“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 newspapers are laughing at the proposition of a wealthy Westerner to settle the race question by pensioning every ex-slave. I am afraid I do not fully appreciate its ridiculous aspect. If there were ever a just pension, it would seem to be this one. If compensation is not due to men who from childhood were robbed of their labor and liberty, to whom is it due? It is not incumbent upon the present generation to pay the debts of its ancestors, but, if it sees fit to assume them, the claim of the ex-slave, who suffered against his will, is certainly superior to that of the volunteer soldier, who suffered voluntarily.
The “Herald of Anarchy” announces that the “Citizens’ Defence League,” which “will be at once a defence association and an insurance society,” has been started. The League will defend those of its members brought before the law for the following offences: Refusing taxes for purposes of which the individual does not approve, or for institutions he does not require; refusing to send children to the board schools; smuggling; carrying on business without a license; establishing note-issuing banks; establishing postal associations in competition with the general post-office. It will also defend the citizen against unjustifiable molestation by the police in the streets and other public places.
The publisher of the New York “Nation” writes me that the rejection of the advertisement of Heinzen’s “Rights of Women” was a clerical error, and that he is ready to print the advertisement if I should offer it again. I am very glad to hear it, and take pleasure in retracting my condemnation of the “Nation’s” action. Nevertheless I must express my astonishment that in the office of a journal like the “Nation” power should be given to understrappers to sit in judgment upon books issued by its regular advertisers. I supposed that such a thing was possible only in the postal department of the United States government under the administration of John Wanamaker.
Kicking at nothing seems to be a favorite exercise of the Communists. John Most has repeatedly begun or ended long attacks upon Liberty with the remark that it is read only by a few old women in Boston. Now his disciple, the editor of the Chicago “Arbeiter-Zeitung,” is pursuing the same course. After stating, à propos of John Henry Mackay’s new book, that Liberty’s influence is inappreciable, this editor devotes his leading article for four days in succession to a critical consideration of the book in question, which, by the declaration of the author himself, owes its existence to the influence which Liberty had upon him. The “Arbeiter-Zeitung’s” assertion that Liberty has no influence is clearly sheer pretence.
Recently in these columns, discussing the standard of value, I showed that the manufacturer who sells implements to a farmer for bank-notes suffers if gold subsequently declines, since the gold that the manufacturer gets for the notes will not buy back the implements. Mr. Westrup comments on this in his new paper, “The Auditor,” and asks me why this causes suffering to the manufacturer, and why he should wish to repurchase the implements. This is positively feeble-minded. We shall next hear of Mr. Westrup answering Proudhon’s complaint against society that the laborer’s wages will not buy back his product by asking how this hurts the laborer, since no laborer would be such a fool as to desire to buy back his product.
In answer to Mr. Tandy’s article in another column, it should be stated that Mr. Yarros’s criticism was not seen by me until it had been put in editorial type, and that then, although I realized that it was not strictly consistent to give editorial expression to a defence of a biological doctrine which I had acknowledged myself incompetent to discuss, it seemed to me that this acknowledgment ought to be credited to me as sufficient disclaimer of responsibility for an article with which I am strongly inclined to agree, and to which I had no objection save the objection founded on my incapacity to judge it. Still I ask no quarter from Mr. Tandy. If, after the drubbing that I gave him for his impudence, it makes his bruises less painful to know that he forced me to this explanation, I extend him the solace in a humanitarian spirit, and assure him of my willingness to be held to a strict accounting for everything that appears in Liberty’s editorial columns with the general qualification that is kept standing at their head. I may add that Mr. Tandy learned the lesson of editorial responsibility from Mr. Yarros with the same inaccuracy that characterizes his biological studies. The editors of a paper are not jointly responsible for the entire editorial pages unless they are equal in rank. Such, I believe, was the case in the office of the Denver “Individualist.” Such is not the case in the office of Liberty. In the latter the chief editor is indeed responsible for the editorial utterances of his associates, but his associates are not responsible for the utterances of the chief.
