“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.
Before she died, Madame Blavatsky, of theosophical fame, stated that she had, in presence of Dr. J. Rodes Buchanan, predicted dire disasters to occur in Europe and this country in this year of grace 1891. These predictions Dr. Buchanan published as his own in the “Arena” several months since. If Dr. Buchanan should deny Madame Blavatsky’s statement, which he will probably do, it will be interesting to find out which of these two humbugs has the confidence of the fools that believe in the truth of their predictions. Such a controversy, however, must prove disastrous to the theosophical movement.
The editor of the “Arena” longs for the “era of woman” because, when it arrives, States being woman-governed instead of man-governed, the “age of consent” will be placed at eighteen years. Pointing to the example set in this respect by Kansas and Wyoming, the States which come nearest to being woman-governed, he says in rebuking, italics: “All the other States trail the tanner of morality in the dust before the dictates of man’s bestiality.” Mr. Flower supposes himself to be an individualist, and sometimes writes in favor of individualism in a way that commands my admiration. But I am curious to know by what rule he applies the theory of individualism, that he can bring himself to violate and deny the individuality of the girl who wrote “The Story of an African Farm,” by favoring a law which would send to prison for twenty years, as guilty of rape, any man with whom she might have freely chosen, at the age when she began to write that book, to enter into sexual relations. Had Olive Schreiner lived in civilized Wyoming instead of semi-barbarous South Africa, and had she chosen to practise the theories which she favors in her book, she would indeed have been raped; not however by the lover of her choice, but by the women who deny her the right of choice, and by the men like B. O. Flower, who glory in this denial; raped, not of virginity, that paltry, tawdry, and overrated gewgaw, but of liberty, that priceless, matchless jewel, which it is becoming fashionable to despise.
For one I shall shed no tears if the New York law forbidding the publication of accounts of executions is rigorously enforced and its violators severely punished. Much as I value the liberty of the press, yes because I value it, I should like to see the knife of authority buried to the hilt in the tenderest part of the ordinarily truckling newspapers of New York and then turned vigorously and mercilessly round. Perhaps, after that, Comstock laws, anti-lottery laws, and other similar legal villainies would no longer be made possible by the subservient hypocrites who cry out against oppressions only when victimized themselves. For some time past the New York “Sun” has been violating law with boasting and defiance, and yet, because in Tennessee a forcible attempt has been made to prevent the employment of convicts in the mines, and because in Kansas an Alliance judge has disobeyed the decree of the supreme court, it solemnly declares that to disregard law “is resistance to the will of the people, except in the case of an unconstitutional statute, which is really no law at all.” The exception here entered by the “Sun” to save its own skin does not avail for that purpose. Who is to decide whether a statute is unconstitutional? The supreme court, the “Sun” will answer. But is the “Sun” prepared, in case the supreme court declares the law regarding executions constitutional, to condemn its own course in violating the law? I think not. But then it must allow to the Tennessee laborers and the Kansas judge the same liberty that it claims for itself. If the “higher law” doctrine is good for anything, it is good, not only against legislatures, but against supreme courts. On the other hand, if it is good for nothing, the “Sun” should take its own advice to other lawbreakers, and, instead of violating the law regarding executions, should go to the ballot-box and get it repealed. But the “Sun” will not be thus heedful of consistency. That jewel is not prized by hogs. The “Sun” is a hog, an organ of hogs, an apologist for hogs; and I shall not grieve to see it butchered like a hog.
Realism and Romanticism.
