“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.”
A Splendid Start.
To the Editor of Liberty:
The only objection you raise against Mr. Robinson’s plan is financial. The great good that might result from such an undertaking cannot be over-estimated. It would be a concentrated repetition of the great blows already dealt by you to State superstition.
The fact of your having been able to sustain your paper so long in spite of all opposition proves to me that you must be supported by a growing number of admirers and followers.
These must all be interested in the publication of a work which would bring the principles they confess in a concise and terse form before the public. The burden of the cost of publishing, too great to be carried by you alone, might easily be borne by the strength of all. It would be a way to show that voluntary coöperation is very practical, even under existing circumstances, if undertaken by the right kind of persons. Moreover, Egoism would please itself by benefiting mankind at large.
If you make an estimate of the cost of publication, and send it to all supporters of Liberty, I have faith enough in true Anarchists to think that the difficulty would dwindle into nothing by each taking his share of the burden according to his lifting capacity.
To prove that it is not all wind I talk, I will back my scheme with $100 cash whenever required.
If you consider this a fool’s or a dreamer’s scheme, treat it accordingly. I remain,
G. A. F. De Lespinasse.
Orange City, Iowa, Sept. 10, 1892.
This letter, written à propos of John Beverley Robinson’s suggestion in No. 235 that I should issue in book form a classified selection from my editorials in Liberty from the beginning, is one of the greatest surprises that I have experienced as editor of this paper. It is not many months since the writer and I had a passage-at-arms, in which we said things of each other that were not exactly complimentary. That he is able to forget that encounter and respond thus generously and practically to Mr. Robinson’s suggestion shows a capacity for mingled repentance and magnanimity which fills me with genuine admiration.
I feel sure that the subscription proposed by Dr. de Lespinasse and the princely way in which he starts it will inspire the readers of Liberty with such enthusiasm that the whole amount needed will be very speedily forthcoming. This amount is $500. Already one-fifth of it is pledged by a single man. Will not the other readers of the paper be able to raise the remaining four-fifths?
The proposed book will make at least 400 pages, in medium-sized type. Bound in cloth, it cannot be sold for less than one dollar. For every dollar subscribed to this publication fund I will give one cloth-bound copy of the book when published. Thus Dr. de Lespinasse, for instance, will be entitled to one hundred copies. Any subscriber who has no use for all his copies can redonate them to the fund, if he likes.
I hope that all who are able and willing to subscribe will do so promptly, in order that I may proceed with the preparation of the book. As soon as the subscriptions aggregate a sufficient amount to warrant publication, each subscriber will be asked to pay in half of the sum which he has pledged, the balance to be paid on the appearance of the book. T.
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.
|G\. A\. P\. De Lespinasse, Orange City, Iowa,||100 copies.|
Enthusiasm and Tranquillity.
Dear Mr. Tacker:
You will find nothing in my statements about enthusiasm to warrant any assumption that I do not think that passion should not be controlled to its highest ends in furthering the completion of the Race in the Individual and in perfecting the Individual in the Race. I merely protest generally that enthusiasm can neither be crushed nor discarded, and that it is a biological fact; that it is the Love force from which our advancement as well as our degradation may proceed, the raw material for good or evil depending upon the will, nature, and chances of the weaver for after-development, or, in Michael Field’s words, it is “the sap of the Tree of Life, the spring and origin of all good fruit.”
Tranquillity of soul, which you and Proudhon praise, is not inconsistent with enthusiasm, but permit me to point out that it too has its dangers of degenerating into inertia, and that it may be the result of a finality in philosophy, a mind satisfied to repose upon the hard and fast line it apparently sees, forgetful of the real restless edgelesaness of the Universe, or ignoring the indefinite and infinite scope for growth, for discovery, for energy, for Love.
To Miriam Daniell.
Miriam, fitly named like her of old,
Who sang of liberty beside the sea,
When on the oppressor’s triumph suddenly
The Red Sea waters of deliverance rolled, —
Alas that freedom won should e’er be sold!
