“For always in thine eyes, O Liberty!
Shines that high light whereby the world is saved;
And though thou slay us, we will trust in thee.”
On Picket Duty.
The Independent Theatre of London will give its second performance during the third week in June, when a translation of Zola’s play, “Thérèse Raquin,” will be presented.
“Every indirect tax is in the nature of a fraud,” says the “Looking Glass.” But what is the nature of direct taxes? Do they differ from the indirect except as highway robbery differs from pocket-picking?
Proudhon’s works are selling very rapidly at the reduced price of one dollar a volume. Many poor laborers hail this opportunity with delight. Let all who wish to hasten the publication of additional volumes send me their pledge to take each volume as it appears at one dollar.
A press despatch stated that the Cobden Club was dying of starvation, Europe being more protectionist than ever. The truth is, as Mr. Donisthorpe told us nearly a year ago, that the Cobden Club is dying of inconsistency. Advanced thinkers demand a more virile and logical kind of individualism than is professed by the Club. Cobden-club individualism is dead. Long live radical and consistent individualism!
That the “Critic” should charge Anarchists and Socialists with “shallowness of thought” and “disregard of accepted principles of political morality” is not at all surprising. But when it invents the novel charge that they have a passion for wealth it becomes ridiculously unfair. A passion for wealth is incompatible with reform. The trouble with many reformers is rather that they have too great a contempt for wealth.
The Boston aldermen are making a tour of leading American cities, at the public expense, of course, ostensibly in search of information about streets and sewers. Knowing the average City Father as I do, and judging also from what I have heard regarding similar junkets in the past, it is my opinion that these worthies will bring home with them much less knowledge of streets and sewers than of rum-shops and houses of ill-fame.
The Atlantic (Iowa) “Investigator” contains sarcastic references to Liberty as a “scientific” journal and to its “scientific” editor. If the “Investigator” is disposed to ridicule this journal’s pretensions, it would be interesting to know why it recently solicited my praise to be used as a “puff” in securing new subscribers. Evidently the temperate tribute which I sent in response to this request, and which the “Investigator” printed under the heading, “A Chieftain’s Greeting,” was not flattering enough to inspire gratitude.
The “Journal of the Knights of Labor” says that “Friend Pentecost has been flattering himself that he was an Individualist, if not an out-and-out Anarchist, but Friend Tucker of Liberty has served notice upon him to get off the Individualist grass.” This is not true. A more accurate statement would be that Pentecost has been insisting that he is not an “ist” of any kind, and that I have served notice upon him to show cause why. Far from warning Pentecost off, I claim him. I insist that fundamentally he is an Anarchist, though at times taking positions inconsistent with Anarchism. It is always annoying to inconsistent people to have their inconsistencies pointed out. And because I refuse to let them contradict themselves in comfort, Pentecost, Powderly, and a long list of others will have it that I want to be a pope.
In his lecture on Shakspere, Col. Ingersoll dismisses the claims of the Baconians in the following utterance: “Those who contend that lapidaries make diamonds say that Bacon was the author of Shakspere’s plays. Look through Bacon’s works, and you will find his philosophy mixed with a foolishness that would have prevented him from writing a great drama. He was lamentably ignorant of every branch of science and advanced theories that a child must laugh at. He turns to natural philosophy, to biology, geology, metallurgy, and medicine, and shows the fool in every subject.” Here Ingersoll ventures beyond his depth and makes a fool of himself. Of Bacon’s services to science he is incompetent to speak, and he can gain nothing by recklessly exposing his ignorance. Ingersoll should read what scientific men like Mill, Lewes, or Spencer say about Bacon’s contributions to science and philosophy, and revise his lecture, which is not a bad one by any means.
E. C. Walker, writing from Cincinnati concerning the Labor Conference which he attended in the interest of Liberty, says: “I desire to assure you that this is a difficult crowd to work in; it is grab and haul, here and there and everywhere. One cannot utter more than two sentences to a person before some friend rushes up and hauls him to one side to introduce him to another of that particular clique, or to pour into his ear the details of a plan for downing the other crowds. There will be fun today in the open conference, a mile high, for there are men here with a terrible power of lung. More than one hundred and fifty editors are present, and the poor devils who are not present are having a hard time of it. It may safely be said that a more heterogeneous crowd was never gathered. Farmers’ Alliance (northern and southern), Citizens’ Alliance, Union Labor, United Labor, Knights of Labor, Federation of Labor, Single Taxers, Prohibitionists, Greenbackers, Silver men, Bellamyites, Woman Suffragists, Anti-Suffragists, Anti-Prohibitionists,— well, that’s only a beginning. Republican henchmen are making themselves numerous, while Livingston of Georgia and other Democrats are working in the interest of that party. But they all agree on one thing; they want more law.”
In an article justifying the prohibition of the liquor traffic, the Atlantic (Iowa) “Investigator” says: “According to the Anarchistic theory, the government has no right to prohibit anything, but only has the right to interfere where a wrong has been done, and then only to make the wrong-doer repair damages.” I know not the source whence the “Investigator” derived this notion of Anarchism, but it is certainly a mistaken one. As to government, Anarchism holds that it has no business to do anything whatsoever or even to exist; but voluntary defensive associations acting on the Anarchistic principle would not only demand redress for, but would prohibit, all clearly invasive acts. They would not, however, prohibit non-invasive acts, even though these acts create additional opportunity for invasive persons to act invasively. For instance, they would not prevent the buying and selling of liquor, even though it be true that some people are invasive when under the influence of liquor. The “Investigator” has failed to grasp the Anarchistic view. It makes the dividing line of Anarchism run between prohibition of injury and compulsory redress, whereas Anarchism really includes both. Its dividing line runs in an entirely different direction, and separates invasion from non-invasion. Let the “Investigator” try again.
The Poor Pope.
[Translated from the French of Oscar Amouche by Benj. R. Tucker.]
Scene: The Streets of Rome.
Characters: A Pilgrim. An Italian.
The city mournful seems. Forgive me, Sir, I pray,
Around the Vatican what’s happening today?
A powder-magazine blew up a week ago;
The city ever since has lived in fear and woe.
His Holiness the Pope?
The Pope! He’s far from ill;
With fresh and ruddy lips, he’s hale and hearty still.
The dead are five! Three hundred wounded lie!
With broken arms and legs unnumbered hundreds sigh!
In many a house in Rome they suffer, yes, they weep!
His Holiness the Pope?
Awakened from his sleep
By the tremendous shock that brought Rome to its knees,
A dainty meal alone his anger could appease.
Ah! Sir, ’twas sad, the scene that morning saw!
The hospitals o’errun! The multitude in awe!
Round homes in ruins throngs of frightened mothers pressed
Their naked, homeless babes more tightly to their breast!
His Holiness the Pope?
He delicacies ate.
They broke the news to him, while lingering o’er his plate,
That he would be obliged to have new glass put in.
His face at once assumed a look of deep chagrin.
I need not add that in this crisis grave
Each lent his hand in hopes his fellow-man to save.
All did their duty well, true citizens of Rome.
His Holiness the Pope?
He quietly stayed at home,
And, when the papers came, he quietly read the news,
And to his faithful then vouchsafed his holy views.
Since then a week has passed away, and yet
The Romans, as at first, unable to forget,
Parade their grief throughout the city’s darkened ways.
His Holiness the Pope?
He sleeps, he eats, he prays.
Poor man! He has God’s ear while writhing ’neath his lash!
’Tis frightful! I will run to give him all my cash.
“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.
E. C. Walker, formerly editor of “Fair Play” and now a regular contributor to the columns of Liberty, is also an authorized agent for Liberty and for all books and pamphlets published by Benj. R. Tucker.
A New Book Given Away With Each Renewal. — Payment of subscriptions and of renewals is required in advance. The names of subscribers not heard from within two weeks after expiration of subscription are removed from the list. But to every subscriber who sends his renewal for one year, accompanied by the cash, so that It reaches the publisher not later than two weeks after it is due, will be sent, postpaid, any book published in the United States that the subscriber may select, provided that its retail price does not exceed 50 cents if published by Benj. R. Tucker, or 25 cents if published by any other publisher. This is a permanent offer, and enables every promptly-paying subscriber to get a new book each year free of cost. But only one book will be given at a time, no matter how low the price of the book selected.
Words That Will Live As Long As Hate.
