“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.
Mr. Yarros’s third lecture, on “Unscientific Socialism,” will continue through four or five more issues.
The contents of this issue show that Liberty has recently found much worth quoting in the columns of San Francisco “Freethought.” Putnam is up-country lecturing.
Unless “Frank Franklin” is, as I suspect, a nom de plume, Danielewicz’s “Beacon” has a contributor who adds one to the growing list of level-headed Anarchists. See his article in another column.
“What a good definition of Anarchism!” exclaims Mr. Pentecost, referring to the following phrase from a friend’s letter: “Voluntary Socialism with a minimum of government.” No, Mr. Pentecost, a good enough description of what the Anarchists strive for, but not a good definition of Anarchism.
“Having once started to provide a cheap circulating medium,” says “Freethought,” “there can be no stopping place short of that point where money can be furnished for the cost of manufacture, and all interest, as such, abolished.” Yes, that is the goal, and free banking — not government banking — is the road.
As Liberty goes to press, Mr. Heywood is convicted in the United States Court. The first count of the indictment, covering the O’Neill letter, was ruled out on a pure technicality. On the second and third counts a verdict of guilty was rendered. Sentence was suspended for ten days to enable counsel to file a motion for a new trial.
An intelligent and constant reader of the “Twentieth Century” has accused it of absolute communism,— that is, the exact opposite of what it teaches. This makes Mr. Pentecost sad; and he feels that the attempt to educate the less well-trained minds is hopeless. I sympathize with Mr. Pentecost intensely, and assure him that I have often tasted the misery of being outrageously misunderstood by the most promising of my readers. At such times it indeed seems that everything is useless and fruitless. But still we must keep on, Mr. Pentecost, mustn’t we? Herein lies the beauty of Egoism and of freedom: as long as we are free to drop our work, we can’t drop it.
I am gratified to read as follows in “Today”: “The difference between belief in the right of the majority to control the minority and of the stronger to control the weaker is certainly not one of kind. Our belief that the authority of the State is intrinsically just is not so very different at bottom from the savage’s belief that it is right for his chief to kill and eat him.” Mr. Spencer takes the position that within a certain sphere the authority of the State it intrinsically just, and he would be not a little surprised to find himself classed with the savages by a journal not professedly Anarchistic. Perhaps, however, the fact that his own disciples are forced to go the length of denying, with the Anarchists, the authority of the State altogether, may arouse him to the untenability of his theory.
“Is Socialism (or Nationalism) practicable?” Mr. Pentecost queries; and he answers: “Yes.” I do not know in what sense he used the word “practicable”; but, if he meant conducive to social health and stability, the answer should have been in the negative. In the words of “Today”: “A sufficient reason why liberty is a good thing [an indispensable thing, rather] is that human nature is what it is. The biological reason is because a certain amount is necessary to life. If liberty of movement is wholly taken away, death ensues. A smaller interference, if continued, makes life more difficult. The feelings appropriate to these conditions have been produced. A momentary arrest of breathing by an external agency produces an intolerable sensation,— far greater than that due to actual want of breath. The feeling caused by any restraint upon the movement of the limbs is exceedingly disagreeable; and in the higher races of mankind this feeling is extended so as to include anything which even threatens to restrict the sphere of individual activity. The love of liberty is primarily a form of the love of life.”
I find the following in the editorial department of the “Nationalist”: “President Sprague of the Massachusetts senate, in an after-dinner speech, recently said that Nationalism, Socialism, and Anarchism were the principal elements that threatened the country’s peace. Mr. Sprague appears to be an unconscious humorist in his classification of such diverse tendencies in the same category. He might as well say that two of the greatest causes of crime are temperance and drunkenness. But, like many other public men, he evidently did not know the nature of the things he was talking about. If he did, Mr. Sprague would know that the principal element that threatens the country’s peace is the license given to private interests to prey upon the public for their own profit, a license which he himself has assisted in maintaining by his own votes and speeches in the Massachusetts senate. He would also know that such a condition is anarchistic.” Mr. Sprague’s confusion of thought is undeniable, and the “Nationalist’s” analogy between Nationalism and drunkenness is most appropriate. But, when the editor of the “Nationalist” declares it an Anarchistic condition of affairs where a “license is given to private interests to prey upon the public for their own profit,” he, like many other public men, knows the nature of the thing he is talking about, but supposes that it is for his interest to misrepresent it.
I am sorry to have insulted the intelligence of my readers by classifying the “Beacon” among the new Anarchistic journals that have lately enriched the radical movement. Its initial numbers were more or less intelligent, and I hoped for improvement. Its last issues, however, reveal such a degree of ignorance and brutality that any further indulgence toward it would be a crime against liberty and reason. Having all the vices of the old«“Alarm’’ and none of its merits, being destitute of knowledge, common sense, and style, it would be simply a deplorable misfortune to the Anarchistic movement, if it were not so insignificant and wild. I had thought such a phenomenon impossible at this late day, and I find myself disappointed. But, since, according to the Latin proverb, the exception proves the rule, it is a comfort to think that the exception is very exceptional indeed and so strikingly proves that, as a rule, an Anarchistic journal is an organ of the most philosophical and progressive thought of the age. The editor of the “Beacon” considers himself a friend of labor; but labor has no worse enemy than the species to which he belongs. He can help progress best by resigning the office for which he is not fitted and by devoting a few years to the study of the writings of E. C. Walker, whom he presumes to correct. If any of Liberty’s readers have not yet seen a copy of the “Beacon,” they should procure one, in order to appreciate the above utterances as well as to form a precise idea of what Anarchism is not.
Liberty’s position on the question of egoism vs. altruism is well known. But were we to allow that there is ground for distinguishing between the two and recognizing the superiority of the latter as a basis for social life, we should still be under no logical compulsion to approve the methods of authoritarian Socialists. Because one believes that men ought to live for others, it does not follow that it is just and wise for the majority to force the minority to act in the “noble” way against their inclination. The London “Political World,” altruistic in its theories, is decidedly Anarchistic in its methods, and thus infinitely superior to the Nationalists, who are so noble and loving that they are ready to force other people to imitate them, not realizing that force breeds force and hatred and reaction. Here is what the “Political World” says in a review of Tolstoi’s social views: “Our legislation is generally prompted either by class or individual selfishness, or by a desire to counteract the effects of such selfishness. A civilization based on altruism could dispense therefore with most of the laws with which we now impede our progress in the vain attempt to fetter our egoism. Such a social community, governed from within instead of from without, must seem a wild dream to many of our readers; but we see in ‘Individualism,’ — that is to say, in the spontaneous recognition and fulfilment of our duties as neighbors and citizens, a possible path to this goal; a high ideal that should help us to put loving kindness before class or personal interests.”
Robert Lindblom of Chicago, in an address laudatory of Nationalism, said: “Our critics say that security against want would breed shiftlessness; that man would naturally turn into a vagabond. That is an insult to human nature. Why should man do so in our world more than in the present? Is it fair to assert that a lofty ambition to pre-eminently serve his fellow men should be a less incentive than the present low ambition to be pre-eminent at the expense of his fellow men.” It is noteworthy that the charges of insulting human nature are generally launched against the most competent judges of human nature by the least competent, against students and scientists by men of no more than ordinary intelligence. A little more study and thinking would convince all glib talkers that “a lofty ambition to pre-eminently serve one’s fellow men” is something that has never existed and never will exist. We care only for our own complete happiness — and this is “human nature.” But the more enlightened and refined we become, the less inclined we feel to hurt unnecessarily the feelings of others,— much less to invade their rights. We claim more and more liberty for ourselves, and we grant more and more liberty to others; because we understand and feel that the injury of one is the concern of all and that, if all are not safe and free, none is. Between the indirect social service which results from men’s active pursuit of personal happiness (as in the case of philosophers, artists, scientists), and the direct services demanded by a military society based on the Communistic principle, there is all the difference in the world.
Beauties of Government.
[Clippings front the Press.]
