“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.
Merlino, it is said, is about to return to England. Whether “Solidarity” will die or be continued by others is a matter of uncertainty. But Individualistic Anarchism in America still remains the great uncrushed.
At the High School graduating exercises in Denver this summer, which took place in a Methodist church, the honors for highest standing in general scholarship were awarded to Rosa Cohen, a plumb-line Anarchist and the sister of Comrade Henry Cohen, himself the livest plumb-liner to be found between Chicago and San Francisco. Miss Cohen accordingly was assigned the valedictory, and her essay, headed by a quotation from Comrade Mackay, “When each at last unto himself shall waken,” was utilitarian and Egoistic. I fear that Liberty is corrupting the youth of our land.
All Anarchists, with the exception of the few who still believe in moralism, will join Liberty in congratulating Comrade Mackay on the success which has thus far attended his efforts to perpetuate the memory of Max Stirner. His report will be found in another column. But the tablet and the slab will be among the least of Stirner’s monuments. Greatest of all will be his own immortal work, and next to that, I am sure, the biography which Mackay is to write. The interest taken in Mackay’s efforts by Dr. Hans von Bülow, the great pianist, is a surprise. If it indicates a real appreciation of Stirner’s philosophy in its Anarchistic bearings, we have a comrade of whom none of us dreamed.
In the State of New York an unsuccessful attempt to commit suicide is punishable as a crime. It is proposed that Anarchists of foreign birth shall not be allowed to become citizens. Attorney General Miller wishes suffrage to be made compulsory by the disfranchisement of all who neglect to use the ballot. The New York Health Inspectors, when on a fruit-condemning expedition the other day, after seizing a push-cart full of green peaches turned it over to two messenger boys, in consequence of which some fifty urchins had a feast and possibly several funerals. A government that gives away the germs of disease which it will not allow others to sell; a government that insists on disfranchising people who will not vote; a government that refuses to naturalize people who refuse to be naturalized; a government that refuses life to people who refuse to live, — well, for a good farce such a government is certainly a good farce.
A propos of my editorial of a few weeks ago forecasting the probable increase in the supply of gold through its extraction from the ocean and the consequences thereof, Comrade Koopman writes me: “If this is so, every craft that sails the ocean blue will carry an electrical centreboard to rake in the gold as it sails along. I am afraid, though, that the governments will betake themselves to platinum (I believe Russia tried it once) or some other figment, and so postpone their day of reckoning. But what a shaking-up a gold deluge will give them if it comes! I hope we may be there to see.” If the present adherence to gold were anything but a religion, there would be some ground for Comrade Koopman’s fears. But, so far as the people is concerned, it is only a religion. To uproot the idea that gold is divinely appointed to serve as the money of the world is to destroy the godhead. In vain, after that, will the priests of plutocracy propose a change of deities. The people will say to them: “If you lied when you told us that gold was God, you are lying now when you place platinum on the celestial throne. No more idolatry for us. Henceforth all property shall stand on an equality before the Bank. In demonetizing gold we monetize all wealth.” The Anarchists are fighting the old, old battle, — the battle of reason against superstition. In the earlier phases of this battle, science, after a time, reenforced the philosophers and gave the finishing stroke in the demolition of the theological god. Perhaps it is reserved for science to similarly reenforce the Anarchists in their task of smashing the last of the idols. Of this, however, I am not as hopeful as I was. A fact has lately come to light that fills me with misgiving. No sooner is it proposed to begin the extraction of gold and silver from the ocean by the new and cheap method than a man pops up in England to say that he patented this method a year or two ago. If his patent is valid (and I see nothing to the contrary), this man is virtual owner of the entire 21 billion tons of gold and 64 billion tons of silver which the ocean contains. All the priests and bishops and archbishops and cardinals of finance must kneel to him as Pope. “Nearest, my God, to Thee,” will be his hymn henceforth, or rather till some luckier individual shall discover a still cheaper way of securing the ocean’s treasures and thereby become Pope in his stead. This one perfectly logical and appalling possibility ought to be sufficient in itself to sweep away as so much cobweb all the sophistry that has ever been devised in support of property in ideas. Gold, after all, is not the last of the idols; in mental property it has a twin. And my remaining hope is that science, with its new discovery, may do double duty as an iconoclast and destroy them both at one fell stroke.