A prominent American journal, commenting on the recent refusal of the French Chamber of Deputies to order an investigation of the massacre of women and children committed by the French army at Fourmies on May 1 during the strike then in progress at that place, scouted the idea that such a deed could have been done with impunity by soldiers of the United States, and declared that in this country the legislative or civil power would immediately locate the responsibility for an outrage of this character, and visit the severest penalties upon the guilty. The assertion seemed to me an optimistic one when I read it; and my view received most shocking confirmation a few days later, when a friend sent me a clipping from the Washington “Star” of May 9, which gave a column-and-a-half report of a lecture on “Street Riot Duty” delivered in the first battalion officers’ room of the National Guard of the District of Columbia by the commander-in-chief of that body, a fiend named Albert Ordway, who wears the epaulettes of a brigadier-general of the United States Army. In the opinion of this monster — the reader shall decide presently whether the epithet is too strong — the soldier is not responsible to justice. These are his words, and if there were any impartiality in our courts, the man who uttered them would, on the first occasion when citizens shall be shot down by the army, be sent to the gallows, for incitement and conspiracy to murder, with much more justice than that which hanged Spies, Parsons, Engel, and Fischer:
I have seen it stated by one writer that “if assailed by force too strong for its ordinary processes, the law calls force to its defence; but from its exalted throne it judges both the assailants and its defenders.” I cannot agree with this writer. I believe that, when law calls upon force to defend it, that law will protect those it calls to its defence so long as the means employed by force and the results of employing those means are kept within the preestablished precepts laid down by law itself. The impression is too general, and has been too long uncontradicted, that a military officer puts himself in great jeopardy of civil or criminal punishment on the one hand or court-martial on the other in the discharge of duties imposed on him by law. I cannot assent to this doctrine; in fact, I venture to contradict it. To admit it would paralyze the efficiency of the military force and make all their efforts weak and vacillating.
In view of the speaker’s denial that the law is to judge both its assailants and its defenders, his qualification — inserted from motives of prudence and to give an appearance of discrimination to his bloodthirsty counsel — that the law will protect its defenders “so long as the means . . . are kept within the preestablished precepts laid down by law itself,” means nothing at all unless it means that these defenders are themselves the judges of the legality of their acts. In plain words, this is what the commander meant to say to his subordinates: When you are called out to preserve order, do not hesitate to shoot; I assure you that no one will or can call you to account for it.
Having thus relieved the soldier of any fear that he will be punished for shooting, General Ordway proceeds to fill him with fear that, if he should not shoot, he will be shot. The army is told that no harm will come to it from the government, but that it is in imminent danger of annihilation at the hands of rioters led by Napoleons. Don’t refrain from shooting through fear of the law, but shoot through fear of the terrible foe. Such is the advice, given in the following language, which will surprise none more than the leaders of the workingmen who will learn for the first time of their wonderful proficiency as military strategists.
It is fully as important in this country to prepare for internal disorder as for external danger; as much reason to provide for suppressing riots as to provide for coast defence. Our people seem to be wholly blind to the lessons of the past, the dangers of the present, or the possibilities of the future.
In 1877 an insignificant trouble at the small town in Martinsburg, in West Virginia, suddenly developed proportions that overshadowed the whole country. In less than forty-eight hours fifty thousand miles of railway were inoperative, and great sovereign States were appealing in the most abject manner to the federal government for protection. Millions of dollars’ worth of property was destroyed, millions of dollars’ worth of human labor lost, and the fabric of lawful order received a severe blow. If all of this was done in 1877 without premeditation, and without a definite purpose in view for which previous organization under competent leaders had been made, it is fearful to contemplate what might occur in the future. Since that time our country has been overrun with hundreds of thousands of the most criminal and ignorant classes of Europe, who can neither assimilate with our people nor appreciate or understand the meaning of our institutions or the force of our laws; men who know no law but force, and can appreciate no punishment less than death.
Following in the wake of this horde of immigrants have come the professional agitators, who may be called the pimps of the professional leaders, who have come to live on the tolls they levy on these ignorant people while they organize and train them for their own diabolical purposes. These professional leaders are by no means to be despised. They are generally men who have had a military education, have held rank and position in various armies, have had experience in war, but who, through their own vices, have been dismissed from all honorable service and ostracised from respectable society, and, though having been reared to despise those who labor, make dupes of them that they may live upon their contributions and the possibilities of the future.
If you ever have occasion to meet these men, you will find that they are no tyros in the art of war, and will be a match for the best intelligence we can bring to bear against them. The hand of these people is not shown in ordinary affairs, but we know enough of them, of the organizations they control, of their purposes and of their means of accomplishing these purposes, to know that, when the time comes that they consider favorable, the riots of 1877 will be remembered as trifling affairs compared with what will then confront us.
Any thoughtful person, and especially a military observer, must realize the fact that riots in the future will be more frequent and more formidable than in the past, inasmuch as, when honest but misguided men may be brought to the sudden frenzy of resisting lawful government, the opportunity will be seized by the professional rioter and Anarchist to accomplish their own purposes. This view is amply sustained by many facts known to the police authorities, and is clearly indicated in the brief cablegrams contained in our newspapers describing recent riots in Europe. A few weeks ago the cable account of a riot in Bradford, England, said that the rioters not only barricaded the streets in their front, but that they also barricaded all the side streets on their flanks.
It was certainly no novice who conducted that defence. The cablegrams of the past few days, describing riots that occurred in various cities in Europe on the 1st of May, though meagre in detail, contain enough to justify the same conclusion. The fearful slaughter of the brave policemen of Chicago in Haymarket square was only one feature of a prearranged plan that failed simply by lack of coöperation; and the single dynamite bomb that caused their death was only one of many that had been prepared for far more serious work. Are we to hope or expect that such an attempt will never be made again, or that, when made, the Anarchists will not profit by their former failure, while we pay not the slightest attention to the lessons that the attempt should have taught us?
But even this is not enough. Not only must the soldier understand that the law will not touch him; not only must he be made to believe that the laborers and their leaders have such military strength and skill that they are capable of crystallizing at a touch into a foe as formidable as the best-equipped and most thoroughly-disciplined army under the command of a Von Moltke; but he must also be taught to despise the character of the elements that compose this force as much as he is to fear them in their collective capacity, so that he will have no hesitation about sweeping them off the earth. Accordingly, regardless of the contradiction involved, General Ordway pictures the leaders as dangerous chiefly because of their power over the laborers, and then pictures their followers as the scum of the earth.
In considering the riotous elements of society, distinction should be made between labor organizations, Socialists, and Anarchists. All of these terms seem foreign to our institutions, but, nevertheless, they are transplanted to our midst, and we must learn their purposes and understand their meaning.
Labor organizations are formed with the praiseworthy purpose of ameliorating or improving the condition of laborers by peaceful and legal organizations. The good intentions of such organizations are one thing, the results that may follow are another. The power in the hands of these organizations is tremendous. It would be necessary to assert human infallibility to assume that this power will never be exercised to promote the fortunes or purposes of unscrupulous leaders who may get control of it. We know that it has been done on some occasions in the past, and we know that it will be more likely to occur in the future in proportion to the introduction of foreign labor and foreign ideas. This is indicated by the fact that the labor organizations, after failing in any other way to accomplish a declared purpose, such as increase of wages, fewer hours of work, the restoration of a discharged laborer, resort to a “strike” to accomplish it. A “strike” means the employment and exercise of force. It forces the unwilling to cease labor, and forcibly prevents the willing from assuming labor. It says to the contented laborer who has his pleasant home — that shelters his happy family — partly paid for, and who is cheerfully laboring to discharge the balance of his payment: “You shall not work;” and it says to the skilled laborer who may have expended the last dollar of his savings in endeavoring to prolong the life of an invalid wife and in the care of his helpless children: “Your wife may die, your children may starve, and you may become a convict for resisting us, but you shall not work.”
These are not labor organizations or methods that any free-born American can tolerate or sympathize with; they are cruel and tyrannical powers, enforcing the worst form of human slavery by the exercise of brutal force. Force begets force. If the workingmen adopt the methods of Anarchy, they must know that the elements of Anarchy will seek to coöperate with them, and that they will be involved in the fate that must always finally come to Anarchy,— ruin or despotism.
It has, however, thus far, keen greatly to the credit of Intelligent labor, and is a hopeful sign for the future, that they are seldom found in the ranks of a mob, no matter for what grievances they may be endeavoring to procure redress.
It was stated by one officer in reference to the riots of 1877 in Pennsylvania that “not fifteen per cent, of the railroad employés were participants or sympathizers.” It was stated still more strongly by another officer that “tbe mobs were composed of roughs, tramps, and unknown men,— from where no one knew,— and a few striking railroad men.”
These facts should teach the lawless element among the workingmen that, if they listen to the specious arguments of the Anarchist, they will not have the support of their intelligent fellow-workmen, and should also convince the soldier that any mob he may be called upon to face, and which has been organized under the plea of wrongs of labor to be redressed, is in reality composed of at least eighty-five per cent, of roughs, tramps, thieves, convicts, and Anarchists, and that he need have no compunctions in effectually eradicating them.
