“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.
In Mr. Yarros’s article on “Solidarity,” in the last issue, the sentence: “Here no declaration of private property is required to qualify one for Anarchism,” should have been printed thus: “Here no declaration against private property,” etc. The error, of course, reverses the sense, or, rather, destroys it.
The “Jeffersonian” has the following interesting item: “The two editorials published by us recently, entitled: ‘How Shall an Income Tax be Levied?’ have been reprinted in pamphlet form by Ben Tucker of New York.” This is news indeed. Ben must have done this under hypnotic influence, for he has entirely forgotten it.
Subscribers who return wrappers to me as an indication of unsatisfactory postal service should write on them not only the time of receipt, but the date of the paper which the wrapper contained. Otherwise the wrappers cannot be used to any purpose. As very few wrappers are now returned, I conclude that the paper is now delivered more promptly than formerly.
I have selected as a title for my forthcoming volume: “Instead of a Book: By A Man Too Busy to Write One.” The work being larger than I at first intended it to be, its appearance is somewhat delayed. But I expect to have it ready for delivery by March 1, or a very few days thereafter. It will contain 528 pages, including an elaborate index, prepared by the kindness of Comrades Francis D. Tandy and Henry Cohen of Denver.
A propos of a book lately published and of its author, to which and to whom I propose to devote hereafter some critical attention, the “Twentieth Century” copies the following from “Lucifer”: “It was undertaken and carried through in the face of great obstacles. His work was not paid for beforehand in one to one hundred dollar contributions. He made no appeals for assistance before undertaking his task, nor contracts securing him from possible loss. In secrecy and silence he thought and wrote. His days were devoted to wage-earning: his night and early morning hours to study and composition.” From William Holmes in “Lucifer” this is the voice of jealousy. Echoed by J. W. Sullivan in the “Twentieth Century,” it is the voice of revenge. In both cases, not in what it asserts, but in what it insinuates, it is the voice also of deliberate falsehood. And withal, the voice of harmless impotence. An entrancing quartette indeed, in which revenge is the basso profundo, jealousy the tenor, falsehood the contralto, and impotence a sort of boy soprano.
Problems of Anarchism.
1. — Life, Liberty, and Property.
If the liberty of the individual, embracing in that idea the equal liberty of all, is accepted as a standard principle, the only measure of rights, and the fulfilment of justice; then, whatever ideas are entertained upon property or any other question of principle and rights must harmonize with that leading idea. Any conception of property which traverses it and denies complete individual liberty must be rejected: it is inconsistent with its acceptance.
Talking once with an ardent Socialist, he confessed to me, with innocent candor, that the very first notion in the communistic direction bad yet to be acquired by the people. “For,” said he, “the idea of individual or private property lies so deep in their minds and is so securely imbedded in their habits of thought, in their very nature, that any conception of property conditions opposed to this seems almost impossible; to effect a change would require a mental revolution more gigantic than has ever been known. And yet without such a change in property ideas no communistic revolution could last a day. ’Twould be simply a dead letter.”
How profoundly true!
Recalling this observation brings me to the point to be first noticed: the property idea, as we find it developed today among civilized and progressive people.
Not only is the belief in individual property general, it grows more intense, and is continually embracing a wider range of objects and ideas not previously considered as property at all.
It is unnecessary here to elaborate the rise and development of this idea, nor need we now discuss the question whether private property or common property is the more ancient, especially as so many conflicting theories upon the matter are held by those considered authorities.
Enough is known, beyond dispute, to show that the right of the individual to hold property has been allowed from the remotest times; that as his power of acquiring it and need for it have grown his right has become clearer and more imperative; and that private property develops with human progress. Its recognition advances with advancing civilization: experience, customs, laws, exemplify the fact.
Admitting this truth, the question for us to consider is: Does this tendency of property agree with individual liberty? Does the fact harmonize with our principle?
When an individual in the exercise of his liberty expends his energies in acquiring property without preventing others from so exercising the like liberty, he breaks not the law of individual liberty, he trespasses not on the freedom of others. So that property acquired under such conditions rightfully belongs to him who acquires it.
And research into the earliest known conditions of individual property proves that the limited forms of private property then recognized, as hunting weapons and other implements, clothing such as there was, and huts and habitations, were obtained by the individual without hindering others from becoming possessed of personal property in like manner.
