Vol. IX.
<No. 20.>


“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.”

John Hay.

Problems of Anarchism.


2. — Economic Development Prior to Capitalism

Let us return to the dawn of history, taking a rapid view of man’s economic development. Self-preservation, the need for food, urged him in common with other animals to exertion. But, like those, he exerted himself only when driven by hunger. Work he hated from the beginning. Naturally a lazy animal, he got knowledge by degrees, and, growing as cunning in wisdom as the ants, he discovered the use of slaves. Fighting with the sub-human denizens of the pristine wilds they together inhabited, first for existence, then for supremacy, he was driven to herd with others of his species. Mutual aid in some degree was a condition essential to self-preservation. Because man was individually weaker than and physically inferior to many of his competitors. But from struggling with these he got to battling with his own race. Perhaps it was first among the members of the same herd contesting over the carcass of some common foe they had slain that human struggles began. Anyway it became habitual for hordes of men to fight. Prisoners captured would be slain in the earliest stages. At length some skill in obtaining food was developed. As soon as a man could procure more sustenance in a day than he could consume, it was more prudent to keep the captives and exploit their labor. But this idea could be the result only of very slow growth. Primitive man would take a long time to reason out the point, though he were spurred on to thought both by his desire for food and by his aversion to labor for it. Whether he first made slaves of the children, the females, or the captives belonging to a rival tribe is immaterial here. Man had slaves to do his work as early as he found them profitable to him.

In the communistic republican tribe they were not absent. And in the after stage of chieftainship and aristocracy slavery became a basic institution. The usages of different races of men varied much in this part of their growth in regard to slavery. Among some it was much more general and intensely developed than among others. In many a large part of the work was done by free laborers, who nevertheless, by reason of their labor, were always accounted of an inferior class. In the earlier societies of ancient Greece all manual labor was done by slaves, but when Rome began to assert herself there were artisans who were no longer slaves. At the height of her power and towards her downfall the free proletarians formed a numerous class. It can hardly be said that the free workmen of those times were better off than the slaves. Some of them, however, became shopkeepers and merchants. Speaking generally, we may say that, until long after Christianity was commonly accepted, chattel slavery was the condition of the laboring masses. Workman, wealth-producer, slave, were convertible terms. The need of freedom was present all the while. Vast uprisings, rebellions, bloody wars, century after century attest the fact. They were men, they dreamt of liberty, and a deliverer, a saviour, a messiah, was ever pictured in their hopes and aspirations. More than one of this class at various times and places turned up to supply the demand. But the economic bondage of the workers outlived them all.

Among the masses thus enthralled the ethics of the Christian teaching found a fruitful soil already prepared to assimilate the seed. Its morality, its ideas of the equality of men, a bright and happy hereafter, a scant respect for the rich, and community of goods could not fail to be attractive to the legally de-humanized, robbed, and oppressed laboring population of slaves. So it had become their common belief before it was adopted officially in the Roman Empire. Doubt-less this system of morals, obtaining general acceptance, had considerable influence in working out the economic change which replaced slavedom by serfdom as the lot of the people. To modern notions ancient slavery cannot always be grasped in its real light. The number of the lowly was so enormous in comparison with the number of the free population. In Attica the former counted twenty to one of the latter. The other Greek States had even a greater disproportion. And in the later times of the Roman Empire we find the slaves replacing the free workers, being cheaper in competition with them; and they are placed upon the land, the vast estates of the rich, gradually losing the slave condition for the scarcely less onerous state of serfs, attached immovably to the soil. This change did not occur all at once or everywhere in the same way. It often grew out of the conditions of foreign conquest, the conqueror permitting the subdued tillers of the soil to remain upon it by accepting his terms, — enforced labor, military service, share of the produce, and other dues. When this was fully developed, it constituted the feudal system, a machine of wheels within wheels from the highest to the lowest; the place of each fixed by status and everyone having power over those next below him and being strictly bound to those immediately above, from the king who was absolute, in theory at any rate, down to the chattel workers, considered the same kind of property as the soil they labored upon. The operation of this system accomplished one striking change. The free workers were gradually absorbed into it. In this reign of status none could survive who had not their proper place in the social hierarchy. Hence in self-preservation the proletarians were driven to give up their freedom. None remained outside but a few vagrant tramps, who were hanged on sight without ceremony. This wholesome custom, which might still be recommended to the authorities in dealing with that modern nuisance, the unemployed, was in effective operation as late as the end of the sixteenth century both in England and on the continent.