In a letter to the New York Tribune of May 27 Charles B. Curtis says: “The most remarkable thing about our system of collecting duties on books by mail is that the work was begun, not to obtain money for the government, but in order to give employment to some persons for whom at the time no other occupation could be found. I happen to be in possession of a bit of secret history which ought to be made public, not for the credit of the government or of the actors concerned, but because it is a spot on which the sunlight should be turned for sanitary reasons. The statement is so extraordinary that I would not dare to repeat it if I did not have it direct from the person most conversant with the facts. A few years ago a certain person in New York made a discovery that under the law and practice then in force all books not exceeding $1 in value were imported by mail without payment of duty. Being out of employment at the time, but willing to make himself useful to his country, this person sought an interview with the Collector of this port and proposed that a bureau should be established by means of which tribute might be exacted on every book imported by mail, no matter how small the value. The Collector promptly rejected the suggestion, on the ground that it would be discreditable for the government to engage in so paltry a business, and also for the reason that the receipts would not pay the cost of collection. But the inventor of the scheme was persistent, and he submitted his plan to the Secretary of the Treasury, offering to take charge of the business himself at his own risk, and to receive the duties collected for his sole compensation. The offer was at last accepted, and the enterprising promoter was placed at the head of the Bureau, when, as had been anticipated, he found himself out of pocket, but he finally secured a change in the system, and the loss now falls on the government. This was the origin of the bureau for the collection of duties on books by mail. In the year 1889 there was received by foreign mails at the New York Post-Office 127,030 packages, containing 222,120 books. The duties collected amounted to exactly $23,294.29, being 18 cents per package or a trifle over 10 cents for each book. To collect this sum required a force of nineteen men, some of them receiving salaries as high as $2000. Since the average duty was only 10 cents on each book, it is safe to say that on 150,000 of them the duties were less than 8 cents each. The labor expended in this work is enormous. Each package is opened, examined, appraised, and closed again; two entries at least, and often more, are made; a quarter of a million letters are written and sent, on which the postage alone would be more than $5000; accounts are kept with every post-office in the United States to which packages are addressed; collections are made, examined, and credited; stationery, printed forms, account-books, rent, fuel, lights, and other expenses are paid, and all this to enable the Government to collect $23,294.29 in sums of 18 cents each from 127,030 individuals. The statement seems incredible, but it is true. That the business is done at a loss cannot be questioned. I have been informed by a person formerly ranking among the highest of the officials in charge of the work that the cost of this bureau, all expenses included, is not less than $60,000; that is to say, it costs 46 cents to collect the 18 cents due on each package. This estimate may appear extravagant, but is given on the best of authority, and when it is considered that the work requires the services of nineteen well-paid men, it is evident that the figures are not overstated. Certainly no commercial house would undertake to collect $23,000 in sums of 18 cents each from 170,000 persons at remote post-offices in every State in the Union for thrice the amount received.”
New Orleans, June 7. — The lottery company is anticipating the time when its charter expires, for our Legislature is chosen only once in four years, and the matter, if not favorably acted upon now, will be the great bone of contention in the election of 1892. The talk that the company may secure a charter in North Dakota has already lessened the opposition to it here, for the people of this State are really figuring on the amount of premium they can force the company to pay for a charter, and not to drive it from this State.
The annual season of promenade concerts at Boston Music Hall has finally been abandoned, and the stay-at-homes, who have found so much pleasure in these summer night entertainments, will be deprived of one of the most rational amusement enterprises known in local annals. The cause of the discontinuance of these concerts, after five successively prosperous seasons, lies in the refusal of the board of police commissioners to issue the license by which the concerts could be conducted as in former years. By the action of the commissioners a half-hundred of the best orchestral players of Boston have been compelled to seek employment elsewhere during the summer season, and thousands of Boston residents are deprived of a rational and pleasing summer evening resort. All the plans made for the season and the orchestral novelties secured for the promenade programmes are rendered valueless.
New York, June 7. — Seven Belgian glass blowers were put on the Umbria, last night, by the contract labor inspectors, to be sent back home. A report reached the custom house this morning that a tug took the glass blowers from the Umbria when she was on her way down the bay, and landed them securely. The glass blowers will be returned to Europe on Saturday on the Servia. Collector Erhardt demanded a prompt explanation of the steamer’s action in putting the people off in mid-stream, after they had been duly returned to the ship by the immigration authorities. It was explained that no notice had been received by the Umbria’s captain of the return of the contract laborers, and that the reason he had not put the people off upon the pier was that he did not want to engage in a knockdown fight with the customs inspectors. So he had dropped them on the tug. The Cunard Company will be obliged to support the party in this city for the week they will be kept in waiting, and to transport the men to Europe without charge.
The Real Objection to Government.
[Wordsworth Donisthorpe, in the Personal Rights Journal.]
Taking “Government” in its worst sense as meaning the invasion of one man’s liberties by another man or band of men, even then l see nothing loathsome about it. Despotism is an excellent thing. It is well that the weak should succumb to the strong. All the best races of animals owe their success to the persistent custom of killing off inferior specimens, directly or indirectly. When certain races of animals have reached that level of mental development when they see the expediency of clubbing their resources and supplanting the rule of the strong by the rule of the many, the principle remains the same. The more powerful coerce the less powerful. Not now the physically stronger individuals, but the stronger party. I happen to belong to a race which has utterly “governed” out of existence (I am using the word in Mr. Tucker’s sense) another race formerly predominant in this island — the wolves. I am not a bit ashamed of it. We govern a population of rats “below-stairs” in the most despotic manner, and the Anglo-Saxons in America have pretty nearly governed the Red Indian into oblivion. All right. I say government is a good thing so long as and no longer than it benefits the governors. If we govern the rats and the horses and the Indians and our own lunatics and criminals in a most despotic way, it is merely because it benefits us to do so. We govern India for the same reason. Or at least we think ourselves benefited. That may not be a justification, but it is a good reason. Why do I not join a band of brigands? Because I think that even in Sicily and Greece I should get the worst of it in the long run. Stay; I have joined a band of brigands; I had forgotten. The Borneo Company is, of course, only a band of good brigands. It is nobody’s business to do policeman for the people of Borneo; and therefore the Company hope to benefit by governing them — in both senses of the word. Why do I not join a society for bringing about compulsory secular education? We should all (myself included) benefit by national secular education. Yet I do not believe I should benefit by making it compulsory, for this reason: if this form of coercion is admitted, on what grounds can I reject other forms favored by the majority? I should lose more than I should gain. And that is my only objection. I care nothing for other people’s inborn and inalienable rights. I violate them whenever I choose, and I intend to do so. But I choose seldomer and seldomer, simply because on the whole I suffer by it.
The “Rights” of Silver and Gold.
The United States Senate spends its time discussing the question whether gold, or silver, or both, ought to be money. True, Mr. Dolph said that there was not a single member of the Senate who did not favor both gold and silver as money, but the remarks which are made in the course of discussion — hardly to be dignified by the name of debate — speak more strongly for the fact than general assertions of this kind. The fact is that the Senate is engaged in a contention over the relative merits of gold and silver as money. Meanwhile, the salaries of the members are paid in gold. Supposing, for a moment, that salaries constitute the only expense of the Senate, it is interesting to consider what the cost to the people may be to have this question ventilated in this manner. Suppose that members of Congress are paid for two hundred days of their time in the year, and that the Senate, composed of eighty-four members, consumes six of these days in examining the merits of gold and silver; it is evident that the cost of the investigation will be $12,600. For every day that the Senate passes in this research, the people pay over $2,000, and it behooves them to consider whether the game is worth the candle.
There is not any good reason why Congress should be employed to canvass the comparative virtues of gold and silver. What would be thought of one who would employ the members of the Senate, at $2,000 a day, to investigate the relative advantages of wool and cotton for clothing, of felt or straw for hats, or of calf-skin and kid for shoes? Yet, in sober reason, the one pursuit is as plausible in itself, and as likely to result to our advantage, as the other. As a matter of fact, we leave individuals to decide for themselves the utility of wool and cotton, and if anyone finds difficulty in deciding between the two, we cheerfully let him bear the expense of investigating the properties of both and of experimenting on either to his heart’s content. And then, after he has completed his experiment, we do not propose to be bound by his conclusions ourselves, nor seek to make others conform to his opinions. If we like, we propose to continue to use silk or flax, however firmly convinced our experimental friend may be that cotton or wool is better. And there is literally no advantage whatever In our attempting to prescribe a uniform money. If one kind of money is better than another, the fact will be discovered with more ease, expedition, and certainty by letting individuals experiment with all the kinds they can think of, at their own expense. If one man offers me a cow, another an acre of land, a third a bank-note, a fourth a mortgage, a fifth some silver, a sixth a gold-piece, while others tempt me with sticks of tobacco or postage stamps in exchange tor the wheat I have, why not let me take my choice — and the consequences! Yet this is really all that is claimed for free banking. When Senators talk about the “rights” of gold and silver, they talk nonsense, as they themselves, and as everyone else, ought to know. Silver and gold have no more right to be money than molasses candy has; but then, on the other hand, neither have they any less right. When the Government monopolizes the business of making coined money, it creates by that very act the difficulty which it must forthwith proceed to solve — at an expense of $2,000 a day. And this expense we must continue to incur, in the face of the fact that there is but one solution to the problem,— to abolish the monopoly of coinage. When the problem x plus y = 1 can be solved, we shall then be able to say how much gold and silver, and at what ratio of the two, the Government should coin money. As the algebraic problem is much the simpler, why not pay the Senators $2,000 a day to work over that a while?
[Frank Franklin, in the Beacon.]
