“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.
I beg to assure Comrade Lloyd that the page from Spencer which Mr. Yarros finds occasion to quote in his lecture, appearing elsewhere, will repay his careful study, even if it does upset his fond theory of the agents of human progress.
“No man ought to be allowed to conceal from the people the particulars of how he makes his living,” says Powderly’s paper; and it adds: “The time is not far distant when they will insist upon knowing it, and then the day of reckoning will soon follow.” Poor Powderly! What will become of him when the Modern Inquisition shall begin? .... But I forgot. Powderly’s rôle is to be that of Torquemada.
Auberon Herbert has modified his intentions regarding the publication of a paper to the extent of combining his proposed “Free Life” with a previously established journal known as “The Political World.” Both papers will be issued under one cover, but will be edited separately. The first number of the combined paper appeared May 24, but has not reached me at the hour of writing. I am inclined to doubt the advisability of this new plan, but — nous verrone.
Says the editor of the “Labor Leader”: “With that Socialism based upon the principle of free association no sane man can wisely quarrel. From that Socialism which depends upon the iron arm of the State, oftentimes moved neither with wisdom nor gentleness, many sane men must widely and vigorously differ.” When we consider that but a short while since the same editor characterized Liberty and its allies as specimens of mild lunacy, for no other reason than their staunch advocacy of a Socialism based on the principle of free association, the conclusion, as gratifying as inevitable, is that the world does move.
J. K. Ingalls says: “Doubtless Mr. M’Cready is correct in supposing that absolute economics excludes tribute altogether, rent in every form; but knowledge of economic law is gradually obtained through the industrial and commercial development of the race.” Mr. Ingalls would find great difficulty in explaining how a knowledge of economic law would abolish the economic fact of rent. What is a law in the scientific sense? Simply a statement that such and such phenomena exist and cause such and such other phenomena. Economic rent cannot be abolished by economic knowledge any more than eclipses of the moon can be abolished by astronomy. I am surprised to find such a close thinker as Mr. Ingalls endorse the absurd notion of Mr. M’Cready that economic rent is simply the result of superstition and ignorance.
The “Journal of the Knights of Labor,” controlled by Powderly and his cabal, thus rebukes Castelar for attacking the imperialism of Germany: “The mistake of modern so-called ‘Liberalism,’ of which Señor Castelar is a distinguished advocate, is that in its hostility to despotic government it has always aimed at lessening the power and responsibilities of the State, instead of merely widening the basis of that power and changing its depositaries.” In other words, Harrison should be turned out and Powderly put in, and then Powderly’s power should be widened by giving him the appointment, not only of every postmaster in the country, but of every functionary in every business in the country. Scratch the Grand Master Workman or any other State Socialist, and you never find anything but an office-seeker. “What, never?” Well, hardly ever.
Many labor papers, it seems, think that the eight-hour agitation has so well succeeded that they already ask, “what next?” And there are other labor papers who answer that Child Labor or other things should now be taken up. If Liberty might be permitted to suggest what next, it would say: “A little systematic study and scientific thinking.” Our labor agitators have dispensed with this too long already, but it is better late than never. If they followed this advice, they would soon understand that nothing can be a real and lasting success as long as the fundamental wrongs of this industrial system are not removed. Even those insignificant results which the eight-hour agitators seem to have achieved will not be enjoyed long by the victors. Witness the case of the London dock-laborers’ strike. They too were said to have come out of the struggle with flying colors. But now it is said that they have already been forced to surrender every inch of the ground taken from the enemy.
From an editorial in “Lucifer” I find that it is withholding certain letters “because of the use of some language that at the present crisis it is deemed inexpedient and extremely unwise to publish.” Oh! then there is a point at which “policy” properly comes in? But for saying as much and expressing the opinion that “Lucifer” passed that point in publishing the O’Neill letter those Liberals who enjoy a monopoly of bravery have assailed me and called my motives in question without the slightest hesitation. Why stop, Mr. Swartz? Why not “forge ahead”? Why not keep “in the vanguard”? Why take your head out of the lion’s mouth? Why not reprint the O’Neill letter in every issue of “Lucifer”? Why doesn’t Danielewicz print it in the “Beacon” just as Heywood has printed it in the “Word”? I have criticised the course of Harman and Heywood, but I confess that I have more respect for it than for that of some of their “brave” friends.
Professor Huxley would doubtless be amazed to hear that his last article in the “Nineteenth Century,” in which he thinks be has completely refuted both Anarchism and State Socialism (which he styles “regimentation”), is the very thing which gives the Anarchists some hope of his own conversion. Yet it is absolutely true. What he has really weakened is the case of those Anarchists who build on baseless assumptions and fanciful suppositions. He justly rules out of court those who invent a theory of society, in explanation of its origin and existence, and then charge society with violating the rules and laws of their invention. If all Anarchists were guilty of such folly, such scientific men as Professor Huxley could never be expected to have respect for them. But the professor has yet to learn that there are Anarchists who proceed in a way that he himself would enthusiastically approve; who take nothing for granted and vitiate their arguments by no assumptions, but who study the facts of social life and from them derive the lesson that liberty would be the mother of order, and that the happiest and most stable society would be a society living, moving, and having its being in Anarchistic principles. Will not Mr. Donisthorpe, for whose judgment and ability Professor Huxley expresses admiration, undertake to set him right on this matter?
An excellent series of articles, signed “Jus,” is appearing in the London “Personal Rights Journal” in criticism of the “Fabian Essays in Socialism.” Here is a characteristic passage from the article treating Mr. Sidney Webb’s contribution to that interesting volume: “Another authority cited as having made a dint in the Individualist shield is Carlyle. Those who most admire the great prose poet may be permitted to smile at this use of his name. I trust Lord Tennyson will not be offended when I positively decline to accept him as an authority on horse-racing. Next comes Mr. Ruskin. I say nothing. I leave him with confidence to the tender mercies of the economists themselves. As evidence of the ‘intellectual and moral revolt,’ Mr. Webb points to ‘the poets, communists, philosophers, Christian Socialists, and evolutionists.’ Poets always have revolted against the established order of things: and perhaps, without offence, we may pass over the communists, ‘philosophers’ and Christian Socialists. But when we come to the evolutionists, and are asked to believe that they favor Socialism, I say the statement is either a ponderous joke or a glorious induction from a single observation. Perhaps Mr. Webb is an evolutionist. Perhaps he knows a couple of other evolutionists calling themselves Socialists. But really he ought to admit that the great bulk of the school are Individualist to the core, from Mr. Spencer downwards. I think (if space permitted) I could prove from the writings of nine out of every ten Socialist writers, either that they know nothing whatever of the doctrine of evolution, or that they reject it,— mostly the former.” It is impossible not to admire the style of the writer, but I have some criticisms to make. I am sorry, for one thing, that the writer shows so little appreciation of Ruskin, who is very much misunderstood, but between whose inmost aspirations and those of the individualists there is more in common than either wots of. The economists have much more reason to run away from him than he has to fear them. Nor, in spite of his calling himself the most illiberal person in the world and his love for authority and the virtue of obedience, does his work afford any real comfort to the Socialists of the authoritarian faith. His kings and rulers are Anarchistic kings and rulers, and against his authority little can be said. The same is true of Carlyle, so far as we can find out what he desired,— which is no easy thing, for he himself hardly knew just what is desirable, although he could point to many things emphatically undesirable. At any rate, the State Socialists should not be permitted to claim that they are their best friends. Nor need the poets be conceded to be against us. Rather are they with us. Do they not sing praises to liberty, and do they not yearn for it one and all? Of course we cannot expect them to write good verses on land reform, financial reform, and questions of taxation and exchange. But not one of them would consent to be a soldier in the Socialist industrial army and submit his fanciful creations to vulgar censors. Even when we look into William Morris’s Socialism we find it to be extremely vague and indefinite. He may not know precisely what he wants, but he does not want the tyranny and military discipline of the orthodox State Socialists.
Tolstoi’s “Kreutzer Sonata.”
[Translated from the Russian of N. K. Michailovsky by Victor Yarros.]
It is said that the Kreutzer Sonata — that is, Beethoven’s sonata dedicated to Kreutzer — is having an extraordinary sale at St. Petersburg, which, at first, caused the music dealers not a little amazement. Such is the magic power of the talent, and perhaps even of the name, of Count Tolstoi. This “Kreutzer Sonata,” not yet published in Russia, is circulated from hand to hand in numerous manuscripts, is diligently read, provokes endless discussions and controversies, and even affects the music business. This last is, truly unexpected. Although Tolstoi’s novel is entitled “The Kreutzer Sonata,” yet the sonata by no means plays the foremost part in it. Two persons, a man and a woman, he on a violin and she on a piano, played, among other pieces, the Sonata to Kreutzer, and immediately thereafter something happened, which, from the course of the whole affair and the first indications of the tale, inevitably must have happened sooner or later, even were there no sonata in existence. If, however, one may admit that the Kreutzer Sonata, albeit accidentally, gave an impulse to the events related, it does not at all follow that it is necessary to run to the music stores for the notes. On the contrary.