The Paris stock exchange is the scene of Zola’s latest work, “Money.” There has certainly never been a more powerful picture drawn in story, showing the intricate workings and devouring fascination of stock-gambling. In other respects people have already an idea what unpleasant things Zola mentions, following out his plan, which is realistic,— to give the good and the bad as they are found mixed in the life he paints. Though he is condemned by many for mentioning the facts of vice and crime, it will be perceived by a careful observer that he does not present such things in the seductive manner of immoral writers of the English school, but with cold impartiality that permits the abomination to leave the impression of precisely what it is, with the effect of thorough repulsion, not attraction. In his pages vice is commonplace and unsatisfying, and the ground for quarrel with the author is at last that he is a realist, nota romancer; that he makes known things which English and American society generally says must not be made known; that he does not picture ideal men and hide their faults. Then the same objection may apply to the Old Testament. It is hard, however, for one imbued with English romantic literature either to believe that the realistic school is not using realism as a pretext for the introduction of one-sided views, or to avoid transferring to the narrator a share of the disgust which arises on reading the accounts of actions which are shameful and horrible. But these do not predominate in life, and they are not the object of realistic painting. In fact, to be worthy of its name it should have no immediate or conscious object except to be true to nature. If then it encounters a back street, it will picture the squalor, not flowers where there are none. In proportion as the squalor predominates, a faithful description warns people that something is wrong in those conditions. Perhaps this is why a species of conservatism never has been favorable to realism, or a description of facts, beyond the selection of facts which it dictates to be described. But from this position to romantic falsification there is only a step, which is easily taken. It may fairly be inferred that the romantic habit, pressed into the service of conservatism at first, is what has given the vogue in lower circles to the romantic literature of vice, abominable in effect because not so in appearance, and seductive because not true to fact. It can perhaps be but a work of gaining an understanding of these distinctions when the romantic school will be charged with its own progeny, and realism will not be confused with the gilded poison of corrupt imagination. It may be, too, that strong doses of realism will be absolutely needed to expel the romantic literature of vice. Realism uncovers unlovely things; romanticism in the service of virtue avoids them or denies their existence, and thus leaves to romance in the service of vice a field for fanciful pictures pernicious in their effect upon youthful imaginations unwarned of the disappointing realities of vice.
To a Workingman.
O Laborer worthy of your hire,
What boots it that you kick?
You still refuse the Equity
That shows the Robber’s trick.
The Capital that winds the chain
Of poverty around
Yourself and kin, you’re reaching for
So you may be unbound.
And when you grasp the enslaving thing,
You’ll take your turn and wind
Awhile yourself; cry lustily,—
“The Capitalist is kind.
“Without him where would labor be?
What would the poor man do?”
And then you’d claim the rental due,
The profit all for you.
O now you’re Out, but were you In,
Your tune would break and change;
You’d do the things you now decry,
Nor think it passing strange.
And thus’tis plain you have no cause.
You give the lie yourself
To all your bowlings and your wrath,—
You have no aim but pelf.
You think the State, now you are down,
Should give your life a lift.
Place you somewhere quite near the top,
And for your need makeshift.
You sing of that as “brotherhood,”
And dub it “social weal;” —
The thieves fall out — all hands are tied
So none of them can steal.
Such is the State your poverty
Inspires you to proclaim:
The force of law, the right of might,
To succor halt and lame.
Why will ye still go marching through
The streets your woes to show?
If you’d but think your case out clear,
A marching you’d not go.
You’d stop at home, or go the rounds
From neighbor house to house.
’Gainst tyranny of Capital
You’d every neighbor rouse: —
“What is the argument? It is
That Capital gives you
A chance to keep yourself alive,—
The rest goes its fair due.
“Just turn the tables now, and say,
With sober mind and sane,—
’Tis labor saves all Capital,
Nor makes its hoarding vain.
“And he who his saved means invests
To yield himself more work,
And calls to aid ten other men,
O’er them no foe shall lurk.
“But he with each shall boldly take
His daily yield of toll
As measured by the lapse of time,—
On each no theft recoil.
“All cost to him of Capital
Well used shall be returned.
No more than that to any man,
And that he daily earned.
“Say thus unto the ruling class
Who make their ‘money count’
By taking half your daily wage
As millionaires to mount.
“And purge yourself of every hope
Of getting aye the power
To rob a fellow workingman
Of his life’s Labor-dower.”
“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.
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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.
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Karl Heinzen and Anarchism.