There is a disposition on the part of some revolutionary propagandists to stigmatize the advocates of “Passive Resistance” as timid teachers and “Quaker preachers.” We are branded cowards by those who claim to be working with us on the same lines of progress and the same lines of “least resistance.” These sarcastic slings would become the enemies of liberty, but do not add any laurels to the brow of its friends.
Courage is a good thing in its place when well balanced by judgment, but very much out of place when on a railroad track in front of a locomotive running forty miles an hour. This was the awkward and unreasoning position of the Irishman’s bull who was attempting to butt the engine off the track by brute force. Pat exclaimed: “I admire your courage, but damn your judgment.” I echo Pat’s sentiments and apply them to all advocates of physical force, whether revolutionary reformers or governmentalists.
I have not yet lost faith in the old saying that “he who is convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.” I fail to see how we can establish equal opportunities until we have a sufficient number of people educated to know what equality of opportunities means. The hunter who wants a bear-skin first catches the bear. If he were to blow the bear to pieces with gunshot or dynamite, the skin would be worthless. We must first catch the ear of the thinking public before we can reach its mind. We must attract its attention, not by threats of physical force, which only serve to antagonize its combativeness and shut us off from its judgment, but by intellectual methods. In the meantime the present chaotic and revolutionary condition of society can be surely counted upon to furnish all the startling and sensational effects necessary to shock the unthinking portion of society into a consideration of their real position and relieve us of such a terrible responsibility.
If I understood Individualism or Anarchy to mean brute force, I would never have accepted it. It is because I believe it to be the opposite that I am inclined to endorse it, and advocate passive resistance as the best means of accomplishing that object and the best method of reaching the minds of my fellow-men. With my understanding of Anarchy, I maintain the principle that I do not want anything (not excepting happiness and government) forced upon me; therefore I do not want to force my opinions upon others. I have no use for physical revolution so long as free speech and the freedom of the press are not absolutely shut off by governmental authority. I know of no better method of propaganda at present than the educational one described. It may be slow, yet it has the virtue of being sure, and certainly should be rapid enough for any reformer whose impatience does not subordinate his judgment to his feelings. I would cease to be an Anarchist and become (in practice at least) a physical revolutionist if I advocated revolution by force. It is for this reason that I adhere to the principle of “laissez faire” and passive resistance, even though I may be called a “coward” by my more brave and courageous comrades. I would rather rest under the charge of cowardice and timidity than to assume the — to me — terrible responsibility of advocating that terrible old theological dogma, “an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth,” especially in the present uninformed state of the public mind.
Passive Resistance, to my mind, does not mean inactive submission to despotism. I quote J. Wm. Lloyd’s idea in a recent issue of “Liberty”: “Passive resistance is resistance upon a higher plane than brute force.” What that higher plane is, is partly explained in this communication.
The State a Poor Parent.
If the issue were to be made, I think I should take exception to the doctrine of Mr. Thomas Curtis that the State owns the children. The person who has the first mortgage on the human infant, in my judgment, is its mother. Her claim is founded primarily upon the fact that she has suffered whatever inconvenience there may be in the production of the subject of these remarks, a burden which the State, whether republican, monarchical, or communistic, could not by any possibility assume. Then she feeds the little future president in a manner for which the best regulated governments make no provision. Likewise the State, especially a masculine State, would have but indifferent success at providing baby clothes and adjusting the same, even though the wisest of laws were made with that end in view. It is absurd, too, to imagine that the State could furnish a-forefinger for the youngster to chew while essaying to get its latent teeth in sight, nor would the administration of a great country like this take half the pleasure the mother does in announcing the first success of the infant in that direction. If human happiness is the object of life, the State should at such a time withdraw its supervision and give the mother an opportunity to get what the newspapers call a scoop on the rest of the world. And when the incipient citizen makes his first attempt at articulate speech, what State, past, present, or to come, could officially translate din-din as a demand on legislature for something to eat, or by-bys as an application for a free pass on the municipal line of baby-carriages?
There are other reasons why the State would make a poor fist at owning children; but if government ownership is to be introduced, I see no way for our public officials to escape these duties now devolving upon the mother. Then the province of the father comes in somewhere, though I have not paid that subject so much attention; but I understand that he settles the bills, corrects his offspring when necessary, and gazes upon his hopeful son with fond paternal pride whenever the boy shows the first indication of possessing intelligence.
These offices, as I look at it, give the parents a certain lien upon their children, at least as long, I might say, as the children lean upon them; and therefore, in the absence of any one having a prior claim, they should be accorded the legal right to rear them, educate them, and instruct them in such principles of ethics, religion, or irreligion as they see fit.
Martyrs and Martyrdom.
[C. Severance, in Freethought.]
Though Mr. Harman was rashly indiscreet, if not extremely foolish, to tempt fate as he did by “twisting the flon’s tail and kicking his sides,” I think no greater, more monstrous injustice has been done in our civil courts since the foundation of our government than was seen in his vindictive sentence; and it stands a deep and lasting disgrace to a country that boasts of being in the van of civilization. That Mr. Harman would be convicted and receive a moderate sentence, I have believed surely certain ever since he continued to “instruct the court” with open letters and to publish articles that further jeopardized his liberty. Had he been less rash and more discreet, which he might have been without sacrificing principle or manifesting cowardice, his conviction would never have taken place on the indictments which have now deprived him of his freedom. I am no believer in martyrs or martyrdom, and don’t think any person is morally bound to offer himself up as a sacrifice to any cause. It is rank nonsense to harbor such an idea. If public opinion is not ripe for a desired change in social customs or civil laws, a martyr produces no more effect in hastening such a change than would a windy prayer to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
Mrs. Waisbrooker says, “when John Brown’s body fell, it shook the earth.” Perhaps — but public opinion was at fever heat on the question of slavery, and endless agitation was everywhere prevalent. The coming change was near at hand, and, whether John Brown had sought martyrdom or not, it would surely have taken place. Conditions were ripe for the conflict, and it had to come.
Now let us view another case of martyrdom, and note the results under different conditions. Four brave and earnest men were hanged Nov. 11, 1887, in Chicago, and intense excitement prevailed from one end of the country to the other, and prophets predicted dire disasters which would follow their unjust and unwarranted execution; but as martyrs their deaths resulted in nothing, and have not to this day. Why? Public opinion was not ripe for the change they sought to bring about, and, while sympathetic natures were shocked in thousands of cases, no impulse was given to Anarchy, and it shows no sign of mounting the tidal wave that leads to success. D. M. Bennett did not seek martyrdom, but his unjust imprisonment has produced but one result to this day,— it augmented his number of friends and increased the power and circulation of his grand old “Truth Seeker.” The Comstock laws under which he suffered deep injustice still disgrace our statute books. Why? Because public opinion has not been aroused to that extent necessary to demand their repeal. E. C. Walker and Lillian Harman experienced limited martyrdom in their efforts to subvert the “divine institution” of matrimony, but their sacrifices and sufferings had no more effect in destroying it or creating a system of sex union to replace it than a Chicago divorce case would. Why? Because the public pulse was not at fever heat on that subject, and a universal desire for a radical change was not then apparent, and is not yet. Ill-timed martyrdom is useless and martyrdom of any kind should never be sought. We have during the past year heard much of the martyrdom of Bruno, but his tragic death has been vastly overrated as a spur to human advancement and the progress of civilization. The progress of ideas is natural, and the world would have kept moving had he recanted like Galileo and avoided the fearful fate which the love of Christ inspired the Catholic church to impose upon him. In those days in which he lived the world had limited methods of communication between people and among nations, and in my opinion his heroic fortitude in facing such a death and the cause which led to that death were hardly known outside the immediate locality where he met his fate. Even if they were, Galileo escaped martyrdom and accomplished just as much for human progress as did Bruno; and while some may regard him as being less firm and resolute, I would ask all such if firmness and resoluteness in the face of such inevitable consequences is worth the manifestation. Would it not be better to yield when overcome by brute force and submit to the unavoidable? I say yes, and, with Ingersoll, would profess belief in anything to get rid of the thumbscrews, as he once expressed himself when speaking of martyrdom.
Now, in regard to Mr. Harman’s martyrdom, I do not think that, as a factor in producing a desired change, it will amount to anything, for public opinion is not aroused or interested in the work he had undertaken. My sympathies are with him, and I hope executive clemency will intervene before he is compelled to drag out the weary years in a prison hell which have been imposed upon him.
One of Ibsen’s Comrades.
[Eau Claire Free Press.]
Marcus Thrane died this morning at the residence of his son, a stroke of paralysis being the cause of death.