On this condition, observed within the group or tribe, it grew and by slow degrees extended; and, although we shall presently notice other conditions which determined and still more today determine property rights, this remains the primary basis of the right to private property. All extensions of the property idea have their justification in this principle. It is embodied in laws framed with a view to equal rights and justice. It is in accord with prevailing ideas of right and equity. Even the formula used by the Communists, “the product to the producer,” entails its recognition.
Though all this is true in the abstract, — which, however, does not insure that, when we come to analyze the practice in regard to the distribution of property, we shall find it so in fact, — yet it is not sufficient warrant for us to establish private property as a right and accept it as we do the right to equal liberty. If we can show the necessity for it as a condition of existence, as a part of the law of life, a biological fact which has been established by science, then no more is required of us; its justice and propriety become incontrovertible.
Continuous life is possible only when each individual receives the consequences of his own conduct, when benefits obtained are proportionate to actions performed, when he reaps the advantages of his life maintaining powers, when the good and the evil in his nature each brings its due reward.
Manifestly the possession of property, acquired without violating the liberty of others, is a direct consequence of conduct, the reward of life-sustaining energies.
To deny a man’s right to the fruits of his own exertions is a denial of his right to the use of his faculties, both bodily and mental, and finally of his right to life itself.
Admitting this claim as thus established, and as a necessary consequence of the sovereignty of the individual, we must recognize some truths which naturally follow. A man may acquire property — the term including all forms of wealth — by any method consistent with other men’s equal liberty. He may work for it by direct labor, he may gamble for it by any kind of speculation provided nobody is coerced, he may obtain it by gift or bequest or through unrestricted exchange, and his claim is equally valid, his right equally undeniable.
But he has no just claim to it when procured through the violation of other men’s rights, through the limitation or negation of their equal freedom. The same principle which establishes property rights destroys all arbitrary claims, all law created rights. It denies all property rights due to legal privilege which is an assault upon individual liberty: to the forcible monopoly of natural resources and opportunities which establish property only through the denial of others’ right to obtain it; to all arbitrarily-enforced burdens, as taxes rent of land, mines, water, and all natural media; interest — a direct creation of unequal liberty.
Private property may then be stated in terms of equality. It arises out of the equal right of each to complete liberty and life, which is justice.
I have taken up this question of property first in order, and established a definite principle with arguments, I trust, sufficiently clear, though but briefly indicated, and for which I make no claim of originality, because in dealing with the topics that are to follow much discussion will thus be avoided and future arguments be better understood. Wm. Bailie.
“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.
The Meaning of Equal Liberty.
To the Editor of Liberty:
I am not conscious of basing my defence of the Single Tax on the principle that the land belongs to the community or on the idea of “right” in any form. You acknowledge that my liberty is abridged when another man takes possession of a piece of land to bold it idle. Then my liberty must be equally abridged when the same man takes possession of the same land to use it profitably. The use he makes of this land cannot make any difference with the extent of liberty which is left me after he takes it, or with the extent of liberty which I had before he took it.
If I could still appropriate for myself equally desirable land, I might not feel that I was much oppressed. But if my predecessors take up all the first-rate land and leave me only tenth-rate patches, surely the abridgment of my liberty has gone beyond the possibility of a plausible pretence of equality: and I have good reason for refusing to consent to such an arrangement until I am paid for what I probably lose by not having access to these better opportunities.
I do not see where the idea of “right” enters into the above argument: and I do not see how you avoid my conclusion unless you yourself unconsciously import “right” into the discussion by looking at the land as the property of the occupier. When I wrote of “rights” in my former letter, I meant to be understood as meaning “the liberties which men enjoy under equal freedom”; see picket note in No. 194 of Liberty.
You say in No. 244 of Liberty that liberty [as you understand it] “will abolish all means whereby any laborer can be deprived of any of his product”; and in No. 252 that “man has but little to gain from liberty unless that liberty includes the liberty to control what he produces.” Well, suppose a case. Smith comes to Jonesville and finds that there is free vacant land there on which he can make $1000 a year. Brown, who came earlier, has got a location on which be made $2000 last year; and he figures that he could make $3010 this year with Smith’s help. Accordingly he offers Smith $1005 for one year’s services, Smith of course accepts, it being $5 better than he could do elsewhere.