Judged from the standpoint of liberty, probably no more significant body of immigrants ever landed on these shores than the men and women set adrift by the victorious German reaction of 1848 and 1849. And among this superior body of men and women was one who in point of character and intellectual force — and, for that matter, physical stature, too — towered head and shoulders above the rest: Karl Heinzen. A keen and relentless critic of men and things, an ardent and able champion of liberty and justice, a humanitarian of wide sympathies, his memory will be forever revered by those who were privileged to profit by his magnificent service and example. For one, I consider myself greatly indebted to him for much of the truth I see; and I hold him especially dear because, notwithstanding certain lapses, he came as near being an Anarchist as is possible without yet being one.
The fact is that, while he dwelt apart from and in hostility to general society, Heinzen really occupied ground next door to Anarchism. His thirty years’ uncompromising war on all forms of communism, together with his championship of private enterprise as against State monopoly, prove that. Further than to see that justice was done between contending parties and individuals, he deprecated all State meddling with the industrial affairs of the people. Not only did he utterly condemn and severely criticise all attempts at and tendencies towards the nationalization of the ways and means of communication still under private control, but he even went so far as to declare that the postal service ought to be given over to private enterprise. Indeed, he postulated the general principle that all things that can be done by private individuals and associations of individuals should be left to these and not be usurped by the State.
Thus it will be seen that there is a closer kinship between Heinzen and the Anarchists than between him and his foremost professed disciples of the present day, who are not abashed at advocating all sorts of compulsory and communistic measures.
It was principally in reference to the subject of education that Heinzen’s enlightened and libertarian philosophy suffered a defeat. Because he feared that education would be neglected if left to private enterprise, he made of it a State affair. But even here he was careful not to grant the State too large powers. The State was simply to provide schools and the opportunity for education, but there was to be no compulsion of citizens to avail themselves of the State’s offerings. Indeed, he abominated compulsory education and combatted it with all his might. Nevertheless his position on this question was not wholly in line with Anarchism. For we leave education entirely to private enterprise, confident of thus securing for it a richer future than will ever fall to the lot of State education. We thoroughly abjure the forcible taking of money from some people for the education of other people’s children.
So much merely in rough outlines to indicate Karl Heinzen’s general position on the great issues of the times.
At the suggestion and in consequence of the liberality of one of Heinzen’s admirers, Mr. Karl Schmemann of Detroit, Mr. Tucker has recently published a translation of the excellent treatise on “The Rights of Women and the Sexual Relations.” In this treatise, forgetful of his libertarian philosophy, Heinzen charges the State of the future with the task of securing to women as well as to men, free of cost, the means required for the development of their faculties, such as schools, public amusements, and “perhaps even dwellings.” His design of renovating this old world of ours, however admirable and bold in other respects, is thus seen to be vitiated by the admission of the supremacy of the bad State, to use an Emersonian expression. The question of where the State was to get the means for the execution of such generous schemes seems never to have troubled him, and he appears to have looked to the medium of the government for results that can be brought about only by the spontaneous initiative of private individuals or voluntary associations in the state of liberty, as has again and again been demonstrated in these columns.
It was the perception of this truth mainly that led the translator of Heinzen’s treatise to record her “emphatical dissent,” in the form of a foot note to the preface, from some of the positions taken therein. “Not where he is most radical and thoroughgoing in his advocacy of liberty in the sexual relations and of the independence of woman, for I am with him there,” she says; “but where he seems to forget his radicalism and to lose his grand confidence in the power of liberty to rejuvenate, to regulate, and to moderate, and falls back upon the State for that readjustment and guidance of human affairs which one day will be accomplished in liberty and by liberty — it is there where I radically dissent.”
While a reference to the text of the treatise will fully sustain the translator in filing these exceptions, Mr. Schmemann evidently did not consider them as well taken; for he added a “Postscript” summarizing Heinzen’s views concerning the State, etc., and expressed the opinion that there is no such fundamental difference between the views of the translator and those of the great German radical as the former seemed to suppose. According to this “Postscript” Heinzen radically opposed the principle of authority, and with it the idea of government, and defined the State as a “voluntary association” for “the object of facilitating and securing the realization of the life purposes of each individual through the proper authorized agents by means of their jointly-created and supervised institutions, laws, and resources.”