Marcus Thrane was a man of no common order and of no common history. He was seventy-two years of age, and years ago he passed from active life; but forty years ago he was a power, not only in Norway, but, by indirect influence, in all Europe. He was the originator of what is known as the labor movement in Norway, and was an ardent advocate of republican institutions. Not only have his labors and sufferings in the cause of human progress enshrined him in the Scandinavian heart, but his name stands as one of the foremost in the roster of brave men who made the intellectual history of the stirring times of ’48 and the years immediately succeeding that eventful period,— that time of popular ferment, of awakening to new mental life and to new political aspirations. About the year 1850, Marcus Thrane and the reformer Abildgaard were the editors of a labor organ in Norway. Henrik Ibsen was a contributor to the paper, and none of the trio were in the habit of mincing their words. “Incendiary” utterances brought down the police upon the office, and the sacredness of monarchical institutions was “vindicated” by incarcerating Thrane and Abildgaard for seven years in a penitentiary at hard labor. Ibsen escaped punishment by a shrewd action of the manager of the paper, who, as the police entered, cast a quantity of Ibsen’s incendiary documents on the floor and pretended to be busily secreting some innocent papers in a corner. The police were thrown off the scent, and failed to examine the papers on the floor. Thus Ibsen’s complicity escaped observation, but Thrane and Abildgaard were imprisoned on general principles as well-known advocates of political progress and the rights of labor. After his release from prison, Thrane sought American soil and has breathed the air of freedom in peace. The work he did in Norway has borne fruit, and today such utterances as those for which he was imprisoned are free as breathing. After coming to America, he for a time published “Nye Tid” (New Era) at Chicago.
Bebel’s Bricks or Bellamy’s?
[Marie A. Shipley, in Kate Field’s Washington.]
The ideal of a paradise — not a future heaven, for no one wants that badly enough to steal it, but a paradise on earth — was hovering in the air and becoming more substantial every moment. Hundreds of thousands of able-bodied and clear-headed men were busy putting it into a shape to be speedily actualized, and Europe was likely to be its location, at least in the beginning. Mr. Edward Bellamy saw that, wanted it, and took it. Not Europe, but Boston should be the new paradise. Swooping down upon his prize, he darted into the year 2,000 and rebuilt that delectable nineteenth-century city with — August Bebel’s bricks. In short, his entire scheme for the social organism of the future, the glorious consummation of everybody’s wish and the perfection of everybody’s life, is taken in a lump from a book entitled “Woman in the Past, Present, and Future,” which the German socialist, member of the Reichstag and philosopher as well, August Bebel, has written as the fullest expression of his ideas. This very day the undersigned has received a letter from Herr Bebel, in which he writes: “I will observe, and this will interest you especially, that also from others beside yourself, and even from the United States, letters have come to me in which the view is expressed that Mr. Bellamy had known my book before the publication of hit own, and bad taken his ideas in part from it.” “Looking Backward,” is, indeed, a neat paraphrase, from beginning to end, of Bebel’8 “Woman.” The only part that is not a clever imitation of Bebel is the romance, the love for two Ediths one hundred years apart, and the stale device of the mesmeric sleep. These, being attractive articles, were taken by Mr. Bellamy from a book called “A Far Look Ahead,” published in 1883 by Putnam, in New York.
In Boston a handful of people forming the National party — among them a fair showing of Woman-Suffragists, who have forgotten to thank Herr Bebel for the handsomest tribute and ablest defense ever given their sex — with Mr. Bellamy as their leader, intend to usher in the millennium! Bebel and his crowd could never have done anything! Mr. Bellamy says so, in the twenty-fourth chapter of “Looking Backward”: “The Labor parties, as such, never could have accomplished anything on a large or permanent scale.”
How the corresponding paragraphs look side by side will be shown in a book entitled “The True Author of Looking Backward,” which will shortly be published in the United States and England.
Edward Bellamy did not plan out the new paradise, nor will he ever bring it to pass.
London, May 10.
The Need of Truth-Soldiers.
I am glad to be able to quote John Ruskin in support of my position on the great importance of the methods of the truth-soldiers. That truth would be without any hope in the absence of those who, armed with it, make aggressive and energetic war upon error and superstition, is the lesson to be gathered from the following:
It is true, of course, that, in the end of ends, nothing but the right conquers: the prevalent thorns of wrong, at last crackle away in indiscriminate flame: and of the good seed sown, one grain in a thousand some day comes up and somebody lives by it; but most of our great teachers, not excepting Carlyle and Emerson themselves, are a little too encouraging in their proclamation of this comfort, not, to my mind, very sufficient, when for the present our fields are full of nothing but darnel instead of wheat, and cockle instead of barley; and none of them seem to me yet to have enough insisted on the inevitable power and infectiousness of all evil, and the easy and utter extinguishableness of good. Medicine often fails of its effect — but poison never: and while, in summing the observation of past life, not un-watchfully spent, I can truly say that I have a thousand times seen patience disappointed of her hope, and wisdom of her aim, I have never yet seen folly fruitless of mischief, nor vice conclude but in calamity.
The Fight for Tweedledee.
[E. C. Walker, in Fair Play.]
To justify reckless charges by a handful of cavalry, on the ground that they will give those who have too much “cowardice” to push ahead themselves “a chance to assist the cause,” may be all very well for a governmentalist who believes in compulsory military service, or for a Christian who accepts the doctrine of vicarious atonement, but, coming from the lips of an Individualist, it is a sad travesty on common sense and consistency. It could just as well be said that a man was justified in setting fire to the prairie grass that surrounded his unprotected house and barn, expecting his neighbors to rush in and save himself and family and stock at the risk of their own persons, probably at peril of their lives. He could stand back after it was all over, and complacently felicitate himself upon the fact that it gave the “cowards” a chance to show their devotion to humanity. The battle today is for the opportunity to discuss all questions affecting the weal or woe of the race. Until that opportunity is ours, we have no time to waste in fighting over the right to say tweedledee when tweedledum would do far better. The trouble is that many radicals are so constituted that they can see the utility of no military movement save the reckless, headlong charge. They cannot understand the necessity of the forced march to take the enemy in the rear, the adroit flank movement, the patient siege, the slow but sure mining operations, the seizure or destruction of supply trains, etc., etc. Allied to this infatuation is that known as the “Bulletlu-board method.” This consists in the erection of a large revolving bulletin-hoard on high ground between the opposing armies and the painting thereon each morning of the plan of campaign, telling of the movements made and to he made, why they were made or are to be made, how they were made or are to he made. It is an excellent plan — for the enemy!
“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
John Orth. . . . . . . . . . 1.00
Declaration of Independence.
The Harman-Heywood course is attempted to be justified on two distinct grounds. Some pretend to believe that the cause of liberty, the success of Anarchistic propaganda, the immediate interests of the movement we are engaged in, demand the free and un-estrained use of the expressions interdicted by the United States censors. Others, while readily admitting that, from the standpoint of practical necessity or even utility, it is not of the slightest consequence whether the expressions are or are not used, insist that, since the “principle” involved is fundamental, since freedom of utterance is infringed, all those to whom the principle of individual liberty is dear are bound to cheerfully place themselves at the side of the persecuted “comrades” and go with them to victory or defeat in the name of the grand principle of liberty.
Touching the first of the two reasons, I unhesitatingly declare that the individuals who advance it (fortunately they are but few) are ignorant of the social problem and of the laws and tendencies of progress. They are either constitutionally unable to intelligently view things or perversely unwilling to enlist their reasoning faculties in the cause for which they have chosen to do battle. To the individual who seriously offers this reason, I have nothing to say. Life is too short to be wasted on utter imbeciles. I pass them in silent contempt (or at best, pity) and go on with my work.
As to the persons who call upon us to fight for the “principle,” and who denounce us as rotten politicians and cowards and traitors if we neglect to obey their summons, to them I have one word to say. I ask them to remember that we are here to fight for liberty and to achieve it. Desiring liberty, it devolves upon us to decide upon the surest and best and quickest and most economical methods by which it may be gained.
We are not here to display bravery or to manifest enthusiasm. We are here to accomplish a certain purpose, and judgment must always direct our movements. What promises to help us must be utilized, what appears as a hindrance must be abjured. Whether the injury to our cause comes from a malignant foe or a senseless friend, matters little. Folly must be discouraged, knavery fought. The wise are not deterred from following the best policy because to fools they sometimes seem cowards.
But if these considerations have no effect, and the valiant defenders of “principle” continue to prate about the glory and devotion of those who protest stoutly against the least violation of liberty, I have this to add: “If it is not the consequences, but the principle, that you regard, why do you not begin your reformatory career by ending your career as a living human being? To those who believe in individual liberty there can be no greater, more outrageous invasion than the punishing attempts at suicide as crimes. A man’s first right is over himself. Why then do you not, in defiance of the law, and as a courageous protest against it, attempt suicide in the market place? What a lesson to mankind, what a noble example, that would be! And since, in spite of your professed love for liberty and hatred for the law, you do not attempt suicide, I brand you as cowards and hypocrites.”
