“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.
In the “Twentieth Century,” under the head of “Anarchist-Communist Notes,” it is stated that “the first number of ‘Protoplasm’ has been issued at Edinburgh.” Mr. Pentecost’s sarcasm is always keen, but this bit of editorial classification is his most delicate thrust.
The Massachusetts legislature, in legalizing the lobby, has adopted the policy of licensing political prostitution. The next thing in order is a Contagious Diseases act providing for the periodical examination of the legislative harlots by the aid of some moral speculum yet to be invented.
A leading Nationalist of Boston, in answer to a question of a friend of mine, bluntly said that Gronlund’s new “work,” now running serially in the “Nationalist” and entitled: “Our Destiny: the Influence of Nationalism on Morals and Religion,” is “worse than nothing.” Isn’t this “the most unkindest cot of all?” Poor Gronlundl Even the power behind evolution cannot save him from ridicule.
Mr. Pentecost says that the State, in renewing the charter of the Louisiana Lottery, has made a scheme of robbery respectable. As I look at it, the case stands just the other way. The State has made an otherwise respectable scheme a scheme of robbery by endowing it with the dishonest privilege of monopoly. Except in this monopoly feature, wherein is the Louisiana Lottery Company a robber? Does it not do as it agrees? Is that which it agrees to do robbery? In short, is it invasive to bet? If so, why?
In response to my article, “Individual Sovereignty Our Goal,” the “Open Court” declares that it has no quarrel with Anarchists who think that the laws should be obeyed. The implication is that these words define Liberty’s position. Of course they do not. To admit the right of society to do as it pleases is not at all to assert the duty of the individual to acquiesce in society’s pleasure. The “Open Court” adds that, in its view, Liberty is not the mother of Order, but Order is the mother of Liberty. I call for an extension of the genealogy. Who or what is the mother of Order?
The editor of the “Twentieth Century” explains that, when he pronounced Nationalism practicable, he meant that it is not theoretically impossible. All right; the explanation is satisfactory. But when the editor further says that practicable does not mean (as I suggested that it might) “conducive to social health and stability,” I think he is wrong. The really practicable thing is not that which can be established for an hour or a day or a year, but that which does not carry within it the seeds of its own death; in other words, in the case of a proposed form of society, that which is “conducive to social health and stability.”
J. M. L. Babcock, opposing freedom in the “Twentieth Century,” says: “Money is an order on the nation for labor; and to be available the whole people must stand sponsor for the order.” This condition is not necessary. If the order is issued by a man known and trusted by the nation, or by a bank known and trusted by the nation, it will be just as available as if the whole people had issued it. Now the claim of the advocate of free banking is that such banking can be so organized that its notes will be as widely known and trusted as the government’s. In answer to this Mr. Babcock probably will cite the old State banks, regardless of the fact that those were privileged institutions.
Answering an opponent of free money, Mr. Pentecost declares his willingness that government money should retain its legal tender character, provided the freedom of Tom, Dick, and Harry to issue money is not restricted. I have always considered my confidence in private enterprise equal to the greatest, but such faith in it as Mr. Pentecost’s puts me to shame. I confess to serious misgivings as to the circulating power of private currency if it must struggle against the legal tender handicap. When Mr. Pentecost stops to reflect that, while professing the theory that each form of currency shall stand on its merits, he consents to give government currency a value independent of its merits, and that, while professing to believe in liberty, he grants to the holders of government money the power to levy a forced loan, he will see, I think, that he has gone too far.
In one of his recent Sunday addresses Mr. Pentecost, from the standpoint of materialism and atheism, boldly and vigorously attacks agnosticism and routs it. He also properly ridicules Colonel Ingersoll’s hope that sees a star in the night of death. But I observe that toward the end of his discourse Mr. Pentecost himself hopes for some scientific escape from materialism. Isn’t it better to leave hope entirely out of the question? The man who hopes already has a bias. Mr. Pentecost cares “nothing about seeing Colonel Ingersoll’s star” or the “pearly gates of the new Jerusalem,” but he “never has seen the day” when he “did not feel the thrill” of those lines of Tennyson in which life is preferred to death. I cheerfully grant that there is a wide difference between Tennyson’s poetry and that of Ingersoll and Talmage, but as for any serious difference between their hopes I fail to see it.
It is the opinion of “Today” that, on the average, restrictions of every kind cannot last much longer than they are wanted; and this opinion is claimed to be an inference from the “fact that the genesis, the maintenance, and the decline of all governments, however named, are alike brought about by the humanity to be controlled.” Now I fully admit the premise, but deny the claim of legitimacy for the inference. All that may be properly inferred from the “fact” stated (as even Lecky could not help seeing) is that restrictions cannot last much longer than they are endurable. Restrictions are daily authorized by the “people’s servants” or their divine masters without the least regard to the wishes and needs of the people, but in the interest of a few, the masters and servants well knowing that the people are too engrossed with the questions of existence to be capable or inclined to sedulously watch them, and too easily imposed upon by sophistical and high-sounding talk to be dangerous. As long as the mischief produced by the restrictions is not too great; as long as the ignorance of the people is such that absolute evils and abuses may be made to appear benefits or at least harmless practices, the conspirators against the people’s liberties and economic opportunities are secure. This fact should be kept in mind by those who discuss government.
The pamphlet report of the convention held in Washington last winter to organize the “Woman’s National Liberal Union” is a highly interesting document. The call for this convention was issued professedly in the interest of woman’s suffrage, but indicated a marked and progressive departure from the old lines of suffrage agitation by inaugurating a bold attack upon the Church as the worst enemy, not only of woman’s freedom, but of freedom in general. So intelligently directed was this attack on the part of many of the leaders of the movement that I was unable to reconcile so much appreciation of liberty with a desire to get possession of that instrument of coercion, the ballot. I began to joyfully suspect that some of the women were becoming dimly conscious that the ballot for woman and freedom for woman are two distinct and indeed antagonistic issues, and that this convention was the first indication of the new drift. The suspicion was strengthened when the new organization adopted resolutions and framed a declaration of objects from which all mention of the ballot was significantly omitted. This fact, coupled with many of the sentiments expressed in addresses before the convention and letters sent to it, leads me to believe that the Anarchistic leaven is working among the woman suffragists. Indeed, Anarchism is squarely represented in the personnel of the new movement by Voltairine de Cleyre. And in the letter sent by Mrs. Mattie P. Krekle I find the following affirmation of the Egoistic philosophy, or at least of a truth intimately connected with it: “I don’t believe much in what you call ‘inherent rights,’ any more than I believe in what our hard money men call ‘intrinsic value.’ A right ‘inheres’ if there is power enough to secure it and vigilance enough to perpetuate it, not otherwise. Natural rights are a phantasm; natural man is a savage. Acquired rights are the product of the civilized process applied to natural man.” The report contains much else that is notable. It can be had for fifty cents from Mrs. Matilda Joslyn Gage, Fayetteville, New York.
A Debate in Rhyme.
[The Free Life.]
Shall life or free or fetter’d be,
Shall each do as he will,
Or shall we bend to order’d law,
And live united still?
Regard our neighbors, and ourselves,
In every act of life,
Or each think only of himself,
And hope there’ll be no strife?
One third of us are infants yet,
Another third are fools,
And how will these unguided go
Without eternal rules?
But rules without some penalty
Have never yet availed;
Whence, as it seems, a not free life
Has hitherto prevailed!
Dear lady. if ’tis true two-thirds
Are infants or are fools,—
’Tis plain this very same two-thirds
Must give the world its rules.
So don’t you think the wiser plan
Is not with rules to play,
But fool and wise should be content
Each one to go his way?
Editor of The Free Life.
An Enemy of Society.
[Concluded from No. 161]
Aslaksen. The chairman expects the speaker to withdraw his thoughtless remarks.
Dr. Stockmann. Never, Mr. Aslaksen. For it is this great majority of our society that robs me of my freedom, and wants to forbid me to speak the truth.
Hovstad. Right is always on the side of the majority.
Billing. Yes, and the truth too, God bless me!
Dr. Stockmann. The majority is never right. Never, I say. That is one of those conventional lies against which a free, thoughtful man must rebel. Who are they that make up the majority of a country? Is it the wise men or the foolish? I think we must agree that the foolish folk are, at present, in a terribly overwhelming majority all around and about us the wide world over. But, devil take it, it can surely never be right that the foolish should rule over the wise! (Noise and shouts.) Yes, yes, you can shout me down, but you cannot gainsay me. The majority has might — unhappily — but right it has not. I and a few others are right. The minority is always right. (Much noise again.)
Hovstad. Ha! ha! So Dr. Stockmann has turned aristocrat since the day before yesterday!