Kate Field asks a foolish question, and gets a foolish reply from the “Evening Wisconsin.” Kate Field’s question relates to Edward Bellamy, and is put thus: “How is it that one who so firmly believes competition to be the root of all evil to the human race ventures to enter the competitive maelstrom with a newspaper? How does he hope to make his venture succeed, exept by struggling to make the ‘New Nation’ more attractive to the public than other weeklies? And how can he afford to berate the rest of us poor competing creatures while he is engaged in the same business?” But Kate Field ought to know that it is from the industrial sphere alone that Bellamy seeks to banish competition; in other spheres he is willing to maintain and encourage it. This is inconsistent and unintelligent, but it disposes of Kate Field’s kind of objection. The answer of the “Evening Wisconsin” is as follows: “Kate should not worry over a problem which exists only in her own active, inventing mind. As a matter of fact, an examination of Bellamy’s paper will convince any one that its editor cannot possibly be struggling to make it more attractive than the other weeklies. It is the most inane, tedious, intolerably dreary essay in periodical literature that was ever plumped by exchange editor into waste basket. It is as much in contrast with Kate’s own sprightly and interesting publication as a spot of soot is in contrast with a coruscating binary star.” This, I say, is a foolish answer, because, besides overlooking the distinction just pointed out between industrial competition and intellectual competition which Bellamy draws, it makes the violent assumption that Bellamy could produce a bright, readable, and vigorous paper if he only thought it consistent with his philosophy to do so. No, no, Bellamy is doing his best, and nature alone is responsible for the sad result of his strenuous efforts. Should the objection be raised that, since Bellamy sells his paper instead of giving it away, he is competing with other papers in the industrial sphere, there are two considerations to be urged against it. In the first place, it is not Bellamy’s fault that the nation refuses to pay him for his work and thus take his paper out of the industrial sphere: he cannot be expected to refrain from intellectual competition in consequence of the industrial competition which is forced upon him. In the second place, the “New Nation” is not a financial success, and there can be no objection to Mr. Bellamy’s losing money in industrial competition.
The Essentials of Sound Money.
Mr. A. B. Westrup, in his new paper, “The Auditor,” professes to think that the Galveston “News” shares his opposition to a standard of value. He is disabused of his error by this time, if he has read the following editorial, which appeased in the Galveston “News” after the publication of “The Auditor.”
Is it possible that among writers on the money question there is not a unity of understanding about the meaning of the term standard of value? As a result partly of discussions in the “News” there has been noted in two or three other papers some controversy upon the point, but as yet it does not appear that any one has distinctly indicated where and how misunderstanding arises on the question alluded to. This may be brought up sharply by asking two questions. First: Is there in nature one object indicated as a distinct, fixed, and Immutable standard of value? Second: Can there be an object selected and made a standard of value to serve the need of commerce? The perception that every object, even gold, varies in value, coupled with the hasty assumption that political economists share the vulgar fallacy as to its absolute fixity and sacredness in that relation, has induced a very few persons to think that a commercial standard of value must be dispensed with. The answer to both questions might be, somewhat paradoxically, there is no such standard in nature, yet there are many serviceable elective standards available. The primary significance of the word standard does not exclude the allowance that the standard set up is but relatively fixed. At the present time the unrest and discontent witnessed under the limitation of money is leading to wild ideas of government fiat issues reposing upon no basis of mercantile substance. Equally or more worthless would be private issues upon no basis. Without indulging in any superstition as to gold, its excellent qualifications as a standard of money must be admitted. The experience of nations proves the same fact regarding silver, and it is only a difference in degree which distinguishes corn, wheat, wool, cotton, iron, lead, lumber, and other standard articles of general use. The essential condition of the soundness of any note issues are that something of value shall be referred to as a uniform standard in the issue of a given series, and that the holder of the notes shall be secured so that he can certainly obtain for them about the value in goods or services for which he accepted them. The oppression experienced on the gold basis is not owing to the acceptance of gold as a standard of value, but owing to the limitation imposed by law upon bank issues which could well be secured upon a hundred forms of property. To successfully oppose irresponsible fiatism and irresponsible financiering which would float worthless paper, it is essential to hold fast to the principle of cautious scrutiny and valuation of the security by reference to some agreed standard article of value, and to make such issues only under strictly secured terms and methods of redemption.
“In abolishing rent and interest, the last vestiges of old-time slavery, the Revolution abolishes at one stroke the sword of the executioner, the seal of the magistrate, the club of the policeman, the gunge of the exciseman, the erasing-knife of the department clerk, all those insignia of Politics, which young Liberty grinds beneath her heel.” — Proudhon.