The Cuckoo Liberty.
“Why, Mrs. McDonald, it’s thirty years younger that you’re looking, and how is that?”
“Aw it’s truth you’re speaking, I’m that coomfortable, Himsel’ he’s deed, and the bairnies is oot and awa in the warld, and I dinna ken why it is, but I can tak up my book when I like, and put it down when I like; I can gang oot when I will, and come in when I’ve a mind; and yet I’m niver lonely; there seems something in the house cheery and singing to me. I’m jest that coomfortable.”
“It will perhaps be the cuckoo Liberty which keeps ye alive, Mrs. McDonald.”
There were four chains bound me at birth;
I scarce could move upon the earth.
“Who shall deliver me?” I cried;
In space the sad sound died.
The first was made of bones and tears;
It grew from out the dead men’s biers.
“How shall I meet my loved and lost?”
“Through me,” was this chain’s boast.
The next was red with blood; black lies
And prison bars, false promises,
Man’s fear of man, all human hate,
Forged links to form the State.
The third was twisted gold and white;
I hardly knew it bound me tight;
Hands clinging, kissing lips said, “Nay,
You love me, go my way.”
The last was hunger, love of life;
It hangs about me yet; my strife
Has rid me only of the three,
And left Necessity.
“Who shall deliver me?” I said.
My words went forth forked flames of red;
Men loathed me as a reptile thing
Who strove towards a bird’s wing.
Then with my own strong breath I broke
The rosary of bones like smoke,
Saw the vast sky a vaulted dome,
And cried: “I need no Rome.”
The next I fought with, till it burned
And rusted all the flesh that spurned
It, as about my wings it hung,
And bled me where it clung.
I loosed it, but it hinders me
And men from being glad and free;
When winds and waves and stars are heard,
’Twill perish with a word.
The third was sweet to wear; so slight
A chain, so sweet a pain, the Night
Shook bats about me when I brake
Love’s bonds for freedom’s sake.
There were four chains bound me at birth;
I scarce could move upon the earth,
So weighty were they; now I see
But one, Necessity.
“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.
Certain insurance problems commanding attention just at present bring to mind the discussion, last winter, of the tail-building nuisance and the means of abating it. The conclusion which was finally concurred in even by the most law-ridden and restrictionist elements was that, while neither actual legislation nor threats of legislation could be relied on to check the evil in question, the action of insurance companies in imposing high rates and other exceptional conditions was sure to effect the improvements that were generally desired. The problems now under consideration are likely to be solved in an analogous way. The enormous fire loss of the United States is the chief topic, and both domestic and foreign fire insurance companies are taking steps to raise the premiums on American risks. The facilities for extinguishing fires are superior here to those possessed by any other country, yet no other country knows anything of such sweeping conflagrations and losses as we have. Our buildings are not as secure against destruction by fire as European structures, and our building laws have simply failed to induce property-owners to follow the rules of safest and most nearly fire-proof construction. A writer in one of the technical magazines has argued that the security of buildings is in inverse ratio to the amount of building laws and regulations, and that one of the principal causes of our enormous fire losses is to be found in the attempted enforcement of vexatious provisions. Doubtless there are many à priori considerations to support this view; but we are concerned mainly with the facts of the matter. Certain it is that our fire losses are needlessly heavy, and that laxity alone accounts for the waste. The Massachusetts Insurance Commissioner is led to suggest that it is quite probable that, if there were no such thing as fire insurance, the number of and loss by fires would be very materially reduced, for the owners and occupants of buildings would take reasonable precautions, both in construction and in care, in the way of protecting themselves. However, insurance cannot be dispensed with under present methods of business, and the only practical question is how to find a means of rendering buildings secure and occupants reasonably careful.
Legislation will not and cannot bring about any great improvement, and insurance companies will have to deal with the condition confronting them in their own way. Advancing rates is one of the simplest and first steps naturally taken. And there are others. Thus it is understood that it is becoming exceedingly difficult for merchants to obtain all of the insurance they desire. Goods that they have space for they are obliged to send out of their stores, because they can only obtain insurance to cover a limited value of stock. Again, it is harder for such as are liable to become insolvent by the loss occasioned by a single fire to obtain money at a reasonable rate of interest. In a word, the loss of faith in building laws promises to prove a blessing in disguise, — to direct attention to the really efficacious means of checking the evils in the insurance relation.
