“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.
Mr. Yarros is not a whit too severe is his condemnation, in another column, of the late John R. Kelso’s book, “Government Analyzed.” Impudence attains its climax when such a work is offered to the public as an exposition of Anarchism.
To me the most interesting literary announcement of the year is that of the Librairie Albert Schulz, of Paris, — namely, the publication in French of the complete works of Nietzsche. “The Wagner Case: A Musical Problem” is already out, and the following will appear successively: “Thus Spake Zarathustra: A Book for All and for Nobody”; “On the Other Side of Good and Evil: Introduction to a Philosophy of the Future”; “Human! Too Human! A Book for Free Minds,” “Gay Sciences,” with an appendix, “Prince Vogelfrei’s Songs”; “Auroras: Thoughts on Moral Prejudices”; “Genealogy of Morality: A Polemic Treatise”; “Twilight of the False Gods, or, How One Thinks with a Hammer”; “Tragedy Engendered by the Spirit of Music”; “Inopportune Considerations,” in two volumes, the first containing “David Strauss, the Believer and the Writer” and “The Utility and the Disadvantages of History in Life,” the second containing “Schopenhauer as Educator” and “Richard Wagner at Bayreuth.” What enterprising American publisher will have the flair to print these works in English?
The way of the executioner is in some respects harder than that of the transgressor. M. Deibler, who manipulates the guillotine in France, occupying a position corresponding to that of our sheriff or public hangman, has found it difficult to obtain where to lay his own head since he Laid Ravachol’s on the block. No landlord will give hint shelter, because, when he moves into a home, the other tenants are as prompt to move out as rats to leave a sinking ship. The timorous bourgeois refuse to live in a trap thus baited for dynamite. So, when M. Deibler endeavors to hire a flat, the very mention of his name precipitates a pitiless refusal. Lately, however, fading apartments to his liking, he asked the proprietor for a nine years’ lease. The latter consented, and had affixed his own name to the contract before the name Deibler struck him; then he asked his new tenant if he was a relative of the executioner. Deibler, who was expecting this question, was careful not to answer it until he had written his name below the landlord’s, after which he hurried off to the registry of deeds, leaving the proprietor in the midst of a frantic attempt to decline the honor of lodging so compromising a tenant. When the other tenants learned of the situation, all but three of them gave notice at once, and it needed only the dynamite explosion that occurred a few days later in a Paris police station to convince the remaining three that discretion is the better part of valor. Now the landlord, after exhausting all his powers of persuasion upon the inflexible headsman, claims that the lease is null because not signed by his mother, a widow who has the right of usufruct by her husband’s will. But M. Deibler answers that the leases of the other tenants are not signed by the widow, and he insists that he shall take possession on January 15. He declares that, if this right is denied him, he will apply to the courts for an indemnity equal to the nine years’ rent, “unless,” he says, “the government will consent to lodge me at its expense.” Which would seem to be the least that a grateful government could do for so faithful a servant. But it impresses one with the proximity of the tragic to the ridiculous, when he sees this man, whose business it is to make others headless, forced himself to go bedless.
Renan and Littre.
[Edouard Durranc in Le Radical.]
A reporter who presented himself at the house of Renan a few hours after his death asked the family if any priest had been there.
“None,” was the answer. “Besides, if one had come, he would not have been admitted.”
Do not think, however, that the reporter’s question was a foolish one. It was not at all improbable that the priests would prowl around the bedside of the author of the “Life of Jesus.” He was an enviable prey.
Nevertheless not one of them appeared. And it is to the honor of this illustrious family that it was known to the outside world that the dying man was welt protected.
Renan, who was well acquainted with the ways of the church, had early taken precautions against any enterprise that might result in the destruction, “to the delight of fools, of a life laboriously built up.” The philosophical testament which he placed at the earl of his “Recollections of Childhood and Youth” tells with incomparable eloquence what were the fears of the master philosopher regarding the possible weaknesses of the last hour. “Perhaps they will make me utter,” he said, “perhaps they will make me sign, blasphemies against my whole life. But that will be no longer Renan. That will be no more than the shadow and the ruin of a softened brain. That Renan no one should believe or listen to. The true Renan is he who writes today, ’sound in heart and mind.’ He rejects all priestly ceremony.”