Dr. Stockmann. I have said that I will not waste a word on the little, narrow-chested, short-winded crew that lie behind us. Pulsating life has nothing more to do with them. But I do think of the few individuals among us who have made all the new germinating truths their own. These men stand, as it were, at the outposts, so far in advance that the compact majority has not yet reached them — and there they fight for truths that are too lately borne into the world’s consciousness to have won over the majority.
Hovstad. So the doctor is a revolutionist now.
Dr. Stockmann. Yes, by Heaven, I am, Mr. Hovstad! For I am going to revolt against the lie that truth resides in the majority. What sort of truths are those that the majority is wont to take up? Truths so full of years that they are decrepit. When a truth is as old as that, it is in a fair way to become a lie, gentlemen. (Laughter and interruption.) Yes, yes, you may believe me or not; but truths are by no means wiry Methuselahs, as some people think. A normally-constituted truth lives — let me say — as a rule, seventeen or eighteen years, at the outside twenty years, seldom longer. But truths so stricken in years are always shockingly thin. And yet it is only then that a majority takes them up and recommends them to society as wholesome food. But I can assure you there is not much nutritious matter in this sort of fare; and as a doctor I know something about it. All these majority-truths are like last year’s salt pork; they are like rancid, mouldy ham, producing all the moral scrofula that devastates society.
Aslaksen. It seems to me that the honorable speaker is wandering very considerably from the subject.
Burgomaster. I quite agree with the chairman.
Dr. Stockmann. I really think you quite mad, Peter! I am keeping as closely to the subject as I possibly can, for what I am speaking of is only this — that the masses, the majority, that d — d compact majority — it is they, I say, who are poisoning our spiritual life, and making pestilential the ground beneath our feet.
Hovstad. And this the great, independent majority of the people do, just because they are sensible enough to reverence only assured and acknowledged truths?
Dr. Stockmann. Ah! my dear Mr. Hovstad, don’t talk so glibly about assured truths! The truths acknowledged by the masses, the multitude, are truths that the advanced guard thought assured in the days of our grandfathers. We, the fighters at the outposts nowadays, we no longer acknowledge them, and I don’t believe that there is any other assured truth but this — that society cannot live, and live wholesomely, upon such old, marrowless, lifeless truths as these.
Hovstad. But instead of all this vague talk it would be more interesting to learn what are these old, lifeless truths which we are living upon. (Approving applause generally.)
Dr. Stockmann. Ah! I couldn’t go over the whole .heap of abominations; but, to begin with, I’ll just keep to one acknowledged truth, which at bottom is a hideous lie, but which, all the same, Mr. Hovstad, and the Messenger, and all adherents of the Messenger live upon.
Hovstad. And that is?
Dr. Stockmann. That is the doctrine that you have inherited from our forefathers, and that you heedlessly proclaim far and wide — the doctrine that the multitude, the vulgar herd, the masses, are the pith of the people — that, indeed, they are the people — that the common man, that this ignorant, undeveloped member of society has the same right to condemn or to sanction, to govern and to rule, as the few people of intellectual power.
Billing. Now really, God bless me —
Hovstad (shouting at the same time). Citizens, please note that!
Angry Voices. Ho, ho! Aren’t we the people? Is it only the grand folk wbo’re to govern?
A Working-man. Turn out the fellow who stands there talking such twaddle!
Others. Turn him out!
A Citizen (shouting). Blow your horn, Evensen!
(Loud hooting, whistling, and terrific noise in the room.)
Dr. Stockmann (when the noise had somewhat subsided). Now do be reasonable! Can’t you bear to hear the voice of truth for once? Why, I don’t ask you all to agree with me straight away. But I did certainly expect that Mr. Hovstad would be on my side, if he would but be true to himself. For Mr. Hovstad claims to be a freethinker ———
Several Voices ask wonderingly (in a low voice). Freethinker, did he say? What? Editor Hovstad a freethinker?
Hovstad (shouting). Prove it, Dr. Stockmann! When have I said that in print?
Dr. Stockmann (reflecting). No; by Heaven, you’re right there. You’ve never had the frankness to do that. Well, I won’t get you into a scrape, Mr. Hovstad. Let me be the freethinker, then. For now I’ll prove, and on scientific grounds, that the Messenger is leading you all by the nose shamefully, when it tells you that you, that the masses, the vulgar herd, are the true pith of the people. You see that is only a newspaper lie. The masses are nothing but the raw material that must be fashioned into the people. (Murmurs, laughter, and noise in the room.) Is it not so with all other living creatures on earth? How great the difference between a cultivated and an uncultivated breed of animals! Only look at a common barn hen. What sort of meat do you get from such a skinny animal? Nothing to boast of! And what sort of eggs does it lay? A fairly decent crow or raven can lay eggs nearly as good. Then take a cultivated Spanish or Japanese hen, or take a fine pheasant or turkey — ah! then you see the difference. And then I take the dog, man’s closest ally. Think first of an ordinary common cur — I mean one of those loathsome, ragged, low mongrels that haunt the streets, and are a nuisance to everybody. And place such a mongrel by the side of a poodle dog, who for many generations has been bred from a well-known strain, who has lived on delicate food, and has heard harmonious voices and music. Don’t you believe that the brain of a poodle has developed quite differently from that of a mongrel? Yes, you may depend upon that! It is educated poodles like this that jugglers train to perform the most extraordinary tricks. A common peasant-cur could never learn anything of the sort — not if he tried till doomsday.
(Laughing and chaffing are heard all round.)
A Citizen (shouting). Do you want to make dogs of us now?
Another Man. We are not animals, doctor.
Dr. Stockmann. Yes, on my soul, but we are animals, old fellow! We’re one and all of us as much animals as one could wish. But, truly, there aren’t many distinguished animals among us. Ah! there is a terrible difference between men-poodles and men-mongrels. And the ridiculous part of it is that Editor Hovstad quite agrees with me so long as we speak of four-footed animals ———
Hovstad. Oh! do drop them!
Dr. Stockmann. All right! but so soon as I apply the law to the two-legged, Mr. Hovstad is up in arms; then he no longer dares to stick to his own opinions, he does not dare to think out his own thoughts to their logical end; then be turns his whole doctrines upside down, and proclaims in the People’s Messenger that barn-yard hens and gutter mongrels are precisely the finest specimens in the menagerie. But it is always thus so long as you haven’t worked the vulgarity out pf your system, and fought your way up to spiritual distinction.
Hovstad. I make no kind of pretensions to any sort of distinction. I come from simple peasants, and I am proud that my root lies deep down among the masses, who are being jeered at now.
Several Workmen. Three cheers for Hovstad! Hurrah! hurrah!
Dr. Stockmann. The sort of people I am speaking of you don’t find only in the lower classes; they crawl and swarm all around us — up to the very highest classes of society. Why, only look at your own smug, smart Burgomaster! Truly, my brother Peter is as much one of the vulgar herd as any man walking on two legs. (Laughter and hisses.)
Burgomaster. I beg to protest against such personal allusions.
Dr. Stockmann (imperturbably). ——— and that not because he — like myself — is descended from a good-for-nothing old pirate of Pomerania, or somewhere thereabouts — yes, for that we are so ———
Burgomaster. Absurd tradition! Has been refuted!
Dr. Stockmann. ——— but he is so because he thinks the thoughts of his forefathers and holds the opinions of his forefathers. The people who do this, they belong to the unintellectual mob; — see — that’s why my pretentious brother Peter is at bottom so utterly without refinement,— and consequently so illiberal.
Burgomaster. Mr. Chairman ———
Hovstad. So that the distinguished persons in this country are liberals? That’s quite a new theory.
Dr. Stockmann. Yes, that too is part of my new discovery. And you shall hear this also; that free thought is almost precisely the same thing as morality. And therefore I say that it is altogether unpardonable of the Messenger to proclaim day after day the false doctrine that it is the masses and the multitude, the compact majority, that monopolize free thought and morality,— and that vice and depravity and all spiritual filth are only the oozings from education, as all the filth down there by the Baths oozes out from the Mill Dale Tan-works! (Noise and interruptions. Dr. Stockmann goes on imperturbably smiling in his eagerness.) And yet this same Messenger can still preach about the masses and the many being raised to a higher level of life! But, in the devil’s name — if the doctrine of the Messenger holds good, why, then, this raising up of the masses would be synonymous with hurling them into destruction! But, happily, it is only an old hereditary lie that education demoralizes. No, it is stupidity, poverty, the ugliness of life, that do this devil’s work! In a house that isn’t aired, and whose floors are not swept every day — my wife Katrine, maintains that the floors ought to be scrubbed, too, but we can’t discuss that now; — well,— in such a house, I say, within two or three years, people lose the power of thinking or acting morally. A deficiency of oxygen enervates the conscience. And it would seem there’s precious little oxygen in many and many a house here in the town, since the whole compact majority is unscrupulous enough to be willing to build up the prosperity of the town upon a quagmire of lies and fraud.