The Socialists should not be confounded with the Anarchists. The Socialist is generally a mild sort of being, who indulges in vague theories of the proper construction of human society. He is a dreamer, and no more to be feared than any other harmless lunatic, except so far as he may lend aid and countenance to putting his theories into active opposition to legally established government.
The Anarchist is the natural product of Socialistic theories practically applied; he believes or asserts a belief in a condition of society in which there shall be no law or no supreme power, and in which every Individual shall do whatever he pleases with perfect impunity. Even hell is assumed to have a ruler, and he is generally pictured as not only a most powerful, but a most adroit ruler. If one could imagine hell without a ruler, he might form a slight conception of what this earth would be if Anarchy should prevail. The Anarchist is a professional rioter, and he brings to his profession all the arts of diplomacy, the skill of science, and the knowledge of experience. If you are ever brought into contact with a mob, let us hope that the Anarchists will constitute the front ranks, if not the entire body of it; what otherwise might be a duty will then become a pleasure.
The friend who sent me the above report requests me to “give this devil a taste of Liberty.” This is not the time for that. Liberty is an organ, not of revolution, but of peaceful evolution. Still, if riot and revolution are inevitable, it is comforting to remember that in battle each of the opposing forces has front ranks; that in the front ranks of the “defenders of the law” General Ordway may be prominent, unless he is a coward as well as a brute; and that Anarchists know no duty, but only pleasure. Then “this devil” may get a taste, not of Liberty, which he despises, but of the object of his idolatry,— Force. T.
Swords, Pokers, Logic, and Anarchism.
Referring to Mr. Donisthorpe’s reply, on another page, to my articles in criticism of his essay on the “Limits of Liberty,” I am certain that our readers will be grateful to him for the breach of his rule to pass his reviewers’ suggestions in silence which he has been good enough to decide on in my case. It is always a delight to read Mr. Donisthorpe, whether we find ourselves completely in accord with him or not.
I cannot see that Mr. Donisthorpe has disposed of my charge of self-contradiction against him. He explains that, while perfectly aware that there are no people who really believe in unlimited liberty, he alluded to those who believe that they believe (or who say that they believe) in unlimited liberty when he declared that he should not quarrel with those who answer “No limits” to the question in regard to the limits of individual liberty. Turning to the page and verse in which the matter is spoken of, I find the following expression: “With those who answer No limits, I will not quarrel. Such answer implies the belief that we . . . are ripe for perfect Anarchy.” Now contrast this with the statement, on another page of the essay, that “we may put the State on one side and imagine a purely Anarchistic form of society, and the same question [as to the limits of liberty] still arises.” Is there not a palpable contradiction here? First we are told by Mr. Donisthorpe that he need not quarrel with those who answer No limits because such answer implies that we are ripe for a purely Anarchistic form of society; then, in referring to Anarchists, the statement is made that even if we adopt Anarchy we are brought back to the same question of the limits of liberty! I do not object to Mr. Donisthorpe’s determination not to quarrel (in the sense of disputing) with those who say no limits,— I have too little respect for them to approve of his wasting effort with them,— but he must not give two contradictory reasons for declining to quarrel with them. If it is true, as Mr. Donisthorpe now says, “that they have never realized the conception they try to express in words,” and that any attempt to do so would inevitably lead them to relinquish their meaningless solution, then it cannot be true that their answer implies that we are ripe for perfect Anarchy.
Coming to another point, Mr. Donisthorpe says: “I cannot honestly say that I ‘deny the right of the government to trench upon my individual freedom,’ nor do I ‘regard the limits which individual actions may not transgress as deducible from the equal claims of fellow-citizens.’ That this is a correct statement of the social condition towards which we are slowly moving I admit. But unfortunately it is not so yet.” This fills me with astonishment. I have written very carefully, weighing my words, and said nothing to warrant the construction which Mr. Donisthorpe puts upon my statement regarding his own unconsciously Anarchistic point of view. I simply said that Mr. Donisthorpe’s way of stating the problem showed that he took the Anarchistic view; that “to him as to us, the question presents itself as one dealing with the relations between one individual and another; beyond the question of justice between man and man there is nothing. Society, or the State, in his view, has no rights as such. The principle he is in search of, once found, is a principle which all are equally bound to respect. To decide what the rights of one man are as against one other man is to decide what the rights of man are. The non-Anarchistic individualists do believe that, beyond the question of justice between man and man, there is the question of justice between the individual and society or the State, and that society has rights as such which individuals are ethically bound to recognize.” Address any believer in the State, and he will plainly say that the liberty of an individual is limited, firstly, by the liberty of his fellow-man, and, secondly, by the rights of the State, or society, or collectivity. Mr. Donisthorpe, in essaying to define the limits of liberty, utterly ignores the State as an independent entity having claims and rights, and refers to it merely as a power enforcing individual claims and adjusting the relation of the units among themselves. This, I pointed out, is the Anarchistic method of presenting the problem; and anybody who adopts this method thereby proclaims himself an Anarchist.
Touching the question of practical rules to be adopted now and followed pending the definitive settlement of the problem,— the tracing of a black and bold and firm line of demarcation between the region of legitimate acts and the region of invasive acts,— Mr. Donisthorpe, admitting that he has no unexceptionable practical rules to furnish, nevertheless refuses to concede to me the right to complain of his failure. The poker-and-sword illustration is intended to vindicate him and at the same time to implicate Mr. Tucker. But the illustration is not a fair one, and it fails to accomplish either purpose. It is not true that Mr. Tucker hands me no better substitute for a sword than a poker, nor is it true that he insists on calling that which he does offer (and which, though better than Mr. Donisthorpe’s poker, is not a sword) a sword. I am in need of a practical rule. Mr. Tucker frankly tells me that the best rule he can frame (not, observe, the best possible rule) is, No force except against invasion (or lower form of competition), and in doubtful cases no force unless the necessity for personal safety absolutely demands the use of it. I am not satisfied with this, and decide to apply to others. Nobody, however, can do better, and I am forced to admit the relative excellence of Mr. Tucker’s suggestion. At this juncture Mr. Donisthorpe appears and claims to have something at least as serviceable as that of Mr. Tucker’s offering. My rule, he says, which, mark, I do not pretend to regard as excellent, is, No force except against lower forms of competition (or invasion), and in doubtful cases consult the Odd Man, the Majority, and act upon their decision. Whereupon I turn to Mr. Donisthorpe and say: I beg pardon, but you are inconsistent and conservative. The majority, as you well know, are not even ready to confine the use of force to the lower forms of competition. They are too much addicted to the bad habit of using force against any and all who happen to differ from them. So you undertake to teach them to use force only against the lower forms of competition, in which you coincide with Mr. Tucker. But when it comes to doubtful cases you propose to submit to them instead of inducing them to govern themselves by the unquestionably superior rule offered by Mr. Tucker,— namely, no use of force except where it is absolutely unavoidable, where hesitancy would be fatal. More force will be used under your plan than under Mr. Tucker’s, since the majority are never slow to recommend it; and inasmuch as we have premised that the use of force should be reduced as much as possible, your conclusion is not warranted. I must join Mr. Tucker and teach the majority two things instead of one,— to use force against the lower forms of competition, and to refrain from using force in all such doubtful cases as do not present an absolute necessity of such use.
Does Mr. Donisthorpe wish me to compare the tests by applying them to the question of copyright? I comply with pleasure. I assure him that it is not appalling to think of what would happen in a brand-new country, peopled by Anarchists, when the first book was written. In affirming that it is, Mr. Donisthorpe curiously overlooks a very important point. Suppose, then, that “half the population, more or less, would flock round Mr. Tucker’s standard bearing the motto Equal liberty, No copyright, and the other half, more or less, would flock round Mr. Yarros’s standard bearing the motto Copyright and Equal liberty. After a period of dead-lock, the final appeal would be made,— the old-world appeal to brute-force”? By no means. It is here that Mr. Donisthorpe misses the point. We are all intelligent Anarchists; consequently we have agreed that, in doubtful cases, force is not to be used unless the “necessity of immediate solution is so imperative that we must use it to save ourselves.” In the case of the new book there is certainly no such necessity, and hence no force is used by anybody. Such as side with me voluntarily respect the author’s right of property, while those who do not believe in property in ideas are allowed to act upon the view that ideas are common property. We believe that an injustice is being done to the author; but to our minds the use of force in such cases would be a far graver evil than any that is likely to result from the denial of property in ideas by a portion of the population. If, then, Mr. Donisthorpe asks us, “Gentlemen, how about counting noses? Would it not be almost as efficacious as the cracking of skulls?” there is no reason why we should not fall upon the unfortunate peacemaker with imprecations: “Get back to your hole, O Majority-worshipper, truckler to the Odd Man, slave to the State: bow to brute force we will and must, no one knows how long; but is not” the Anarchists’ (not Mr. Tucker’s, or Mr. Yarros’s) solution preferable to such a mode of cutting the knot?