Through anguish won, sold for a scurrile fee.
But is not this the tale of liberty,
From age to age with clearer meaning told?
Yet here, O sister, is our consolation,
Mid hourly tyranny o’er act and speech,
That more and more in every generation
Of men discern and to their children teach
That earth’s one prize above all valuation
Is liberty itself, to all and each.
Harry Lyman Koopman.
Moral Suasion by Electricity.
“Yes, boys,” said the doctor, leaning back in his chair, “electricity has done wonderful things, but I suppose none of you ever heard of its changing a rogue into a good and useful citizen.”
“Oh, do tell us about it!” cried Julius, the inventor, — as his classmates had nicknamed him, — for, if there was any new machine to be invented, he wished to be the one to do it. A “moralization machine,” especially! Was ever machine invented destined to change the whole social face of the world as a moralization machine would?
Now, to tell a story to a group of willing listeners was something Dr. Starr never refused to do, and it was touching to observe the childlike serenity that settled down upon his face as he began.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
“It was about a year and a half ago. I had just had my office thoroughly renovated and fixed up after the latest style, a new marble staircase put in, and a lamp, which was considered quite an elegant affair, hung in the hallway, at the head of the stairs. Early one afternoon I had a patient asleep on the chair, under the influence of vegetable vapor, while I was extracting some teeth for her. My assistant was also In the room. Suddenly all three of us — vegetable vapor notwithstanding — darted up terrorstricken at a most infernal crash and clatter, in the hall and on the stairway, accompanied by the most unearthly shriek I ever heard from man or beast.
“I rushed out, ran against a step-ladder, which I did not stop to account for, stumbled over a heap of débris, and finally reached the foot of the stairs, where a writhing form was incessantly yelling: ‘I am killed! I am killed! murder! help!’
“I was soon convinced that the fellow was more frightened than hurt, and set to work to calm him sufficiently to enable him to relate what had happened. Under the influence of his fright he readily confessed that he had been attempting, under the guise of a workman, to steal my lamp in broad daylight. He had almost succeeded in taking it down, when, touching an electric wire unawares, he received a shock which stilt him headlong down the stairs, and my lamp, my elegant new lamp, crashing into a thousand fragments on the stone floor.
“The poor wretch was entirely undone. He was trembling from head to foot, and the look of horror on his face was simply indescribable. As I looked at him, my heart failed me to have him arrested. Certainly the State could inflict no worse punishment on him than he had already received. And besides, I considered, had he succeeded in making away with my lamp, I would be minus a lamp, all the same, with vice triumphant.
“So I told him to shake himself together, and take himself away, which he did after I had opened the door for him; for he could not even turn the knob himself with his shaking hands.”
The doctor paused, and Julius, the inventor, looked thoughtful, for he was already puzzling his ingenious brain with the problem: if an electric shock, received at a decisive moment, can so change the organization of the brain as to make a bad man good, by what contrivance can an electric shock be administered to every bad man in the act of committing a misdeed?
But Albert, the lad with the big, loving heart, broke out enthusiastically: How splendid of you, doctor! The man was powerfully touched by your magnanimity, was he not? and came to you afterward and told you that your goodness haunted him night and day, so that he could not help but reform?”
“Yes, and that he had gone into honorable business, been successful, and amassed a fortune, all on account of his newly-acquired honesty,” the doctor enlarged upon Albert’s enthusiastic speech.
“No, my dear boy, not quite so typical a case as that, nor quite so romantic. But I met the fellow again not long ago, and really became quite interested in him.
“I was on my way to Beachmont early one morning, where I was to meet a friend with his yacht and spend the day with him on the water. It was too early for the trains, so I took the street-car. I was the only passenger, and the morning was so beautiful that I concluded to stand on the front platform with the driver. I had not been there long when I found him eyeing me curiously. I gave him a close look in my turn, which ended in a half involuntary: ‘Hello! are you still out of prison?’”
