“For always in thine eyes, O Liberty!
Shines that high light whereby the world is saved;
And though thou slay us, we will trust in thee.”
On Picket Duty.
The “Twentieth Century” has just taken a post-office box. Its number is 3774. Liberty’s box number is 3366. It will be noticed that 33 is just half of 66, and that 37 is just half of 74. Some crank believer in signs and wonders will probably discover a significance in this. I find in it only a numerical curiosity, to which I call attention for the convenience of those who cultivate mnemonics as a fortification against the infidelity of Mnemosyne.
The first number of a handsome new illustrated magazine, “Engineering,” devoted to industrial science and progress, reaches this office. Though not a competent critic in this department, I may say that it seems to me to give evidence of ability and promise of prosperity. Its publisher, who is an Anarchist and a subscriber to Liberty, tells me that he means to have the Anarchistic view of those problems which are both technological and sociological in character well represented in the pages of the magazine. The subscription price is three dollars a year. Address The Engineering Company, No. 124 World Building, New York, N. Y.
No individual is more deserving of pity (some will prefer to say, contempt) than the reviewer of the New York “Nation,” who recently revealed the wretched poverty of his intellectual furnishings in the following remark, betokening imbecility as well as impotent malice: “Mr. Spencer’s contributions to political and historical science seem to us mere commonplaces, sometimes true, sometimes false, but in both cases trying to disguise their essential flatness and commonness in a garb of dogmatic formalism.” But perhaps I am not altogether just to the fellow: to charge Spencer with “dogmatic formalism” is certainly original.
I hear from an English correspondent that the league of action proposed by Mr. Donisthorpe is rapidly taking shape. It will probably be a society for insuring people against government just as they are insured against fire or any other calamity. All members who pay their premiums regularly will then be much bolder in standing for their rights, knowing that, if the government attacks them in consequence, they will be properly defended and that their interests will not be allowed to suffer. This is a capital idea and very practicable, I should think, in England; though in this country, which is so much less free, such a society would probably be suppressed as treasonable.
The Toronto “Labor Advocate” likens the Single Tax movement to “the Unitarianism of political economy,— a half-way house where the investigator may find rest for a breathing-spell, but not a permanent abode. In nine cases out of ten he will either go on thinking, and apply to other social abuses the arguments used by the Single Taxer as regards land monopoly, and so develop into a full-blown all-round Socialist, or, if his courage fails him at the prospect, he will be scared back to orthodoxy.” It seems to Liberty a more accurate analogy to consider the Single Tax movement the Episcopalianism of political economy, from which nine-tenths of its adherents will go backward to State Socialism, the Roman Catholicism of political economy, while a tenth will go forward at one bound to Anarchism, the Atheism of political economy, without stopping at bourgeois Individualism, the Unitarianism of political economy.
In the “Twentieth Century” of April 2 Mr. Pentecost has an excellent discourse treating of selfishness and morality, in which he takes thoroughly egoistic ground. His associate, J. W. Sullivan, in the same number, passes a very weak criticism upon this discourse, concluding with a remark which, though intended as a compliment to Mr. Pentecost, is really an insult. If a free lover is not a Don Juan, the champions of marriage assert that he practises better than he preaches. The prohibitionists say the same thing of the free-rum man who does not make his life one prolonged and howling drunk. And similarly, when Mr. Pentecost, while proclaiming that there are no such things as morality and immorality, but only health and disease, wisdom and folly, finds his own enjoyment in following those paths commonly called the paths of virtue, Mr. Sullivan pertly remarks that his practice is better than his precept, intending to convey the idea that there is an inconsistency between them. Such criticism is insulting because it is foolishness uttered with that superior and patronizing assumption of knowledge which so often characterizes those who don’t know.
“Does Prohibition prohibit?” queries the New York “Press,” alluding to a late killing scrape in a Maine bar-room; and gets a sarcastic answer from the “Voice,” as follows: “It does not seem to. The law prohibiting murder has been in force in Maine ever since the Indians were chased away; and yet here is this killing scrape. We shall see that the law against murder is repealed next week.” You may repeal the law against murder, but you cannot make murder a legitimate act. The fundamental law of associated life prohibits murder, and all sane men would coöperate in enforcing that law if everything which we call government were entirely absent. Drink, however, can only be made a crime by statutory provision, and in the absence of such meddlesome and tyrannical statutes none but fanatics and cranks will go to the length of punishing those who exercise their right to sell or buy a drink. Murder is committed only under the influence of passion or by “human beasts” with a low development of social sentiments; while the liberty to drink is insisted on by the most rational, intelligent, refined, and cultured men of all ages and classes. Can’t the “Voice” see any difference here?
The decision in the Jackson abduction case has gratified a great many people and surprised everybody. The proposition that a “well-conducted wife may legally quit her husband at her own discretion” certainly revolutionizes the marriage relation, and plays sad havoc with the ancient superstition that the man is the supreme ruler of the house, to be obeyed by wife and children without a murmur. But woman’s gain in this case is man’s loss. The absurdity of legal marriage has been emphasized and brought home to the least speculative mind. If the decision is allowed to stand, it will clearly become a matter of self-interest in the narrowest (as well as the widest) sense for men to repudiate legal marriage. For, while the law prevents the husband from keeping his wife with him if she chooses to leave him, it refuses to give him the remedy of divorce. Moreover, the law will hold him responsible for debts created by the woman who is his wife in nothing but the name, and will not allow him to leave his wife without providing for her. In other words, the law will see to it that the legal husband fulfils his “duties,” while denying him protection in his “rights.” Now, what sensible man can regard this sort of arrangement with favor or patience? All free lovers may well thank the English Court of Appeal for this splendid service to the great cause of sexual freedom.
I hereby acknowledge my gratitude and obligation to the publisher of the “Twentieth Century” for reprinting in the publisher’s column the New York “Critic’s” appreciative review of “My Uncle Benjamin,” which serves, whether so intended or not, as an offset to the utterly inappreciative review that lately appeared in the editorial column from the pen of Mr. Pentecost, who finds in “Valmond, the Crank” the high-water mark of literature. Right here I may say a word to those friends of Mr. Pentecost who have written me, in some cases anonymously (it seems to be a peculiarity of many of Mr. Pentecost’s friends that they write anonymous letters), in complaint of my condemnation of their idol’s treatment of one of my idols. These wiseacres ask me if, when I sent “My Uncle Benjamin” to Mr. Pentecost for review, I expected him to stifle his own opinion and express mine instead. Most certainly not, simpletons! Mr. Pentecost’s opinion being what it was, I am very glad that he gave utterance to it honestly and frankly. But, when he had done so, it was as much my privilege to criticise and ridicule that opinion as any other opinion that he or any other man may express. And I shall continue in the exercise of this privilege, though each repetition should precipitate upon me a he shower of shafts from Mr. Pentecost’s army in ambush. By the way, it just strikes me that this anonymity may be the result of Mr. Pentecost’s aversion to names.
“This man Comstock will stoop to any meanness to accomplish an end. He has deliberately lied as no gentleman would do in order to cover up his mistakes. He thinks himself mightier than the law. Indeed, I think he is laboring under the impression that the statutes were framed especially for his benefit.” This complimentary language was applied to the censor of American letters and morals by Justice Hogan of the New York Tombs Police Court. The facts which provoked it are told in a press dispatch. Warrants had been issued on complaint of Anthony Comstock for the arrest of three men who were alleged to be proprietors of a pool-room. The warrants were placed in the hands of policemen, but Comstock went along and bossed the job. He deliberately and illegally broke in a door to get at the men and then insisted that four men in the room should be arrested, notwithstanding he had warrants for three only. When the examination of the men occurred, one, Michael Feeny, was discharged. Comstock became very angry. He denied that he had made any mistake and declared he would have Feeny arrested in spite of Justice Hogan. He asserted further that Assistant District Attorney Welch had told him that Feeny and the other three should be held. Just at that moment Assistant District Attorney Welch entered the room and heard Comstock’s last remark. He promptly denied that he had told Comstock anything of the sort, and said that, on the contrary, he had told him that he should recommend the discharge of Feeny. Instead of replying, Comstock left the room in confusion.
Property and Equal Liberty.
I was very much Interested in the little story with which Mr. Tucker prefaced his comments upon my article on “The Right to Authorship” in No. 178. Lest the busy reader may have forgotten it, I will quote it here.
“When I wrote my previous answer,” said Mr. Tucker, “I foresaw that he would make precisely the reply that he has made. It would have been more merciful, no doubt, to have then and there assumed what the reply would be, and, by answering it in advance, prevented him from making it. But by a certain perversity inhering in my nature, akin, I fear, to that which actuates a cat in toying with its prey, I was led to allow him to attempt the seeming avenue of escape that still remained, leaving him to find out later that he had plunged into a cul-de-sac.”
In this, I am sure, there is no fiction, only truth; but truth stranger than fiction. For what do we find when we turn to Mr. Tucker’s “previous answer”? Any indication of playfulness or confidence? Not the faintest. On the contrary, we find a frank acknowledgment of the difficulty of the task. “Thus far,” wrote Mr. Tucker then, “this has been a most interesting battle. To me I am sure it will prove a useful one whether I win it or lose it. To be forced to combat single-handed against five such gladiators as Yarros, Simpson, Donisthorpe, Fuller, and Bilgram develops one’s faculties immensely.” Now we are asked to believe that, when in that serious state of mind, Mr. Tucker deliberately chose to be cruel and so far indulged his natural perversity, “akin to that which actuates a cat in toying with its prey,” as to prepare a trap for me and exult in anticipation of my humiliation! This sort of mischief can scarcely be said to be useful of to develop one’s faculties immensely; nor is it reasonable to suppose that “gladiators” are toyed with in such fashion. Yet we are asked to believe that the tale is absolutely true. Well, well, as I have said, we have no alternative but to believe and marvel at the strange things that do occur.
