“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 women of Toronto came out in great numbers to vote at the last municipal election on the questions of free text-books in the public schools and of Sunday street-car service. The result naturally was that the election was in favor of free text-books and against Sunday cars. The women also helped to elect the workmen’s candidate for mayor.
Sidney Olivier, the Fabian Socialist, pretends to see on every hand signs of the passing away of “the individualism that has identified its cause with the institution of private property. The individual character expressed in State Socialism finds its development thwarted by the existing conditions of industrial individualism, and the age is rapidly producing in increasing numbers men and women to whom the individualistic pursuit of property not only seems undesirable, but is actually repulsive.” What the Fabians mean by “individualistic pursuit of property” it is not easy to determine; but it is certainly not true that the sentiment on which the institution of private property rests is declining. Provided the pursuit of property is carried on within the limits of equal liberty, it is difficult to conceive a rational objection to it. Any pursuit of property which is not individualistic is necessarily invasive. The fundamental error of the Fabians consists in identifying coöperative forms of business with State Socialistic principles. Coöperation is not anti-individualistic, and the total disappearance of competition would not necessarily imply the disappearance of the individualistic pursuit of property. Voluntary coöperation is clearly individualistic. Individualism has nothing to do with forms or methods; it only insists on underlying principles. It may be that the world is getting ready for the adoption of the direct coöperative method, — though there is no evidence upon the point that could be regarded as conclusive, — but neither individualism nor private property are in any danger from the alleged tendency. It is State Socialism which dreads the growth of voluntary coöperation, since men familiar with the advantages of the latter will never lake kindly to the compulsory features inseparable from the former.
The readers of the “Twentieth Century” are not satisfied, apparently, with Mr. Pentecost’s explanations on the subject of his attitude towards Anarchism. They think he is an Anarchist, and that he ought to paint himself as he is. In the last issue, he thus answers one of these critics: “I am not against government, I am only against the Government. Mr. Benjamin R. Tucker says he is an Anarchist. Messrs. Victor Yarros, C. L. James, Dyer D. Lum, and John Most each says the same of himself. But the doctrines taught by each differ from those taught by the other. If I should say I am an Anarchist, it might mean something in general, but it would mean nothing in particular, and it would not be true. I am not an Anarchist. Any well-known Anarchist will say that I am not. I believe that the compulsory government of man by man is unwise. Is it necessary to label myself with a name that I do not understand merely because I hold that belief?” We have here a plain statement of what Mr. Pentecost believes to be facts, and a confession that Mr. Pentecost does “not understand” the “name” Anarchist. Whether this is consistent with previous explanations, is immaterial, in view of the fact that it is directly contradicted by the next paragraph on the same page of the paper, in which the editor of the “Evening Post” is asked, à propos of certain sensible utterances, whether he is an Anarchist. If Mr. Pentecost really does not know what an Anarchist is, how can he ask Mr. Godkin, who has simply expressed certain ideas, whether he is an Anarchist? Manifestly, the ideas expressed by Mr. Godkin are Anarchistic, and Mr. Pentecost, knowing them to be such, deems it pertinent to address to him his question. Now, a man who knows that certain ideas are Anarchistic, knows what an Anarchist is. Mr. Pentecost has a treacherous memory, and generally confutes himself better than anybody else could confute him.
M. D. O’Brien, of “Free Life,” is opposed to divorce, regarding it as anti-individualistic. “Divorce,” he rightly says, “is based upon the theory that people can have property in each other. This is a remnant of slavery, and leads to more harm than good.” But Mr. O’Brien is not ready to dispense with all governmental regulations. He has an original plan of regulation, which he explains as follows: “Treat marriage in the same manner as other contracts. Leave people free to make and break their sexual agreements; but when anyone can satisfy a jury of his (or her) peers that, through the breaking of a sexual agreement, he (or she) has been unjustly treated, let compensation be given in proportion to the injury received, and in proportion to the injurer’s ability to pay it. Each case could then be tried on its own merits; just as breach of promise is dealt with now. People could not be compelled to dwell together. The spirit as well as the letter of agreements could be fully taken into account. Loss would be estimated, not from an idealist’s point of view, but from a similar point of view to that of the loser himself (or herself), — a most important consideration and one we nearly always forget. In this way it would be possible to make some approximation to justice correspond in each case.” Verily superstitious die hard. Divorce is a remnant of slavery; but the person who ceases to love is to be punished for the crime of experiencing a change of feeling. How an individualist can cheerfully propose to punish a person for an “injury” for which he is in no way responsible, passes my comprehension. Mr. O’Brien himself is a little ashamed of his nonsensical proposition, for he goes on to say: “Add to this, that as the general sentiments regarding marriage became less material, the compensations would diminish in amount, and as personal independence became more real, the need for them would disappear. Thus, as theoretical and practical Individualism spread amongst the people, the negative regulation of marriage would gradually disappear along with all other negative regulations; and a social condition would at last be reached when there was neither positive nor negative regulation, either of marriages or of other human relations.” But to approve of the principle of punishing men for having certain feelings is not a good method of spreading individualism. Nor are breach of promise suits calculated to elevate the sentiments regarding marriage. I hope Mr. O’Brien will realize the weakness of his position.