There is, to be sure, in the novel a very interesting and keen discourse on music in general and the Kreutzer Sonata in particular; but the practical conclusion drawn is that such things should be played under certain significant and peculiar circumstances, and not under the ordinary conditions of salon or concert execution. And if after this the lovers of music rushed to the music dealers and overwhelmed them with demands for the Kreutzer Sonata, the fact presents itself to me as not only unexpected, but somewhat uncomplimentary to our famous writer. It at all events seems to go to show that the interest, on the part of the readers, in Tolstoi’s production by far surpasses their wish to follow his counsel and guidance. But it is no secret that Tolstoi has far more readers than disciples.
The tale is told by a certain Posdnicheff, who has killed his wife in a fit of jealousy and who has been discharged by the court in view of the mental condition in which he was at the time of the killing and the circumstances of the case generally. Posdnicheff not only relates facts, but develops certain views on the status of woman, matrimony, family life. Some of these views recall Tolstoi’s own, previously promulgated. The same must be said about the manner of exposition. But it is not to be inferred that we have the right to ascribe to Tolstoi all of Poednicheff’s ideas and sentiments,— if only for the reason that Posdnicheff has killed his wife and is talking under the agitation produced by the memory.
It will be hard to persuade the reader that Posdnicheff and Tolstoi are each for himself. One cannot help thinking that, had the author only intended to depict the artistic image of Posdnicheff, without taking any responsibility for his theories, he would not have made him speak at such length about them. People accidentally meet in a railway carriage, for the first and perhaps the last time, and one of them, I Posdnicheff, gives an account of his whole life, at great length and in detail, with various excursions into the domain of social and moral philosophy. This of course is not an artistic style, and when it is not a beginner or mediocre novelist that resorts to it, but an acknowledged master, like Tolstoi, it is permissible to think that artistic form is with him a secondary consideration and moral exhortation primary. On the other hand, it is impossible to lay at Tolstoi’s door all the opinions of a man placed in such exclusive conditions as Posdnicheff. He is a self-confessed murderer and rake! It is to be regretted that Tolstoi has put us in this position of hesitancy and uncertainty. Let us view “The Kreutzer Sonata,” not as a disguised moral essay, though it is tempting, but only as an artistic production.
Moreover, this is very agreeable. We have been waiting so long for Tolstoi to rest from his essayism and to return to that field where he is truly a great master. Evidently the creative power has not become exhausted in our incomparable artist and demands an outlet. Maybe “The Kreutzer Sonata” is an earnest of the recommencement of artistic activity, which would explain its dual, transitory character. Maybe we shall yet get from the author of “War and Peace” many really splendid creations. Let us hope and wait.
Tourgenieff, when he was dying, penned these lines to Tolstoi: “I cannot recover, and it is useless to think of it. I write to you because I want to tell you how glad I was to be your contemporary, and to express to you my last, sincere request. My friend, resume your literary activity! That gift proceeds from the same source from which all else does. Ah, how happy I should be if I could think that my request might really move you! ... My friend, great author of the Russian land, attend to my entreaty!”
These lines, the last written by the dying Tourgenieff, with all their peculiar pathos, express the inmost thought of the large majority of Russian authors.
. . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posdnicheff has the desire to tell his whole history to a stranger, and tells it in two or three hours.... At first, you are not a little indignant at the mixture of truth and absurdity of which consist his theoretical views, but then, conquered by the power of artistic genius, you follow with constantly increasing interest the drama that Is unfolding before you, and at last you forget entirely your first impulse of indignation. Everything, truth as well as absurdity, gets fitted in its proper place in the artistic image of Posdnicheff, and the result received is something whole and clear. Yes, you say to yourself, he must have really acted thus and reasoned thus.
Posdnicheff is a murderer. But this is an accident which might as well not have happened, since he is not at all a bloodthirsty man. But he is a libertine, and this is his fundamental, all-determining trait. He himself calls himself one, and as such he appears in the work. There is hardly to be found in our literature such a deep and keen portrayal of one of the types of a voluptuous soul as that presented in “The Kreutzer Sonata.” This does not imply that he acts after the fashion of the French rakes. On the contrary, in the vulgar sense of the world, he is not much of a libertine. But the real libertine is not he who lives in debauchery, or, at least, there is another, more refined, superior kind of libertinism. The real libertine is he who prostitutes his soul, and this may be done in diverse forms. The form adopted by Tolstoi for Posdnicheff is somewhat mild, sober, and therefore both in his action and speech there is much in which even the purest man may concur. Unqualifiedly just, for instance, are Posdnicheff’s complaints about the demoralizing conditions under which, in our life, the first confidence between a man and a woman takes place. Similarly just are his severe observations upon that aspect of a girl’s life in which she appears almost like a slave brought upon the market for sale, or at least for husband hunting.
Posdnicheff never had known love in the human, humanizing sense. He married without love, simply because a young, beautiful husband-huntress had turned up. She was by no means a bad woman, and was not a conscious husband-huntress, but acted in the way in which the whole course of her life directed her. She also did not know true love.
Posdnicheff well understands the root of his miseries. The whole misfortune consisted in the fact that his wife and he had no other tie to bind them than that of exclusively animal passion. All the complications of the drama flow from this basic, simple, and alas! common fact. It is plain that, if people have no other tie than that of animal passion, there is nothing they can talk about on the morrow of their wedding. It is plain,— or becomes so after reading the “Kreutzer Sonata,” — that after the animal passion has been gratified, people that are utter strangers to each other, that cannot comprehend each other, that even hate each other, and that are yet indissolubly connected by something, must wage war with each other, even if there be no visible specific causes for it. In the words of Posdnicheff, this mutual spite is the protest of human nature against the animal nature which oppresses it. The unfounded jealousy is also perfectly clear, for people who value nothing in each other but capacity of animal pleasure know that neither has any cause for restraining from such indulgence outside of marital surroundings. All this Posdnicheff, I repeat, understands admirably, and, if his confession had stopped here, we should have had not only an uncommon artistic work, but a deeply truthful lesson, and one directly following from the facts, which likewise point to its limitations.
Podsnicheff knows not these limitations, because he is a man who has sunk his soul in prostitution. To be sure, he has felt ill at ease in his family relations, and recalls them with disgust; sees in them prostitution, though on legal soil. But his mind is so thoroughly saturated with the idea of such relations that he cannot see the possibility of any other state of things. Posdnicheff is exceedingly contemptuous in his characterization of woman’s education. In his judgment, all these things have only one aim,— the seduction of men. Some seduce by their music and locks, some by their learning and social glories. “The object is the same, and cannot be otherwise (since no other object exists),— to seduce man in order to possess him.”
Everybody, I think, knows, or at least may easily imagine, cases where a girl seeks knowledge precisely because she wishes to earn her bread and relieve herself of the necessity of husband-hunting. Further, everybody understands that knowledge, education are sufficiently attractive in themselves to serve as ends, even without any utilitarian considerations. And this indeed is not a very extravagant idealization of human nature in general and woman’s nature in particular. But Posdnicheff cannot rise even to such a simple idea; his prostituted soul sees everywhere its own reflection,— “Oh, yes, we know what all these courses and studies mean; while she talks about these, what she has her eye on is that...”
Posdnicheff himself really has all his life had his eye fixed “on that.” And this propensity has been the cause of such intense suffering that he cannot but curse it. But at the same time it has so deeply rooted itself in him that he cannot look at God’s world except under its direction. The condition is tragic, helpless. No wonder that Posdnicheff’s thoughts become hopelessly confused under the internal antagonism torturing his soul. He finally asserts that “animal desire” is unnatural. It is easy, of course, to say such a thing, but to think will not mean to substantiate it.
Posdnicheff attempts to prove it. In the first place, “it is not for nothing that nature has made it so that it is revolting and shameful; and, if it is revolting and shameful, then so it must be appreciated.” Extreme confusion of mind is manifested here, for who has made “it,” if not nature, and if nature, then it is natural, and so it must be appreciated. Posdnicheff has another proof, a practical one. He had a sister who, when a very young girl, had been given in marriage to a man of twice her years and a libertine. In the night following the wedding day, she had run away from him, pale and in tears.... Hence Posdnicheff concludes that “it” is unnatural. But everybody whose logical faculty has not been befogged, must conclude from this episode simply that it is not well to marry young girls to old rakes.