Victor Hugo, in his brief philosophical testament, had said:
“I refuse the prayers of all the churches.”
And yet I betray no secret in saying that the clergy were obstinate in their attempts to reach the dying Victor Hugo. In the first place there was a free priest, an amateur priest, who for some time had been an intruder in the poet’s hospitable parlors. He came there modestly as an admirer. He pretended to be a lover of literature and beautiful verses.
Hugo, who was Apollonian in his royal hospitality, gently shut his eyes and did not interfere. The priest took advantage of this broad goodness, and possibly counted on a famous conversion.
Nevertheless the admiring priest was kindly dismissed. And when the death-agony came, it was the turn of the cardinal-archbishop, Monseigneur Guibert, who wrote to the family to signify his willingness to dishonor Victor Hugo. It fell to Lockroy to thank the archbishop for his offers of service. He did it in terms polite but dry.
The same accident happened to Littré. Littré was a very brave man, who was so unfortunate at the last hour as to have no one to defend him. He was even betrayed by his wife and daughter. These two women belonged to the priests. Littré carried to such a point his respect for the opinion of another that for nothing in the world would he have done violence to the feelings of the persona most immediately surrounding him, But they had not the same respect for his free and tolerant mind. On the day of his death, which came rather suddenly, it was learned with astonishment that Littré lay upon his couch with a crucifix in his hands and a little holy water in a plate upon his bedside table.
The family had succeeded in turning away from the obsequies of this vigorous mind all those who would have liked to be present. The body was literally stolen.
However, there were thirty of us who accompanied Littré to the Montparnasse cemetery. Renan was of the number. He wore his Academic costume of green.
Littré’s body was taken to a little church on the Boulevard Montparnasse, where prayers were said.
On the sidewalk, where we remained, M. Barthélemy Saint-Hilaire, a friend of the dead man, kept saying:
“Really, I do not understand it. I went to see Littré two hours before his death; there was then no trace of religious ceremony in his room. And when I returned, I found my old friend with a crucifix upon his breast. It is very extraordinary.”
After the ceremony in the church, the procession started for the cemetery, where other funeral ceremonies were begun under the conduct off a frightful, ill-shapen priest. It was a sight impossible to forget.
After the services the procession began to file past the grave. A distressing sexton offered each person a holy water sprinkler. Renan, who represented the French Academy, headed the line.
Here it should be recalled that Renan wrote the “Life of Jesus” and that Littré translated Strauss’s “Life of Jesus” from the German.
Here then were two Lives of Jesus face to face.
But Renan was unctuous, gentle, polite, sceptical, satirical; for nothing in the world would he have disturbed a ceremony by an act of intransigeance excluded by the superb serenity of his mind. The picture will never vanish from my eyes. Renan, clad in Academic green, advanced with the gliding step characteristic of the priests; his eyes sparkled with mischievous irony; and, with an admirable sacerdotal gesture, he sprinkled holy water over Littré’s grave.
It was at once polite, ironical, and contemptuous.
Littré blessed by Renan!
I was a witness of this spectacle.
And I have always thought that it was on leaving the cemetery that Renan went home to write this phrase: “I protest in advance against the weaknesses which a softened brain may lead me to say or sign.”
“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.
New York. — Justus H. Schwab, 50 First Street.
Boston. — A. H. Simpson, 202 Huntington Ave.
Philadelphia. — Henry Heyne, Corner of Tenth and Market Streets.
Detroit. — Herman Reif. 94 Gratiot Ave.
Chicago. — Geo. A. Schilling, 85 Washington Street.
Denver. — Charles Greenhalgh, 1646 Arapahoe St., Room 27
Canton, O. — Standard News Co.
London, England. — A. Tarn, 124 Temple Chambers; C. Attersoll, 44 Ellington Street, Barnsbury.
Melbourne, Australia. — D. A. Andrade, 213 Russell Street.