Now, Smith has been paid for all the increase he brought to Brown’s product; but has he received all that he produced? For aught that appears, the labor and capital furnished by Smith were as much and as good as Brown’s. If so, it seems to me that half the product was Smith’s product; but he got only a third. Stephen T. Byington.
In my last reply to Mr. Byington I did not attribute to him a belief that the land belongs to the community. I did infer, however, that he claimed for the individual a right to land which others are bound to respect apart from any contract obligation. But as he repudiates this position also, I accept his disclaimer without further controversy on this point.
As I now understand him, Mr. Byington believes simply in equal liberty, inclusive of equal liberty to use land. At the start, then, I dissent. It has been steadily maintained in these columns that equal liberty is a condition resulting from a contract entered into by the contracting parties for the purpose of securing front invasion their persons and their property. Now, such a contract necessarily implies an abridgment of liberty. Equal liberty and unabridged liberty are two things, not only different, but utterly inconsistent with each other. It is true, therefore, as Mr. Byington says, that I acknowledge that my liberty is abridged when another man takes possession of a piece of land. But it is equally true that my liberty is abridged when another man takes possession of his own person, — that is, when he denies me the privilege or opportunity of punching his head. These abridgments of liberty are not only harmonious with equality of liberty, but necessary to it. As facts, — not as rights, for rights are acquired only by convention, — both person and property are prior to contract, — that is, take precedence of contract in the mind of the contracting individual.
Therefore, when Mr. Byington says to me: “Yes, I believe in equal liberty; I will let you alone, if you will let me alone,” I answer: “Well and good, provided you mean by letting alone the abandonment of all control over my person and products, — of all control, that is, over my body and over the material which I am occupying and using and upon which I have impressed my labor; if you grant this condition, I sign the contract; but if you do not grant it, I withhold my signature, and fall back, not upon my right, but upon my might.” In the latter case, if my might proves insufficient; if Mr. Byington proves stronger than I; or, to generalize, if the Single Taxers prove stronger than the Anarchists, — then undoubtedly the Single Taxers will execute their design of depriving individuals of their products. But our hope as Anarchists and our work as Anarchists is to show the people the vital importance of retaining control of their products, of declining any contract which does not provide therefor, and of thus depriving the Single Taxers of the strength which they need in order to carry out their designs against the individual and his product.
It will be seen from the foregoing that equal liberty, according to Anarchism, means, not equal liberty to use land, but equal liberty to control self and the results of self-exertion.
Furthermore, equal liberty to use land is an absurdity from the individual standpoint, for it logically leads to denial of individual liberty to use land, — that is, to Communism. If my equal liberty to use land is abridged when another takes possession of a piece of land, it is not necessarily restored or satisfied when I am allowed to take possession of another piece of land of equal area, or even of equal value; neither is it satisfied when “I am paid for what I probably lose by not having access” to the occupied land, unless I am allowed to choose between accepting or declining the bargain, and, if I accept it, to personally fix the price. It is as much an invasion of my liberty to compel me to sell it as to take it from me without compensation. But, on the other hand, it is impossible in the nature of things to allow me this liberty, for the reason that all other individuals have the same liberty regarding the same piece of land; and as some may consent to sell and some may refuse, and as scone may make one price and some another, there is no solution of the situation except in communistic ownership and control. Hence, if we would avoid Communism, we must beware of acknowledging equal liberty to use land.
Coming now to Mr. Byington’s contention that, if rent is not confiscated, the laborer will not always get his full product, my first comment on his hypothetical case is that his assumed ratio of difference would be very uncommon under freedom. With the monopolies abolished, with improved methods of cultivation, with progress in transportation, with the greater possibilities of independent production which electricity promises, and with other advances in science, it is much more likely that the lands used for a given purpose will vary in value in the ratio of say 11 to 10 than in the ratio of 20 to 10. It would be fairer, therefore, to assume Brown’s land to yield $1100 and Smith’s $1000. Then, if Brown saw that with Smith’s help he could make his land yield $2110, he would hire Smith at $1005 and have $1105 left for himself. This is an inequality, to be sure; but throughout my controversy with Mr. Byington I have admitted the possible permanence of a slight economic rent, which is but another way of admitting a slight inequality of product. At most, then, my opponent’s illustration requires me — and for this I thank him — to so qualify the phrase which he quotes that it may harmonize with my own position. Thus qualified, my statement would read: Liberty will abolish all means whereby any laborer can be deprived of any of his product, except in those cases where his labor is expended upon capital belonging to another and exempted by its necessarily limited supply from the influence of competition; and even in such cases the laborer, far from being deprived, as when monopoly prevails, of any part of the product which he derives or might have derived from his own slightly inferior capital, will get a reward greater than that product.
