“For always in thine eyes, O Liberty!
Shines that high light whereby the world is saved;
And though thou slay us, we will trust in thee.”
On Picket Duty.
“I have made a great discovery” says Ibsen’s “enemy of society,” Dr. Stockmann; “you see, the fact is that the strongest man upon earth is he who stands alone.”
The “Globe” advises all the different nations of the world to substitute the boycott for the bayonet as a weapon of obtaining equity. Let the “Globe” extend the same principle to the individuals composing nations, and it will be at one with the Anarchists. We object to the bayonet behind the ballots, and favor the use of the boycott instead.
In my opinion, Mr. Pentecost’s last address, entitled “Think I Speak! Write! Act!” is the best he has yet delivered. It is great, both absolutely and relatively. No Anarchist can afford to be without it. It deals with the questions of “practical” action, of “organization,” and of “harmony” and “opportunism.” Mr. J. W. Sullivan should carefully read it.
“Nationalism” is already beginning to grow faint and weak. Ignorance has no vitality in these days of free competition in intellectual commerce. The Fourth-of-July enthusiasm is dying out, and the preachers and sentimentalists and politicians are skulking severally back into obscurity or notoriety, as the case may be. Meanwhile let the good work of spreading the light of true social principles go on.
The “Labor Leader” reprints the paragraph in which I noted its change of view regarding the “Socialism based on free association” for which Liberty has always stood and handsomely apologizes for its former injustice to that philosophy by humbly saying: “Even lunacy may improve.” I am glad Editor Foster has the manliness to confess that he used to be subject to fits of lunacy, and hope he has fully recovered.
Liberty learns with profound sorrow the fact of the sudden death of T. L. M’Cready, the associate editor of the “Twentieth Century.” It has never hesitated to criticise him when he seemed wrong, but it has always recognized in him an independent thinker and valuable worker for freedom. Nature, in whose beneficence he believed, saw fit to take him from us, and we are helpless in the matter. We can only mourn, and we do mourn.
For an Anarchistic organ to be conducted most un-Anarchistically is the greatest paradox conceivable. If the State Socialistic papers of the country were not as dull and simple as they are, they might ask the Denver “Individualist” why it does not begin its reform at home. That paper seems to be edited by many Anarchists not completely agreed among themselves, and the consequence is that in every issue there are to be found contradictions and inconsistencies. This is just what popular government must result in, but it is not the Anarchistic plan.
“The only difference,” says Mr. Pentecost, “between our present governmental tyranny and injustice, and Nationalism, is that now many are ruled for the benefit of a few, while under Nationalism a few would be ruled for the benefit of the many.” While, so far as the principle involved is affected, it certainly makes no difference whether many or few are tyrannized over, it is important not to forget that, after all, Nationalism would not rule a few for the benefit of the many, but forty-nine and one-half per cent, for the benefit of fifty and one-half per cent. When so stated, even those who believe that “the good of the whole is paramount to the good of the few” must revolt against the new system of slavery.
Writing on “Ibsen as a Dramatist,” in the “Arena,” Hamlin Garland says that “on the score of pure modernness, originality, and truth, both in subject and method, I am inclined to put the ‘Enemy of Society’ at the head of the six dramas I have read of the great Norwegian. It is the most modern, the most unconventional, the most radical, and, to me, one of the most enthralling, dramas ever written. It is not a play, it is life itself.” I have decided to reprint in Liberty the fourth act of this play,— the best and most striking,— which represents a public meeting called and addressed by the “enemy of society.” Anarchists will enjoy it immensely, while State Socialists can, as in a mirror, see a perfect reflection of their own tactics and methods.
“The Socialism of Bellamy or Gronlund,” says J. W. Sullivan, “I doubt not, would bountifully feed all, thoroughly teach all.” A serious mistake, this. The probability is rather that the Jewish Bible, the Nationalist Bible (“Looking Backward”), and the writings of Gronlund would be the only “literature” authorized in the schools of the Bismarckian Commonwealth, if not the only kind tolerated. Would Gronlund allow the teaching of the doctrines which he calls “enthroned lies” and which would certainly prevent the hoped-for realization of “unanimity in morals and religious belief”? And we must not forget that all modern progressive scientists, philosophers, and sociologists are under the ban as disseminators of wicked and pernicious falsehoods.
Those two reactionary organs of military government, the “Workmen’s Advocate” and the “Freiheit,” seem surprised at what I wrote in the “Twentieth Century” in explanation of “Why I am an Anarchist,” which again shows that I am right in thinking that the agitators for the new slavery know nothing and understand nothing. They have been reading Liberty for years, and still they are unable to grasp the true Anarchistic position. This ignorance, however, does not prevent them from denouncing me, with foam on the lips, as a bourgeois and capitalist hireling. I beg to express my thanks for the honor. Experience has shown that the greatest compliment a logical thinker and independent man can get from the State Socialistic and Communistic would-be inquisitors is to be excommunicated as a bourgeois and traitor.
A governmentalist editor, taking for his text the words of the poet, “Oh, talk not of bloodshed and hateful war, a book and a ballot are better by far,” writes earnestly of the necessity of spreading intelligence and the use of the “book” in order to purify and elevate the ballot. Perhaps the poet may be excused his thoughtlessness on the ground that there is at least rhyme in his words if not reason, but surely the prose editor ought to know that the ballot is only a covert form of “hateful war” and device to avoid actual bloodshed by estimating the probable consequences of a conflict and acting accordingly; and that, therefore, to talk of a book and a ballot is blank nonsense, since the use of the book leads to the disuse of the ballot. Those who learn to appreciate the potency of intellectual and moral force never stoop to conquer their non-aggressive fellows by the physical force of the ballot.
Gronlund admonishes Spencer and other evolutionary philosophers that contract is not the most perfect ideal of society and that the future condition will be again one resting on status. It is not necessary to analyze Gronlund’s conception of status and contract in order to refute his social theories. It is sufficient to call attention to the fact that the Nationalists do not propose to wait for the spontaneous development of the new condition of status, but seek to force an artificial scheme of their own upon society at a time when the régime of contract has not yet fully pervaded all its departments and has not made it ripe for any higher stage. Let us first have the perfect condition of contract; then we shall decide about further progressive action. We do not choose to rely upon Gronlund’s intimacy with the power behind evolution and will not submit to a forcible transplantation into a system which we in our blindness think infinitely worse than the present.
I find the following in the organ of the State Socialists (Italics mine): “The Socialists and Nationalists are engaged in a practical fight for the emancipation of labor upon the lines marked out by social evolution. They have repeatedly refuted the assertions and assumptions of their theoretical opponents, which the latter are nevertheless reiterating with the persistency of a Proudhonian parrot or a Georgian cockatoo. Such is, for instance, the bald falsehood that Socialism means compulsion and would destroy all individuality; whereas it has been victoriously shown that there can be no liberty and no individuality outside of Socialism. To further discuss with men so wilfully deaf and blind were a waste of time, and for this reason we advised Socialists and Nationalists to attend to the practical business of making converts among the masses through their own organizations, and let the ‘Radical’ humbugologists indulge in parrot talk to their heart’s content.” If the perspn who wrote this really believes in every word he used, what a poor bigoted fool he is! If he consciously lied, what a contemptible demagogue he must be!
It was all very well for Stuart to get all the comfort he could from his Pickwickian discovery of the “straight-Anarchists” species. He either was really too confused to understand the fundamental principles of Anarchism, or else be deliberately acted upon the “divide and conquer” rule. But to find that he has actually succeeded in imposing upon some Anarchists to the extent of making them soberly discuss alleged differences between “philosophic” and “straight” Anarchists is not a little disappointing. In truth, the person who talks of unlimited liberty and absence of all restraint is simply a poor reasoner who does not know what the Anarchistic position is. And no one who has this knowledge will be innocent enough to flatter the Stuartian protégés by his attention. The only thing to do with the so-called straights is to hand them some Anarchistic reading-matter and persuade them to benefit by a little quiet study. And the only thing to say to those who, like the writer in the “Individualist” signing “B,” tell you that the “philosophies” have all the arguments and the “straights” all the facts is that they do not know what they are talking about.
An Enemy of Society.
A large old-fashioned room in Captain Horster’s house. An open folding-door in the background leads to an anteroom. Three windows, left. About the middle of the opposite wall is a small platform seat, and on it a small table, two candles, a bottle of water, and a bell. The rest of the room is lighted by sconces placed between the windows. Left, near the front of the stage, is a table with a light on it, and by it a chair. In front, to the right, a door, and near it a few chairs. Large meeting of all classes of townsfolk. In the crowd are a few women and school-boys. More and more people stream in, until the room is quite full.
1st Citizen (to another standing near him). So you’re here too, Lamstad?
2nd Citizen. I always go to every meeting.
