“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.
Liberty’s readers having expressed a desire to read the criticisms of “Instead of a Book,” I shall begin printing them at an early date.
I learn that Gen. M. M. Trumbull of Chicago is preparing an answer to the article recently written for the “Century Magazine” by a murderer in defence of his crime. He will undoubtedly do it well. There is, in fact, but one man in the country in a better position than Gen. Trumbull to reply to Gary. That man is John P. Altgeld, governor of Illinois and therefore jailer of Fielden, Schwab, and Neebe, and his answer should be made, not in words, but by act. The release of his three prisoners, whom he knows to be most unjustly deprived of their liberty, would be the most stunning rebuke that Gary possibly could receive and a most, commendable example of real “propaganda by deed.” But for four months Governor Altgeld has held the keys, and still these innocent men are behind the bars. He is fast losing the confidence of those who had supposed him to be an honest man. Gen. Trumbull should fasten upon Governor Altgeld his share of the responsibility for the great crime that was begun in 1887 and is not yet ended.
The question at issue between J. Wm. Lloyd and myself, which he discusses in this number of Liberty, is one of fact simply. My charge is, and was, that the use of the word “duty” to express the necessity of “doing something disagreeable to escape something more disagreeable, or to win something more agreeable,” is a departure from the customary and traditional meaning of the word, and therefore misleading and virtually dishonest. The essence of Mr. Lloyd’s answer is that such use of the word is not a departure. Purely a question of fact, then. Now, to prove his case, Mr. Lloyd cites the Christian, and his view of duty. I accept the test. “The Christian,” says Mr. Lloyd, “always recognizes that he can ‘neglect his duties’ and take the consequences.” This very statement shows at once that the Christian looks upon duty as independent of consequences and unrelated thereto. The Christian does not recognize that he may rightfully neglect his duties and take the consequences; he simply recognizes that he can do so. That is to say, he makes the consequences only a penalty of violation of obligation, not a necessary condition of obligates. To him the obligation exists repudiate of consequences. Let Mr. Lloyd ask the first orthodox Christian he may meet whether, if there were no hell, he would consider himself relieved of his Christian duty to tell the truth. He will surely answer in the negative. He will declare that he owes it to God to tell the truth, no matter whether God punishes lying or not. He will say: In a case where it is disagreeable to tell the truth, I am under a moral obligation to do this disagreeable thing, even though I am not confronted with the alternative of a more disagreeable thing. To the Christian, then, duty is self-denial pure and simple. Therefore, when Mr. Lloyd uses the word “duty” to mean something that necessarily involves self-gratification, he departs from the Christian and customary meaning, and my criticism stands.
Money and Capital.
To the Editor of Liberty:
In No. 266 of your paper I notice that my friend Schilling has taken me to task for having stated that money is not capital. I did not make the statement off-handed, but wrote it when I felt that I commanded a good view of the field.
Let it first be understood that, when I made the statement which he quotes at the outset of his article, I did not intend to imply that all money was an instrument by which to secure capital. I had in mind men who were on the point of engaging in industry and were paying interest for the use of money. This explanation has no direct bearing upon the point at issue, but may obviate possible complications.
He says “that, if” I “had asked myself the simple question why it is that this instrument possesses the power to exchange itself for capital,” my “answer perhaps would have been because it represents . . . wealth.” I cannot understand how he can ever expect me to ask myself such an unnecessary question. My whole contention is that money possesses the power to exchange itself for capital for the very reason that it is a general representative of wealth. As well might he ask me to choose which route I will go home by after I am home.
He seems to think that I regard nothing as capital that does not have the power “in and of itself” to produce more wealth. If I were guilty of such a statement, I would be forced to regard the laborer as capital, for only he is able to produce more wealth “in and of itself.” (That this is the proper construction of his understanding of my understanding of capital is borne out by his attempt to make me exclude machinery from its territory.) What I really said was that only that is capital that directly aids in the production of substances.
His illustration of A with $100,000 misses the issue entirely. If he imagines that he has proven money capital by reducing it to a “simpler form” when he makes A buy products with which he cancels his obligations, he has shot awfully wide of the mark. All that he has shown by it is that money has an exchange power. But, he says, “as money is the essence of all these things combined, why should it be excluded from the category of capital?” Here he starts from pure assumption. Money is no more the essence of these things than words are the essence of things. This position would fit in very nicely with the old Pythagorean assumption that number is the essence of all things. It seems strange that Mr. Schilling should be so positively short-sighted as to think that I “regard money merely as a tool for the exchange of values.” He continually loses sight of my side of the point at issue. While money is a tool for the exchange of things, it is qualified for that purpose because it is a representative of wealth, and the fact that it is a representative makes it an evidence of credit. If he had really discovered that I neglected to appreciate its quality as an evidence of credit, be still would be as far from proving his case as ever.