Out of the feudal system grew the towns, the inhabitants of which again worked out their freedom, increasing in numbers largely through the continual addition of escaped serfs from the land. I am not pretending to give a history either of the birth, growth, or decay of feudalism, but merely indicating the lines of economic change. Now, there are some learned writers of the present day who avow that the working classes enjoyed a very considerable measure of liberty, peace, and prosperity during the later stages of that system. In short, they tell us that the serfs were better situated than are the masses today under the system of capitalism. Nobody, however, can doubt, I think, that in other ways than economic the difference in favor of liberty then and now is vast. Nor is a comparison even from a purely economic point of view between former states and the unprecedented developments of modern times likely to prove favorable to the past. One question arises which in any case demands our best attention. Has the economic side of individual freedom kept pace with its growth in other directions, and with the gigantic enlargements of productive power and general economic improvement?

It is admitted on all sides, not only by Socialistic reformers, but by the ablest of independent thinkers, that the evils of the prevailing economic system are widespread and intense, and the lot of the free workers by no means commensurate with the revolution which has taken place in the industrial world. Scarcely any one can be found who denies that improvement is desirable, and but few who would say it is not necessary. The growing belief in the theory of evolution is of necessity attended by the hope, nay, the certainty, of a betterment in the condition of the industrial classes, of the diminution of the glaring economic and social evils that exist, and of a higher form of society than has yet appeared on the planet.

Unfortunately agreement ends here. If one wishes to learn the bottom causes that produce these evils and to know the true method which ought to be pursued in order to eliminate them, a thousand answers, confusing and contradictory, are given in reply. On this rock all ships of social reform are shattered. Hopes are sustained and theories built sky-high, but owing to the instability of the foundation are one after another undermined, topple over, and are finally dashed to pieces. An inadequate grasp of causes seems to top to be gm central weakness of all past and present schemes of social and economic improvement. A clearer perception of the origin and nature of things is the only way I know of avoiding this error. An application of principles established upon demonstrated facts must replace the common method of studying social phenomena and economic conditions by empirical generalizations and preconceived theories. The latter is the usual method of most Socialists.

In the course of this inquiry I hope to examine the leading ideas of the more prominent among them as well as the teachings of economists generally upon the causes of the evils that press so persistently for solution. But before starting on a task of such magnitude, the temerity of which can be excused only by the hope that, if it be not well performed, if the errors still remain, and the mists which already surround it be not removed, I may at least reduce them, — before proceeding to this work another question must be investigated; the persistence of the idea of political authority must be accounted for and its nature and claims defined; and then with the result we shall be able to correlate the facts before set down, and thus show the nature and position of individual freedom in relation to the subject of our inquiry.

With Cleveland In.

[National Observer.]

With Cleveland in, no more shall we complain, —

An end, an end is come on James G. Blaine;

The Anglophobiac must abate his rage:

The Irish Vote its valorousness assuage:

The very Mugwump bath not lived in vain!

McKinley — now, O, now to free from stain

Columbia’s apron! Now, per special train

The Solid South mails back the Golden Age —

With Cleveland in!

And yet — and yet! Perchance it is in vain

(Such things have been; such things may be again!)

That Harrison (the late) withdraws his gage,

And Ford and Egan both go up the stage!

How if, in fact, the Status Quo remain

With Cleveland in?

“In abolishing rent and interest, the last vestiges of old-time slavery, the Revolution abolishes at one stroke the sword of the executioner, the seal of the magistrate, the club of the policeman, the gunge of the exciseman, the erasing-knife of the department clerk, all those insignia of Politics, which young Liberty grinds beneath her heel.” — Proudhon.

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The Sociological Index.

In devoting its fourth page, as it will hereafter, to a catalogue of the important articles relating to social science appearing during the week in the world’s periodical press, and in offering to regularly supply these articles, in the form of clippings, at a low price (considering the work and expense involved), Liberty vastly adds to its value to students of sociology, of whatever school. It hopes, therefore, to receive for this new department a generous support.

The subscribers to Liberty cannot better advance its interests than by purchasing clippings regularly and by bringing the Index to the attention of all people whom it can interest. If, after a period of experiment, the result is sufficiently encouraging, the scope of the Index will be enlarged, and especial attention will be given to the contents of the European press. To do this, the paper must be increased in size. If every subscriber to Liberty would regularly buy at least one clipping a week, the number of pages could be increased to eight without an increase of price, two pages more could be given to the Index, and two or three extra pages of reading-matter could be added. Moreover, the paper would at once command an attention that in its present form it cannot receive, and it would become a power. What say you, readers? Will you do it? T.

Tolerance and Intolerance.