The Poetry of the Future.
Translated from the German by Benj. R. Tucker.
No child, who in abandonment to pleasure
Plucks blossoms slyly from the tree of life, —
Who chases flitting dreams, content with leisure,
At forest’s edge, away from toil and strife;
No woman grown, who draws the veil, Illusion,
To calm our Time, tormented, cursed with lies,
And bears our hearts afar, beyond confusion,
To rest within a peaceful paradise;
No woman old, with woeful look and weary,
Who contemplates the climax of her days, —
Who seeks retirement, dismal, lone, and dreary,
And, lacking trust in self, her fate obeys, —
No, quite another is the outcast Muse,
The goddess whom the Present has rejected!
Pursuing ends which we have scarce suspected,
She grardly treads new paths and glory strews!
So will the poetry of our future be:
She’ll call her goddess Truth. All dross and drivel
In Truth’s resplendent, hot, and flery sea
Will blaze in leaping flame, expire, and shrivel.
As dry wood smokes and scintillates and crackles,
So die the pious lies that lure when spoken
In ears that listen with the faith that shackles,
And upward soars in daring flight unbroken
The eagle Freedom! — and before his flight
The moving air makes way; the smoke disperses
Beneath his beating wings; and in the light
Behold! a new word in the book of verses!
For murder she’ll no other name discover,
The tyrant from his throne she’ll quickly banish.
No murderer will she ever set above her,
Or carve his fame in words that never vanish.
Of kings she’ll no more celebrate the glory.
The singer of the poor she’ll e’er remain.
No wreaths will she entwine round weapons gory.
The thought of blood will make her shriek with pain!
And cautious justice finally will greet us.
Her light will shed upon us its warm glow:
There’ll be no “pure” and “pious” then to meet us,
For only human beings shall we know!
John Henry Mackay.
Hope for the Secular Union Yet.
To the Editor of Liberty:
E. C. Walker, in No. 210, asks some pertinent questions, after showing the folly of the Cassadaga Congress of the Liberal League, now the Secular Union. That the concessions made at that time were unwise and ruinous we who have always stood for a brave, aggressive policy, will agree; but the Secularist ship is not sunk yet. The officers last elected are, with one or two exceptions, radicals on every point, and Judge Waite has already given notice that he will, at the next Congress, introduce an amendment to the demand for non-Sunday legislation, restoring it to its original intent and purpose, and if I live, there will be some action in regard to interference with mails, etc. Now, I hope all the old workers will rally to the standard of Liberty, and once more unite their forces and work as never before to loosen the clutches of the Church and State upon the throat of Liberty. The conservative trimmers have had their experience; the radicals are now In command of the Secular craft; and with an intelligent, radical, and brave constituency, a new impetus can be given and the shoals that have well-nigh wrecked her in the past be avoided. We are to have a Mass Meeting at Central Music Hall, February 29, in the interest of Sunday opening of the World’s Fair, under the A. S. U. auspices, and the new board, most of whom are now resident here in Chicago, are engaged in formulating plans and laying out their future work, which they purpose prosecuting with vigor, if the Liberals of the country will supply the munitions of war.
Fraternally yours, Juliet H. Severance. M. D.
“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.
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.
Mutual Bank Notes.