The presentation of my views on the points raised by Mr. Donisthorpe in the second part of his letter must be reserved for another article. “The soundness or otherwise of absolute political ethics” cannot be discussed here. V. Y.
Copyright. — IV.
These charges or imputations brought against me by Mr. Yarros I repel,— viz., that I am unwilling to take the principle of equal liberty as the test of economic right; that I seek to decide à priori what is property; that I discriminate against produce of the brain in favor of produce of the hand; that I make arbitrary distinctions between material property and “immaterial property.” I leave the charge of unscientific method for others to judge of; I began by scrutinizing terms, but here I will only refer back to former articles of this series for observations on the falsity of the word copyright, and the danger of error in accepting an equal denial of liberty as equal liberty.
As regards a frank declaration of purpose, it was not offered as a substitute for argument, but as an amicable contribution toward a basis of mutual understanding.
Economic science is based upon wants and their satisfaction. The necessity for objects of consumption and the facts of their perishable nature and limited supply are of chief significance. Hence arise labor and property in the economic sense.
This property, whatever else it be, is alienable. The giver or seller parts with it in conveying it. This characteristic distinguishes property from skill and information. Bread is property. Those who hold that the art of baking is property hold that it is alienable, but —
Monopoly consists in the attempt to make property of liberties, discoveries, sciences, and arts by a pretended or forced alienation. This may be no argument. If so, I prefer to make none. Property ends where monopoly begins.
“Literary property” has its special definition in the dictionary. It would readily be seen to be a false term were there not a mass of generally received claims of property based on mere professed alienation. An author may sign an agreement to part with his thoughts and not to reproduce them, but that is merely a bargain in restraint of his own liberty. If liberty be inalienable, the author, having had the admitted liberty to copy his own work, cannot divest himself of it. Hence the purchaser of such alleged property can have no security where liberty is not invaded.
The alleged “exclusive right” of the author to reproduce his works differs radically from one’s right to be unhindered in his labor. When another invades my workshop or garden to work there, he prevents me from working. It is not so when another in another place does work similar to mine.
Another notable point is that the act of copying is a different act from that of composing a literary work. How, then, can it be suggested that one who copies interferes with the liberty of one who writes? More: the act of composing this article is an exercise of liberty completed when it meets the reader’s eye. I cannot comprehend, either, how anyone of ordinarily clear understanding could affirm that my liberty to write other articles is invaded by any one’s copying this article.
Profit is gain by monopoly. What Spencer seeks from “copyright” is gain; and he wishes to be protected against others doing the same acts as himself and his assigns. But equal liberty permits him to do merely such acts as he can do without interfering with the equal liberty of others. Since Spencer remains at liberty to copy, we do not invade his liberty by copying. He, however, wishes to be the sole copyist or to sell the privilege as regards his compositions. But thus he would mingle a certain amount of labor with natural elements which he did not create, and that universally. He would exercise ownership and receive pay where he knows not. Like one who discovers and first cultivates a new variety of wheat and lays claim to a share of the increase of all fields where it is sown, he is a monopolist.
I grant that it is allowable for Mr. Yarros and others to voluntarily submit to such royalties, but suppose that one who has bought a bushel of the new wheat, grown more, and so far paid the demand of the discoverer from his crop, sells the rest. The burden of proof in the “question of ethics” is, I think, decidedly on the other side, on a claim that royalty attaches to the culture by any hands and intelligence.
I take it that the normal use of speech is to communicate one’s thoughts, and that it is a modern and very questionable notion that one’s liberty in matters of speech and writing is chiefly to be prized for the sake of exacting money from others.
While I prefer the direct examination whether liberty is invaded by copying, of course if sufficient care is taken in making the more roundabout deduction via property the corollary of liberty, it must result the same. I note that Spencer does not leave his ideal extension in the ideal. It is material tribute he requires. As there are two courses open to the author when I copy, let us glance at them. He may undertake to stop me. If so, he will please show that he does not interfere with my equal liberty. But if he has force to stop me, I fear that he will not feel bound to give me his reason. In the alternative case, he may simply protest. Of course a protest does not interfere with my liberty.
If one can sell his liberty to copy his writings, can he not sell his liberty to build a second house after the pattern of the first? Can he not sell his liberty to follow a trade? Can he not bargain for a conjugal privilege that he will not have other conjugal relations? Aud if one of these transactions receives the social sanction, why not the others?
If, however, I have an inalienable right to rebuild according to my own plans, have I not a right to engage others to help me? And have not others a right to do for themselves on their own land what they have a right to do for me for hire on my land? Let the answers be given by reference directly to liberty,— to the maximum of equal liberty, may I say? If, then, the inquiry via the corollary seems to some persons to show an infringement upon a gain which has an appearance of being a proprietary result, it will be well for them to examine all the factors, to discover where there has been a false principle admitted. In these articles I have anticipated this position. Perhaps I need only add now that it is not incumbent upon society to guarantee the individual a certain gain for his labor. Equal liberty being admitted, he must be content with whatever gain follows.
If there be any room for construction as to what equal liberty means, it must be construed, I think, in the interest of liberty. Tak Kak.
An Uncivil Answer to a Sneer.
Mr. Francis D. Tandy, of Denver, writing in the “Twentieth Century,” rebukes Anarchists for “quibbling over the copyright question” to the neglect of the problem now occupying the attention of biologists,— whether acquired habits are inherited. He reminds us that “Spencer found it necessary to study psychology and biology in order to be able to analyze social phenomena,” and, a sentence or two later, he adds that the idea of the inheritance of acquired traits held by Darwin, Spencer, and their followers is now looked upon by the best authorities as biological heresy. Now if, as Mr. Tandy seems to maintain, a man cannot understand sociology without first mastering biology, it follows that, if a man’s biological studies lead him to erroneous biological conclusions, his subsequent sociological conclusions must be vitiated by his biological errors. Therefore, if Spencer is wrong in his biology, as Mr. Tandy says he is, then he is wrong in his sociology also.
But in the next paragraph Mr. Tandy further tells us that the now accepted biological doctrine of the non-inheritance of acquired habits (the opposite of Spencer’s view, remember,) is the strongest possible argument against State Socialism and for Individualism. Now Spencer’s sociology is intensely antagonistic to State Socialism and favorable to Individualism. Whence it follows, in violation of the conclusion that Mr. Tandy drove home upon us a moment ago, that Spencer must have arrived at correct sociological conclusions, not indeed without previous biological study, but, stringer still, in spite of such study.
Until Mr. Tandy can discuss the relations of biology to sociology without involving himself in contradictions as hopeless as this, I would advise him, if he cannot keep his mouth shut altogether, at least not to open it in sneering criticism of people who, when they open theirs, do not put their feet in them. T.
A Case of Pure Charlatanry.
That contemptible humbug, Samuel P. Putnam, who years ago, when in the East, pretended “on the quiet” to be pretty nearly an Anarchist, if not quite, and who, on going to the Pacific coast to start “Free-thought,” began his campaign there by an attack on Anarchism that would have done credit to the most venomous of the capitalistic dailies, is now assuming a friendly tone once more, in pursuance of a plan to flirt with all parties in the hope of saving “Free-thought,” which, now that George Macdonald has left the editorial chair, would no longer be worth saving but for the column of “Observations” which Macdonald continues to contribute. In other words, in order to get subscribers from all the different schools, Putnam has become an eclectic. He has discovered that no political theory is right, but that all political theories contain something of value. From each he proposes to select its valuable element. Here is the result of this process of selection.
Anarchy means personal liberty. We select that and stand by it. Socialism means fraternal coöperation. We select that and stand by it. Nationalism means the rights and dignity of labor. We select that. Communism means a commonwealth. We select that. Free trade means reciprocity. We select that. Protection means industrial advancement. We select that.
I assure the probably incredulous reader that the words quoted are actually to be found in one of Putnam’s editorials in “Freethought” of April 25. The most contemptible feature of this humbug is its ludicrous transparency. Every one sees at a glance that the trick consists in treating some quality or virtue or belief, which is really common to or claimed by all schools, as the peculiar property of a single school. Only in the cases of Anarchism and Communism does Putnam “select” features really peculiar to those schools respectively. But “fraternal coöperation” is no more the object of Socialism than of Anarchism, Nationalism, Communism, Free Trade, and Protection. And the same is true of the “rights and dignity of labor,” “reciprocity,” and “industrial advancement. All schools have these objects in view. The question is: which is on the right road to attain them? And here the eclectic method sadly fails, because even such a straddler as Putnam cannot ride at the same time two horses going in opposite directions, not to say four, headed north, south, east, and west.