One man’s meat is another’s poison. A forcible illustration of this came to me the other day in the arrival of two documents, both front opponents of Anarchism, one awarding me universal gratitude for my writings and the other declaring that my writings ought to be forbidden by the State. I print them both.

The former is a letter from J. H. Levy of London, the famous “D” of Bradlaugh’s “National Reformer,” the editor of the “Personal Rights Journal,” the secretary of the Political Economy Circle of the National Liberal Club, and a man whose mental acumen and thoroughness of scholarship command for his utterances on social questions the careful consideration of England’s intellectual aristocracy:

My Dear Mr. Tucker:

Will you be so kind as to put me down for two copies of your new book? I will remit the price directly I find from Liberty that you are prepared to issue the new publication. As you know, I am at issue with you on at least one vital point of political principle, and I fear also on several minor points; but all students of political philosophy must be grateful to you for your thoroughly sincere and fearless exposition of Anarchism, even if — like myself — they think that political theory a mistaken one. With best wishes for the New Year, believe me always faithfully yours,

J. H. Levy.

London, December 28, 1892.

This is the attitude of a brave man who is not afraid of truth or of error; who desires to hear, and to have others hear, the best and worst that can be said for and against every theory, no matter what it may be. It is the attitude of tolerance, — nay, more than that, — of hospitality.

See now the coward’s attitude, the attitude of the man who has a deathly fear of truth, who is afraid to know or hear it, and who, when he cannot answer you, is ready to choke you. It is the editor of the New Haven “Palladium” who speaks, — a palladium not of liberty, but of privilege and oppression. Apparently an old advertisement of Liberty has just fallen into his hands, and it moves him to the following out-burst in his issue of January 4, under the heading, “A Suggestion to Legislators”:

Cannot the wisdom of our law-makers devise some measure for putting an end to the teaching of Anarchical doctrines in this country? We have laws for the suppression of obscene literature that moral pollution may be prevented. Is moral pollution of this character any worse than that which attends the propagation of Anarchy? Yet there is boldly published and advertised a newspaper which not only “insists on the sovereignty of the individual and the just reward of labor,” but also “on the abolition of the State, . . . on no more government of man by man, on Anarchy and Equity.” This paper is mailed at the price of one dollar a year, and to give it greater circulation three books, translations from foreign authors, are given to every subscriber.

One of these, a volume of 825 pages, is described in the advertisement as “probably the most vivid picture of the misery of poverty, the extravagance of wealth, the sympathy and forbearance of the poor and despised, the cruelty and aggressiveness of the aristocratic and respectable, the blind greed of the middle classes, the hollowness of charity, the cunning and hypocrisy of the priesthood, the tyranny and corruption of authority, the crushing power of privilege, and finally, of the redeeming beauty of the ideal of liberty and equality, that the century has produced.” It is a story of Parisian life by a French writer, and is a realistic picture of some phases of the social life of that great city, but it is overdrawn and untruthful, and in no sense portrays conditions as existing in this country. Yet so artfully is the story told that to the ignorant and prejudiced American reader it teaches the worst ideas that prevailed in Paris during the reign of terror.

Another of these books emanated from a Russian who was a Siberian exile for twenty years. This is said to be “the book which has most powerfully influenced the youth of Russia in their growth into Nihilism. Whoever comes under its influence will fall in love with high ideals.” “High ideals,” from the Anarchist’s and Nihilist’s standpoint, are the right to destroy life and property, to defy and to abrogate law, to do — every man — what seems good in his eyes. Is not this species of licentious literature as corrupting to undisciplined minds as any that comes under the ban of the law, and is it safe or right to permit such teachings to he disseminated?

Free thought, free speech, liberty to all men. Yes, but no more license to Anarchical publications or Anarchical teachers.

The cry of this contemptible coward will go unheeded. It is not of the slightest importance, although the “Palladium” is one of the oldest journals in New Haven. I record it here partly because it is the first specific demand for the suppression of Liberty in particular that has ever come to my notice, and partly to shame this narrow-minded editor by contrast with his opposite. T.