In trying to dispose of the claim that mutual banking would benefit labor, the editor of the “Personal Rights Journal” lately wrote:
Let us examine the circumstances. I take my Mutual Bank notes to my neighbor Jones, who is a client of the Mutual Bank; and in exchange for them, I obtain a certain quantity of leather, which I work up into boots, and which, therefore, is capital. What has Jones done? Has he lent me the leather on the security of these bits of paper? Not at all. Those bits of paper are valued by him only because they constitute a documentary title to certain goods. He has given me the leather on the security of those goods; and the mediation of the Mutual Bank and the notes is an unessential link in the transaction. I might have taken my goods direct to Jones and given him a lien on them as a security for his leather, instead of giving the Bank a lien on them, and transferring the Bank valuation of the lien to Jones, in exchange for his leather.
This analysis leads the editor to declare that the notion that capital would be increased by mutual banking is “pure and unadulterated moonshine.” A correspondent of the “Herald of Anarchy” meets this criticism in the following clear and satisfactory manner:
But Jones might very reasonably have laughed at me, and proceeded to sell his goods for cash, or for bills which he could discount. But when I take him Mutual Bank notes I take him cash, and Jones listens to me, and is willing to trade. Instead of depriving himself of capital for a time, for which he would justly demand interest, he deprives himself of nothing by accepting Mutual Bank notes, for they are immediately convertible into whatever produce he pleases to purchase. To use Greene’s words, they are “disengaged capital.”
The editor of the “Herald of Anarchy,” however, dissents from the view of his correspondent, and corrects him as follows:
I think our correspondent is here confusing Mutual Bank notes with other bank notes. When a private banker issues notes, they are based on such gold as is held at the bank, or that the banker can obtain by sale of securities in which he has invested. . . . The bank’s reputation, in short, is the security for the notes. But in the case of notes issued by a mutual bank, the issuers would not be responsible for their redemption, but solely the person to whom they were issued, and the security would be the goods or property pledged by such person. Indeed, Mutual Bank notes would be rather of the nature of checks — i. e., claims on the banking account of this or that individual. I think Mr. Levy is quite right, but the proposals of the Mutual Bankists cannot be satisfactorily criticised until they can deal with the question more profoundly than Mr. Westrup has yet attempted to do.
Mr. Levy is not “quite right,” and the editor of the “Herald of Anarchy’s” charge of confusion against its correspondent is not warranted. The mutual bank is responsible to the holder of its notes for their redemption, such holder being totally unconcerned about the particular property on which his notes are based. When he accepts the notes from the man to whom the bank issued them, his business with that man is at an end. His subsequent dealings are with the bank. The person who mortgages his property to the bank is responsible to the bank, not to those who take the notes in exchange for commodities. If property has to be sold, the bank sells it, not the note-holders, who simply would refuse to handle them on any other condition. Does the editor of the “Herald of Anarchy” dispute the statement that Jones deprives himself of nothing by accepting mutual bank notes, and that they are immediately convertible into commodities? If not, then Mr. Levy’s criticism is pointless, and the correspondent is correct in saying that Jones would properly refuse to give his leather if the would-be borrower applied to him directly.
Mr. Westrup may not have dealt with all the questions involved in mutual banking exhaustively and profoundly; but the point upon which this particular controversy hinges is one of the simplest, and Mr. Levy’s criticism is surprisingly weak. V. Y.
The Martyrdom of the Soul.
In my experience of work-a-day life and every-day people there is one thing above all others that I account the most notable, and that by reason of its rarity. Not that I claim a longer or wider experience than the next man, for mine indeed is but short, yet varied enough to give point to the observation. It is true the rare quality I speak of has appeared to me in several individuals who stood out like oases in the desert, or as beacons on the waters, their light glittering with a brightness which served only to show the profundity of the darkness around.
I must crave the exercise of a little patience with my mode of explanation, for instead of defining this notable rarity I shall begin by pointing out its absence in the examples I am about to introduce. With them I shall be lenient, and sympathetic withal, because in their ranks I often, if not always, march myself. We live not in an age of martyrs. People now-a-days seldom feel the necessity to enter the state of martyrdom, and least of all the people whom I am about to accuse. Yet consciously in a few cases and in the vast number unconsciously they do exist upon the earth in a state of living, helpless, crucified martyrdom.
We shall examine them as they come, indiscriminately. Take your good citizen, your thriving man of business, conscious of his well-merited success and his neighbors’ respect. Has he ever for one whole moment in his life knowingly cultivated himself, — that is, the part of him which in a careful analysis might be distinguished as essentially him, an entity, an individuality, a something which differentiated him from all others; a feature held not in common with the rest, but in distinction to and separate from all those common attributes?