A Bystander. I suppose you’ve brought your whistle?
2nd Citizen. Of course I have; haven’t you?
3rd Citizen. Rather. And Skipper Evensen said he should bring a great big horn.
2nd Citizen. What a fellow that Evensen is! (Laughter among the group of Citizens.)
4th Citizen (joining them.) I say, what’s it all about? What’s going on here tonight?
2nd Citizen. Why it’s Dr. Stockmann who is going to give a lecture against the Burgomaster.
4th Citizen. But the Burgomaster’s his brother.
1st Citizen. That doesn’t matter. Dr. Stockmann isn’t afraid, he isn’t.
3rd Citizen. But he’s all wrong; they said so in the “People’s Messenger.”
2nd Citizen. Yes, he must be wrong this time, neither the Householders’ Association nor the Citizens’ Club would let him have a hall.
1st Citizen. They wouldn’t even let him have a hall at the Baths.
2nd Citizen. No, you may be sure they wouldn’t.
A man (in another group). Now, whom are we to go with in this affair? Hm!
Another Man (in the same group). You just stick to Printer Aslaksen, and do what he does.
Billing (with a portfolio writing-case under his arm, makes his way through the crowd). Excuse me, gentlemen. Will you allow me to pass? I am going to report for the “Messenger.” A thousand thanks. (Sits by table r.)
A Working-man. Who’s he?
Another Working-man. Don’t you know him? That’s Billing, who writes for Aslaksen’s paper.
(Captain Horster enters, leading in Mrs. Stockmann and Petra by the right-hand door. Ejlif and Morten follow them.)
Horster. I think you’ll all be comfortable here. You can easily slip out if anything should happen.
Mrs. Stockmann. Do you think there will be any trouble? Horster. One can never tell — with such a crowd. But do sit down, and don’t be anxious.
Mrs. Stockmann (sitting down). Ah! it was good of you to let Stockmann have this room.
Horster. Well, as no one else would, I —
Petra (who has also seated herself). And it was brave, too, Horster.
Horster. Shouldn’t think it needed much courage.
(Hovstad and Aslaksen enter at the same moment, but make their way through the crowd separately.)
Aslaksen (going towards Horster). Hasn’t the doctor come yet?
Horster. He’s waiting in there. (Movement at the door in the background.)
Hovstad (to Billing). There’s the Burgomaster, look! Billing. Yes, God bless me, if he hasn’t come to the fore after all!
(Burgomaster Stockmann makes his way blandly through the meeting, bows politely, and stands by the wall L. Immediately after, Dr. Stockmann enters from 1st R. Entrance. He is carefully dressed in frock-coat and white waist-coat. Faint applause, met by a subdued hiss. Then silence.)
Dr. Stockmann (in a low tone). Well, how do you feel, Katrine?
Mrs. Stockmann. Oh! I am all right. (In a low voice.) Now do, tor once, keep your temper, Thomas.
Dr. Stockmann. Oh! I can control myself well enough, dear. (Looks at his watch, ascends the raised platform, and bows.) It is a quarter past the time, so I will begin.
Aslaksen. But I suppose a chairman must be elected first. Dr. Stockmann. No; there’s not the least necessity for that
Several Gentlemen (shouting). Yes, yes.
Burgomaster. I am also of opinion that a chairman should be elected.
Dr. Stockmann. But I have called this meeting to give a lecture, Peter!
Burgomaster. A lecture concerning the Baths may very possibly lead to divergence of opinion.
Several Voices in the crowd. A chairman! a chairman! Hovstad. The general desire of the meeting seems to be for a chairman.
Dr. Stockmann (controlling himself). Very well, then; let the meeting have its will.
Aslaksen. Will not the Burgomaster take the chair?
Three Gentlemen (clapping). Bravo! Bravo!
Burgomaster. For several reasons, which I am sure you will understand, I must decline. But, fortunately, we have here in our midst one whom I think we all can accept. I allude to the president of the Householders’ Association, Mr. Aslaksen.
Many Voices. Yes, yes! Long live Aslaksen! Three cheers for Aslaksen!
(Dr. Stockmann takes his MS. and descends from the platform.)
Aslaksen. If I am called upon by the confidence of my fellow-citizens, I shall not be unwilling to —
(Applause and cheers. Aslaksen ascends the platform.) Billing (writing). So — “Mr. Aslaksen was elected with acclamation — ”
Aslaksen. And now, as I have been called to the chair, I take the liberty of saying a few brief words. I am a quiet, peace-loving man; I am in favor of discreet moderation, and of — and of moderate discretion. That everyone who knows me, knows.
Many Voices. Yes, yes, Aslaksen!
Aslaksen. I have learnt in the school of life and of experience that moderation is the virtue which best becomes a citizen —
Burgomaster. Hear, hear!
Aslaksen. — and it is discretion and moderation, too, that best serve the community. I will therefore beg our respected fellow-citizen who has called this meeting to reflect upon this and to keep within the bounds of moderation.
A Man (by the door). Three cheers for the Moderation Society.
A Voice. Go to the devil.
Voices. Hush! hush!
Aslaksen. No interruptions, gentlemen! Does anyone wish to offer any observations?
Burgomaster. Mr. Chairman!
Aslaksen. Burgomaster Stockmann will address the meeting.
Burgomaster. In consideration of my close relationship — of which you are probably aware — to the gentleman who is at present medical officer to the Baths, I should very much have preferred not to speak here this evening. But the position I hold at the Baths, and my anxiety with regard to matters of the utmost importance to the town, force me to move a resolution. I may, no doubt, assume that not a single citizen here present thinks it desirable that unreliable and exaggerated statements as to the sanitary condition of the Baths and the town should be disseminated over a wider area.
Many Voices. No, no, certainly not. We protest. Burgomaster. I therefore beg to move, “That this meeting refuses to hear the medical officer of the Baths either lecture or speak upon the subject.”
Dr. Stockmann (flaming up). Refuses to hear — what nonsense!
Mrs. Stockmann (coughing). Hm! hm!
Dr. Stockmann (controlling himself). Then I’m not to be heard.
Burgomaster. In my statement in the “People’s Messenger” I have made the public acquainted with the most essential facts, so that all well-disposed citizens can easily draw their own conclusions. You will see from this that the medical officer’s proposal — besides being a vote of censure against the leading men of the town — at bottom only means saddling the rate-paying inhabitants of the town with an unnecessary expense of at least a hundred thousand crowns. (Noise and some hissing.)
Aslaksen (ringing the bell). Order, gentlemen! I must take the liberty of supporting the Burgomaster’s resolution. It is also my opinion there is something beneath the surface of the doctor’s agitation. He speaks of the Baths, but it is a revolution he is trying to bring about; he wants to place the municipal government of the town in other hands. No one doubts the intentions of Dr. Stockmann — God forbid! there can’t be two opinions as to that. I, too, am in favor of self-government by the people, if only the cost do not fall too heavily upon the rate-payers. But in this case it would do so, and for this reason I — d — n it all — I beg your pardon — I cannot go with Dr. Stockmann upon this occasion. You can buy even gold at too high a price; that’s my opinion. (Loud applause on all sides.)
Hovstad. I also feel bound to explain my attitude. In the beginning, Dr. Stockmann’s agitation found favor in several quarters, and I supported it as impartially as I could. But when we found we had allowed ourselves to be misled by a false statement —
Dr. Stockmann. False!
Hovstad. Well, then, a somewhat unreliable statement. The Burgomaster’s report has proved this. I trust no one here present doubts my liberal principles; the attitude of the "Messenger” on all great political questions is well known to you all. But I have learnt from experienced and thoughtful men that in purely local matters a paper must observe a certain amount of caution.
Aslaksen. I quite agree with the speaker.
Hovstad. And in the matter under discussion it is evident that Dr. Stockmann has public opinion against him. But, gentlemen, what is the first and foremost duty of an editor? Is it not to work in harmony with his readers? Has he not in some sort received a silent mandate to further assiduously and unweariedly the well-being of his constituents? or am I mistaken in this?
Many Voices.. No, no, no! Hovstad is right.
Hovstad. It has cost me a bitter struggle to break with a man in whose house I have of late been a frequent guest — with a man who up to this day has enjoyed the universal goodwill of his fellow-citizens — with a man whose only, or at any rate, whose chief fault is that he consults his heart rather than his bead.
A few scattered voices. That’s true! Three cheers for Dr. Stockmann!
Hovstad. But my duty towards the community has forced me to break with him. Then, too, there is another consideration that compels me to oppose him, to stay him if possible from the fatal descent upon which he is entering: consideration for his family —
Dr. Stockmann. Keep to the water-works and the sewers!
Hovstad. — consideration for his wife and his unprovided-for children.
Morten. Is that us, mother?
Mrs. Stockmann. Hush!
