“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 failure of Liberty to make its appearance last week was due to an illness of the editor, from which he has now recovered.
The competition for the files of Liberty resulted as follows: First choice, taking the complete unbound file, $40.25, the bid offered by An Individualist, New York; Second choice, $21, offered by Charles Greenbalgh, Denver, Colo.; Third choice, $16, offered by William Stroud, Sturgis, Mich.
The paragraph which was copied in the last number of Liberty from an article by Hugo Bilgram in the “Twentieth Century,” though perfectly just in its general arraignment of the unreasonable attitudes and methods assumed by the laborers and their leaders, was utterly unjust, I am now convinced, in its especial application to Burgess McLuckie of Homestead. That this particular labor leader is one of the most open-minded of men I have just had very good evidence. He called on me lately as he was passing through New York, and stated that he was very desirous of becoming acquainted with the principles of Anarchism. He said that his tendencies were strongly in the Anarchistic direction, and that he wished to study the Anarchistic literature in order that, if finally satisfied of the soundness of the doctrine, he might aid in spreading it among the iron and steel workers. Burgess McLuckie appeared to me a splendid specimen of the sturdy, frank, straight-forward workingman. He did not seem a man who would be a Frick if he had the chance. My interview with him made me surer than ever that my sympathies had not been misplaced.
My dear Mr. Tucker:
For a long time it has seemed to me a thing much to be desired that some one should write a book clearly setting forth the body of ideas which most of us have had to piece together for ourselves from various sources. Proudhon is very heavy reading, especially for a beginner; Andrews and Greene and the rest are admirable for the details after the general idea is grasped, but I know of nothing that places the principles of Anarchism intelligibly before the unconverted.
Seeing that most of us have gained our knowledge in great part from the columns of Liberty, it has occurred to me that it might be practicable to compile a coherent work from, let us say, your editorials, from the beginning, perhaps with the articles which drew them forth.
Such a compilation might be expected to exert even more influence than the original articles have already exerted, inasmuch as they would present the matter in a more accessible shape than scattered through the gaga, of a periodical; besides, the times are riper now for such thoughts than when they were first published.
Very truly yours,
John Beverley Robinson.
[The foregoing letter is a sample of a number received during the past year. It makes a suggestion which I have long wished to carry out. But how? Such a compilation of matter would make a large book, very expensive to issue. The burden of the cost is more than I can carry. I believe that the book would sell well and would do much good. But financially it would be an experiment. If Comrade Robinson or any one else can devise a plan whereby the expense can be met, I shall gladly undertake the work. — Editor Liberty.]
Compulsory Education and Anarchism.
To the Editor of Liberty:
While reading your lucid editorial on the above topic, some thoughts occurred to me which I venture to offer in the hope that they may serve to supplement what you have said in dealing with your scholastic friend’s well-put queries.
I cannot help thinking that he had in mind a very un-Anarchistic condition of things when he formulated the questions. Why is compulsory education in vogue to-day? For whom is it intended? If society had been composed of well-to-do people having all the comforts, advantages, and opportunities of civilization that some only enjoy at present, would the idea of statutory compulsion in the bringing-up and education of children ever have been thought of, much less put into force? Are such legal regulations applied, practically, to the classes superior in fortune to the majority, in whose interest (?) the regulations are supposed to be made?
I find myself dropping into the interrogative style, like our friendly inquirer, and while in it would like to ask him, though not wishing to usurp the functions of a father confessor, if he had not in view, perhaps vaguely and even unconsciously, when thinking over the matter that he embodied in the five points, a typical wage slave, underpaid, uneducated, unrefined, the victim of compulsory restrictions and stultifying law-made conditions, a man or woman without intelligence, whose narrow mental scope and abnormal moral nature are the result of circumstances produced by invasive tyranny, — in short, parents whose unfilial instincts and unsocial acts are the direct outcome of ages of legal oppression. To such persons only could the assumptions underlying the questions apply.