The appearance in the editorial column of articles over other signatures than the editor’s initial indicates that the editor approves their central purpose and general tenor, though he does not hold himself responsible for every phrase or word. But the appearance in other parts of the paper of articles by the same or other writers by no means indicates that he disapproves them in any respect, such disposition of them being governed largely by motives of convenience.
E. C. Walker, formerly editor of “Fair Play” and now a regular contributor to the columns of Liberty, is also an authorized agent for Liberty and for all books and pamphlets published by Benj. R. Tucker.
A New Book Given Away With Each Renewal. — Payment of subscriptions and of renewals is required in advance. The names of subscribers not heard from within two weeks after expiration of subscription are removed from the list. But to every subscriber who sends his renewal for one year, accompanied by the cash, so that It reaches the publisher not later than two weeks after it is due, will be sent, postpaid, any book published in the United States that the subscriber may select, provided that its retail price does not exceed 50 cents if published by Benj. R. Tucker, or 25 cents if published by any other publisher. This is a permanent offer, and enables every promptly-paying subscriber to get a new book each year free of cost. But only one book will be given at a time, no matter how low the price of the book selected.
To the great satisfaction of all thinkers and sociological students, Mr. Spencer has succeeded in finishing and laying before the reading world the fourth and most important part of his “Principles of Ethics,” — that dealing with “The Ethics of Social Life: Justice.” The book, now before me, which will be carefully studied and elaborately reviewed in these columns, is really a revised and, in many respects, immensely improved edition of “Social Statics.” In the first seven chapters Mr. Spencer sets forth the basic principles and points out their authority; in the remaining chapters the corollaries are elucidated and the applications shown. In the preface Mr. Spencer indicates the differences between “Social Statics” and “Justice.” One difference is that what there was in the first of theology and super-naturalistic interpretation has disappeared, and the interpretation has become exclusively naturalistic, that is, evolutionary. Another is that the biological origin of ethics, only indicated in “Social Statics,” is definitely set forth in “Justice,” the elaboration of its consequences being a cardinal trait. A third difference is that the deductions from the first principles have been amply supported and strengthened by induction.
I am grieved, though not at all surprised, to find the famous chapter in “Social Statics” on the right of the individual to ignore the State conspicuous by its absence in the present book. It is needless to say that the right has disappeared together with the chapter, and Mr. Spencer no longer admits that compulsory taxation is an invasion of equal liberty. Except under absolute political ethics Mr. Spencer does not view Anarchism as a tenable and logical doctrine. Thus the book will be seen to possess the additional value of identifying and emphasizing the features which differentiate Anarchism as a doctrine and political movement from individualism. Anarchists should study this book and try to define the relation between Spencerian individualism and their own system.
On the whole it is safe to say that the basic principles common to individualism and Anarchism have been given in this book a strictly scientific character, while in the applications of first principles there is revealed more questionable logic and inconsistency than could be found in “Social Statics” by those who take the Anarchistic position. V. Y.
The young German poet and novelist, John Henry Mackay, has placed the friends of liberty under the very greatest obligations to himself by his noble and magnificent gift of “Die Anarchisten.” I have just read the book, and feel that it would be impossible for me to speak too highly of it. It is indeed long since I have read anything that has given me such keen delight and pleasure. It is a book of rare excellence and beauty, and one destined to do splendid service in the cause of liberty.
Mackay’s is a magical pen. Under its spell the social conditions of the English metropolis, typical of “civilized” society the world over, rise before the reader’s eyes in all their terrible reality. But terrible and frightful as it is, one feels that the picture is not overdrawn, but only too true. One gets the impression that what is here described has been observed and experienced in every detail. The misery and wretchedness of the richest city in the world, its poverty, its hunger, its prostitution, its despair,— all are powerfully drawn. No one can read these descriptions without conceiving a wholesome disgust and contempt for the boasted civilization of the age.