Strictly construed, this is Anarchy pure and simple, notwithstanding Heinzen’s disclaimer to the contrary. The State and Anarchy are indeed contradictions, as he states, but not for the reason he gives,— namely, because “a State is as little conceivable without as Anarchy with organization.” Heinzen is dead, but I wish Mr. Schmemann and the German-American radicals to remember that the right to define their term belongs to the Anarchists, that they must be met on their definitions, that there is nothing whatever in the word Anarchy to exclude organization, and that Anarchists have never called upon people to choose between organization and no-organization, but between compulsory organization and voluntary organization. It is perfectly proper therefore to describe society based on voluntary organization by the word Anarchy, while it would be manifestly improper to designate it by the word State, which has in all history stood for society based on compulsion. If, however, it should be shown that as Heinzen, in the brief summary referred to, explicitly insisted on the voluntary principle for the society of the future, he did so also implicitly in his voluminous other works; if what he calls the State was indeed to have been a voluntary association,— I confess that I have no real quarrel with him, and gladly claim him for the Anarchists, while I dare say the translator of “The Rights of Women and the Sexual Relations” will also cheerfully modify her expression of dissent. But I do claim that he did not make his meaning clear in this treatise and that his language is very misleading. I submit no one will get the idea that, when he talks of the State of the future doing this, that, and what not, free of cost, for the poor and the needy, it is a voluntary association he has in mind.
Another and more serious criticism I have to make is this. If, as we maintain, the all-important desideratum confronting the world today is that in the constitution of society the voluntary principle shall supersede the compulsory principle, it is plainly idle to discuss side issues to the neglect of the main issue before that has been carried to victory. The one thing needful here and now is to place emphasis on the voluntary principle. Instead of doing this, Heinzen appears to have proceeded on the assumption that the voluntary principle already forms the basis of this republic. He does not seem to have questioned the fundamental character of the original compact of this government, but to have taken it for granted that it was in accord with voluntaryism. He gave his time and talents to the advocacy of the simplification of the governmental machinery. He demanded the abolition of the presidency and of the senate, and claimed the right for the people to recall their representatives, etc. But the assumption that this government is essentially a voluntary one is utterly without foundation. And I contend that it will be soon enough to discuss the administrative forms of a voluntary association when once we shall have or at least be in sight of one, while to do so before then will largely amount to a waste of energy. I refer the German-American radicals to Mrs. Glass’s recipe for a ragout: “First catch your hare.” G. S.
The “Twentieth Century” ought to be proud of the quality and quantity of biologists, sociologists, and philosophers which it is introducing to the lightseeking world. The latest discovery of that periodical is a philosopher and reformer named West,— George E. West, in fact,— whose contribution to social science it publishes under the important and respect-inspiring title of “The Historical Method and Social Reform.” The essay bearing this title is neither more nor less than an attempt “to establish by strictly scientific methods” the significant truth that “labor is destined to control industry,” in the sense that great industrial trusts will be “managed by the laborers for the laborers, theoretically, and by the politicians for the politicians, actually.” If the reader does not think this statement pellucid, I can only assure him that the author simply means compulsory coöperation, Nationalism, governmental control of industry. And now let us watch the process of demonstration.
In the first place:
It is acknowledged by all that there exist some general causes of unhappiness that may be affected by social reforms, and the two most prominent of these are poverty and restraint. One theorist believes that his happiness is more dependent on prosperity than on freedom, and as all men ought to he like him, and as the ultimate type of man of course will be like him, straightway he joins the army of State Socialists. Another theorist believes that his happiness is more dependent on freedom than on prosperity, and a similar exercise of the pure reason drives him into the ranks of the Anarchists. Now, the reform that would increase the happiness of one theorist would decrease that of the other, and vice versa, and it would be interesting to learn how the effect of either reform on the happiness of the people at large could be estimated. At the present time in this country, it seems to me that poverty is a more serious evil than restraint, but this is mere opinion that I know of no way to substantiate.
As it cannot be proven that either Anarchism or Socialism would increase the mass of human happiness, what possible sense is there in working for either of these ends?