Seriously now, ought we to pay any attention to the wild champions of recklessness? Having expressed our opinion of the policy of Harman and Heywood, ought we not to ignore the crazy and silly accusations of their pretended friends? Let us be done with religious humbug, and bear in mind that a fool is a fool, whether he calls himself Catholic or Anarchist, and that, in theoretical discussion, he who is against us is our enemy, to be attacked prudently if formidable, left to impotent rage if insignificant. I believe in independent thought, independent speech, and independent action. If I am convinced I am right, the disapproval of “comrade” So-and-So or “brother” So-and-So is not a bit more important to me than the disapproval of one not a “comrade” or a “brother.” We are carrying on a scientific war, and there is no room for sentimentality.
I need hardly add that, since there can be no question about Harman and Heywood having acted with the best of intentions, I am practically ready to aid them all I can to escape from the clutches of the government. My sympathies are with them, though I have not a word in commendation of their course. V. Y.
Are Our Skins in Danger?
In No. 157 of Liberty you say it is questionable whether determined and cool-headed men who are pushing a plan of campaign are called upon to endanger that plan of campaign, and therefore their cause, by sallying forth to the aid of every rash comrade who precipitates an ill-timed conflict. To this very guarded statement no objection could be taken, and as up to the time of writing it no one had expressed disappointment that you had not sallied forth, it called for no further remark. (1) In No. 158, though, you sally forth to express your sorrow that men like Tak Kak should join hands with brave but blind comrades like Heywood and Harman. And after laying down an argument, you challenge its soundness. (2) Now, I should fully agree with you if I thought there was any serious danger that the valuable liberties we now enjoy of discussing economics and Anarchy were at all endangered by the prosecution and even defeat of Heywood and Harman. (3) Perhaps I am one of the blind — I don’t presume to be one of the brave — comrades, and therefore unable to see the possible danger of an irresistible onslaught upon our whole line which is liable to result in our annihilation. It seems to me that you are unnecessarily scared, and that there is no such serious danger as you would seem to suppose. If I am wrong and there actually is a possibility of our utter annihilation, then it is time we should know it. Perhaps the defeat of Heywood and Harman will serve a good purpose, and awaken us out of our dreamy, fancied security and set us on guard over the valuable liberties we already possess. (4) It may seem hard on our rash comrades to be thus sacrificed, but the benefit to “the cause” will be immense; and as most of our rash comrades are altruists, they will bear their burden lightly. If the enemy is so close at hand, it is all the more urgent that we should at once set to work and fight him; in fact, there is no alternative, we must fight or be annihilated. (5) If the beast is so thoroughly aroused that we are to be his early victim, as a matter of policy or expediency we must sally forth to the defence of these rash comrades in our own self-defence — or; else give up the fight and submit. There is no use discussing I plans of campaign or the intrinsic merits of O’Neill and Tolstoi. (6) Being blind, perhaps I’m brave, but I’m really not at all panic-stricken by this wolf-cry of Rashness, Folly, and I’m not afraid that my skin will be taken. (7) The question of rashness and folly is a matter of opinion. (8) Lum was considered unduly rash in bringing out the “Alarm” while the mad beast was raging in Chicago. It was said he was courting danger, and altruistic appeals were made to him to consider possible danger to his friends, and not wave a red Hag at a bull. While the trial was on, some comrades held meetings and discussed the trial and its outcome and I expressed some earnest opinions on the whole matter; and they were considered rash, and all cool and “determined” men were spiraled to to passively and determinedly resist by not resisting. Some people think the “Truthseeker” is very rash in outraging honest and sincere enemies by their coarse pictures. The Nationalists consider the Socialists are rash and hurting the plan of campaign by attacks on established religious beliefs and patriotic spooks. Many readers of Liberty think you are hindering the plan of campaign by your “brutal” attacks on fools and frauds, and your “ill-timed and misplaced” attacks on marriage rites, age of consent, the altruistic spook, etc. What have these to do with economic liberty, they exclaim, and would confine themselves to a hide-bound plan of campaign that would make them as narrow-minded as an ordinary liberal. That Harman and Heywood are rash men I think all will admit. What I would like you to do would be to make clear to me that an “irresistible onslaught liable to result in annihilation” is likely to follow the defeat of Heywood and Harman. (9)
In face of such direful calamity it may seem irrelevant to discuss the O’Neill letter, but I must protest against your sweeping statements as to its character. I have re-read the letter and fail to see anything so very reactionary or old-fogyish or conservative in it. You seem to see things in a very lurid light just now. I agree with Tak Kak. (10) To say that it is foul with the superstition that sex is inherently unclean is extravagant. As it would be rash to print the letter, this leaves me and all others who differ with you at a disadvantage, as the letter dare not be printed. (11) Besides, even if the letter could bear the construction you put upon it, you have made no point against Tak Kak. The letter was supposed to be very objectionable “according to all accounts,” just because it was believed not to be old-fogyish, but very advanced: not conservative, but very radical. In so far as it would have been less objectionable to you, it would have been the more objectionable, “according to all accounts,” to the timid and conservative. (12) Mr. Harman’s rash act consisted in printing an outspoken, plain exposure of certain sexual abuses. You say the letter is conservative and old-fogyish, and I protest against its being sent out that there is anything objectionable either way in the letter. (13) Even did I detect a lurking spook’s hidden features in the letter, it would be more reason why such subjects should be discussed, seeing that Anarchists like O’Neill, Harman, and others are still subject to the spook. (14) Most of those who raise the cry of rashness and folly will do so just because they are imbued with the spook that sex is unclean, and they have no sympathy or interest for those who are always delving in smut. (15)
I don’t want to do anything rash, or I would offer to send the O’Neill letter to any reader. But I know a man who has an “original package,” and if anybody asks me, I will let them know.
I shall be sorry and disappointed if I do not hear of your sallying forth to the aid of any comrade, who makes a clear fight for liberty, whether he be rash or timid. (16)
A. H. Simpson.
(1) The fact that “no one had expressed disappointment” has no bearing whatever upon the paragraph referred to, which I wrote, not to defend my course in not sallying forth, but in the hope of dissuading certain comrades from allowing their sympathies to run away with their judgment.
(2) I suppose Mr. Simpson means to say that I challenge others to prove my argument unsound.
(3) This admission should be carefully noted by others who criticise me in this matter. It is an acknowledgment that my argument is sound, and leaves the issue one of fact purely.
(4) Here Mr. Simpson argues upon an hypothesis created by his own imagination and not by any words of mine. Nevertheless he tries to pass it off as mine. I predicated our insecurity upon the defeat of Harman and Heywood. I strongly intimated my belief that our position is secure unless such men endanger it. Now, as Mr. Simpson thinks there is no serious danger either way, and as I think there is none except such as may come from the defeat of Harman and Heywood, where is the sense of the remark that such defeat may serve to awaken us out of our dreamy, fancied security?
(5) Again I must point out that I have not said that the enemy is close at hand. On the contrary, I virtually said that the enemy is at such a distance that we have ample time to intrench ourselves beyond the possibility of attack in the future. It is precisely for this reason that it is folly to bring the enemy close at hand and precipitate a fight. We are not confronted with the alternative of battle or annihilation, and my complaint is of conduct that tends to force that alternative upon us. I am surprised at the flippant way in which Mr. Simpson says that these altruistic comrades will bear their burden lightly. He can have but little appreciation of what it means for an old and feeble man to go to prison. When he has paid a few visits, as I have, to Dedham jail, and noted at each visit the long stride toward the grave taken by Mr. Heywood since the previous visit; when he has seen him come out of that jail (and I fear he will not) a pale, thin, gray, haggard-looking man, shattered physically and weakened mentally; when he has seen ten years pass without removing the traces of the suffering thus endured,— he will remember these thoughtless words with shame, if he has a heart.
(6) Even though the fight be forced upon us, we can still choose our ground, and in this choice our plan of campaign must guide us. Is it, then, useless to discuss it? As to O’Neill and Tolstoi, I declared that I discussed them as an entirely independent question, in response to a remark made by Tak Kak. Does Mr. Simpson mean to say that I should shut my mouth on all other subjects, and know nothing henceforth but Harman and him imprisoned V
(7) Mr. Simpson’s metaphor puzzles me. Wolf-cry? Who is the wolf? Why is it wolfish to say that another is rash or foolish?
(8) A matter of opinion, yes. But a matter of opinion as to a fact that will follow a certain line of action. I have pointed out in paragraph three that Mr. Simpson has reduced the issue to one of fact.