Aslaksen. I will now put the Burgomaster’s resolution to the vote.
Dr. Stockmann. It is not necessary. I haven’t the slightest Intention of speaking of all the filth at the Baths. No! You shall hear something quite different.
Burgomaster (aside). What nonsense has he got hold of now?
A Drunken Man (at the main entrance). I’m a duly qualified ratepayer! And so I’ve a right to my opinion! My full, firm opinion is that —
Several Voices. Silence, up there.
Others. He’s drunk! Turn him out!
(The drunken man is put out.)
Dr. Stockmann. Can I speak?
Aslaksen (ringing the bell). Dr. Stockmann will address the meeting.
Dr. Stockmann. I should have liked to see anyone, but a few days ago, dare to make such an attempt to gag me as has been made here tonight! I would then have fought like a lion in defence of my holiest rights as a man. But now all this is quite indifferent to me, for now I have more important things to speak of. (The people crowd closer round him. Morten Kiil is now seen among the bystanders. Dr. Stockmann continues.) During the last few days I have thought, reflected much, have pondered upon so many things, till, at last, my head seemed to be in a whirl —
Burgomaster (coughing). Hm!
Dr. Stockmann. — but then I began to see things clearly; then I saw to the very bottom of the whole matter. And that is why I stand here this evening. I am about to make a great revelation to you, fellow-citizens! I am going to disclose that to you which is of infinitely more moment than the unimportant fact that our water-works are poisonous, and that our Hygienic Baths are built upon a soil teeming with pestilence.
Many Voices (shouting). Don’t speak about the Baths! We won’t listen to that! Shut up about that!
Dr. Stockmann. I have said I should speak of the great discovery I have made within the last few days — the discovery that all our spiritual sources of life are poisoned, and that our whole bourgeois society rests upon a soil teeming with the pestilence of lies.
Several Voices (in astonishment and half aloud). What is he saying?
Burgomaster. Such an insinuation —
Aslaksen (with hand on bell). I must call upon the speaker to moderate his expressions.
Dr. Stockmann. I have loved my native town as dearly as man could love the home of his childhood. I was not old when I left our town, and distance, privations, and memory threw, as it were, a strange glamour over the town and its people. (Some clapping and cheers of approval.) Then for years I found myself stranded in an out-of-the-way corner in the North. Whenever I met any of the poor folk who lived there, hemmed in by rocks, it seemed to me, many a time, that it would have been better for these poor degraded creatures if they had had a cattle doctor to attend them instead of a man like me. (Murmurs in the room.)
Billing (laying down his pen). God bless me! but I’ve never heard —
Hovstad. It is an insult to an estimable peasantry.
Dr. Stockmann. One moment! I do not think anyone can reproach me with forgetting my native town up there. I brooded over my eggs like an eider duck, and what I hatched — were plans for the Baths here. (Applause and interruptions). And when, at last, after a long time, fate arranged all things so well and happily for me that I could come home again — then, fellow-citizens, it seemed to me that I hadn’t another wish upon earth. Yes; I had the one ardent, constant, burning desire to be useful to the place of my birth, and to the people.
Burgomaster (looking into vacancy.) The method is rather extraordinary — hm!
Dr. Stockmann. And when I came here I rejoiced blindly in my happy illusions. But yesterday morning — no, it was really two evenings ago — the eyes of my mind were opened wide, and the first thing I saw was the extraordinary stupidity of the authorities.
(Noise, cries, and laughter. Mrs. Stockmann coughs zealously.)
Burgomaster. Mr. Chairman!
Aslaksen (ringing bell). In virtue of my office — !
Dr. Stockmann. It is mean to catch me up on a word, Mr. Aslaksen. I only meant that I became aware of the extraordinary muddling of which the leading men hare been guilty down there at the Baths. I detest leading men — I’to seen enough of these gentry in my time. They are like goats in a young plantation: they do harm everywhere; they stand in the path of a free man wherever he turns — and I should be glad if we could exterminate them like other noxious animals — (Uproar in the room.)
Burgomaster. Mr. Chairman, can such an expression be permitted?
Aslaksen (with one hand on shelf). Doctor Stockmann — !
Dr. Stockmann. I can’t conceive how it is that I only now have seen through these gentry; for haven’t I had a magnificent example before my eyes daily here in the town — my brother Peter — slow in grasping new ideas, tenacious in prejudice —
(Laughter, noise, and whistling. Mrs. Stockmann coughs. Aslaksen rings violently.)
The Drunken Man (who has come in again). Do you mean me? Sure enough, my name is Petersen, but d — n me if —
Angry Voices. Out with that drunken man. Turn him out.
(The man is again turned out.)
Burgomaster. Who is that person?
A Bystander. I don’t know him, Burgomaster.
Another. He doesn’t belong to this town.
A Third. Probably he’s a loafer from — (The rest is inaudible).
Aslaksen. The man was evidently intoxicated with Bavarian beer. Continne, Dr. Stockmann, but do strive to be moderate.
Dr. Stockmann. Well, fellow-citizens, I will say no more about our leading men. If anyone imagines, from what I have said here, that I want to exterminate these gentlemen tonight, he is mistaken — altogether mistaken. For I cherish the comforting belief that these laggards, these old remnants of a decaying world of thought, are doing this admirably for themselves. They need no doctor’s help to hasten their end. Nor, indeed, is it this sort of people that are the most serious danger of society; it is not they who are the most effective in poisoning our spiritual life or making pestilential the ground beneath our feet; it is not they who are the most dangerous enemies of truth and freedom in our society.
Cries from all sides. Who, then? Who is it? Name, name!
Dr. Stockmann. Yes, you may be sure I will name them! For this is the great discovery I made yesterday! (In a louder tone.) The most dangerous enemies of truth and freedom in our midst are the compact majority. Yes, the d — d, compact, liberal majority — they it is! Now you know it.
(Immense noise in the room. Most are shouting, stamping, and whistling. Several elderly gentlemen exchange stolen glances and seem amused. Mrs. Stockmann rises nervously. Ejlif and Morten advance threateningly towards the schoolboys, who are making a noise. Aslaksen rings the bell and calls for order. Hovstad and Billing both speak, but nothing can be heard. At last quiet is restored.)
[To be concluded.]
Welcome the Whirlwind!
Enclosed in “The Political World and The Free Life” comes to me the following unique prospectus, which at first reading arouses a suspicion of satire, but is issued, I have no doubt, in thorough earnest and betokens the advent of one more journal looking Anarchy ward:
A Lively and Eccentric Newspaper,
will be published weekly, price one penny, as the organ of the Hon. Stuart Erskine and Mr. Herbert Vivian.
There has hitherto been no periodical professing absolutely sound views on all the topics of the day, in Politics, History, Religion, Art, Literature, Philosophy, and the Ethics of Society.
The long felt want we propose to supply by publishing No. I of “The Whirlwind” on June 17.
In Politics we shall be Individualists, instantly protesting against the encroaching tyranny of “our grandmother, the State”; unswerving advocates of Nationalism [Nationalism in England has nothing in common with American Nationalism, alias Bellamism. — Editor Liberty], Peace, and Free Trade, as well as Economists, Reformers, and True Liberals. We are in favor of the principle of Voluntary Taxation. In a word, we propose to Re-establish the Old Manchester School of politics.
We shall uphold the rights and liberties of Monarchy and the Multitude against the unbridled usurpations of an unscrupulous oligarchy, and we shall demand Real Representation for the People by frequent Parliaments, Proportional Representation, and the Referendum.
We shall oppose Vaccination and Vivisection, as well as Female, Childhood, or Doghood Suffrage, Hypocrisy, Whiggery, and Waste.
In History we shall be zealous Legitimists and Jacobites, proclaiming the cause of true kingship, controverting mendacious historians, such as Macaulay and Carlyle, and establishing the truth at first hand by means of original documents.
In Religion we shall be Eclectic, searching diligently after truth, Investigating the Occult, and denouncing intolerance.
In Art we shall adhere to The Impressionist School, and we are making arrangements to supply inspired criticisms by One of the Impressionist Masters.
In surveying Literature and The Drama we shall be Vingtième Siècle; in Philosophy we shall be Epicurean; our Sporting Articles will arouse controversy; and our chronicles of Social Functions will be uniquely accurate.
Our Style will be breezy and terse, our Audacity Unprecedented. No abuse will be too high or mighty to escape our censure. All great men will be either Interviewed or Lampooned by members of our staff. Above all things we mean to be eccentric, original, and Indiscreet.
We trust that all who sympathize with any of our aims and objects, even if only with that of being a lively and eccentric newspaper, will give us the benefit of their assistance, either (1) — which is most important of all — by at once sending or promising us A Year's Subscription,— this will be encouraging us to additional enterprise in the production and advertisement of Number One; (2) by distributing copies of this circular and persuading friends to subscribe; (3) by contributing original literary matter, which, if used, will be paid for; (4) by sending us the names of persons who sympathize with any of the views above set forth; or (5) by abusing, vilifying, and misrepresenting us in the public press.