— I am taken to task by the associate editor of “Lucifer,” Lillie D. White, and by her correspondent, Lizzie M. Holmes, for my needlessly cruel and harsh verdict upon the alleged book on government from the pens of Mr. and Mrs. Kelso. These kind-hearted fellow-victims (I infer that they have passed through the ordeal of reading the book) do not directly challenge the truth of my affirmations or the correctness of my conclusions. Mrs. Holmes, in fact, seems to concede that my case is perfectly good, and only deprecates the manner in which I chose to deliver my arraignment. Mrs. White is not quite so careful and prudent; she not only ventures to intimate that I am unjust and that I err on the side of intolerance and dogmatic partisanship, but reprints as a set-off some passages of solid imbecility from something somebody has written somewhere in extravagant laudation of the book in question. The reader is by implication asked to believe that the fact that my unqualified condemnation is far from being shared by everybody and is contradicted by an estimate amounting to a panegyric somehow proves that I was too extreme and so far wrong. It is hardly necessary to point out that no wary reader can possibly be caught in the trap. Even if I had not given incontestable proof of the truth of my charges and had contented myself with naked and unsupported accusations, the citation of a mysterious unknown against me would have been totally inadequate and inconclusive. In the republic of letters all may be free (the appearance of the Kelso production and the estimate of Mrs. White’s stranger certainly dispels all doubt as to the existence of perfect freedom), but all are not equal. The unsupported opinion of one may have a certain value and weight where another’s bare assertions are resented as impudent. But I did not content myself with mere and bare assertions; I proved every point I made. Does the mysterious stranger follow the same method? Far from it. Yet he presumes to recommend and welcome the book to the world in a way which should be tolerated only when coming from those who can speak with authority. Mrs. White’s stranger may be good-looking, good-natured, and very worthy; but, to use a Hibernicism, the little knowledge he has of Anarchism he has yet to learn from those critics of Mr. Kelso’s book who are so radically opposed to him. If I have been in the slightest degree unjust to the authors of “Government Analyzed,” I am ready to retract and humble myself. Will my kind friends specify my sin or sins? But if no injustice can be shown, then I am perfectly willing to plead guilty to the charges of cruelty and harshness. But cruelty is sometimes only kindness in disguise. Is it not more than cruel to confuse and misinform people, to misrepresent and pervert and distort truths? The Kelsos are guilty of these offences; there was no malice aforethought, perhaps, in their case, but there were criminal negligence and recklessness. Such a case calls for plain speaking. Readers have claims as well as authors, and it is to be remembered that the readers are passive and inoffensive, while the author challenges criticism and invites frank judgment. I agree with the critic who says better hit hard than too softly.

— Our amusing friend Gunton has perpetrated another droll joke. During the recent canvass he posed as the self-constituted professor of economics to the Republican class. Even the sudden desertion of his “scientific protection” by his able assistant, Nichols, was not allowed to disturb his equanimity. The professor delivered his lectures to empty benches; nobody paid him the slightest attention. But he knew that his vindication was at hand, and he was imperturbable. Now that the contest is known to have gone against the professor’s truant pupils and the latter are in a repentant mood, there is a fine opportunity for a dignified rebuke; and our professor has improved it. In the “Social Economist” he publishes an article on the economic significance of the election, in which he explains the defeat of his pupils and points out the way by which they may regain supremacy. The Republican party, he says, has totally failed to prove that the national prosperity is due to protection. They have been empirical in their defence of protection and have not given it any scientific standing. In their ignorance they have been led to indulge in preposterous claims and transparent absurdities. Indeed, the protectionists have no general principles upon which to rest their plea. In everything except free trade their doctrines are the same as those of the free traders. It is this which makes their reasoning weak, and makes it impossible for them to meet the most telling points of the free traders. Hence it is not surprising that the public should lose faith in protection and its advocates. But the protectionists have now received notice that empirical treatment of great questions will no longer pass for statesmanship. They must not expect to be floated back to power on a reaction created by the inevitable blunders and sins of the Democrats. The people may become disgusted with both parties and flock toward the Socialistic party. To secure a new lease of life the Republicans must take a step forward and formulate a scientific programme. They must understand that we have reached a state of intelligence where nothing but economic philosophy can be made the basis of public policy; not the narrow economics of the English school, but the social economics of the American school, which belong to the complex conditions of modern industry; not the economics of low wages and foreign markets, but the economics of high wages and home markets. With modern American economics to guide them Republicans would secure a scientific basis for protection. Do you catch the drift of the cunning professor’s remarks. To appreciate the richness of all this it is necessary to know that by the “American school” our professor means — himself, and by American economics his own economies. Gunton has written some books which have failed, I presume, to create a demand (this, I infer, is why he is so bitterly op-posed to the law of supply and demand: what sort of a law is it which fails to create a demand after a supply has been assured?); and he has organized a college of American economics which is not as well attended as he earnestly believes it ought to be. The Republicans pretend to favor everything American, and why should they not buy Gunton’s works? Regarded as an advertisement of certain of his books and the college, Gunton’s article is a great success. To start out with a discussion of the election and wind up with American economics, alias Guntoniana, is very shrewd. V. Y.