(9) When a man is charged with stealing, it doesn’t prove him honest to show that other men have been charged with stealing. But Mr. Simpson seems to suppose that, when a man is charged with rashness, it is sufficient to point out that others have been so charged to prove either that the man is prudent or that his rashness is a virtue. This method of vindication is unworthy of Mr. Simpson’s brains. Every charge must be considered on its merits. Lum’s rashness, the “Truth Seeker’s” rashness, the Socialists’ rashness, my rashness, and the rashness of Harman and Heywood, are separate questions, to be decided by the facts in each case. Mr. Simpson cannot understand why an irresistible onslaught liable to result in annihilation is likely to follow the defeat of Heywood and Harman. I will try to make this simple matter clear. In the first place, I do not suppose for a moment that all of us are to be toppled over like so many ninepins the moment the defeat of Harman and Heywood strikes us. But it seems to me plain that the tendency of defeat is weakening, just as the tendency of victory is strengthening. When Mr. Heywood was acquitted several years ago, the cause of free speech was decidedly the stronger for it. Comstock hid his head, and didn’t show himself again for a long time. If all of us had behaved ourselves, he would now be powerless to interfere with us. But Mr. Heywood didn’t behave himself. He didn’t know how to utilize victory. He didn’t proceed to discuss sexual questions with that sober freedom which had become securely his. Not a bit of it. Swollen with victory, he placed a new chip on his shoulder every day. He devoted himself to the reckless use of terms more than to the development of thought Comstock saw his chance. He let things take their course. And finally, when Heywood had reached almost the farthest extreme of foolhardiness, Comstock pounced on him. With what result? With the chances a hundred to one that Heywood will go to jail, and this time with scarcely one sympathizer where he had a thousand when he went before. Cannot Mr. Simpson see that this turns the current? Comstock will wait a few weeks or months till some publisher arises who is just a little less offensive than Heywood has been, and then he will make a new attack. With Hey wood’s case as a precedent, he will probably succeed where else he would have failed. And from case to case and precedent to precedent he may succeed finally in stifling Liberty, “Twentieth Century,” and every Liberal paper, protected by a public sentiment that has been misled to identify them all with Heywood’s crazy methods. It is as simple as a primer lesson.
(10) I am very glad to hear it. But Mr. Simpson should read Tak Kak’s letter in this issue before positively concluding that he agrees with him.
(11) How so? The O’Neill letter has not been printed in Liberty. I have expressed an opinion about it, and Mr. Simpson has expressed an opposite opinion. Why is he more at a disadvantage than I?
(12) Mr. Simpson is mixing things up. In my paragraph in No. 157 I discussed the objectionable (to others) character of the letter only in the light of its liability to successful prosecution on that account. In the last half of ray article in No. 158 I explained why the letter is objectionable to me. There is nothing in common between the grounds of these objections, and hence their variations of degree cannot be either inversely or directly proportional. The letter might have been much less objectionable to me without becoming a whit more objectionable to the conservative. In fact, it might at the same time have become less objectionable to them so far as affording a foundation for prosecution is concerned. The liability to prosecution depends less on the views expressed than on the way of expressing them. It is possible to forcibly express the most radical views without giving the authorities the slightest pretext for interference. Mr. Heywood’s rashness consists in not availing himself of this possibility.
(13) I give Mr. Simpson the benefit of his exception. Perhaps he will have a chance to argue it before a higher court.
(14) Have I said anything against the discussion of such subjects? My objection is against such discussion of them as will effectually prevent any further discussion either of them or of others of more immediate importance.
(15) Not at all. Most of the people who believe that sex is unclean do not speak of Heywood as rash or foolish; they speak of him as immoral, wicked, and criminal. But even if it were true that most of those who raise the cry of rashness do so because they believe that sex is unclean, is that a reason why I should not raise it on a totally different ground?
(16) My whole life is “a clear fight for liberty.” But I make it in my own way. I shall be sorry and disappointed if Mr. Simpson contributes to a disastrous ending of the fight by following any comrade too far in a rashly-chosen path. T.
Some Questions and Criticisms.
To the Editor of Liberty:
What is a nuisance? A nuisance. What is an encyclopædia? An encyclopædia. Will the Encyclopædia please inform the Nuisance by what peculiar system of contradictions he viciously prods believers in “duty,” yet labels the very column whence said prods proceed, “On Picket Duty”? (1)
I like your definition of Socialism. I have but one objection,— too scholarly. Can’t you simplify it as to language? When I quote Spencer, Andrews, Tucker, Lum, or Walker, and lastly, not leastly, Yarros, I am frequently called upon to translate it. Intensely “average,” of the common common, myself, I have a profound sympathy for the fellow-creature who hasn’t the time to spend digesting words, which is absolutely necessary to the comprehension of nearly all the noted Anarchistic writers. (2)
I also like Mr. Labadie’s objection to your definition of Anarchism. When I read your reply to F. Q. Stuart, in which you cut at Spencer’s phrasing of “the Law of Equal Freedom,” by saying Anarchism eliminates the final clause of “Three times four are twelve, providing four times three are not thirteen,” it dawned upon me that I had for some time been parroting a very useless repetition. It seems to me that “every liberty except the liberty to invade,” is open to the same objection. To believe in every liberty excludes invasion, does it not? (3)
I observed that, although the “Twentieth Century” did not make note of the criticism, its editor has recently seen fit to alter his definition of Socialism, or rather to specify that it was applicable only to State Socialism, from which I infer he read your correction. (4)
Fraternally, Voltairine de Cleyre.
(1) No encyclopædia is needed. A dictionary will suffice to show Miss de Cleyre that the word “duty” has two meanings,— one involving moral obligation (to which Liberty objects), the other meaning simply a task to be performed, set by one’s self or by another. To duty in the latter sense Liberty has no objection. “Picket Duty” is a certain line of work that the editor has set himself.
(2) If the simple word “duty” can be thus misunderstood, why make great effort to be simple? Thereby one only loses in scientific accuracy without gaining in intelligibility. The mass of the people do not learn by studying books and definitions. Only the intelligent minority learns by that method. The mass learns by long rubbing against the minority.
(3) There is a subtle distinction here, which neither Miss de Cleyre nor Mr. Labadie has noticed. The liberty of every individual to do as he wills excludes the slavery of any individual. But to believe in every liberty — that is, every kind of liberty — does not exclude invasion. It is possible to conceive of a man enjoying every kind of liberty, including the liberty to invade. For instance, the Russian czar. But a state of liberty for every individual which would at the same time make some individual a slave is a contradiction in terms.
(4) Yes, Miss de Cleyre, all of us were “on.”
The Chicago “Arbeiter Zeitung” thinks that my criticism of Mr. Lum’s remark in reference to scabs is deserving of criticism: and it proceeds to convict me of injustice and unreason on the strength of the following considerations: — that organized labor is at war with capitalism, and in war means have to be employed that in peace would be utterly wrong; that it is impossible to minutely regulate practical warfare by written instructions from headquarters; and that the scab, being squarely in the way and often standing between labor and success, must be treated as an enemy. But my contemporary misunderstands the ground of my objection. I realize as fully as any friend of labor that the problem is much too complex to be settled by a summary verdict of guilty or not guilty. Organized labor is at war with capitalism, and the scab is at war both with organized labor and capitalism. Neither has a mortgage on my sympathies. When the scabs are in the right, my sympathies are with them. I objected to the absurd assumption that organized labor fights for a higher civilization and that the scabs, in refusing to offer themselves up as sacrifices, are social traitors. A social traitor is he, and he alone, who deliberately and voluntarily obstructs progress. The man who wants to live and who consents to have half a loaf rather than none cannot be called a social traitor because others are dissatisfied with a loaf and would like to get more. Situations are conceivable where the most useful workers for a higher civilization may have to turn scabs. If the “Arbeiter Zeitung” wishes me to remember that “it is impossible to be moral in immoral surroundings” and be slow to denounce organized labor for outraging the scabs, I assure it that I have not failed to do so. But let it be understood that the same indulgence must be extended to scabs for the same reason.
A Nationalist paper says with satisfaction: “In Mr. Bellamy’s reply to General Walker occur some rich answers. The latter had said: ‘Well may we look forward to a better state, in which much of the harshness of the human conditions shall, by man’s own efforts, have been removed. But it was no Bellamy who said that in the sweat of their brows should men eat bread.’ ‘Quite right, General,’ says Bellamy, ‘all Bellamy said was that they eat their bread in the sweat of other people’s brows.’ Again, the General had said that ‘the fundamental proposition that all workers shall share alike in the national product is dishonest: to say that one who produces twice as much as another yet shall have no more is palpable robbery. It is to make that man for half his time the slave of others working without reward.’ Bellamy answers: ‘If it be dishonest for the weak worker to share equally with the strong, it would obviously be still more so for the idler to get anything at all. Now under the present industrial system it is tolerably notorious that the hardest workers and chiefest producers are the poorest paid and worst treated, while not only do idlers share their product with them, but get the lion’s share of it.’” Here we have the shallowness and puerility of the Nationalists strikingly exhibited. The Nationalistic editor does not see, any more than his prophet, that it is one thing to show that the present system is bad, and quite a different thing to prove that the proposed subsitute is good. Granted that some men now eat their bread in the sweat of other people’s brows, and that idlers get the lion’s share of the laborers’ product; does this warrant the conclusion that the tyrannical communism of the Nationalists is just? The “rich answers” are simply disgraceful dodges intended to impose upon the uncritical.