In saying this I simply repeat what I have said so often before, — that liberty will not insure absolute equality of reward, but that for the removal of so slight a burden as the remaining inequality the sacrifice of liberty would be far too great a price. T.
Shall We Colonize?
Andrade, of Australia, has just brought out, as the title-page proclaims, “a realistic novel,” “The Melbourne Riots.”
Kindly disposed toward Comrade Andrade, find myself obliged to rank him with that large class of the well-intentioned who conclude (perhaps rightly) that all serious subjects must be sugar-coated in the form of fiction to the tempting of the public palate, and therefore essay that for which they have no fitness to satisfy the need.
Truly a well-written novel will carry its moral further and faster than a serious essay, and reflect upon it much of its own charm, but inferior fiction, — well, I doubt the value of that in propaganda.
And truly this of Andrade is inferior fiction. He calls it “realistic,” but it is that in no sense. In true realism persons and places appear with photographic distinctness, and the springs of human emotion are discovered as by omniscience. There is nothing of that kind here, not even historic realism. And as half the book, or thereabout, is taken up with an ideal scheme for the emancipation of the worker and the realization of ideal society, it would, perhaps, better have been labelled “utopian.”
The heroine, Hypatia, is a strident, masculine female, not in the least essential to the tale, who pops on and off the stage at unexpected intervals, mouthing theatrical little speeches after the manner of the bombastic heroines in the novels of our grandmothers.
But I love not adverse criticism, and I will drop this with regard to the literary form, which might be much extended, and consider the burden.
After all, there is something manly and vigorous in the manner of the book, as is apt to be the utterance of an Englishman in earnest, and in the remedy it proposes for the evils of our times it broaches matter worth thinking on.
Briefly, then, its plan is that the workers should organize into a coöperative society, pool their little surplus earnings, and, with these, purchase lands on which the principles of Anarchy might be realized in colony life. This land, purchased collectively, is to be owned individually in usufruct. The land once secured, the society chooses by vote a select band of pioneers, from among its members, to settle on the land, build homes, and start cultivation, the parent society furnishing them supplies till they become self-supporting. These pioneers prepare homes for still other colonists, who in turn are sent on, and thus, gradually, company after company, the Society emigrates itself to the colony and the New Life is practicalized.
This is the really valuable part of the book, for this is a perfectly practicable plan, and one successfully used in this country in developing claims and colonies. In our own West two partners have often thus coöperated, one residing on and working a claim, while the other earned the necessary cash in some city; the progressive development of the farm, or mine, permitting, after a time, the personal residence of both. But while there is therefore a strong element of possible and even probable success in this scheme, Andrade has shown himself amazingly enthusiastic in the picture he paints of its rapid success, and makes no account whatever of many probable causes of disastrous failure. Perhaps he knows nothing personally of colonies (I do), and does not comprehend how hard it is to get men to coöperate in this or any other fashion.
Statistics show that, while here and there a colony is a brilliant success, most of them are quick failures.
Success in colonization seems to require a practical intelligence, neighborliness, and general broadmindedness in the members such as the laboring man, as we have him, seldom possesses. If the necessary qualities reside in a leader whom the members accept and follow, success is usually certain. In other words, when all work together as one individual, whether freely or by compulsion, the success is all that our trust in the principles of individualism and coöperation would warrant. Many colonies where there was more or less compulsion have succeeded; the problem is to get free men evoluted to the stage where they will coöperate in the pursuit of mutual deeds with equal intelligence, reliability, and steady good will. Wage slaves are poor timber to build free societies with.
In a colony the need of patience, hope, fortitude is always peculiarly great as regards natural obstacles, and of sympathy, helpfulness, tolerance, courtesy, and non-interference as regards fellow-members. But the people who rush to a radical colony are usually the “kickers,” the impatient, the chronically discontented, the eccentric, the “cranks,” the hobby-riders; men and women with little adaptability, with no quiet depth of character, all angles, unsocial, sarcastic, combative, critical, morbidly irritable, persistent and obstinate in the advocacy of an ideal, but easily discouraged as to the possibility of its practical realization in any actual environment. Is it to be wondered at that colonies composed of such men explode spontaneously and disappear like burst meteors?