Pentecost’s plan of belonging to no party is foolish, but has at least the merit of honesty. Putnam’s plan of belonging to all parties is imposture mere and sheer. T.
S. P. Putnam professes to think that “the State should be a purely police force for the protection of rights.” At the same time he insists that it is the duty of the State to suppress the Church, “so far as it is force.” He says that “the Church is in its very nature an organized force,” and proceeds to prove it in a characteristic manner. “The judge in the court room represents force; the legislature, though its members have no arms, is an organized force; the ballot is force. A majority of ballots compels just as swords and bayonets and guns compel. This is not a figure of speech, but a real statement of the case. Take an election in any municipality. There may not be any ‘armed company’ at the polls, no soldiers or even a policeman, yet the ballot is an expression of force. The ballot is not a form of advice, but a form of compulsion. In exactly the same sense the Church is force. By its very nature it compels. If, therefore, the Church is organized force and the State is organized force, there must be a war always between them.” There may not be any “armed company” at the polls, but there are armed companies ready to enforce the decision of the majority. The ballot is not a form of advice, because the armed companies are at the back of it. Is the Church force in exactly the same sense? Has it armed companies at its command to enforce its claims? It has not, and therefore it is plain that the Church is not organized force. But our Liberal editor continues: “Of course, the State can only deal with an ‘overt act.’ But what constitutes an ‘overt act’? A member of the Church of Rome, a mother, sends her children to the public school instead of the parochial school. The priest forbids this. The mother refuses to submit. She keeps a bakery for her support. The priest orders a boycott. The congregation obeys. The woman is ruined and driven to starvation. This happened in our own republic. Is this an ‘overt act,’ is it not force? Of course it is, and the State has a right to interfere and must interfere to prevent it.” Of course it is, in the opinion of those who do not know what equal liberty means. Those who do regard boycotting as entirely legitimate; and to them it is perfectly obvious that S. P. Putnam does not know what he is talking about.
Absolutism in Political Ethics.
To the Editor of Liberty:
Sir,— As a rule I do not review my reviewers, favorable or unfavorable. I am too much beholden to them. But Mr. Yarros, after two very able articles criticising my contribution to “A Plea for Liberty,” expresses the hope that I shall “frankly give my opinion of his criticisms.” Setting aside a few minor points, Mr. Yarros’s two articles really amount to an independent enquiry into the true method of political science. The whole of the second article and the chief part of the first (paras. 5, 6, and 7) are wholly occupied with this question. I do not feel sure that I should be justified in describing his position as that of an Absolutist combating the Empirical School, or whether it would not be fairer to characterize his articles as a skilful attempt to build a golden bridge of union between the two schools. The great danger of this task is that the builder is apt to drop into the gulf between.
Before dealing with this important topic, however, I will briefly advert to the minor points wherein he more particularly deals with my own essay on “The Limits of Liberty.”
And first let me thank him for pointing out what is really a serious flaw in my summary. I conclude by saying, “The State will cease to coerce, because coercion will no longer be required.” I certainly ought to have been more explicit. I did not mean that it would no longer be necessary to coerce aggressors, but that it would no longer be necessary to coerce non-aggressors to coöperate in the coercion of aggressors.
In the next comment to which I will refer, I think the slip is his, not mine. In discussing the limits of liberty (or State-interference, for the two things are complementary)
I am charged with contradiction when I say that with those who say “No limits” I will not quarrel. “Why, according to Mr. Donisthorpe, there are no people who believe in unlimited liberty.” Quite so: I never said there were. Similarly there are no people who believe in the Holy Trinity. But there are people who sap they do, and who say it sincerely. And I have heard Anarchists both in this country and in France who never tire of saying that, “if everybody were allowed to do exactly as he pleased, things would find their level and come out all right in the end.” That they do not believe it I admit; but they think they do. They have never realized the conception they try to express in words any more than the equally-sincere trinitarians.
The only other point on which it is necessary to touch before coming to the main topic concerns the relation between Anarchy and Individualism. I cannot honestly say that I “deny the right of the government to trench upon my individual freedom,” nor do I “regard the limits which individual actions may not transgress as deducible from the equal claims of fellow-citizens.” That this is a correct statement of the social condition towards which we are slowly moving I admit. But unfortunately it is not so yet. But if this is not the way to ascertain the limits of freedom, what is? What is the practical rule by which we must decide? Mr. Tucker offered one which is admirable until it is put to the test, when, as I said, it fails. Whereupon Mr. Yarros says, “The complaint which Mr. Donisthorpe brings against Mr. Tucker in reference to his failure to furnish practical rules to be adopted now, I may with equal justice bring against Mr. Donisthorpe himself, for the most careful study of his essay has not enabled me to detect the presence of any practical rule of this kind.” Now, this is all perfectly true. I furnish no practical rule. And yet I claim the right to complain of Mr. Tucker’s failure without according to Mr. Yarros the right to complain of my own failure. Let me explain by an illustration. Mr. Yarros is in urgent need of a sword. Mr. Tucker rushes up with a poker. “Here,” says he, “is as good a sword as you can get in the market.” I also rush out with another poker. “Here you are,” I cry, “take this, perhaps it will serve your purpose.” Now, this is just the state of affairs. I do not consider that Mr. Yarros has equally just cause of complaint. We both, it is true, hand him a poker when he asks for a sword, but Mr. Tucker insists on calling his poker a sword. I don’t. Here let me say that I entirely agree with Mr. Tucker’s practical advice. It could not be better; and it could not be more clearly stated. But as a delicate test for a doubtful case, it is no better and no worse than my own method of asking which category it belongs to,— the higher or the lower form of competition. Mr. Yarros admits as much when he comes to applying the test to the question of copyright. Mr. Tucker’s test leaves him on one side of the hedge and Mr. Yarros on the other. I admit that my test does no better; but then I do not claim that it can. It is appalling to think what would happen in a brand-new country peopled by Intelligent Anarchists, when the first book was written. Half the population, more or less, would flock round Mr. Tucker’s standard bearing the motto Equal liberty, No copyright, and the other half, more or less, would flock round Mr. Yarros’s standard bearing the motto Copyright and Equal liberty. After a period of dead-lock, the final appeal would be made — the old-world appeal to brute-force. Then out of his hole would crawl a certain Donisthorpe. “Gentlemen, how about counting noses? Would it not be almost as efficacious as the cracking of skulls?” And then straightway Mr. Tucker and Mr. Yarros and all their hosts would fall upon the unfortunate peacemaker with imprecations: “Get back to your hole, O Majority-worshipper, truckler to the Odd Man, slave to the State: bow to brute force we will and must, no one knows how long; but is not ———’s solution preferable to such a mode of cutting the knot?” Certainly; but whose solution did you say? Mr. Yarros’s, of course. No, Mr. Tucker’s. No. Yes. No. And the armies array themselves again in order of battle. . . . Fortunately we are all agreed that “the chief influence in narrowing the sphere of State-interference is not so much the increasing exactness of the knowledge of what constitutes aggression as the growing conception that aggression is an evil to be avoided and that liberty is the condition of progress.” This bond will keep us well together for a long part of the journey. In practice there is no need to trouble ourselves much about doubtful cases, when there are so many that are very far from being doubtful. But in discussing the theory of the subject, the doubtful cases are always the most interesting and instructive.
This brings us to the main subject of the second article,— namely, the soundness or otherwise of absolute political ethics. Admitting the value of sociological truths reached by induction, Mr. Yarros asks, in the words of Mr. Spencer, “whether it can be by mere chance that this kind of action works evil and that works good?” To which I answer, Certainly not; I “admit that such sequences are parts of a necessary order among phenomena.” Admitting that there are causal relations between acts and their results (to deny it would be a palpable contradiction in terms), I contend that, after the survey of a large number of such relations, general rules (or laws) can be discovered by induction, which, with all respect to Mr. Spencer, are scientific even before they are deduced from underlying principles. That they are more trustworthy after having been verified by deduction is not of course denied. I suppose neither Mr. Spencer nor Mr. Yarros will deny that there are certain “scientific” laws of refraction. And yet it will be news to me if either of them or anyone else can explain the laws of the refraction of light by reference to any more general optical law. I suppose Kepler’s laws were scientific laws before Newton explained them by subsuming them under the laws of gravitation? They were just as true and just as trustworthy before they had been verified by deduction as they are now. And as a humble speaker of the English language I should say they were “scientific.”
