“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.”
Extracts from the Works of Nietzsche.
[Translated from the German by George Schumm.]
The Morality of the Mature Individual. — It is the impersonal that has hitherto been regarded as the true characteristic of a moral action; and it has been shown that it was originally the regard for the general good on account of which all impersonal actions were praised and exalted. Are we not on the eve of a significant reversal of these views, now that it is more and more clearly seen that the greatest personal regard also serves best the general good: so that it is preeminently the strictly personal action that corresponds to the prevailing conception of morality (as a general good)? To make of one’s self a whole person, and to have in all that one does one’s highest welfare in view, — that accomplishes more than all companionate impulses and actions in favor of others. We are all, of course, still suffering from the too slight regard of the impersonal in us; it is poorly developed, — let no confess: our attention has rather been forcibly drawn sway from it, and offered as a sacrifice to the State, to science, to the needy, as if it were the evil that must be sacrificed. We still with to work for our fellow-men, but only in so far as we find our own highest advantage in this work, not more, not less. Everything depends only on what one regards as his advantage; the immature, undeveloped, coarse individual will also have the coarsest conception of it — Mensehlicha, Allzumenschliches: Ein Buch für freie Geister.
Outlook into the Distance. — If, as has been defined, only those actions are moral which are done for the sake of another and only for his sake, then there are no moral actions! If — as another definition asserts — only those actions are moral which are done in freedom of the will, then again there are no moral actions? And what then is it that is called so, and which surely exists and demands an explanation? It is the result of a number of intellectual fallacies. And, assuming that we should free ourselves from these fallacies, what would then become of “moral actions”? In consequence of these fallacies, we have hitherto ascribed a higher value to certain actions than they have: we separated them from the “egoistic” and the “unfree” actions. If now we coordinate them with these again, as we must do, we shall surely lessen their value (the sense of their value), and indeed below their fair measure, because the “egoistic” and “unfree” actions have hitherto been rated too low, in consequence of the ostensibly deepest and innermost difference referred to above. Then it is chiefly these actions that will henceforth be done less often because they have suffered a depreciation? Inevitably! At least for a long time, as long as the balance of the sense of value is under the reaction against former mistakes! But our counter calculation is that we give back to man the healthy courage of actions descried as egoistical and restore the value of the latter, — we rob them of their bad conscience! And as these have hitherto been by far the most frequent and will remain so in all future time, we take from the whole scene of action and of life its evil aspect! That is a very great result! When man no longer regards himself as bad, he ceases to be so. — Morgenröthe: Gedanken uber die moralischen Vorurtheile.
Concerning the Natural History of Rights and Duties. — Our duties — are the rights of others as against us. How did they acquire them? By having taken us as capable of entering into contract and retaliating, by having assumed us as equal and similar to themselves, by having entrusted us with something thereupon, educated us, corrected us, aided us. We fulfil our duty, — that means: we justify this conception of our might, in virtue of which all has been done for us; we make re turn in the measure in which we have received. So it is our pride that bids us do our duty, — we wish to restore our sovereignty when we oppose to what others have done for us something that we do for them, — for they have thereby trenched on the sphere of our might and would continue to show their hand there if we did not retaliate by means of “duty,” — that is, trench on the sphere of their might. The rights of others can relate only to what is within our might; it would be unreasonable to ask something of us that does not belong to us. More precisely we must say: only to what they think is within our might, assuming that it is the same thing of which we think that it is within our might. The same error might easily prevail on both sides: the sense of duty depends on our sharing the same belief as the others in regard to the extent of our might, — namely, that we can promise certain things, bind ourselves to perform them (“freedom of the will”). My rights: these are that part of my might which the others have not only conceded to me, but in which they will maintain me. How do these others come to do that? First, through their prudence and fear and