“How unkind of you, doctor!” interrupted gentle Albert, “you might have spoiled everything again by that inconsiderate speech.”
The doctor laughed: “I was a little sorry myself at first for bursting out like that, but I soon found that he was not made of any such fragile stuff at all, and that nothing short of another electric shock could drive him back to his old ways.
“He just turned round and looked straight at me. He evidently did not wish that the earth would open and swallow him up; nor was there anything defiant in the way he turned upon me; a certain dignity, I should rather say, and — what shall I call it? — well — self-reliance, in his calm grey eye.
“‘Yes, sir, I am, and I’ll stay out if I can; because, you see, it doesn’t pay to get in.’
“He turned to his horses for a moment, then spoke again: ‘Perhaps you think I’d hate to see you, but I don’t mind it. Seems to me I owe you some thanks for not delivering me up to the police that time, and I’d just as lief talk to you and let you know how I look at this matter.’
“‘All right,’ said I, ‘just go on. It will be interesting to hear what you’ve got to say for yourself.’
“I expected, of course, to hear a sort of ‘reformed drunkard’ story, and thought that, if I should be very much bored, I might listen with half an ear and take in the landscape with my eyes, for we were leaving the city behind us and were driving seaward. But — would you believe me, boys? — I became so interested in what the fellow told me that I forgot the landscape and listened with both my ears; and I’ve often been thinking about it since.
“‘You see, doctor, when we chaps get into this world, and want to stay, we’ve got to do the things that will pay, or we’ll find out sooner or later that the world has no use for us. I haven’t got much use for what you fine educated folks call right and wrong. The way I grew up I hadn’t much chance to find out, and, though I tried to think it out for myself, the more I thought the mixter I got. So I let it alone. Don’t suppose anybody quite knows for all their talking about it. And it seems to me that, if a fellow has eyes to see, he doesn’t need no books to learn in what sort of a muddle the world is.
“‘I got myself into jail once, and ‘cause hadn’t anything to do to peas away time, and there were plenty of roaches around, I took it into my head to till up my water-can with them and watch ’em scnimble to get out. And its I sat watching them, thinks I to myself: well, if that isn’t just the way folks do! No matter what they try to make you believe, and what them preachers way, that’s just what they all do, and the only difference is that some of us only get down deeper into the heap the more we scramble, while others get on top, and crawl out. And I can’t for the life of me see that the top ones are any better titan the bottom ones.’
“Leaning far out to slap one of the horses with the end of the reins: ‘Well, you see, I hadn’t anybody to tell me what’s what when I was a youngster. Don’t know as there would have been much gain had I had. My father was a factory hand, and worked and worked till he died of consumption, before I was old enough to remember him. My mother worked her fingers to the bones to keep us from starving, and she couldn’t always do that, for I remember going hungry lots of times. Si I grew up sort of wild like. All the learning I got was a bit of reading and writing that I picked up. But I didn’t need no books to find out that to live one had to do something that would pay. Working didn’t seem of much account; my father and my mother killed themselves a-working. All the poor folks in our quarter worked from morning to night, and all of us never had enough to eat and never had nothing to wear except rags.
“‘And I saw lots of folks who wore fine clothes, and lived in fine houses, and drove in fine carriages, and I suppose they had good things to eat too, and they never worked. Perhaps they took the money that was paid for the loads and loads of boxes of shoes that were sent out everyday from the big shoe factory where my father used to work; and for all the piles of things that are made in all the factories in the country.
“‘I used to puzzle a good deal about it when I was only a little shaver, and my mother used to come home sick and tired and say she could take care of me no longer. And I used to lie awake nights, hungry and cold, and keep thinking about what I could do that would pay. It didn’t seem as ’twere any use trying to work.
“‘But there was another thing I could do. I learned it from a lot of fellows I used to get in with. A hard lot, I suppose, they were. They didn’t work, either. But they were always good to me, and they taught me their trade; it was stealing and house-breaking.’
“‘But that was wrong,’ I interposed.