Having convinced himself by these curious arguments that animal desire is unnatural, Posdnicheff asks: “And of this I became persuaded, I, a corrupt, prostituted man; what would have been if I were not a prostituted man?” Strange question! Why, nothing related in “The Kreutzer Sonata” would have occurred. According to Posdnicheff’s correct and apt definition, prostitution in the matter of love consists in “relieving one’s self of moral relations with the woman with whom you enter into physical union.” Then the question arises: Is it, or is it not, possible, in entering into physical union, not to free one’s self from moral relations? The pure man will presumably say yes, it is possible. Posdnicheff, as an impure man, says no, impossible. And, in his confusion of mind, offers another means,— the total suppression of animal pleasure. He does not shrink from the prospect of the disappearance of the human race,— let it disappear, he says, small loss, if only there would be no more of those sufferings and miseries from which be, in consequence of his libertinism, has suffered. This, Posdnicheff. ought to understand, is humbug. Somebody has said that we are not moral enough, or immoral enough, to dispense with dress. Of course, many causes oblige us to clothe ourselves, but let us resolve them all into our immorality. This however would not warrant the conclusion that it is unnatural or bad to have a body which one must cover. How so, when this is our nature? Nature, you see, is abnormal, and Mr. Posdnicheff, who calls himself justly a prostitute, will teach nature what is normal!
If Posdnicheff were not a real, profound libertine, he would have put his grievous personal experience into definite limits and said: “I and my wife have failed to taste real love; we have only known naked, bare, animal love; draw, then, a moral from our fate; try, not to uproot the natural feeling of animal love,— which is Impossible and needless,— bat that love shall not remain on this low grade, that it shall not be naked; try that men and women shall have the largest possible amount of common spiritual interests, that in this union even the animal feeling may be spiritualized and brightened. Do not listen to the corrupt who tell you that women, whatever they do, have their eyes ‘on that’; it is not true, for although man is undoubtedly an animal, and against this nothing can be done, he is not only an animal.”
Fortunately, or unfortunately, Posdnicheff is not only a prostitute, but a very inconsistent man. He is found to reason also as follows: “In the olden times, when a girl became of age, her parents, knowing life more, not carried away by a momentary impulse, and loving her no less than themselves, used to arrange her marriage. Thus it used to be, thus it is with the Chinese, Indians, Mussulmans, with at least 99 per cent, of the human race. Only one per cent., or less, of us, libertines, have found that this was bad and invented something new.” Excellently well! So there are only one per cent, libertines, “or less.” And on account of this insignificant portion we are all to deny ourselves love? Come to yourselves, Messrs. Posdnicheffs, you place too high a value upon yourselves!
. . . . . . . . . . . . .
One thing seems to me very clear,— namely, that we cannot hold Count Tolstoi responsible for all Posdnicheff’s opinions. If Count Tolstoi, always inclined to perplex his readers, has put in his hero’s mouth some of his own thoughts, we have to divide the contents of “TheKreutzer Sonata” thus: everything good and wise in it as belonging to our famous author, and everything malignant, corrupt, stupid, to Posdnicheff. And it only remains for us to thank Count Tolstoi for the fine and deep picture of an original type of a libertine. Let us hope that “The Kreutzer Sonata” is an earnest of the revival of Count Tolstoi’s artistic activity.
Boulangism and Laborers’ Service-Books.
[Ernest Lesigne, in Le Radical.]
Boulangism being on the decline, and the old tricks being worn out, it has occurred to the discomfited Boulangists, as to Emperor William and the late Napoleon III, to work the Socialistic vein.
And no sooner thought than done. They have introduced a bill in which they prove their love for the working-man by conferring upon him a new service-book. This odious service-book, imposed by the monarchies for purposes of Inquisition, was recently abolished by the republicans. The Boulangists ask in a bill that another service-book be created, another instrument of inquisition.
The pretext is a pension fund, like that established in Prussia by Bismarck. The workman shall receive a card or a service-book. His employer shall withhold from his wages one cent a day, shall fasten a one-cent stamp upon the said service-book, and shall cancel the stamp in order that the workman may not sell it at the tobacco-shop. And after having thus taken a few mills from the workman every day by a forced loan, they will restore the sum to him in little slices when he shall have reached the age of sixty,— a thing, alas! that seldom happens, because the factory kills off most of the laborers between the ages of forty and fifty.
Therefore in the Boulangist system the workmen would not get their pension, but, on the other hand, the employers would be armed with the means of spying the whole existence of laborers.
When one should come to ask for work, straightway the employer would say:
“Here it is.”
“Ah, let me see. Twenty-two years ago you were at So-and-so’s. Why did you leave So-and-so? He showed you to the door. And you did not stay long with So-and-so, or So-and-so, or So-and-so; you do not remain long in a place; and then there are gaps in your service-book. I see fortnights, and periods of two and three months, and Mondays, where there is no stamp. You are a bad workman, a guzzler; go and look for work somewhere else.”
And the poor fellow, who may have been a victim of insolvency, bankruptcy, or the shutting-down of a factory, or may have been sick, will drag himself vainly from shop to shop, offering his labor, and will be repulsed everywhere, thanks to the famous new service-book invented by the Boulangists.
At least the old service-book contented itself with saying: “Entered my employ on such a date, left it on such a date,” and often the employer forced the dates in order that the workman might not be discredited by the appearance of having had difficulty in finding work. With the Boulangist invention there would be no way of rendering even this service, but the number and succession of idle days would be there, accusing throughout his life the unfortunate workman, without leaving him any possibility of justification.
Fine Socialists, these Boulangists!
Man Versus the “People.”
[Dr. S. Engländer.]
The revolutionary idea of our century is the right of individuals, the negation of government and of the law. Nowadays the law is but the weapon of parties, which each tries to wrest from the other. It only serves the passions: it is the means of dominion and of oppression, the child of injustice and ambition. The law is the last lurking-place of the faith in authority; we desire not to be governed by any one, but we submit to an abstraction — the law. Every arbitrary act of tyranny is tolerated, if only it is done by some twist of a law: and then we consider ourselves free. The law is the fetter which holds the spirit in thrall, and whose bonds must be burst.
Once the laws were the expression of universal reason, the public conscience, the justice, the mighty bulwark of mankind against barbarism, the school of humanity. Party passion now has polluted the sanctuary, and the sword of the Goddess of Justice serves the governing classes as a weapon wherewith to frighten, to enslave, and to torture the oppressed. Therefore is it that the people only approve the laws against common crimes and in civil matters, and rejoices whenever an acquitting verdict of the jury withdraws in other cases its prey from its terrible fangs of the law and sets it at liberty. The jury system is destined thoroughly to replace the law. Without laws, there is no government; without government, no State, and without the State there is the free human society, which governs itself in a way, indeed, of which neither any of the previously-existing monarchies or republics, but which other associations, or what has hitherto been called a state in the State, can give an idea. The great political struggle which we now see is the strife of parties for the possession of the weapon — law. The rich will not allow to the necessitous any share in the making of the law; and, on the other hand, every poor devil wants to be a lawgiver.
This universal struggle to make the laws is the cause of all the bloodshed which occurs. Every owner of property hopes that he alone will be allowed to make the laws, and every starveling shivering in his garret looks with envy and anger towards the palace of the Legislative Assembly. Thus it is that every revolution commences by the people expelling their lawgivers, by shouting for an extension of the franchise, and by hoping to find in universal suffrage, which until the present forms of society are altered is the chief weapon of the Government, a guarantee for the stability of the revolution.
Every political party has, therefore, only one desire — to obtain possession of the legalizing power. On this every Utopist bases his scheme for making mankind happy; every prophet sets up the twelve tables of the law; and French Socialists write no more theories, but issue formulated decrees even as charlatans juggle off receipts for wonderful curbs. Every class hopes that when the war is over the law will remain with it. The law is to every party leader the mould into which the raw material is poured and society modelled.
Only a small knot of free ungovernable men desires that, in the universal struggle for the post of lawgiver, the law itself may be broken up, and that people may no more be made happy or be governed by Act of Parliament, that the will of neither one man nor of an assembly may be binding, and that with the abolition of written laws authority itself may cease to exist, and mankind awake to self-consciousness and morality. To abrogate laws is far more difficult than to pass them. We belong to the laws. Let us strive to belong to ourselves.
The more individuals there are, so much higher stands society; but law abolishes all individualism.
We say with pride: “All are equal before the law,” instead of crying out with shame: “The law makes us all equal,” since it gives us the equality of all wearing the same livery. Robespierre has lamentably said, “Le bonheur est une idée neuve en Europe.”
Yes, mankind does not desire freedom. They struggle against it; they make revolutions to be governed; they invent democratic schemes to give a fashion to flunkeyism. Because they are too cowardly to stand alone, they have invented the word “nation.” Because they shrink from the thought of an unrestrained individual freedom, they become enthusiastic for a sovereignty of the people. There is only one liberty, and that is the sovereignty of each individual. The so-called sovereignty of the people kills individual liberty as much as does divine right, and is as mystical and soul-deadening. Every man is his own lord and lawgiver. The law must not be poured into us, but must come from out of us. Democracy, which will soon be as notorious as aristocracy, has only invented the science of hammering and welding the fetters upon each single individual. Universal suffrage has now no other object than to throw a little mantle of liberty over the general serfdom. A prison does not become a temple of liberty because those words are inscribed above it.