Six Shillings and Sixpence may be forwarded for a Year’s Subscription to “The Whirlwind,” either to Herbert Vivian, Esq., 9 Down Street, Piccadilly, London, W., or to the Hon. Stuart Erskine, 12 A, Victoria Square, London, S. W.
The annual Subscription is 6s. 6d., but those preferring to compound with a lump sum of £5 will receive the paper free for life.
Those giving orders for three or more Annual Subscriptions will receive ten per cent. discount for cash.
State-less Existence Easily Imagined.
[Arthur Hughes in The Free Life.]
Why is it impossible to imagine men without a government? Let the reader look into his past life, let him summon the memory of his happiest hours, will he not find that those hours were hours in which he had forgotten that there were any such things as elections, any such men as candidates for Parliament? What connection has poetry with politics? What inherent need has art for the existence of the State? Cannot literature and science flourish in the absence of an educational department? And who would accept the definition of his happiness from a statesman? Which of us would submit to be told by any majority what it is we ought to like or dislike? If it be true that every great movement began with the minority of one, that every fresh poet, every original thinker, and probably every great man was not allowed to be what he was, till he had outlived neglect or opposition, and, as it were, forced men to reconsider and change their verdict of true and false, great and insignificant; if such facts be facts, then is it not simply a fool’s paradise, in which we live, when we hand ourselves over, body and soul, to the control of the greatest number?
Beauties of Government.
[Clippings from the Press.]
Washington, D. C., June 14. Commissioner Douglass says, speaking of the intention of the commissioners to stop the ball game tomorrow: “I thought it would shock the country to learn that such a thing as Sunday base ball was permitted at the national capital. If we had been unsuccessful in finding a law, I should have done my utmost to manufacture one.”
“You found a law, then?”
“Yes, we did. The old common law of England held that the Christian religion was a part of the common law, and when the first settlers came to this country they brought the common law with them. You know that it is against the Christian religion to play ball on Sunday, for on its face it is a violation of the fourth commandment. That is the law we operated upon in this case.”
The Washington Base Ball Club determined tonight not to contend with the district commissioners, but to go over into Virginia and play on a neighboring racetrack.
Lowell, June 10. The vestry and wardens of St. Anne's Church sent to the city council tonight a remonstrance against the taking of the whole or any part of the land on which the orphanage connected with that church is situated for a new high school. The committee on education submitted a report, under suspension of the rules, designating the land in question as a proper site for a high school, and recommended that measures be taken for seizing under the law.
Milford, June 8. What promises to open quite a scandal here was instituted last evening in the arrest by Deputy Sheriff Edwards and Constable George F. Birch of William Wilson, book-keeper for the large trucking and teaming firm of Johnston & Co., Milford, for alleged seduction of a Milford girl under the statutory age of consent.
Dublin, June 10. Mr. Tully, editor of the Roscommon “Herald,” has been convicted under the crimes act of publishing an article denouncing land-grabbers, and has been sentenced to three months' imprisonment without bard labor.
Berlin, June 16. Prof. Leyden has decided that all the patients in the Berlin hospitals suffering from internal affections shall be photographed, in order to preserve a record of their facial distortions, and thereby judge of the similarity of symptoms, and thus of the similarity of pain.
Berlin, June 15. A petition signed by 20,000 hand weavers in Silesia has been presented to Emperor William praying for the repeal of the existing corn law and the revocation of the prohibition on foreign cheap pork. As a reason for this the petition declares that the family of an average weaver numbering four persons, all working at home 14 hours per day, can earn only 8 marks each week, and as meat and bread are so high in price they are seldom able to indulge in either, but are forced to live almost entirely upon potatoes.
Washington, D. C., June 10. Senator Edmunds introduced a bill today providing that all funds or other property lately belonging to, or in the possession, or claimed by, the corporation of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, to which it shall appear there is no lawful private right, shall be devoted to the benefit of public common schools in Utah, the money to be disposed of by the secretary of the interior in such manner as shall seem to him to be most expedient.
Spandau, June 15. Several thousand workmen employed in the royal Prussian factories refuse to pay the taxes that have been levied upon them on the plea that, being now working eight hours instead of 14, as formerly, they are unable to make the same wages, and consequently a reduction of taxes is absolutely necessary, otherwise they will be unable to live.
Halifax, N. S., June 7. Pickford & Black, agents for the steamer Harlawa, today received a telegram from Capt. Farquhar, stating that he had arrivtd at Bay St. George, N. F., and that the customs authorise: had refused to allow him to land his cargo for that place. The reason given was that the people refused to pay any customs duties on goods coming into the country. The Harlawa had to proceed on her voyage without having landed any of her freight for the Bay St. George people.
“L” writes in the Boston “Transcript”:
A laboring man was walking quietly home about ten o’clock one evening, when, in a rather retired spot, two men suddenly sprang from the shelter of some trees and attacked and overpowered him. Taken entirely by surprise and not knowing what it meant, he exclaimed, “You must have made a mistake, I’m not the man you were expecting.” “That’s all right,” they replied, “you just come along with us to the lock-up,” and to his surprise he found that his assailants were not highwaymen but policemen, “guardians of the public safety,” who had arrested him on the charge of drunkenness. Notwithstanding his innocence, they took him to the lock-up where he was kept all night. He requested them to telephone at once to his employers, but they refused on the plea of having no time.
The next morning he was taken to court and having no defence but his own word, he was convicted of drunkenness, under oath of the policeman, who was chiefly instrumental in his arrest, and fined a sum which the proceeds of a week’s labor would not cover. Being unacquainted with the working of the law, he did not as he might have done, appeal to a higher court, and could only submit to what he knew to be an unjust sentence. But this was not the worst. He had not sufficient money about him to pay his fine nor could he communicate immediately with his friends. So, conscious of his powerlessness as well as his innocence, he was handcuffed, chained to another man and so taken through the public streets and then by train to a neighboring town to jail. Fortunately his friends succeeded in reaching him in time to pay his fine and release him at once.
On investigating the matter later it was found that the policeman was a worthless man, held In his place on political grounds, and as he received a certain sum for every drunkard he arrested, was particularly active in this branch of his duties.
An attempt was made to sue him for damages, but it proved that, having had similar experience before, he had put his property out of his hands and no satisfaction could be obtained. A lawyer who was consulted advised taking no further steps in the matter. “Doubtless the man had been wronged,” he said “but justice is an expensive article and such cases are not at all rare.”
“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
Jour Orth, Boston . . . . . . . . 1.00
C. Schulenburg, Detroit. . . . . . . 3.00
The Growth of Liberty in Society.
“A people might utterly abolish and extirpate the State, and yet remain steeped to the lips in socialism of the most revolting type,” affirms Mr. Donisthorpe. And again: “I can imagine a people with the State reduced to a shadow .... and yet so deeply imbued with socialism in all their minor combinations so as to be a nation of petty despots.” It seems to me that the difficulties raised by Mr. Donisthorpe in his last articles do not exist for me precisely because I cannot conceive or imagine that which he considers perfectly possible. Let Mr. Donisthorpe first show us that the State may be destroyed by such an agency as would not necessarily involve the eradication of the idea of coercive government or interference, if he wishes us to become impressed with the seriousness of the situation which be pictures. As long as he does not fulfil that indispensable condition, I can content myself by asserting that he imagines the unimaginable and supposes the impossible. Why, Mr. Donisthorpe, does the State exist? Obviously because millions of people, “mostly fools,” believe its existence beneficial. Very naturally, when these same people form smaller combinations for purposes which the State is unable or unwilling to engage to accomplish, they adopt the same principles that they admire in the theory and practice of the State. The abolition of the external State must be preceded by the decay of the notions which breathe life and vigor into that clumsy monster. In other words, it is only when the people learn to value liberty and to understand the truths of the Anarchistic philosophy that the question of practically abolishing the State looms up and acquires significance.