Ah, indeed, what sense, since, as the author has shown, it cannot be proven that either Anarchism or Socialism would increase happiness? We may as well retire. But, before retiring, it may not be unprofitable to take another and closer look at our philosopher’s display of the affirmations of the schools in question. His argument is that, since “the reform that would increase the happiness of one theorist would decrease that of the other,” neither can claim to be in possession of a means of increasing the sum of happiness. May I venture to give expression to the suspicion that the philosopher is guilty of a misconception and a fallacy? It is true that the Anarchists emphatically deny that State Socialism would conduce to happiness, but they do not mean their own happiness merely: they mean that of the State Socialist as well. They hold that it would conduce to the misery of most men and the degradation of all. Conversely, the State Socialists, in condemning Anarchism, imply that it would benefit none and injure all, while they are confident that their system would be a blessing to all. Suppose, however, that Anarchism should prevail and utterly dissipate the fears and doubts and prejudices of its opponents: would these persist in being unhappy without cause; would they refuse to be comforted simply because happiness had been secured in the Anarchistic rather than in their own way? Would they not acknowledge themselves wrong and at once proceed to enjoy their share of the good things newly and Anarchistically acquired? Or make, if you please, the violent assumption that State Socialism might, if established, turn out a fine and satisfactory system: would the Anarchists decline to accept the new conditions and indulge in futile laments and unreasonable grief? No, their sense of humor would not allow them to make such a spectacle of themselves. It follows that our philosopher’s point fails of effect, and that Anarchism and State Socialism may continue to describe themselves as means of increasing the sum of human happiness.
After his successful impeachment of the theorists, the philosophical and historical inquirer engages to solve the labor problem by the historical method. Contending that the evolution of government and the evolution of capitalism present marked resemblances, and that the history of the former indicates strongly the future of the latter, he proceeds to devote no less than two whole paragraphs to the analogy, as follows:
Reverting to the “dark ages” of European history, we find society roughly divided into two classes, the nobles and the serfs, the king or emperor, as the case might be, having little or no more authority and power than some of his nominal subordinates. This might be termed a period of disorganized government. Sooner or later, however, a movement toward centralization became manifest, culminating in united France, Great Britain, Germany, etc., each large country under its one acknowledged ruler. Then came a period of consolidated government. Meanwhile, as the interests of the people had been little consulted during these movements, they began to complain, complaint was followed by insurrection, and insurrection by revolution, terminating in the establishment of republican or coöperative government, beyond which no large body of people has yet advanced.
In the industrial world, we find a rough division of the people into the bourgeois and proletariat classes or the capitalistic and laboring classes. Until recently, industry, like government in the dark ages, has been disorganized, small centres existing in many places. Today the progress toward centralization is abundantly manifest, great trusts appearing everywhere. In all this movement the interests of the laboring class have been neglected, and, as a consequence, complaints have long been beard, the complaints have been followed by strikes, and if analogy can be trusted, the strikes will be followed by revolution. Analogy leads us to anticipate still further that, as the overthrow of monarchy has not affected the consolidation of government, the overthrow of capitalism will not affect consolidation of industry. The trust will persist, but it will be managed by the laborers for the laborers, theoretically, and by the politicians for the politicians, actually.
Well may the philosopher say, after such a profound and exhaustive inquiry, that “inductive reasoning thus brings us to coöperation!” We feel that the philosopher might have rested at this point, rejoicing over his unparalleled triumph and confident of the ultimate recognition of his inductive, historical, two-paragraph solution of the social problem. But with a modesty and care characteristic of superior natures, our discoverer addresses to himself the further question whether the same conclusion may be reached by deductive reasoning, and conclusively proves that “reasoning deductively, from the principle that might makes right, we come to the same conclusion as before,— that labor is destined to control industry.” The logical demonstration is simple enough. Since might makes right, and since labor is stronger than capital in respect of numbers, a general uprising could have but one result: in the day of reckoning labor will completely subjugate capital.