And so, when Mr. Tucker “argued that the publication of an invention practically takes away from all other men the liberty to invent the same thing for themselves,” he knew that I “would answer: ‘Let them shut their eyes, then, or stay in the house. They are not obliged to read, study, and look at the new invention. But if they do so read, study, and look, they voluntarily abandon their liberty to invent the same thing themselves.’” He knew this, and had his rejoinder ready. Read it again and admire it — if you can; for I cannot.
“The voluntary abandonment is all on the other side. Here we are, all of us, with equal rights to shut our eyes, or open them, to stay at home or walk the streets, and to exercise our native faculties. This is the normal condition, the status quo. Some man comes along with an invention and parades it in the streets; and we are told that, in consequence of this act on his part, we must either give up our liberty to walk the streets or else our liberty to invent the thing that be has invented! Not so fast, my dear sir. The boot is on the other leg. Were you compelled to parade your invention through the streets? Were you even invited to do so? No! Then why do you do that? And why do you ask us to protect you from the consequences? You want your invention to yourself? Then keep it to yourself. Nobody says you nay. But when you parade it in the streets, you voluntarily abandon your liberty to keep it to yourself.”
Mr. Tucker has been repeatedly reminded by myself and by other critics of the necessity of carrying on his defence of communism in ideas without assumptions or question-begging. Is not the answer just quoted vitiated by the assumption that the publication of a thing necessarily involves the abandonment of the right to keep It to one’s self? I am tired of protesting against this assumption and of pointing out that this is just what Mr. Tucker is bound to prove in order to establish his position on intellectual property. I readily admit, however, that Mr. Tucker’s objection holds in the case of things which it is not necessary to examine and study; and I will allow that the man who parades a simple thing in the streets should not be protected in the monopoly of its use if men are really prevented, merely by looking at it, from inventing it themselves. In other words, I do not require men to shut their eyes or to stay at home. But as a believer in equal liberty I must stop here. It is self-evident that, in the case of a complex thing, or of a book, the voluntary abandonment is not on the part of the author or inventor, but on the part of the man who purchases and reads the book or goes out of his way and stops to study the invention. I have the same liberty as Spencer to observe, reflect, write, and publish. When I hear that he is engaged in writing a book on ethics, I am at liberty to engage in a similar task. When I bear that he has published a book,— that is, authorized his agents to sell it to those wishing to buy, I still have the liberty to go and write and publish a book on the same subject. But if I go and purchase a copy of his work and study it, I deliberately take away my own liberty to write such a book as his. I have not been forced to read it, hence my liberty bas not been infringed. This cannot be successfully denied, and I am entirely willing to leave it to logical minds to decide whether I or Mr. Tucker may claim victory on this point. But I wish the readers clearly to understand that upon the answer to this single and simple question depends the solution of the whole problem. The only question is, Does Spencer, by the mere fact of placing copies of his “First Principles” in the hands of his agents, take away my liberty to write my own book and originate any ideas on the subject? Mr. Tucker says, Yes; I say, No. If I am right, then property in ideas is sanctioned by the principle of equal liberty. If Mr. Tucker is right, then property in ideas is negatived by that principle. From the point of view of equal liberty, no other objection to property in ideas bas been advanced, nor does any other seem possible. Convinced that every unprejudiced and logical mind must concur in my view of the matter, I consider this phase of the controversy finished and settled in my favor. It is Mr. Tucker, not I, who departs from Anarchistic ground; it is he who preaches the doctrine of tyranny and communism. I simply defend the principle of equal liberty, from which the right of property in ideas is a logical deduction. I protest against being covertly denounced as an “inconsistent anti-monopolist.”
But, the reader may ask, even supposing that equal liberty justifies and sanctions property in ideas, is it not true, as Mr. Tucker has asserted, that property in ideas would bring about economic and literary effects of the most deplorable character? Do you then really adhere to equal liberty as to a fetich, and not simply as a means of happiness? I answer that I adhere to equal liberty as to a scientific social law. “A comparison of the various forms of the conduct of men in relation to their fellows in the fields where these forms have been the most thoroughly tested has revealed the fact that the proportion in which these forms make for happiness corresponds in the long run very exactly to the proportion in which they observe and preserve equality of liberty. Centuries of experience have so established this fact to the satisfaction of the greatest political philosophers of today that they consider this generalization as a social law, and use it as a test of proposed policies in fields untried or comparatively unexplored. If it is not to be used in this way, it is useless, or nearly so. To serve as such a test, and to do away with the necessity of empirical observation in each new case, is-the main function of a generalization.” I do not choose to place Mr. Tucker’s “fancied prescience above other men’s science,” and he should be the last person to ask me to. If equal liberty in this particular sphere would really be disastrous, then equal liberty is not a scientific principle and there is no such thing yet as social science. Believing as I do tha; we have a social science, and that equal liberty is the first principle of social welfare, I cannot but dismiss Mr. Tucker’s gloomy forecast of the results of equal liberty in the realm of intellectual property as the product of fear and prejudice.
Mr. Tucker’s effort to make out that there is only a surface similarity between his reductio ad absurdum of property in ideas and Mr. Bilgram’s “attempted” reductio ad absurdum of no-property in ideas, and that beneath the surface similarity there is an essential difference, is not crowned with success. He never asserted for a moment, he tells me, that, “if Mr. Bilgram’s claim that a denial of property in ideas would leave us without a literature should be thoroughly established, the fact would not therefore prove either that such property is consistent with equal liberty or else that equal liberty does not always make for happiness and is a much less reliable guide than we now suppose.” His objection to Mr. Bilgram was “that he refused to consider, on the ground of irrelevancy, the theoretical argument that property in ideas is consistent with equal liberty, but instead, without pointing out any flaw in this argument, insisted that it must be unsound because in his opinion, unsubstantiated by any facts, and even against the facts, and against the opinion of most students, denial of property in ideas would destroy literature.”
I cannot admit that this fairly and accurately describes Mr. Bilgram’s case. Though I differ from Mr. Bilgram, I am still bound to recognize the fact that “most students” do share his opinion that the denial of property in ideas would destroy (or, at all events, cripple) literature. Mr. Bilgram’s opinion is substantiated by facts, and by numerous facts; and upon these facts “most students” base their opinions. These facts, however, fail to convince me, as they fail to convince Spencer, and therefore I, like Spencer, feel that the only way to settle the question is to appeal to first principles, to subject the matter to the test of equal liberty. However, let us look at Mr. Tucker’s attempted reductio ad absurdum. He says: “I cited as a possible result of absolute and perpetual property in ideas the destruction of Spencer’s works for all time by the descent of the copyright to a bigoted Roman Catholic heir. This possibility is not a doubtful matter. It is undenied and undeniable. In fact, any one who looks at the matter without bias will admit the strong probability that such a result would ensue sooner or later, if not in the case of Spencer’s works, then in the cases of others equally important. And this being true, it shows property in ideas to be absurd, just as Mr. Bilgram’s claim, if it were true, would show no-property in ideas to be absurd.” Manifestly it did not occur to Mr. Tucker that one might look at the matter without bias, admit the strong probability of the result feared, and yet flatly contradict the unsupported assertion that the absurdity of property in ideas is thereby triumphantly established. Mr. Tucker overlooks the important fact that nobody has ever claimed that the application of equal liberty alone would result in the greatest social wellbeing. Equal liberty is not the sole condition of social happiness; it is the first and most essential condition, but there are other conditions to be fulfilled. It is not claimed for equal liberty that it is fully competent to free us from all inconveniences and annoyances and troubles: what is claimed is that disasters and calamities threatening the social fabric would be averted and rendered impossible by compliance with that condition. Disasters, not inconveniences. The destruction of the works of the greatest of philosophers could never amount to a great social calamity. There are many philosophers in the world, thank the gods! and the greatest of them is not sufficiently great to have the whole civilized world at his mercy. Besides, the total destruction of any really valuable work is an impossibility. A valuable work is sure to find many purchasers, and the copies sold can never be destroyed by the repentant author or his heirs. Nothing will prevent a man from keeping his copy or from lending it to his friends. All of which conclusively shows that Mr. Tucker’s attempted reductio ad absurdum le based on a misconception of the remedial power of equal liberty.
Nor is this all I have to say in confutation of Mr. Tucker’s argument. In confidently saying that the undeniable possible destruction of Spencer’s works shows property in ideas to be absurd, Mr. Tucker assumes the very point in dispute,— namely, that Spencer’s works belong to the world. In discussing property in ideas we are discussing this very right of Spencer or his heirs to destroy his works. If property in ideas is consistent with equal liberty, then Spencer has the right to destroy his works and laugh at the “world’s” impotent rage. The “treasures” are his, not the world’s. If, on the other hand, equal liberty negatives property in ideas, then of course he cannot destroy what is not his, but the world’s, treasure. Mr. Tucker’s reasoning is something like this: “See how unspeakably absurd you are in contending that Spencer’s works are his property to use and abuse! Why, if you allow Spencer to do with his books as he pleases, he may bum them up, destroy them altogether, and thus abridge our liberty in depriving us of our treasures and our property.” Mr. Tucker must see that he cannot overthrow my claim by paraphrasing it, while in saying that our liberty is abridged he simply begs the question.