One fights only for the liberties of the people, but not for the liberty of each individual. Abstract word “people,” spectre, shadow, thou cheatest each separate individual of his liberty! Mankind, thou robbest the man!
Why should liberty be transformed into the abstract? Must, then, the despotic State-tie which holds the entirety together in chains of liberty exist? Must I, a single individual, by the foolish abstraction of popular sovereignty be content with things which I regard as false, and which drive me back a century? May it not be allowed for a hundred individuals to band themselves together in unrestrained liberty, while another hundred continue the old system of legal guardianship? Away with the notions of universality! we will not be citizens. As soon as we adopt this title of democracy, we are once more the subjects of a mocking spectre called popular sovereignty. We will be separate individuals, we will be men, we will be unrestrainedly free.
True love lies in egotism. As separate individuals, we shall centralize our interests and form larger combinations, just as we voluntarily form marriage ties. No one shall be dragged before an altar, and there compelled to say Yes. Let us gather round the table, and let each one consume his portion of popular sovereignty. We will all be sovereigns. Let us give up a system which only calls us sovereign on the day when we elect our sovereign and master, on the day when we are allowed to commit suicide. Awake! Let us no longer be a manufactory for the production of representatives!
A man can as little transfer sovereignty as he can get another to live for him. We must, by the abolition of the Government, come to live for ourselves. At present all social life is concentrated in the State powers. The separate subjects or citizens are immovable or silent. Their immovability is called order, a congested condition in which all the blood of the State body rushes to the head, and forms the harmony of the State; but when the blood Hows into the separate veins, and causes them to palpitate, then it is called anarchy.
Man must be freed from man. Not the will of another, but only the inner voice of my reason, can control me. Hitherto the Government has only been personal; a single individual or an assembly could say, “I am the State.” Government must be impersonal, or, what is the same thing, it must disappear.
Beauties of Government.
[Clippings from the Press.]
Washington, May 31. On the eve of the commencement of the great work of taking the census of the United States, Supt. Porter said that he did not expect to have any trouble about obtaining answers to the questions in the schedules, but, if there was a refusal to answer, he would be obliged to enforce the law and prosecute vigorously. The obligation to answer the question in regard to mortgage was plainly stated in the law, and there was no discretion left with the superintendent. There would be no attempt made to harshly enforce the law, but, when there was a positive violation of its provisions, the superintendent of the census would be compelled to do his duty and prosecute as directed by the law.
Washington, May 31. Representative Osborne of the 12th Pennsylvania district is in a state of mind. He has a bill before Congress to erect a public building at Wilkesbarre. It has no apparent prospect of becoming a law at this session. If it fails, he declares that he will not run for Congress again. His county is very close, and he carries it by reason of his personal popularity, so, if he declines to run, the Democrats will have a mighty good chance to carry the district. In the meantime Mr. Osborne is saying some very hard things about the way in which “the gang,” as he calls his party leaders, are running matters in the House, more particularly in the way of “pork,” or public buildings.
London, May 31. The first number of “Free Russia,” the organ of the English Society of Friends of Russian Freedom, contains no reference to the alleged Nihilist plot discovered this week in Paris. The Germans, by the way, are disposed to be suspicious of the bona fide character of the plot, and the belief is widely entertained that nothing would have been heard of it bad it not been for the necessity of giving Russia a proof of the value of being on good terms with France. There is some reason to believe that most of the prisoners are dupes, more or less innocent, of a well-known agent-provocateur.
London, May 31. John Burns is credited with the design of abolishing the London trades council, as it at present exists, and replacing it by a larger body representative of all labor, skilled and unskilled, within the metropolitan area. As soon as this great confederation of labor has been constituted, it would take in hand the question of foreign labor. Special officers would be appointed to wait upon labor immigrants, with a view to send them back or to draft them into the union.
Providence, R. I. May 31. A wave of virtue has struck Providence today, and tonight the orders have gone out from the chief of police that shops of all kinds shall be closed tomorrow. Barber shops, groceries, bake shops, and some markets have been in the habit of keeping open until 9 o’clock, some until noon, and the privilege has been abused in many instances. The result is that after this date none of them will be allowed to keep open or to sell anything, and hundreds of people who have been in the habit of buying their beans, brown bread, milk, etc., on Sunday morning will have to go without it tomorrow, while incipient beards will be the rule instead of the exception. The order was a surprise to all, and a great many will not know of it until they try to get into their favorite shop in the morning.
Plymouth, Mass., May 31. In the Josiah G. Graves will case, recently tried in the supreme court for Plymouth county, Judge Devens has decided that, at the time of making the last codicil, Dr. Graves “was enfeebled to some extent, mentally as well as physically, and was unduly influenced by Mary B. Stone.” This decision will remove Edward Morse as executor, and defeats some legacies, including one to Miss Stone, and doubtless affects the title to certain other property and real estate claimed by her under instruments executed at the same time.
E. H. Heywood, of Princeton, who is charged with printing obscene literature in his “reform” publications, was held yesterday in the Boston municipal court in $1000 bail for trial in the superior court.
“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.
The Best Way to Help Harman.
I have said in Liberty that I know no way of helping Moses Harman, editor of “Lucifer” out of prison. I still know none. But there is a way of making his burden lighter, and — what is more important — of foiling his enemies in their real purpose, the suppression of his paper. That way is to keep his paper alive till he is free. In such an effort any Anarchist may well take part, whatever his opinion may be of the paper itself. I certainly hold it in very light esteem. But it is a Liberal paper, and that is enough. The foes of liberty want to suppress it, and if they fail, it will afford them little satisfaction to have imprisoned Moses Harman. Let us then keep “Lucifer” alive. All funds received for that purpose will be acknowledged in this column and forwarded to the office of “Lucifer.”
Benj. R. Tucker. . . . . . . . . $10.00
Leland Stanford’s Land Bank.
The introduction in congress by Leland Stanford of a bill proposing to issue one hundred millions or more of United States notes to holders of agricultural land, said notes to be secured by first mortgages on such land and to bear two per cent, interest, is one of the most notable events of this time, and its significance is increased by the statement of Stanford, in his speech supporting the bill, that its provisions will probably be extended ultimately to other kinds of property. This bill is pregnant with the economics (not the politics) of Anarchism. It contains the germ of the social revolution. It provides a system of governmental mutual banking. If it were possible to honestly and efficiently execute its provisions, it would have only to be extended to other kinds of property and to gradually lower its rate of interest from two per cent, (an eminently safe figure to begin with) to one per cent., or one-half of one per cent., or whatever figure might be found sufficient to cover the cost of operating the system, in order to steadily and surely transfer a good three-fourths of the income of idle capitalists to the pockets of the wage-workers of the country. The author of this bill is so many times a millionaire that, even if every cent of his income were to be cut off, his principal would still be sufficient to support his family for generations to come, but it is none the less true that he has proposed a measure which, with the qualifications already specified, would ultimately make his descendants either paupers or toilers instead of gigantic parasites like himself. In short, Leland Stanford has indicated the only blow (considered solely in its economic aspect) that can ever reach capitalism’s heart. From his seat in the United States Senate he has told the people of this country, in effect, that the fundamental economic teaching reiterated by Liberty from the day of its first publication is vitally true and sound.
Unhappily his bill is vitiated by the serious defect of governmentalism. If it had simply abolished all the restrictions and taxes on banking, and had empowered all individuals and associations to do just what its passage would empower the government to do, it would not only have been significant, but, adopted by congress, it would have been the most tremendously and beneficially effective legislative measure ever recorded on a statute book. But, as it is, it is made powerless for good by the virus of political corruption that lurks within it. The bill, if passed, would be entrusted for execution either to the existing financial cabal or to some other that would become just as bad. All the beneficent results that, as an economic measure, it is calculated to achieve would be nearly counteracted, perhaps far more than counteracted, by the cumulative evils inherent in State administration. It deprives itself, in advance, of the vitalizing power of free competition. If the experiment should be tried, the net result would probably be evil. It would fail, disastrously fail, and the failure and disaster would be falsely and stupidly attributed to its real virtue, its economic character. For perhaps another century free banking would have to bear the odium of the evils generated by a form of governmental banking more or less similar to it economically. Some bad name would be affixed to the Stanford notes, and this would replace the assignat, the “wild cat,” and the “rag baby,” as a more effective scarecrow. It would Unendurably prolong the bray of those financial asses of whom the most recent typical example is furnished in the person of General M. M. Trumbull of Chicago.