“‘Wrong? Yes, that is what that priest called it, who used to come to me in jail. He used to talk to me by the hour about right and wrong, and a moral sense, and religion, and what not. But I say it was all stuff. You educated folks learn lots of things from books, but I see the things that’s going on about me, and that’s the books I learn from. And when I compare what that priest told me, and what I know is facts, I can’t nowise make it come out even.
“‘I asked that priest that, if one man took all the shoes that two hundred men make in a factory, and sold them, and kept all the money for himself, except just enough to keep those men from starving, what he would call that? He said it was business. Then I told him to just shut up, and that I didn’t want none of his preaching, if it was going to muddle my head all up, so that I would call one kind of stealing business, just because it paid and the police let it alone, and the other kind a crime, because it made most trouble for the rich people, and because the police were after it, and be-cause it didn’t pay, most of the time.’
“Then you mean to say,’ I interrupted, ’that you gave up stealing just because it didn’t pay, not because you repented?’
“‘Yes, sir, that’s about it. I didn’t repent, no, sir, for I haven’t got none of your moral sense, nor none of your religion. I’ve been a fool, that’s likely enough, but it took me some time to find it out.
“‘Look here, I’ll tell you how it is. If a fellow robs a man who works hard for a living, I call that damn mean. None of my pals ever did that, no more did I. A man’s got a right to what he earns his own self. But you can’t make me believe that them rich chaps earn their money; they steal it, that’s what they do,’ — and whack came the reins down on the horses’ backs.
“‘Then what’s the harm if they lose a few of their silver spoons? I’m not sorry for a single one I’ve taken away from them. And I’m not ashamed for having been a thief and a house-breaker, as long as I didn’t know any better. But I tell you what I would be ashamed of: it I had been a-stealing the earnings of a lot of half-starved, ragged women and children, and called it business, as plenty of rich chaps do, who don’t get into jail.
“‘I quit, as I told you before, because I found out it didn’t pay. That lamp of yours, that I tried to steal when I got the shock, was the last thing. I was sick and tired of the whole business before, but when that shock laid me up for a few days, I thought it all out, and, says I to myself, “Damn it! I’ll not steal another cent.”
“‘It’s a dog’s life to lead at best. This sneaking about nights, hiding, being hunted down by the police, shot at, locked up in jail. I tell you it wears a fellow out. And what does he get for it? He can’t live in peace and with decent people; he’s outside of everything. It’s a life that isn’t worth living; there’s plenty at one time, then again there’s starving. Such a thing don’t pay.
“‘It’ll never pay; for when I lay there, kind o’ lame like, from the shock, and got to thinking how unfair it was that them rich thieves, whose stealing is called business, never get hunted down by the police, and locked up or sent to the penitentiary, then I thought: supposing the world were all made over again, different, and there weren’t any more powerfully rich chaps who stole millions, but everybody worked for a living — and, sir, I’m as sure, as sure as I am my name is Ben Hopkins, that everybody can make a decent living by working, and have a nice time besides, if nobody no longer steals nobody’s earnings — well, when everybody really works far a living, then sneaking about, and breaking into houses, and taking away things, will pay less than ever. Everybody would be down on that sort of thing as much as they are now, and with better reason. They would send the police after the fellows, and nobody would want anything to do with them. They would be left out in the cold as much as poor thieves are now. And they would soon find out it didn’t pay — much sooner than I did.
“‘And they would quit without no preaching. That stuff about heaven and hell, and a moral sense, and a conscience, and such like — I tell you they’ll no more listen to it then than they do now; neither will they understand no more about it. And they needn’t neither,’ he added somewhat doggedly in an undertone.
“Just then the car was stopped, and a child of about ten, poorly clad and shivering in the morning air, boarded the front platform with a big basket of clothes.
“Ben Hopkins looked at her for a moment, and, taking his reins in one hand, thrust the other into his coat pocket and pulled out a big woollen muffler. ‘There,’ he said, handing it over to the child, ‘fold it up crosswise and put it over your shoulders for a shawl. It will keep you warm.’