Surely it is rather a broad jump from the assertion that certain observed sequences invariably hold, and are therefore capable of subsumption, to the assertion that the higher or parent law is this, that, or the other. I am ready to admit that political ethics or group-morals are the necessary outcome of underlying biological or psychological facts, but at the same time I cannot admit that we are in a position to deduce the one from the other. To take a still more extreme case; Mr. Yarros will probably admit with me that, given the precise conditions of this planet in the Silurian period, a perfect intelligence would have been able to deduce not only the present arrangement of the geological strata and the ocean currents, but also the animal and vegetable forms and their precise distribution over the surface of the earth, and still further the precise varieties of the human species and the languages they would speak, the religions they would believe, the diseases to which they would be subject and — whether the Italians would come into collision with the people of the United States over the lynching business. But although he would admit this, he will at the same time admit the absurdity of any similar attempt at prophecy based on a knowledge of present facts.
And yet, after observation, every one of these phenomena may be accounted for by deduction from antecedent conditions. So it is with group-morals. After ascertaining what they are as a fact by induction, then and not till then are we in a position to apply the deductive method. To attempt this method first is the height of baseless confidence and is bound to end in failure. The multiplication of effects, as no one has more clearly pointed out than Mr. Spencer himself, alone renders such a method worse than useless.
No; it is not by mere chance that individualism works good and socialism evil, but the general law from which this might be deduced (if we were wise enough) has not yet been formulated. What is it? We are told that it is the “scientific law” of Justice. But what is Justice? I do not know. I give three definitions (or hint at them) in the essay under review. I do not accept any of them myself. If I have left the impression on the mind of my reader that I regard Impartiality as synonymous with Justice, I must have written carelessly. Personally I believe that Justice has a connotation, but that it is still unknown. It is the general name we give to that which is common to thousands and millions of decisions regarded as fair or just,— we know not why. Two hunters have a dispute about the ownership of a dog or a spear. They both think themselves in the right. They call on the passer-by, the vir pietate gravis, to adjudicate. He decides, but would be puzzled to state the grounds of his decision in general terms. The same kind of thing is done again and again and again. Those cases which are generally accepted as satisfactory are called Just. Similarly those things which please the eye have received the general name of Beautiful; but what it is to be beautiful (apart from the pleasure given), it is often, if not always, impossible to say. Ruskin has analyzed beauty and given us some half-dozen objective descriptions of beautiful objects (in architecture), and Darwin has explained what beauty means in the sexual sense; but we still stand in need of a higher generalization. But surely to define a general term by its end is no definition at all. Virtue is that conduct which results in the greatest welfare of the agent. True; but what conduct does result in the greatest welfare of the agent? Beauty is the quality of those objects which please the eye. True; but what quality in objects is it which pleases the eye? Similarly, when we are told that “Justice is the word by which we express the fulfilment of the first essential condition of human happiness,” we do not feel any nearer to the knowledge of which we are in search. What are the social arrangements which fulfil the first essential condition of human happiness? Justice marks the limit of liberty. “Justice can and must be enforced.” Beyond this line altruism must be voluntary. True; true; true again. But we have not got a step forwarder. We have only conferred the name Justice on that principle of which we are in search. We might as well call it Peter. Why, there is not a socialist living who does not appeal to Justice. And even Mr. Yarros admits that many of those who “actually are governed by the principle of Justice are ready to advocate measures involving outrageous violations of liberty.” In fine, I am willing to agree that Justice “is based on biological and psychological facts,” but I deny that we can say what it is, or on what biological and psychological facts it is based. This can only be approximately done by generalizing from myriads of cases admittedly just, and from these general rules extracting still higher generalizations. This is the method of induction; and when we have got at our concrete rules thus, we can, with great advantage, verify our conclusions, by deducing them from biological and even from prior physical laws. This is the method advocated by the Empirical school, and inasmuch as it has been accepted in all the concrete sciences (without exception) till we come to those dealing with the human mind, it would seem to he merely a question of time when it shall be accepted there also.
Allow me in conclusion to refer you to Liberty (June 7, 1890) in which you ask me to set Professor Huxley right as to the methods adopted by the Individualists. I have done this in the essay under consideration, and I am in receipt of letters from Professor Huxley showing that we have no firmer ally in the ranks of science. Let me quote one passage: “I agree with you that experience shows that the self-restraint which is the necessary condition of the existence of any and every society is most effectual and tends most fully to the welfare of Society when it is exercised voluntarily and because the individual reason is convinced of its necessity for the general welfare. If individualism means the substitution of rational and voluntary obedience to law assented to as just, for blind slavery to the mere force of the State, I am as strong an individualist as can be desired.”
Yours, etc., Wordsworth Donisthorpe.
The Illogical Mind.
[Charlotte Perkins Stetson in Kate Field’s Washington.]
Those who do not possess what is known as a “logical mind” are to be congratulated.
They occupy an impregnable fortress, and are forever secured from all attacks in the field of reason.
Undermined they may be, or reduced by starvation, but regularly overcome — never!
It is inevitable to observe with what ease and unconcern they walk among obstacles and dangers, unhindered and unharmed. You say to them: “Look where you are going. That path brings up against a stone wall!” But they smile at you — if, indeed, they listen — and walk straight through that wall. They don’t see it, and therefore it isn’t there.
You shriek at them: “Stop! Stop! You are going to walk off a precipice; you must, if you go on!” But they do go on, and they do walk off the precipice, right across the chasm and onto the other side, their legs moving regularly in the air as they blandly travel over.
No wonder they have small patience with the wild alarmists who are forever prating of connections and consequences which to them do not exist.
The truth is, the illogical mind is of totally different material from the logical. It has different qualities and powers, is not amenable to the same laws, comes under other definitions and restrictions.
It does not stay of any determinate shape, size, or quality, and, when you observe and describe it, you find on a second observation that the first is utterly wrong,— the thing has changed.
“Therefore” is a word which has no existence in the vocabulary of an Illogical mind.
You say to it: “This is all black.”
“Yes,” says the illogical mind.
You add: “Therefore it cannot be white.”
“Oh, yes it can!” cries the illogical mind; “it is white, too — it is both at once!”
The illogical mind is a standing refutation of natural philosophy.
It is constantly putting the greater into the less, and two — nay, six of them — can occupy the same place at the same time, and not even seem to know it.
The illogical mind can lift itself by its boot-straps — does so continually. It can fall up or down or sidewise with equal velocity; sometimes it will not fall at all — you drop it in disgust, and it just stays there!
You get angry and kick it. You might as well kick smoke.
The illogical mind will checkmate you by making a knight’s move with a pawn. You say: “You can’t do that!” It replies triumphantly, “But I have done it!”
You say: “You can’t do it if you are playing chess!”
It retorts: “I haven’t lost the use of my hands if I am playing chess!”
The illogical mind will turn defeat into victory at any time, by reversing the game. Beaten at whist, you find it solemnly scoring for hearts; beaten at checkers, it swears it was playing “give away.”
When laboriously proven a liar, it will cry: “I told you so!”
I am not speaking of fools. The Illogical mind can reason, but its reasoning is in spots and does not hang together.
The illogical mind can add fractions without reducing them to a common denominator. It can multiply tables by hair-pins, and give you the result in cheese. It says “three into one you can,” and one of its axioms is that one plus one equals one!
As a hypothesis it might be suggested that the difference between logical and illogical minds is a difference in density of substance — in cohesion.
The process of logical instruction is like building, and logical deduction is like mining, and you can neither mine nor build in loose, light sand. There is no shape, position, or relation in such a medium.
To converse with the illogical mind, when not in earnest, is pleasant and amusing; just as playing with sand is pleasant and amusing. We like to feel it run through our fingers and see it blow away.
But to endeavor to interchange ideas — to have any earnest human intercourse with it — is like that futile business of old time, making ropes of sand.
Why, then, do we fatigue ourselves in the effort to converse with the illogical mind instead of the logical?
Why do white sheep give more wool than black ones?
The New Theatre.
M. A. Antoine, to whose intelligent initiative and real genius is due the establishment of the Théâtre Libre at Paris and therefore the coming revolution in dramatic art, writes the following letter to M. Sarcey, the conservative dramatic critic, regarding the failure of Henry Becque’s “Parisienne” at the Théâtre Français after that chef d’œuvre of the new school had scored an immense success on a more insignificant stage:
Are you not struck by this coincidence: three pieces, “La Parisiènne,” “Grand’Mère,” “Le Maître,” all three coming from the same direction, conceived in that spirit of renewal which torments the new school, all three failing, in three different theatres, and, by general opinion, finding an inadequate interpretation, though at the hands of comedians belonging, most of them, to the élite of the Parisian artists?
What is the proper explanation of this three-fold coincidence? Is it not interesting to look into its causes?
Notice that I, of course, indulge myself in no literary judgment; that is not my business; I speak simply from the standpoint of the profession. Well, it seems to me that here there is an important technical question to be cleared up, which ought to keenly interest all the authors of tomorrow, and perhaps also those intelligent and prudent comedians who have a regard for their art and for the existing theatrical movement.