While hoping, then, that it may never pass, let us nevertheless make the most of its introduction by using it as a text in our educational work. This may be done in one way by showing its economic similarity to Anarchistic finance and by disputing the astounding claim of originality put forward by Stanford. In his Senate speech of May 23 he said: “There is no analogy between this scheme for a government of 65,000,000 people, with its boundless resources, issuing its money, secured directly by at least $2 for $1, on the best possible security that could be desired, and any other financial proposition that has ever been suggested.” If Stanford said this honestly, his words show him to be both an intellectual pioneer and a literary laggard. More familiarity with the literature of the subject would show him that he has bad several predecessors in this path. Colonel William B. Greene used to say of Lysander Spooner’s financial proposals that their only originality lay in the fact that he had taken out a patent on them. The only originality of Stanford’s lies in the fact that it is made for a government of 65,000,000 of people. For governments of other sizes the same proposal has been made before. Parallel to it in all essentials, both economically and politically, are Proudhon’s Bank of Exchange and the proposal of Hugo Bilgram. Parallel to it economically are Proudhon’s Bank of the People, Greene’s Mutual Banks, and Spooner’s real estate mortgage banks. And the financial thought that underlies it is closely paralleled in the writings of Josiah Warren, Stephen Pearl Andrews, and John Ruskin. If Stanford will sit at the feet of any of these men for a time, he will rise a wiser and more modest man.
Like most serious matters, this affair has its amusing side. It is seen in the idolization of Stanford by the Greenbackers. This shows how ignorant these men are of their own principles. Misled by the resemblance of the proposed measure to Greenbackism in some incidental respects, they hurrah themselves hoarse over the California senator, blissfully unaware that his bill is utterly subversive of the sole essential of Greenbackism,— namely, the fiat idea. The Green-backer is distinguished from all other men in this and only in this,— that in his eyes a dollar is a dollar because the government stamps it as such. Now in Stanford’s eyes a dollar is a dollar because it is based upon and secured by a specific piece of property that will sell in the market for at least a certain number of grains of gold. Two views more antagonistic than these it would be impossible to cite. And yet the leading organs of Greenbackism apparently regard them as identical. T.
An Anarchistic View of the Social Problem.*
We frequently meet the statement that this is preeminently an age of economic problems; and it is doubtless true. But exactly what does this statement imply or mean? Certainly not that we are not interested in numerous subjects of another nature, equally (if not more) important and complicated. We can hardly mention an age more remarkable for its scientific, political, social, religious, artistic, and philosophical controversies than this has been. It cannot obviously be maintained that the intelligent portions of society are not deeply concerned with the intellectual progress of humanity. What, then, does the statement just quoted really signify?
The idea which it is sought to convey is that the discussion and solution of the economic problem must take precedence of the consideration of all other questions, no matter how vital and great they may be.
But why so? Because, some tell us, the increase of wealth under our industrial system is necessarily accompanied by an increase of want; that the manifest tendency is toward the concentration of wealth in few hands and the reduction of the mass to a condition of extreme poverty. But the holders of this view have not succeeded so far in demonstrating its truth. It is not a question to be easily settled on the à priori method; while the authorities, those who are most familiar with the facts, are not agreed among themselves.
All, however, are inclined to admit that, as Mr. Gunton expresses himself, poverty is today becoming more and more “intense in kind and dangerous in character.” Or, as Mr. Bonham says: “It is not (the laborer’s) absolute present condition so much as a comparison of that condition or a contrast of it with the conditions around him, that comes into question..... He does not compare his present with the past of the laboring classes. He measures it by existing surrounding conditions.”
The strikes and other methods of organized labor, the growth of reform movements, the spread of Socialism, the rise of Anarchism,— all these signs point unmistakably to the fact of the intensity of poverty and the urgent necessity of radical changes in our industrial and economic relations.
Poverty is felt to be an intense and keen misery by the modern laborer because his intelligence has advanced. The more one knows and understands, the more numerous his wants and the higher his standard of proper living. An enlightened person will always bear with resignation any burden and evil that he perceives to be inevitable. But he will never endure needless suffering, unnecessary privation; he will protest most emphatically, and direct his attacks most persistently against any unnatural obstacle to his elevation and improvement. The workingmen have arrived at the conclusion that their poverty is due, not to any vice or fault of their own, but to artificially sustained unjust conditions, to arbitrary arrangements and to iniquitous institutions. Hence the revolt; hence the loud demand for reform, for the abolition of legally-generated inequality and the elimination of unnecessary, needless poverty.
But while it is true that the whole labor agitation of our time, the entire revolt, extending through all the divisions of society, except perhaps the idle and decayed few at the top and the more numerous element of the brutalized victims at the very bottom, of whom Mr. Giffen says that they are equally doomed to total extinction, there being in them no virtue of heart or mind to enable them to hold their ground while the struggle between the old society and the new is in progress, is directly traceable to the increase of intelligence and the more general dissemination of general knowledge, it is no less certain that there is much to be done in the way of elucidating the problem and the real significance of the revolt, as well as in the way of devising remedies for the evils against which the revolt is aimed.
I have said that the revolt is caused by, and directed against unmerited suffering, unnecessary poverty. I realize that this is not sufficiently clear, and requires explication. But even if we assume it to be fully admitted, it does not follow that we are right in bespeaking exclusive attention for the solution of this problem. The burden of proof is still upon us. For the fact that thousands, millions mourn and complain of unfavorable conditions is not of itself a certain basis for any generalization, whether negative or positive, regarding the social order.
Man, we should bear in mind, does not live by bread alone. The want of mental culture, of refinement, of sound education, is felt by many infinitely more keenly than the want of mere material comfort. In the peculiarly Carlylean words: “That there should one man die ignorant who had capacity for knowledge,— this I call a tragedy, were it to happen more than twenty times a minute, as by some computation it does.” We are not inspired by the ideal of material abundance and prosperity; it is highly improbable that any considerable number among us would ever care to participate in or encourage a movement having for its avowed end the raising of the material standard of existence, solely and simply. It is the possibility of high intellectual development arid great human elevation that stirs up in us every energy and every particle of power, and that impels us to labor unremittingly for reform in social life. We would have men happy in the largest sense of the word,— men physically, mentally, and morally robust as well as refined.
Naturally, therefore, the question arises, how to decide, among the many patent defects of our civilization, which one should be made the object of immediate care and study, which one is the central and principal evil whose eradication would involve the gradual disappearance of the lesser and subsidiary evils,— the question, in other words, what is the evil that in a sense may be described as the cause of the other evils that may be regarded as results. And to this question there is more than one answer. Some assert that men are poor and miserable because they are selfish, greedy, uncharitable, and immoral; and they accordingly seek to moralize men, and thereby to secure the desirable reform in the economic relations. Others declare that the abolition of dire poverty must precede the cultivation of the social virtues, but argue that without intelligence, enlightenment, ability to grasp principles, the masses cannot expect to find relief from material want. Still others point out that men who lack bread cannot apply themselves to the study of scientific problems, and that, consequently, the reformation of the economic basis is what is first and most needed.
With the last view the Socialists agree; they insist upon the paramount importance of economic reforms, and regard all efforts in other directions as little short of complete waste of energy.
I now proceed to show that this standpoint is strictly scientific. The following statement of Comte may be taken as the verdict of science upon the much-debated question of the conflict between self-regarding and social emotions in man: “It is one of the first principles of biology that organic life always preponderates over animal life. By this principle, the sociologist explains the superior strength of the self-regarding instincts, which are all connected more or less closely with the instinct of self-preservation. But although there is no evading this fact, sociology shows that it is compatible with the existence of benevolent affection. The great problem is to raise social feeling by artificial effort to the position which, in the natural condition, is held by selfish feeling. The solution is to be found in another biological principle,— namely, that functions and organs are developed by constant exercise and atrophied by prolonged inaction. Now the effect of the social state is that, while our sympathetic instincts are constantly stimulated, the selfish propensities are restricted.... Thus it compensates to some extent the natural weakness of the sympathies that they are capable of almost indefinite extension, while self-love meets inevitably with a more or less efficient check. Both these tendencies naturally increase with the progress of humanity, and their increase is the best measure of the degree of perfection that we have attained. Their growth, though spontaneous, may be materially hastened by the organized intervention both of individuals and of society, the object being to increase all favorable influences and diminish the unfavorable.”
Without stopping to comment upon M. Comte’s own practical conclusions, we simply direct attention to the truth that a great part of the sum of man’s injustice to man would cease to exist if the conditions of life were appreciably improved, and that the excessive severity of the present struggle for existence renders absolutely inevitable the fact of homo homini lupus, so despairingly contemplated by unscientific moralists. To be sure, life and history present instances seemingly inconsistent with this view; we have known men who were exceedingly generous and self-sacrificing in the midst of poverty and misery. These are to be regarded as exceptions. As a rule, men can no more be affectionate, gentle, kind, and generous in a condition of life characterized by a fierce struggle for the lowest form of existence than it is possible for slaves to attain any important degree of mental and moral culture, though history knows of the names of slave-philosophers and slave-heroes.
The present state of society was thus tersely summarized by Matthew Arnold: The higher classes are vulgarized, the middle classes are materialized, the lower classes are brutalized. Considering the desperate character of the struggle for existence in the midst of which we find ourselves, this is natural. Those who are either actually suffering or threatened with prospects of misery hesitate at no methods likely to improve their chances; and those who are in no immediate danger of ruin endeavor nevertheless not simply to keep their positions but even to climb higher, so as to be more and more out of the range of misfortune.