My objection to Mr. Tucker is, then, that, besides begging the question, he insists that property in ideas must be an absurdity because, in his opinion, unsubstantiated by any facts, and even against the facts, and against the opinion of most students and of many “gladiators,” as well as of some of the greatest of the gladiators’ teachers, recognition of property In ideas would destroy literature and liberty.
Now, a word with Tak Kak. Mr. Tucker assures Mr. Simpson that “the spook of immaterial property is effectively disposed of by Tak Kak, the spook-destroyer.” This is not quite clear. Does it mean that, having assumed that immaterial property is a spook, Tak Kak disposed of it in some way, or that Tak Kak disposed of immaterial property by showing it to be a spook? For enlightenment, I turn to Tak Kak’s third article (with the first two articles I have not space to deal), and find that he undertakes to dispose of immaterial property by demonstrating its incompatibility with equal liberty. But what is his method? He begins by putting the cart before the horse. “Mr. Spencer is welcome to all the property in ideas he can erect and maintain without government.” But we are not discussing government and protection; we are discussing the ethics of the question,— we are endeavoring to find out whether the right to property in ideas consists or clashes with the right to equal liberty. Decide that, and the question of protection will take care of itself. Whether we have government or voluntary coöperation, we certainly need to know whether one’s right to the produce of his brain is as valid as the right to the produce of his band. Property in ideas will be protected by the same agency that will dispense the protection to material property. Next, Tak Kak tells us that he does not admit Spencer’s claim to the exclusive use of his original ideas, that he will not sign the social compact if property is to be given an idealistic extension, and that he holds that ideas, once published, are the property of as many persons as comprehend them. All of which we duly note. But where is the argument showing that, if property is given an idealistic extension, the terms equal liberty will cease to mean anything else than reciprocal invasion? Tak Kak does not furnish any. Do you know, dear reader, bow he destroys the “spook” of immaterial property? Simply by declaring that Mr. Tucker’s argument that one who has seen an invention is debarred in that respect from becoming an inventor, “is a settler.” In other words, Tak Kak endorses Mr. Tucker’s argument, and Mr. Tucker (quite naturally) thinks that Tak Kak has disposed of the spook of immaterial property.
Seriously, Tak Kak’s method of defending his position is strangely unscientific. He ought to know that we cannot à priori decide what is property and what is not, and that the right to property is limited only by the right to liberty. The question, after all, is simple. We agree upon the general principle of equal liberty, from which the right to property is a corollary. If I show that the right to property in ideas is unquestionably valid from the point of view of equal liberty, it is of no avail to draw arbitrary distinctions between material property and immaterial property: all each distinctions are themselves immaterial. If you show me that property in this or that thing — whether material or not — necessarily involves a violation of equal liberty, your case against such an extension of property is fully made out. Of course, we may decide some day to reject the general principle of equal liberty and trust to — brute force; but such a contingency we need not now pause to consider. I appeal to Mr. Tucker and Tak Kak to use equal liberty “as a test,” as the sole test, in this “comparatively unexplored” field of property in ideas. Their empirical observations I care nothing about. Is or is not property in ideas logically deducible from the principle of equal liberty? I have shown that it is, and have refuted the solitary argument which Mr. Tucker and Tak Kak had relied on. I have unsettled their “settler.” V. Y.
I have followed the discussion of copy and patent rights in Liberty with more than usual interest, because I believe them to be of the most important subjects before the world of social science today. Long ago I came to the conclusion that the sole solution of the machinery monopoly was the total annihilation of the patent right system, but the question of copyright came to me prominently only when the printers of Washington and the East became interested in the Chase copyright bill. Without giving the subject especial thought, the problem presented itself to my mind as being in the nature of a protective tariff, and I was “agin it.” A circular was read some years ago in the printers’ union of Detroit urging the printers to pass resolutions favoring the Chase bill and to notify the congressman from this district of our wishes in the matter. The circular brought ont considerable discussion, and I then took occasion to make a few remarks against copyright. The union took my view of the matter and laid the circular on the table. Mr. Tucker’s criticism of Mr. George’s article in the “Standard” made the matter quite clear to me. I could then Bee no difference between a patent right and a copyright, and I can now see no difference. When Mr. Tucker was in Detroit some months ago, we had a brief talk on the subject, and the difficulty of recompense to author and to inventor was in my mind then, and it is there yet. Of one thing I am satisfied: the equitable way to recompense authors and inventors is not to give them a monopoly of their inventions. Besides my own conviction on the matter, ample reasons have been given in Liberty to make that conviction stronger still.
Suppose I am the employer of a large number of people in a given industry, and I think out a plan whereby their labor, through a system of subdividing it, is made vastly more productive, have I a right to prevent all other employers from subdividing the labor of their employees in the same manner?
If by years of careful training and hard study I become a great actor, learn and practise the voice tones and physical gestures different from any one who preceded me, so as to influence vast audiences as they were never before influenced, bringing to me wealth and fame, have I the right to prevent any one else from using the voice and making the gestures precisely as I have done?
If by many and costly experiments I learn how to breed the finest horses, where do I get the right to prevent others from taking advantage of my experiments and breeding fine horses also?
The answers to these questions, it seems to me, will be that I have no right of property in these ideas; and, if there be no right of property in these ideas, then there can be no right of property in any ideas.
The question of recompense is not necessarily involved in the denial of the right to property in ideas. This is another question, and one which I hope Mr. Tucker and his coadjutors will take up. Joseph A. Labadie.
London’s Independent Theatre.
[New York Nation.]
The Independent Theatre of London gave its first performance on March 13. If one can judge of its future by the success of its opening venture, it bids fair to have as prosperous a career as the Théâtre Libre of Paris. Of course, M. Antoine’s experiment is really responsible for this new departure in the London theatrical world. The object of the Independent Theatre, as of the Théâtre Libre, is to encourage the performance of plays which have a literary and artistic rather than a commercial value, to counteract the demoralizing influence of long runs, and to give young dramatists the chance to test their talents. There is no quarrelling with this object. If a draught of fresh air, as it were, was wanted to give new life to the French theatre, how much more is it needed to clear away the stifling atmosphere of sentiment and convention that prevails on the London stage! The question of actor-managers, long runs, and concessions to the Young Person and British Matron has lately been gone into so thoroughly that it is useless to do more than refer to it. On the stage, where commercial success cannot he ignored, the initiative movement towards reform could not very well be expected. It had to come from outside. It is a significant fact that the leader of this movement is not an Englishman, but a foreigner. Mr. J. T. Grein, the founder and literary manager of the Independent Theatre, is a Dutchman, a journalist living in London, and an enthusiast in all that relates to the drama. He has succeeded in interesting a sufficient number of people to raise the money necessary for his venture. Like the Théâtre Libre, it is a private enterprise entirely; for though, as Mr. Grein plaintively explained, it is not his intention to defy decency and morality, it is likely that his and the Lord Chamberlain’s standards of dramatic propriety may not always agree.
Only members of the Society or invited guests can attend the performances of the Independent Theatre, and it was no easy matter to secure an invitation for the opening night. The play selected for this occasion was “Ghosts,” the most powerful, though not perhaps the most dramatic, of all Ibsen’s dramas. No actors of note took part in it, it was but indifferently well interpreted, and yet, we are informed, the power of the dramatist made itself felt. One might doubt the advisability of putting “Ghosts” on the regular bill at a popular theatre, but there was no denying that the experiment of actually producing it on the stage was intensely interesting. It alone would justify Mr. Grein’s attempts at theatrical independence. Whether he will accomplish all that he hopes to for the English drama, however, is quite another question. The list of plays he announces in his répertoire are chiefly translations. Now, Antoine in Paris has not hesitated to produce the work of Russians and Norwegians and, indeed, all foreigners; but he has relied chiefly on the dramatic creations of Frenchmen — of Zola, Hennique, Catulle Mendès, the De Goncourts, and a host of others of equal literary distinction. But who are the Englishmen upon whom Mr. Grein must depend? Original plays have been promised, he says, by Messrs. George Moore, W. Wilde, Cecil Raleigh, J. Zangwill, C. W. Jarvis. And what hope does such a list hold out? It may be that the Independent Theatre will, in the course of time, develop the independent dramatist. But until it does, the real attraction of the English Théâtre Libre will be the opportunity it will give to see foreign plays which otherwise would never be presented to the British public.
Justice and Taxation.
[M. D. O’Brien in Free Life.]
We Individualists are pretty nearly agreed that it is right to restrain by force the man who aggresses by force upon another man. But the Taxation-Individualists — to use a “Free Life” term — go much beyond this point. They argue that, because it is right for the majority to apply compulsion to the thief who has injured them, it is also right for them to apply compulsion (compulsory taking of taxes) to the peaceable citizen who has not injured them. Consider a case in point. About six months since I came across a man who had served one month (I think it was) in Lewes jail simply for inability to pay rates. His only crime was that of being poor. Now, the Taxation-Individualist argues that the same reason which justifies the application of force to a thief also justifies the application of force to such a man as this. I fail entirely to see the pinch of such reasoning. Against it I urge that all we are justified in doing is to form ourselves into voluntary defensive organizations for protecting our liberty and property against aggressors, but that we are not justified in taking the liberty or property of those who refuse to join us and are willing to take their own risks. I mean to say that a man’s non-aggressive earnings are his own, and that there is no other warrant, save force, for a majority confiscating any portion of them to form a national or municipal Liberty and Property Defence League. We are only justified in using force when force is used to us, and all the helpers we get should be volunteers, not people whom we have impressed, or, what is the same thing, the impressed earnings of those people. Can we wonder at the growing discontent when the poor are taxed and imprisoned to defend the wealth of the rich? I don’t suppose that any Taxation-Individualist will contend that the army, navy, police, law courts, municipal works, and even national education, could not be supported by the voluntary subscriptions of those who can afford to pay taxes, without coming upon the thousands who cannot. Our compulsory system is heaping up national and municipal debts that will go on to repudiation and possibly to such a form of “anarchy” as will surprise the owners of wealth. Let the compulsory system go on, let it be considered as a practical axiom that some have a right to tax others to any amount without their consent, and it will take a good deal of “sane and practical politics” — about which Taxation-Individualists occasionally write — to stem the Niagara whose great curve some are even now telling us they can see.