Mr. Donisthorpe furnishes a solution of his own problem in the fact which he communicates. “On the committee of a club to which I belong,” he writes, “we bad a long and stormy discussion as to whether billiards should be permitted on Sundays. In nineteen out of twenty clubs it is disallowed. The individualists predominated, and the result is that those who do not want to play can refrain; they are not compelled to play. Those who wish to play are not compelled to refrain.” This means that the individualists of the club have abolished the State for themselves. They would not be petty despots under an Anarchistic régime, because they abhor tyranny in all its forms and cherish liberty. I can assure Mr. Donisthorpe that all the Anarchists I am acquainted with are likewise entirely above suspicion of being tainted in the slightest degree with authoritarianism. He will admit doubtless that a real individualist is distinguished for his rebellious opposition to any and all forms of tyranny, and that he can no more help applying his general principles to cases arresting his attention than using his eyes when walking. On the other hand, those who do not think they “would do wisely to widen their liberties” in their clubs are not the class from whose ranks recruits for battle with the State are drawn. It is impossible to intelligently favor liberty in one thing and cling to despotism in all other things. If liberty is felt and understood to be good in one thing, it must be soon extended to the others. To tie sure, there are many inconsistent people who argue most persuasively for liberty in one relation and persistently turn a deaf ear to those who make the same arguments easily yield larger generalizations; but in these cases we evidently have to do, not with persons possessed of a guilty love for meddling, but with weak intellects who need enlightenment. And is it not to instruct such that we are here? Citizens’ liberties and club-members’ liberties will be widened simultaneously and gradually. And this is how it must come about. The thorough Anarchists and individualists will grow in numbers; the body of “sympathizers” and supporters will increase as a consequence; the popularity of Anarchistic ideas will spread and extend among the elements of the community contributing the largest share to the formation of public opinion as a farther consequence. One by one the obnoxious laws will have to be repealed, and one by one the stupid notions restricting social intercourse will be abandoned. Practical freedom in political life, in social life, in industrial life, in domestic life, must all result from the same theoretical propaganda in the interest of liberty which we are coöperatively carrying on. When the last illiberal statute on the books shall be wiped out, the last vestige of social and domestic tyranny will be found to have disappeared. One lie supports another. The defeat of one leads to the defeat of all. But we must attack and overcome the industrial lie first of all; attention is concentrated upon the subject, and we must improve the opportunity. V. Y.
“Words, Words, Words.”
The anonymous paragrapher of the Denver “Individualist” writes:
If Victor Yarros says, or insinuates, that Herbert Spencer is careless of his philosophical dignity; or is changing his views in order to “recover the esteem of the pillars of modern society,” or fails in his reasoning; which is the more reasonable conclusion, that Herbert Spencer is either a knave or a fool, as charged, or that Victor Yarros is — mistaken?
The most charitable interpretation I can put upon this deliverance is that it means nothing and was not intended to mean anything. Of course it is not pleasant to have to conclude that an organ of philosophical Anarchism is so unmindful of its responsibilities and so ignorant of what it owes to itself, to its cause, and to its readers that it allows meaningless and pointless word-combinations in its editorial columns; but any other conjectural explanation would put the paper in a still more unenviable light. If the author of the above knows anything, he must know that, if Spencer does not fail in his reasoning, Anarchism is wrong, and the Anarchist movement a blunder; and that the Anarchists, as such, cannot but regard Spencer (with whom they are so much in accord) as either mistaken or insincere (not necessarily either a knave or a fool, as is absurdly intimated in the meaningless paragraph) in those of his opinions which the Anarchists find themselves utterly unable to accept. In my editorial article in criticism of Spencer I reiterated the well-known Anarchistic objection to his defence of authoritarianism within a certain ill-defined sphere and convicted him of a flagrantly unreasonable and unfair treatment of a subject which he knows to be in a very unsettled state. My critic, if he had written with a purpose, would have realized that, unless he could really prove my charge unjust or erroneous, nothing remained for him but to concur in my verdict or to harbor his doubts and suspend judgment pending the appearance of new evidence.
In the same issue, in answer to a correspondent complaining about the disappearance of Spencer’s “First Principle” from the masthead of the paper, one of the editors (perhaps the same, in a different mood) states that the said “first principle" is not “the only formulated statement of the law of equal freedom upon which is erected the Anarchist edifice,” since Spencer manages to deduce from it “land-nationalization and other decidedly governmental reforms.” He further explains that to the believer in liberty the “principle” means liberty, and to the governmentalist it means restriction, and is therefore “useless as a guide,” — a fact, by the way, to which I was the first to call attention, in my controversy with Stuart. Well, now, what I might ask is this: Does the editor consider Spencer a fool or a knave when be frowns upon his “decidedly governmental reforms” and rejects his first principle as a guide? Of course he would properly reply that he accuses him of neither, but that he simply disagrees with him in some conclusions. Yet this is just what I said; and I assure the editor that a careful perusal of my criticism will show him that I had sufficient ground for my “insinuation” respecting Spencer’s sacrifice of consistency or philosophical dignity.
In conclusion I will add, in justice to myself, that the “Individualist” does not need to remind me of our indebtedness to Herbert Spencer, and that I have done considerably more than its editors to elucidate the exact nature of the relation between Spencerian sociology and Anarchism. They can find much that will sustain this assertion if they will do me the honor to read my series of lectures now in course of publication in these columns. V. Y.
I repeat: this is the whole Nationalist case. Nothing more, nothing less. To people familiar with the canons of scientific reasoning, the mere statement of the case is enough to insure its contemptuous dismissal. But it may not be amiss to patiently expose its inherent weakness. Referring again to the economic argument, we need only point out that it is not true that ours is an individualistic society; it is not true that the utmost freedom of competition obtains; it is not true that productive and distributive functions are almost wholly independent of governmental control: it is not true that the ruling principle in our system is, To the victor in the struggle for existence belong the spoils. Our system is but semi-individualistic. It is burdened with huge legalized monopolies, which crush competition and make it one-sided. Industry and commerce are not free: it is sufficient to mention government interference in banking, currency issue, inventions, and international exchange. Hence the evils afflicting modern society cannot be attributed to “individualistic society,” for no such thing has yet existed. An individualistic industrial order would mean the total absence of all titles to land except that of personal occupancy and use; the total absence of all laws restricting the issue of currency by private associations; the total absence of tariff and patent legislation. Only the poverty and involuntary idleness that existed under such conditions could be reasonably ascribed to the very principle of individualism. What the evils enumerated are due to, has not been successfully shown by the Nationalists, and hence any deduction as to the direction which reform ought to take is for them premature and illegitimate. The real individualists, deploring these evils and seeking to remove them, denounce the present order and trace all the disturbances to artificial monopolies created by class governments in direct and often deliberate violation of the principle of industrial liberty. When the arbitrary and ignorant assumptions of the Nationalists clash with this solid fact, they dissolve into nothingness.
Still more empty and puerile are the ethical views of the Nationalists. No thinking man cares to know what they recognize and refuse to recognize, admit or decline to admit. He insists on something resembling scientific demonstration when the glittering generalities about the social organism and the duty of mutual support are offered him. It is now well understood that scientific sociology does not as yet warrant any rigorous practical laws of social organization, and that such principles as it affords are mainly derived from general biological and psychological laws. Notions of theologians and novelists count for nothing if they are plainly opposed to the general laws of life and development. That scientific sociologists are all strenuously of the opinion that humanity would decay and die under a system enforcing equality of enjoyment regardless of quantity and quality of service rendered, cannot be denied. Comte and Spencer are emphatic and explicit on this point. In his chapters on “Justice” Spencer demonstrates that the denial of the distinction between the ethics of the family and the ethics of the State, and the compulsory organization of society on the Communistic principle, “To each according to his needs, from each according to his capacities,” must eventuate in the decay and death of the society adopting this course. And it is of no avail to attempt to overcome their facts and logic by sentimental effusions about love and fraternity, and by taking offence at their alleged insult to human nature. Doubtless the possibilities of man’s progress, mentally and morally, are great; but, in the first place, the goal of development is not the first conscious step; and, in the second place, it is, at best, still an open question whether progress will ever culminate in any such condition as the Nationalists and Communists contemplate. But, were I to grant, for the sake of the argument, that society is destined to reach a state in which the ethics of the family — that is, the Communistic principles — and the ethics of the society should be identical, the fact remains that at present, and for a long time to come, Proudhon’s words will be pertinent: “In vain do you talk to me of fraternity and love; I remain convinced that you love me but little, and I feel very sure that I do not love you. Your friendship is but a feint, and, if you love me, it is from self-interest. I ask all that my products cost me, and only what they cost me: why do you refuse me? .... To each according to his works, first; and if, on occasion, I am impelled to aid you, I will do it with a good grace; but I will not be constrained. To constrain me to sacrifice is to assassinate me.” Who does not know that the more benevolent and charitable a person is, when acting freely and spontaneously, the less inclined he is to submit to compulsion in such matters. Nothing causes sympathy and tenderness to shrivel up so speedily as a formal and direct reliauce upon it. Though seemingly paradoxical, the averment will not fail to be cordially endorsed by students of human nature, that it is precisely the most generous and warm-hearted who insist upon the line being theoretically drawn between simple justice and love; and it is the most selfish and unfeeling who forever prate about the higher bond of love uniting humanity. To decree love is to kill solidarity and mutuality.