If our friend apprehends clearly the drift of the queries above and consequently answers them to our mutual satisfaction, he will then, I imagine, discard his third, fourth, and fifth questions as unnecessary and inapplicable to a truly Anarchist condition of society. It seems to me unwise to attempt to apply Anarchistic principles to one case of social relations, itself arising out of other relations, without at the same time tracing that case to its sources and there defining the bearings of the whole in relation to perfect liberty, — Anarchy. I would not turn aside to condemn some kinds of compulsory interference which are really attempts at ameliorating the conditions that more inimical invasion has brought about, but would rather strike straight at the previous and more vital violations of the law of equal freedom. Hence I agree with the editor when he answers No, No, No, to the last three problems, not only on the grounds he lays down, but also because I believe that the economic emancipation which would result from the adoption of Anarchy as a basic method in Society would speedily solve all such problems by relegating them to the Museum of Curiosities of the Ante-Revolution.
On grounds of sentiment, of sympathy, feeling, and humanity, which would probably be stronger and more generous under equal liberty than now, I would not hesitate to act in the circumstances supposed in the first and second questions, though such action would certainly not be dictated by the mere theory of Anarchism, but would be no more a violation of it than would a refusal in such cases to interfere. The undoubted tendency of an adoption of Anarchy would be, however, to minimize the possibility of unsocial conduct of the character under discussion, if not to abolish it altogether.
Any Worker to Any Strikers.
The strike is lost and Dick’s the sneak
That sold us for a bribe to-day;
He got more blood-roomy this, week
Than months of honest pay.
The strike is lost, don’t run, boy, don’t!
And scramble o’er your comrade’s head;
Your master’s grinning, and I don’t
Blame him, your spunk is dead.
The strike is lost, as strikes must be
Sometimes; they are no lasting cure
For hunger, fines, monopoly,
The ills which you endure.
The strike is lost; had it been won,
Your paltry gain with low content
You’d take, and think the battle done
And sleep within your tent.
The enemy would have you then
As often he has had before,
And he’d pick off your leading men
And show them to the door.
Don’t cringe and fawn upon your knees
To go to toil in the old mill;
They’ll take most of you by degrees;
If not, find work you will.
The strike is lost, boys, strikes don’t hit
The centre of affairs at all;
Rent, usury, interest (wait a bit),
Are what oppress you all.
The land they own, boys, such big slumps,
Bought cheap by Senators and sich,
Built with tall houses, whose foul dumps
Are play grounds? — Ask the rich.
The land they own, boys, but ’tain’t fair
That evermore the few should hold
The earth, while workers have no where
To live when they grow old.
The strike is lost, boys, — ’Gad! they’re gone,
Running like beat dogs to the mill;
I’m talking to myself alone,
Their folly makes me ill.
“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.
Children Under Anarchy.
Nearly the whole of this issue of Liberty is devoted to the important question of the status of the child under Anarchy. The long article by Clara Dixon Davidson has been in my desk, unopened, for several months. On examining it the other day, I was surprised and delighted to find that a woman had written such a bold, unprejudiced, unsentimental, and altogether rational essay on a subject which women are especially prone to treat emotionally. I am even shamed a little by the unhesitating way in which she eliminates from the problem the fancied right of the child to life. My own difficulties, I fear, have been largely due to a lingering trace of this superstition. The fact is that the child, like the adult, has no right to life at all. Under equal freedom, as it develops individuality and independence, it is entitled to immunity from assault or invasion, and that is all. If the parent neglects to support it, he does not thereby oblige any one else to support it. If others give it support, they do so voluntarily, as they might give support to a neglected animal; there is, no more obligation in the one case than in the other.
I also welcome as important Comrade Bailie’s contribution to the discussion. In one view the question of the status of the child under Anarchy is a trivial one, — trivial because the bugbears that surround it are hypothetical monsters, and because such ugly realities as do actually confront it are put to rout by the new social conditions which Anarchy induces. Even at present comparatively few parents are disposed to abuse or neglect their children, and in the absence of poverty and false notions of virtue their number will be infinitesimal and may be safely neglected. The question is one that vanishes as we approach it.