The Taxation-Individualists seem to have a dim notion that blackmailing the earnings of peaceable citizens is hardly consistent with what we are pleased to call justice, for one of their number — Mr. Levy — lately told us that “defensive institutions must be supported by some persons, and if the cost of their maintenance be not paid by the guilty it must be paid by the innocent. I wish it were more practicable to make the aggressor pay for his own restraint.” This is very considerate, but unfortunately, as a matter of fact, Mr. Levy supports a universal compulsion which confiscates alike the earnings of aggressors and non-aggressors, of good, bad, and indifferent; he, at least, is no respecter of persons.
It is not, however, easy to see the justice of compulsory taxation even when simply confined to the guilty. I give, we will suppose, my neighbor a black eye and am fined £10. Well, justice has got its pound of flesh, has it not? If the scale does not balance, put more in. But is the account never to be squared? Am I to be taxed in perpetuity without my consent as well as fined?
This leads me on to another point. Mr. Levy has lately given a somewhat new view of individual rights. “The rights of an individual,” he says, “are the sum total of his possible activities minus such as are declared to be offences.” Are we, then, to suppose that the rights of the victims of the Holy Inquisition were the sum total of their possible activities minus such as were declared by the Holy Office to be offences? The Individual’s rights are all possible actions that do not interfere with the freedom of his fellows. This fact is independent of all law courts or majorities, and no declarations of authority can alter it. It is a deeper fact than law, and law is only equitable in proportion as it recognizes it.
That Legal Jargon.
Legal language affords a striking example of striving after accuracy without attaining it; just as in the language of mathematics may be found a conspicuous instance of success in attaining accuracy. The similarity between the two languages is that they are both technical; but here the similarity stops: the one is a jargon, the other a language admirably adapted to its purposes. . . . The great defect in legal language is, of course, a lack of general terms having a precise denotation. Many more people have devoted themselves to the law than to mathematics; and this serves to show how much more can be accomplished by a few clever men than by a multitude of dullards.
The Ballad of Cecil Raikes.*
[London Saturday Review.]
Oh, have ye na heard o’ Cecil Raikes,
And have ye na heard o’ his latest scoop,
How he has ta’en my little foot-page,
On a point o’ law to hang him up?
He dared na meddle wi’ one of his men;
He knew them well for a rampin’ breed;
But he must meddle wi’ my foot-page,
That comes at call and runs at need.
I might ha’ dinged the churches down,
And garred Big Ben in flinders flee
For twa long years ere Cecil Raikes
Had ever sent his page to me.
But Cecil Raikes (he saith) forbore,
And the Lord he knoweth where Cecil hid,
That he could not see my little foot-page
Do all that Cecil never did.
Yea, Cecil Raikes (he saith) forbore,
For three good years, or maybe less;
And now he’s out wi’ an addled plan,
Which is the wont of idleness.
I must not send my little foot-page
Wi’ ring or chain to my lady love;
But I must go to Cecil Raikes,
And lick his stamps as he approve.
But I must go to Cecil Raikes,
O’er moss and moor, in rain or storm,
And, if he has na gaed to bed,
He’ll gie me a blink o’ a frowzy form.
My Love is in the Loudoun Road
(Wot ye how soon cut flowers fail?)
My braid letter must cross the flood
(Wot ye how late the Queenstown Mail?)
The lily sent at noon will die
Before the second call-bell rings;
The Queenstown boat will take the tide,
Though Cecil ties his nightcap-strings.
Oh, tape is red as any rose,
But love is pale and wakes o’ night;
And I — I must not send my love,
When Cecil Raikes puts out the light.
Now what care I if Cecil sleeps;
And what care I if Cecil wakes?
I’ll make my hay by night or day,
Though all the earth were toothed wi’ Raikes.
It’s ill to cross the Tweed in spate,
It’s waur to dam the lazy Till;
But it’s warst to come to Englishmen
Wi’ a hard-boiled plan and a soft-boiled will.
* Cecil Raikes, postmaster-general of England, after allowing the Boys’ Messenger Company of London to live three years and develop a flourishing business, has recently taken legal steps for its suppression on the ground that it infringes the post-office monopoly. In its stead he offers the public a service of the government telegraph messengers, which is hedged about and rendered inefficient by numerous restrictions, and which is in operation only in the daytime, whereas the Boys’ Messenger Company afforded service both day and night.
“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.
“Don’t Be a Clam!”
At last Mr. Pentecost has spoken. Not, to be sure, in answer to Mr. Yarros’s criticism, which mainly required answer, but at least in response to my little paragraph in No. 180. In the “Twentieth Century” of April 2 there are two columns from his pen, which I hasten to consider point by point.
To my remark that “it is not a pleasant duty to criticise” him, he replies that he does not regard this as my duty. But I perform my duties in obedience, not to Mr. Pentecost’s regards, but to my own. He explains further that I am under no obligations to God or man in this respect, and that I must admit this to be true because, if he understands me, I do not accept the doctrine of duty. Evidently Mr. Pentecost is under the impression that the word duty necessarily carries a moral connotation, when the truth is that in the commonest usage it does not. In No. no of this paper was reprinted an article from the London “Jus” on “The Antecedent and the Consequent Ought,” from which Mr. Pentecost could obtain needed enlightenment. It would tell him that the words duty and ought are often only elliptical expressions employed to obviate the necessity of setting forth the end assumed. Thus in publishing Liberty I have a certain end in view. To reach this end certain means are advantageous. To adopt these means is my duty if I wish to speedily reach the end. It was in this sense that I spoke of my duty to criticise Mr. Pentecost. It is strange that he did not understand this. A little further on in his article he himself says that in a certain contingency I ought to be satisfied. If I were to follow his example, I should ask him: Why do you think I ought to be satisfied, when you do not believe in duty? But it would be a silly question, for it is obvious that he only means to say that, the conditions of satisfaction being present, it is reasonable to expect the usual conclusion.
Then he comes to my next sentence,— that “he seems to have taken a solemn oath never to answer any criticism really worth answering,” — and on this point he says:
I generally do not answer criticisms through these columns, especially if they appear in other papers, for the reason that I think too much space would be thus used by matter not interesting to our readers, and because I do not like to argue.
What sort of readers has Mr. Pentecost that they should be absolutely interested in his opinion pro and utterly indifferent to those of other able men con? What does he mean by his motto, “Hear the other side”? The only object in hearing the other side is to contrast it with the first side and ascertain which is the stronger. Mr. Pentecost’s conviction that discussion is uninteresting to his readers is, in my judgment, a conviction into which he has “argued himself.” But he does not like to argue, he says. Is he sure of that? My observation has told me the contrary. I appeal to the files of the “Twentieth Century.” Columns on columns can be found there in which he argues and disputes with the utmost zest. I know no man readier than Mr. Pentecost to utilize his brother-man as a floor-mop, when the brother-man is a weakling whom he can handle safely and successfully. But the floor gets very filthy before he will run any risk of being put to that use himself. When such danger presents itself, he no longer likes to argue, but prefers to “quietly think.” And the silence of his thought sometimes gets very oppressive. No, I cannot accept this plea. First let Mr. Pentecost avoid discussion systematically, thoroughly, and consistently. Then and not till then will I allow him to dodge discussion with me.
Criticisms of me, sent to this office over a bona fide signature, are published under the same rules which govern the admission of other matter, and when a criticism appears in these columns it is usually not necessary to answer it. The readers are presumed to be able to decide on its merits.
And on those unusual occasions when it is necessary to answer the criticism, are the readers then presumed not to be able to decide on its merits? Will Mr. Pentecost kindly furnish the exact measure of the intellectual acumen of the “Twentieth Century’s” readers? If the readers may usually be presumed to be able to decide after hearing Mr. Pentecost and then his critic, why may they not also be presumed to be able to decide for themselves without hearing either of them? In that case why publish the “Twentieth Century” at all? (For I refuse to believe, as many do, that it is simply a business enterprise.) But if, on the other hand, they are aided by hearing Mr. Pentecost and his critic, why may they not be further aided by hearing the former’s rejoinder and the latter’s re-rejoinder, until one or the other can advance nothing more that is new or strong? In other words, why not discussion, debate, argument? It seems to me that the man who is unwilling to discuss with a worthy foe is either a coward or a namby-pamby.
As for my friend Yarros’s criticism of my “indictment against Anarchists,” I have only a faint idea of what Mr. Tucker refers to. I do not know that I have ever indicted Anarchists, and I cannot remember what Mr. Yarros’s criticism was. If I have said anything untrue of Anarchists, I am ready to apologize for it the moment it is shown to me.
Two copies of Liberty go regularly to the office of the “Twentieth Century,” Mr. Pentecost desiring, as I understand it, to have one copy for his own use. It is a little singular that the most conspicuous article of one issue, aimed directly at Mr. Pentecost, should have escaped his attention and that of his associates. Nevertheless such seems to have been the fact. Therefore I had no sooner read the above lines than I proceeded to clip Mr. Yarros’s article and enclose it to Mr. Pentecost in a sealed letter. I trust that he knows by this time that he has said something untrue of Anarchists, and I am waiting for his apology.