Obviously of men living under such conditions, it íb useless to expect that they will attend to the teaching of moral philosophers. Not that true thoughts and beautiful sentiments are altogether wasted on them; no, their good effect is real and sure. But they can have no decisive influence, no permanent strength as long as the necessities of every-day existence run counter to them, as long as the environment is unfavorable for their growth. John Ruskin says somewhere that at a certain period in his life he all at once felt that he could no longer pursue his occupations and studies with any degree of interest and delight, and realized that the one thing be could and was obliged to do was to engage in battle against social and industrial evils, and do all in his power to diminish the universal wretchedness and horror that haunted him and deprived him of his peace of mind. Now no one will suspect Ruskin of underestimating the value of art and pure science, or question his ability to enrich the world with rare contributions to those departments of human activity; but Ruskin saw that even for the sake of the success of his own special and beloved interests, and in order to secure for them the rightful title to honor and recognition, it was absolutely essential to put them aside for a time and join the ranks of those who strive for economic and material welfare of men.
Progress in the future, if it is to be subserved and furthered by other agencies than those responsible for past developments; if intelligence and the social sentiments are to play in it more prominent parts than heretofore; if conscious endeavor and adaptation are to replace the “logic of events” and an enlightened conception of personal satisfaction is to lead to a spontaneous cultivation of those manly virtues, and recognition of those rules of conduct, which are now only talked, sighed, and sung of by neglected poets and philosophers, but which are generally regarded as ill-suited for practice,— progress in the future must have a new foundation,— the economic independence of the laborer. What we have called unnatural and unnecessary poverty must be caused to disappear. Under the conditions that have prevailed up to the present, social sentiments and enlightened views of self-interest could neither grow in the individual nor be practically depended upon, in his relations with others, by the individual. Such progress as has been slowly achieved, such social benefits as have been gradually accumulated,— let Mr. Spencer instruct us as to their source.
It will doubtless seem a paradox to say that human evolution with all its marvels is to be credited neither to Humanity as an aggregate nor to its component individuals, but the paradox will not be difficult to justify.... Civilization, whether contemplated in its great organized societies or in their material or mental products, can be credited neither to any ideal Great “Being Humanity” nor to the real beings summed up under that abstract name. Though we cannot in this case say that neither the aggregate nor its units have had any consciousness of the results wrought out, yet we may say that only after considerable advances of civilization has this consciousness existed on the part of a few. Communities have grown and organized themselves through the attainments of private ends, pursued with entire selfishness, and in utter ignorance of any social effect produced.... With government organizations it was the same as with social consolidations; they arose, not to secure the blessings of order, but to maintain the rulers’ power.... Administration of justice, as we know it, grew up incidentally, and began with bribing the ruling man to interfere on behalf of the complainant. Not wishes for the public weal, but wishes for private profit and power, originated the regulative organization of societies. So has it been, too, with industrial organizations. Acts of barter between primitive men were not prompted by thoughts of benefit to humanity, to be eventually achieved by division of labor.... And the like holds of improved arts, of inventions, and, in large measure, of discoveries..... Wishes for private satisfaction were the exclusive stimuli. Nor has it been otherwise with literature. I hold it clear that the majority of authors do not differ from their fellow-men to the extent that the desire to confer public benefit predominates over the desire to reap private benefit, in the shape of satisfied ambition, If not in the shape of pecuniary return. And it is the same with the delights given to mankind by artistic products. The mind of the artist has always been in a much greater degree occupied by the pleasure of creation and the thought of reward, material or mental, than by the wish to add to man’s gratification.
However, the question is not now whether the conditions of life and development shall or shall not remain unaltered; a change in them is inevitable. We are confronted by facts, not merely by doubtful theories. To restrain the forces now working for the change is impossible, to direct them is both possible and imperatively necesary.
Now we are able to resume the discussion of the question of economic emancipation and define more precisely our view of the laborers’ case. What, then, is the labor question? How shall we determine what is natural, inevitable poverty, and what is unnecessary, unnatural poverty? Remembering Adam Smith’s proposition that “the product of labor constitutes the natural recompense or wages of labor,” it seems clear that the “labor question” can only mean the question of labor exploitation, or the dispossessing of the laborer, by force or fraud, of the whole or any part of his natural wages. But how can it be shown that the laborer’s actual wages are not now equal to his natural wages? In a simple society, it was easy to settle the question of rightful titles to property. With raw material free and accessible to all, everything that an individual produced by the application of his energy upon natural wealth belonged to him as the wages of his labor. But in the present highly complex organization of industry, how decide what proportion of the total produce belongs to each laborer? Is it not true, as some contend, that the laborer is entitled to nothing but what he can obtain by bargaining freely in the market? Would he consent to give more than he receives, if he is free to regulate his actions in accordance with his best judgment and with a view to his best interests? For an answer to this let us go, not to any professed radical, but to Ricardo, who will explain to us his conception of the laws regulating the prices of commodities. We shall find that, where the producer is not fortified against competition by the exclusive enjoyment of some monopoly, whether natural or artificial, the price of his commodities will keep at (he cost limit; cost of production being the only regulator of prices under free trade and equality of opportunity. That labor is sold in the market as a commodity few will deny; that there is practically unlimited competition in its supply is equally certain. Hence, according to our law, the price of labor must be at or near the cost level. What is the cost of labor, or labor power, for a given day? Plainly, the amount necessary to maintain the laborer for that day. So, if the laborer works ten hours, the price of his labor will be equal to the price of the things he needs to consume in order to repair the expenditure of vital force involved in the process of such labor. Now, does he produce no more in that time than the equivalent of those things? It is admitted on all hands that he produces more than that, considerably more. This extra quantity, this surplus value, he does not receive in the shape of wages; it goes to the employer. We perceive thus that the produce of labor is no longer the natural recompense of labor. The laborer receives no longer that which he produces, but that which he needs in order to maintain life.
Now what is the cause of the divergence, of the contradiction, between the theory and the facts? Wherein is the vice, the wrong of our present relations V For it is clear that the mere change in the external conditions of production, the fact that industry is no longer simple, and that greater division of labor and more extended use of machinery now universally prevail,— these do not affect the validity of Smith’s proposition and do not render it inapplicable. Every participant in the complicated process of production ought still to receive his natural wages,— the share he contributes,— whether directly or indirectly matters not. He does not,— and why?
The answer is ready: Because natural wealth is monopolized and social opportunities and chances are extremely unequal. Smith assumed free access to natural wealth; but this essential is now utterly lacking. Mr. Sidgwick has said that the most desirable distribution is that effected by ordinary laws under the condition of equality of opportunity. But we behold masses of men destitute of the means of self-employment and obliged to sell their labor-power at any price (provided it averts immediate starvation) to those who are in possession of natural wealth and capital.
This answer is not complete, not scientific, to be sure, since it certainly fails to account for many peculiar features of the present situation; but for the moment it may stand. We do not conceive it will be denied that labor, if it had raw material and tools, could and would raise its standard of living very considerably. Nor do we anticipate the objection that the evil of over-population is the cause of involuntary idleness and low wages,— that there are not sufficient means at the disposal of our present civilization wherewith to employ all the laborers, that no raw material and no capital are to be had with which to start them in processes of useful production. There is untold abundance of natural wealth yet awaiting the application of human labor, and there is an enormous amount of capital seeking investment, employment. So much so that it has lately been suggested by London economists that the owners of wealth and idle capital who vainly look for opportunities and complain of stagnation should imitate labor and organize processions of unemployed. Labor, however, is divorced from capital and denied access to raw material, and the “beggary of the working class,” which is the consequence of this condition, “is the direct and deliberate work of politicians and law makers,” Mr. Thorold Rogers tells us.
We come thus to the question of remedies. What, then, is to be done for the purpose of placing the laborer in a position to command his natural wages, and freeing him from the necessity of selling his labor-power at a wretchedly low price? In other words, how to abolish the exploitation of man by man, the economic slavery of the masses, and insure equitable exchange and truly free contract?
Many and varied are the answers that have been and are being brought forward by aspirants to intellectual distinction; there is no lack of good intention or ingenuity and plausibility in the familiar measures advocated as solutions of the above problem. But, different as they are, they are all characterized by the same radical vice and suffer from the same fatal malady: they are conceived in, and thoroughly permeated by, the theological or metaphysical spirit, and are essentially unscientific. They are all evolved in palpable ignorance of the requirements of the scientific or positive method, and cannot satisfy the most elementary conditions of scientific reasoning when subjected to proper test.