However, the great merit of Mackay’s book lies not in its descriptions of the horrors of civilized life. That has been done before. It lies in the unique delineation of characters and their different ways of viewing society and the means to be employed in lifting it upon a higher plane. The art with which this is done challenges one’s admiration. There are especially two characters that are finely drawn: Otto Trupp, the revolutionary Communist, and Carrard Auban, the egoistic Anarchist. While the communists of all classes will derive small comfort from “Die Anarchisten,” I do not believe they will be able to complain of being wronged and misrepresented; for Trupp is surely a typical revolutionist and Communist. Yet no sensible person can study this character without perceiving the utter folly of his communistic philosophy, if anything so foolish and irrational may be designated by that word. Carrard Auban, on the other hand, is a man without illusions, who has come to understand the complete inexpediency of force and sacrifice as means in the regeneration of society. He views things sanely and soberly. He is an all-around man. By a keen analysis he traces the crying evils of society to authoritarian State-meddling with the vital interests of the people, and consequently demands its cessation. He is a disciple of Proudhon and Stirner, and we are left to infer that Liberty has played no small part in his intellectual development. His ends and aims and the methods by which he would accomplish them are such as any individualistic Anarchist will endorse. For one, I joyfully welcome the new comrade.
“Die Anarchisten” is one of the most consistently radical books ever written. And it is a great book. My feeling about it is such that I can say of the author and his work:
Was er geschaffen ist ein Edelstein;
Drin blitzen Strahlen für die Ewigkeit.
Mr. Tandy’s Consolations.
“I emphatically decline to be drawn into a discussion of the problem of use-inheritance. In the first place, I am certainly unfitted for such a discussion; and, in the second place, I doubt if Mr. Tandy’s equipment is any better than my own.” So says Mr. Tucker in reply to my last article. Here I was prepared to let the matter rest, thinking that perhaps, in my eagerness to impress the readers of the “Twentieth Century” with the importance of biology, I had laid a little too much stress on the question of use-inheritance. I was willing to await another opportunity to show the readers of Liberty that the editors of that paper sometimes put their feet in their months. But “fools rush where wise men fear to tread.” Mr. Yarros was unwilling to wait. Prompted by a desire to amuse the world with a display of mental gymnastics never before surpassed and seldom equalled, he makes his bow to the public and informs it that he has made a discovery. The most surprising part of the business is that his discovery is correct. I trust he will accept my congratulations on his deep knowledge and brilliant imagination, which enable him to add four letters to “T” and produce Tandy. While writing for the “Individualist,” I learnt at least one lesson from Mr. Yarros, viz.: that each of the editors of a paper is responsible for the utterances of the others, if he permits them to pass unchallenged. Now please compare the words of Mr. Tucker, quoted above, with Mr. Yarros’s article. If Mr. Yarros does not put his feet in his own mouth, he certainly succeeds in putting them in Mr. Tucker’s. Ward McAllister would hardly consider this consistent with the best usage.
Mr. Yarros next gives vent to his pent-up sarcasm, because I try to Impress on the minds of a class of social reformers who largely ignore it, a fact that has been “emphasized by every competent writer since Comte.” Then, turning a graceful somersault, he accuses me of ignorance and absurdity, because I make an assertion that has not been so “fully appreciated and emphasized.” The grounds on which I base this assertion are that not a single case has been brought up to prove the use-inheritance doctrine that cannot be fully explained by the theory of selection, and that several instances have been quoted which prove that (in those cases at least) the effects of use and disuse are not transmitted. I allude to such cases as the feet of Chinese women, which have to be reduced in size with each individual in spite of the female ancestors from time immemorial having undergone the same operation and never having used their pedal extremities. But of greater weight still is the case of “neuter” insects. Speaking on this point, Ball says: “They [working bees] are descended from countless generations of queen bees and drones, whose habits have been widely different from those of the workers.”
The fact that Wallace “succeeds in reconciling his belief in evolution [considering as he does natural and sexual selection as the only factors] with Bellamyism” is indeed absolute and conclusive evidence that I am wrong when I assert that the overthrow of use-inheritance materially strengthens individualism. In the same way It may be demonstrated that Liberty’s economic ideas are utterly erroneous, since Huxley believes in evolution and holds that capital is the mother of labor.
I devoted about ten words to a sneer at Liberty; already it has called forth no less than three or four columns in reply. If I am the hopeless idiot and ignorant liar that Mr. Yarros would have us believe, surely it would be more dignified to treat me with silent contempt than to assume such a ridiculous attitude. Francis D. Tandy.