We, the undersigned, hereby agree, in case Benj. R. Tucker shall decide to publish in book form a compilation of articles written by him for his paper, Liberty, to purchase of him, at the rate of one dollar each, the number of copies herewith set opposite our respective names, and to pay to Benj. R. Tucker one-half the amount due for these copies whenever he shall call for it, and the balance on the appearance of the book.
|Previously Acknowledged||447 copies.|
|Charles Tandy, Denver, Colo.,||1 “|
|A. R. Bardrick, Miltonvale, Kansas,||5 “|
|E. Pettersen, Cheltenham, Ill.,||1 “|
|Simon Sparrow, Brookwood, Ala.,||1 “|
|Burroughs & Burroughs, Montreal, Canada,||3 “|
|A. B. C. Koukol, 41 E. 69th St., New York,||1 “|
|H. L. Green, Buffalo, N. Y.,||5 “|
|A. W. Susen, El Paso, Texas,||3 “|
Five Copies for a Freethinker.
Put me down for five copies of your proposed book of editorials. Though I do not agree with all you write (or with all any person writes), there is nothing from your pen but what I enjoy reading.
H. L. Green.
Freethinker’s Magazine, Buffalo.
A Book Analyzed.
“Government Analyzed” is the title of a book of over five hundred pages by John R. Kelso and Etta Dunbar Kelso. The reference on the title-page to such other works from the pen of one of the authors as “Deity Analyzed,” “The Universe Analyzed,” and “The Bible Analyzed,” is certainly calculated to create a prejudice in favor of the book; firstly, because the natural impression is that one so fond of, and practised in, the art of analysis cannot fail to disclose interesting results in attempting an analysis of government, and, secondly, because, to one who has analyzed the “Deity” and the “Universe,” it ought to be a trifling matter to analyze such an affair as government, which, complex as it doubtless is when compared with the small matters engaging the attention of most of us, must appear to be simplicity itself when contemplated by minds habitually occupied with the mysteries of the deity and the universe. Extraordinarily enough, this unintended and indirect, though none the less real, appeal to the intellect is reinforced on the same title-page by an equally indirect and unintended appeal to the heart: the pathetic announcement that the principal author of the book, the originator of the essential idea, John R. Kelso, “died while in the midst of the work, which, at his request, was carried forward and completed by his wife,” cannot but tend to mollify the asperity of would-be reviewers and render a mild verdict a foregone conclusion. If, then, in spite of the strong bids thus generated, the verdict should happen to be harsh and unqualifiedly unfavorable, the reason must be sought in the very serious faults of the work itself. More in sorrow than in anger I condemn the book in question as utterly worthless. To say of it that it is unscientific and unphilosophical would not meet the requirements of justice; no, the truth simply is that the book, instead of being in the least degree enlightening, is confusing and confused, the pitch of absurdity attained being unparalleled.
Such is the reluctant verdict, and now for the charge in justification of it.
Let us begin by studying the preface. The importance of this “element” is being more and more appreciated, and the wonder is that it has so long been underrated. In a sense, the preface proclaims the book. It is possible for a writer of an admirable preface to produce an inferior book, but such a book can never be destitute of merits; for the writer of a good book to produce a ridiculous or nonsensical preface is almost impossible. A writer on subjects of political science who tells us that he regards “all governments, like all gods, art the mere personifications of mythical monsters invented by selfish and crafty men as instruments with which to rob and enslave the ignorant toiling masses” thereby loses all further claim on our attention, and such a remark in a preface to a book should be regarded by discriminating readers as a warning against reading the book proper. No man of any insight or knowledge would make himself responsible for a proposition so silly and so manifestly untrue. Yet Mr. Kelso, after saying this, presents his book to the world in the fond hope “that its teachings will through all the coming years be able to bear the test of truth.”
It follows, of course, that, if readers are allowed to neglect a book on account of patent folly in the preface, reviewers may claim the right to dismiss a book on the same grounds. Hence, if I proceed to comment on some of the propositions contained in the book proper, I do it, not because I fail to perceive the inconsistency of the proceeding, but because I expect to derive some advantage from the inconsistent act. If I take the trouble to point out some more of the blunders of the book before me, it is almost wholly with the view of reflecting some light on certain parts of our philosophy which are as yet very imperfectly understood, even by the more intelligent students.