Two things are to be ascertained in regard to any given reformatory measure: first, whether it really promises to accomplish the result which is desired and aimed at, and, second, whether it will do so without entailing other evils and inflicting other injuries upon society,— whether, in a word, it will not cure one infirmity and restore the health of one organ at the expense of the health of one or more other organs. Among the multiplicity of results, produced by any given cause, there are always more of such as are not seen than of those that are seen, more of remote and indirect results difficult to trace than of direct, immediate, and apparent. To pronounce upon a measure, it is necessary to enquire into that which is not seen, into those consequences which are not on the surface. Now, the science of society being still in its infancy, such an inquiry is of course exceedingly difficult. And the fact that men’s manifold interests and pursuits are interdependent and interrelated, that they act and react upon one another in different ways, renders it in the highest degree important that such an inquiry should be undertaken and carried as far and as deep as the state of knowledge at the time allows. “When you find a body of phenomena,” says Frederic Harrison, restating Comte, “closely correlated and working in organic function, there you must study the phenomena always in relation to their co-phenomena as well as to the organism;” and it clearly follows that, when we seek to modify the character of a phenomenon, we are bound to study the effect of the modification upon the co-phenomena as well as upon the organism.
Of some of the means suggested for the solution of the economic problem it is doubtless to be said that they meet the first requirement: they are fully adequate to the achievement of the result intended. But they are all found wanting and completely worthless when Cammed in the light of the second requirement. They either proceed in perfect unconsciousness of the truth that, in the words of Ingram, “economics must be constantly regarded as forming only one department of the larger science of sociology, in vital connection with its other departments,” or else they start out with postulates and principles vitiated by a theological or metaphysical spirit. In either case, the solution is unscientific and unreal.
I confidently advance the claim for Anarchistic Socialism, or Individualism, that it alone is free of the errors invalidating the other reformatory doctrines, and strictly scientific. It alone satisfies the two conditions specified, being based on correct principles and constructed according to the true method. It does not promise to secure economic wellbeing at the cost of intellectual progress or liberty, but applies the fundamental principles of all social progress to the particular question of labor exploitation and solves it by bringing the economic sphere within the jurisdiction of the great general laws of the evolution of society, instead of the exception and the hindrance that it now is.
How, let me ask, are we able to determine better and worse in social organization? What criterion have we, what rule, by which to distinguish the useful from the unwholesome, the progressive from the reactionary? How, in working out our social salvation, are we to decide what to accept and what to reject, what to heed and what to ignore, in the vast, ever-increasing sum of suggestions and propositions, remedial measures and reformatory schemes? We must have such a rule, or we cannot control our destiny and “make history”; we must have such a rule if we ascribe to reason an important part in the ordering of our life. Such a rule must exist, if there be a social science at all. Such a rule, finally, must have been evolved and formulated, if history has been studied and if the observation of the facts relating to human existence and growth has been intelligently and adequately pursued.
Men have always had ideals of a social state perfected and developed; they have never lacked criterions, theories, rules. But these have never been, and could not be, scientific; they have owed their origin to theological or metaphysical methods and principles; and consequently neither the theoretical science of society nor the practical organizations bf men could prosper and flourish under their arbitrament. An ideal created by one’s imagination, a rule evolved out of one’s inner consciousness, could not prove a safe guide. The ideal of the future must be based on the sure pledges of the past and the present; the rule of conduct must be scientifically evolved. “The present is pregnant with the future,” said Leibnitz; to understand the present, then, is necessary in order to form sound ideas of the future. There is no other means of learning men’s future except by a careful and systematic study of their struggles, failures, and partial successes in the past.
As I have said elsewhere,** sociologists teach that the progress of society has been from “the principle of militarism to the principle of industrialism, from compulsory coöperation to voluntary coöperation, from status to contract, from a condition in which agreement results from authority to a condition where such authority as exists results from agreement, from a state in which freedom is sacrificed to order to a state in which order is spontaneously born of freedom, and in which men are also consciously arranging their affairs in accordance with the dictates of reason.” Men are gradually emancipating themselves from their superstitions, whether religious, political, or moral. They demand and achieve freedom, and decline to bow to any authority save that of reason. All beliefs, traditions, systems, institutions that stand in opposition to this overpowering tendency, that violate the victorious principle of individual liberty, are barriers to be prudently removed, obstacles to be shattered and demolished as soon as possible. And anything that tends to strengthen the obstacles, to increase the sum total of the influences hostile to the progressive spirit, is to be regarded as an absolute evil to be trampled under foot whenever and wherever manifested. For, in the words of Professor Fawcett, “a measure can be obtained of the welfare of a community by ascertaining to what extent government interference can be dispensed with.”
The ideal is: a state of society in which prevails the greatest amount of individual liberty compatible with equality.
The rule is: liberty must be the end as well as the means of every step, measure, enterprise of a reformatory nature.
The test to be applied to every provisional and detached principle or scheme is: Does it, or does it not, lessen the scope and extent of arbitrary government, of authority? If, in addition to its specific aim, it also tends to diminish the power of compulsory authority, of arbitrary government, it is so far forth, progressive and socially healthful. If it involves a sacrifice of individual liberty, and lends support to the principle of compulsion and arbitrary control of man by man, it is so far forth anti-social and reactionary.
Returning to the subject of economic reform, the question to be answered is this: Is liberty a solvent of our industrial ills and disorders? Can we emancipate the laborer by and through liberty: is it sufficient and adequate as a means to the end?
And this is the place to state clearly and definitely that the chief title of modern Individualism or Anarchism to recognition is derived precisely from the fact that it does solve the economic problem,— that it teaches how labor may be emancipated and equity in exchange realized, not only without any curtailment or diminution of the amount of individual liberty at present enjoyed by the citizen, but directly through a further and great extension of liberty. It comes to reconcile the truths of the old economists, who were right as far as they went but who were wrong in that they halted too soon and did not follow their own logic out, with those of the orthodox Socialists, who were right in condemning the political economists for their barenness and doctrinaire-ism, but who were wrong in rejecting the true basic principles of the economists and substituting false principles. By pointing out the road to the goal of the economists, by indicating the way by which their unfulfilled promises may be actualized, we claim that we undermine the position of the orthodox Socialists and dissolve their ground for dissatisfaction,— and with this of course all necessity for their constructive ventures, now become worse than useless. We demonstrate that the obtainment by labor of its natural wages,— its entire product,— is not incompatible with, or impossible under, a system of free competition and contract. We prove that labor exploitation is not the result of liberty in production and exchange. We show, on the contrary, that such liberty is the only sure remedy for this exploitation, and that it is the absence of the former, its incompleteness, that begets the latter. The assertion that the whole solution of the social question lies in one word,— liberty, which Bastiat confidently made but which he failed to sustain, having missed some exceedingly vital truths which “are not easily seen,” and thereby having laid himself open to the charge of representing the shallowest economic optimism,— this assertion we are ready to make again, being equipped for its defence. We protest against and expose the vulgar error of confounding radical and consistent individualism with the present social system and holding the former responsible for the characteristic vices of the latter. This system, we point out, is a compromise between individualism and collectivism, and State interference has as prominent a share in it (at least) as individual liberty. We claim that it is precisely the element of State interference which it contains that is responsible for the objectionable character of the combination as a whole; and that the only thing needed to produce a better result is to exclude those elements altogether.
But, specifically, what other liberties are necessary? What are the liberties whose presence is so much sought and whose absence is so paralyzing and dangerous to society? Keeping in mind that we are not here concerned with the political and social aspects of the question under consideration, I have only to refer again to the answer given above to the query why the laborer cannot under the prevailing arrangements command his natural wages,— his entire product “Because,” it was said, “natural wealth is monopolized and social opportunities and chances are extremely unequal.” First, land is monopolized, and the monopoly is protected by the governments. Instead of the equitable and simple principle of personal occupancy and use determining titles to land, we are now in this respect governed by the personal interests of the possessors of monopoly, who naturally are averse to relinquishing a highly profitable object obtained by methods far from idyllic. Second, credit is monopolized through governmental interference with the issue of currency and banking, and thus exchange hampered and capital endowed with an unfair advantage over labor, which is compelled to reward capital (in the form of interest) for employing it, instead of being invited to coöperate with the owners of capital for equal mutual benefit. Third, labor is taxed to enrich certain producers by means of tariff and patent laws. And so on. In a word, rent, interest, and profit are all the results of government-supported monopoly; and the conquest of complete industrial liberty, the establishment of equality of opportunity, would mean the almost entire disappearance of these different taxes upon labor. Would not then the normal condition be exactly the reverse of that so familiar to us? Would not the demand for labor by capital seeking safe investment always exceed the supply, and would not labor then be in a position to ask and receive its natural wages?
Admit, for the sake of the argument, that all this would take place. I am aware that the admission is not generally made, but it is for the doubters or opponents to furnish answers to all the arguments in favor of these propositions elaborately presented and developed in various treatises which cannot be quoted or summarized here. Admit, I say, that our premises are sound, our deductions valid,— and what is the irresistible conclusion? Why, that liberty is not merely the end of our efforts, but the sole perfect means, and that, to eliminate the evils inherent in the prevailing social order, nothing more is needed than more liberty.