“As he whipped up his horses again, I remarked: ‘But that time, when everybody works for a living and nobody steals, will never come, I fear. Stealing, by way of business, pays too well for “them rich chaps,” as you call them.’
“‘Yes, so they think it does now.’ Whack. ‘But they too will find out some day that it doesn’t. That will be after they have had their shock. It won’t be a little electric shock, like I got, either, but it will come down on them like lightning from heaven.’
“‘What!’ cried I, ‘have you turned Socialist, and do you contemplate throwing a bomb some day, now that you’ve quit the other thing?’
“‘Turned what? Oh! you mean joined them social men that stand around preaching on the Common on Sundays? No, I don’t know nothing much about them, nor nothing at all about bombs. Guess I’d as lief keep on stealing lamps, and get knocked downstairs by them infernal electric wires, than throw one.
“‘But do you think that them miserably poor folks in the world — guess there are getting to be more’n more of them as I see by the papers — d’you think that they will always keep on a-killing themselves working for others, starving, and getting themselves exploded down in the mines, and always be fools and idiots as never once to get so desperate mad as to rise up like thunder and lightning, and smashing up the whole blessed concern? You just bet, that is what’s going to happen some day, unless things are very much changed beforehand. And won’t them millionaires look more frightened than I did, that time I got shocked, and say: “Damn it! that million business don’t pay after all.”’
“‘But when you say,’ I again interrupted him, ’that things will all go to smash some day, unless they are very much changed, have you any idea how a change could be brought about?’
“‘Hm! not much of one. Seems to me that that’s what you educated folks ought to try and foil oat. But if I had any advice to give to anybody, I’d say don’t waste no time preaching and telling folks to be good. It won’t be no use to tell the poor folks to be good, as long as they are starving and freezing. They will get so choke full of venom inside themselves, and grudge against the rich folks, that they will explode like dynamite some day, no matter how much has been preached to them about being good. If a fellow has himself been starving and freezing half his life, he knows something about the poor. And it would pay you rich folks to find out a little more about them too.
“‘Seems to me we would be getting on full well in this world without trying to be good at all. If we would only try to find out what really pays. To do the things that will pay, — that’s the whole question in a nut-shell.’
“‘But, my dear fellow,’ I objected, ‘isn’t that what everybody is now doing? We would be fools If we didn’t.’
“‘And fools you are,’ came the prompt reply. Because you don’t see no further than your noses. Sure enough, everybody is trying to till his pockets with money, as fast as he con, but nobody is very particular where the money conies from, as long as its business. If they would only take the trouble to find out, they would see there is blood on every cent of it; poor men’s blood.
“‘Think of all them fine dressed-up ladies who spend so much money at shopping! Lucky for them they keep so much smelling water about them, or the smell of the money would turn their stomachs.
“‘But the poor man, he’s got a wild beast asleep in his breast somewhere, and one day the beast will wake up and smell the blood, and then — ’
“He stopped short to whip up his horses with somewhat less of calmness than he had been showing hitherto.
“‘And then, you think, the rich man will find out that his way of getting rich didn’t pay after all? Perhaps you are right.’
“You bet! He will find out that nothing pays but for everybody to work, and for everybody to do the fair and square thing by everybody, lest nobody may care to do the fair and square thing by him.
“‘Goodness! and all them fine things preachers talk about, which aren’t nowhere, will take care of themselves. I for my part don’t care nothing about them. But unless you can make this world pay its own expenses somehow, it will go to smash some fine day. That’s plain.’
“We had just drawn up in front of the Beachmont station, and without another word Ben Hopkins bent over to unhook his horses; then, leading them around with one hand, he grasped the little girl’s heavy basket of clothes with the other, and lifted it off the platform, and disappeared to the other end of the car, erect and indifferent like an Indian chief.”
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
And the doctor leaned back in his chair, while his eyes made a tour of the room, to take in the effect of his story.
Julius, the inventor, was whittling away at a piece of wood. His interest had flagged considerably, since he saw there was little chance for a machine.
