalism, the energies now expended in competing for bread and butter will simply be expended, without diminution in intensity, in competing for other things.
Evolutionist. — One moment. Before I make answer, I should like you to state, for the sake of clearness, whether it is not true that Nationalists object to competition in all its forms.
Nationalist. — Object to all forms of competition? Who told you so?
Evolutionist. — Why, it is the general impression that the abolition of competition is the main object of your plan.
Nationalist. — We propose to abolish what is technically called the competitive system of industry, but we do not propose to abolish competition. We could not, without abolishing human nature. So long as there are two persons in the world, whatever one of them does the other will try to do better, and that, too, even if vanity and envy should be no more known. Taking human nature just as it is, we believe that our plan for substituting the certain rewards of honor, authority, and public approbation, as incentives to diligence, for the wholly uncertain cash prizes now offered, will have the effect of stimulating every form of emulation beneficial to the public, while leaving other sorts of competition without a motive.
Evolutionist. — In other words, you do not aim to abolish competition, but certain forms of competition. Men may compete here, but not there. Some results of competition are good, or, at all events, not bad; while others are bad and require to be removed. It is in the production and accumulation and enjoyment of wealth, of material possessions, that you seek to dispense with competition. But if you realize that it is impossible to abolish competition, how do you arrive at the conclusion that it is possible to abolish competition in certain spheres without abolishing or degrading human nature? The façt that men’s contentedness has nothing to do with the amount of their possessions, and that, if they are prevented from competing in this sphere, they will find another sphere, does not justify your abolition of competition in that particular sphere. Competition may be essential here as well as there. I contend that the abolition of the competitive system of industry, in the revolutionary way favored by you, would lead to the decay and death of humanity. . . .
Nationalist. — Pardon me, but you do us a grave injustice in attributing to Nationalism the desire to resort to revolutionary means. We are not revolutionists; we favor the ballot as the most peaceful weapon.
Evolutionist. — Precisely. That is just what I meant. You propose to coerce the minority and forcibly deprive it of a thousand liberties which, in their totality, constitute what you condemn as “competitive industry.” You do not propose to inquire whether the minority is prepared to accept your system or not; you are determined to force it to live under conditions to which they are not adapted, which they neither wish nor approve. The ballot is nothing without the force back of it. You cannot deny that your method is essentially revolutionary.
Nationalist. — Well, we will not discuss this point here.
Evolutionist. — The abolition of competitive industry, I repeat, would eventuate in the degeneration and death of humanity. The minority could only be compelled to submit by the exercise of the harshest and most despotic methods, and even if open rebellion was prevented, do you suppose the minority would take any interest in the work or its results? On the other hand, you deceive yourself in thinking that the majority which will help you to secure Nationalism will cheerfully accept the new conditions and enjoy tranquillity and peaceful contentment. Being an evolutionist, and knowing the ideas and feelings of the people, I utterly deny the possibility of your converting a majority. You may get a majority to acquiesce, in an unintelligent way, in your platform, just as other political parties manage to get majorities. But there will be no real understanding, no conviction, no sentiment behind the superficial agreement. They will agree because they will not and cannot appreciate the nature and extent of the change you contemplate. A little practical experience will disgust them with your system and drive them to revolt. For I insist that, in the industrial sphere, no less than in the other spheres, liberty and independence are essential. The freedom of labor, and the right to the product of labor, will be demanded by everybody as soon as it is clearly understood that Nationalism denies both.
Nationalist. — But how can you prove all this? I don’t admit it.
Evolutionist. — The burden of proof is on you. You want to abolish industrial liberty and private property, and you are bound to prove the necessity and desirability of the change. The fact that there is no end to the desires and aspirations of the human heart not only fails to show the propriety of trampling upon some of men’s desires, instincts, and needs, but tells powerfully against you; for, if it is true that there is no end to human desires, then the men under Nationalism will not rest contented with the liberties granted them, but will demand also those withheld from them.
Nationalist. — They will gradually adapt themselves to the new environment and modified conditions, and come to look upon what is now exalted by the name of industrial liberty as we look upon the liberty to murder, steal, or enslave.
Evolutionist. — But are the conditions such that men can live under them? Adaptation is not always possible. Some changes in the environment produce death. My contention is that men cannot live under Nationalism, and you beg the question when you talk about their adapting themselves to it.