Never was the adage that “a little knowledge is dangerous” so well exemplified as in the case of the Nationalists. They have heard educated men employ the word organism with reference to society, and, without understanding the sense and bearing of the application, they at once leap to impossible conclusions. Having heard it said that, in a metaphysical sense, self-support is unthinkable in a complex social life, they are ready to obliterate all distinctions between people who toil and reap their own product, and people who expect and demand more than they contribute. Having learned of the distinction between competition and emulation (more verbal than real), they decide to abolish the former and retain the latter. Comment upon these comical blunders is scarcely necessary. Only those who proselytize without studying and speak without thinking can be guilty of such.
By the phrase “society is an organism” nothing more is conveyed than that the development of the individual takes place, not independently of those around him, but in accordance with the physical, mental, and moral conditions of the whole of which he is a part. None can escape, or would benefit by escaping, the social medium. Man is born into a world which is the product of a long past evolution and which is pregnant with the future. In order to satisfy his needs, he must join (and all his training disciplines him for that) that vast coöperative body, humanity. The needs of the body, the needs of the mind, the needs of the heart, all these can be satisfied only by men coöperating in the conquest of external nature and the discovery of natural methods or laws. Man would lose all his distinctive features as man if removed wholly from all social influences. This, I repeat, is all that is implied by the phrase. And in this sense, it would be true of all societies, no matter how constituted. It would be true of a society divided equally between freemen and slaves, and of a society divided into many castes and classes. It is evidently the height of sophistical impudence to impose upon the simple-minded by pretending that this premise necessitates the conclusions of the Nationalists. It no more follows from this fact that industrial liberty ought to be suppressed and free contract between members of society rigorously prohibited than that “freedom of conscience” ought to be denied and a State religion instituted, or a State school of medicine, or a State system of hygiene. If a majority in a country chance to be Catholics, they can claim that the minority have no right to be Protestants, or Agnostics, or Atheists, since society is an organism, and all the parts of an organism must submit to the same law. An organism does not tolerate anarchy of opinion; it knows of no controversies and differences. All obey the brain-tyrant. But in the social organism it is impossible to devise a method of discovering the brain. Everybody claims to be the brain, and to settle the dispute by ballot or bullet is out of the question. Unless our quasi-philosophers are prepared to demand the absolute submission of the minority to the majority, in religion, morality, scientific opinion, and hygiene, they cannot demand the least submission on the ground that society is an organism.
Either society is an organism, or it is not. If it is not, the Nationalists cannot make it one. If it is, in spite of the competition prevailing in industry, religion, science, philosophy, and moral systems, then it is as absurd to demand the enforcing of unanimity in the one department of economic interests as in any other. If it is demanded at all, it must be on entirely different grounds. They must endeavor to show that it would be more reasonable, more expedient, for the people to substitute the Nationalist plan of organization for the system now existing, or to prefer it to any other system known and advocated.
Which brings me to another instance of their striking thoughtlessness. Besides the “social organism” sophism, they have another favorite dodge. They are never weary of talking about the right of the “Nation” to undertake this or manage that; of the reasonableness of the claim that the “Nation” should protect its own interests, etc. Yet all the while what they mean is that the majority should control and manage the affairs of the whole country in utter disregard of the ideas and wishes and interests of the minority. To be sure, the present system recognizes the majority-rule principle within a certain sphere; but this does not free us from the obligation to inquire into the merits of the principle, and still less does it warrant our extension of its operation. At least, let us have no confusion of issue; let us understand that Nationalism squarely opposes the theory of “free government” and advocates the theory of majority rule and minority slavery. To the maxim that the government which interferes least is best, let the one frankly be opposed that the government is best which controls the individual most. To the belief that despotism of the majority is an evil to be vigilantly watched and steadily contracted, the one that individual liberty is an evil and external regulation a thing to be encouraged.
This, however, the majority of them will not be persuaded to do. They will pretend that their system affords the largest scope for individuality and secures greater freedom. They come to save, they say, not to slay; to liberate, not to enslave. But as well might the Shah of Persia or the Czar of Russia assert that his system benefits the people. To allow, to confer freedom, is an absurdity. Freedom knows nothing of superiors and inferiors,— of givers and takers. The motives of the majority are of no consequence in this relation: in permitting the minority to please them, instead of themselves, they do what tyrants of all lands and ages have invariably done. Individuality and freedom for the minority mean, first of all, the opportunity to reject the system of the majority and to pursue happiness in a different way.
Indeed, there can be no better measure-of-value for reformatory proposals than this very question of political despotism. When men at this late day propose a return to a state involving the almost absolute dependence of the minority, to a state of slavery, no matter what they call themselves, they may be put down safely as reactionary obscurantists not only totally unfit to teach us how to improve our condition, but woefully ignorant of their own civilization and behind their own time. More progress must mean less arbitrary authority and more personal liberty.
But, we are told, an ounce of fact is worth a bushel of argument. The manifest tendency toward the Nationalist system observed today is the best practical answer to all the impotent theoretical protests. It is senseless to confound the logic of events with the arbitrary will of men, necessity with compulsion. Nationalism does not “advocate” anything; it merely points out the inevitable: it forewarns and prepares, it does not create or institute. The Nationalists simply read and interpret the signs of the times, and teach the people to intelligently go with the irresistible current rather than uselessly exhaust themselves in the futile endeavor to check its flow. It is neither wise to blame the Nationalists for the character of the facts and events which they only announce, nor is it rational to make wordy war upon natural social tendencies.
Plausible reasoning, no doubt, to those who shrink from analyzing high-sounding phrases and who mistake artifices of language for statements of facts, figures for arguments. But a little clear thought will bring to the surface the superficiality of these imposing phrases. Do the Nationalists mean that they will remain absolutely passive, entirely refrain from putting their shoulder to the wheel, and simply watch the course of events? Or do they intend to “help,” coöperate with, take a hand in, natural progress? Clearly, the latter. They mean to use the ballot (which is physical force in disguise) as a means of “hastening” the revolution brought about by evolution. In other words, they add compulsion to necessity, arbitrary dictation to the logic of events. They are not willing to stand by and wait; they wish to assist,— and they assist by using force upon those who differ from them. Will they (like the innocent maiden who confessed that she had indeed given birth to a child, but pleaded in excuse that it was such a “little one”) reply that their small mite is not of much importance, and that “’twould come” all the same, whether they did or did not offer their services? The rejoinder is ready. In the first place, their interpretation of the meaning of history, their reading of the signs of the times, their conception of the logic of events, are not necessarily correct. In fact, we, and many others, flatly contradict them, and take a precisely opposite view of things. Our interpretation, our reading, lead us to divergent conclusions. What to them seems inevitable, to us seems contingent; what they regard as natural growth, we regard as abnormal deviation due to blundering human action. To their “’twill come,” we say, “not if we can help it.” Because they think their interpretation correct and ours erroneous, have they the right (in reason) to force us to accept theirs or to act as if we accepted it? Was not this the apology of all tyrants?
And here the whole question of fatality versus the melioristic standpoint opens up. To us who believe that man is becoming more and more the master of his destiny, that conscious adaptation is to replace blind, helpless existence, that human opinion is the agency of social evolution (a view held not only by scientific sociologists, but, as we shall see, even by many of the State Socialists themselves), all this talk of tendencies and necessities is more ridiculous than convincing. In social life there are many tendencies, good and evil, permanent and temporary, persistent and transient, and upon our general ideal and philosophy depends our view of these tendencies. To refer to tendencies is cowardly and sophistical. It proves nothing. Each of us has to show that the tendency he cites is the persistent and enduring tendency, and to convince anybody of this it is necessary first to convert him to our general view. For instance, the Nationalists build their economic structure upon the alleged fact that the tendency toward centralization, trusts, and huge corporations is the necessary outcome of competitive production; and, when we object to State monopoly, they sneeringly ask us whether we prefer private monopoly, and then they tell us that, whatever our preferences, “the nation” will certainly declare in favor of the former. This argument is considered wonderfully effective, and the variations upon this theme are infinite. Yet it is convincing only to those who already believe in State monopoly. For our part, we believe the aforesaid tendency to be the result of State interference with finance and industry, and the question is therefore not one of choosing between private monopoly and State monopoly, but one of retaining neither. The tendency does not paralyze us, for we know its cause and how to remove it.