It seems to me that the fog Mr. Schilling has gotten into is due to the fact that he confounds that which stands for a thing with the thing itself. Wm. Trinkaus.
This is April 11, just a month since you wrote your criticism of my use of the word “duty,” and I am thus late in reply merely because I have been too busy to even glance at Liberty. And even now I expect not to be able to do the matter, or myself, justice.
Your criticism is kind, but seems to me sophistical in implying that I use “duty” as a synonym for “self-gratification” pure and simple. This is very likely unconscious on your part, but nevertheless unjust. There is always self-gratification in the fulfillment of duty, that is true; but it is also always, or nearly so, through what we call a process of self-denial. To most people the self-denial is most evident, wherefore they kick.
You say “duty implies obligation.” That is true, and therefore duty implies self-gratification because, if self-gratification were not considered, no obligation could oblige. You cannot oblige a man to do anything, except in so far as you make him fear some pain or hope some benefit. It is by its pressure on egoism that the lever obligation works. No duty was ever imposed that could not be avoided, did the rebel choose to take the consequences. For a man who “does his duty” is not a tool moved by an irresistible force (if so, all discussion of the matter were useless), but a man who is, to a certain extent, a “free agent,” obliging himself to do something disagreeable to escape something more disagreeable, or to win something more agreeable. So the term “duty” has always been used, and as just such conduct has always existed, and will always necessarily exist, I claim the term can never become obsolete. Providing that the Christian’s premises are correct, he is perfectly reasonable as an egoist in performing his “Christian duties.” They appear absurd to us merely because we do not believe his God exists or ever issued such commands. But the Christian always recognizes that he can “neglect his duties” and take the consequences. And the Anarchist is largely under the same obligations, and by them urged to perform many of the same duties as the Christian, and in precise analogy the obligation is never, I think, quite irresistible. If a man lives alone, he has all sorts of duties which nature obliges him to perform toward himself, and, if he relates himself in any way with his fellows, he at once finds himself naturally obliged to the performance of certain duties toward them.
As with greatness, there are duties we are born to, duties we assume, and duties thrust upon us.
The whole matter of contract is one of duty.
All coöperation and association imply duty.
I am astonished that the matter should ever be called in question.
For example, Brother Tucker, when you print this, you will do your duty by me as a friend, a comrade, an editor, a just opponent, and a fair and courteous gentleman. J. Wm. Lloyd.
“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 Lucky Three.
Below is given the result of the fifth award of books under Liberty’s plan of giving away three books a week:
Charles Fuerste, Guttenberg, Iowa. — “Involuntary Idleness,” by Hugo Bilgram.
Miss Alice A. Little, Newbury, Mass. — “Instead of a Book,” by Benj. R. Tucker.
A. A. Soreng, Marvin, Grant Co., South Dakota. — “Tales of Two Countries,” by Alexander L. Kielland.
On receiving from the foregoing successful applicants orders to forward their respective books, the books will be promptly sent, provided the publisher’s list price does not exceed $1.00.
Iteration and Reiteration.
Against misrepresentation so baseless and absurd as that into which pure ignorance betrays most of the newspaper and magazine critics of Anarchism it is doubtless futile to protest. We must bow to the inevitable. Evidence, clear exposition, emphatic statement, precise definition, do not, of course, cease to be desirable and necessary from the fact that many read without comprehending and comment without knowing. But the writer may satisfy all scientific requirements and yet utterly fail of effect: the reader must be in the proper frame of mind, and in possession of certain qualifications, to receive the impressions and assimilate the new information imparted to him. Those who are as ignorant as the average newspaper “reviewer,” or as illogical as — the authors of “Government Analyzed” and their panegyrists, are naturally impervious to the most exact reasoning; and, if they once form an idea on a certain subject, it cannot be dislodged by any proof of unsoundness. Perversion from such should not annoy one.
What really is annoying is that writers usually both intelligent and fair so often lack the alertness of mind requisite to the profitable handling of new doctrines and unfamiliar views, and the faculty of penetrating to the essential and fundamental. When one inspires you with confidence and then miserably fails, the disappointment is bitter; when you find that you have wasted your efforts even on those you regard with some respect, you are apt to indulge in curses of the deepest kind.