Aslaksen. I cannot allow so gross an insult, levelled at all the citizens here present.
A Gentleman. I move that the chairman order the speaker to sit down.
Eager Voices. Yes, yes, that’s right! Sit down! Sit down!
Dr. Stockmann (flaring up). Then I will proclaim the truth from the house-tops! I’ll write to other newspapers outside the town! The whole land shall know how matters are ordered here.
Hovstad. It would almost seem as if the doctor wanted to ruin the town.
Dr. Stockmann. Yes, I love my native town so well I would rather ruin it than sea it flourishing upon a lie.
Aslaksen. That is speaking strongly.
(Noise and whistling. Mrs. Stockmann coughs in vain; the doctor no longer heeds her.)
Hovstad (shouting amid the tumult). The man who would ruin a whole community must be an enemy of society!
Dr. Stockmann (with growing excitement). It doesn’t matter if a lying community is ruined! It must be levelled to the ground, I say! All men who live upon lies must be exterminated like vermin! You’jl poison the whole country in time; you’ll bring it to such a pass that the whole country will deserve to perish. And should it come to this, I say, from the bottom of my heart: Perish the country! Perish all its people!
A Man (in the crowd). Why, he talks like a regular enemy of the people!
Billing. There, God bless me! spoke the voice of the people!
Many shouting. Yes! yes! yes! He’s an enemy of the people! He hates the country! He hates the people!
Aslaksen. Both as a citizen of this town and as a man, I am deeply shocked at what I have been obliged to listen to here. Dr. Stockmann has unmasked himself in a manner I should never have dreamt of. I am reluctantly forced to subscribe to the opinion just expressed by a worthy citizen, and I think we ought to give expression to this opinion. I therefore beg to propose, “That this meeting is of opinion that the medical officer of the Bath, Dr. Thomas Stockmann, is an enemy of the people.”
(Thunders of applause and cheers. Many form a circle round the doctor and hoot at him. Mrs. Stockmann and Petra have risen. Morten and Ejlif fight the other schoolboys who have also been hooting. Some grown-up persons separate them.)
Dr. Stockmann (to the people hooting). Ah! fools, that you are! I tell you that ———
Aslaksen (ringing). The doctor is out of order in speaking. A regular vote must be taken, and out of consideration for the feelings of those present the vote will be taken in writing and without names. Have you any blank paper, Mr. Billing?
Billing. Here’s both blue and white paper ———
Aslaksen. That’ll do. We shall manage more quickly this way. Tear it up. That’s it. (To the meeting.) Blue means no, white means yes. I will myself go round and collect the votes.
(The Burgomaster leaves the room. Aslaksen and a few citizens go round with pieces of paper in hats.)
A Gentleman (to Hovstad). Whatever is up with the doctor? What does it all mean?
Hovstad. Why, you know how irrepressible he is.
Another Gentleman (to Billing). I say, you’re intimate with him. Have you ever noticed if he drinks?
Billing. God bless me! I really don’t know what to say. Toddy is always on the table whenever anyone calls.
3rd Gentleman. No, I rather think he’s not always right in his head.
1st Gentleman. Yes — I wonder if madness is hereditary in the family?
Billing. I shouldn’t wonder.
4th Gentleman. No, it’s pure jealousy. He wants to be over the beads of the rest.
Billing. A few days ago he certainly was talking about a rise in his salary, but he did not get it.
All the Gentlemen (together). Ah! that explains everything.
The Drunken Man in the crowd. I want a blue one, I do! And I’ll have a white one too!
People call out. There’s the drunken man again! Turn him out!
Morten Kiil (coming near to the doctor). Well, Stockmann, do you see now what this tomfoolery leads to.
Dr. Stockmann. I have done my duty.
Morten Kiil. What was that you said about the Mill Dale Tanneries?
Dr. Stockmann. Why, you heard what I said; that all the filth comes from them.
Morten Kiil. From my tannery as well?
Dr. Stockmann. Unfortunately, your tannery is the worst of all.
Morten Kiil. Will you put that into the papers too?
Dr. Stockmann. I never keep anything back.
Morten Kiil. That may cost you dear, Stockmann! (Exit)
A Fat Gentleman (goes up to Horster without bowing to the ladies). Well, Captain, so you lend your house to an enemy of the people?
Horster. I suppose I can do as I please with my own, sir.
The Merchant. Then, of course, you can have no objection if I do the same with mine?
Horster. What do you mean, sir?
The Merchant. You shall hear from roe tomorrow.
(Turns away and exit.)
Petra. Wasn’t that the shipowner?
Horster. Yes, that was Merchant Vik.
Aslaksen (with the voting papers in his hands, ascends the platform and rings). Gentlemen! I have to acquaint you with the result of the vote. All, with one exception ———
A Young Gentleman. That’s the drunken man!
Aslaksen. With one exception — a tipsy man — this meeting of citizens declares the medical officer of the Baths, Dr. Thomas 8tockmann, an enemy of the people. (Cheers and applause.) Three cheers for our honorable old community of citizens! (Applause.) Three cheers for our able and energetic Burgomaster, who has so loyally put on one side the claims of kindred! (Cheers.) The meeting is dissolved! (He descends.)
Billing. Three cheers for the chairman!
All. Hurrah for Printer Aslaksen.
Dr. Stockmann. My hat and coat, Petra! Captain, have you room for passengers to the new world?
Horster. For you and yours, doctor, we’ll make room.
Dr. Stockmann (while Petra helps him on with his coat). Good! Come, Katrine! come, boys!
(He gives his wife his arm.)
Mrs. Stockmann (in a low voice). Dear Thomas, let us go out by the back way.
Dr. Stockmann. No back ways, Katrine! (In a louder voice.) You shall hear of the enemy of the people before he shakes the dust from his feet! I’m not so forgiving as a certain person: I don’t say, I forgive you, for you know not what you do.
Aslaksen (shouting). That is a blasphemous comparison, Dr. Stockmann!
Billing. It is, God bl——— A serious man can’t stand that!
A Coarse Voice. And he threatens us into the bargain!
Angry Cries. Let’s smash the windows in his house! Let’s give him a ducking!
A Man (in the crowd). Blow your horn, Evensen. Ta-rata-rara!
(Horn-blowing, whistling, and wild shouting. The doctor, with his family, goes towards the door. Horster makes way for them.)
All (shouting after them as they go out). Enemy of the people! Enemy of the people! Enemy of the people!
Billing. Well, God bless me if I’d drink toddy at Doctor Stockmann’s tonight!
(The people throng towards the door; the noise is heard without, from the street beyond; cries of “Enemy of the People! Enemy of the people!”)
The Modern Maid of Orleans.
The following letter from Charlotte J. Thomas, of Portland, Me., Is printed in the report of the convention held in Washington last winter by the liberty-loving wing of the woman’s rights army:
Sumptuary legislation is death to individual growth or action. I believed thoroughly in the “Maine Law” for many years; have been a prohibitionist; but when I saw Miss Willard and Senator Blair and their followers working shoulder to shoulder for a “Sunday Rest” law, as they call it, with Cardinal Gibbons and the Roman Priesthood; and also with the Romanists for a change in the constitution, making a real union of Church and State, I began to carefully reconsider my position on the prohibition question, and I found I bad been in the wrong crowd, that the prohibition principle is identical with the 8unday observance and the religious State, or God-in-the-constitution principle. If you may regulate a person’s private conduct in one respect, you may in all respects, until you take his or her freedom entirely away. The drift of church effort is now towards religious coercion by law to compel all to support the church and to give the clergy a monopoly at least one-seventh of the time and to stop all other business on the day they propose to monopolize. If you can establish the old Puritan Sunday, you can restore the blue laws which we had, as it was supposed outgrown. The church saw its chance and went over in a body to the W. C. T. U. The union of church and state party, led by Senator Blair of New Hampshire, has united with Miss Willard, making a powerful party, to strike down Republican institutions. The Romanists see in this movement their chance to establish papal temporal power and are ready to help Blair and Willard put the knife to the throat of Protestantism, as they do when they invoke the sword in the hands of the civil power in behalf of church interests. The central idea of protestantism is left out, which is, right of individual private judgment and conscience. The entire protestant principle is surrendered and lost, and the United States become Roman Catholic in principle, and it will not be long before it will be so in practice. Miss Willard is a grand woman, of great heart, but in my opinion does not see the evil of taking away individual freedom and putting this great nation into another war of greater horror and destruction to this republic, and taking us back to a state of monarchy. She finds the potentates of the church, Protestant and Catholic, at her feet. She finds herself the head and the leader of admiring millions of men and women who have been “redeemed by the blood of Christ,” and imagines herself his favorite worker for the redemption and salvation of the world. She is drunk with the visions of good she is to be the instrument of doing; her motives are good, but they are not of the head,— the motives of Torquemada. He was honest and believed he was working for God,— he proposed to force his religion and his god on an unbelieving and wicked and unregenerate world. 80 Miss Willard proposes. She is going to compel men and women to be sober by prohibition amendments to the State constitution to be enforced by the army and navy. Then she is going to make all acknowledge her god when she has compelled them to quit the use of rum. Her god she supposes to be a Methodist, but in fact he is a Roman Catholic, and his present name is Leo XIII. Miss W. is an enthusiast, switched off the track. Her heart inundates her head, to drown instead of fertilize, though the tides of her religious enthusiasm are now made to turn the wheels of ambition and her humility would clutch the hilt of a sword. Her saints must wear blue coats and epaulettes and carry guns and sabres instead of white robes and Methodist hymn-books. Instead of the law of the Lord, she wants the law of the land as guide and governor in the realm of religion. She is the type of Cromwell; her army is an army of Roundheads. She can not wait for human beings to become good by growth; she proposes to make them good by an act of Congress and a decree of the State; she proposes to shoot religion into them, to shoot abstinence and reverence for God and rest-on-Sunday. Powder instead of the Holy Spirit makes quicker work in spreading the gospel of the Prince of Peace. The modest Methodist girl, inspired by “her voices,” has become a Joan of Arc, with a “consecrated banner” and an armor net of steel of conscientious conviction, “The armor of Christ.” Her picture should hereafter be taken standing, crushing the U. S. flag, in one hand the Methodist discipline, in the other the banner of the cross, in the distance the “Army of the Lord,” the W. C. T. U., in a heavy venturous battle with the almost defeated battalions of republican statesmen and patriots led by the shades of Washington, Jefferson, and Lincoln.