Speaking of Kelso’s book, Merlino says in “Solidarity”: “This book recalls to our minds [By the way, how many minds has Merlino?] a smaller one, which we discovered, as it were, in a little country library some time ago, and would gladly see reprinted, — Engländer’s ‘Abolition of the State,’ a little volume containing a brilliant exposition of the theories which have sapped the foundations of the State. The two chapters on Proudhon would be specially instructive for Individualist-Anarchists.” Here’s richness! So you discovered this book, Mr. Bright Man, did you? — as it were? And you advise us Individualist-Anarchists to read it, do you? — especially the chapters on Proudhon? And you would like to see it reprinted, would you? Well, let me inform you my ignorant friend, that I discovered Dr. Engländer’s book when it was first published in English by Trabner in 1873, many years before I started Liberty; that it has ever since been a cherished volume in my library; that the chapters on Proudhon are my especial delight; that your wish has already been gratified, since a large portion of the book, including the chapters on Proudhon, has been reprinted serially in Liberty within two years; and that I own a set of plates of the matter thus reprinted serially, from which I have only been prevented from printing a pamphlet edition by lack of time and means. The truth is that Dr. Engländer’s book is in the main a brilliant exposition of the doctrines of Proudhon and Liberty and a scathing condemnation of the doctrines of Merlino and “Solidarity.” But Merlino does not know this, for he is so feeble-minded that, like Colonel Kelso and his wife, he is enabled by no statement of a doctrine, however clear, to recognize, identify, or distinguish it. Does the reader think I speak extravagantly? Then let us test my assertion. In saying that the chapters on Proudhon would be specially instructive for Individualist-Anarchists, Merlino virtually says that these chapters contain some fact which we do not know or some doctrine front which we dissent. Now I challenge him to quote from the chapters in question such fact or such doctrine. He cannot do so. I, on the other hand, stand ready, if he desires it, to give hint quotation after quotation front Dr. Engländer utterly at variance with the Communistic solution of the social problem. There is no more resemblance between Kelso’s book and Engländer’s than there is between “Solidarity” and Liberty.

At a recent meeting of the House of Representatives committee on currency and banking, mainly Democrats, of course, a motion of Mr. Cox of Tennessee that a bill be introduced in the House to carry out the State-bank plank in the Democratic platform was defeated by a vote of eleven to one! Then, by a considerable majority, the committee voted to introduce a bill reducing the tax on national banks and giving them power to issue notes to the full extent of their collateral. In other words, this Democratic committee not only refuses to weaken the existing money monopoly, but proposes to strengthen it. All of which is respectfully submitted to Comrades Yarros and Walker, and to voting Anarchists generally, with the assurance of my most distinguished consideration.

The editor of the London “Freethinker” infers from the success of the subscription-list to my forthcoming book that “there are evidently some admirers of individual thought and hard hitting in America.”

J. Fenimore Cooper on J. Whidden Graham.

The following passage from “The Two Admirals” — a book which I, at the age of ten, prompted presumably by the Egoistic virus that had already tainted my blood, pronounced the best of Cooper’s novels — is recommended to the attention of Mr. J. Whidden Graham, Mr. F. F. Cook, and those “stanch friends” of mine to whom “Liberty can never again be what it once was”:

Sir Gervaise Oakes stopped in his walk, and gazed at his friend with manifest interest, as he perceived that Admiral Bluewater was running over his letter for the third time. . . .

“A set of precious rascals they are, Gervaise!” at length the Rear-admiral exclaimed. “If the whole court was culled, I question if enough honesty could be found to leaven one Puritan scoundrel. Tell me if you know this hand, Oakes? I question if you ever saw it before.”

The superscription of the letter was held out to Sir Gervalse, who, after a close examination, declared himself unacquainted with the writing.

“I thought as much,” resumed Bluewater, carefully tearing the signature from the bottom of the page, and burning it in a candle; “let this portion of the secret die, at least. The fellow who wrote this has put ‘confidential’ at the head of his miserable scrawl; and a most confident fellow he is for his pains. However, no man has a right to thrust himself, in this rude manner, between me and my eldest friend; and least of all will I consent to keep this piece of treachery from your knowledge. I do more than the rascal merits in concealing his name; nevertheless, I shall not deny myself of the pleasure of sending him such an answer as he deserves. Read that, Oakes, and then say if keel-hauling would be too good for the writer. . . . [His] masterly move is intended to secure me, by creating a confidence that they think no generous-minded man would betray. It is a hook, delicately baited to catch a gudgeon.”

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Liberty’s Library

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.