Here an objection occurs to the mind which seems to upset the entire fabric,— analogy, induction, deduction, and all. The objection is that the philosopher ignores a factor of prime importance,— intelligence. Suppose labor arrives at the conclusion that it is possible to obtain justice without “regulating” capital and industry, that freedom both for capital and labor is not incompatible with prosperity and equity in distribution of products,— what becomes of the analogy and the deductive conclusion that labor will control capital? It is perfectly clear that with such a conviction labor could have no desire to control capital, but would coöperate with it on fair and equitable terms, and would seek to maintain the relation of equal liberty. Labor would then have advanced “beyond republican or coöperative government,” and, indeed, might be tempted to strike for a parallel advance in the political sphere. In other words, reasoning by analogy, labor, after realizing the advantage of Anarchism in industry, may insist on carrying the principle of equal liberty, or no-government, into the political sphere. That will mean the abolition of republican or coöperative government altogether, its disappearance from politics as well-as industry.
So the stone which this system-builder overlooked may be the corner stone of the coming order. Such an oversight betrays ignorance of the present situation; and in order to act on lessons drawn from the past, one must know the present. Our philosopher’s neo-scientific-Socialism is, if possible, even more superficial than orthodox Nationalism. V. Y.
A Parable of Misfits.
A certain Barbarian came up once to the country which is called The Land of Civilization to see its sights and be instructed by its superiorities. His shoes were worn out on the journey, and, being footsore, he resolved first of all to obtain more. Presently he perceived a large sign:
The World of Shoes.
“It is not good for a man to be barefoot,”
and, being greatly pleased, he entered the door above which it swung. He found himself in a splendid pavilion full of all delights, perfume, music, and beautiful and bewildering sights, paintings, mirrors, statues, and flowers. There were great multitudes of customers, who seemed to be in a great excitement of conflicting emotions, and the Barbarian, who at least understood well the language of the human face, perceived feverish expectation, dread, hope, joy, sorrow, and the most furious hate and poignant anguish. It all seemed very strange to him, for so far he had had a very pleasant experience with shoes. The Storekeeper too astonished his simple mind, for be appeared to be a man of great authority and importance, and marched around in ceremonial robes, and sometimes he called the crowds to order and gave them dogmatic discourses. The poor Barbarian, who had almost forgotten his errand, finally looked about for shoes. He saw none, but instead the shelves were lined with glass boxes, semi-transparent, and richly and tastefully ornamented. When the Storekeeper at last approached, the Barbarian stated his needs.
“You are free to choose,” was the reply, with a pompous condescension, and a wave of the arm toward the well-filled shelves.
“But where are the shoes?”
“There, in those boxes.”
So the Barbarian reached down a box, and was about to open it, when, with a horrified and indignant mien, the Storekeeper interposed.
“What are you about to do?”
“Why, to open the box and look at the shoes.”
“To open the box and look at the shoes! Why, you shameless creature, that is vile, immodest, Indecent!”
“Pardon me!” said the puzzled Barbarian, “I meant no harm — I did not know — but I want to try on the shoes to see if they fit.”
“To try on the shoes! — Why, that’s fornication!”
“Do you not then try on your shoes in this country?”
“Yes, of course, but not till after marriage. To try them on before is fornication, and a sin.”
“I do not know what fornication is,” faltered the Barbarian, “but I cannot see the shoes through this box, and unless I see them, and try them on, how can I know whether or not they will fit?”
“The fitting is not your affair,” was the rebuking answer, “God will attend to that; shoefits are made in heaven.”
“God! — who is God?”
“Why, you heathen, you ignorant savage, God is the King of this country; he has all the factories, and he made all these shoes, and he made you, too, and all of us.”
The poor Barbarian was dreadfully bewildered now, but he stuck to the business in hand.
“And if I choose as carefully as possible among these boxes, will God see to it that the shoes I select are a good fit?”
Then the Barbarian deemed his troubles over, and rejoiced, and chose a box that was very beautiful and that appeared to reveal through its semi-transparency a dainty pair of shoes, adorned with silver buckles, and studded with precious stones. They charmed his child-like fancy, and he trembled with delight.
“And now what must I do before I am permitted to wear these lovely, these charming shoes?”, he asked the Storekeeper.