Whether or not I have succeeded in convicting Mr. Tandy of falsehood and ignorance, it is for the impartial readers to say. I will only call their attention to Mr. Tandy’s eloquent silence on the subject of Spencer’s application of biology to sociology. I congratulate him on his wisdom in refraining from any attempt to justify his statement that Spencer never applied “his biological error” to sociology; but this recognition of his present discretion is achieved by him at the cost of his reputation for veracity and competence to discuss biology or sociology. As to why I devoted two columns to ridicule and exposure of his ignorance,— well, I did it mainly for fun. It often falls to my lot to discuss dry subjects at considerable length, and an occasional excursion into the region of trivial topics is conducive to mental vigor.
Mr. Tandy misrepresents the case in saying that I accused him of ignorance and absurdity because he had made an assertion not fully appreciated and emphasized. His assertion was an ignorant and absurd one (not one “not fully appreciated”) and therefore I accused him of ignorance and absurdity. Mr. Tandy thinks he makes a hit, a palpable hit, in his ironical remark concerning Huxley’s economic differences with Liberty; but he only succeeds in “putting his foot in it” once more. Nobody will deny that Wallace is an authority on biology, and he is not likely to advocate doctrines plainly inconsistent with the evolutionary position; while Huxley’s opinions on economic matters are no more deserving of attention than Mr. Tandy’s opinions on biology. Between evolution and the capital-the-mother-or-daughter-of-labor question the connection is most remote. V. Y.
A Middle Course.
To the Editor of Liberty:
The recent discussion on copyright in your paper resulted in an amount of intellectuality being brought to bear on the problem such as one would in vain look for here in any English periodical. But to me, an ordinary reader, it has not brought the peace and quiescence of mind, naturally arising from conviction, that might fairly have been expected as reward for the trouble incurred in reading it. Perpetual property in ideas, as the theoretically true solution, still remains as abhorrent as ever, while no protection at all seems almost as bad.
It struck me that a case might be made out as below, on somewhat different lines from those heretofore taken: on the soundness of which I should like your dictum. The question is: is it really, or only apparently, the illogical “Via Media”? Though averse, as a rule, to anything partaking of arbitrariness, there seems to me to be no alternative until, by the development of things, justice can he secured without it.
The position is as follows: —
There is an amount of labor involved of necessity in the first embodiment or materialization of an idea, which is absent from mere copies.
Inventors will tell you that the labor and trouble is, in the main, not in the idea, but in the successful working out of details, the choosing of the right materials, the proper pro-portionment of parts, the little devices, etc., which make all the difference between the thing that will work, and the apparently very similar thing that will not work.
In the same way, an author spends labor in collecting data and statistics, developing and elaborating his subject from different points of view, and surrounding it with all the observations and elucidations which make the book instructive and valuable.
The author or inventor has a claim for the protection of the results of this labor, as embodied in his MS. or model, until exchanged at market value, dependent upon the public estimation of its worth.
The recompense should come, if possible, in the disposal of the MS. or model: once disposed of, anyone else who pleases may reproduce: but until disposed of, to reproduce by copy is obviously a robbery.
True, the public does not ask the inventor to bring forward his wares: in this sense the inventor does so at his own risk; the point is, that it should be recognized as making for happiness that the inventor should receive a fair reward for the labor necessarily involved, by the nature of the case, in the first production, whoever the inventor, and not involved in reproduction; and that until then, reproduction is unjust.
And here is where the difficulty arises: the purchaser is not one, but many, scattered in different parts of the country. Obviously, the first copy or model cannot be equitably disposed of: its market value cannot be accurately and at once determined.
The present system attempts to effect this by making a small charge, known as royalty, over and above cost of production and trade profits, on every copy purchased within a certain period of time. This period decreases in proportion to the wealth and civilization of a country, in so far as there is a greater supply of authors and inventors, and a larger demand for their products, so that the market value is paid them sooner.
As regards the community, the present value of an invention or book is proportional to its fitness for some new desire: it depreciates with time; as, by use, the ideas that called it forth become more and more part of the unconscious education of the people, or are superseded, its value diminishes to zero.
It is idle to talk of an invention depriving one of the liberty to invent the same. Many inventions and hooks are, of course, created by demand; in which case, several persons may be at work on the same subject; but how often are the results sufficiently alike to constitute infringement, in the event of the priority of one of them?