These reflections — as the familiar phrase runs have been suggested to me by a comparison between the grotesque blunders of the reviewers of “Instead of a Book” and the irrelevant and gratuitous criticisms passed upon my own article in the “Arena” by the editor of the Springfield “Republican.” For the honor of a column critical notice, I am duly grateful; and it is but a poor and dubious compliment to the “Republican” to say that it successfully avoids all of the grosser and more common errors current among critics of Anarchism. But the fallacies and misconceptions against which the “Republican” has not been able to guard are neither few nor trivial; and this fact, taken in connection with the other fact that the article reviewed by the “Republican” really anticipated and disposed of the objections alleged by it, cannot but be discouraging. A criticism of the essential and real propositions advanced by me is always worth considering when made by a paper like the “Republican”; but surely it is a stale, flat, and unprofitable undertaking to follow its remarks on things I neither said nor intended, or to patiently correct some erroneous notions of secondary points.
After noting my distinction between so-called Communist-Anarchism and individualist Anarchism, the “Republican” says:
All that Anarchists of the Yarros type ask is to be let alone. Personal liberty is all they ask for; that is, liberty to do just as they choose, at all times and under all circumstances.
Well, now, this is really too much. Considering that the article was written mainly to show that the “Anarchists of the Yarros type” do not demand “liberty to do just as they choose, at all times and under all circumstances,” to declare, after all, that they do demand such unlimited liberty is to invite an explosion of impatience. Is the “Republican” so dull as to infer an affirmative where a negative is elaborately argued? No; it is guilty of no such flagrant offence. It does not misunderstand the position so absurdly; but unfamiliarity with the ideas and the terms betrays it into loose expressions. The sentence next to those just given is faultless.
Equal freedom, the freedom of every man to do what he wills, provided he does not infringe on the like freedom of any other man, is the Anarchist ideal as set forth by this writer.
This, of course, flatly contradicts the preceding statements about our demanding liberty to do as we please at all times and under all circumstances, but the “Republican” makes the contradictory allegations in the same breath without realizing the discrepancy.
The ideal of the Anarchists is an attractive one, allows the “Republican,” and it goes on to ruminate as follows:
Most of us would be glad to live under conditions dominated by the golden rule even in its negative form, but such a state of society is practically impossible to human nature as it is today. When men have reached that stage of development where they are a law unto themselves, and selfish disregard of others’ rights is as impossible to them as stealing is to an honest man, then the Anarchist ideal may be realized.
These wise observations are somewhat perplexing to those blessed with the truly divine (because rare) gift of logic. The gracious admission that “the Anarchist ideal may be realized” when “men have reached that stage of development where they are a law unto themselves,” etc., is singularly inept, seeing that the Anarchist ideal is not “conditions dominated by the golden rule even in its negative form,” but conditions under which coercion and punishment are imposed on none but those who refuse to be dominated by the “golden rule in its negative form,” — the principle of equal liberty. The Anarchists say to the “Republican” and the rest of the world: “Current notions and practices are evil-breeding and vicious; needless restrictions are enforced, and social development impeded by various prohibitions of individual activities. Let us have perfect freedom within the bounds of equal liberty, and let us restrain or punish none except those who are actually guilty of an anti-social act, such as attack on person or property.” The “Republican” pretends to understand the plea, and, by way of objection to the proposal on the score of practicability, urges this: “Attractive as your ideal is, we cannot realize it until men become just and honest and free from temptation to do evil. As long as men invade and transgress, we must continue to coerce and punish.” Whom? we interrupt the solemn “Republican”; coerce and punish whom? The invaders and breakers of the principle of equal liberty? Then this is precisely what the Anarchistic proposition amounts to. What they say is exactly this, — that, as long as men kill and steal and otherwise invade, provisions for the protection of life, liberty, and property must be made, and crime must be duly punished. Where, then, is the disagreement; what, then, is the objection to the Anarchist proposition? If, however, the “Republican” means that we must continue to coerce and punish non-invaders, men ready and willing to abide by the equal-liberty rule, then it devolves upon it to show why. It certainly requires elaborate argument to convince a rational mind that non-invaders must be punished because society is not free from invaders! As long as A and B, invaders, exist, it is impossible to confer freedom on C and D, non-invaders! Perhaps it is; but the point has to be argued and demonstrated; it is surely revolting and monstrous when put in this bald, bare form of assertion.