foresight: be it that they expect a similar service from us (protection of their rights), that they regard a struggle with us as dangerous or inexpedient, that they see in every decline of our strength a disadvantage to themselves because we thereby become unfit for an alliance with them against a hostile third power. Then, by donation and cession. In this case the others are powerful enough, and more than enough, to cede a portion of their right and to guarantee the ceded portion to him to whom they gave it: whereby a feeble sense of might is presumed to exist in him who accepts the present. Thus originate rights: recognized and conceded degrees of power. If there is an essential shifting of the relations of the powers, rights disappear and new ones arise; international law illustrates this by its constant changes. If our might declines essentially, there is a change in the feelings of those who have hitherto conceded our rights: they will consider if they can reinstate us in our old possession; if they find that they cannot, they will henceforth deny our “rights.” Likewise, if there is an appreciable increase of our might, there will be a change in the feelings of those who have hitherto recognized it and whose recognition we now no longer need: they will perhaps attempt to reduce it to its former measure, they will want to interfere and in the effort invoke “duty,” but that is only useless talk. Where right dominates, a condition and degree of power is maintained, its decrease and increase averted. The right of the others is the concession of our sense of might to the sense of might of these others. If our might becomes deeply shaken and broken, our rights cease: on the other hand, if there has been a great increase of our might, the rights of others, such as we have hitherto conceded, cease for us. The “fair man” is in constant need of the tine tact of a balance: for the degrees of might and right which, in the changeable manner of human affairs, will always remain in a state of equilibrium for a short time only, but mostly sink or rise. To be fair is consequently difficult, and requires much practice, good will, and a great deal of very good intellect. — Morgenröthe.
Hoch die Physik! — How few people there are who know how to observe! And among the few who know how few observe themselves! “Each is to himself the most distant” — all students of human nature know this to their discomfiture; and the maxim, “know thyself!” is, in the mouth of a God and spoken to men, almost malicious. But that the case of self-examination is so desperate is proven by nothing more than by the manner in which almost everybody talks about the nature of a moral action, that prompt, willing, satisfied, garrulous manner, with its look, its smile, its complacent zeal! It is as if they would say to you: “But, my dear sir, this is my specialty! You address yourself with your question to him who may answer: I happen to be in nothing so wise as in this. Well, then: when a man says, ‘this is right,’ and argues, ‘therefore it must be done!’ and then does what he has thus recognized as right and described as necessary, — the nature of his action is moral! “But, my friend, you are talking about three actions instead of one: your judgment, for instance, ‘this is right,’ is also an action; might one not judge, too, in a moral or in an immoral way? Why do you regard this, and just this, as right?” Because my conscience tells me so; conscience never speaks immorally, for it determines beforehand what shall be moral!” But why do you listen to the voice of your conscience? And in how far are you justified in regarding such a judgment as true and infallible? This faith — is there no conscience for it? Do you know nothing of an intellectual conscience? Of a conscience back of your conscience? Your judgment, “this is right,” has a prehistoric history in your instincts, in your likes and dislikes, experiences and non-experiences; “how did it originate there?” you must ask, and then again, “what is it really that impels me to listen to it?” You can listen to its command as a brave soldier who hears the command of his officer. Or as a woman who loves him that commands. Or as a flatterer and a coward who is afraid of the commander. Or as a blockhead who follows because he has nothing to say against it. In brief, you can listen to your conscience in a hundred different ways. But that you hear this or that judgment as the voice of conscience — that is, that you feel something as right — may have its explanation in the fact that you have never thought about yourself, and that from childhood up you have blindly accepted what has been taught you as right; or in the fact that you have hitherto secured your bread and position by means of what you call your duty; it is “right” to you because it seems to be your “condition of existence” (but that you have a right to existence seems to you irrefutable). The firmness of your moral judgment might still be a proof just of your personal worthlessness, of impersonality; your “moral force” might have its source in your obstinacy, or in your incapacity to conceive new ideals! And, to be brief, if you had reasoned more finely, observed more accurately, and learned more, you would under no circumstances call your “duty” and your “conscience” any longer duty and conscience: the knowledge of how moral judgments hare ever arisen at all would make you tired of these pathetic words, as you have already grown tired of other pathetic words, — for instance, “sin,” “salvation,” “redemption.” And now do not talk to me about the categorical imperative, my friend! The word tickles my ear, and I must laugh in spite of your most solemn presence: I am reminded by it of Kant, who, in punishment for surreptitiously establishing the “thing-in-itself,” — also a very ridiculous matter, — was himself surreptitiously overtaken by the “categorical imperative,” and with that in his heart strayed back to “God,” “soul,” “freedom,” and “immortality,” like a fox that strays back into his cage: and it had been his strength and prudence that had burst the cage asunder! What? You adore the categorical imperative within you? this “firmness” of your so-called moral judgment? this “unconditionedness” of the sentiment, “As I judge in this matter all must judge”? Adore rather your selfishness! And the blindness, smallness, and unpretentiousness of your selfishness! For it is selfishness to feel one’s own judgment as a general law; and a blind, small, and unpretentious selfishness at that, for it reveals the fact that you have not yet discovered yourself, that you have not yet created your own, your very own ideal: for this could never be that of another, not to say anything of all, all! Whoever still reasons, “Thus each ought to act in this case,” has not yet taken five steps in the direction of self-knowledge: otherwise he would know that there neither are nor can there be any equal actions; that every action that has been done, has been done in a unique and unprecedented way, and that the same thing will hold of all future actions; that all precepts of conduct relate only to the coarse exterior (even the innermost and finest precepts of all morality hitherto); that by means of them indeed a semblance of equality, but only a semblance, can be achieved; that in view of or retrospect to them every action is and remains an impenetrable matter; that our notions of “good,” “noble,” “great,” can never be proven by our actions, because every action is unknowable; that surely our opinions, valuations, and tables of values are among the most powerful springs in the wheelwork of our actions, but that in each individual case the law of their mechanics is untraceable. Let us limit ourselves therefore to the purification of our opinions and valuations, and to the creation of new tables of values of our own: on the “moral worth of our actions,” however, we will no longer meditate! Yes, my friends! In regard to the whole moral twaddle of people about one another it is time we were overcome with nausea! To sit in moral judgment shall be an offence against good taste! Let us leave this twaddle and this bad taste to those who have nothing else to do than to carry the past a little farther through time and who themselves are never the present time, — to the many, consequently, to the great majority! But we wish to become those that we are, — the new, the singular, the incomparable, self-lawgivers, self-creators! And to this end we must become the best students and discoverers of law and necessity in the world: we must be physicists in order to be, in the above sense, creators, — while hitherto all valuations and ideals have been based on the ignorance of physics or in contrarention of it. And therefore: Hoch die Physik! And higher still that which impels us to its study, — our honesty. — Die Frohliche Wissenschaft (“la gaya scienza”).
“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.
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||497 copies.|
|S. N. Lindall, Box Elder, Utah,||1 “|
|L. V. Pinney, Winsted, Conn.,||1 “|
|Horace E. Carr, Cleveland, O.,||1 “|
|J. C. Frost, Philadelphia, Pa.,||1 “|
|Harriet C. Garner, Chicago, Ill.,||1 “|
|Caroline K. de Maupassant, Otter Lake, Mich.,||1 “|
|Henry Bool, Ithaca, N. Y.,||2 “|
|D. L. Haws, Pottstown Pa.,||1 “|
|L. L. Walker. Galveston, Texas,||1 “|
|Paul T. Bowen, Washington, D. C.,||5 “|
|Urban Hartung, Detroit, Mich.,||1 “|
|Ed. Pfaff, Detroit, Mich.,||1 “|
|Elise Roemer, Detroit, Mich.,||1 “|
|Carl Timm, Detroit, Mich.,||1 “|
|Louise Lampert, Detroit, Mich.,||1 “|
|Louis Jaenichen, Detroit, Mich.,||1 “|
|Conrad Pfeiffer, Detroit, Mich.,||1 “|
|Carl Marty, Detroit, Mich.,||1 “|
|Fritz Humitschz, Detroit, Mich.,||1 “|
|Dominik Bridler, Detroit, Mich.,||1 “|
|S. A. Corner, Detroit, Mich.,||1 “|
|E. A. Scribner, Detroit, Mich.,||1 “|
|A. H. Simpson, Boston, Mass.,||5 “|
|“A Crazy Anarchist Woman,”||1 “|
|Fred A. Clark, Newark, N. J.,||1 “|
|A. Zink, Galveston, Texas,||2 “|
|Georgia Reploglc, Oakland, Cal.,||5 “|
Ethics Without a Basis.