Miss Willard is one of the ablest and best, and yet the most dangerous woman in America. Like Joan of Arc, she is inspired by “voices from on high,” and she will almost reach success; she will not quite succeed, but she will not at last be burned; the struggle will be fearful; it will be the dying struggle of ecclesiasticism for political power in this country, the last kick of Rome. How important it is that the National Woman Suffrage Association should see what the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union movement signifies.
Beauties of Government.
[Clippings from the Press.]
An order was read at roll call in the several police stations of Boston instructing the police officers to arrest all boys crying their newspapers for sale on the streets on Sunday. There is no clause in the order, as promulgated, to prohibit licensed newsboys from selling papers on Sunday; hence the boys may dispose of as many papers as they can find purchasers for; but they must refrain from crying their stock in trade.
New Haven, Ct., June 20. The third arrest growing out of the census troubles was made today by United States Marshal Lovejoy, who arrested Dr. M. F. Linquist, a prominent physician, who refused to answer the mortgage question. Mrs. William H. Thorpe, who was arrested yesterday for refusing to answer questions asked, was bound over in $200 bonds.
Washington, D. C., June 24. A. J. Wedderburn, of the Alexandria (Va.) Progress, published a weekly paper, which he sent to fanners from a little post-office which he had established near Alexandria, to the number of 50,000 or 60,000 copies a week. Yesterday the postmaster-general, through his subordinates, stopped the circulation of the farmers’ paper and wiped out the little post-office on the ground of fraud, claiming that the paper was really only the organ and advertisement of a Boston leaf lard concern interested in the compound lard bill. Wedderburn will appeal.
Washington, D. C., June 25. Ben Butler’s lobbying is not without effect. The House committee on public buildings and grounds has decided to report favorably the bill providing for the purchase of the building south of the Capitol, known as the Butler building. The bill directs the secretary of the treasury to purchase or acquire by condemnation, if in his opinion he thinks it necessary for the use of the government, the land and buildings thereon. It is provided that a good title shall be obtained, and that the cost must not exceed $275,000.
Berlin, June 26. The Westphalian Pork Packers’ Association, whose interests Bismarck thought to protect by prohibiting the importation of American pork, has sent a deputation to the general director of inland taxes praying him to inform the government that the protection scheme does not work in their interest. They will refrain from protesting if the law be repealed. The director replied that it was not improbable that the law would be repealed.
Paris, June 29. M. Renan today delivered an oration as a part of the ceremony of removing the ashes of the Polish poet Mickiewiez from Montmorency to Cracow. Prince Czartoryski and other eminent Poles were present. The Austrian government has ordered that copies of the speeches which it is proposed to have made at the reinterment be submitted to the government three days previous to that ceremony.
Epinal, June 30. Two French inhabitants of Cobroy, near the frontier, were fired upon today by a German sentry. They were gathering firewood in a forest on the frontier, and crossed into German territory. The sentry challenged them and ordered them to withdraw. As they made no reply, he fired, wounding one of them.
San Antonio, Tex., July 5. Information was received here today of the consummation of the biggest land trade in the history of the American continent. The parties to the contract were John Hancock of Austin and Robert Sommerton of San Antonio, on the one side, acting for the owners, and the representatives of an English and Holland syndicate. The land lies all in one body in the State of Tamaulipas, Mex., within easy distance of the Mexican National railroad, and comprises between 5,000,000 and 6,000,000 acres and 75,000 head of cattle. The terms are private.
London, July 5. There is little doubt now that the so-called Nihilist plot at Paris was the work of an agent provocateur named Landesen, who was sent from Russia for the express purpose of compromising Russian refugees in France. Landesen was from the beginning the most active man in the plot. He furnished models of bombs, helped to make them, got them charged with dynamite, and carried them about from the house of one conspirator to the other. Landesen was admittedly in Paris on the day the arrests were made, and for several days afterward, but, strange to say, he was not captured. His unhappy dupes are now on their trial in Paris, and, unless they can put Landesen in the prisoner’s dock or on the witness stand, they will probably be convicted. In any event the Radicals mean to have the matter properly debated in the Chamber of Deputies, although Minister Ribot has privately intimated that such a course would be diplomatically embarrassing.
New Orleans, June 30. The opponents of the lottery, finding themselves beaten in both houses, agreed today to the following compromise proposition, which was accepted by the company. The lottery bill, which has passed the House and is before the Senate, is to be passed without obstruction, the State accepting $1,250,000 a year for the lottery privilege. This bill is submitted in the form of an amendment to the State constitution, and has to be voted on by the people at the next State election in April, 1892. Before that time, however (and this is the compromise agreed on today), a primary election is to be held some day not yet agreed on, at which only whites shall vote on this question either in favor of accepting the lottery company’s offer or against it. If a majority favors the proposition, the antis are to withdraw all opposition and let the amendment go through in 1892; if a majority is against it, the lottery company will withdraw its offer and leave the State when its charter expires.
It is feared that the Nationalist club of San Francisco will hold no more receptions. At a business meeting last week a committee appointed to examine the books of the club reported a shortage in the accounts of the financial secretary and charged Mr. Haskell [our old friend, Burnette G. — Ed. Liberty] with embezzlement. The organization is deeply in debt, the president, Mrs. Addle L. Ballou, contemplates resigning, and scandalous revelations are foreshadowed. The business meeting broke up in a violent row.
“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
A Recall to the Real Issue.
The editor of “Today,” complaining that Liberty does not respond to its repeated calls for the evidence in favor of Anarchism, expresses his willingness to “listen to an argument to show that ‘government is the father of all evil,’ and of nothing but evil, as the Anarchists, of course, believe.” I can assure him that he will never hear any such argument from Liberty. The editor of Liberty is not in the habit of attempting to prove things that he has not asserted and does not believe. Neither of the beliefs thus erroneously attributed to Anarchists are logically essential to the truth of Anarchism. One may admit that there are some evils in the world which are not traceable to government and that some acts of government are not without their good results without impairing in the least the validity of the proposition that government had better be abolished.
As to Liberty’s inattention to the questions and criticisms of “Today” I submit that, despite the outward show of reason for the editor’s complaint, the boot is really on the other leg. The many disadvantages and embarrassments (it is needless to describe them) under which Liberty is edited and published often cause things deserving notice to pass unnoticed and finally disappear in the distance. This is my excuse to the editor of “Today” for my remissness. But if he really desires to discuss with me the fundamental claims of Anarchism, he has no occasion to call on me for evidence. This paper has been published for almost a decade. In connection with it a considerable body of literature has been put forth. In these the claims of Anarchism are plainly stated, and abundant evidence in support of them is offered. Much of this literature as well as files of the paper are in the possession of “Today’s” editor. I understand that he has studied them and admits their importance and their strength. I do not understand that he either admits or denies their soundness. If he sees unsoundness in them, he should point it out, instead of calling for proofs already in his hands. Unless he does so, his charge that silence betokens weakness becomes a boomerang. Anarchism’s claim that certain economic changes would follow the disappearance of all governmental limitations of the freedom of the market, and that these changes would amount to a transformation of society sufficient to warrant and induce the speedy (not sudden) substitution of voluntaryism where force now prevails,— this is the problem that the editor of “Today” must tackle if he wishes to discuss Anarchism in earnest. T.