Like other boys, he recieved in due course an education; they all received the same. Its main object was to prepare him — that is, the parts of him, the powers, passions, capacities, which he held in common with the others — for the busy struggling un-individual life which he now so complacently follows. That exercise did nothing to foster or enlarge the distinctive entity; it helped in its infancy to crush and smother it. Possibly when he left school he did feel some latent yet distinctive desires and predilections. He dreamt of going to sea, or to California, or living in the country, or becoming a philosopher, or a stonemason, or of reaching the dignity and distinction of a policeman or a President or what not. Whatever may have been his private feelings, his individual leanings, in the matter, nobody consulted, and he soon forgot that such heresies had ever found lodgment in his mind. For like his peers he had early been impressed with the essential object of his bringing up, viz., to make a man of himself by getting money, realizing a position, a standing in the world, and, from a material point of view, always making the most of his opportunities. In a word, not to be a man, a separate individual, but to tread the same paths the rest were on, do the same things, reach the same goal, feel the same contentment and satisfaction at his success in the beaten path.
Not without sundry rebellions, however, is all this programme accomplished.
His parents put him into a situation which at the time offers the best opportunities. After awhile mayhap its dullness, insipidity, and want of agreement with his natural tastes and ambitions bring a discontent. Another place which has also been selected because of its fulfillment of the general stipulations, is procured, and for awhile the young man is satisfied. Finally he learns to heed no more those inner promptings, but settles down to the life that is laid upon him, performing his round of duty, his commercial labors, and social engagements, with a sense of their sacredness which completely annihilates the natural preferences and crude yearnings of the individual man. In business hours he associates with many people. To each he is civil, polite, and always tries to converse as if interested in the phase of the weather or other circumstance that each desires to unburden himself of.
He finds himself married. Then arises a variety of duties, impositions, which, whether they correspond with his inclinations or not (they seldom do), he feels obliged to lend himself to, and perform to the satisfaction of another party. Visits, entertainments, shopping, and other indifferent locomotory functions which are always dull and often positively abhorrent. The exactions upon his stifled entity belonging to his bi-condition grow with years, and at last he almost ceases to remember that he ever was an individual, a free being.
He has a family. As they grow in years and numbers, his whole thoughts and most of his time are devoted to placing, settling, and worrying about them. If he is considerate and good, fired with the regulation pride of family, he takes to these trying duties kindly, acting as their general omnipotence.
When this period is well through, his head is bald; he probably attends church with more devotion and regularity, for he had not till now much time to spare for ultra-earthly duties or spiritual thoughts.
Now, when he is about worked up, he is free at last to turn his attention to his own cultivation. Whatever of the distinctive personality had once flourished within is long since smothered and dead, so instead of this he thinks of the life to come and spends the remainder of his days in pious contemplation of the projected but uncertain bliss beyond. Thus vegetating has he gone through life. Never did he perpetrate an original deed, or utter a new thought, or feel the influence of an uncommon emotion. No worse can be said of him than this: he has travelled life’s journey as millions more, past, present, and to come, feeling no aspiration, performing no action by which from any of those he might have been distinguished. Wedged in by circumstances, surrounded by conditions, he made not the effort to break the chain they forged that bound him to the beaten path. As he passes from the stage of life, another steps into his place, filling it with equal competency; and, missing him not, the world goes on its way.
Let us shift our ground. Here is another type. A man pitchforked into the rut of life he exists in. One who “earns his bread by the sweat of his brow,” the ancient curse still pressing upon him heavily; cast as it were upon a raft, around and upon which cling a multitude scrambling for a hold and a footing secure. About his vocation there is no choice, not even a predilection. Little stimulus here to build a berth, to make a position giving a safe and comfortable competence as did the other. From the outset his life’s work seems to be a struggle to subsist, to find a spar, a piece of débris, anything to cling to about the precarious raft of existence. Not seldom in this does he fail completely, dropping unnoticed to the bottom.