Mr. Tucker is mistaken in saying that I improve every opportunity to declare that I am not an Anarchist, very, very much mistaken. I have never meant to say, and think I never have said, that I am not an Anarchist.
Mr. Pentecost may not have “improved every opportunity,” but he has certainly declared distinctly on two or three occasions that he is not an Anarchist. I will show at once that his memory is not to be trusted in these matters. In this very article in which he writes: “I have never meant to say, and think I never have said, that I am not an Anarchist,” I find, half a column further on, these words: “I am not an Anarchist, but I do agree with many doctrines which some Anarchists call Anarchism.” This is a very funny instance of Mr. Pentecost’s habit of loose thinking and writing. He cannot remember his own views long enough to write half a column without contradicting them.
What I have said, and say, is that I am unwilling to call myself an Anarchist. What other people call me I cannot help, and, in a certain sense, do not care. Why I am unwilling to call myself an Anarchist is, that I will not be an “ist” — a member of a sect — of any kind.
Mr. Pentecost might as well refuse to call himself a publicist for the same reason. An Anarchist is not a member of a sect. Au Anarchist is one who believes that a certain doctrine is true.
And, besides, I do not know what an Anarchist is. I understand that Mr. Tucker, and Mr. Yarros, C. L. James, Dyer D. Lum, John Kelly, and his sister, Dr. Kelly, and John Most, all call themselves Anarchists, but they all, as I understand it, have different ideas of what Anarchism means. How, then, am I to know which particular “ist” or “ism” is the right one?
In the prospectus of the “Twentieth Century” Mr. Pentecost declares that he “advocates Personal Sovereignty instead of State Sovereignty.” Now, Mr. Tucker, and Mr. Yarros, C. L. James, Dyer D. Lum, John Kelly, and his sister, Dr. Kelly, and John Most all advocate Personal Sovereignty, but they all have different ideas of what Personal Sovereignty means. How, then, is Mr. Pentecost to know which particular “Personal Sovereignty” is the right one? And, if he does not know, how can he, according to his position, call himself an advocate of Personal Sovereignty?
I venture to say that if I should call myself an Anarchist Mr. Tucker would be prepared to prove that I am not, but he seems to criticise me because I will not take the name.
I am also prepared to prove that Mr. Pentecost does not always adhere consistently to his advocacy of Personal Sovereignty. I have never asked him to take the name Anarchist; I have only asked him not to slander those who do take the name, and have shown in a general way that his warfare upon names is ridiculous.
I believe people would be much happier if there were no compulsory government of man by man, and that such a condition will be possible when a sufficient number of people wish it. Is that Anarchism? I do not know, but if it is, it appears to me entirely unnecessary to give such a belief a name.
This is like saying: “I believe that all particles of matter attract each other with a force directly proportional to their mass and inversely proportional to the squares of their distances. Is that the Law of Gravitation? I do not know, but if it is, it appears to me entirely unnecessary to give such a belief a name.”
My observation convinces me that names for beliefs serve no purpose but to set people to arguing with each other about what the name means, when they should be turning their attention to the realization of their beliefs.
As if one could work effectively for the realization of his beliefs without first determining closely what they are and what they mean!
Mr. Tucker wants to know whether I wish people to regard me as an Archist. No. The point, I suppose, is that, If I am not an Archist, must be an Anarchist. Etymologically the point is well taken, but it involves a mere trick with words. I am not an Archist, and I do not agree with any doctrines which pass under the name of Archism. I am not an Anarchist, but I do agree with many doctrines which some Anarchists call Anarchism.
The whole question involved here was fully treated in Mr. Yarros’s article. It is useless to say anything further until Mr. Pentecost has answered it.
Now, I will ask Mr. Tucker a question: Is he not willing to recognize me as a fellow worker for the cessation of compulsory human government, and to extend to me the courtesies of such fellowship, except on condition that I accept his definition of Anarchism and take unto myself the name Anarchist?
Inasmuch as I have never asked Mr. Pentecost to accept my definition of Anarchism in any other sense than that in which I ask all men to accept all my views if my support of them commends itself to their reason, the question is impertinent. I will recognize Mr. Pentecost as a fellow worker for the cessation of compulsory human government as long as he really works in that direction. When I see him neutralizing his own work by an inconsistency, I shall call his attention to it. I shall do this courteously at first. If he answers neither “Yes,” “No,” nor “Perhaps,” but goes off and “quietly thinks,” I shall wait a reasonable time. Then, if he makes no sign, I shall again remind him of his inconsistency, but this time discourteously and raspingly. And, if he still persists, I shall then heap upon him insult, sarcasm, and ridicule, until I shall have stung him, if possible, into some sense of decency. I ask from him the same treatment in return. Only I shall never give him an excuse for speaking harshly to me, because I am sufficiently observant of the “courtesies of fellowship” not to preserve a clam-like silence when my fellow addresses me.
Is he determined to continue performing the duty of criticising me until I acknowledge that “Liberty” is the only, authoritative exponent of Anarchism, and that he and those who agree with him to the last shade of opinion are the only time Anarchists?
I am determined to continue criticising Mr. Pentecost until he either agrees with me or answers me. He must do one or the other, or else declare frankly that the editors of Liberty are fools not worth his attention. But I know that in his heart Mr. Pentecost values the utterances of Liberty and respects the sincerity, ability, and intellectual worth of its editors, and therefore it is that I insist that he shall treat them accordingly. He must not mistake this for a bid for praise or taffy or tribute; none of that is wanted here; the “courtesies of fellowship” are all we ask.
Am I to understand that I should be both an acknowledged Anarchist and Tuckerist before “Liberty” will reciprocate the kindly feeling that, in this office, we have for Mr. Tucker and Mr. Yarros?
Oh! not so much kindness, please. Or, at least, not so much asseveration of it. Kindness will take care of itself. Liberty, I say again and again, does not insist that Mr. Pentecost shall acknowledge himself an Anarchist, but it does insist that he shall not declare that those who do so acknowledge themselves are either party slaves or party tyrants. That is the point at issue just now, and it is not to be obscured by the stale cries of “Censorship” and “Tuckerist” which are always on the lips of those who cannot otherwise answer the criticisms passed upon them by this paper. I am surprised that Mr. Pentecost should echo this snarl of the Lums and the slums. He ought to be ashamed of it. He will be ashamed of it. I hope he is already ashamed of it. T.
The Knot-Hole in the Fence.
Did Mr. Yarros ever go to a horse-race? If so, perchance he has seen two horses run neck and neck for the first half-mile, and then one so outstrip the other that its rider could afford to “slow up” on the homestretch in order to make things more interesting at the finish. In such a case the rider of the winning horse would be very likely to say to his opponent after the race: “You pushed me hard at first; I had to be lively to keep you from passing me; but, when you fell behind after the half-mile post, I saw that I was an easy winner, and I played with you a bit toward the end. But you have a good horse there just the same.” If, however, this rider had spoken before the end of the race instead of after it (supposing such a thing to be compatible with the conditions of a horse-race), he probably would not have told his opponent that he was raising his hopes only to dash them (he more effectually, but, partly from an earnest desire to recognize his rival’s merit and partly to mask his own playful little plan, he would have addressed his adversary, as he allowed him to approach, somewhat in this wise: “You are a good one; you are giving me a close race, and you may win it yet; but, if you do, I shall have had some good sport and a good lesson, for a race that keeps one on his mettle is the kind of race that I like and profit by.” I trust that this illustration will make it plain to Mr. Yarros that my recognition of the ability of my opponents in this copyright discussion and my subsequent confession that at the same time I was so full of confidence that I finally toyed a little with at least one of them do not involve the inconsistency which Mr. Yarros strives to make apparent in the beginning of his article on another page, and that, after the disappearance of this seeming inconsistency, the edge of his sarcasm becomes a trifle dull.
I shall try to be brief in dealing with the rest of what Mr. Yarros has to say in the fifth and longest of a series of articles the third of which was the “probably final” one.
To begin at the end, I will say simply of his comments on Tak Kak, whom I shall leave to reply for himself in his own incomparable way, that those who have read Tak Kak’s articles understandingly know that they contain something more than assertions, and that it is impolitic, to say the least, to lightly dismiss as such the words of a writer whom none of us surpass in comprehension of Anarchism.
It is erroneous to say that I, in using the possible destruction of Spencer’s works as a reductio ad absurdum of property in ideas, assumed that Spencer’s works belong to the world. I assumed simply that the world possesses them and that this possession makes for the world’s happiness. If Mr. Yarros knows the difference between possession and ownership, he will not dispute this assumption. The assumption granted, then I argue that property in ideas, since it might lead to dispossessing the world of Spencer’s works, does not make for happiness, and further that, if such property is based on equal liberty (which I deny), then in at least one instance equal liberty does not make for happiness. If there is any question-begging here, I fail to see it.
To anticipate the possible objection to the foregoing paragraph that a thief may similarly argue against property in coats from the standpoint that continued possession of the coat which he has stolen makes for his happiness, I will explain that the thief’s argument is sound provided he is strong enough to maintain his possession and provided he is correct in his estimate of the conditions of happiness.