Finally, when we look at the methods of the Nationalists, we find the same utter lack of skill and reason. They demand of the government to nationalize, or monopolize, production and distribution. Has, then, government acquitted itself so well in the discharge of the functions now entrusted to it that we are warranted in increasing its power so immensely? No; the Nationalists are fully alive to the corruption and incompetency of the present government, which they are not slow to roundly denounce. Mr. Bellamy himself has written as follows upon this matter: “It is of course plain that the business departments which the progress of Nationalism will add to the government should be organized on a purely business basis, non-political and non-partisan. By way of preparing the government for its new functions, the complete application of non-partisan principles to the conduct of the purely business departments already under its control should be demanded..... Before the post-office department will be an entirely satisfactory argument for the practicability of Nationalism, we must root politics out of it. Good men of all parties have long opposed the spoils doctrine, but not with the reason which we have, for it stands squarely across our path. Between it and the National plan there can be no possible compromise. This must be our first great battle, and our first great victory.” But realizing all this, do we see them concentrate their efforts on this preliminary work of purifying and moralizing government? Far from it. They insist upon immediate assumption by the government, disgracefully unclean as it is, of certain departments of business and Its more or less speedy absorption of all the rest. Instead of remembering that the success of Nationalism requires that no step be taken in the direction of its practicalization until a political revolution has been secured and a body of trustworthy and capable legislators got together, they ask the present body of lackeys to take charge of the people’s interests. Perhaps they feel that the purification of the present government is a task to which they are far from equal: perhaps they see that the expectation to convert a majority of voters to Nationalism under existing conditions, with venality and fetichism reigning in politics, is too obviously vain and delusive to be entertained at all. If so, they have thus far taken a sober view of the situation. But in that case, what shall we think of their sagacity and sincerity when, abandoning as hopeless the undertaking of reforming politics and government, they decide that it is just as well to have the unfit legislators proceed with the work?
In taking leave of this part of my essay, I must not fail to devote a few lines to Gronlundianism. Not that I think Mr. Gronlund equipped for teaching anything worthy of notice, or possessed of the ability to repeat old truths forcibly and gracefully. If I refer to him, it is because he serves as another illustration of the general chaos which prevails in theoretical State Socialism. Mr. Gronlund calls himself a Nationalist; a few years ago he was a State Socialist or Collectivist. How he can call himself a Nationalist, and how the Nationalists can recognize him as one, is an enigma impossible of solution except on the ground that, counting upon the credulity of their auditors, they conspire to make a pretence of agreement while really fundamentally at variance. Mr. Gronlund does not believe in Communism or the principle of equal wages for unequal product. The ethical arguments of Mr. Bellamy have no effect on him; yet he nowhere attempts to reason with his mistaken allies, and has written a book on the influence of Nationalism on religion and morals without betraying a suspicion that his Nationalism is something exceedingly unlike Mr. Bellamy's, and that the influence of the one must be radically different from that of the other. Mr. Gronlund would only compel us to labor for the State, but he would give us in the shape of wages what he considers just reward of our personal contribution to the general stock; Mr. Bellamy would force us all to make the same effort and receive the same pay, however unequal our contributions in quantity and quality. Mr. Gronlund is less wrong here; but he displays a want of the sense of responsibility and self-respect in passing over silently this important disagreement. On the other hand, Mr. Gronlund hates modern science and philosophy more intensely than the majority of Nationalist advocates. He unhesitatingly denounces the modern ethical and sociological doctrines as enthroned lies and absurd inventions, and talks with remarkable confidence of the ends and methods of the “power behind evolution.” This speaks well for his valor; but it is the valor of a conceited ignoramus who cannot even boast of originality. As long as his theology remains without the slightest impression on his own partisans, who, it is well known, attempt to reconcile their position with modern social science, I hold myself excused from wasting any time on it, though I confess I watch Mr. Gronlund’s Quixotic efforts with increasing satisfaction — to such a depth of depravity may one descend whose “religion and morality” are not subject to “the influence of Nationalism.”
* An examination of the various current doctrines of State Socialism. Continued from No. 160.
In the “Political World,” under the head of “Parliament Notes,” I find a paragraph opening with these words: “Next ‘a person signing himself “Dunraven,” but whose real name we believe is Quinn’ (as a certain wild Irishman of Manhattan once began a red-hot Fenian booklet) rose to tell the Lords,” etc. The editor of the “Political World" will doubtless be surprised to learn that the person whom he mistakes for a “wild Irishman of Manhattan” was a native American, a resident of Boston, one of the profoundest political philosophers that ever added to the knowledge of mankind, and an able champion of substantially the same political principles that the “Political World” and the “Free Life” advocate. His name was Lysander Spooner, and his “red-hot Fenian booklet” was the little pamphlet “Revolution,” which Liberty advertises. I knew that many thousand copies of this pamphlet were distributed among English politicians and noblemen at the time of its publication many years ago, but the above is the first evidence that I have met that it produced any impression. It now appears that at least one person remembers it. When Spooner’s “Free Political Institutions” appears (and I hope not to delay its publication much longer), I shall give the editor of the “Political World” opportunity to read and further report upon the writings of this “wild Irishman of Manhattan.”
I am watching with no little interest the evolution of a new journal that has appeared in Belgium, printed in the French language. It is entitled “La Question Sociale,” and describes itself as “a monthly review of Anarchistic sociology.” It is edited by Octave Berger, a Brussels lawyer. It is now a little more than a year since Liberty received a subscription from M. Berger. At that time he was, or called himself, a Communist-Anarchist. After he had read Liberty several months, he acknowledged in a letter that his views had become greatly modified in the direction of Individualist Anarchism. This modification is made apparent in the journal that he has established. Already he is engaged in a discussion with the Communist organ, “La Révolte,” which views the advent of “La Question Sociale” and the individualistic tendencies of “many Australian Socialists” with no little uneasiness. This discussion is sure to emphasize and illuminate the difference between the two schools, and I am not without hope that John Most will soon be deprived of the solace he has derived from the only fling against the Anarchists in which he has ever truthfully indulged,— namely, that they are without a single journal upon the continent of Europe.
The Boston “Labor Leader” says: “‘Philosophic Anarchy,' of which Mr. Tucker is a leading exponent, voices the reactionary protest against the modern drift toward State Socialism. It would improve the social order by increasing, rather than by lessening, competition.” What does Mr. Foster mean by saying that I voice the reactionary protest, etc.? Colloquially, a reactionary protest is a protest of reactionists, or obscurantists, or unreasonable conservatives. Surely he cannot mean that the Anarchists are reactionists; not only would it be too absurd, but Mr. Foster himself would have to be bracketed with the reactionaries, since he has recently said that “many sane men must widely and vigorously differ” from State Socialism.
The perseverance of the Anarchists is rewarded at last by success — so far as the name adopted by them is concerned. When Professor Huxley vigorously protests against absurdly misinterpreting the term and making it synonymous with disorder; when, in introducing an Anarchist editor, the chairman of a scientific society declares Anarchism to be the best misunderstood word in the English language; when encyclopædias of political science define Anarchism as a scientific social doctrine,— we have a right to feel exceedingly gratified at such a triumph. Prejudice out of the way, our work cannot fail to be fruitful on the soil of intelligence and earnestness.
The Editor of Liberty a Freak of Nature.
Benjamin R. Tucker:
“Great” but conceited man; erring brother: I have read your splurge in Pentecost’s paper, and sorry I am that nature is wasting its forces in creating "intellects” like yours. Don’t you feel, and don't you see, that everything in the universe is compulsion, and “State” the things you profess to hate so very much in order to make other people believe that you are so much greater, better, wiser, etc., etc., than "them poor devils” — meaning us?
Now neither your, nor any other’s intellectually misshaped brain will ever bring about a society governed by “no laws.” Neither you nor any other fellow will ever abolish the government of the universe. You, and humanity forever, will be the slaves of nature that makes their heart beat, and this globe revolve around its axis, and so forth, and so forth. Nature compels you to mis-think as you do, to un-reason as you do, and everybody whose brains are not disordered smiles, or pities — according to disposition — at your curious attempt to ridicule the cause of suffering humanity which is trying to emancipate itself by coöperative effort.
In nature everything revolves about given centres, and no attempt to flee from the forces of gravitation can be successful; and so your Individual “liberty” scheme is, and must be, an embryonic conception without the possibilities of vitality. No amount of sneering about the “puerility” of “State Socialism” will change the laws of nature; but that you do so sneer is also one of the freaks of these unknown and misunderstood forces which will forever and forever remain as they are,— to wit,— rational. Your flopping and splurging is irrational, another proof of the peculiarities of nature's unchangeable laws.
Salut et fraternité,
Thro. F. Cuno.
1131 Herkimer St., Brooklin, N. Y., May 30, 1890.
[The above overwhelming communication loses half its interest unless the reader knows that its writer is considered by the State Socialists one of their foremost men and is often chosen by them to represent them at congresses and fill other positions of trust. I never understood, until this letter came, why it was that Mr. Cuno, after calling on me in my office not very long ago and asking me numerous questions regarding various phases of the labor movement without informing me that he was “interviewing” me, then published in the “New Yorker Yolkszeitung,” the German State Socialistic organ with which he is connected, a long article in which he described me as saying all the absurd things which he could concoct,— things that I not only never said, but never could, even with nature’s complicity, by any possibility have said. Now I see that nature compelled Mr. Cuno’s conduct and is responsible for it. Poor nature! — Ed. Liberty.]