Whatever appears in print over the signature of Professor Huxley produces the impression of reasonableness and wonderful clearness. The critic who should be hardy enough to charge Professor Huxley with ambiguity, obscurity, counsel-darkening utterances, or doubtful statements would precipitate upon his devoted head a torrent of contemptuous or angry abuse. Yet it seems to be the case that that fearless soldier of scientific progress has far more admiring readers than disciples and followers, — I mean on questions of ethics, politics, economics. His excursions into these realms are watched with the keenest interest by everybody; but the interest is not due to any agreement with his discoveries or conclusions. Professor Huxley is plausible and apparently rational in all that he writes on polities and ethics; but he is not really scientific.
Take his latest polemical performance. So far as his “Fortnightly Review” article (“An Apologetic Irenicon”) deals with the sins of latter-day Positivism, it is absolutely criticism-proof. He is eminently successful in the attempt to convict the Neo-Positivists of utterly abandoning the cardinal doctrines of Comtean and original Positivism and of using sophistry for the purpose of justifying their improper retention of the name of Positivists. In a word, the destructive criticism of Positivism, old and new, is characterized by the matchless vigor and brilliancy which we expect to find in all his controversial writings which deal with subjects on which he is an authority. But when he ventures beyond his depth and attempts to overthrow the whole system of evolutionary ethics by a few negations and bold assertions, he displays a surprising lack of critical insight and a strange unconsciousness of his gross inconsistencies and question-begging propositions. Let me quote him at some length:
I am asked for a distinct and positive assurance as to a moral providence. . . . “Providence,” in the sense of the rational order of the universe (or, if the phrase be preferred, the cause of that order), is undoubtedly as responsible for the phenomena of human existence as for any others. So far as mankind has acquired the conviction that the observance of certain rules of conduct is essential to the maintenance of social existence, it may be proper to say that “Providence,” operating through men, has generated morality. Within the limits of a fraction of a fraction of the living world, therefore, there is a “moral” providence. Through this small plat of an infinitesimal fragment of the universe there runs a “stream of tendency towards righteousness.” But outside the very rudimentary germ of a garden of Eden, thus watered, I am unable to discover any “moral” purpose, or anything but a stream of tendency towards the consummation of the cosmic process, chiefly by means of the struggle for existence, which is no more righteous or unrighteous than the operation of any other mechanism.
I hear much of the “ethics of evolution.” I apprehend that, in the broadest sense of the term “evolution,” there neither is, nor can be, any such thing. The notion that the doctrine of evolution can furnish a foundation for morals seems to me to be an illusion, which has arisen from the unfortunate ambiguity of the term “fittest” in the formula “survival of the fittest.” We commonly use the “fittest” in a good sense with an understood connotation of “best”; and “best” we are apt to take in its ethical sense. But the “fittest” which survives in the struggle for existence may be, and often is, the ethically worst.