Mr. Kelso manifestly considers himself an Anarchist; he has nothing but enthusiastic praise for Anarchism, and in his own peculiar way he credits it with everything he deems lovely and of good repute. With his intent Or motive no possible fault can be found; but it was his misfortune not to know what Anarchism really signifies, what it necessarily includes and implies, and what is foreign to a scientific definition of it. Here is his definition of Anarchism:
A state of society in which there is no force-rulership of any man over his fellow-men, a state of society In which no man is authorized to invade any of the inalienable rights of his fellow-men, a state of society in which the people, in all their relations with one another, act upon the self-evident truth or principle “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that, among these, are life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness,” conjugal mate-hood, parentage, the full proceeds severally of their own labor, the free use of all they severally need of air, water, sun-light, land, and other bounties of nature, the free normal exercise severally of all their bodily functions, all their mental faculties, etc. In short, an anarchy is the practical realization of the “Gospel of the Kingdom of Heaven,” as taught by that great reformer, Jesus.
Words, words, words, but no definition. Whether the writer is correct or not, we cannot as yet know; it depends upon his meaning, which is the reverse of clear. The alleged definition betrays loose thinking, bad logic, lack of precision in thought and expression, but he gives us no warrant for repudiating his “definition” as false; after all, he may mean well. But all our doubts are dissipated by the supplementary explanations on another page, which clearly bring out the author’s confusion and ignorance. We are told that:
In an anarchy . . . there are no government officials, no government-created . . . monopolies of any kind. . . . no policemen with clubs, . . . no hangmen, . . . no dungeons, etc. . . Idlers, too, are unknown there. All labor equally according to the ability of each. None overwork. There are no beggars, no tramps there. All enjoy equally according to the capacity of each. There are no hovels, no tenement houses. . . . All parents are able to support families. There is very little prostitution there. . . . There are no ejectments there, no foreclosing of mortgages, no broken homes and broken hearts. . . . There is but little ignorance, but little crime, but little sickness, but little sorrow.
Barring the phrases, “all labor equally according to the ability of each,” and “all enjoy equally,” etc., the meaning of which eludes me, the above description certainly applies to “an Anarchy” and to an Anarchy only. A society so ideal could not be Archistic, and any Archistic society could not be so ideal. But this is not the author’s meaning. He is defining and describing, not one certain ideal form of an Anarchist society, but Anarchist society generally, any Anarchist society; and, this being the case, his description is nonsensical. Were Mr. Kelso now among us and reading this just criticism (and I regret that he is not), he would probably be shocked to learn that Anarchist society is not necessarily insured against hangmen, prisons, evictions, hovels, idlers, prostitution, and the rest of the blessings of modern civilization; he would be annoyed and perhaps pained to hear that it is possible to eject, imprison, and even hang people without doing the least violence to Anarchist principles; and he would be still more annoyed to find that he himself stands committed to these (to him) monstrous propositions. In declaring, as he does, that Anarchy is, “in short, a society in which every person is permitted to exercise his natural and inalienable right to do whatsoever he wills, provided that in the doing thereof he infringes not on the equal right of any other person,” he unwittingly contradicts his own fanciful descriptions and takes a position from which the propriety of imprisoning and hanging people follows as a logical deduction. It is plain, however, that the formula of equal liberty was repeated by Mr. Kelso thoughtlessly and ignorantly; he did not understand it, and would not have accepted it if he had suspected its real meaning. In other words, Mr. Kelso did not understand Anarchism and was not an Anarchist.