The chief value of its discussion is found in the light which it throws on the matter of equal freedom. Hence I am glad that it was brought forward by my friend the school-teacher, whose questions I answered in No. 232, and who now rejoins with the following letter:
To the Editor of Liberty:
I gather from your editorial that it is Anarchistic policy for neighbors to interfere if a parent is about to chisel off the third finger of his child’s left hand, even if he proposes to secure a well-healed stump. I think I know you well enough to say that it is not Anarchistic policy for neighbors to interfere if the parent, otherwise sane, proposes to treat his own finger so. Now, where is the criterion of these two cases? Why should the child’s physical integrity be of more importance to neighbors than the father’s? Do we not recognize some substitute for or remnant of the law of equal freedom, restraining the parent’s absolute control over the mind, body, and life of his child? “Not for the child’s sake,” primarily, because all sane altruism is rooted in egoism: but it is Anarchistic policy to recognize and defend the child’s right to physical integrity, in extreme cases.
Again, the reason why we draw the line of Anarchistic policy at interference with any but physical maltreatment is, if I am correct, that non-interference will result in disaster, too grievous to be borne, which will be an invasion of the equal freedom of adult neighbors, — all this only in the case of physical maltreatment. On this ground is laid down the general rule that mental and moral maltreatment of children by parents should not be met by neighbors with physical force. It seems obvious to me that this rule cannot he thus justified in considering the case of physical maltreatment instanced above, and the following case of mental-and-moral maltreatment: A parent, with the intention of ruining his child’s future, surrounds it with temptations to debauchery such as will assuredly render it imbecile, if it survives to the normal age of maturity. — This seems to me more harmful to adult neighbors than even such mutilation as an eye put out.
To put my thesis most directly, I claim (I) to state the law of equal freedom as follows:
Every individual has a right to and must expert the remits of his own nature.
Cor. 1. Every individual must refrain from invading his neighbor’s rights.
Cor. 2. Every child has a right to such sacrifice on the part of its parent as will enable it to arrive at maturity.
And I claim (II) that it is Anarchistic policy to use physical force to prevent transgressions of either corollary of this law, where such transgressions are clear and unmistakable. The Egoistic basis of enforcing Cor. 2 is, as your editorial implies, the fact that its violation will result in shouldering off upon others some unwelcome consequence of the parents’ (propagative) conduct.
It is not always possible to apply the theoretical deductions of science; but that need not deter her devotees from trying to state and prove, as completely as possible, the results of science. Here we are, confronted by the “Cimmerian darkness” of one of the most important problems in social ethics. If the statement of Cor. 2 above is not accurate, I ask you, as my first instructor in this subject, to tell me where it is inaccurate, and why: if it is accurate, it furnishes a basis for the relation between Family and Society as firm and clear as the Law of Equal Freedom does for Society alone. And we can set ourselves calmly to write down the particular equations that represent the several phases of child-guardianship. G. W. E.
My friend misapprehends me. When the interference of third parties is justifiable, it is not so because of the superior importance of the child’s physical integrity as compared with that of the parent who mutilates himself, but because the child is potentially an individual sovereign. The man who mutilates himself does not impair equal freedom in the slightest, but the parent who mutilates his child assaults a being which, though still limited in its freedom by its dependence, is daily growing into an independence which will establish its freedom on an equality with that of others. In this doubtful stage the advisability of interference is to be decided by necessity, since, so far as we can see at present, it cannot be decided by principle. It is necessary to stop the parent from cutting off his child’s finger, because the danger is immediate and the evil certain and irremediable. It is not necessary to prescribe the conditions of virtue with which a parent shall surround his child, because the danger is remote (it being possible perhaps in time to induce the parent to change his course), the evil is uncertain (the child often proving sufficiently strong in character to rise above its conditions), and the results are not necessarily permanent (as later conditions may largely, if not entirely, counteract them). In the former case, physical force must be met with physical force. In the latter case, it is safer and better to meet moral (or immoral) force with moral force. I am afraid that my friend is not yet a sufficiently good Anarchist to appreciate the full significance of Proudhon’s declaration that Liberty is the Mother of Order, and the importance of securing education through liberty wherever practicable instead of through compulsion.