So far as I am able to interpret the evidence which bears upon the evolution of man as it now stands, there was a stage in that process when, if I may speak figuratively, the “Weltgeist” repented him that he had made mankind no better than the brutes, and resolved upon a largely new departure. Up to that time the struggle for existence had dominated the way of life of the human, as of the other, higher brutes; since that time men have been impelled, with gentle but steady pressure, to help one another, instead of treading one another mercilessly under foot; to restrain their lusts, instead of seeking, with all their strength and cunning, to gratify them; to sacrifice themselves for the sake of the ordered commonwealth, through which alone the ethical ideal of manhood can be attained, instead of exploiting social existence for their individual ends. Since that time, as the price of the high distinction of his changed destiny, man has lost the happy singleness of aim of the brute; and, from cradle to grave, that which he would not he does, because the cosmic process carries him away, and that which he would he does not, because the ethical stream of tendency is still but a rill.
Does not all this appear very reasonable, rational, clear, and logical? Yet it is full of contradictions and vicious assumptions. One of Professor Huxley’s fundamental propositions may be restated as follows: Mankind has acquired an ethical ideal and a conviction that the observance of certain rules of conduct is essential to the maintenance of social existence and the gradual realization of that ideal; moreover, men are impelled, with gentle but steady pressure, to observe these ethical rules. The other fundamental propositions may be expressed thus: the cosmic process neutralizes and effaces the ethical work of mankind, because the latter’s social tendencies are as yet not strong enough to withstand the pressure of the cosmic process, whose consummation depends on means distinctly unethical, from mankind’s point of view. Men would joyfully proceed with their ethical task and make very rapid progress, did they not find themselves constantly checked and impeded by the cosmic process. Men would gladly remove from under the jurisdiction of the struggle for existence and so arrange their relations as to secure the survival and supremacy of their “best,” in the ethical sense; while the cosmic process arrests this tendency and compels them to pay a high price for each short ethical step gained in opposition to itself.
Upon such a statement of the facts two major questions at once arise. In the first place, if the cosmic process is unfavorable to men’s ethical growth, how was it possible for them to make any headway at all? In the second place, how did men get their first initial impulse in the ethical direction? It is unfortunate that Professor Huxley has chosen to speak figuratively of the repentance and new departure of the “Weltgeist.” It is conceded that men were once no better than the brutes; but the interesting question is, how they could ever introduce that germ into their life out of which the great differences in their nature and habits have grown, and what is the source of that germ. In addition to these two questions, there are some minor difficulties in the way of accepting Professor Huxley’s interpretation. He certainly implies that in the life of the “brutes” nothing comparable to the ethical tendencies of men is discoverable; and this is a gross misstatement of fact. It is well known that brutes “help one another,” “restrain their lusts,” and “sacrifice themselves for the sake of the ordered commonwealth.” The struggle for existence does not completely dominate the way of life of the brutes; hence even the brutes are able to emancipate themselves from the pressure of the cosmic process. In explaining men’s ethical progress, Professor Huxley will do well to reflect upon the analogies between them and the brutes.
It is to be observed that Professor Huxley does not question the existence of an ethical ideal and ethical principles. But he insists that human ethics, and, inferentially, what may be called subhuman ethics, cannot be interpreted, explained, accounted for in terms of evolution and in the light of the facts of evolution. But instead of offering an explanation of his own, he leaves us in the dark. I suspect Professor Huxley wrote his criticism of evolutionary ethics in temporary forgetfulness of the very meaning attached to the term by the evolutionists. Ethics must have either a natural or a supernatural basis. The latter being something which it would be dangerous to mention in Professor Huxley’s presence, or absence for that matter, we are necessarily forced to the conclusion that the ethical tendencies of men have a natural basis and explanation. Given the conditions under which we live; given the factor of intelligence; and in due time ethical ideas and sentiments are evolved. Clearly the conditions under which existence is maintained are not independent of the cosmic process; clearly the ethical ideas and habits of living beings are not independent of these conditions; clearly the superiority of certain ways and methods over others could only be slowly discerned by the light of bitter experience; why, then, is it improper to speak of ethics as evolutional, — meaning gradually evolved under the influence of external and internal factors?