But there seems to be a better and far more certain way of causing laxity to give place to vigilance and alertness. The introduction of the principle of coöperation into the insurance business would be attended by most beneficial results. The feeling that insurance is very profitable tends to make the policy-holders indifferent and careless; taking cognizance of immediate results only, they derive a certain sort of selfish satisfaction from the fact that the companies are called to pay out large sums, mindless of the fact that in the long run these sums come out of their own pockets. Through coöperation, however, they could save the profits now going to the companies. The plan is not an untried one, either. One insurance company, of which Mr. Edward Atkinson is the president, does business on the coöperative principle; and Mr. Tucker has described it in Liberty as follows: “A number of mill-owners decided that they would pay no more profits to insurance companies, inasmuch as they could insure themselves much more advantageously. They formed a company of their own, into the treasury of which each mill pays annually a sum proportional to the amount for which it wishes to insure, receiving it back at the end of the year, minus the proportion of the year’s losses by fire paid by the company and the cost of maintaining the company. By mutual agreement, the mills place themselves, so far as protection against fire is concerned, under the supervision of the insurance company, which keeps inspectors to see that each mill avails itself of the best means of preventing and extinguishing fire, and uses the utmost care in the matter. As a consequence, the number of fires and the aggregate damage caused thereby has been reduced in a degree that would scarcely be credited, the cost of insurance to the mills being now next to nothing.” I do not see why this plan should not be widely followed, except that the principle of such direct and formal coöperation (in contradistinction to the automatic coöperation which is really synonymous with high industrial civilization) is as yet unfamiliar to the business world. V. Y.
A Son of Liberty.
“It is my nature to be omnivagant,” said a tramp to a vagabond pedlar, as the two supped on a rabbit by moonlight, sitting near a haystack in a large field close to the King’s Highway.
“Lord! be it?” answered the pedlar, carelessly and with excusable ignorance of the meaning of the word. “Well, what’s the nater of this here antique rawbut. He’s the great grand dad of the whole warren, I bet, and his flesh ain’t inclined to part company with his blamed bones. Come here, sir I You, Spy!” he called to a short-haired cur, that reluctantly slunk up to his foot to be kicked. “Take that and that,” cried the pedlar, “for your perwerse cruelty in ketching and fetching a tough old bunny about to die of hisself in general debility.”
The dog yelped, but retired with an effusive gratitude that rejuvenated the master’s good humor.
“I assure you,” he added, turning to the tramp with sincere apology, “I meant to do handsome by you when I asked you to try pot-luck with me, but the devil’s in the dog. However, it’s as bad for me as for you.”
“Don’t mention it,” replied the tramp, gracefully waving his hands as if to dissipate the subject, “a good deed willed is a fine deed done. I am also omnivorous. If the game we have swallowed defies our digestive powers as it has defied our teeth, the meal will last us till to-morrow night, and will save us the gnawing pain of hunger which I fancy we both know full well.”
“You are a great boy, Bigod,” said the pedlar admiringly; and, producing a big bottle of whiskey, he took a deep draught before passing it to his companion with the words:
“Drink to the mark,” pointing to the top line of its four equal divisions.
He regarded his comrade with a certain anxiety after entrusting him with the loved liquor, but he refrained from any remark but that natural question, prompted by a pardonable curiosity,
“What’s your name, both Christian and surname? I am Timothy Noll at your service.”
“And I am called Oute Caste,” said the tramp, lying down on his back with his arms under his head, gazing at the star-strewn space above him.
“Them’s queer names,” replied the pedlar; “was your parents Egyptians or English, now?”
“I don’t know, for I never had the felicity of meeting them,” answered the tramp; “by some, indeed, I am called Luna Tick, for a lightness in my cranium at times doth incline me to regard myself as the man who ought to have been in the moon up there. I, who feel a right to freedom in my blood and bones, have nowhere here on which to roam but beaten tracks. ‘Trespassers will be prosecuted with the utmost rigor of the law,’ confronts me on every side. ‘Private way,’ ‘dangerous passing,’ and the law, my friend, as you know, only permits those with money to travel; all others it calls ‘vagabonds,’ and lodges in its unsanitary State Hotels, ordinarily termed prisons.”