I do not think that my friend’s formulas are capable of scientific treatment. When he tells me that “every individual has a right to and must expect the results of his own nature,” he lays down a proposition too vague for the purposes of science. I do not know what the words mean, and in any case I deny the alleged right. An individual has a right to the results of his own nature if he can get them; otherwise, not. Apart from this right of might, no individual has a right to anything, except as he creates his right by contract with his neighbor. T.
Relations Between Parents and Children.
The wisdom of acts is measured by their consequences.
The individual’s measure of consequences is proportionate to the circle of his outlook. His horizons may lie so near that he can only measure at short range. But, whether they be near or far, he can only judge of consequences as proximately or remotely touching himself. His judgment may err; his motive remains always the same, whether he be conscious of it or not.
That motive is necessarily egoistic, since no one deliberately chooses misery when happiness is open to him. Acts always resulting either indifferently or in furtherance of happiness or increase of misery, one who has power to decide and intelligence to determine probable consequences will certainly give preference to the course which will ultimately advance his own happiness.
The law of equal freedom, “Every one is free to do whatsoever he wills,” appears to me to be the primary condition to happiness. If I fail to add the remainder of Herbert Spencer’s celebrated law of equal freedom, I shall only risk being misinterpreted by persons who cannot understand that the opening affirmation includes what follows, since, if any one did infringe upon the freedom of another, all would not be equally free.
Liberty without intelligence rushes toward its own extinction continually, and continually rescues itself by the knowledge born of its pain.
Intelligence without liberty is a mere potentiality, a nest-full of unhatched eggs.
Progress, therefore, presupposes the union of intelligence and liberty: Freedom to act, wisdom to guide the action.
Equal freedom is the primary condition to happiness.
Intelligence is the primary condition to equality in freedom.
Liberty and intelligence acting and reacting upon each other produce growth.
Thus growth and happiness are seen to be, if not actually synonymous, almost inseparable companions.
Where equal freedom is rendered impossible by disproportion in degrees of development, the hope of the higher units lies in the education of the lower.
Children, because of their ignorance, are elements of inharmony, hindrances to equal freedom. To quicken the processes of their growth is to contribute toward the equilibrization of social forces.
Then, liberty being essential to growth, they must be left as free as is compatible with their own safety and the freedom of others.
Just here arises my difficulty, which I freely admit. For the enunciation of this principle is the opening of a Pandora’s box, from which all things fly out excepting adult judgment.
Who shall decide upon the permissible degree of freedom? Who shall adjust the child’s freedom to its safety so that the two shall be delicately, flawlessly balanced?
The fecundity of these questions is without limit. Of them are born controversies that plague all the unregenerate alike, whether they be philosophers or the humblest truth-seekers.
Christians escape this toilsome investigation. Their faith in rulership simplifies all the relations of life. Their conduct need not be consistent with equal freedom, since obedience, not liberty, is the basis of their ideal society.
Reluctantly I admit that during infancy and to some extent in childhood others must decide what is for a child’s welfare.
The human babe is a pitiably helpless and lamentably ignorant animal. It does not even know when it is hungry, but seeks the maternal breast as a cure-all for every variety of physical uneasiness; therefore the mother or nurse must inevitably decide for it even the quantity of nourishment it may safely receive and the length of time that may intervene between tenders of supplies. That these judgments are far from infallible is well known. One mother of five living children con-fessed to me that she had lost one child, starved it in the process of learning that her lactation furnished a substance little more nutritious than water.
Grown older, the babe does not know the danger of touching a red-hot stove. How should it know? It is without experience. The mother’s impulse is to rescue the tender, white baby-hand. Is she wise in interposing this restraint? I think she is not. If the child is to have bayoneted sentries always on guard between it and experience, it can only grow surreptitiously. I say “bayoneted” advisedly, since the hand interposed between the baby and the stove not infrequently emphasizes its power with a blow which gives more pain than the burn would have given, while its value as experience may be represented by the minus sign.