An Examination of the Various Current Doctrines of State Socialism.
Herbert Spencer opens his admirable work on “The Study of Sociology” with a description of a common laborer, naturally ignorant of science and the methods of science, who smokes his pipe at a gin-shop table and emphatically urges the necessity of passing such or such a legislative provision with a view to effect a change in social relations whose beneficence is to him beyond all question. Of the difficulties, dangers, responsibilities, uncertainties in the path of practical regulation of social interests he neither knows nor cares. The immediate consequences of the favored enactment seem to him highly desirable, and of any other consequences he has not been taught to reflect.
What is true of this Spencerian laborer is true of the legislators and politicians. Equally ignorant of the complexity of social problems, equally anxious to secure speedy results of a nature gratifying to his constituents and himself, the average lawgiver is as far from realizing the need of scientific treatment of politics, as far from appreciating the real cost to society of the attempts at regulation and improvement conceived in thoughtlessness and carried out in haste, as far from understanding the precise status of sociological research at the present time, as the illiterate laborer by whose suffrage he has been placed in the position of so much power for harm.
Reformers and agitators are no better, if indeed they are not considerably worse. The checks and obstacles that make the practical legislator’s road a comparatively hard one to travel, do not exist for the nonofficial innovator. The failures of those he assails he attributes to their personal incompetency and want of perspicacity; and every proof of such personal incompetency or insincerity that his watchful and jealous eye detects in the career of his antagonists tends to confirm him more and more strongly in his opinions as to the cause of social maladjustments, and to render him more and more unable and unwilling to recognize the truth and vital importance of the position that sociological science is still in its infancy and that the most serious hindrance to social reform are those very reforms which his impatience produces and stimulates.
So far as social subjects are concerned, all these people are still in either the theological or the metaphysical stage of reasoning. The scientific study of sociology is still confined to a very small minority of thinkers, who exercise next to no influence on the course of practical politics and who are savagely denounced by the philanthropic and enthusiastic reformers because, having heard of the philosopher’s aphorism that nothing is science which does not benefit humanity, they cannot be persuaded that the present condition of the science of society permits no positive steps in the direction of reconstructing human relations on a definite plan. And, furthermore, this 6tate of mind prevents the majority of those who have, in one form or another, essayed the task of improving society from assimilating and profiting by the fruits of the labors and researches of philosophical students of history and sociologists. So that even the principles and generalizations already established, by whose aid one is enabled to grasp social tendencies, and obtain a glimpse of the line of progressive development, are totally unknown to them.
When one reflects upon these facts, he is tempted to sigh for Comte’s priesthood of scientists and philosophers,— for a time when no one but those properly educated shall be allowed to have a voice in the government of society, and when the uneducated shall no more dare to oppose and dispute the deductions of the savants in social science than they now do as respects the conclusions of the exact sciences. But of course this is not a philosophical standpoint. As Mill rationally observes, it is the unsettled state of the social science, its immaturity, its inexactness and incompleteness, which are responsible for the want of deference on the part of the average reader and unscientific thinker toward its professors. The disagreements, divergences, controversies that characterize its condition cannot be expected to conduce to implicit reliance upon the authorities. Many authorities mean no authority. When there shall be as much unity and agreement among sociological and historical investigators as the existence of a science implies, the acquiescence of the unlearned in the more or less unanimous conclusions of the teachers will naturally and spontaneously follow.
To these observations others must be added. We should realize that, instead of its being deplored as an unalloyed misfortune, there is at least one good reason why we should hail it with exultation and hope that large numbers of the undeveloped people are interesting themselves in social problems and taking active part in the discussions of the day. We should congratulate ourselves on the gradual disappearance of that stolid indifference and ignorant resignation under which healthy and permanent progress is impossible. Thinking must precede accurate and scientific thinking, scattered ideas and detached thoughts must pave the way for systematic knowledge. If, then, it is true that men have to pass the theological and metaphysical stages before arriving at positive views of social subjects, we have no ground for regretting that they do fulfil the process.
However, all this applies only to those who, while expressing opinions of things imperfectly comprehended or even wholly mysterious to them, do not pose as leaders and teachers and guides. We are entitled to be more exacting, more severe and critical, when dealing with those who mount the pedestal and announce their readiness to eliminate all evil from the world and to inaugurate, through some sovereign panacea, the reign of peace and plenty and love. Their blunders are truly worse than crimes; and if we can show that their confidence is either feigned and assumed or else unfounded and due simply to blissful unconsciousness of what they need to accomplish in order to acquire citizenship in the great Anarchical union of social philosophers and reformers, then it is incumbent upon us to enter a vigorous protest against their pretensions and to warn their blind dupes that they follow men equally blind.
Such is the service I intend to perform in the following pages. I shall examine the various current forms of State Socialism and prove that they are utterly unscientific and unphilosophic; that they are based upon, constructed of, crowned with fallacies and errors, half-truths and arbitrary assumptions; and that the conclusions of the highest authorities in the several branches of the science in question are radically at war with their theoretical platforms and practical measures. That this service is much needed, there can be no doubt. Our civilization is threatened with ruin that ignorant internal enemies would bring upon it. These invaders it is necessary for every intelligent and freedom-valuing man to attack and repel. Happily the task is not a difficult one.
All schools of authoritarian or governmental socialism, however widely they may differ in their ethical and philosophical views (and I shall show that they do radically so differ), in their methods, or in their constructive plans, are at one, are absolutely agreed, on this one thing: — namely, that the State ought to monopolize the functions of producing, distributing, and exchanging wealth, or, in other words, that the State ought to become the sole landlord, capitalist, and merchant, considering all its citizens as its employees entitled to employment and reward. Private enterprise, competition in the supply and demand of labor and of commodities, in short, industrial and commercial freedom, they seek to supersede by a system of universal coöperation under the management and control of a given government. Under that system all citizens would live on and pay rent for land and buildings belonging to the State, would work in mines or factories or fields belonging to the State, would buy all goods in stores belonging to the State, and use means of communication belonging to the State. It would be a crime for a citizen to engage in any of the infinite occupations constituting today what we call the industrial interests.
That this is a vast change, a radical reformation, a revolution of our social and industrial order, is not denied, but readily admitted. That it is the exact opposite of the theory of democratic States, and almost the exact opposite of certain democracies, like that of England or the United States, is not only well understood, but cheerfully emphasized by the advocates of the new system. They denounce the basic doctrine of “free government,” which is that government should derive its power from the consent of the governed; they deny that government is at best a necessary evil and that the maximum of public wellbeing implies the minimum of government interference, as was held by Paine and Jefferson, the fathers of this democracy; and they protest against the plea of modern political writers for the restriction of governmental activity to the police function of protecting life and property.
So far, all is clear, and no difficulty is met with. We understand the position of our antagonists, and they understand themselves and are a unit on the question of what is needed. But when we approach the domain of theoretical argumentation in support of this position, when we venture to cast a critical glance at the reasons displayed as weapons of defence, we behold a bewildering and chaotic spectacle, a spectacle before which the confusion of tongues at the mythical Babel tower shrinks and pales into insignificance as a chaotic spectacle, if it does not assume the aspect of discipline and regularity in comparison with the former. We are confronted by an army doing battle for a cause, no two members of which can give the same reasons for their participation in the work. The reason urged by one excludes that of his neighbor, and the neighbor stands in similar relation to the rest. Every possible standpoint is represented; every known doctrine is called into service. The standpoints being mutually exclusive, incompatible, inconsistent, the result may be imagined, or rather, cannot be imagined, but has to be contemplated after a patient survey of the whole field and examination of each element by abstraction. Orthodox religionists are there, and ethical religionists, and frank atheists. Theologians, metaphysicians, and positive thinkers. Necessitarians and libertarians. Intuitive moralists and experimentalists and neo-utilitarians, side by side with religious moralists. Monarchists, democrats, and professed individualists. These are all there with a common purpose — to establish a coöperative State in which competition and private enterprise should be unknown; but each has his own peculiar reasons for desiring the change. Indeed, they do claim to have one common view as to why the reform they favor is indispensable,— namely, because the extinction of misery and poverty, and the abolition of exploitation of labor by capital is otherwise impossible of achievement. But this is the very theorem which they start out to demonstrate, stated differently.