Passing over the preparation for life’s battle which the meagre education allotted him affords, he begins his career as ’prentice, errand-boy, drudge, or general knockabout. Truly he gains an advantage over our first type in that some opportunity may arise in the grim variety and precariousness of this experience to find out and cherish, yet rarely to develop, his personality. When he is settled in life (this you will perceive is a paradox, for he never is settled in life, but always borne hither and thither — insecure), or what is his nearest approach to that condition, the head of a family of which he is the only support, the life he leads is after this fashion. A day of toil extending through twelve or fourteen hours, including meals and going to and fro, which leaves him physically exhausted and mentally inert. Inexorable destiny decrees that to cultivate the vital entity whose latent existence he may perchance dimly feel shall not be the privilege of his condition. The world permits him to live; the repayment of this debt with usurious interest leaves him but little leisure and less opportunity to consciously discover that which is within. The semblance of amusement — the most trivial excitement, the least exalting pleasures absorb the scanty time of rest; and for anything beyond, his weariness proves an effectual barrier.
Imagine for yourself the conditions and surroundings, or perhaps you know already from ripe experience. Whether it be on a street-car, a monotonous but ever vigilant strain; or at the furnace plutonic, or the whirring machine subduing and fashioning the useful metal; or it may be behind the counter of a busy store sustaining the maximum of pressure to the square inch, a dreary and exhausting round of trivialities; else in the din of the flying factory ’mid the buzzing of a myriad wheels; or in the quieter workshop still feeling the squeeze in the race for life; whether handling the shovel and pick, or following the plough, so needful forms of toil yet so unprofitable; or mayhap treading the ladder with the “hod” while the man at the top does all the work — in every case the result is alike. On duty, a ceaseless effort; off, lassitude needing all the little opportunity for recuperation so again to be capable of the same endurance.
Thus is strangled and annihilated the soul of man.
Here is a veritable martyrdom. True, we may find exceptions, and I am pleased to think, a growing number who escape; but it is only partial, and they are still rare. The conditions are iron-bound, the circumstances imperative, and they effect their stifling and destructive work as surely and as completely as a political party chokes and stamps out an independent opinion.
Upon the home life we need not dwell. Domestic comforts represented too often merely by a sleeping place, where the partner lives who prepares the food and supplies maternity to the children. Comfort, happiness, peace — to cultivate these there is no time.
Family life is a pretence, a shadow, hardly ever a pleasant reality.
Small wonder that the mass of humanity, a few of whose ordinary surroundings and conditions of life in a free(!) country have been imperfectly sketched, moves forward with so little haste. It is made up of an agglomeration of distinct individuals, everyone wedged in by all the others, obliged to fashion and accommodate himself to his environment.
Let us here affirm that each intelligent unit has a distinctive entity, a personality capable of cultivation, which would render it more complete and thoroughly differentiate it from all others. Denied the opportunity to perfect this cultivation, knowledge is lacking, expansion and elevation of the soul impossible, and liberty, dearest of all, not to be attained.
The whole is no greater than all of its parts, and can contain nothing which does not in some of them reside, consequently it partakes of all these negatives, and by its ponderance crushes whatever small stock of asserted self-consciousness a few, by overcoming the pressure of prejudice and circumstance, have audaciously evolved.
The mass can move onward only when the component parts are in the way of progress. No advance were possible, did not some, a minute fraction to be sure, discern that innate personality and give rein to the soul. When each and everyone can do this freely, spontaneously, the whole mass will have ascended to a higher plane to breathe a purer air, but not till then.
Although the types we have taken to exemplify our theme are of the gender masculine, yet what has been said is none the less true of their coordinates, women. Indeed the sacrifice of the woman’s personality is so absolute and so universal that to handle it here is quite impossible. Tomes might be filled about it; to indite a library would not exhaust it. Therefore with an observation I pass on. It is this. Women are to a greater degree than men the slaves of routine, custom, and conventionality. Their lives under the imperfect civilization of today partake more of the flat, monotonous sameness of the prairie, especially in Old World countries. Hence, while the vacuity of their existence is more perfect and the soul’s suppression less relieved by stray gleams of personal development, the sacrifice is not so galling, the desire of wider individuality hardly so keen, and the unconscious martyrdom enwraps in tighter folds the whole character of woman.
The sensitive mind feels the curb at every turn. Dame Grundy and her progeny, public opinion, custom, respectability, and the rest, are potent factors in preserving mediocrity and rolling out all her subjects — victims, I should say — to one level, insipid and barren. The unlucky wight who drops out of the ranks, steps aside, or strides beyond, how he suffers! Courage and endurance he must possess in good store if he maintain his chosen ground. The soul should be well watered, its roots deep set in a fruitful soil, to endure the assault.