The whiskey made the tramp eloquent.
“I appeal to my mother, the Moon,” he said, standing up and stretching his lean arms to the yellow sphere, “dost thou not know thy child, a full-grown man, homeless and without estate on this misordered globe? Yonder lonely craters and bare ridges of mountains, are they not known to me alone? Have not my bare feet seven times climbed their uttermost heights in the burning unfiltered sunlight of thy day? Did not I thrice descend into the dark, cold valleys of thy silent, airless night? Groping my way over the chaotic boulder-strewn beds of rivers which ran dry millions of years before the Ganges and Euphrates were born of two trickling streams upon the Earth. Speak! old beldame! I, thy son, born to be the man in the moon, bid thee tell what thou knowest to this most well-met pedlar of petty wares.”
The pedlar burst into a tipsy laugh.
“You’re the rummiest one I’ve met on the road,” he said hoarsely; “I’m damned if you ain’t.”
“Then I hope and trust that I am, though I fear from general observation the contingency of your damnation in any case,” replied the tramp, haughtily; “Mr. Noll, pass the bottle.”
“Hold hard,” said the pedlar, “I’ll take a swig to keep you company and make sure of not getting thirsty before you hand it back.”
“Do you insinuate that a Son of Liberty would retain it?” asked the tramp, with righteous anger and uplifted hand, thrusting at his comrade with a spike of straw in a manner which indicated that fencing had been part of his education on the Moon or elsewhere. “Defend yourself.”
“Sheathe that weapon,” cried the pedlar, in genuine alarm at his companion’s threatening knanner, “I’m a member of the Peace Society and doesn’t want no bloodshed. Noll’s got no mind to let his life out of a slit in his backside. If fists is your choice, I’m ready for you.”
“Withdraw those expressions in regard to the retention of the bottle,” said the tramp, holding his straw to the pedlar’s left breast.
“I withdraw,” groaned the pedlar, grovelling on the ground in a cold sweat, “everything I’ve said to-night.” “You can’t,” said the tramp, sitting down and drinking heavily, “you can’t withdraw your kind invitation to me to drink with you, but I’ll pay you with my last penny, — a bad one, by the way, — if you thus tardily begrudge your spontaneous hospitality.”
“Be you a coiner?” asked the pedlar, with interest, for he had a contiguous intellect.
“I am, but in a sense above and beyond your time-bound mind,” answered the tramp, disdainfully. “I coin no tawdry image of oppressive royalty or of a rapacious republic upon base metal, but phrases stamped with the genuine and original impress of my own mind. For instance, I squandered just now upon you a happy expression when I termed myself a Son of Liberty. Liberty! Ah! what do you and the vulgar herd know of Liberty? It is at best an impossible equality that you seek. The few who are really free have their death-warrants already signed by the mob of slaves and their masters. Your ideal is license. For your chance of unjust gain in the lottery of the present system you forfeit your right to a glorious freedom.”
“Draw it mild,” cried the pedlar, “Noll’s not the man to brook a insult.”
“Friend, you are right, perfectly accurate. I address you just now, not as the individual Noll, but as the type man Noll; no offence is intended. As I was about to remark when you interrupted me, this is no abode for a Son of Liberty. The Land is held by a few who permit you to work upon it from dawn till dark for your bare food and lodging. If you question their title to the earth, they call, on the one hand, a witness in black clothes, supported by them, who says to you: “God gave success to the worthy. It is wicked to rebel against despotism and to disobey the wealthy,” and, on the other hand, a political economist, who also derives a fat living from them, will tell you that the owners gained it legitimately by saving Capital, which is the Reward of Abstinence.”
“I won’t become a capitalist with that there whiskey,” said the pedlar. “Pass the bottle, Mr. Luna Tick.”
“I will sip it in passing,” answered the tramp, applying his mouth with leech-like intensity to the neck of the flagon; “this will save you the trouble of immediately repassing it to me. Speech is the evaporation of a stream of words, and leaves the channel of my throat dry. I am pouring into your ocean of inanity the wisdom of the ages, and am worth a dram.” “Go on, you damned Son of Liberty,” hiccupped the pedlar, “I listen to your tommy-rot.”