So, then, “Grand* Mere” has been a failure, “Le Maître” has been a failure, and you say that “La Parisienne” is a failure.
The press has generally agreed that the interpretation of the three pieces did not rise above the ordinary level. So far as “Le Maître” and “La Parisienne” are concerned, there was a standard of comparison,— the original interpretation; in the case of “Grand’ Mère,” this point of support being wanting, they have been rather unreasonably severe upon Ancey [the author] in giving him all the blame.
Well, the simple reason of this triple coincidence, in which comedians, usually excellent, have been considered ordinary for one evening and “for this occasion only,” is that not one of the three works was “staged” and played in harmony with its real significance.
It is that this new (or renewed) theatre requires different interpreters; it is that they should not play works of observation (or works pretended to be such, if you will) as they interpret the ordinary répertoire or as they play fantastic comedies; it is that it is necessary, in order to get inside the skin of these modern personages, to drop all the old baggage; it is that a true work needs to be played truly, just as a classic piece needs, above all, to be spoken well, since the personage is generally only an abstraction, a synthesis, or a philosophical entity without flesh or bone; it is that the characters in “La Parisienne” or in “Grand’Mère” are people like ourselves, living in homes like ours and not in vast halls as big as cathedrals; it is that these people live, think, and move as we do, by their fire-side, under the lamp, around a table, and not before the prompter’s box; it is that they have voices like ours, habits and manners like ours, and that their language is that of our daily life, with its elisions and its familiar terms, and not the pompous rhetoric of the classic works.
When Mile. Reichenberg opens the first scene of “La Parisienne” with her voice of an actress, and when M. Prud’hon answers her with his timbre de Dorante, they immediately give a false note to Becque’s prose, which is what they did the other evening for three hours without growing weary. The characteristic of this new theatre is, is it not? the unconsciousness of the characters, just as we are unconscious of the stupidities which we perpetrate and the enormities which we utter. Most of our comedians, as soon as they are on the stage, feel an irresistible inclination to substitute their own personality for the character which they have to interpret; instead of entering into their rôle, their rôle enters into them. So the other evening we had Mile. Reichenberg and not Clotilde, MM. Prud’hon, Le Bargy, and de Féraudy, not at all Becque’s men.
And that salon! Did you ever see such a salon anywhere? Was that a dwelling-place of well-to-do bourgeois, that vast hall, as high as the halls of the Louvre, cold, nothing homelike about it, no fitness in the furnishings, without the slightest nook or corner to give an impression of the favorite spot where one idly talks or the arm-chair in which one lolls after his work is done, such as we all of us know in our homes?
I know the objection: the scene is secondary. Yes, possibly, in the ordinary répertoire. But why not give it an air of reality, since that can be managed with a little care and without injuring the work in the least, provided the thing is not overdone? In the modern works, written in the movement and the significance of truth and naturalism in which the theory of surroundings and external influences has taken so large a place, is not the scene the indispensable complement of the work? Should it not take, at the theatre, the place that description holds in the novel? Is it not the necessary corollary, a sort of exposition of the subject? To be sure, it can never be made completely true, since in the theatre, as no one dreams of denying, a certain amount of convention is necessary to the material conditions of expression; but why not diminish this convention as much as possible?
The dimensions of the stage or of the hall matter little. If the frame is too large, why not diminish it by a little ingenuity in the placing of the scenery, bringing it farther forward and narrowing its limits? And as to elocution, is it not well known that the acoustic qualities of the Théâtre-Français are marvellous? Most of the other theatres, smaller by half, are its inferiors in this respect. All the more reason for not making use of immense scenes, in which the voice is lost when domestic life is being portrayed. At the Odéon they played “Grand’Mere” in a monumental salon; the same, moreover, that completely smothered one act of “Renée Mauperin” by the same disadvantages.
What can you expect a work that is lifelike and full of familiar movements to become in a false atmosphere?
The movements are managed no better than the scenery. They do not regulate the goings and comings of the comedians in accordance with the text or the meaning of the scene, but in accordance with the convenience or caprice of the actors, who play each on his own account, regardless of the others. And the foot-lights hypnotize them; everybody tries to advance as far as possible into the hall. I have been told of a theatre where, in the days when they used gas, all the actors burned the hems of their pantaloons in the unprotected gas-jets.
Mile. Reichenberg, the other evening, gave a standing soliloquy while embroidering, as old women knit at their thresholds; not once did Clotilde and Lafont frankly address each other; it was the balcony that obstinately held their attention. But in the city, after two sentences, you would say to your companion: “Confound it, look at me; it is to you that I am talking,” and you would be right.
The truth is that this new theatre will inevitably require new interpreters. That is an elementary truth which I repeat everywhere.
Look at “Le Maître,” for instance. This attempt, at the Nouveautés, was as odd as possible. I said so the other day to the younger Brasseur, and I have concealed my opinion from no one. The experiment was tried under the worst conditions, “Le Maître” surely being the very last piece of those produced at the Théâtre-Libre that should have been transferred to that elegant and boulevardier scene. Jullien, in a great hurry, took a false step, the consequences of which he is now in a position to measure: he has lessened the very great artistic success which he had just achieved, and, without an appreciable pecuniary profit, he has had further the disagreeable experience of furnishing the hostile and incredulous with arguments against the theories which he maintains and against the comrades who struggle by his side.
But finally, having determined upon the step, he took the greatest care to ask of his new interpreters the movements noted at the Théâtre-Libre. A scene was painted exactly similar, and they went so far as to secure the same furnishings and the same accessories. And yet it was not the same thing. You see, those movements of which I spoke just now were not in the legs of the comedians of the Boulevard. A “passade” made by Janvier, for instance, is no longer the same thing when executed by Decori: this is because Decori, with all his experience, has, I insist upon it, the professional training in his legs, and cannot get rid of it immediately. He is embarrassed by a thousand considerations to which one should pay no attention if he wishes to realize a natural interpretation. If Janvier, who has no professional training, is told to go to the mantel-piece, he simply goes there, with a step characteristic of his rôle; the other has a special stride, a “theatrical stride,” to unlearn which would give him a thousand times more trouble than he spent in learning it.
Lately, at the request of the authors, I undertook to rehearse the company of the Menus-Plaisirs in “Deux Tourterteaux” and another piece to be played in a few weeks. In the former I tried to indicate to the two very pretty comrades who assumed the rôles, the movements and step in which Mme. France has been drilled. Well, I was obliged to give it up in order not to wound the feelings of two worthy people who were sweating blood and water without result. As for the other piece, it was still worse. I had to drop it entirely after one rehearsal. I could not persuade them to go simply to a table or sit down in an arm-chair without looking into the hall and taking a peculiar gait. There was nothing to be done. And without any doubt these artists know their trade; every evening they, as well as the interpreters of “La Parisienne,” do things much more difficult, but they have lost simplicity and the gift of acting as if no one were looking at them.
To induce a comedian to talk a long time while seated is impossible. As soon as he begins a passage of any length, he cannot help saying to the stage-manager: “Now I rise, do I not?” To them, broken to the old formula, the stage is a tribune, and not an enclosure in which something is happening. I remember that you, in a lecture given at Ballande’s in 1873, related this anecdote of an actor of the Palais Royal,— Arnal or Ravel, I believe,— who, having to hang up his hat, walked obstinately back and forth before the footlights, earnestly searching for a nail on this fourth wall. That made a great impression on me, and it seemed to me that you strongly approved the thing. So you are perhaps the cause of my present gropings. In such ways do we corrupt youth without suspecting it.
I stop. But I beg you to give your attention to this aspect of the matter. You will be struck by the profound inharmony which is manifesting itself between the works of the new tendency and the interpreters which they find. This is an important point and a curious phase of the existing theatrical movement.
For my part, I am profoundly happy, for the progress is plain. And I should hardly think of saying a word on the subject if it bad not become a sort of sport to “jump,” in a benevolent fashion, it is true, but nevertheless to “jump,”’ on the Théâtre-Libre every time that a work which it brought to light meets an adverse fate elsewhere. No one-need be deceived: more of these failures will accumulate, more blows will be received, the movement will be boldly-denied, but the impulse has been given. An immense subterranean labor is in progress, and you know that the public are already biting. It used to be said that our modest establishment was an affair of fashion, and would disappear some fine evening, just as it came. Now, you know that our public is growing every year, and that consequently our ground is becoming wider and wider. That the new ideas will succeed is my firm belief, but there is no need of going crazy and naively thinking that literary fame, heavy receipts, and the passionate love of the crowd are to be achieved at one stroke. Many pieces are yet to appear upon the play-bills, and we are hardly at the first groping. For the moment we content ourselves with looking backward and establishing the progress that has been made during the last five or six years.