The Need of the Whip.
I remember discussing the social situation once with a gentleman whose argument was to this effect: “Men are naturally lazy. It needed slavery to make man industrious. All the splendid monuments of our present and past civilizations were lacking, were it not for the slave-driver’s whip.”
What this man, a Socialist inclining to Anarchism, said represents the belief of a majority of men,— that some form of tyrannic force was necessary to civilize man and is still necessary to keep them civilized. It is felt that, if the slave-driver’s whip had always been non-existent, our great cities, palaces, churches, public buildings, parks, monuments, galleries of art, armies, banks, steamboats, railroads, machines, all those things “public spirited” men take pride in, would also have been non-existent. And this belief reconciles a multitude of men to the whip and the chain.
My argument in reply to this is two fold. First, an assertion that man is none the worse for the lack of those things which slavery has produced; second, a denial that the individual is insufficient in self-derived force to produce all that which he needs for his own happiness.
I shall now endeavor to follow out these two lines of thought, treating them however to some extent conjointly. I shall frankly admit that, man being an animal, subject to all the necessities of animal evolution, and necessarily ignorant, slavery was inevitable as a corollary of the struggle for existence. Let no one misunderstand me. I do not admit that slavery was necessary in the sense of beneficial, could, by some miracle, knowledge have been substituted for ignorance at certain stages of human evolution; I simply admit that such and such factors arranged in such and such order must inevitably foot up thus and so. Minus the necessary knowledge, humanity had to be enslaved. Just as inevitably slavery disappeared with the advent of knowledge. Except in limited and special sense, I never admit that “whatever is is right.” Happiness is the only proper object of human pursuit, and happiness is not simply pleasure (because all acts are capable of becoming pleasureable), but normal pleasure.
And normal pleasure is that which flows from the performance of those acts which most perfectly build, benefit, and protect the organism. Judged by this test, what are we to think of these boasted treasures produced by enforced industry? Were the shafts, columns, mausoleums, statues, pyramids, palaces, State-buildings, cathedrals,churches, etc., etc., which unwilling labor has ever produced destroyed tomorrow, how little real sorrow would humanity feel! I opine that the loss of a single noble life would cause more. Considered in themselves, many of these public structures are undoubtedly very beautiful, but many are not even that, and almost all are, to the healthy thought and correct taste, unpleasantly and even painfully suggestive, in that which they represent or commemorate. What normal pleasure can a sane mind derive from contemplating a monument erected to commemorate a battle in which thousands of men flung away their lives, and thousands more were ruined for life, to gratify some ruler’s empty sentiment or heartless whim. How shallow the mind must be, how vitiated the taste, that can find only pleasure in viewing palaces that have always been inhabited by harpies and vampires, temples for cultivating superstition and mental narcosis, statues to fools and tyrants, mausoleums for rotten rulers.
All these apotheosize only deformity, cruelty, insanity; the clear mind sees at once that none of them belie their origin in the terror of the slave-driver’s whip. When an inhabitant of some country points with pride to such evidences of national disease, it is to me as though a man bared his skin and boastfully exclaimed: “Notice the size and perfect shape of that pimple, the beautiful flush and curves of that boil, the marvellous crater of that ulcer, the beautiful sea of pus in that abscess!”
What would be thought of the taste of a lady whose every rosette, and bow, and jewel, and ornament, represented, or suggested, or commemorated some sore, or deformity, or disease?
Exactly parallel to these instances are examples of men erecting monuments to tyrants, robbers, and deceivers. But as a matter of fact very few such monuments are erected voluntarily by the people; tyrants, robbers, deceivers, compel the people to erect them; they grow at the crack of the slave-driver’s whip. It is because the workers and fighters are not so much deceived after all that the whip is necessary to make them commemorate their destruction and their shame; and then the whippers cry: “lazy!”
It is a continual marvel to me, the false, inverted, insane standards of taste and judgment, continually upheld as criterions of civilization. It is as though the crack of the slave-driver’s whip had befuddled all brains, as if in the light reflected from the swords of cruelty and the diamonds of ill-gotten wealth nothing can be viewed without distortion and mistake. Yet — let us take hope! — not all brains are addled, not all eyes are deceived. Here and there, and more frequently than you would believe (for they are modest, quiet folk), are to be found those who really believe that the body is more than raiment, and the mind more than a mere pyrotechnic display.
Civilization is popularly estimated by all things external and material,— the size of cities, the headlong rush of business, the fever of insane pleasure, the size of armies, the accumulation of wealth in the hands of a few, the perfection of death-dealing machinery, the perfection of roads and means of intercourse and exchange, the perfection of industrial machinery, the conventional education of the people, the number and magnitude of public works and buildings. And it is argued that none of these things could have developed without the slave-driver’s whip. Now true civilization belongs necessarily to none of these things, and most of them impede it. Civilization is not splendor, and wealth, and pomp, and art, and hypocrisy, and luxury, and excitement, and production, and exchange carried to the highest pitch of human capacity and endurance. Civilization means the health, sanity, happiness, and harmony of mankind, or it means nothing but excessively refined and gilded barbarism. Civilization means security, peace, normal labor, temperate pleasure, the culture of beauty, the appreciation of philosophy. It is the absence of history. And all this can exist in a village of tents, or palm-thatched huts, among a people clad in skins or toppa-cloth, just as well as in a pompous city of stone and iron, whose inhabitants wear corsets and kid gloves, patent-leather boots and pot hats.
I affirm that if everything we boast of in our civilization were swept away and forgotten, save and except only our books and our mechanical inventions (and these are precisely the two things which owe most to spontaneous genius and individual initiative, and least to the slave-driver’s whip), the world would be the gainer. And it probably would not be the loser if three-fourths of the books, and inventions too, were consigned to oblivion.
Because of two things — invasiveness and affectation — our civilization today is but a fragment, a root in the mire; still, what there is is vital and sweet. Men are not lazy in pursuit of that which interests them unless they are diseased, and in a community in which each individual had free access to the soil and its raw materials, and in which at the same time a cultivated intelligence pointed out many objects of pursuit, there would be no lack of activity and energy. Without the stimulus of hunger, poverty, and forced competition, men would not labor as they do now — let us hope not! — and a majority no doubt would be satisfied, as they now are, with obtaining the mere necessities of life. Very well, who shall say the soon satisfied, the lovers of simplicity, are not as wise as the covetous, the lovers of luxury and display. After all, it is mainly a matter of surplus vitality and the direction which it takes, and the ambitious, the lovers of luxury, will always be with us and will expend labor freely to gratify their longings. And men of genius, driven by irresistible tendencies, will in the future, as in the past, do that which they must, for that is the characteristic of genius; it will not be denied, it lives for its own sake, not for its reward’s sake; it is a pure passion and a disinterested intuition. And the freer the air, the better always for genius. To sum up then, the slave-driver’s whip has produced almost entirely a noxious crop. It has produced luxury, not happiness; it has caused to be erected splendid monuments to commemorate disgraceful events, and honor dishonorable men; it has caused to be built palaces full of a repelling and frigid magnificence, but it has desolated myriads of humble homes where all was warmth and love and peace. It has whipped men into corporations, societies, armies, but it has broken society to pieces wherever it has found it, and kept it stunted and abortive. It has whipped men into slavish obedience, machine-like discipline, excessive industry, inhuman ambitions, national animosities and prejudices, and into incredibly ridiculous and hurtful customs, conventionalities, and formalities without number. It has beaten reason into unconsciousness, and driven the horses and chariots of superstition rough-shod over human brains. It has sometimes compelled conventional education, but it has always smitten free investigation and radical teaching.
It has made our people ashamed of simplicity, naturalness, individuality, truth, unaffected kindness, spontaneous love, honest doubt; substituting a fantastic style and polish, affectation, conventionality, lies white and black, formal politeness, the rat trap of marriage, stupid faith or hypocrisy.
Rotten and suicidal society, hypocritical religion, ignorant education, unnatural morality, sham justice, inequitable commerce, protected vice and legalized crime,— all these are stripes or lashes of the whip. Reason, science, knowledge, common-sense, justice, liberty,— these are against the whip, under it and smitten by it.
Finally, the disuse of the whip will produce two results: first, people of simple, unambitious tastes will be contented with simple homes, wholesome food, decent clothing, and these they will easily obtain. They will choose the luxury of leisure, and quiet contemplative life, before all other luxuries, and will not be fools for so choosing. Second, people of irrepressible impulse and intense ambition do not need the whip, and can accomplish more in all normal directions without it than with it. They will work with their might as they have ever done.
The world needs not the whip, nor has it ever needed it.
J. Wm. Lloyd.
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.