The theory that it is the duty of parents to provide for the needs of their young children, and of children to obey their parents and, in their age, to support them, is so generally accepted that I shall rouse a storm of indignation by asserting that there are no duties.
While a cursory glance at the subject may seem to show a denial of equal freedom in the refusal of a parent to support his child, a more careful study will reveal the truth that, so long as he does not hinder the activities of any one nor compel any other person or persons to undertake the task which he has relinquished, he cannot be said to violate the law of equal freedom. Therefore his associates may not compel him to provide for his child, though they may forcibly prevent him from aggressing upon it. They may prevent acts; they may not compel the performance of actions.
It will, perhaps, be well to anticipate at this point a question sure to be asked during the discussion.
Is it not aggression on the part of parents to usher into existence a child for which they are either unable or unwilling to provide?
Much may be said in reply.
First: In any association differences of opinion would arise as to whether it was aggression or not; these differences would imply doubt, and the doubt would make forcible prevention, even if practicable, unjustifiable.
Second: This doubt would be strengthened by consideration of the fact that no one could be able to predict with certainty nine months previous to the birth of a child that at the time of its birth its parents would be unable to provide sustenance for it.
Third: It would be further strengthened by the knowledge that death is always open to those who find life intolerable, and, so long as persons seek to prolong existence, they cannot properly complain of those who thrust it upon them. A young babe does not question whether the milk it feeds upon flows from its mother’s breast or from the udder of a cow, and should it, with dawning intelligence, feel disturbed in mind or distressed in body by reason of its relations toward its environments, it will, by then, have learned the art of dying.
And now, having opened a gulf which swallows up duty, shall I be able to allay the consternation of those who have substituted the worship of this for their repudiated worship of another unsubstantial God?
It has seemed to me that, generally speaking, people’s love for their children is in inverse proportion to their love of God and duty. However this may be, — and I will admit that, although parallel and pertinent, it is not directly in the line of inquiry I am pursuing, — there is still left to us the certainty that increasing intelligence will more and more incline individuals to face the consequences of their own sets; not for duty’s sake, but in order to help establish and preserve that social harmony which will be necessary to their happiness.
Even in the present semi-barbarous condition of parental relations it is exceptional, unusual, for parents to abandon their children, and the two distinct incentives to such abandonment will be removed by social evolution, leaving the discussion of the obligation of parents to care for their children purely abstract and rather unprofitable, since no one will refuse to do so.
The two motives to which I refer are poverty and fear of social obloquy. Married parents sometimes desert their children because they lack abundant means of subsistence; unmarried parents occasionally not only desert their offspring, but deny them, in order to escape the malice of the unintelligent who believe that vice is susceptible of transmutation into virtue by the blessing of a priest, and virtue into vice by the absence of the miracle-working words.
Recognition of the law of equal freedom would nearly remove the first, render the second more endurable, and finally obliterate both, leaving parents without motive for the abandonment of offspring.
That parents usually find happiness in provision for the welfare of their young is well known. Even the habits of the lower animals afford evidence sufficient to establish this position, and, for convenience, postulating it as a principle, I shall proceed to examine how far parents defeat their own aim by unintelligent pursuit of it.
Food is the first, because the indispensable, requisite to welfare, but unintelligent and indiscriminate feeding results in thousands of deaths annually and sows seeds of chronic invalidism in millions of young stomachs.
Clothing also is considered indispensable, and is so in rigorous climates, but the primary object of covering the body, which is surely to make it comfortable, is usually almost wholly forgotten in the effort to conform to accepted ideals of beauty, — ideals often involving peculiar departures from natural forms.
Shelter is a necessity which is often accompanied by such over-zealous inhospitality to fresh air as places choice between in-door and out-door life in uncertain balance.
But the sturdiest pursuits and the dreariest defeats and failures are found in educational endeavors.