I wish it were as easy for we to say to what class of reformers the authors of the book under consideration do belong as it is to show to what class they do not belong. There are many passages in the book which might be interpreted as an unreserved endorsement of Tolstoi’s non-resistant doctrines. Thus we find that the authors protest against “the exertion (sic!) of physical force as a governing power,” denouncing it as “unnatural, unnecessary, harmful, and criminal.” “Mind” is held to be the only right and natural governing power, and all the social evils of the time are attributed to the attempts to rule by physical force. This is good Tolstoian doctrine, but it is not Anarchism; the authors, however, blissfully ignorant of the essential differences between these two schools, proceed to add another contradiction and blunder to their list of triumphant violations of common sense by concluding that “for these evils” — remember, the reference here is to the evils due to attempts to rule by physical force when mind alone should be the governing power — “there is no possible remedy except in the absolute freedom of the individual to do whatsoever he wills provided that in the doing thereof he infringes not the equal right of any other individual”! It is positively distressing to think of such imbecility as this. The remedy for evils resulting from the use of physical force is the observance of equal liberty! But equal liberty itself may have to be enforced; and if the enforcement of equal liberty is the remedy, then the evil cannot be in the exercise of physical force, but in the invasive and unjust application of such force; in other words, the question is not what kind of force is used, but for what objects the force is used, and the complaint is that physical force is used where it ought not to be applied.
Does any reader wish me to prove that the authors of the book are Communists? I can imagine no easier problem. Listen:
Without [Communism] the family could not exist. . . . The principle of Communism, therefore, is undeniably the savior of the race. And would not this principle, this savior, that works so well in the family, work equally well in general society? It certainly would, and, when all men come to regard one another as brothers, . . . it will come to be of universal prevalence.
Here, then, we have an unmistakable declaration in favor of Communism, though the implication is that the authors would not force that social system on us, recognizing the necessity of brotherly feeling as the soil for its proper cultivation. He, however, would be a rash man who should jump to the conclusion that the authors, while holding voluntary Communism to be the ideal, are prepared to oppose any practical State-Socialist movement having for its object the subversion of all industrial freedom and the establishment of a tyrannical “commonwealth” of the Bellamy or Gronlund pattern. All we have to do to arrest such speculation is to turn to another part of the book, in which some explicit statements are afforded, both as to the goal and the methods of reaching it.
Thought, the force which energizes the world, is producing feeling in the hearts of all men and women who have risen above the low plane of selfish savagery. This unity of feeling, crystallized into concerted action and wisely directed, would realize to the American people the New Nation, idealized by Edward Bellamy, and which his “Looking Backward,” more than any other one agency, has prepared the people to hope for, to work for, hence to accept and enjoy. In this New Nation every sane individual will be a sovereign, and self his kingdom.
If this means anything, — a large assumption, I grant, — it means that the authors recognize in Bellamy’s plan that identical system of voluntary Communism the belief in which, for a moment, I have consented to impute to them. But it is only the hopeless fools who can be excused for not knowing that Bellamyism and voluntary Communism are very far from being synonyms. I hesitate to attach to the authors the stigma of hopeless folly, but I do not hesitate to say that I cannot imagine anybody more ignorant of, and confused upon, the subject of social reform than the authors of such a book as theirs.
Anarchism, Communism, Socialism, Bellamyism, being merely different names of the same thing, let us turn to the methods proposed for its attainment. The most natural method of getting rid of the existing government is refusal to pay taxes; this done, the next move should be voluntary organization for the purpose of facilitating the diversified business of life. The new economy necessitates the restoration to the people of the land by making we and occupancy the only valid title thereto; then production and distribution should become the business of the whole people. The people should buy up everything and pay for it in absolute money created by the sovereignty of the nation. But the people must not depend too much, if at all, on the natural method of withdrawing support from the government. “They must unite, organize, and coöperate on a platform founded on justice, equality, and fraternity. . . . Such platform has, within the past three years, been adopted by industrial organizations convened in four of our principal cities,” St. Louis, Ocala, Omaha, etc.