What is more painful, while bordering on the ridiculous, than to see the people whose souls are dormant shocked and scared, ever ready to attack, as the silly turkey a red rag, the slightest manifestation of cultivated individuality. Anything novel in externals, as the fleeting fashions, is received with open arms. But a new idea, the unusual and ill-understood thought or action of a person with a soul, shall be anathema. To be so is to be a crank, an eccentric creature; at best, a fool; at worst, an enemy of society, — an Anarchist.
Do you belong to this category? A modern member of the tribe of Ishmael. How often in company, in the office, the work-shop, the club, amongst the companions, not of your own choice exactly, but whom you are, as it were, thrust upon, have you felt it necessary to smother the sentiment or opinion which would only excite their derision and contempt? Why? Simply because it was unusual; they would not understand. The horse or yacht race, the latest murder, the forthcoming election, all the commonplace topics of every-day recurrence you may have your say about, but see to’t that it is what everybody says, else keep it to yourself. And when you think on other matters, pursuing the course toward which a free and distinctive entity urges you, O! tell it not in Gath, publish it not in Eskalon, that you may escape martyrdom at the hands of the Philistines.
Take this advice with thee. Never despise the inner promptings. Know that thou dost possess something worth cultivating; seek for it, and thou shalt in some direction find it. Fear not to think and to express thy thought. Act upon thine own judgment when thou canst brave the calumny and ostracism of the multitude. If thou wouldst possess a soul of thine own, make not gain thy chief business, but be ever ready to sacrifice something for thy soul’s sake. William Bailie.
In an article on short hours in the Washington departments, in the “Journal of the Knights of Labor,” the following sentence arrests attention: “The government clerks are of course in a specially favorable position, — a fact which the opponents of nationalism will do well to note, — and their hours are of course shorter than those of men occupying similar positions in private employ.” Now, what is the moral of the fact which we are requested to note? Government clerks receive handsome salaries to which neither the quantity nor the quality of their work would seem to entitle them; but the government can afford to be liberal, since the tax-payers foot the bills. Would nationalism secure equally generous treatment to all of us? Manifestly not, for, when all are government employees and there is no tax-paying class to exploit, the government can only be liberal at its own expense, which is a palpable absurdity. A pauper has nothing to give.
The “University Extension” Paradox.
The “University Extension” movement seems to have caused great enthusiasm in England as well as in this country. Within the past two years it has assumed here considerable proportions and gained great popularity. One of the prominent supporters of the movement states that the purpose of the movement is to provide a means of higher education for persons of all classes engaged in the regular occupations of life. But this statement is incomplete; it omits the principal feature, — gratuity. The movement originally aimed at bringing higher education within the reach of those who are unable to pay for the luxury. At first the movement depended exclusively on private endowment, and afforded an opportunity to wealthy and philanthropic persons to put to good use some of their surplus wealth. Of late, however, suggestions of government aid have been quite bold and frequent.
Gov. Flower has deemed it prudent to warn the Legislature against the assumption of this new obligation, and points out that the excessive taxation for and inadequate results of the system of public-school education ought to cause the Legislature some grave doubts of the propriety of undertaking new educational duties. In view of the fact that thousands of children are growing up without any school education, and that the State cannot compel even rudimentary instruction, Gov. Flower submits that the advocates of higher education at the State’s expense ought to receive no encouragement whatever from the legislators, whose first and most pressing business is to ascertain the causes of the decline of the public-school system and apply the needful remedies.
But the governor fails to realize the amusing contradiction and the paradox into which the State-aided-university-extension advocates are betrayed by their own thoughtlessness. Their present plan amounts to this, — that they propose to make those who are unable to get a university education pay for the higher education which they “bring within their reach”! They virtually say to the poor: “You doubtless appreciate the advantages of a higher education as keenly as we do, but you are unfortunately unable to pay for the boon. But we have a way which makes it possible for us to bring the means of culture within your reach without entailing any burden on yon. We will — tax you, and thus pay the expense of the university extension institution.” When we consider that this ludicrous proposition is made in all sobriety by the university-extensionists, we are tempted to assure their protégés that they can learn nothing of value from such silly teachers. People who talk glibly about State aid without suspecting that State aid means money from the pockets of those very people whose poverty is pitied and whose needs it is sought to supply gratis are blind guides whose ambition to lead others can only excite mirth and contempt.