Albert, the idealist, found himself strangely fluctuating between disappointment and enthusiastic approval.
The disillusionized youth, George, was burning for a chance to study the fellow. What a capital character he would make for a novel!
While Victor, the bookworm, thought him rather level-beaded for one so illiterate, who had not read Herbert Spencer, and knew nothing of the economists.
“In abolishing rent and interest, the last vestiges of old-time slavery, the Revolution abolishes at one stroke the sword of the executioner, the seal of the magistrate, the club of the policeman, the gunge of the exciseman, the erasing-knife of the department clerk, all those insignia of Politics, which young Liberty grinds beneath her heel.” — Proudhon.
The appearance in the editorial column of articles over other signatures than the editor’s initial indicates that the editor approves their central purpose and general tenor, though he does not hold himself responsible for every phrase or word. But the appearance in other parts of the paper of articles by the same or other writers by no means indicates that he disapproves them in any respect, such disposition of them being governed largely by motives of convenience.
New York. — Samuel McWhinney, 2361 Eighth Ave.; Justus H. Schwab, 50 First Street.
Philadelphia. — Henry Heyne, Corner of Tenth and Market Streets.
Detroit. — Herman Reif. 94 Gratiot Ave.
Chicago. — Geo. A. Schilling, 85 Washington Street.
Denver. — Henry Cohen, 1239 Welton Street.
Canton, O. — Standard News Co.
London, England. — A. Tarn, 124 Temple Chambers; C. Attersoll, 44 Ellington Street, Barnsbury.
Melbourne, Australia. — D. A. Andrade, 213 Russell Street.
Anarchy in the Forefront.
The central and foremost of the concrete demands of Anarchism has lately bounded into unexpected prominence. The issue between free money and money monopoly has all at once sprung to a height where it fairly divides the honors with the tariff problem in a struggle for preeminence as the vital question of the hour. By one of those unlooked-for turns with which politics sometimes surprises us, and which suddenly confront us as a result of we know not what hidden causes, the Democratic platform was launched from the Chicago convention upon the country with two lines imbedded in its very heart which lay the party open to the accusation of theft of Anarchistic Thunder! Here they are, in all their seeming innocence:
“We recommend that the prohibitory ten per cent. tax on State Bank issues be repealed.”
Simple, straightforward, unequivocal Anarchism! An admission by a party casting six million votes that the Anarchists are justified in their central claim! An admission in this party’s platform that the first great Anarchistic step, from which all the rest of Anarchism is bound to follow, ought to be immediately taken! How under heaven it ever got there is one of the mysteries. All that the world knows is that the platform came from the committee with this plank in it and went through without a word. The convention builded better than it knew, but some one in the committee or behind it surely knew more than he ever gave away.
For a few weeks this plank escaped the public eye almost as completely as it had the convention’s. It was so tiny, so insignificant, so harmless in appearance, that nobody noticed it. But after a time the more penetrating began to “catch on.” The banker felt his interest threatened. The capitalist had visions of his income vanishing. And the hue-and-cry began. A few Republican editors started it. The attack was not slow in bringing the defence, and then it became plain, not indeed who first fastened the measure upon the Democratic party, but at least who in the Democratic party were its friends. Congressman Harter of Ohio and Congressman Richardson of Tennessee had previously put themselves on record. Now came forward Congressman Josiah Quincy of Massachusetts (who by the way was present at the Round Table Club of Boston when I read my paper on “State Socialism and Anarchism,” in which I lay great stress on the question of free money) to take the same side in his important capacity as a member of the Campaign Committee of the party, as well as his colleague, Congressman John E. Russell, who has lately pronounced himself squarely against all legal tender money whatsoever as undemocratic and invasive. These were promptly reenforced by one of the oldest and ablest of the Democratic editors, David M. Stone, whose remarkable article in the “Forum” has already been noticed in these columns at length, — the article in which he made the fol-lowing significant statement: “The project of repealing the present prohibitory tax of ten per cent. on the issue of State banks is a very hopeful movement in favor of a most welcome change in the financial condition of the country. The tax is in itself unconstitutional. It is not levied for revenue, but for prohibition; and the fundamental law nowhere gives to the Federal Congress the right to suppress by its action the issues of the State banks. There would follow from its repeal the most perfect currency for business purposes the world has ever known.”