“Precisely, friend,” answered the tramp, coolly raising his head and leaning his chin upon his sinewy hands, “tommy-rot to you, but truth to me. However I might classify you, I hold it a duty to give you for once in your life the refusal of right views. In the meantime, to return to our discourse. I say that, while the mass of people are willing to be exploited by usurers, I refuse to be sucked of my energy by the parasites, and therefore roam with nowhere to lay my head.” “Shtill gotsh hayshstacksh,” objected the pedlar, but his remark was ignored.
“The few rights the toiling people have won are soon stolen from them again under new acts of law. In England it is only by constant vigilance that the ancient rights of way are kept open. The common lands have long since been mostly filched by privileged and protected thieves called Dukes. Everywhere freedom of speech is being encroached upon. The workers are, besides, too exhausted to meet and discuss their affairs, or to rise rebelliously against their ruling oppressors. For my part, I do not belong to parties, organizations, cliques, or nations, each narrowed by a programme, a creed, a prejudice, or by patriotism. I have no limit, and am fluid in the Universe. I wander in rags, taking now the fresh air of the country lanes, absorbing their thousand sweet, sane scents; again I perforce inhale the fetid gases of the city roads repelling the bacteria which infest the atmosphere. To everyone I offer a course of evolutionary matter gratis, and I elude with skilful adroitness the police, who love me. But you are in the arms of Morpheus, Mr. Noll, and I myself am not wholly disinclined to seek my couch of springy Lay.”
“A libel! A libel!” remonstrated the pedlar, flickering excitedly in the socket Of an idea, “hic — hic — hic — in nobodish armsh, but am up in armsh ’gainst falsh remarksh. Society! Law! and order! Whersh the policesh? Arrest thish man. Agitating me. Hesh inshiting me to rebellion. I upholdsh the Shtate and constitutionsh. I am your enemy.”
The tramp rose, stretched himself, drained the last drop of whiskey, and laid the empty bottle on his foe’s breast; then, wrapping his threadbare coat over his hollow chest, he smiled as he kissed the little cur that, leaping, licked the gentle face of the Son of Liberty, who restlessly walked along the dusty highroad ——— whither?
Max Stirner’s Grave.
[John Henry Mackay’s Report.]
Engaged for some time in the collection of the almost hopelessly scattered materials for a biography of Max Stirner, I found a notice about three years ago which gave me a clue to the spot where Dr. Caspar Schmidt was laid to rest June 28, 1856. My friend, Mr. Max Hildebrandt of Moabit, in fair weather and foul a faithful coöperator in my work, looked up the spot, and we secured the grave, which was completely neglected and threatened with entire destruction for another thirty years.
When I myself came to Berlin in the beginning of the present year, chiefly with the desire of bringing my investigations into Stirner’s life to a close, I was informed of the cordial willingness with which Mr. Carl Müller of Zehlendorf, the owner of the house in which Max Stirner spent the last two years of his life, had consented to the putting up of a memorial tablet.
Towards the end of February I issued my call for subscriptions for the purpose of marking the house with a tablet, the grave with a slab, so that these last traces of a great life might not be entirely swept away by time. An accounting of the contributions received in response thereto accompanies this report.
On April 1 I was able to report in the advertising columns of the “Vossische Zeitung” the receipt of 393.16 marks. By far the larger part of this sum is due to the great and lively interest with which Dr. Hans von Bülow supported my enterprise. Without his active coöperation it could never have been carried out in this way.
The putting up of the memorial tablet at the house 19 Philipp Street, N.W., took place May 14. The tablet bears the inscription in gilt letters: “In diesem Hause lebte seine letzten Tage Max Stirner (Dr. Caspar Schmidt, 1806—1856), der Schopfer des unsterblichen Werkes: ‘Der Einzige und sein Eigenthum. 1845.’” [In this house lived his last days Max Stirner (Dr. Caspar Schmidt, 1806—1856), the author of the immortal work: ‘The Individual and His Property. 1845.’”]