I apprehend that one of the most serious differences between Mr. Yarros and myself turns upon this point of correctly estimating the conditions of happiness. For instance, in the matter of philosophers: despite the fact that he would allow them a copyright while I would not, I place a much higher value upon them than he does. I cannot agree that the “destruction of the works of the greatest of them could never amount to a great social calamity.” The world, in my opinion, could more easily put up with a half-dozen French Revolutions and a few earthquakes thrown in than with the permanent loss of the works of Spencer or the works of Shakspere. But I quite agree with Mr. Yarros “that the greatest of them is not sufficiently great to have the whole civilized world at his mercy,” and that is one of the reasons why I would deny him a monopoly of the ideas he has discovered. To those who agree with my high estimate of philosophers my reductio ad absurdum is conclusive; I readily admit that it can have no force with those who take them at Mr. Yarros’s comparatively light valuation. But it is not affected at all by the claim that it is impossible to destroy a really valuable book. Does a book exist, in any vital sense, simply because a few copies are straying about in odd corners of the world? Not at all. A book really exists only when it is actively in the market, and it is an easy matter to remove a book from the market if one holds the copyright.
Mr. Yarros charges me with describing Mr. Bil-gram’s case unfairly and inaccurately. To substantiate this charge he resorts to unfairness and inaccuracy himself. “Though I differ from Mr. Bilgram,” he says, “I am still bound to recognize the fact that ‘most students’ do share his opinion that the denial of property in ideas would destroy (or, at all events, cripple) literature. Mr. Bilgram’s opinion is substantiated by facts, and by numerous facts; and upon these facts ‘most students’ base their opinions.” The unfairness and inaccuracy here lie in the unwarrantable interpolation by Mr. Yarros of the parenthetical clause, “or, at all events, cripple,” which was not contained in the statement made by Mr. Bilgram and disputed by me, followed by the statement that “Mr. Bilgram’s opinion” (which is not the opinion that Mr. Bilgram expressed) is substantiated by facts and by most students. It was just because Mr. Bilgram declared that non-recognition of property in ideas would leave us without a literature that I pronounced this opinion contrary to the opinion of most students. Does Mr. Yarros dispute me here? Let him reflect for a moment that glorious literatures existed and flourished thousands of years before copyright was dreamed of, and that Shakspere himself wrote his works more than a century prior to the enactment of the first copyright law, before asserting that any student worthy of the name will face these facts with the absurd claim that copyright is essential to the existence of literature. It is true that many students, possibly most students, think that no-property in ideas would cripple literature. If Mr. Bilgram had said simply this, my answer would have taken a different shape. It is of no importance to discuss the point here, since Mr. Yarros, as I understand him, is not convinced that literature would be either destroyed or crippled by the denial of property in ideas; I refer to the matter only to refute the charge of unfairness and inaccuracy and place it where it belongs. And here I may add that it also partakes of unfairness to speak of my “gloomy forecast of the results of equal liberty.” I have forecast only the results of what I deny to be equal liberty.
I have left till the last the most important put of Mr. Yarros’s article. The first thing to be noted concerning it is that my last rejoinder, which he quotes but cannot admire, has extracted from him nevertheless an enormous admission, which, even as he states it, abandons to his foes a good two-thirds, I should say, of the ground disputed in the battle over property in ideas, and which a little further illumination will turn into complete victory for the opponents of such property. It is now allowed by Mr. Yarros that there must be no property in those inventions which are placed in men’s sight and which men need only to look at, every time they pass them, in order to understand them. “I do not require men,” he says, “to shut their eyes or to stay at home.” That he does not require it now is evident, because he says so; but it is equally evident that this is precisely what he did require two months ago, as any one may see by reading the following passages from his last article, in Liberty of February 21, which I italicize for myself:
Some things, indeed, it is not necessary to study; to see them merely is enough. But all Mr. Tucker has the right to demand is that these things shall not be brought to his own private house and placed before his eyes. The stores and the streets are not his; and he has no right to say that they shall not be offered there for inspection and sale. If he chooses to enter the stores, or walk in the public street and look at the display of goods in the windows, he does so at the risk of depriving himself of the liberty of originating certain things. Not being compelled by the inventors and authors to enter stores, he cannot complain of the loss of liberty entailed by these visits.
The full significance of this unquestionable revolution in Mr. Yarros’s view will be understood when we remember that all but a very small proportion of inventions are so placed that men see more or less of them in their daily walks and business,— men with that mechanical genius and quick perception which enable them to comprehend machinery almost at a glance,— and that all these inventions thus placed are no longer to be held as property at all, despite the fact that Mr. Yarros, in all his previous articles except the first one, has held in principle to permanent property in all ideas without exception, and in practice to permanent property in a certain class of ideas and to limited property in all other ideas. Heretofore the cry has been: In principle perpetual monopoly in ideas, so modified in practice that the monopoly shall be temporary in all cases where it is impossible to prove the originality. (See Mr. Yarros’s articles in Liberty of January 24 and February 7.) But now neither perpetual nor temporary monopoly is to be allowed to any ideas except in the case of books and the few inventions which are either not to be seen or are too complex to be understood without special study. In a previous reply I had occasion to point out that the champions of property in ideas had practically destroyed their position by making independence of invention the test of property. Now they have abandoned two-thirds of it in theory also.
But what about the remaining third,— books and the few hidden and complex inventions? It is readily to be seen that the distinctions by which it is attempted to separate these from the others are vain and futile.
In the first place we find that the man who uses an invention that he has seen is to be asked whether he saw it as he happened to pass it or whether he went “out of his way” to see it. In the former case it is his right to use it, in the latter case it is not his right. Was ever anything more childish? By this distinction, if I, on my way to my office in the morning, pass a street fakir selling the little coin receptacles now to be had at every corner, and if I by a casual glance am shrewd enough to see how they work, I can make and sell these banks without the consent of the inventor; but if, instead of passing the fakir directly on my way, I am attracted by a small crowd in a side street, and, “going out of my way,” find the fakir in the midst of it, then I cannot make and sell these banks. Wonderful!
In the second place we find that the man who uses an invention that he has seen is to be asked whether he comprehended it at a glance or whether he “stopped to study” it. In the former case it is his right to use it, in the latter case it is not his right. By this distinction I, who must study a steam-engine for weeks before I can understand it, am to be forced to respect somebody’s right of property in the idea; but the skilled mechanic, who perceives the modus operandi almost instantaneously, can immediately build as many steam-engines as he likes. Admirable!
In the third place we find that the man who publishes a book, or a part of a book, that has been previously published is to be asked whether he went out of his way to read this book or selection, or whether he simply refused to stop up his ears when it chanced to be read or repeated in his presence. In the former case he is to be punished because he deliberately took away his own liberty to write and publish such a book; in the latter case he is to be allowed to proceed because he was deprived of this liberty, not by his own volition, but by the act of another. By this distinction, if I publish Longfellow’s “Psalm of Life,” which I perhaps have never read but which in some mysterious way I know by heart, I am an honest man; but if I read “Evangeline” and then publish it, I am a thief. Profound!
Equally fine-spun is the distinction which allows a man to use his eyes in the street without the imposition of penalty, but which refuses him the liberty to look at the books that lie open before his eyes on the table of the friend whom he is visiting without losing the liberty to write and publish books like them. As I pointed out in my answer to Mr. Zametkin in No. 178, the man who expects his fellow-citizens to protect the privacy of his writings must take reasonable precautions in the direction of such protection himself; and if, instead of such precautions, he is so reckless as to spread them in printed form on every hand, he must expect them to be read and must assume the consequences of such reading. If a man scatters money in the street, he does not thereby formally relinquish title to it any more than if he were to lay it on his table, but those who pick it up are thereafter considered its rightful owners, though nobody obliged them to take it from the gutter. Similarly a man who reproduces his writings by thousands and spreads them everywhere voluntarily abandons his right of privacy, and those who read them, even though not obliged to do so, no more put themselves by that act under any obligations in regard to the author than those who pick up scattered money put themselves under obligations to the scatterer. Moreover, if the simple consideration that men are not obliged to read books settles the question of copyright, then the other consideration, that men are not obliged to go into the streets (or to stay within the limits of civilization, for that matter) settles similarly the question of patent right, and there was no reason for Mr. Yarros to retreat so hastily from his former position on the latter question. The truth is that neither consideration has properly the smallest weight in either case. There are certain every-day liberties which all men possess,— among them, walking the streets and reading books,— and they are not to be deprived of them in order to give a few men a monopoly of ideas which they have chosen to make public, whether in the form of inventions or in the form of books.
But not only are these distinctions childish and ridiculous; they are also unjust. For, while professedly drawn in the interest of intellectual laborers, they leave by far the larger number of them without protection, affording it only to authors and a very few inventors. And further they are impracticable, because they involve innumerable questions of petty detail which no jury could intelligently decide in accordance with any principle. Yet the same man who originates these distinctions and makes property in ideas begin at an uncertain degree of complexity, or at an uncertain degree of concealment, or with the reading of books, condemns Tak Kak and myself for empiricism! Rather it is he who is the empiric; for, by his departure from principle, he has been obliged to abandon two-thirds of his ground in order to retain a third, and of this third he can make no use whatever.
When I last left Mr. Yarros, he was running up a blind alley. What has since happened to him? He has discovered a knot-hole in the fence that closes the alley at the end. It seemed large for a knot-hole, and in his despair he tried to squeeze through it. His legs went through all right, but his body stuck fast. And now there he is, with his head on one side and his heels on the other, vainly wriggling and twisting; in which helpless and painful predicament, I, with my usual cruelty, leave him. T.
Mr. Simpson’s Final Shot.
To the Editor of Liberty:
You have a free and easy way of disposing of my difficulties. In a recent “picket” note you warned me that I was diverting from the direct road of Anarchy, and in last Liberty you assert that belief in monopoly of ideas is leading me to belief in monopoly of land, and that soon, if I am logical, I will be a complete Archist. To this I may retort that your denial of property in ideas (and I am claiming property, not monopoly, in ideas) will lead you to Communism in all things.