But I positively decline to go on. The evidence is overwhelming and the verdict is amply sustained. I may add that the platform of the People’s party is reproduced in full, and that its incongruities and injustice are held up to our admiration as the nearest approach to perfection ever reached by imperfect men. I may also add that the confusion and phenomenal blundering of the authors are not confined to general principles or high generalizations, but extend to practical economic and industrial proposals. There are passages, for instance, which, when read apart from the rest of the book, might be interpreted as highly partial to free banking; yet the authors are Greenbackers, and they really are not aware of the differences between the two plans. At all events, if they are aware of them, they have not the necessary logic and command of language to realize the distinction to the reader. Incompatibilities are extolled in the same breath; contradictions impartially advocated without any attempt at effecting a reconciliation; and good and bad, sense and nonsense, truth and falsehood, are so mixed and shuffled that the result is one of the must erratic, crazy, and impossible productions of this or any other age. In conclusion, I cannot forbear to point out the following fact: the first part or parts (no clue is given) of the book are the work of Mr. Kelso; the last part or parts, of Mrs. Kelso. Worthless as the first parts are, they are a model of consistency, lucidity, and profundity in comparison with the last. I draw no moral; but the fact should be stated. V. Y.
A Question of Ethics.
My Dear Mr. Tucker:
Please find enclosed two dollars to apply to my subscription. I had about made up my mind to discontinue Liberty after your violation of confidence in the matter of a letter marked “private,” but more particularly because of your regret that you had not also made merchandise of your trust; but, after thinking it over, I have concluded to go on, though I am bound to confess to you that Liberty can never again be to me what it once was. What you choose to define as Anarchistic, of course, does not necessarily make it so; it only gives us Tuckerian Anarchy: and if I supposed for a moment that Anarchy involved all of your implications, my interest in the subject, which is at best only speculative, would suddenly drop to the zero point. I have talked with several of your stanchest friends about that letter business, and they feel as I do about it. To my mind, you have, in this, destroyed the very bulwark of Anarchism, which is the substitution of social obligation for legal impositions. If you insist that each individual must be an express party to the form, — i. e., that he cannot be held to bold anything confidential unless he has expressly agreed to do so, — why, all spontaneous coöperation, — i. e., coöperation in which certain elementary conditions are taken for granted — is simply impossible. All social conventions are intrinsically Anarchistic, — constructed to repel invasion. We may disagree with these conventions, but we cannot do so on Anarchistic grounds. Our ground can only be a moral one, and that is, of course, beside the Anarchistic mark, from your point of view. But enough. Sincerely yours, F. F. Cook.
It is due to Mr. Cook that I should preface my comments upon his frank and welcome criticism by stating that his letter was not written for publication and is now published only because I asked and obtained his consent. Possibly he would have made a better statement of his position, had he expected it to appear in print. However this may be, I reply to what he actually says, not knowing what he might have said.
The value of my critic’s opinion upon a question of ethics may be estimated at once from the comparative stress which he lays upon the two offences with which he charges me. That I violated confidence he does not like, but apparently could have forgiven; that, however, I should be willing to receive incidental remuneration for such violation is utterly unpardonable in his eyes. Here the moralist exhibits his horribly long and silly face. I take it that I do no wrong unless I wrong somebody. Now, assuming that I wronged somebody in publishing J. Whidden Graham’s private letter, who was the somebody? Clearly Mr. Graham himself. I certainly violated no obligation to any one else thereby. The question comes, then, whom else would I have wronged, or what additional wrong would I have done to him, if, in furnishing his letter for publication, I had taken pay therefor. Obviously I would have wronged no one else; obviously I would have done him no greater injury. How absurd, therefore, to claim that this offence is more serious than the other! And how effectually such a claim deprives the ethical opinions of the man who advances it of any weight whatever! It shows that his ethics are without rational foundation.
But Mr. Cook will very likely ask: Does not the fact that a man will allow a consideration of money to influence him to publish a private letter indicate that he is an unsafe, untrustworthy person, a person to be shunned? I answer: Yes, under ordinary circumstances, and supposing money not to be worth infinitely more than it is ordinarily worth. And therefore I was careful not to say that I regretted my neglect to consider the question of money in deciding whether or not to publish Mr. Graham’s letter. I simply expressed regret that, having determined, exclusively on grounds other than pecuniary, that it was advisable to publish the letter, I then neglected to avail myself of any minor advantages that were within my grasp. A discriminating mind will at once see the vast difference.