Do they realize this fact? Do they appreciate this condition of their army? Assuredly, the few of them who may really be credited with some intelligence and knowledge cannot be ignorant of that. But it is one of the characteristics of the “practical” politician or reformer to stifle all spirited and- spontaneous controversy, hide all internal friction and want of harmony, and put on a mask of unity and peace. Our “practical” State Socialists are preoccupied with the work of propaganda, and do not regard it of importance to have their own theoretical capital in any orderly and definite shape. Provided the appearance of harmony is preserved, and as the multitude appealed to are not expected to be supercritical and ask troublesome questions when alluring vistas are opened to their dull gaze, the perfect and desperate confusion reigning within the camp is of little conseq’uence from the standpoint of immediate utility. To exhibit division is to invite doubt and analysis, and strange as it may seem, our “scientific” Socialists, it seems, are willing to bravely face anything but that
Studying, however, not their gratification, but our general advantage, and believing in the liberating power of truth, it is my intention to lay bare the disordered state of the much-vaunted “scientific Socialism.” I shall confine myself to contemporary movements, and examine the more or less important ones in the order of their significance, beginning with the least pretentious and formidable.
Christian Socialism, which is the first on our list, need not take up much time or space. It certainly will not take up much time and space in the history of the world’s progress. The only reason why men condescend to give it a certain share of their attention is to be found in the proneness of our reformers to deceive themselves and others by a misapplication of the scientific formulas and terms which they appropriate and liberally use, but whose real meaning they do not comprehend. The fact of Christian Socialism having arisen is straightway hailed by the ignorant as a healthy sign of the times, the movement itself as a progressive force, an upward tendency; and, not being silenced by an emphatic word from those who do not know, or lose sight of, the pregnant consideration that not everything which is born survives, not everything that is contemporary is modern, not everything that is new is progressive and valuable, they are naturally encouraged in their reactionary career. Side by side with the process of evolution a process of degeneration is in constant operation: this is true of the world of social reform as well as of the general world. That Christianity, in its frantic efforts to prolong its days, should grasp the straw of Socialism (I mean, that which to it will prove no more available than a straw), is perfectly natural. Having outlived its usefulness, it is seeking a reason for existence, endeavoring to make itself necessary. But, while it has everything to gain and nothing to lose by affiliation with Socialism, Socialism can only expect misery from the union. Being without any distinctive virtue of its own (its virtues,— that is, such as it ever could boast of — having become the common property of all), but only vices, moral and intellectual, association with it is fatal. If Socialism is a blessing, and Christianity a curse (and as such it has been adjudged by the thinking world), the former can have no possible interest in desiring an alliance with the latter. It must change its nature, must undergo a revolution, or else it must die.
I speak of course of sincere and true Christians. And of these the following words of Maudsley may be given here the emphasis of quotation: “Could there be a more unhappy spectacle than that of the poor wretch who should adopt the [Christian] moral maxims in literal earnest and make them the strict rules of his life? The plain effects of them are to make beggars and impostors by profusion of charity; to invite affronts by easy forgiveness of injuries; to render it the interest of no one either to befriend or to forbear injuring another, because of its rigid inculcation of the same loving attitude towards friend and enemy; to put the innocence of the dove at the mercy of the guile of the serpent; to make the good man the easy prey of the scoundrel; to suffer crime to go unpunished because it must always be that there is no one who has the sinless right to punish; to cultivate sorrow and self-abasement as the creed of life; to take no thought for tomorrow because the lilies of the field toil not.” — “What wonder that Christian morality has failed, and must fail to govern the practical conduct of life in the struggle for existence!” Are we to allow this insult to the intelligence of our generation, this revival of the propaganda of Christian Communism, based on Christian ethics and Christian religion, without lifting our voices in clear and energetic protest? Shall we remain passive while the poor ignoramuses or wretched clowns in the churches disseminate their falsehoods and absurdities to the superstitious multitude, in exulting defiance of the treasured-up truths of biology, psychology, and sociology?
In a word, this so-called Christian Socialist movement is, from a scientific standpoint, undeserving of the slightest consideration. Those who lead in it as well as those who follow are destitute of all knowledge of social science, and it would be strange to see a really intelligent person do them the honor at this late day to engage in controversy with them. When children begin to learn the art of speaking, it is the pleasure of the adult occasionally to gratify them by taking their modes of expression. But for thinkers to descend to the low level of the theological Socialists yet in their intellectual babyhood is a piece of folly and madness. All this, of course, does not apply to those who merely call themselves Christian Socialists, but who have thrown aside the religion and the ethics of Christ; who are familiar with science and who strive after gradual and rational reform of society. But it is evident that these are guilty of hypocrisy in retaining the vesture after having rejected the essence.
“Nationalism,” pretending as it does to be secular and scientific, must be considered at some length. Differing in no essential from Christian Socialism (or, more properly, Communism), it owes its superiority as a practical movement to the policy of blood and iron which it avows in lieu of the Christian method of persuasion. It appears better, in reality being much worse. Not a whit more sound theoretically, it practically is more revolting from its close connection with the tyranny and fraud of politics.
What the Nationalists desire is a social order based on compulsory coöperation and absolute equality of wages or income. All citizens, become State officials, receive equal rewards, while each is obliged to do what is required of him by law in the occupation voluntarily chosen by him after the few years of compulsory service in the lowest grade. We are concerned with the question what their grounds are for the necessity or desirability of the revolution they contemplate. Not being moved, like the earnest believers, by a contempt for all earthly interests and cares, not prompted by motives similar to those of the early Christians (who were beggars and social outcasts mostly), their reasons must be economic, or ethical, or both. We have a right to demand from them, first, a thorough and systematic analysis of the present social order, an exposé of its vices and evils traced to their real source; and second, a demonstration of the excellence of the proposed reforms. But when we turn to the literature of Nationalism, we find a remarkable (though not at all surprising under the circumstances) dearth of searching analysis or scientific reasoning. It would be clearly unreasonable to expect that from the mediocre novelist who is the father of the movement,— the author of a dull novel, begun as a fairy-tale and pure fantasy and finished as a eulogy of a system of military despotism. The economic argument of the Nationalist Bible may be summarized as follows: Ours is an individualistic society. The utmost freedom of competition obtains. Productive and distributive functions are almost wholly independent of government control. The ruling principle of this society is, To the victor in the struggle for wealth belong the spoils. As a result of this principle and these conditions we behold, on the one hand, extreme wealth, and on the other extreme poverty, ignorance, vice, misery, and crime. Famine, involuntary idleness, starvation wages, and prostitution are constantly increasing phenomena, which naturally have a demoralizing effect on the political and social relations of the people. Therefore this social order is bad, and it is needful to reform it. And it follows further that the reform must consist in the elimination of the causes of the evil,— that is, private enterprise and competition,— and the substitution of State control of industry and commerce with all that it implies. Then, a few ethical or philosophical considerations are adduced to justify the second Nationalist principle,— equality of income. The most weighty of them are two. The first is that society is an organism and each individual an inseparable member thereof, owing it allegiance and duty, born a debtor to it for all he can accomplish and a creditor to it for all he needs; that in civilized society self-support is impossible, and complex mutual dependence becomes the universal rule, every individual being a member of a vast industrial partnership, and this implies the duty and guarantee of mutual support. The second is that superiority and inferiority of capacity for serving society not being dependent upon or determined by the will of the individual, it is a piece of unreason and injustice to proportion to such capacity rewards of a purely material nature. We have a right to bestow more admiration and reverence upon the highly endowed natures, but their title to the means of life is no better than that of the meanest of man, the title being simply humanity.
[To be continued.]
Tak Kak Not with the “Brave.”
The brevity of my last communication might bespeak the presumption that I do not oppose your prudent policy. What! I should differ with you on a serious matter and not shed ink in argument? Impossible.
The fact that I did not enclose Dr. O’N.’s letter would go to show that I had not kept it. In attempting to describe its contents from memory, I thought only of so much as bore upon liability to prosecution and arousing the spirit which resorts to persecution. When I perused the letter, my attention was upon that question or feature, and my recollection, according to the natural law of memory, was confined to what I had taken interest in noting. In saying “if pronounced objectionable,” I meant by repressionists.
Mr. Harman had published effusions from non-professional people. A doctor’s letter signed with his name and more nearly on the line of fact might seem to have a better chance of being privileged. Now while, for the purpose of illustration, the mention of a certain book simplifies your argument, in which I agree, yet I would not leave the slightest possibility for any reader to misclass Mr. Harman. To publish anything in pure defiance is a radical error in policy. To publish a thing with a sincere trust in the reason of the people who sustain prosecutions, appealing all the while to their reason and believing, however mistakenly, that they cannot resist the evidence of truth and utility, is an error of judgment when its result is finally no better than this in the Harman case thus far. There may, however, be thousands of comparatively fair-minded men who will aid in getting Mr. Harman his liberty if they are made to know that his error has been of the last mentioned of these classes, not of the first. Tak Kak.
[I am glad that the discussion of this subject has revealed a substantial agreement between Tak Kak and myself. And I certainly am as far as he from any desire to misclass Mr. Harman. The parenthetical remark in my original paragraph was especially intended as a precaution against that. — Editor Liberty.]
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.