I threw up any attempt to disprove a logical possibility, and introduced the two arguments of Spooner, where he claims that, whether an idea is a work of discovery or production, in either case it is a rightful subject of property, being the result of the exercise of his mental faculties. The argument that ideas are new wealth you summarily dismiss, thinking, I presume, that your former replies that ideas are works of discovery and not of production has disposed of the matter. But you refer me to Tak Kak as having killed the spook of intangible property. Well, I see no argument from Tak Kak; I see only a statement that ideas cannot be considered as property, because the owner will never miss them if he is robbed: or rather, he will have none less, whether he is robbed of them, or whether he sells them. That is coming pretty close to the Communistic argument that nothing that a man has not actual need for should be considered as private property.
But the second argument of Spooner, that ideas, being natural wealth, belong to the discoverer, “on the same principle that he who first takes possession of any material production of nature thereby makes himself its rightful owner,” you attempt to reduce to absurdity by interpreting it to mean (in the case of land) that a man can take possession of as much as he wills by merely putting a fence around it, and so owning immense tracts. And then you ask, What becomes of the Anarchistic doctrine of occupancy and use?
Now, I question whether you have any warrant in assuming that to be Spooner’s position. It is not to be found in his “Intellectual Property.” There he several times states that a man is entitled to as much unappropriated land as is necessary for his wants and desires. “Such wants, and desires are a sufficient warrant for him to take whatever nature has spread before him for their gratification.” “The first comer can at best take possession of but an infinitesimal portion of the whole, not even so much probably as would fall to his share if the whole were equally divided among the inhabitants of the globe.” This may not be very explicit, but it is enough to show that there is little warrant in believing him to justify land monopoly. His Revolution pamphlet, a reply to Lord Dunraven, wherein he shows that landlords have no right to property in land that the people are bound to respect, is another proof that something else than mere getting possession was considered by him to be a just title to land, and what else that could be except occupancy and use, I don’t know.
But, supposing for sake of argument, Spooner was so stupid, the fact does not help you. He may have been wrong on land and right on ideas. The cases are not parallel. No two or more men can discover and own the same piece of land, and so the right of property in land has to be qualified by the condition of occupancy and use, that being the best conceivable approximation to equal liberty. But there can be many independent discoverers of the same idea, and all can have property in their ideas, without violating the liberty of any of them. In the case of land only the first comer can own and use it: if land were like ideas, the principle of property would apply in the same way.
As this once more raises the point between private use of ideas and public exhibition of same, and that question is being dealt with by you and Mr. Yarros, and as Mr. Lloyd, Tak Kak, or myself have raised only Incidental issues, which help to mystify more than they elucidate the real point which you and Yarros are discussing, I will retire in favor of the two greatest gladiators of them all.
Yours, etc., A. H. Simpson.
Mr. Simpson’s retort that denial of property in ideas leads to Communism in all things is a silly one. There is nothing in the principle of property which necessarily renders everything appropriable. If there were, then Mr. Simpson’s denial of property in men would lead him to Communism in all things. But Anarchism posits equal liberty as a universal social law. Therefore to depart from equal liberty is, in the eyes of Anarchism, to deny it as a law, and after such denial the transition to Archism is an easy one. I am aware that Mr. Simpson thinks that he has not departed from equal liberty. But the fact that, in order to sustain property in ideas, he has been led to indorse a theory of landed property which all Anarchists agree in viewing as a denial of equal liberty, was put forward by me to show that he bas made such a departure, and that each new step in this direction prepares another. One cannot well state arguments so simple in any but a “free and easy way.” If Mr. Simpson does not like the ease with which I answer him, let him ask me harder questions.
I do not like to be rude, but I must flatly contradict Mr. Simpson’s statement that the doctrine of unlimited land ownership is not to be found in Spooner’s “Intellectual Property.” I will not discuss so plain a matter. If Mr. Simpson can read pages 21, 22, and 23 of that work and say that they are not utterly inconsistent with the Anarchistic doctrine of occupancy and use as the limit of property in land, it simply shows that he does not understand the Anarchistic doctrine, which I strongly suspect to be the case. Let him show me one other Anarchist — Mr. Yarros, for instance — who interprets the pages referred to as he interprets them himself, and I will discuss the matter with them.
Mr. Simpson’s reading of the Revolution pamphlet is on a par in slovenliness with his reading of “Intellectual Property.” In that pamphlet Mr. Spooner bases his opposition to Irish and English landlords on the sole ground that they or their ancestors took their lands by the sword from the original holders. This is plainly stated,— so plainly that I took issue with Mr. Spooner on this point when he had asked me to read the manuscript before its publication. I then asked him whether if Dunraven or his ancestors had found unoccupied the very lands that he now holds, and had fenced them off, he would have any objection to raise against Dunraven’s title to and leasing of these lands. He declared emphatically that he would not. Whereupon I protested that his pamphlet, powerful as it was within its scope, did not go to the bottom of the land question. Does Mr. Simpson consider Dunraven’s landholding and landlordship (setting aside the original seizure by force) an illustration of occupancy and use?
It is not to the purpose to urge that Spooner.may have been wrong on land and right on ideas. I was asked by Mr. Simpson to disprove an argument advanced by Spooner in favor of property in ideas. In answer I pointed out to Mr. Simpson that this argument leads, through the same logical process, to property in ideas and to unlimited property in land, my contention being, of course, that, if this were the argument relied upon, the two results must stand or fall together. What point is there in saying, in reply to this, that the cases are not parallel? Mr. Spooner’s argument, which Mr. Simpson asked me to disprove, was that the cases are parallel. I say: Yes, the cases are parallel, it is true, but the position is false in both cases. No, rejoins Mr. Simpson, the cases are not parallel. Why does he bow before Mr. Spooner’s logic in one breath and repudiate it in the next? T.
Information for a Newspaper.
In the New York “Sun” of March 31, the Rev. Dr. Gladden was savagely attacked in a violent editorial for a sermon he had preached in St. George’s church on Good Friday. The head and front of Rev. Mr. Gladden’s offending the “Sun” found in the following quotation from his discourse, the burden of which was that our society is utterly corrupt and that we are in a state of political degradation almost without parallel in the history of civilization: “In ancient times thieving barons with their hands full of blood and plunder were sometimes sainted because they gave generously to monasteries. The modern brigand, who has the trunk line for a highway and State Legislatures for tools, is considered by many generous and pious if be gives his money to churches and colleges. Our Legislatures reek with bribery and our cities are sometimes under the control of criminals. Nearly every State Legislature, nearly every City Hall, is an Augean stable which cannot be cleansed without Herculean labors.”
“If our Legislatures reek with bribery,” shrieks the “Sun,” and “nearly every State Legislature and nearly every City Hall is an Augean stable, the facts to prove the widespread corruption must be easily obtainable. If this political depravity is so appalling that it is necessary to make it the prominent subject of Good Friday meditations, the particular evidences of its existence ought at once to be produced; and if the Rev. Mr. Gladden would save himself from the charge of being a pulpit slanderer, proclaiming lies for truth in God’s holy place, he must proceed to bring forth these proofs.” Very well; it is a fact that the facts which the “Sun” demands are indeed easily obtainable,— more easily than it suspects, so easily that even he who runs may read them. I have no means of knowing what the Rev. Mr. Gladden will do to satisfy the “Sun”; but to show what might be done I will give here some interesting facts relating to legislation and legislators which I gathered in one day,— in fact, on March 31, the date of the issue of the paper containing the editorial in question.
First, let me ask the reader to look at the last editorial paragraph of the very issue we are dealing with. He will find a good story neatly told. “Certain members of the Texas House of Representatives were going on an excursion. A sly reformer offered a resolution that all members going on the junket should forfeit their pay during their absence. Another member offered an amendment that all members forfeit three days’ pay. Great excitement among the gentlemen on junket bent. The resolution was adopted and the excursion laid on the table. An excursion at his own expense is not attractive to a legislator. He prefers his pleasure D. H., and when he has to put his hand into his pocket the charm is gone. He wants to have his cake and eat it, too, and he often succeeds.”
Will the “Sun” kindly say if it thinks this sort of reading calculated to inspire the Rev. Mr. Gladden and other people with respect and admiration for the character of the average legislator? Yet the “Sun,” after giving us facts, objects to our drawing legitimate inferences from them.
Now let us put away the “Sun” and open the New York “Times” of the same date. Turning to the correspondence from Albany, we read: “It is the custom to denounce the Legislature as being more iniquitous than its predecessor. But there have been few worse in Albany within the last decade. The assembly is corrupt, unscrupulous, and illiterate. Its redeeming points are few.” So the Rev. Mr. Gladden has the authority of the “Times” for denouncing the New York legislators as “corrupt, unscrupulous, and illiterate.” And if the Rev. Mr. Gladden desired to fortify himself further, he could refer to the following editorial expression of opinion in a previous issue of the “Times”: “Theoretically, the members of the State Legislature are representatives of the people, chosen to promote and to guard their public interests. Practically, they have to be jealously watched to prevent them from betraying the interests of the people and using the power intrusted to them for the benefit of private schemes at the expense of the public. If it were possible for proceedings to be conducted in secret and guarded from exposure, there is every reason to believe that there would be a ‘perfect carnival’ of jobbery, corruption, and mischievous legislation.”