Nationalist. — Men cannot live under Nationalism? But since every person is to be free from want and the fear of want; since everybody is to have all his reasonable wants and needs supplied; since, as I have said, the rewards of honor, authority, and public approbation are to operate as incentives to diligence and faithful performance of duties; and since, finally, every form of competition beneficial to men is to be encouraged,— I fail to see why the condition is so intolerable as you affect to believe.
Evolutionist. — Your empty honors and promotion will never make good and diligent workmen. A man wants to enjoy the full fruits of his labor, and will not tolerate a system where the industrious and sluggish, intelligent and dull, scrupulous and unscrupulous fare alike. No man loves his fellows well enough to work for them, has been said and well said. He may find pleasure in helping the needy when he considers them worthy; but he protests against the policy of forcibly robbing him of a part of his product, day after day, and giving it to people in whom he feels no interest whatever. Seeing that he is not advantaged by his superiority, he will cease to manifest it and become as reckless and indifferent as those who are naturally so and who are in no way made to Buffer in consequence. Surely you cannot advocate an inquisition to decide what a man is able to do and a system of punishment for his failure to come up to the standard fixed by the inquisition.
Nationalist. — On the question of rewards history is certainly against you. The time was, not so very king ago, when it was thought necessary to reward soldiers with the plunder their valor had won, in order to encourage their zeal. They were permitted to sack cities and hold captives to ransom. War was then a gainful trade. All that is now changed. Only bandits and pirates fight for gain now. Whatever the army captures goes to the State, and the soldier is shot who is caught appropriating it. The only stimulus to the soldier’s zeal is now the hope of distinction and promotion. According to your theory, this change ought to have ruined the efficiency of armies, but has it? Not only has the change not impaired the ardor of the soldier, but it has so ennobled his profession that instead of being a cut-throat and ruffian, as of old, he is today a respectable member of society. We are confident of a similar result from the plan of paying our workers in honor instead of in cash or in kind. We expect to see an intenser spirit of emulation on far higher grounds. We believe that the coming army of industry will be as much superior to the present mob of workers, in efficiency as well as in morals, as the present German army is in both these respects to the hordes of Tilly and Wallenstein.
Evolutionist. — An analogy is not an argument. But I am willing to look into your case and expose your numerous assumptions and misconceptions regarding it. In the first place It is not true that at any time men voluntarily joined any army in the modern sense for the sake of the plunder. It is true that not so very long ago soldiers were permitted to sack cities and perpetrate outrages of all kinds. But had those soldiers freely offered their services; were they not helpless slaves and victims of their governments and commanders? These commanders could do anything and everything with the poor, ignorant wretches under them; in many countries they still retain the same powers and rights. One more, or one less, privilege does not matter to the slaves. It is fear, not hope of distinction, which renders the overwhelming majority of soldiers obedient and faithful. Under present conditions of warfare it is absurd to talk of the hope of promotion. Soldiers fight because they are too superstitious and ignorant to defy their tyrants. Occasionally national pride or national interest moves men to fight; but even here the motive is not the hope of promotion. As to your averment that the soldier’s profession has been so ennobled by the change referred to that, instead of being despised as a cut-throat, he is now welcomed as a respectable member of society, I truly marvel at it. Why, the case is exactly the reverse. Soldiers are more and more becoming the target for the ridicule, contempt, and scorn of cultivated men. War’s glories are on the decline, and the military profession is falling into disrepute. These are facts. Indeed it is this horror and hatred of war that is chiefly responsible for the endeavor to eliminate the unnecessary and more shocking incidents that have generally attended it. Men seek to excuse war on grounds of justice or necessity, and few have the boldness to proclaim it a thing good in and for itself.
Nationalist. — You have been attacking Nationalism from the ground of a believer in the theory that perfection comes out of struggle and the survival of the fittest. But there is an evolution of evil as well as of good. The wolf, the hyena, the rattlesnake, and the shark are aS striking results Of the law of the survival of the fittest as are the admirable types. The kind of fitness implied in the word “fittest,” as used in that phrase, is without any moral implication or reference to goodness or badness. It merely means fitness to the conditions of the struggle. If the conditions of the struggle are immoral and brutal, the most immoral and brutal types will survive. The issue then comes up on the question whether the conditions of the struggle under the present system of business tend to the survival of the nobler or the less noble types of human character. Upon the answer given to that question hangs the verdict whether the evolution favored by the present business system is toward social perfection or social damnation. You are bound to admit that there is no ethics in business, that ethics is bad business. Our business system is based on scientific selfishness, and is the negation of every generous, pitiful, and public-spirited sentiment. Very many men in business, for the sake of their souls, fail to live up to this standard, but in so far they are poor business men. It is the debauching influence of the business system upon the public conscience which, more than anything else, is bolding back the moral progress of the people. What is the remedy? There is but one, and that is the one suggested by Nationalism. Replace the present business system with one the conditions of which shall encourage and give precedence to the nobler qualities of men instead of the meaner, and the same inexorable law of evolution; through the survival of those best fitted to their environment, which now tends to the degradation of society, will tend as strongly and irresistibly to its elevation.