The placing of the slab on the grave was attended with greater difficulties, so that I could not make my final report in the “Vossische Zeitung” of June 1, as I had hoped, but was obliged to delay its preparation for some weeks (and, on account of the high advertising rates, publish it through this circular.) The size of the only granite slab whose purchase was considered — it being a bargain, in consequence of a small error — exceeded the prescribed dimensions, so that, after a petition for its placing had been denied by the church authorities, the slab had to be reduced to the size of 1.75 by 0.95 metres. The petition, and the change of the slab, delayed matters nearly two months.
On July 7 the slab was placed on the grave. Since that day grave 53 of the ninth row of the second division of cemetery II of the Sophia Society, 82 Berg Street, has been marked by a granite slab, which bears as sole inscription, in large gilt letters, the name “Max Stirner.”
Through the kindly aid of Architect Ludolf Müller of Moabit, both works were executed in the workshop of Stonecutter C. Schilling, to whom I am under obligations also for a reduction of the costs.
Income. Up to April 1 the following contributions had been received in the order named: From Dr. Hans von Bülow, 50 marks; Miss M. Ritter, St. Petersburg, 80; Director H. Wolff, 30; M. Moszkowski, 20; Mrs. A. Leschirr, Wiesbaden, 8; Prof. W. Lübke, Karlsruhe, 5; F. Brunold, 2; L. Wormberger, 5; L. Müller, 5; Miss H. von Alten, Salzburg, 5; Dr. B. F., 3; Miss G. Reuter, Weimar, 10; C. Müller, Zehlendorf, 10; Mrs. Bertha von Suttner, Schloss Harmannsdorf, 5.16; Dr. Asch, 10; C. Bechstein, 30; through Miss M. Ritter, 60 from F. Eulenburg, 5; through S. Ochs, 77; from the undersigned, 30; total, 393.16.
Received since then: From Mrs. Dr. L., Hamburg, 10; T. C. Windholz, 5; A. Gerecke, New York, 5; A. Kapp, 10; M. Hildebrandt, 15; total, 438.16.
Expenses. Church fees (permission for placing of slab), 36; grave-digger fees (opening of the grave for the purpose of making a stone bottom), 9; mason work, 29.70; to C. Schilling, for the tablet, 172; the slab, 240; total, 486.70.
The difference of 48.54 marks, as well as all other expenses, was borne by the undersigned.
All papers relating to the contributions, such as receipts, etc., are open for inspection.
This report and account will be sent to all interested, as well as to those who may write to me for them.
John Henry Mackay.
Saarbrucken, Herrengartenstrasse 4, July 20.
[Joseph A. Labadie in Detroit News.]
John Most is liable to be arrested again. This time in connection with the attempt upon Frick’s life by Berkman. Whenever anything of this kind is committed, it seems the first thing the authorities think of is to connect Most with it and arrest him. Now, Most is responsible for but few things of which he is charged, although he is responsible for enough of them. But officials think they must do something to make a show of earning their salaries, so they follow imaginary clews to imaginary conspiracies and advertise Most. If he was half the dangerous man they say he is, they would let him alone, considering that the better part of valor. I am not a sympathizer with either Most’s aims or methods. He aims to establish Communism by revolutionary methods. I am opposed to both. I am opposed to Communism because it is unjust, and I am opposed to violence because it is an expenditure of energy that could be used more effectively in the alleviation of human suffering. Most thinks men with my notions of social-industrial reforms are of the bourgeoisie. In this he is mistaken. He is called an Anarchist, but he is in reality a Communist. He denies the right of private ownership of wealth and would prevent it by force. This is clearly opposed to the fundamental doctrine of philosophical Anarchy. I use the word “philosophical” so the word Anarchy will not strike the puny mind with so much force as to knock it out in the first round. It has got so now that, if you only fill your mouth with high sounding words and spit them out cleverly, you can get so many more people to listen to you than if you make a blunt statement of fact.
In the last analysis, however, there is just as much sense in saying “philosophical” Anarchy as in saying philosophical mathematics. Anarchy is a theory of social life. It may be true; it may be false. In either case it is a philosophy. What would you think of him who would speak seriously of a philosophical philosophy? But I digress. Anarchism postulates the private possession and use — ownership — to the results of one’s own efforts. The collectivity have no more right to take that from him against his will than has an individual. Most, therefore, is not an Anarchist, because he would make wealth the common property of the collectivity. By arresting Most on every occasion of this kind the authorities are doing more to provoke violence than a thousand Mosts.