The child comes into an unknown world. His blinking eyes cannot decide which is nearer, the lighted taper on the table or the moon seen through the window. He does not know that a Riverside orange is larger than the palm of his tiny hand until he has learned the truth by repeated efforts to grasp it. He has all things to learn: ideas of dimension, weight, heat, moisture, density, resistance, gravitation, — all things in their inter-relations and their relations to himself. And what bungling assistance he receives in the bewildering path through this tangle of truth!
He learns that God sends the rain, the hail, and the snow down from the sky; that his little sister was brought from heaven by an angel and deposited in a doctor’s pill-bags. The tie of relationship between her and himself remains a mystery. Anthropomorphism lurks everywhere. The unseen hand moves all things. He asks many questions which his teachers cannot answer, and, unwilling to confess their ignorance, they constantly reiterate: “God did it,” as if that were an answer.
Turning from unsuccessful inquiries concerning natural phenomena, perhaps the child perceives, in a dim way, his relations with the State, and, as God posed before him in the realm of philosophy and science, so do all replies to his questionings now end in omnipotent government.
“Why does no one prevent the man with a star from clubbing the other man?”
“Because he is a policeman.”
“Who said that a policeman might strike people?”
“What is the government?”
“The government is, — my son, you will learn when you are older.”
“Who pays the policeman for clubbing the other man?”
“Where does the government get the money?”
“You will learn when you are older.”
Usually at the age of six years, or even earlier, a child’s education is practically abandoned by its inefficient parents and entrusted to the church and the State.
The State uses money robbed from the parents to perpetuate its powers of robbery by instructing their children in its own interest.
The church, also, uses its power to perpetuate its power. And to these twin leeches, as “Ouida” has aptly designated them, to these self-interested robbers and murderers, are the tender minds of babies entrusted for education.
Herbert Spencer has shown that the status of women and children improves in proportion to the decline of militarism and the advance of industrialism.
The military spirit is encouraged in multifold ways by both church and State, and little children and women, in their pitiable ignorance, assist in weaving nets that shall trip their own unwary feet and those of other women and children to follow them.
A spirit of subordination is inculcated by both church and State, which contemplate without rebuke the brutalities of authority, excepting in some cases of extraordinary cruelty, and teach the helpless victims that it is their duty to submit.
The most commonplace tenets of these powers would seem absurd and outrageous if expounded to an unprepared adult mind and stripped of all those devices of language by which the various promptings of shame, good nature, ignorance, or deceit impel us to soften the truth.
Say to such an one:
“Murder by the State is laudable; murder by an individual is criminal.”
Robbery by the State is permissible; robbery by an individual is a serious offence against the person robbed and also against public welfare.
“Assault of the parent upon his child is justifiable; assault of the child upon the parent is intolerable.”
He would not look upon you with the simple confidence of a puzzled child, attributing the apparent incompatibilities to the feebleness of his own understanding.
But to the child these bewildering social sophistries, flowing into his mind from sources that appeal to his trust, and presented with ambiguities of language that serve to increase its difficulties, must appear hopeless labyrinths of mystery.
Thus at every step from infancy to adult life the progress of the child is checked by the incapacity of those who desire to advance its welfare.
Inherited tendencies and the training which they themselves received incline parents to become inexorable masters and to commend most the conduct of that child which is easiest enslaved.
Parents beat their children, elder children beat younger brothers and sisters, and the wee ones avenge their wrongs vicariously by beating their dolls or their wooden horses.
Through individual revolts against the general barbarity, revolts of increasing frequency and power, humanity gradually evolves above actual application of its savage principles. But these revolts against savagery, when led by emotion, often result nearly as disastrously as savagery itself.
Reason must be the basis of all enduring social growth.
When reason shall have learned to rebel against inequalities in liberties, and when this mental rebellion shall have become quite general, then will people have passed beyond danger of relapse into savagery.
Then parent and child shall not be master and slave, a relation distasteful to reasoning people, but they shall be friend and friend. There will be no restraints imposed except such as are absolutely necessary, and these will not take the form of blows and will be removed as early as possible.