Where the invention more or less precedes and creates its own demand, the deprivation of liberty argument appears still more futile. One is always at liberty to seek material enrichment by employing in another direction that intellect and labor-energy which may or may not have succeeded in the previous direction, had it thought of and attempted it.
In the case of proved practically-simultaneous and independent invention of essentially the same thing (almost impossible in authorship), protection should be extended to both, each competing against the other, or amalgamating, as they see fit. Where the inventor is too late for satisfactory proof of independence, he must unavoidably suffer: it is impossible to enforce abstract justice.
From Intelligent Anarchism, there would undoubtedly evolve a system far less arbitrary and far more self-adjust-ing than the present one; which naturally overpays some (especially in the rapid development of an industry), and underpays others. The genius who writes “before his time” (probably of rarer occurrence in the future) must suffer for his genius: the successful writer of ephemeral literature receives the reward of his adaptability, or maybe, instincts to pander.
The only course is to adjust matters in accordance with the circumstances of time and place, so as to effect the minimum of Injustice. Perhaps with the growth of free trade principles, and the decay of protective instincts, the system of allowing firms to compete under non-prohibitive royalty may more generally increase.
Finally, it is not the mere idea, of itself, that requires protection, but the essentially novel components, or, ultimately, novel arrangement of the components of a special materialization of the idea. Such materialization, considered as a whole, is not the result of a new idea, but of an aggregation of ideas: the aggregation being more of the nature of an organism or growth.
To adduce an example from the rapidly developing electrical industry: It was manifestly absurd of Mr. Lane Fox to attempt to monopolize the conjunctive use merely of dynamo and accumulator for house-lighting: and he did not succeed. In the same way, though not so manifestly, Edison in the United States, and Hoppinson in England, should not have been granted patents for their three-wire system of distribution, which was merely an idea: patents should have been granted them solely and specifically for any novel appliances invented by them for use in their working of the system.
A. E. Porter.
Paddington, London, England, June 18, 1891.
[My friend across the water is able to view with considerable equanimity the suffering of the independent inventor who comes too late to prove his independence; I claim the right to look with equal unconcern upon the suffering of the first inventor who may be deprived of a portion of his reward by competition. It is true, I am anxious to reward both these parties, and ready to aid in any fair means to that end. But I will not impose upon the second inventor, as a condition of his reward, the duty of proving his independence, it being obviously an impudent outrage to put such a burden upon a man who is not even under a justifiable suspicion of crime, and much less under the weight of convincing proof of crime; nor, on the other hand, will I enable the first inventor to get his reward by fencing off a section of truth and creating the fictitious crime of intellectual poaching. I cannot be reconciled, either, to this latter injustice by any comforting assurance to the would-be poacher that he is at liberty to hunt for game elsewhere. It would be equally justifiable to prevent a man from raising wheat on the plea that he can catch fish in the sea. Do all the equity that you can, my comrade, but do it on the ground of equal liberty. Stay within that limit, and I will help you to do equity. But do not overstep it and try to do equity by resorting to monopoly; if you do, I must fight you; for that is State Socialism, and State Socialism is the enemy. — Editor Liberty.]
Anarchism in a Spanish Novel.
Juan Valera’s charming novel, “Dona Luz,” incidentally treats of the morals of politics and political campaigns in a keen and felicitous manner. One of the characters writes a remarkable letter giving his reasons for concerning himself with an election and supporting a certain candidate; and the letter is worthy of a place in Liberty.