“You must be married.”
“What is that?”
“It is the ceremony by which God, through me, fits you to the shoes you have chosen.”
“Marry me then, O good Storekeeper, as soon as possible.” So the Storekeeper made him stand up and hold the box in his hand and promise to wear, to polish, and to cherish the shoes he had chosen, until they should be worn-out, which the Barbarian, being now very much addled in his wits, and beside himself with the imagined delights of his beautiful shoes, readily did. Then the Storekeeper stretched out his hands and said with a loud voice:
“I now pronounce you Man and Boots! What God has joined let no man put asunder! Amen!”
Then in an undertone he admonished the Barbarian to go off privately and open his box; it would not be “decent,” he said, to do it in public. So the happy Barbarian went to a private room, and trembling with eagerness opened the box. And lo! the box had deceived him. The shoes were indeed well enough made and of good material, but they were clumsily shaped, hard and coarse, without silver or jewels, and when he tried them on, they were too short and too narrow, and tortured him cruelly. And no God appeared to fit them.
He went back to the Storekeeper and complained bitterly, but got no consolation.
“It is your cross,” said the Storekeeper; “you must bear it. It Is the will of God, and we must not murmur. You chose these shoes, and you must abide by your choice. You promised to be satisfied with them, and you must abide by your promise. It is wicked to quarrel with your shoes, or to complain against the foot-wear which God in his mercy has bestowed upon you.”
“But you said God would fit them to me.”
“And so he has, by the sacred mystery of marriage.”
“He made a wretched bad job of it then. Your marriage business is a failure. I could fit myself better without it.” “Wretch! Be careful what you say! The law will take notice of you if you talk against marriage. You will not be permitted to corrupt the public morals with impunity. And God will boil you in brimstone if you blaspheme Him or His Holy Storekeepers.”
And he went away frowning.
And the poor Barbarian, terrified and troubled, sat down and looked at his shoes.
He understood now why the World of Shoes was so full of emotion.
He was afraid to say so, but it did seem to him that, if there were no Storekeepers, there would be little or no trouble. God, be concluded, was a bugaboo the Storekeepers used to frighten folks with. He regretted keenly the fat fee the Storekeeper had made him pay for the job of marrying him.
Presently another man, who thought himself unobserved, slipped stealthily up and took the shoes, and went to the private room with them. The Barbarian did not care, for the shoes were useless to him, but he felt sorry that the man should steal them. He watched, and saw the man reappear with a radiant face. The shoes fitted him excellently. The Barbarian went up to him: “See here, my friend, I saw you take those shoes. You need not have stolen them. I cannot wear them. You are welcome.”
The man, who had turned pale when he commenced to speak, quickly changed to an expression of insolent contempt, and when the Barbarian had finished, instead of thanking him, he sneered openly and swaggered on. And when the Barbarian returned, all who had witnessed what had passed looked upon him with astonishment and loathing, and he heard them whispering, “cuckold,” “coward,” “mean-spirited villain,” “he must have been bought over,” etc.
But this man’s success gave the Barbarian a thought. Next him sat a man with his face buried in his hands, and inflamed and blistered feet. He was cursing his shoes with every expression of hatred. They were beautiful, soft, shapely shoes, and the Barbarian thought they were just his size; so he tried them on, for no one was looking. They were the most delightful shoes he had ever known, and he was elated. But suddenly the owner sprang upon him like a tiger.
“I am outraged! — dishonored!” he shouted. “My shoes are false to me! — you are a seducer, an adulterer!” — and he stabbed the Barbarian with a knife, and slit the shoes to pieces, and left him weltering in his blood.
And the crowd followed the assassin and arrested him, but apologetically, and, as it were, with respect; and, when the trial came up, he was quickly acquitted, for it was universally admitted that he had been “dishonored,” and that “a man has a right to avenge his honor.” It was indeed shown that his shoes tortured him, that he hated them, and that they were a perfect fit for his victim, but that made no difference. What had that to do with a question of honor?