There is no ambiguity whatever in the term “fittest.” That survives which is best adapted to the conditions of the habitat. Men are taught by experience that survival, or rather peace and happiness, can only be secured through observance of certain conditions. Those who most readily adapt themselves to these social conditions are the fittest, and they are also ethically the best. It is simply a question of terminology. The social conditions are termed “ethical,” and the men most fitted to survive under these ethical conditions are termed “best.” Those are best who come nearest to the ideal. V. Y.
Democracy’s Gift of a Stone.
“A Puzzled Democrat” writes to the New York “World” asking enlightenment concerning the proposed repeal of the law taxing State bank notes out of existence. The “World” replies at considerable length, and especially elaborates its answer to the question: “What would the effect of such repeal be?” It enumerates the various reasons for demanding the repeal of the law, the first three of which are perfectly sound and valid. But in the fourth the teeth and claws of the beast begin to be seen:
The act of Congress repealing the prohibitory tax would probably be made applicable only in States whose laws provide for the perfect security of bank issues.
In a nutshell (only too literally!), then, we have the free-banking proclivities of the Democrats. There is not to be any approach to freedom, if the influence of such papers as the “World” is to be felt in their councils. And we shall always be at a loss to know whether it is innocent ignorance or pusillanimous perversity which prompts that paper to assert that “a well-guarded system of State-bank circulation is the best substitute [for national-bank circulation] that financial ingenuity has been able to devise.” It would be difficult to believe, however, that the writer of that sentence has never heard of free banking, even though he may never have had the advantage of Liberty’s teaching.
To give emphasis to its former statement the “World” delivers itself of the following:
The only reason that all [former State bank notes] were not good was the lack of sound banking laws in a few States. This lack is not likely to occur again in any State, and its occurrence may be effectually prevented by the act of repeal itself.
But every one expected these restrictions. The only thing about which there has been any doubt or difference of opinion, even among Anarchists, is the basis for the issue of currency. There has been a hope (or rather a doubt) entertained that it would not be uniformly gold, the action of the Georgia legislature, to which the editor of Liberty has called attention, seeming to indicate that specie redemption is not to be invariably the rule. The “World,” however, leaves no room for doubt as to what it believes to be the only sound basis for banking:
There is no reason why State bank notes should not now be as secure as were those of Kentucky, Georgia, Virginia, and some other States in the old days, when those notes were not only redeemable in gold upon presentation, but freely exchangeable with gold in all the financial centres.
The italicization is mine. Here, then, is the evidence that State banking is to be made, if possible, even more oppressive than national banking. If the advice of the “World” be heeded, the Democratic party stands in no danger of losing the support of monopoly and the gold-bugs. It has but to institute State banks on a gold basis, — if, indeed, it ever repeals the ten per cent. tax, — and the people will feel the lack of a circulating medium sufficient in quantity for the transaction of business just as much as they now do, for the power of monopoly to contract the currency will be just as great as it is at present. For free banking, consequently, we shall be forced to wait until the people become as tired of State banking as they now are of the present system of currency, — doubtless longer; for it must not be forgotten that, whether or not the Democracy claims it to be freedom, the people at large are quite generally laboring under the delusion that that is what they are to have when the ten per cent. tax has been repealed. It seems to toe, since the realization of the hopes of the believers in free money is, by the utterances of such newspapers as the “World,” becoming each day more remote, that it is the work of Anarchists not only to point out the disaster that must and will result from the pursuance of the plan of making the notes redeemable in gold, but to insist, and to keep on insisting, that this is not free banking. Perhaps in this way some of the evil results of the late “campaign of education” can be overcome.
Coming, as they do, from one of the most prominent and influential Democratic newspapers in the country, it cannot be unfair to assume that the sentiments quoted are likely to be the controlling ones in the action of the Democracy in regard to the currency question. Therefore we know what we are to expect. Instead of bread, Democracy gives us a stone. To achieve what it denies us is a great work. It is before us. C. L. Swartz.