Finally, I will ask the reader to look at my copy of the San Francisco “Examiner” of March 26 (received and opened here March 31). He will, in reading the report of the final session of the “Legislature of a Thousand Scandals,” stumble over “disgraceful acts that ought to cause the blush of shame,” and learn that “prominent citizens of all shades of political opinion” mutually congratulate themselves that the “Boodle Legislature” is no more. In the editorial review of the Legislature’s work, he will find such comments and remarks as these; “This Legislature goes more heavily loaded with public contempt than almost any other we have ever had. It gets no credit for good motives in its good work, and its failure to do more harm is laid to lack of courage or lack of opportunity, not to lack of will.” — “Perhaps the principal reason why the Legislature is in such bad odor is its deficient intelligence. There have been other Legislatures as corrupt, but none whose members were so much in need of guardians and so poorly provided with them.” — “But the worst thing of all was the general atmosphere of boodle that infected the Capitol during the entire session. The sacks did not always materialize, but there was always the feeling that the legislators were hungry for them.”
Let this suffice. It is manifest that the Rev. Mr. Gladden would have no difficulty in obtaining evidence against the politicians and lawmakers. Every issue of the “Sun,” as of any other well-conducted newspaper, furnishes an abundance of facts fully justifying the charges which arouse editorial indignation. Instead of calling upon the Rev. Mr. Gladden to produce evidence, the “Sun,” like the excellent paper that it is, should itself assume the task of collecting evidence of the corruption and incapacity of our legislators. Really, would it not be a fine thing for some great newspaper to collect and publish a list of legislative crimes, blunders, follies, and absurdities for the past year? What a startling and useful record that would be! V. Y.
The Novel of Today.
Most readers, I presume, have, like myself, been inveigled into reading the syndicate symposium on “The Novel of Tomorrow” which the newspapers have published lately. Whether their disappointment is keen or not depends, of course, on the extravagance of the expectations stimulated in them by the advertising that heralded the great literary event. For my part, I had expected little, and so was almost prepared to find nothing. Not one of the contributors succeeded in imparting anything of value or significance, which may perhaps be accounted for by the very probable supposition that it was no part of their intention to really say anything. In fact, you cannot get something for nothing, and literary men and women whose opinions have a market value are beginning to consider glory a poor equivalent. It takes a reformer, an idealist, to give his best thought for the good of the cause. The author feels sure that no sensible man expects him to toil for the exclusive benefit of the enterprising middleman, and he is not afraid to send away the reporter with nothing but flat and inconsequential commonplaces. If any of the contributors to the symposium have anything original and interesting to express on the novel of tomorrow, they will choose their own time and place, and take care to obtain the best price. Look out for their judgments in the magazines.
Among the contributors we find Howells and Boyesen. While they have said nothing new, their opinions were at least true and free from the admixture of sentimentality or cant. Boyesen said: “I believe that, as the world progresses toward intellectual maturity, it will lose its delight in the romantic wonder story of the Stevenson and Haggard type. I believe the tendency of fiction is toward a closer fidelity to life and a closer adherence to the logic of reality. Mere ingenuity in the devising of complicated plots I hold in slight esteem. Nothing is valuable except that which is true to human nature, and the more typically true it is the greater is its value. The world began in its childhood with the wonder story, and the more extravagantly wonderful it was the better. Then it gradually advanced to the point when it demanded possibility, and thence (though that step is not quite completed) to probability. There is yet another step to be taken, and that is from probability to necessity,— i. e., the premises, in the way of environment, character, etc., being given, the progress of the story and its denouement must tend toward a result irrevocably demanded by the laws and logic of reality.”
Howells said: “As time goes by, the romantic school will, in my opinion, find less favor with the reading public. The home of the realistic novel will be in the United States, and realism will be the style of fiction in the future. We have many novel phases of life and character in this country to furnish material for the future novelist. Russia has the greatest novel writers, and they belong to the natural school. England is far behind in fiction, because the romantic school still flourishes and finds encouragement there. There are some great realistic writers in England, of whom Thomas Hardy stands at the head. When Victor Hugo died, the death-knell of romantic fiction was sounded. In France, Emile Zola, Daudet, and others are doing splendid work by their natural methods. Even in Spain and Italy the fiction writers are ahead of England in naturalness. They have caught the spirit of truth, and write it graphically. It seems to be a logical deduction that, if the romantic school is dying out, and the realistic coming into vogue, the latter will certainly be the novel of the future. A fiction that is natural and portrays characters true to life will grow in favor.”
Mr. Howells would find it a difficult task to explain why he thinks that the United States will be the home of the realistic novel. Wherever men and women live, love, work, suffer, and think, the realistic novel will find a home. The greatest realistic dramatist is Ibsen, and yet he does not write for any single nation or people; he writes for certain classes of men, classes found in every nation and country. Change the names of his characters, and his scenes may be laid in any other progressive country in the world. On the other hand, take Howells himself, who is certainly a realistic novelist of no small calibre, and his tales will be found to have an interest for people of certain localities and habits of life only. Mr. Howells is to many uninteresting and dull; and some of these unappreciative readers have jumped to the conclusion that the realistic novel is essentially a dull and monotonous thing. The fault, however, is not with the realistic novel, but with the life and habits and interests selected by the novelist for delineation. Few of us care to know about Annie Kilburn’s fortunes and narrow existence; but we all are eager to know and to understand Gwendolen and Lyndal and Viola and Madame Caroline. A realistic novel may be even much more exciting and absorbing than the most recklessly romantic piece of fiction,— for is not truth often stranger than fiction? Is not “Germinal” an intensely and irresistibly absorbing novel? Yet there can be nothing more genuinely natural and realistic than that.
The novel of tomorrow will be just what the best novel of today is. Today we still are occasionally compelled to witness romantic revivals and the booming of such things as the Haggards create. Tomorrow these relapses will have become impossible. But those who want to know what the novel of tomorrow will be need do no more than fit themselves for the appreciation of the merits of the realistic novels already written.
Some of the novels that were intensely true and realistic at the time they were given to the world have lost the power of impressing us with those qualities which they possess. We have little sympathy with the characters in the.“Scarlet Letter,” and even in “Adam Bede,” and these novels, if written today, would be declared unnatural. The world has progressed, and the ideals and ideas have undergone remarkable changes. If you want the novels of today, read Meredith, Howells, Mona Caird, Bourget, Maupassant, Daudet, and Zola,— the master, the greatest novelist of our time, the author of “Germinal” and “Money.”
“Money” is undoubtedly the greatest work Zola has produced. It is a greater work than “Germinal,” for greater skill is required for the drawing of Saccard, the poet-financier, and Madame Caroline, the free, cultured, and optimistic lover of life, than for anything previously attempted by Zola. In this book, as the reader already knows, the life of the speculators is portrayed,— the methods, tricks, passions, morals, hopes, and fears of financiers, gamblers, and fortune-worshippers. Love, real love, plays a subordinate part in this novel,— a fact which shows that Zola at least has taken the step from probability to necessity to which Boyesen points. Gamblers cannot love women, since the love for money exhausts them and leaves them cold to everything else. Those of Zola’s characters that love their wives do not speculate. Nor do those that love literature and art and science speculate. The speculator is not necessarily a cool and shrewd and dispassionate calculator, as some mistakenly assume. Gundermann is a prudent, logical, and scientific financier; but he is not a gambler. Zola paints the different types of speculators, and the greatest of them is an enthusiast, a dreamer, almost a poet. But in all his other relations he is without the least human emotion or feeling. He is neither a good father, lover, nor friend. He victimizes the young and the old, the poor and the rich, the weak and the strong, without compassion or remorse. Yet we know that he is not a monster; he is touched by certain manifestations of trust and devotion, and is deeply affected by certain revelations. The gambler, however, conquers the man. Great things he is bound to accomplish; whether good or bad matters not. Indeed, he prefers to do good; but the consciousness that his methods are almost certain to lead to universal ruin and desolation has no tendency to check him.
Zola’s treatment of the financial problems of our time would not have been exhaustive and complete if he had neglected to make room for State Socialism in his gallery. Zola is too profound a student of human nature to consider State Socialism a probability or even a possibility. But he thoroughly understands that system, and his Socialist talks the jargon of Marx much better than Bellamy. What Zola’s own views are it is impossible to gather. He has no favorites, and never attempts to do our thinking for us. He shows us life as it is, and leaves it to other workers to direct our judgments. But there are facts which warrant the conclusion that Zola has not solved the social problem to his own satisfaction. He realizes the rottenness of the existing condition, and cannot help seeing the impracticability of State Socialism. But he is aware of no other solution. The fact that in his “Money” no notice whatever is taken of Proudhon’s views and plans would indeed appear strange, did we not know from another source — namely, from “Germinal” — that Zola utterly misunderstands Proudhon’s financial ideas, and fails to distinguish between his fundamental principles and the authoritarian schemes he was led to adopt as temporary expedients.
“Money” is Zola’s most careful and elaborate study of human life. It establishes Zola’s superiority, not only to his contemporaries, but to the man who is still considered by some excellent critics his master,— Balzac. It is to be regretted that such a master artist should leave the deeper psychological and social problems to the care of his inferiors. Of course, the greatest genius has his limitations, and we are to judge a workman by what he does and not by what he does not undertake to do. But one cannot help wondering what the result would be if Zola should apply his skill to the materials upon which Bourget and Maupassant are working. One cannot help wondering if Zola could not do in his own field the work which Ibsen is doing in his. V. Y.
“Of the dead nothing but good.” Well, I am glad, now that “The Nationalist” magazine is dead, to say this one good thing about it,— that during its brief and uneventful career it did very little mischief indeed.
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.