In addition to these individual utterances has been heard the authoritative voice of the Democratic National Committee itself. I have before me, as I write, pamphlet No. 7 of its campaign literature, specially prepared and printed by thousands for circulation among the farmers of the West. It bears these headings: “The Farmers and the Currency Question. More Money, Lower Interest, Fewer Mortgages, More Prosperity.” It consists of eight closely printed pages, and is a very cleverly written campaign document. First reciting the just grievances of the farmers against the national bank system, it then proceeds to discuss remedies. It shows that the Republicans have nothing to offer except an extension of the present system for fifty years by the perpetuation of a vast national debt, — that is, by borrowing money that is not needed, in order that certain banks may have a monopoly of issuing notes. To the People’s party the document pays more attention. It shows that free coinage of silver could not add enough to the volume of the currency to afford any relief and would confer little benefit upon any but the mine-owners. It summarizes the arguments against greenbackism, and points out the Socialistic character of the sub-treasury scheme, saying:
There cannot, upon any principle of justice, be claimed for the producers of wheat or cotton any right to government assistance not furnished to the producers of iron or coats. The outcome would be a series of government pawnshops, at which all products not needed for immediate consumption would be stored, with results which can easily be imagined. The sound common sense and love of equal rights which characterizes the American citizen will never tolerate such an absurd extension of the functions of government.
Having shown the determination of the Republicans to maintain private monopoly in banking and the intention of the People’s party to substitute public monopoly, the document contrasts with this the individualistic — that is, the Anarchistic — attitude of the Democratic party on the financial question and the means by which it proposes to satisfy the just demand for more money without resorting to tyranny. It tells us in the following words the reasons why the free money plank was placed in the platform:
The lenders and members of the Democratic party believe that the farmer’s demand for more money is a just one. They believe that our currency system should be sufficiently elastic to adjust itself to the growing business interests of the country, and that therefore the right to issue notes should not be confined to a privileged few, but ought under proper safeguards to be extended to all banks. They believe that the present system is unjust, monopolistic, and oppressive, inasmuch as it uses the power of the Federal Government to tax out of existence the notes of State banks. They believe that its establishment was a mistake, its maintenance a blunder, and its abolition certain. They believe that not only the farmers, but merchants, manufacturers, workingmen, every class and individual in the nation, would benefit by the increased prosperity which would at once flow from an improved financial system. They acknowledge that the economic issues of the campaign are “more money and less taxes,” and they are determined to secure both blessings for the people by abolishing the war taxes now levied on money and on goods.
And much more of the same sort, which I would quote but for lack of space, — among other things a specific recognition of the truth of the Anarchistic claim that all products have an equal right with gold and silver to representation in the currency.
Of course it was to be expected that in answer to this excellent doctrine the old chestnut would be trotted out, — the cry of “wild-cat banks.” But no friend of free money looked for such good fortune as the giving of the post of honor to this hackneyed cry by the chief of the Republican party. President Harrison, in discussing and vehemently attacking the Democratic free money plank at the very opening of his letter of acceptance, has completed the work, begun by the Democrats, of causing the campaign to hinge on the question of freedom versus restriction in finance. Close at his heels follows Blaine, with his letter narrowing the issues to two, — protection or free trade, national banks or “wild-cat” banks.