“Esteemed sir and friend: Heretofore, notwithstanding our friendship, I have felt myself compelled to turn a deaf ear to your persuasions. And this because our views differ in many respects. We are both more broad-minded than Riego; we are both more liberal than the author of the Citador — a work which you have doubtless read; we are both advocates of progress of the most distinct and decided type; and we are both lovers of equality — meaning by this equality before the law — which may exist apart from and independent of the inequalities created by nature, fortune, ability, or chance, whereby some are foolish and others wise, some rich and others poor. But, notwithstanding the perfect harmony in our sentiments, there are between you and me certain radical differences, arising from the fact that we have each formed to ourselves a very different ideal — meaning by ideal, a word now much in fashion, the aim of each one’s aspirations. Your ideal is that there should be a government which will distribute among its adherents all there is to be distributed, which shall arrange everything, which shall interfere in everything, which shall teach us what we are to learn, point out to us what we are to worship, make our roads for us, carry our letters for us, take care of our temporal and eternal welfare, and which shall even destroy for us the locust and the phylloxera, exorcise storms, hail showers, epidemics, the epizooty, and drought, and ordain and provide for us timely rains and abundant harvests. A government entrusted with such and so various charges will have need of a great deal of money, which it will afterward distribute among those who are to make us happy, bestowing upon us salvation, knowledge, riches, health, long life, water, means of locomotion, and all that constitutes our welfare and comfort. But, you say, and very sensibly, looking at the matter from your point of view, why should it not be I, who am no more stupid than any one else, who, in part if not altogether, shall undertake to work all these beneficent and providential wonders, and who shall receive and distribute at my pleasure the dollars which, in doing so, it will be necessary to disburse. Hence springs your desire, as if it were the simplest thing in the world, to create a representative who shall have influence, secure power, and obtain sugar plums; I, on the other hand, confess that I have an ideal which at our present rate of progress will not be realized, if it be ever realized, for ten or twelve centuries to come; but, my dear friend, one must advance toward one’s ideal even if only at the pace of the tortoise. My ideal is the least government possible — almost the negation of government — a sort of mild anarchy compatible with order, an order springing harmoniously from the people, not from those in power. I do not desire that any one should teach me; I shall learn what it seems best to me to learn, and I will find my own teachers; nor that any one should take care of me, for I will take care of myself; not that any one should make roads for me, I will associate myself with such persons as I may choose to make them for myself. I know that this is at present impossible, for they say that the individual has no initiative; that the government must take the initiative in everything, as if the government were not composed of individuals. In short, it is needless that I should repeat here all the reasons that may be alleged against my ideal. You already know them only too well. What I wish to put on record is that, notwithstanding all those reasons, I am enamored of my unrealizable system, and I regard it as apostasy to labor in behalf of that ultra-gubernamental system which at present exists, doubtless because, as a wise man has truly said, ‘Humanity, considered collectively, has not yet been born.’ While humanity remains unborn, if we are to look at things superficially and without analyzing them, you are more than right. Since the question is one of contribution and distribution, and since the contribution is compulsory, it would be well to take possession of it, in order to make the distribution presently, especially when we consider that, as the proverb says, “The carver always keeps the best cut for himself.’
“But when we look closely into the matter, restricting ourselves to one electoral district, believe me, Don Acisclo, even from a practical point of view, and if we consider our present interests only without concerning ourselves about the future, my system Is better than yours. What is gained by distributing places at random? The district does not grow the richer by this. The inhabitants who receive offices spend their salaries out of it. There are very few who return to the district to spend in it their savings, or their spoils. Frequently there are no such savings, or if there are there is no good got of them. They vanish or evaporate, as it were, like many other ill-gotten gains. ‘Easy got, easy gone.’ Thus the employé, through the favor of the representative, acquires habits of luxury, scorns his former rustic and simple way of living, and accustoms himself to let the clock do his work and earn money for him, ticking away the hours and days. The bad example infects others. The son of the tradesman, the domestic servant, every one who knows how to read and write, becomes disgusted with manual labor and says to himself: ‘Why should not I too obtain a government situation? Why should not the representative provide a good place for me?’ He who has not the remotest hope of the representative giving him a place is filled with anger and rage, and grows indifferent and lazy that he may be the equal of the employé, of the ease and pleasantness of whose life he forms an exaggerated and fantastic conception. He fancies, and no one can drive the idea from his mind — doubtless because he does not know the time that is spent, the paper that is blotted, and the anxieties which are produced by our complicated system of transacting official business — that office hours are spent by the employés in pleasant chats, in smoking the finest cigars, and in refreshing themselves with frequent potations; and it is supposed, besides, that opportunities to do a profitable stroke of business are constantly presenting themselves to every employé who is at all shrewd, that such a one has frequent chances of perquisites and occasionally is offered a bribe. With such notions, how is it possible that a man should be satisfied to go dig ditches, and is it not natural that he should seek to convert the ditch into an imitation of the longed-for, delightful, and sybaritic government office? It results from this that, as the representative gives places to the most active, efficient, and intelligent men, who naturally leave the district for a wider field of action, only the most stupid, good-for-nothing, and inefficient remain in it; and these, aggrieved and wounded in their self-love, or discouraged and with but little inclination for work. Consequently, there is neither industry, nor art, nor advancement, nor progress possible. Thanks to the lavish favors of the representative, the district grows poorer instead of richer and is transformed into a nest of idlers and good-for-nothings. It is for this reason that I, through pure love for the district, do not desire to give it an able representative like the one we have now. I do not wish to give it a representative who procures and distributes so many sugar plums.