Liberty, Labor, and the State.
“Today” occupies considerable space with an attempt to answer a recent Liberty paragraph in criticism of its characterizing members of labor organizations as “slaves by nature.” In the first place, the editor objects “to the implication which excludes ‘Today’ from all right to a place in the list” of champions of labor. I might explain that no such implication was intended, and that the attack was directed against an error of judgment, not one of sympathy. But it is perhaps well to improve the opportunity created by the objection, and express a few thoughts on the general position and policy of “Today” and the journals akin to it, such as the “Free Life” and the “Personal Rights Journal.”
All these journals ably advocate individualism and vigorously combat State Socialism. In the main, they coincide with the teaching of the Anarchists. Yet I firmly believe that they will exert very little influence and gain next to no importance in the circle of agencies that shall arrest the present tendency of the people to look and walk backward and determine a healthy change in their dispositions and ideas. I believe that theirs will remain a voice crying in the wilderness, and that the promoters of the Socialistic plans have no cause to fear them. Why? Because they do not appreciate properly the exact position of the enemy and do not see where his peculiar strength lies and where his weakness. They fight to exhaustion without inflicting upon the enemy serious damage, and their most heroic efforts cannot, if these tactics continue, check his advance and triumph. State Socialism is strong and is growing stronger and stronger in consequence of the intolerable economic conditions which prevail and the poverty which oppresses the toiling masses. The toilers will not and ought not to submit to such an economic condition as the present, with its starvation wages, involuntary idleness for thousands, insecurity and general wretchedness. They see no way out of this save that indicated by the State Socialists; they flock around that standard not because they thoroughly admire it, but because they see no other entitled to preference. To talk to them of liberty, independence, dignity, is to waste energy. Can they be expected to be impressed with the moral and philosophical argumentation of “Today” or of the “Free Life,” when even Mill, who certainly understood and felt the value of personal liberty and well knew all there is to be advanced on that side, declared that the Communistic system was preferable to the present, which unjustly condemns masses of honest and industrious laborers to misery and degrading want? Personally I dissent from Mill and, like Mr. Tucker, would rather choose (were it necessary to make this choice) to live in a society resembling our own than to be a member of a slave society organized on the Communistic basis; but I am perfectly sure that the majority of the people would not so choose: they would vote with Mill. Ultimately, after a sad experience, they would perhaps come to adopt our view, but they would insist on making the experiment.
The question which we who desire personal liberty and oppose State Socialism have to settle before we enter the arena is, whether we are prepared to affirm and to demonstrate that liberty can emancipate the laborer and give him the full fruit of his labor; that the present absurd and iniquitous economic condition is the result of State interference to be removed together with its cause; that liberty alone is essential to the development of a system which should satisfy our reason and moral nature. Anarchists claim to be able to support this affirmation, and therefore they hope for success with the intelligent protestants against the existing system. If “Today” and the “Free Life” do not feel warranted in seconding the Anarchists, they can accomplish very little by dwelling upon other aspects of the great social problem. And the Anarchists challenge them to refute their economic position, at the same time urging them to duly study it first.
“Today” recently criticised Dr. Wayland for saying that a country cannot be called free in which little boys work over ten hours. Yet Liberty is bold enough to come to the side of the doctor and emphatically protest that a country in which such things exist is not free. And Liberty’s conception of a free country does not differ from “Today’s.” In a country of which the citizens should be free, should enjoy equal opportunities and equal liberty, no necessity could exist for the laborers, speaking generally, to send their little boys to work long days for a trifling sum of money. But in countries in which government assiduously propagates inequality, creates monopolies, grants special privileges, and robs the many for the profit of a few, children have to be sent to work, and the legislation is the cause of it. That country is not free, in which, according to Thorold Rogers, “the beggary of the working classes is the direct and deliberate work’of politicians and law-makers.” “Today” has never denied that “the inequality which exists” has “resulted partly from the interference of government with industrial matters” but it does not admit that the interference has been the chief cause of the inequality. It is to be hoped that the journals mentioned will investigate the matter and form a decided opinion as to the real causes of the present beggary and slavery of the toiling masses. If the opinion turns out to be similar to ours, well and good; if antagonistic, we stand ready to defend our ground; but let there be an end to the vague and futile talk of ifs and perhapses. It is tiresome.
Coming now to the main question in dispute, I find that “Today” endeavors to make a two-fold answer to Liberty’s criticism. Firstly, it says in effect that the aspect of trades-unionism to which it took exception was not at all the act of voluntary coöperation for defence against the encroachments of capital, but the tyranny exercised over non-members and members. To which I answer that this was not what the language used plainly conveyed. Not a syllable do I find in reference to the “encroachments of those voluntarily associated upon the personal freedom” of non-members. The piece in question lamented “the readiness with which workingmen submit to the tyranny of the unions and the dictation of the walking-delegates,” and described the workmen who thus “barter their liberty for a mess of pottage” as “modern Esaus” and “slaves by nature.” The implication clearly was that free men, those not slaves by nature, would not identify themselves with such unions. And to this I objected, averring that irresistible necessity drives men into unions, and that the very freest among mortals might belong to unions in obedience to the prime law of self-preservation. True, “Today” denies that in this country “the lives of those who unite in trades-unions are usually at stake,” but as long as those who so unite do not share its complimentary opinion of this country, they are not to be stigmatized as slaves by nature, however much we may deem them mistaken in their pessimistic view of their present condition and future prospects. It is to be added that, with pauperism, prostitution, enforced idleness, and slow starvation all around them, the laborers are after all not far wrong in thinking their life at stake.
Further, I pointed out that, if we brand tradesunionists as slaves by nature because they submit to (and practise) tyranny, we ought in consistency to apply the same indignity to all willing supporters of the State, who practise and submit to tyranny in their capacity of voters and tax-payers. “Today” assures us that it will not “shrink from the assertion”; which.is well, but which takes all the force and all the bitterness out of the sting which was originally meant for trades-unionists only. If “Today” had said that all those who practise and submit to tyranny are slaves by nature, Liberty would not have raised this quarrel, although of course such an unqualified statement could not be accepted as a correct interpretation of the facts. “Today,” however, saw fit to condemn unionists alone for an offence of which multitudes of others are not less guilty, and this impelled me to intervene in their behalf.
But I am not really ready to admit that unionists are equally guilty with the supporters of the State. It is not true that there exists a deep and permanent necessity for the State, whereas it is true that there exists an irresistible necessity for workingmen to unite at the cost of independence to fight the capitalists. The State does not exist for the purpose of restraining criminals,— the only sense in which “Today” can declare a State necessary. This kind of work is merely incidental, and very badly performed,— perhaps at no small loss. Nine-tenths of the sum of State activity is pure invasion and rascality. The people, not realizing this, uphold the State, and we are endeavoring to open their eyes and secure their aid in stopping the pernicious business. On the other hand, labor unions are organized for the sole purpose of defence and necessitated by State action; and any sacrifice of liberty or exercise of tyranny they may be guilty of can be accounted for by the exigencies of war or lock of judgment. The wonder is that workingmen are not more aggressive and violent. They could not be blamed if they exhibited less respect for the “liberty and property” (more properly, license and plunder) of the rich. The more tyrannical, the less manly, labor becomes, the more we should feel the need of changing the economic conditions,— of abrogating the State-sustained monopolies and privileges. Of course, such a change would lead to the abolition of the State, but we do not “shrink from the assertion.” The prospect is rather a delightful one. V. Y.
Property under Anarchism.
The current objection to Anarchism that it would throw property titles and especially land titles into hopeless confusion has originated an interesting discussion in “The Free Life” between Auberon Herbert, the editor, and Albert Tarn, an Anarchistic correspondent. Mr. Tarn is substantially right in the position that he takes; his weakness lies in confining himself to assertion,— a weakness of which Mr. Herbert promptly takes advantage.
Mr. Tarn’s letter is as follows:
To the Editor of The Free Life:
Sir,— In your article on “The Great Question of Property” in last week’s “Free Life” you speak of the weakness of the Anarchist position as involving either “hard crystalline customs very difficult to alter,” or “ some perpetually recurring form of scramble.”
It seems strange that you can attribute to Anarchy just the very weaknesses that characterize our present property system. Why, it is now that we have “hard crystalline customs very difficult to alter,” and a “perpetually recurring” — nay, a never-ceasing — “ form of scramble.”
Anarchists, above all, though in favor of free competition, are averse to the eternal scramble which is now going on for the privileges which legal money and legal property confer, of living at ease at the expense of the masses.