So unexpectedly serious has the situation thus become that the Democrats hardly know whether to fight or run away. Of course those who were instrumental in quietly springing this issue want to fight and are fighting. But other sections of the party are in a panic. Matthew Marshall, the New York “Sun’s” crack financial editor, writes a column and a half in the pages of that professedly Democratic paper, in which he says:
As a good Democrat, desiring the success of my party in the coming fall elections, I must confess that I regret its having been even apparently committed to a measure which seems to me to be so unwise as the addition to our already redundant paper money of a mass of State bank notes unlimited in amount and necessarily of varying current values. The section in the Chicago platform which does this must, I think, have been adopted without due consideration, and I hope that Mr. Cleveland, in his forthcoming letter of acceptance, will not only not give it his approval, but distinctly repudiate it.
The hope is probably vain. I have the very beet authority for stating that Mr. Fairchild, who was Secretary of the Treasury under Cleveland and is reasonably sure to hold that post again in the event of Cleveland’s election, is heartily in favor of the free-banking plank, which makes it justifiable to suppose that Cleveland holds a similar view. But even if he does not, it is difficult to see how, in a letter of acceptance, he can repudiate a plank so unequivocal.
No, the Democrats are in for it, and they must face the music, at least to the end of the campaign. For the next two months they are virtually Anarchists. They are shouters for that fundamental freedom from which all the other freedoms are sure to flow, — for free money, the necessary precursor and sure guarantee of free trade, free land, free ideas, free thought, free speech, free love, and free life.
Is the Democratic party worthy of so grand a mission? Can it be faithful to it? I do not believe it. I dare not trust all that is dearest to me in such hands. Capital controls the Democratic party as truly as the Republican. The earnest students and economists who enter its ranks are allowed by the money power to have their say and their way for a time, but that power knows how to make itself felt when the critical hour shall strike. Therefore, while I am glad to see this plank in the Democratic platform on account of the discussion it arouses, I shall be sorry if the task of establishing freedom in finance falls to Democratic hands. They will botch the job, and may set back freedom for half a century longer. Already I see signs of this, even in the campaign pamphlet from which I have quoted. In describing the new banking system which it would substitute for the present system, it insists that each State will require every bank note to be redeemable in coin on demand and every bank to maintain a specie reserve equal to twenty-five per cent. of its circulation. Such a restriction as this would prove fatal. If a bank promises to pay coin on demand, the value of its promise depends upon its ability to keep it; now, if it is able to keep only a fourth of its promises at one time, those promises are sure to depreciate whenever it is called on to keep more than a fourth of them. The “Century Magazine” not tong ago printed a series of articles recounting the failure of “cheap money experiments.” Now nearly every failure that it cited was due to the professed convertibility of the paper into coin. The same fate awaits the system proposed by the Democratic party. But the discredit of the failure, instead of falling as it ought upon the Democratic misconception of free banking, will be visited entirely upon the principle of freedom in finance; and half a century hence, when the stricken principle has recovered sufficiently to lift its head again, its champions will be referred to the failure of the “wild-cat banks” instituted during Cleveland’s administration. No system of banking can be called free unless all persons are allowed to establish such banks of issue as they choose and to issue such notes as they choose, the people of course being free to accept or reject the notes offered. Any system which stops short of this limits competition, and the whole virtue of the free-banking idea consists in the absence of any limit to competition.
Therefore I say to the Anarchists: Beware of the Democratic party! Do not entrust to it the execution of your ideas. Danger that way lies!
My friend Reitzel of “Der Arme Teufel” erroneously attributes to J. W. Sullivan the epithet “picturesque humbug” applied to Walt Whitman in the editorial columns of the “Twentieth Century.” Mr. Sullivan has enough to answer for without being burdened with the sins of Joseph Fitzgerald, his chief. We can afford, I think, Comrade Reitzel, to be just to those humbugs who are not even picturesque.
The Beginning of Civilization.
Man outgrows like a garment and throws off
Law, which is custom armed; then custom next,
That levelling instinct of the commonplace;
Last righteousness, which is the coarse cocoon
Wherein man’s soul bred wings for flying free.
Then love shoots forth, fragrant and white, front lust,
As from its root in mud the water-lily.
Man’s long, long term of barbarism ends,
Civilization and true life begin.
Harry Lyman Koopman.
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.