“Fortunately, your candidate’s name has suggested to me the thought that in supporting him and thereby gratifying you, I shall also contribute to the welfare of the district, as I understand it. I shall free it from the blighting protection of the present representative, who seems to be a very manufacturer of sugar plums, and I shall provide it with a representative who will tell you as soon as you have elected him that if he has ever seen you before he is not aware of it, and will give you no sugar plum, and, as a consequence, agriculture may again flourish, useful industries be created, and the corruption which is today eating away the core of society disappear. Don Jaime must have two thousand dollars a year. He has no need of this district. I cannot understand why he should desire to represent it when he might represent any district he chose. He owns in the neighborhood of this town an olive plantation which his father, a soldier like himself, bought with money won at play. This is the only bond, so far as I know, that attaches him to this district. I repeat, then, that I cannot understand why he should wish to be our representative; but I take it for granted that once he has attained his desire he will turn his back upon us, send us about our business, and not give us an atom of sugar plum. As this is precisely my most cherished wish, I have resolved (remaining silent as to my reasons in order not to alarm your other adherents) to support your candidate. Count upon me, therefore, to elect Don Jaime Primentel representative, and believe me your affectionate friend.”
Comthony Anstock: A Study in the Nude.
By George Forrest.
Comthony Anstock was tired and generally worn out; and over the nudity of his most Christian features sleep was beginning to creep.
He was sitting in his arm-chair before an open grate, with his hands reverently clasped across his capacious abdomen as though in prayer (or pain). His head had sunk upon his breast, and ever and anon it sunk still lower (in its endeavor to find its proper resting place), until finally it, also, rested upon his belly; and he looked as though doubled up in prayer (or pain).
And he had a dream.
And it was such a dream. A dream of love such as erotic poets like to give utterance to in burning verse.
He dreamt he was in the land of the node. And in the valleys of this land, and on the hillsides, youths and maidens sang and danced, their clean flanks, white, immaculate, glistening in the sun. Fresh was their laughter as they played together, and joy was everywhere; and disease was known by none.
And Comthony stood behind a tree and watched (so he dreamt), and he was horrified. He held his hands before his eyes to close out the wicked sight (there were wide spaces between his fingers), and groaned, and from his lips came the words, “It must be suppressed,” and he thought aloud to himself: “This is worse than the ‘Kreutzer Sonata’”; and even as he thought of it, he heard it played. The music of maidens’ voices joined the tones of the lutes and strings, and the sweet tenor of the youths sang clear above all to the highest realms of sound. Passionate was the air: strong and desiring as youth; then tender and fragile as love.
And Anthony, or, rather, Comthony, was impressed by all this physical beauty as the music rang round him, and he thought to himself: “Why should I not join them? Am I not shapely?” and he disrobed until he was as nude as Adam before he made (as holy writ will tell) his dress of fig-leaves.
Then he surveyed himself.
But he appeared unclean; so he entered a sparkling brook near by and bathed himself; and then again he surveyed himself and saw that he was not yet entirely clean, for across his forehead was a black mark which would not wash out: it was evidently deep seated in the brain. But he let the mark go and mingled with the crowd.
But when he drew near the maidens, they shrank back.
“See,” they said to each other, “he has the black spot on his forehead; he is unclean.”
But Comthony persisted in his attentions, until both youths and maidens seized him.
“He must be clothed,” said one, “or else he will spoil us all, and we shall no longer be able to love, for our brains will be poisoned.”
So they collected together and began to clothe him; and he was too frightened to try to prevent them. And when they had finished, and he was clothed complete from bead to foot, he again surveyed himself.
And he saw that he was covered with a heavy coating of pitch, with a generous mixture of buzzard’s feathers.
Then he awoke.
He had fallen forward from his chair into the open grate, and he was covered with soot.
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.