Here, then, is the great problem in colonization, — to get the character in the men. That is all. Nature is bound to grant success when confronted by the right man. Where single individuals succeed, and corporations succeed, intelligently coöperating free-socialists may also succeed.
A great trouble is over-sanguineness. The most extravagant hopes are indulged and success as rapid and tremendous as Andrade has here depicted it (where in exactly three years, with a total paid-up capital of £17,746, 5000 members are settled in 1250 cottages on 10,600 acres of land, cultivated and irrigated, possessing a public hall and factories, the best labor-saving machinery, 1200 head of cattle, and “live stock and vegetation capable of sustaining in comfort every one of them and thousands more besides”) is confidently looked for. Andrade tells us, without a gasp, that his Pioneers (many of whom, presumably, could barely exist in a city) settled a blank wilderness, and in three years had real estate worth £4,000,000, and other property to the value of £500,000, not estimating the personal belongings the settlers had brought with them, and all at a cost of £17,746.
And too often those who are themselves without the least sympathy for the ideals of others expect to find in the colony the most abounding admiration and obedience toward their own. Alas! these dreamers are sure to find that success requires years of toil and struggle, and that colonists are but little more ideal than men generally, and perhaps less so.
Are we therefore to conclude that colonies of the Free-Life are impossible? Not at all, unless we also conclude that all conscious and deli-berate improvement of society is impossible. While Anarchistic colonies remain impossible, Anarchism at large remains impossible.
In order that a colony succeed, the following appear to me material necessities:
1. Wise selection of location.
2. Unmortgaged ownership of sufficient land.
3. Sufficient capital to support the colonists until the end of the second year.
And the human needs:
1. The trusted leadership of some clear-headed, firm, kind, and practical man, whose advice will be freely given and taken until the colony becomes sufficiently established for leadership to become unnecessary.
2. That at least a majority of the members be picked men, resolute, industrious, who can be relied upon to coöperate with their leader and each other without quarreling; men patient, helpful, and tolerant; and that this proportion of such men be always maintained.
3. That the members by contract (a) mutually ensure each other against fire, accident, storm, sickness, violence, and crime; (b) agree to submit all disputes to arbitration or jury trial; (c) agree to consider all minor reforms, or hobbies (as Temperance, Vegetarianism, Spiritualism, or what not), as subordinate in importance to Equal Freedom and Good-Fellowship.
With these conditions fulfilled, I see no reason why a colony, holding land in usufruct, exchanging products at cost, might not be a success.
In such a colony the members by collective action, or else some individual, might erect a building to serve as a Mutual Exchange, Store, and Bank, wherein members could deposit their surplus products, the certificates of deposit given them by the storekeeper or banker (printed notes representing so many hours of labor) being ex-changeable for all other products of equal value there deposited, thus securing free money.
Or, if a city life was more expedient, or preferred, such an Anarchist Mutual Insurance Society might purchase a hotel or boarding house; rooms, meals, hall-room for public meetings, etc., to be furnished members at cost, and all products and services to be exchanged among members on the cost basis. Such a mutual insurance and exchange club, once strong in numbers, and including in its ranks men of all occupations, all exchanging services at cost, would be a little world in itself, secure against most of the dreads of human life, and above the necessity of existing by the crimes of profit, rent, and interest.
As soon as our converts number enough individuals of sufficient character and good sense to harmoniously coöperate, all this is within our grasp; and the advantages to individual com-fort, security, and social happiness of such mutualistic action are evident enough to be sufficient inducement, without cherishing utopian dreams.
It is in the sympathy of such a hope that I reach hands to Comrade Andrade “across the sea.” J. Wm. Lloyd.
I lately rebuked the editor of the Keokuk “Chronicle” for his carelessness in stating that General Butler “grew wealthy, not by exploiting the poor, but by catering to the vanity of the rich.” In commenting upon the rebuke this editor now declares: “No man can acquire a million or more without exploiting his fellow-men.” This is a square confession that his original position was wrong. Consequently I fail to see why he accompanies his confession with a charge that I am a “carping critic.”
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||608 copies.|
|George Cumming, San Francisco, Cal.,||1 “|
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.