St. Petersburg, May 5. — On April 24 all that is progressive in Russia was deeply moved by the death of the famous publicist, Shelgunoff, whose name and activity are closely connected with the glorious names of Tchernychewsky and Dobroliuboff.
Shelgunoff was born in 1824. He abandoned a brilliant career as a functionary and a professor to the body of foresters to give himself to literature, borne by the current of liberal ideas of 1860. His talent as a publicist, his devotion to the cause of liberty, his ideas which gave him a place in the brilliant constellation of the first leaders of Socialism in Russia, cost him thirteen successive years of expulsion from the capital, and years of imprisonment in the fortress of Saint Peter and Paul. During the last seven years he was obliged to live, now in Finland, now in a remote region in the province of Smolensk, receiving permission occasionally to visit St. Petersburg for the purpose of consulting physicians, his health having been ruined long ago in consequence of the cruel trials to which he had been submitted.
Having managed successfully the review “Dielo,” suppressed a few years ago by the government, and to the staff of which he belonged for many years, he also wrote admirable sketches of Russian life for one of our best reviews, “Russian Thought.”
A few weeks before his death he published a second edition of his works. He treated philosophic, economic, and social subjects with equal success, and, in spite of his sixty-seven years and the atrocious suffering which his disease (a cancer of the loins) caused him, he remained at the head of the opposition to his last breath. When no longer in a condition to write, he dictated his articles, which always appeared regularly, and the last of which, begun a few days before his death, remained unfinished. “My ideas are growing confused,” said he to his doctor, almost on the eve of his death-agony.
His last stay in St. Petersburg was a series of triumphs. The miserable room in which the valiant toiler of the pen lived was constantly filled with people: delegations came to testify their sympathy, students from all the higher schools, female students, workingmen.
His death was announced at a lecture which was to have been given by one of his most devoted friends, the famous publicist, Nicholas Michailovsky.
He himself had just learned of the death of Shelgunoff on entering the lecture-room. From the platform he said a few words, but was unable to continue: “Excuse me,” said he, “I have just learned some sad news: Shelgunoff is dead.” Immediately the audience rose, and remained standing for a moment in profound meditation; then they started en masse for the dwelling of the valiant prolétaire. For three days the modest room, the stairway, the court-yard, overflowed with people: literary people, friends, workingmen, the youth of the schools, came to bid farewell to him who had always been faithful to his convictions in spite of suffering and persecution. The police tried to expel him a last time a few weeks before his death, but he was no longer able to walk, and they did not dare to carry him away by force.
The walls of the death-chamber were bidden by the numerous floral crowns. There was not room enough for all of them, and the rest were laid at the foot of the coffin. Most of the crowns were sent by delegations representing hundreds and thousands of persons. The oak coffin, as simple as the dwelling of the deceased himself, offered an affecting contrast to the floral luxury.
On the day of the funeral it was with the greatest difficulty that one could force an entrance into the death-chamber. The procession started at ten o’clock in the morning, and did not reach the cemetery until three in the afternoon.
The Society of Literary People, which assumed the expense of the funeral, secured a hearse, but the people wanted to carry the coffin to the grave. But at the moment of starting the police interfered, and began to take the coffin from the hands of Shelgunoff’s friends. A bloody riot would have ensued, if a very popular literary man had not approached and begged the people to yield and place the coffin in the hearse, which was done. The young people, discontented at this concession, decided at once that, if they could not carry the coffin, they would carry the crowns in spite of everything. Now this is an honor which was forbidden to any one whomsoever in a circular issued by the Synod after the funeral of Tourgenieff. No circular, however, forbids the carrying of coffins, and such a thing may be seen any day. It is even in conformity with an old custom.
So the police forbade that which is permitted, and permitted that which is forbidden. The deputations arranged themselves in marching order. The crown from the workingmen of St. Petersburg, bearing the inscription, “To him who pointed out to us the way to liberty and fraternity,” opened the procession, carried by six workingmen. It was formed of immense palm leaves, woven together with flowers and branches of ivy. There were more than fifty crowns. Almost all bore inscriptions. Among them were to be noticed the crown offered by the institute of technologists, a beautiful crown of silver laurel; a crown of natural laurel, from the staff of the “Dielo” (the suppressed review); a splendid crown from the review, “Russian Thought”; one from the medical students, “To the indefatigable champion of liberty and justice from the students of the University of St. Petersburg, “To the champion of the democratic ideal”; from the unknown, “To him who died with the flag in his hand”; from the country school-mistresses; from those who work in the evening schools (for the working-people); from the students of various schools; from the “students’ mutual aid societies of various provinces” (an unauthorized organization); from the students of Moscow; from the students of Tomsk (in Siberia); from Russian laborers; from friends; from the “Russian Gazette”; from the students of forestry; from the school of mines; from the school of roads and bridges, etc.
The police tried to guide the procession through side streets, but this trick did not work. Slowly, with calmness and dignity, the crowd passed through the main streets,— the Liteinaia, the Nevsky Perspective, and others. Toward the end of the route the hearse was stopped, and the youth of the schools carried the coffin into the cemetery.
All along the route an immense chorus sang funeral hymns. The singers were students of both sexes. The police tried to stop the singing, but in vain. At the cemetery a new throng awaited the procession, bringing new crowns. Then they arranged themselves around the grave. The spectacle was an imposing one. On the walls, on the neighboring mounds, over the tombs, everywhere compact groups formed. An orator appeared, an old friend of the deceased, Zasodimsky, a publicist and novelist, who also has remained faithful to the tradition of democratic struggles. His hair has grown white, but his heart beats in harmony with the young. “Shelgunoff is dead, Shelgunoff lives,” said he; “his ideas will not die, his example will remain forever. I believe I do not need to characterize Shelgunoff’s tendencies. Read the inscriptions on these crowns, and you will be sufficiently informed.”
Several speakers followed, students and literary people. Then appeared a woman and a workingman. It was the first time that a woman and a workingman had spoken on such an occasion. No one seemed to know them. With calmness and dignity, they spoke one after the other. The unknown woman pointed out that Shelgunoff was not only a man of letters; be placed his pen at the service of a cause, and that cause he never abandoned. The workingman spoke in the name of his comrades, filled with gratitude toward him who opened their eyes to the iniquities of the existing society, who spoke to them of their western comrades, their struggles with capital, and their efforts to achieve liberty. He finished his speech with these words: “He has been understood by the world of laborers.”
Hundreds of voices joined in the funeral hymn. A few workingmen approached the grave, and said a few words to the grave-diggers, after which the latter retired with an air of satisfaction. “We ourselves will render you the last service,” said one of the workingmen. Friendly voices sang the hymns, friendly hands burled him.
The crowd dispersed slowly, after visiting the graves of Dobroliuboff, Bielinsky, Saltikoff, and others. A woman sadly followed: she was the widow of Tchernychewsky, who had just arrived at St. Petersburg.
The astonished police read the inscriptions upon the broad black and white ribbons which ornamented the crowns, and took note of them.
At the present hour the prisons are full. The expulsions from the capital and from the higher schools are raining like hail. No one is spared,— literary people, workingmen, students of both sexes. A search is being made for the organizers of the manifestation, and no one seems able to comprehend that which nevertheless is a very simple thing, to be found in Russia as well as elsewhere,— a spontaneous impulse.
A Charge of Cannibalism.
To the Editor of Liberty:
E. C. Walker never loses an opportunity of gratifying his cannibalistic appetite for the blood of his weaker brothers and sisters, and in a late search of prey “L” in Lucifer furnishes this literary Fiji a dainty mouthful and is served up in characteristic style. In a late issue of “Lucifer” an “editorial correspondent signing L” defends free love from its conservative enemies, and in the same article opposes the term as understood by many who seem to believe that, free from legal restraint or personal authority, woman’s love would be dealt out like Methodist salvation, “whosoever will, may come and drink of the fountain,” etc.
Any reader, not thirsting for gore, would understand the writer’s idea to be that circumstances make it impossible for love to be very common or free, and that the principal obstacle is, so very few men are fit to love.
A free woman will not be driven or forced into love relations distasteful to her, but she may by circumstances be driven or forced from the love she desires.
For instance, a woman might choose and be perfectly free to love E. C. Walker, but, should she speak her love in sentences not rounded and polished up to his critical standard of excellence, it is easy to see that, whether she “elect” or not, she would be driven away, for with him personal respect or friendship or love weigh very lightly in the balance against his contempt for people who in his opinion “have not learned the proper use and relation of words.”
Lillie D. White.
A Pointer for Putnam.
[G. W. Foote in London Freethinker.]
You cannot have the advantages of all policies at once. Selection also means rejection. If you choose one road, you reject the rest.
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.