This demand for State aid to higher educational institutions suggests another reform, which we respectfully submit to the university-extensionists. If the State is to pay the costs, why not procure legislation making attendance compulsory? Is not culture a blessing, and ignorance a curse? Does the common school turn out competent and enlightened voters? It certainly does not; then why not compel men to avail themselves of the means of culture brought within their reach by State-aided university extension? If it is the duty of the government to pay for the higher education of those who are wise enough to desire it, is it not a still more imperative duty to force wisdom down the fools’ throats? Let the cry be, henceforth, compulsory university extension!
The Un-Henly Hen.
“Do look at the impudent baggage and see the airs she gives herself,” said the speckled hen; “the cock says that she is a blue-stocking, but her blue-stocking shall not save her from having a peck on the leg if I have to do it myself.”
“Then she will have a blue leg,” said the brown hen, swelling out her feathers, “and serve the creature right for her vulgar pretensions. Just look at her, standing there, now, staring at the sky instead of scratching the ground like an honest hen. She is doing it to attract attention. Have you heard that she said that, if we constantly tried to crow, and taught our chicks to endeavor to crow, in a few centuries hens would have as good voices as cocks?”
“Absurd!” exclaimed the speckled hen.
“Mad!” screamed the black hen, whose nerves were weak. “Shut her op, shut her up, give her apiece of my mind.”
“For my part, I don’t see any advantage in crowing,” said the brown hen, “the best life is the domesticated one. What my mother and grandmother did is good enough for me; they pecked, cackled, and scratched round, moulted, and got broody, and so I am right in cackling, scratching, getting broody, etc. There is nothing like a family for bringing out your best qualities. O, the nights I had when my eldest had the pip; how much better to have heart than head.”
“A hen should be all heart,” said the black hen, “that’s what I say, you know.”
“You will see the blue-stocking will make a poor thing. She will be a bad daughter, a worse wife, and a mad mother,” said the speckled hen.
“She is very self-opinionated,” said the brown hen, “and thinks she knows everything; and she dresses in a low, conspicuous way, brown and black and speckles are so much more genteel than yellow.”
“Yellow is too cheerful and sunlighty,” said the bantam, “eh? Sunshine is very vulgar, eh? Colors ought to be suppressed by law. If we had, say, a brown sky, black grass, and speckled flowers, that would be much finer.”
“I don’t go so far as that,” they all cackled unanimously.
“The fact is, color is common because you don’t wear it, and she does,” said the bantam, “that is enough of course. Nature must be altered and made genteel, a few more drabs and greys, perhaps?”
“I should not object so much to her wearing yellow in the hen-house,” cried the speckled hen, “but what I think is so bad is that she parades out of doors in it, and that makes everyone stare.”
“Why shouldn’t they stare if it gives them pleasure, and she does not mind it?” asked the bantam.
“What a queer fellow you are!” said the brown fowl. “Why, of course it is wrong to be stared at. My mother always said so; she did not know why, and of course what was enough to convince a hen as clever as she was, ought to do for us.”
“Not at all,” said the bantam; “have a reason if there is one, but I don’t think there is. The truth is, you don’t care for thinking yourselves, and don’t want anyone else to think. You desire to interfere with the yellow hen’s liberty, and tyranny is always bad. If she is different from you, she must be either deformed or the beginning of a new type; in either case you ought to let her alone, for if she is deformed, she should be pitied and sympathized with, and if she is the first divergence towards a new type, that is the best thing that can happen for every one. As for heart, that is only good when balanced by bead. You loved your eldest when he had the pip, but if you had learned the right way to treat him and feed him, he would not have died.”
“Cruel!” sobbed the brown hen. “I gave him p-p-p-pastry up to the last.”
“Pastry was the worst thing you could have given him,” answered the bantam; “a pepper-corn would have been more to the point. But come, don’t excite yourselves. The blue-stocking is not likely to be a bad wife, for she is not such a fool as to get married under present conditions.”
Then the bantam strolled away, and the speckled hen said comfortingly:
“Don’t cry, dear, she is an impertinent, story-telling minx, and has set herself up even to teach the cock. While as for that fellow,” she continued, looking at the retreating figure of the bantam, “he is getting more overbearing every day.” Miriam Daniell.
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.