Anarchy would sweep away such privileges, and, there being no longer any chance of obtaining them, people would simply work for their living and retain whatever they earn. There would be little or no quarrel about property, no revolutionary movements to try to get hold of it, no taxes, no State Socialism. Why, all your struggles today, not only in the workshop and counting-house, but in the political field, are caused by the stupid laws of property and money, which result in a never-ending scramble.
Anarchy means peace, it means everyone getting what he’s worth and no more,— no thieving at all, neither by landlords, usurers, lawyers, tax-collectors, nor even by pickpockets and burglars when the present contrasts of wealth vanish.
Your property laws are just as stupid as any other laws. They defeat their own ends.
Yours faithfully, Albert Tark.
In Mr. Herbert’s rejoinder the case against Anarchism is exceptionally well put, and for this reason among others I give it in full:
It is not enough for our correspondent, Mr. Tarn, to say that Anarchy does away with scramble; we want to know “the how” and “the why.” Our contention is that under the law of the free market everybody knows, first, who owns a particular piece of property, and, secondly, the conditions under which property can be acquired. All is clear and definite, and that clearness and definiteness are worth far more to the human race in the long run than any temporary advantage to be gained by forcible interferings with distribution. On the other hand, we say that under Anarchy nobody would know to whom a piece of property belonged, and nobody would understand how it was to be transferred from A to B. Take any instance you like. Anarchists generally define property by use and possession; that is, whoever uses and possesses is to he considered owner. John Robins possesses a plot of three acres, and manages to feed two cows on it. John Smith possesses neither land nor cow. He comes to John Robins and says: “You are not really using and possessing these three acres, I shall take half of them.” Who on earth is to judge between these men? Who is to say whether John Robins is really possessing or not? Who is going to say to John Smith that he shall not get a bit of land by “scramble” from John Robins, seeing that under the Anarchist system that was the very way in which John Robins himself got his three acres from the big landowner, who, as he said at the time, was not truly owning, because he was not possessing.
Mr. Tarn finds fault with us for saying that Anarchy, or no fixed standard of acquiring or owning, must lead either to rigid crystalline custom or to scramble. But is that not almost absolutely certain? At first it must be scramble. Everybody, who could, would take or keep on the plea of possession. We presume even a weekly tenant would claim under the same plea. But even when the first great scramble was over, the smaller scrambles would continue,— the innumerable adjustments between John Robins and John Smith having to be perpetually made. But after a certain time the race would tire of scramble, as it always has done, and then what would happen? Why, necessarily, that a community would silently frame for itself some law or custom that would decide all these disputed cases. They would say that no man should hold more than two acres; or that no man should be disturbed after so many years’ possession; or they would fix some other standard which would tend to become rigid and crystalline, and be very difficult to alter just because there was no machinery for altering it.
We say that our friends the Anarchists — with whom, when they are not on the side of violence, we have much in common — must make their position clear and definite about property. They are as much opposed as we are to State-regulated property; they are as much in favor of Individualistic property as we are; but they will not pay the price that has to be paid for individualistic property, and which alone can make It possible. When once you are away from the open market, there are only two alternatives,— State-regulation (or law), and scramble. Every form of property-holding, apart from the open market, will be found to be some modification of one of these two forms.
This criticism of Anarchism, reduced to its essence, is seen to be twofold. First, the complaint is that it has no fixed standard of acquiring or owning. Second, the complaint is that it necessarily results in a fixed standard of acquiring or owning. Evidently Mr. Herbert is a very hard man to please. Before he criticises Anarchism further, I must insist that he make up his mind whether he himself wants or does not want a fixed standard. And whatever his decision, his criticism falls. For if he wants a fixed standard, that which he may adopt is as liable to become a “rigid crystalline custom” as any that Anarchism may lead to. And if he does not want a fixed standard, then how can he complain of Anarchism for having none?
If it were my main object to emerge from this dispute victorious, I might well leave Mr. Herbert in the queer predicament in which his logic has placed him. But as I am really anxious to win him to the Anarchistic view, I shall try to show him that the fear of scramble and rigidity with which Anarchism inspires him has little or no foundation.
Mr. Herbert, as I understand him, believes in voluntary association, voluntarily supported, for the defence of person and property. Very well; let us suppose that he has won his battle, and that such a state of things exists. Suppose that all municipalities have adopted the voluntary principle, and that compulsory taxation has been abolished. Now after this let us suppose further that the Anarchistic view that occupancy and use should condition and limit landholding becomes the prevailing view. Evidently then these municipalities will proceed to formulate and enforce this view. What the formula will be no one can foresee. But continuing with our suppositions, we will say that they decide to protect no one in the possession of more than ten acres. In execution of this decision, they, on October 1, notify all holders of more than ten acres within their limits that on and after the following January 1 they will cease to protect them in the possession of more than ten acres, and that, as a condition of receiving even that protection, each must make formal declaration on or before December 1 of the specific ten-acre plot within his present hold-ding which he proposes to personally occupy and use after January 1. These declarations having been made, the municipalities publish them and at the same time notify landless persons that out of the lands thus set free each may secure protection in the possession of any amount up to ten acres after January 1 by appearing on December 15 at a certain hour and making declaration of his choice and intention of occupancy. Now, says Mr. Herbert, the scramble will begin. Well, perhaps it will. But what of it? When a theatre advertises to sell seats for a star performance at a certain hour, there is a scramble to secure tickets. When a prosperous city announces that on a given day it will accept loans from individuals up to a certain aggregate on attractive terms, there is a scramble to secure the bonds. As far as I know, nobody complains of these scrambles as unfair. The scramble begins, and the scramble ends, and the matter is settled. Some inequality still remains, but it has been reduced to a minimum, and everybody has had an equal chance with the rest. So it will be with this land scramble. It may be conducted as peacefully as any other scramble, and those who are frightened by the word are simply the victims of a huge bugbear.
And the terror of rigidity is equally groundless. This rule of ten-acre possession, or any similar one that may be adopted, is no more a rigid crystalline custom than is Mr. Herbert’s own rule of protecting titles transferred by purchase and sale. Any rule is rigid less by the rigidity of its terms than by the rigidity of its enforcement. Now it is precisely in the tempering of the rigidity of enforcement that one of the chief excellences of Anarchism consists. Mr. Herbert must remember that under Anarchism all rules and laws will be little more than suggestions for the guidance of juries, and that all disputes, whether about land or anything else, will be submitted to juries which will judge not only the facts but the law, the justice of the law, its applicability to the given circumstances, and the penalty or damage to be inflicted, because of its infraction. What better safeguard against rigidity could there be than this? “Machinery for altering” the law, indeed! Why, under Anarchism the law will be so flexible that it will shape itself to every emergency and need no alteration. And it will then be regarded as just in proportion to its flexibility, instead of as dow in proportion to its rigidity.
In a letter to me, written when he was contemplating the establishment of “The Free Life,” Mr. Herbert proposed that, in case of any friendly discussion between his journal and mine, each should reprint all that the other might say. Mr. Herbert will observe that I have been prompt to act upon his suggestion, and I have no doubt that he will reciprocate should he see fit to make rejoinder in the present instance. T.
“Today’s” Departure from Spencer.
Not long since “Today” professed to believe that “scientifically the conclusion that Anarchy is the ideal is valuable; the facts which lead to the conclusion show the utter futility of Socialism,— tear the mask from every face of that hydra-headed fallacy.” But in its issue of June 26 it expresses itself as follows: “As for Anarchy’s being the ideal political state, this is a very barren conclusion.... Most all sensible people agree that, if we were perfect, we should need no government.” Unless it is no contradiction in terms to say that a valuable thing is very barren, or a very barren thing valuable, “Today” has undergone an important change of opinion within the last few months. Moreover, the new view is radically inconsistent with the Spencerian position that “an ideal, far in advance of practicability though it may be, is always needful for rightful guidance.” Since a needful thing cannot be barren, or a barren thing needful, “Today,” in declaring that the conclusion that society tends toward Anarchy — that progress has been and must be from compulsory coöperation to voluntary coöperation — is very barren, puts itself in opposition to Spencer — “a very severe criticism of ‘Today,’ a very serious matter indeed for” it.
Again, in pretending that the “scientifically valuable conclusion that Anarchy is the ideal” is common property, and not peculiar to Anarchists, “Today” shows that it has yet a very great deal to learn about the real Anarchistic position. For the Anarchists certainly mean much more than do “most sensible people” by the statement that Anarchy is the ideal political state. In fact most people either mean nothing at all or imply something exceedingly silly when they admit that we should need no government if we were perfect, whereas the Anarchists, by affirming that society is tending Anarchyward, imply — something highly important and true indeed, as even the editor of “Today” perceived when he wrote that “the facts which lead to the conclusion show the utter futility of Socialism,— tear the mask from every face of that hydra-headed fallacy.” Surely that which leads “most sensible people” to admit that, if we were perfect, we might do without government can have no such effect upon State Socialism, every State Socialist readily making the same admission himself.