The remedy that will stand the test and satisfy the conditions we have specified is found. The economic problem is solved, unnecessary poverty is eradicated,— and all through liberty, all accomplished not only without the extension of the sphere of government, but by immensely contracting it.
But this is not all. After this part of our programme shall have been carried out, other demands will be brought to the front. After the functions of government shall have been reduced to the protection of life and property, the agitation for the abolition of the compulsory element in the institutions for the administration of justice will commence. Men do not need to be forced to defend themselves against what the popular intelligence and sense of justice will regard as invasion; it is their interest to organize for self-defence as long as they are threatened with invasion, and they may safely be left to attend to their own interests. The great political superstition of the divine right of majorities to take care of minorities being dead and buried, men will realize that defence is an article to be offered and sought in the market under the conditions governing the supply and demand of other commodities, that be who does not pay neither shall he enjoy, except he benefits indirectly by the general condition of security achieved through the agreements entered into by other members of the community, for which indirect benefit he cannot equitably be asked to make compensation. And thus voluntary organizations will replace government. Offenders against individual rights, criminals, will be judged by a jury representing a true epitome of the community and governed by reason rather than fixed rules.***
Gradually thus society would approach its ideal — Anarchy. Then the State will be dead; all forms of compulsion and coercion — in so far as they are exercised upon non-invasive persons — will be dead; and the art of government will be dead. Coöperation will indeed be men’s watchword, and the blessings of associative effort will be reaped as never before; but coöperation will be free and men will band together, not for the purpose of successfully victimizing their fellows, but for the purpose of rendering the free life as joyous and inspiring and beautiful as it is in man’s power to do with the aid of art and science. Justice will reign, secured by the enlightened self-interest and the spontaneous social sympathies. And order will prevail,— the true, desirable order which is not to be produced by oppression, but which is to spring from the union of liberty and intelligence.
But the road to this ideal is not easy to travel. The difficulties are many and serious, the obstacles real and formidable. Let us see, therefore, that our progress, though inevitably slow, is steady and sure; let us look forward and struggle onward, and beware of the false guides who would lead us away from our ideal. The way to no authority lies through less and less authority; and so in all things let us demand and achieve liberty.
* The second of a series of three lectures.
** See lecture on “Individualism and Political Economy.”
*** See Lysander Spooner’s “Free Political Institutions.”
Individual Sovereignty Our Goal.
In an unsigned article in “The Open Court” (written, I suspect, by the editor) I find the following:
When Anarchists teach the sovereignty of the individual, we have to inform them that society is an organized whole. The individual is what he is through the community only, and he most obey the laws that govern the growth of communal life. The more voluntary this obedience is, the better it is for the community as well as for the individual himself. But if the individual does not voluntarily obey the laws of the community, society has the right to enforce them. There is no such thing as sovereignty of the individual.
True, there is no such thing; and we Anarchists mean that there shall be such a thing. The criticism of the “Open Court” writer is doubtless valid against those Anarchists who premise the sovereignty of the individual as a natural right to which society has no right to do violence. But I cannot understand its force at all when offered, as it is, in comment on the declaration of “a leading Anarchist of Chicago” that the goal of progress is individual sovereignty.
Anarchism of the “natural right” type is out of date. The Anarchism of today affirms the right of society to coerce the individual and of the individual to coerce society so far as either has the requisite power. It is ready to admit all that the “Open Court” writer claims in behalf of society, and then go so far beyond him that it will take his breath away.
But, while admitting and affirming all this, Anarchism also maintains (and this is its special mission) that an increasing familiarity with sociology will convince both society and the individual that practical individual sovereignty — that is, the greatest amount of liberty compatible with equality of liberty — is the law of social life, the only condition upon which human beings can live in harmony. When this truth is ascertained and acted upon, then we shall have individual sovereignty in reality,— not as a sacred natural right vindicated, but as a social expedient agreed upon, or we will even say as a privilege conferred, if the “Open Court” writer prefers the word as tending to tickle the vanity of his God, Society. It is in this sense that Liberty champions individual sovereignty. The motto on our flag is not “Liberty a Natural Right” but “Liberty the Mother of Order.”
It is to be hoped that the “Open Court” writer will note this before again giving voice to the commonplace twaddle about Nationalism and Anarchism as extreme opposites both of which are right and both wrong. Anarchism is exactly as extreme, exactly as right, and exactly as wrong, as that “ideal state of society” which the “Open Court” writer pictures,— “a state in which there is as much order as possible and at the same time as much individual liberty as possible.” In fact, Anarchism finds itself exactly coextensive with the idea which its critic thus expresses: “Wherever a nation is developing in the line of progress, we shall always notice an increasing realization of these two apparently antagonistic principles,— liberty and order.” T.
Gronlund’s reasons why he is a Socialist, as given in the “Twentieth Century” article, are three. His first and “all-sufficient” reason is that he “could not help himself.” Instead of being all-sufficient, it is no answer at all. If the “Twentieth Century,” in its interrogation, had used the term “Socialist” in the sense of “one who is not greedy and selfish and callous, but takes an interest in the welfare of his fellows” the answer would have been pertinent and excellent. If an egoist is asked why he is not an egotist, his best answer is: “I can’t help myself; I am what I am.” But this is not what the “Twentieth Centary” meant by the term Socialist; nor, apparently, does Gronlund so define it. In asking Gronlund why he is a Socialist, I am sure Mr. Pentecost meant to ask why he is a believer in the doctrine that land and capital should belong to the State and private enterprise be suppressed. It is no peculiar trait of the Socialist to interest himself in the welfare of the people; all reformers, whether State Socialists, Anarchists, Single-Taxers, or Protectionists, are so interested, and this is what makes them reformers. Let this be a warning to Mr. Pentecost; and in the future, when he has occasion to ask questions of people of more than the average stupidity let him be more than usually explicit. Gronlund, true to himself, has taken no pains to find out what Mr. Pentecost meant and desired, and gives his own definition of a Socialist “There are,” he says, “two temperaments in the world: men of an individualistic order of mind, who can not bear to have their liberty in the least infringed upon, and who insist on the right not alone of using, but of abusing what is theirs, and men of the opposite spirit, the Socialist spirit” So a Socialist is “one who likes to have his liberty infringed upon, and who disclaims not alone the right of abusing, but of using what is his.” If there is such a species in the world, no good can come of it, surely; but there isn’t. I deny that there is such an individual in existence (I do not speak of ascetic natures, more legendary than real). When a man tells you he is such a Socialist, put him down as a fraud and a hypocrite, as one who wishes not alone the right of using and abusing what is his, but the power of using and abusing what is other people’s. On Gronlund’s other reasons I will not waste space.
I am afraid that I must make up my mind that the editor of the “Journal of the Knights of Labor” is not a philosopher or deep reasoner. Recently I convicted him of a hasty and superficial verdict upon J. W. Sullivan’s articles on Henry George. Instead of meeting my points, be contented himself by insinuating that I am dogmatic in my verdicts. Pending the presentation of his evidence, this charge may be suffered to stand. Certainly my first criticism was not dogmatic; neither will he find this cause of complaint in the criticism which follows. He writes in his last issue: “The effectiveness of a book propounding any new idea can generally be pretty well gauged by the number of people who attempt to reply to it. Judging from the quantity of replies to Bellamy’s ‘Looking Backward’ which we come across in periodical literature, none of which have so far done anything toward weakening it in popular estimation, it must be the most formidable attack yet made upon the competitive system. It is always the tree which bears the best fruit under which the clubs and stones lie thickest.” With the general statement in the first sentence, one may agree. But I protest against citing the case of Bellamy as an illustration or exemplification of it It is doubtless true that the attacks of Mr. Bellamy’s critics have not much weakened Nationalism in “popular estimation,” but the reason lies, not in the character of the attacks, but in the fact that popular estimation is not based on reason or logic. The best of critics will fail with an unintelligent audience. You can overthrow an argument by showing it to be illogical, or a statement by showing it to be inconsistent with reality; but this implies that the mind’s eye of those whom you address is open to logic and fact. The success of “Looking Backward,” like the success of Talmage’s sermons, or of the revivalists, is proof against all intellectual weapons, so far as “popular estimation” is concerned. “But why then reply to him at all?” may be asked. Well, for the benefit of those elements who are still undecided and who are in danger of being misled into swelling the volume of popular estimation. There are plenty of people who are not intelligent and educated enough to be able to appreciate the stupidities of Nationalism, but are intelligent enough to know a good argument when they see one. These people do not make any noise, and only those who look beneath the surface take account of them. The editor of the “Journal” is so carried away by noisy clamor that he has no eyes and ears for the very things worth seeing and hearing.
I call the attention of the readers to the translation of N. K. Michailovsky’s excellent review of Tolstoi’s “Kreutzer Sonata,” which appears on another page. Many of those who have read the novel are at a loss how to view it and determine the relation between the author and his hero. M. Michailovsky, who is said to be the ablest living Russian critic and littérateur, will solve some of their difficulties.
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.