It remains, then, to consider the single question of violation of confidence. The position taken by Mr. Cook is that in some matters a tacit contract exists between all men, which must be respected. Well, admit it. In fact, I have always asserted that society involves the taking of some things for granted. But the tacit contract, like every other contract, is mutual, two-sided. If any man insists on taking it for granted that I will respect his confidence, he must in return allow me to take it for granted that he will not attempt to make me his confidant in the commission of crime or the accomplishment of dishonor. And when he violates this tacit contract, he by that act releases me. J. Whidden Graham grossly violated that contract, and I acted accordingly. This is all there is to my offending. And, if Mr. Cook, or any of these “stanch friends” of mine of whom he speaks, have aught to say against it, I ask them first to answer me, yes or no, this crucial question: If a man, to secure your coöperation in hie plot, should inform you confidentially of his intention to murder a third person, — a friend of yours, — would you communicate this intention to your friend? If these stanch friends of mine shall answer no, the boot will be on the other leg: they will immediately become more objectionable to me than I am now to them. If they shall answer yes, it will then be established that there are circumstances which justify a violation of confidence. That being the case, I shall claim that the circumstances under which I refaced to respect Mr. Graham’s confidence were of the most serious character. If my stanch friends should think otherwise, that would simply show a difference of opinion between them and myself. And it would be difficult to convince me that any friendship which could be broken or seriously weakened by such a difference as that was ever a very stanch one.
Who these “stanch friends” are I do not know. Mr. Cook, however, will permit me to disbelieve that any one of them is a plumb-line Egoistic Anarchist. I suspect that they are persons whose interest in Anarchy, in Liberty, or in myself, is, like Mr. Cook’s, “only speculative at best.” (By the way, it sounds a little queer to hear a man who has at best but a speculative interest in the subject to which a journal is devoted confess, as if one of his dearest ties has just been broken, that the journal in question can never again be to him what it once was.) At any rite, Mr. Cook’s letter is the first indication that has reached me of disapproval of my course. I think that no other correspondent has referred to it at all, except a Kansas gentleman, a former subscriber of the “Twentieth Century,” who has been looking about for something to take the place of Pentecost. A copy of Liberty containing the exposure of J. Whidden Graham fell into his hands, and the article so pleased him that he decided to give me a trial. The violation of confidence has gained me one subscriber, and I have not lost Mr. Cook. Thus do the ungodly prosper. T.
Since the election a bill has been introduced into the Georgia legislature, to take effect as soon as Congress repeals the ten per cent. bank tax, which constitutes the governor, State treasurer, and comptroller a commission to engrave, print, and supply State-endorsed bank-notes to such State banks as shall deposit an equal amount of State or municipal bonds as collateral. The newspapers that I have seen do not state whether the bill forbids any other banks of issue than those organized on this plan, but it is altogether probable that such prohibition is embodied in it. Here we have the first practical evidence of what “free banking” will be under Democracy. The Georgia plan differs in no material point from the system now in vogue. The monopolistic principle is not modified in the slightest by the transfer of the monopoly from the nation to the State. If anything, the new plan is inferior to the present plan, since the collateral provided is slightly less sound than national bonds. However, it is less likely to come to grief than the gold-reserve plan, which, if the tax is repealed, will probably prevail in many of the States. We may assume, then, that the Georgia plan will precipitate no disaster. But, on the other hand, it will bring no freedom, it will not give us competition, it will preserve the limitation upon the volume of currency, and consequently it will not materially affect the rate of interest or add to the general prosperity. But it will be known as free banking, because Democracy always confounds decentralization with freedom. And when the people find that this so-called free banking has done nothing for them, they will turn to that form of government banking which at least promises to increase the volume of the currency, — greenbackism. What a great day that will be for those Anarchists who voted for Cleveland!
It is proposed to solve the social problem in France by giving the government, which already monopolizes the manufacture of matches, a similar monopoly of the manufacture of dynamite, it being considered certain that, as government-made matches will not burn, so government-made dynamite will not explode.
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.