Evolutionist. — Certainly, there is an evolution of evil as well as of good; and that is why I oppose your system.
Let Nationalism be established, and the evolution will be towards evil and disintegration. Of course the expression is incorrect: what I mean is that the process of dissolution will set in and that humanity, instead of progressing, will degenerate. “If the conditions of the struggle are immoral and brutal, the most immoral and brutal types will survive.” Perfectly true; but we are not considering any special case, but the progress of humanity as a whole. The very fact that good and beauty and nobility exist shows that the conditions are not altogether immoral and brutal. Humanity is progressing and advancing; evil is diminishing; hence the conditions are, on the whole, more favorable to the admirable types than to the brutal types. The ethics of business are rather loose; but so are the ethics of religion, of sexual relations, and of every function and activity. If our business system is bad because of the scientific selfishness upon which it is based, then everything that is based on this selfishness is bad and must be abolished. You must destroy competition, and human nature with it. As an evolutionist I cannot but smile at your notion that it is possible and wise to remove selfishness from the business relations, while leaving it to operate in all other relations. Everything will change when human nature changes; and so long as human nature remains unchanged you can change nothing.
Nationalist. — But I insist that Nationalism is practicable with human nature as it is.
Evolutionist. — Do you pretend that the average man is ready to sacrifice his liberty and his right to the product of his labor? Surely you will admit that we individualists are not inferior to the average man, yet we distinctly declare our abhorrence of your system, which we find totally at war with our feelings and ideas. Besides, you have just spoken of people adapting themselves to the new conditions, thus implying their present non-adaptation.
Nationalist. — But you cannot ignore the palpable fact that we Nationalists are ready to accept the new conditions?
Evolutionist. — I don’t wish to. I simply believe that you do not know your own nature. You believe that you believe in Nationalism; but a few object lessons would speedily make you acquainted with yourself. Moreover, suppose I grant you that the Nationalists are so superior to the rest of us that they sincerely and deliberately choose to share the results of their labor with their less endowed fellows. Would that improve your case? On the contrary, it would weaken it. For if the present conditions, which you denounce as brutal and immoral, have yet fostered the development of such beautiful traits of character as distinguish Nationalists, then no revolutionary change of the conditions is needful. Why impose Nationalism upon the minority by force, if you are confident that they will sooner or later learn to appreciate it? We are all living under the same conditions, and what has so naturally and spontaneously grown up in your constitution will and must grow up in ours. You are not forced to be Nationalists; why then do you propose to force us? You are the product of evolution; why make us victims of revolution?
Nationalist. — Then Tam to understand you to hold that everything is perfect and that there is nothing tor us to do?
Evolutionist. — If you so understand me, then you misunderstand me. I believe that there is a great deal for us to do, and that nothing is perfect. I simply protest against ignorant and reckless action. It is imperative for us to know ourselves, to study man and society, and thus find out the direction in which we may achieve improvement and perfection. I am convinced that we need more liberty and spontaneity, not less. There is too much restriction, too much coercion, too much force, too much interference now. We should endeavor to remove all obstacles to our advancement. The present system is not Nationalism, but it contains many Nationalist elements. Many of our evils are directly traceable to these elements, particularly evils found in our industrial relations. In fine, our present system being a combination of Individualism and Nationalism, of liberty and slavery, I believe that the rational course is to eliminate the elements of slavery, not those of liberty. The reason why our industrial relations are more chaotic, less civilized than certain others is that there is less freedom about them. Let government attempt to regulate religion, and chaos and war will ensue. All problems tend to settle themselves when the fundamental condition of social existence — recognition of equal liberty — is fulfilled. Let us secure the recognition of equal liberty in the industrial sphere, and industry will tend to become civilized.
Nationalist. — What! our industrial system not free? I have always maintained that there is too much freedom, too much competition, too much individualism in our industrial relations, and have attributed our economic maladjustments to this superfluity of liberty. How can you prove this lack of freedom you allege?
Evolutionist. — You do not seem to be conversant with economics, and the question would require at least another talk.
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.