Examples of such restraints as I mean are:
Detention from the brink of a precipice or an open well or the track of a coming locomotive, or of one child from striking another.
Parents who recognize the fundamental principle of happiness through freedom and intelligence will, generally speaking, achieve results proportionate to the degree of their success in harmonizing their lives with this principle. The greater their intelligence the higher perfection will they reach in the interpretation and application of the law of equal freedom, and in preparing their children to attain harmonious relations with their environment.
How to make liars of children:
I have said that infants have all things to learn, it would seem, and would be, superfluous to repeat a fact so well known, were it not true that most people credit little children with so much more knowledge than they could possibly have acquired in the given time. I have heard, not once but many times, mothers accuse young children of falsehood when I fully believed that the apparent mis-statements were due in part to the little ones’ weak grasp on the language which they attempted to speak and partly to misinterpretation of facts. Even grown-up people do not look upon the simplest incident from exactly the same point of view; yet they expect from mere babes perfection of accuracy, and, being disappointed in this unreasonable expectation, accuse them of falsehood, and not infrequently worry them into admitting faults which have, in reality, no meaning to their dim understandings. But after lying has come to nave meaning, the little mind becomes indifferent to truthfulness, finding that punishment falls the same, whether it inspire truth or falsehood.
Thus the child is made a liar by its parents’ ignorant endeavor to teach it regard for the truth.
But worse mistakes are made by those parents whose daily conversation with their children furnishes examples of untruthfulness. Who has not been frightened into obedience by tales of a bogie-man, a Chinaman, a black man, or a Santa Claus with his rattan, — stories which do triple injury by fostering cowardice, class-hatred, and lying?
To teach a child to steal:
Carefully lock away from him all fruits and sweets. Allow him no money for personal expenses. If you miss anything, accuse him of having taken it. If you send him out to make purchases, count the change with suspicious care when he returns. If he has lost a few pennies, accuse him of having spent them for candy. If you never buy candy for him, this will teach him a means of supplying himself, and probably your next accusation will be true.
Strike children and they learn to strike each other; scold them and they learn to quarrel; give them drums and flags and uniforms and toy guns and they desire to become professional murderers. Open their letters, listen to their conversations with their young friends, ply into their little secrets, invade their private rooms without knocking, and you make them meddlers and disagreeable companions.
I have said that it is not the duty of children to obey their parents or to care for them in old age.
The following facts bear on this position:
The life of a child is usually merely incident to the pleasure of its parents, and is often an accident deeply deplored by both. Even when conception is desired, it is still for the pleasure of the parents. If it were possible, which it is not, to conceive of a life given solely for its own happiness, its parents taking no pleasure either in the sexual relation or in the hope of offspring, the child could incur no responsibility by the opinions or the acts of its parents.
After its birth the child does not say:
“Give me food, clothes, and shelter now in exchange for food, clothes, and shelter which I will give you in your old age,” and, could he make such a contract, it would be void. A man cannot be bound by promises he made during his infancy.
The question of obedience I pass, since highly-evolved parents cannot be obeyed, because they will not command.
On careful thought the removal of the idea of duty will be seen to be less startling than it must at first appear to those who have accepted without question the dogmas of authority. Mr. Cowell has called my attention to the fact that the love which most people have for their parents or foster-parents is evidence that few wholly lack lovable attributes. During the long years of familiar companionship between parents and child ties are usually formed which cannot be broken while life lasts, not ties of duty but of affection; these render mutual helpfulness a source of pleasure. If they be lacking, a self-respecting parent would choose the shelter of an almshouse rather than the grudging charity bestowed by his child under the spur of a belief in duty. Clara Dixon Davidson.
New York. — Samuel McWhinney, 2361 Eighth Ave.; Justus H. Schwab, 50 First Street.
Philadelphia. — Henry Heyne, Corner of Tenth and Market Streets.
Detroit. — Herman Reif. 94 Gratiot Ave.
Chicago. — Geo. A. Schilling, 85 Washington Street.
Denver. — Henry Cohen, 1239 Welton Street.
Canton, O. — Standard News Co.
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.