John Wanamaker, in his latest report to Congress regarding the post office department, makes the following statement: “The present letter rate pays actually double the cost, and by this overpay serves as a protective rate to the department to cover the underpay from doing an express business for periodicals and books and carrying advertising sheets at one cent per pound, that in point of fact are nothing more than business circulars that load the mails enormously. All such mail is not only carried at a loss of six cents a pound, but it interferes materially with the business of the express and railroad companies, which are properly carriers of heavy packages and freight.” Liberty has more than once made precisely this point against the governmental postal service. The people who write letters are heavily taxed for the benefit of the people who read newspapers. But never had I supposed the abuse to be as gross as it appears from the postmaster-general’s confession. The government charges a cent for that which costs it seven, and tries to make good its loss by charging two cents for that which costs it one! To be sure, this is no different from the practice of John Wanamaker, the Philadelphia store-keeper, as well as of other large merchants, in offering what is called a “leader” at less than cost in order to draw in customers to buy other articles sold at a profit. But the customers are not obliged to buy the high-priced articles at Wanamaker’s; they can go elsewhere if they choose. Letter-writers, however, are compelled to patronize the government. John Wanamaker, haberdasher, is subject to competition, but John Wanamaker, postmaster-general, is protected against competition. The United States postal service ought to be abolished. For that matter, so ought the United States.
It costs seven cents a pound, complains John Wanamaker, to deliver newspapers, and the government charges for this service only a cent a pound. I answer that, whatever it may cost, a cent a pound is all that it is worth and much more, as long as the service remains as inefficient as it is at present. Liberty is mailed at the New York post office every Saturday night and generally reaches subscribers within a stone’s throw of that post office on the following Thursday. Heaven knows when it gets over to Brooklyn, to say nothing of San Francisco. As a test, I have a copy mailed to my post office box. The copy so mailed on Saturday night, December 10, has not up to this writing (Thursday night, December 15) found its way to Box 1312 in the same building. Perhaps I, who subject my correspondents to so many annoying delays, ought to be the last man to complain of such inefficiency; but it should be remembered that the publishing of Liberty is not my vocation, but my avocation; that I have very little time to devote to it; and that I have not at my command the Treasury of the United States out of which to pay clerks’ salaries. Now, I am going to try to get this thing remedied, and to that end I want my subscribers to help me, in their own interest. I request every one of them (in this country), on receiving the next issue of Liberty, bearing date of December 24, to remove the wrapper without injuring the address, write upon the wrapper the day and hour when the paper was received, and mail the wrapper to me promptly in a sealed envelope. Perhaps with such evidence I shall succeed in making an impression upon Mr. Wanamaker’s able assistants here in New York, who, in spite of their ability, cannot carry a half-ounce package from one end of the post office to the other in less than six days.
The New York “Sun” thinks it superficial to complain of the cost of running Congress. “It must not be forgotten,” it says, “that the value of a Congress to the country is not to be measured by the laws which it passes. Who can estimate in dollars and cents the worth of the Fifty-second Congress’s services in preventing the enactment of the 12,667 bills which failed to get through at the last session?” Who can estimate the value of the services of the burglars who leave thousands of houses unmolested and of murderers who spare the lives of millions of citizens? The “Sun” thinks that the failure of the Fifty-first Congress to pass the Force bill was worth ten times the sum that the Congress cost. But could there have been a Force bill if there had been no Congress? If Congress is entitled to any credit at all, it must be for what it does, not for what it prevents itself from doing; for its inactivity would be best secured by its non-existence. Such talk as the “Sun’s” is not only superficial, it is absurd.
If I had been a guest of the Chicago “Sunset Club” at its fifty-first meeting, and had been called upon, as were the guests on that occasion, to answer the question, “What would you do if you were a member of the next general assembly of the Illinois legislature?” my reply would have been given in one word: Resign.
Among other sententious utterances in the Omaha “Tocsin” I find the following: “Life is a huge paradox that but few comprehend.” Are we to infer that Mr. Willis Hudspeth is one of the fortunate few who have caught on?
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.