But his victim did not die; he finally recovered, and wandered around disconsolate and barefoot. He longed for shoes very much, but was afraid even to look at them. One night a man met him on the street.
“I know what is the matter with you,” he said; “I’m in the same fix. I have a pair of shoes, indeed, but I get no comfort with them. I’ve left’em behind tonight. Come with me. There’s a place, down the street here, where there’s lots of shoes; some of them are pretty, and they’re most all easy fits, and, if you choose to pay a little, you can take your pick, wear’em as long as your money holds out and your liking lasts, throw’em away, or change them when you get tired, and no fault found or questions asked. Most of us come in the night here and wear’em, for we’re ashamed to wear’em home.”
So the Barbarian went with him, but doubtfully. He did not appreciate the foot-habits of the “Land of Civilization” very highly. And when they arrived at the place he was not reassured. He did not like its atmosphere, which seemed redolent of unclean feet. There were shoes in abundance, indeed; most of them were very fine. But they had been much and carelessly worn, by feet of all sizes and shapes and odors, feet unclean, and feet diseased. He was disgusted, and would have none of them. “I cannot endure it,” he said; “I will return to my own country, where all feet are happy and well-shod.”
“But how do you do it in your own country?” asked his friend, who was really his friend, and who really knew in all Civilization no better relief for mis-shod feet than this House of the Easy Old Shoes, as he called it.
“Why, in my country,” said the Barbarian, happy to talk about home, “there are no Storekeepers to interfere between shoes and feet. You open as many boxes as you like, and try on as many pairs as you please, till you get a fit. There is no talk about God, or marriage, or fornication, or adultery, or dishonor. You wear a shoe as long as you please, and stop when you get ready. You have one pair, or a dozen, or change off with your neighbors, or go barefoot, just as you like. Its nobody’s business and nobody cares. And everybody is happy and well-shod.”
“But that sort of thing,” said the other, “seems to me shocking. Why, it is impure, immoral!”
“I do not know,” said the Barbarian, “I never heard those words before. I fear you Civilized Men are great slaves to Storekeepers and Words. Barbarians think only about utility and comfort and peace and health and happiness. And we are all happy and well-shod.” J. Wm. Lloyd.
The State as a Maternal Pelican.
One of the States has a coat-of-arms representing a motherly and self-sacrificing pelican in the act of tearing off great flakes of her own breast and feeding them to her hungry young. This mother pelican is supposed to represent the State, and these young are the clamorous citizens whom the State is feeding. This is entirely misleading. The mother pelican, to properly typify Statehood, should be a very large and greedy old bird with a great stomach and an enormous pouch under her bill. She should sit at her ease and compel her young, who represent good loyal citizens, to hustle their heels off in hunting up something valuable to empty into her capacious maw. Of course they can never hope to fill her up, even in times of peace, but this is no valid reason why they should not keep their mother pelican fat and easy. The bill of the coat-of-arms pelican referred to is entirely too short for a bird to represent Texas just at this time. We want a pelican well loaded with surplus, with the beam of self-satisfaction in her eye and with a bill long enough to reach out and touch the private affairs of all her industrious brood without having to exert her lazy fatness any. We want a pelican without claws to scratch with and without sufficient energy to keep the flies off. Then we want young pelicans without number, some with and some without feathers, filing in an endless line and dumping all the fish into the craw of their official mother, then trotting off after more. This is the kind of coat-of-arms we need. The State is a pelican which is fed by her young, who are sometimes left hungry themselves. The State does not evenly protect her young. Yet this maternalistic pelican with an omnivorous cast in her eye is ready and able to reach forth her elongated bill and to take this, that, and the other personal or property right away from citizens who have paid her so well for all they possess, and for much more than they have ever received from her, either as protection or support. It is quite enough for the young pelicans to tear off their flesh and feed the mother in her idleness. The mother cannot afford to indulge in the freak of breaking up in business the industrious brood upon whom she depends for her easy living. Yet that is just what Texas is set on doing by legislation of recent years against railroads, private corporations, alien money lenders, and others. If Texas is not that kind of a pelican, she has been egregiously misrepresented, that’s all.
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.