Having placed the editor of “Today” in a position where he must defend himself against himself and against Spencer, I must now turn to defend myself against him. He denies that he departs from Spencer in holding that “the difference between belief in the right of the majority to control the minority, and of the stronger to control the weaker, is not one of kind” and that the “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,” explaining that Spencer, in insisting upon majority control within a certain sphere, does not claim such control to be intrinsically just, but considers its justice derived from the laws of justice. Really, one may be “turned giddy as he gazes into the bottomless abyss of confusion that yawns before him” in this alleged explanation. In the first place, as long as the editor cannot point to any intelligent man who holds that government is just because it is government, the distinction between intrinsically-just government and government deriving its justice from the laws of justice is merely verbal. No man uses the words “intrinsically just government” in any other sense than that the government proceeds according to the laws of justice (or of God). But granting that such a use of the words is misleading, and accepting the editor’s amendment, the departure from Spencer to which I called attention does not become any less real. When we find two men discussing government and hear one say that within a certain sphere it is right and just for the majority to coerce the non-invasive minority, and the other declare without reservation that there is no difference in kind between the belief in the right of the majority to control the minority, and of the right of the strong robber to victimize the weak traveller, we conclude reasonably that the two differ widely. “Today “ said that the difference between belief in the right of the majority to control the minority is not different in kind from the belief in the right of the stronger to control the weaker. Spencer says that within a certain sphere the majority have a moral right to coerce the minority. The difference is obvious and important, a difference which no quibble over the metaphysical meaning of “intrinsicalness” can befog.
But there is still a more convincing way of proving the editor of “Today” opposed to Spencer and at one with us. Spencer would say that majority government is just within a certain sphere because the laws of social life sanction or authorize the exercise of such government. But what if the laws of social life are not yet clearly ascertained and men differ in their conceptions of these laws? Have the majority an ethical right to enforce their conceptions of social laws upon the minority? “Today” would have to say that they have no such right, but that, having the might, they would probably enforce them. Spencer would remain dumb, not knowing what to say. Well, men do differ, and very widely, in their conceptions of the laws of social life, and Spencer is dumb on the subject of the right of majority government under these conditions. He was outspoken enough and logical enough in his “Social Statics” which he repudiates now in part (without indicating what part); but in his “Man versus the State” his position is (for a philosopher and sociologist) as undignified as it is illogical. In the next number of Liberty I shall elaborately discuss the Spencerian view of government and show the editor of “Today” that the Anarchists have no reason to fear his “evidence” and “facts.” V. Y.
Here I Draw the Line.
Mr. Pentecost “presumes,” in the “Twentieth Century,” that, when I say I know no way of helping Moses Harman out of prison, I mean that I “cannot consistently recognize the Government by petitioning for Mr. Harman’s release.” This interpretation of my thought reminds me that my interpreter once said that he was astonished to think how long he read Liberty before it dawned upon him what its teaching meant. It evidently isn’t sun-up with Mr. Pentecost yet, if he fancies that I am influenced by the spook of obligation to treat the government as possessed of rights which I am bound to respect. I would not only sign the petition for Harman’s release, but I would sign a thousand such petitions, and each of the thousand a thousand times, and would add to my own name a million fictitious names, if I thought that by any or all of these acts there was one chance in a billion of getting Mr. Harman out of prison. And even as it is, if such a petition should be presented for my signature, I should not neglect the infinitesimal possibility. It will thus be seen that Mr. Pentecost’s presumption is astoundingly inaccurate. My real meaning was that the petition will prove utterly useless.
Nevertheless the presumption served well enough to lead up to an attack on my private conduct and a questioning of ray private motives which overstep the limits of legitimate public criticism. Mr. Pentecost, being abundantly conscious of the impropriety of this course, excuses it on the ground that “Mr. Tucker is our teacher, and he is ‘a truth-soldier,’ and he raises the Old Harry when any of the rest of us go astray.” I call on Mr. Pentecost to name the instance when I have called any comrade to account for inconsistency between his life and his teachings. The inconsistency which I have attacked has not been the conflict between conduct and precept, but the conflict between a teacher’s thought and itself, and my object has been to arraign, not the individual for misdeed, but the teacher for error. Under this rule example becomes subject to criticism only when avowedly offered as an object-lesson. Now let me say once for all that I do not offer my life as a model. But I do offer my teachings as true. Whenever Mr. Pentecost shall point out error in the latter, I shall be grateful to him for the service. When he calls attention to spots upon the former, I simply try not to answer him impolitely.
It must not be inferred from the above that the offence charged in this instance — the copyright of my translation of “The Kreutzer Sonata” — is here admitted to be a spot in the sense of a stain. Viewed from the summit of the ideal life, it was an act of robbery; viewed from the standpoint of existing exigencies, it was the wisest thing possible under the circumstances. T.
In review of Havelock Ellis’s book, “The Criminal,” a “Nation” critic, speaking of the inexactness characterizing conceptions of criminality, says by way of illustration: “Some kind souls thought it wicked to punish the Anarchists for slaughtering people in Chicago.” I have a very exact conception of the criminality of this slanderer, who, by the trick of confident assumption, tries to convey the idea that nobody doubted for a moment that the men hanged in Chicago really did slaughter people, though he knows perfectly well that the opposition to their execution was based on the fact that they were not proved guilty of the charge against them.
Next we have to examine Marxian, or “scientific” Socialism. Doubtless the modern visionaries and utopists whom I have been considering are simply reviving, with slight and few modifications, the ideas of the old pre-Marxian sentimentalists and philanthropists. I do not need to be reminded of the prevalent impression that State Socialism owes its strength to Marx, the economist and student, who first and forever converted Socialistic speculation into a science. A short while ago it would have been true that to invalidate Socialism one had to refute Marx. It is no longer true today. Marx is practically deserted; the great majority of those who have boasted of Marx’s permanent influence and supremacy are now on the point of abandoning the Marxian stronghold, and are beginning to make definitively common cause with one or other of the inferior schools whom the master so vehemently and intolerantly denounced in his “Communistic Manifesto.” And even aside from this treachery, a strong tendency may be observed on the part of the most progressive and enlightened successors of Marx to emancipate their movement from all distinctively and characteristically Marxian conceptions and tenets. This is true of England as well as of America.
Kirkup and other Socialist writers declare that nothing in Marx’s work is of any value and use today except his extraordinary picture of modern industrialism and his survey of capitalistic history, which means that his facts are true, but his theories all false.
Very few there are, among admirers no less than among antagonists, who have subjected themselves to the irksome strain of studying “Capital.” Those who have read the “Manifesto,” know the whole law and the prophets of Marxian Socialism. But it may be well to present here a few extracts from the book which has been styled with pride the Bible of Modern Socialism,— those containing the quintessence of Marxian economics,— and see whether the claims, formerly made by so many and still made by some, in its name, and the deductions drawn from it, are at all justified.
The present capitalistic system differs from others in that the producers of wares do not produce for personal consumption, nor for the purpose of direct exchange of their products against products of others which they need for consumption, but for the sake of profits. In other words, those who possess capital engage in the business of producing commodities with a view to selling them to consumers for a sum of money that shall compensate them for all the labor embodied in the manufactured article and in addition yield a profit. The question is, whence comes that profit, or the surplus value?
Marx postulates free competition, and accepts the Ricardian theory of value. Those who are familiar with the simple and lucid statement of Ricardo cannot but feel disgusted at Marx’s metaphysical tricks in his superfluous chapters on value. The exchange value of anything capable of being produced indefinitely tends to become equal to the cost of producing it,— to the amount of labor socially necessary to produce it. But, says Marx, if this almost self-evident theory of value is accepted, there is plainly no possibility of surplus-value, or profits, which is not payment for labor performed, but pure gain. The capitalist who begins his operation with money and ends it with money,— and this is what all capitalists do,— can obtain no profit from the mere purchase or the sale of his commodities. In Marx’s language.
“The change of value that occurs in the case of money intended to be converted into capital cannot take place in the money itself, since in its function of means of purchase and of payment it does no more than realize the price of the commodity it buys or pays for.... Just as little can it originate in the second act of circulation, the resale of the commodity, which does no more than transform the article from its bodily form back again into its money form. The change must therefore take place in the commodity bought by the first set, but not in its value, for equivalents are exchanged.... The change originates in the use-value, as such, of the commodity, i. e. in its consumption. In order to be able to extract value from the consumption of a commodity, our friend [the capitalist] must be so lucky as to find, within the sphere of circulation, in the market, a commodity, whose use-value possesses the peculiar property of being a source of value, whose actual consumption is itself an embodiment of labor, and consequently a creation of value. The possessor of money does find on the market such a special commodity in capacity for labor or labor-power.