There is a good deal of condemnation of Berkman because of his rash act in attempting to kill Manager Frick. Much of it comes from emotional fellows whom a little unusual excitement knocks off their mental pins. It reminds me of when the Czar was assassinated by the Nihilists. There was a cry of horror that such a thing should be done, and James G. Blaine, as secretary of state, lost no time in sending condolence to the Russian royal family in consequence of the Czar’s death. But no word of condolence was sent the sorrowing and outraged friends and relatives of the thousands of the flower of Russia, buried in the death-dealing mines of Siberia. I had then no tears to shed for the Czar Romanoff, and I have none now to shed for the czar Frick. So far as he had the power, Frick used it as cruelly and as relentlessly as did the Russian, and he did not have more power only because the government could give him no more.
If I have tears to shed at all, they will be for Frick’s victims, which in the coal and iron fields of Pennsylvania are numbered by the thousands. I regret that his life was attempted, because it may react upon those for whom it undoubtedly was committed. I dislike all this violence, but I can see no good to come from holding up my hands and deploring it. Lightning struck my house the other day and raised havoc with it, but do you think my condemning the lightning and calling it hard names and shaking my fists at the clouds will prevent the lightning from striking other places when the circumstances are ripe for it, when the atmospheric conditions are such as produce such results? So long as the political, social, and industrial conditions continue as they are, violence, assassination, strikes, lock-outs, etc., will continue. Those are the instigators to these things who oppose any change! Those constitute the dangerous class who entrench themselves behind their legal rights and fire broadsides from their vantage of privilege into the equities of commerce and industry.
Of Berkman I have little to say. He is not insane. He is not a mad man. He is not a coward. He is not a depraved villain. He is simply a man grown desperate from the knowledge of the industrial condition of his class. It is the likes of him who are the John Browns of the proletarian class. He imagines that some such act as his will arouse les misérables to revolt against the industrial conditions of the present. His hope is that such a revolt will result in the confiscation of capital and put an end to the power of accumulating wealth which the mere owners of capital now have. He dreams of a future when every man, woman, and child will have all his nature craves, and when peace and plenty prevail.
Fuming and frothing will not put out of existence this type of men. The more they are imprisoned and killed the faster will they increase. This, from one point of view, may not be very encouraging, but that does not alter the fact. I believe Berkman would meet death like a Stoic. He is taken possession of by one idea, and that idea he will follow to the grave. Anything that comes in the way of its realization he will try to remove at whatever cost. He believes that the removal of such men as Frick will hasten the time for the realization of his ideal.
Do I know Berkman? I do not; but I know that type of men. The mistake they make is in not recognizing that the Fricks are simply the product of present conditions. To kill off the Fricks will no more prevent the robbery of the masses than the killing of the Berkmans will prevent violence and assassination. The one type is a counterpart of the other type. Where there are Fricks there will be Berkmans, as sure as where there is smoke there is fire.
Fricks are the product of the law! Is not that so? Does not the law give them advantages which it denies to others? If the one type is the product of the law, then the other is the product of the law also. Both are the legitimate offspring of legislation. Law’s do not always produce the effects which they are intended to produce, and this is one of the examples.
The great fundamental truth that must be learned is that men are essentially what their environments make them. They are simply the reflex of their surroundings. Those who would better the masses here and now must strive to change their surroundings here and now.
Why marry, and from rapture wake
With self-forged chains to wear or break?
Since marriage Love alone makes sweet,
You need not question if ’tis meet
No formal vows of Love to make.
Let those who will for favor’s sake
Seem happy when a vow’s at stake.
Or walk to Death with willing feet
And call Life vain;
For me I will not; men may rake
The earth for dirt, my soul can take
A path through Nature to a seat
In lawless, lonely joys to shake
Her wings from pain.
The Cattle’s Consistency.
Man goes to law to get his right
(Of common sense bereft):
Ignoring that in such a fight
All others have got left.
Charles E. Nichols.
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.