“The value of labor-power resolves itself into the value of a definite quantity of the means of subsistence.... The minimum limit of the value of labor-power is determined by the value of the commodities” which the laborer must consume in order to renew his vital energy..... “But the past labor that is embodied in the labor-power, and the living labor that it can call into action, the daily cost of maintaining it, and its daily expenditure in work, are two totally different things. The former determines the exchange-value of the labor-power, the latter is its use-value. The fact that half a day’s labor is necessary to keep the laborer alive during twenty-four hours does not in any way prevent him from working a whole day. Therefore, the value of labor-power, and the value which that labor-power creates in the labor-process, are two entirely different magnitudes; and this difference ... the capitalist had in view when he was purchasing the labor-power.... The owner of the money has paid the value of a day’s labor-power; his, therefore, is the use of it for a day; a day’s labor belongs to him.... The laborer finds in the workshop the means of production necessary for working, not only during six, but during twelve hours. Just as during the six hours’ process 10 lbs. of cotton absorbed six hours’ labor and became 10 lbs. of yarn, so now 20 lbs. of cotton will absorb 12 hours’ labor and will be changed into 20 lbs. of yarn.... The sum of the values of the commodities that entered into the process [of producing the yarn] amounts to 27 shillings. The value of the yarn is 30 shillings. Therefore the value of the product is one-ninth greater than the value advanced for its production; 27 shillings have been transformed into 30 shillings; a surplus-value of 3 shillings has been created.”
This fact ascertained, we must realize that “the conditions of production are also those of reproduction..... If production be capitalistic in form, so too will be reproduction.... If this revenue [surplus-value] serve the capitalist only as a fund to provide for his consumption, and be spent as periodically as it is gained, then simple reproduction will take place.... To accumulate it is necessary to convert a portion of the surplus product into capital.... It is the old story: Abraham begat Isaac, Isaac begat Jacob, and so on. The original [supposed] capital of £10,000 brings in a surplus-value of £2000, which is capitalized. The new capital of £2000 brings in a surplus-value of £400, and this too is capitalized ... which in turn produces a further surplus-value of £80. And so the ball rolls on.”
Having looked into the Marxian analysis of the process of extracting surplus value, we may now come to the last link of his argumentative chain and see how he proposes to terminate this process, how he deduces the necessity of such a change in the economic relations as he is known to have favored. We shall not find much; on the positive, constructive side of the question he says but little, and that little is the opposite of clear; but those few pages comprise the whole arsenal of the heavy weapons of the “scientific” Socialists. The obscurity and indefiniteness of Marx has naturally helped to sustain the claim of profundity and learnedness. When we know what his arguments are we can pass judgment upon the whole “science.” We read:
“Within the capitalist system all methods for raising the social productiveness of labor are brought about at the cost of the individual laborer; all means for the development of production transform themselves into means of domination over, and exploitation of, the producers.... It follows therefore that in proportion as capital accumulates, the lot of the laborer, be his payment high or low, must grow worse. The law ... that always equilibrates the relative surplus population ... to the extent and energy of accumulation ... establishes an accumulation of misery corresponding with the accumulation of capital.” “Along with the constantly diminishing number of the magnates of capital, who usurp and monopolize all advantages ... grows the mass of misery, oppression, slavery, degradation, exploitation; but with this too grows the revolt of the working classes,— a class always increasing in numbers, and disciplined, united, organized by the very mechanism of the process of capitalist production itself.... Capitalist production begets ... its own negation.... The knell of capitalist private property sounds. The expropriators are expropriated.” ...
“What does the accumulation of capital resolve itself into? It means the expropriation of the immediate producer, i. e., the dissolution of private property based on the labor of its owner. Private property, as the antithesis to social, collective property, exists only where the means of labor and the external conditions of labor belong to private individuals.... The private property of the laborer in his means of production is the foundation of petty industry, whether agricultural, manufacturing, or both; petty industry, again, is an essential condition for the development of social production and of the free individuality of the laborer himself.... This mode of production flourishes ... only where the laborer is the private owner of his own means of labor set in action by himself: the peasant of the land which he cultivates, the artisan of the tool which he handles as a virtuoso. This mode of production presupposes parcelling of the soil and scattering of the other means of production. As it excludes the concentration of these means of production, so also it excludes coöperation, division of labor within each separate process of production, the control over nature by society, and the free development of the social productive powers. It is compatible only with a system of production and a society moving within narrow ... bounds. To perpetuate it would be, as Pecqueur rightly says, to decree universal mediocrity. At a certain stage of development it brings forth the material agencies for its own dissolution.... New forces and new passions spring up in the bosom of society, but the old social organization fetters them and keeps them down. It must be annihilated; it is annihilated. Its annihilation, the transformation of the individualized and scattered means of production into socially concentrated ones, of the pigmy property of the many into the huge property of the few,... forms the prelude to the history of capital. Self-earned private property that is based, so to say, on the fusing together of the isolated, independent laboring individual with the conditions of his labor, is supplanted by capitalistic private property, which rests on the exploitation of the nominally free labor of others.
“As soon as the capitalistic mode of production stands on its own feet.... the further expropriation of private proprietors takes a new form. That which is now to be expropriated is no longer the laborer working for himself, but the capitalist exploiting many laborers.... One capitalist always kills many. Hand in hand with this centralization, or this expropriation of many capitalists by few, develop, on an ever extending scale, the coöperative form of the labor process, the conscious technical application of science, the methodical cultivation of the soil, the transformation of the instruments of labor only usable in common, the economizing of all means of production by their use as the means of production of combined, socialized labor, the entanglement of all peoples in the net of the world-market, and with this, the international character of the capitalistic régime.... The monopoly of capital becomes a fetter .... upon ..... production. Centralization of the means of production and the socialization of labor at last reach a point where they become incompatible with their capitalist integument. This integument is burst asunder.
“The capitalist mode of appropriation, the result of the capitalist mode of production, produces a capitalist private property. This is the first negation of individual private property, as founded on the labor of the proprietor. The negation of this negation .... does not re-establish private property for the producer, but gives him individual property based on the acquisition of the capitalist era, i. e., on coöperation and the possession in common of the land and of the means of production.”
We now have the whole case before us, and are in a position to look into its merits.
Has the case against industrial liberty been made out? Has there anything been said to convince us that it is the principle of competitive industry itself that is responsible for the exploitation of labor, and that consequently nothing less than the total abolition of private enterprise and competition in the supply and demand of commodities and labor can free the laborer? Has it been shown that surplus value is a characteristic feature inherent in the system of production of commodities expressed by the formula money-commodities-money? Not at all.
For those exclusively occupied with the contemplation of the labor market and with the relation between buyers and sellers of labor-power, we can easily understand that it is very natural to arrive at the simple conclusion that only expropriation of the present capitalists and the common ownership and control of the means of production will do away with the exploitation of the laborer. But this is not a scientific, but a superficial method. It is necessary to go back of the labor market, to resolve “surplus value” into the elements composing it, and to discover the laws of each of them. That Marx’s analysis of the present industrial system is imperfect to a degree of worthlessness may be perceived without difficulty. The assumption that surplus value or profit wholly comes from labor is obviously false. Under the monopolies of the tariff and patents large profits may obviously be obtained from other sources than the labor-power of the workmen. Then, we find no attempt at an analysis of the law of rent and of the law of interest, without which it is impossible to have a proper insight into the present industrial order, to say nothing of constructing plans of a better social organization. Surplus value is the result of the excess of the supply over the demand in the labor market; it is obvious that if it were possible to alter this condition and either to decrease the supply or increase the demand to the point at which labor could dictate its terms to capital and insist on absorbing profits, the competitive principle might remain without the phenomenon of labor-exploitation, deemed by Marx inseparable from it, reappearing. The omission to analyze “surplus value,” the treating of all the forms of usury as a single category, relieved Marx from the necessity of considering the question whether the excess of the supply of labor over the demand was really a necessary consequence of industrial liberty, or whether certain forms of exploitation might be abolished and the reward of labor raised without changing the competitive system in its essentials. But such an analysis unavoidably leads to the rejection of Marxian conclusions. When it is seen that one form of exploitation, rent, is due to the monopoly in land sustained by the State in the interest of the landlord; that another form of exploitation, interest, is the result of monopoly of credit, a monopoly which limits the demand of labor and deprives capitalists and laborers of the opportunity of engaging in industrial and commercial enterprises; that profits are the result of the monopoly of industry and commerce, concentrated in fewer and fewer hands,— the conclusion is inevitable that the abolition of all these monopolies rather than the abolition of private enterprise, that the extension of freedom rather than the suppression of the competitive system, is the remedy and the solution.
[To be continued.]
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.