A little reflection shows that the “Republican” does not imply that the whole world must be turned into a prison because some men have criminal tendencies. Its remarks are not revolting; they are simply inept. The elucidations and careful distinctions of the article reviewed by the “Republican” were so far wasted on it that it actually understood Anarchism to be simply a proposal to abolish all written laws against crime. This supposition makes its objection intelligible and intelligent; but it is scarcely worth while to stop to make any objection to a proposal of this kind. I admire the “Republican’s” patience, forbearance, and liberality. The most ardent reformer would be pardoned for declining to entertain or listen to any such irrelevant and inconsequential proposal as that which the “Republican” seems to have imputed to us. What we need now is discussion of remedies for great social evils and wrongs, not idle academic talk about remote possibilities and points of minor importance.
That the “Republican” has completely misconceived my fundamental proposition clearly appears from the following passage:
There are multitudes of goad people now to whom the prohibitions and penalties of the existing law are meaningless, because the offences it forbids are practically impossible to them. If all people were thus superior to the statutes, they might safely be abolished, and a long step toward the “personal and equal freedom” of the Anarchist be taken. On the other hand, these good people who are thus a law unto themselves are as free now as they could be under any social system. Government or the criminal law does not hamper their action. They are not restrained of their liberty by being forbidden to do that which they have no desire to do.
Truly, if the good people who respect the liberty of their fellows are not in the least hampered by law and government, and if, as we unhesitatingly admit, the bad people, the invaders, cannot wisely be given full liberty to carry on their nefarious practices, what theoretical or practical significance can Anarchism claim? So far as the Anarchism which the “Republican” has in mind is concerned, the answer is, no significance at all. But how is the Anarchism set forth in the “Arena” article affected by the above argument? That article was a protest and a plea on behalf of the good man, its contention being that the good man is hampered, restrained, outraged, and injured by existing law and government, and that to this unnecessary and unjustifiable coercion and persecution of the good man most of our social and economic evils are primarily due. That article demanded the emancipation, not of the invader, but of the good man, and the emancipation of the good was argued to be necessary for society and to contain the solution of the social problem. The “Republican’s” bland and innocent assumption that the good man is as free now as he could be under any social system is a most extraordinary petitio principii. Let me give a brief extract from the “Arena” article for the purpose of showing how little excuse there is for the “Republican’s” droll misapprehension:
If the government should attempt to murder a citizen against whom no crime was alleged, it would certainly cause a revolution, it being universally felt that murder does not cease to be a crime when committed by public authorities. Yet when government breaks the law of equal freedom by taxing men against their consent, and thus denying the right to property; or when it imposes a “duty” on imports, and prohibits men from exchanging freely with people of other lands, and thereby tramples upon the right of free exchange; or when it passes laws in restriction of banking and the issuing of circulating notes, in distinct contradiction of the rights to free industry, free exchange, and free contract; or when it compels the observance of religious holidays in spite of the right to free belief; or when it monopolizes the letter-carrying industry regardless of the prohibition of such action by the rightful freedom of industry, — the great majority of men do not dream of interposing any objection.
This passage refers to and condemns certain legal prohibitions of freedoms at once vital and legitimate, and manifestly the good man is as much hampered by these prohibitions as the bad man. Would not the good man be freer under a social system in which these various prohibitions did not exist? Good men are not restrained by being forbidden to do that which they have no desire to do, says the “Republican.” True; but good men do desire freedom of trade, or freedom of banking, or voluntary taxation, or the abolition of compulsory religious holidays; hence the laws that clash with their desires do hamper them. The “Republican” ought to understand the matter without further elaboration. The high tariff law is not to its liking, and it has been demanding tariff reform or free trade. Does not a high tariff law hamper the good man? If not, why have the Democratic and independent press been raising Cain all these years? Manifestly they do not feel that the good man is as free now as under any social conditions. They think society would be much happier without a high tariff, and hence their demand for freer trade. Now, we think society requires not only the abolition of tariff laws, but the abolition of many other laws that hamper still more seriously the good men, such as the banking and currency laws, for example. We want a social system under which the good man would be perfectly free, and under which the bad man would be punished only for his actual breaches of the principles of social life. The criticism of the present system is not that it punishes crime, but that it interdicts and punishes many things and acts not really criminal at all, thereby hampering all men and bringing all sorts of evils into existence.
The “Republican’s” contradictions and misconceptions do not end here. Let me quote it further:
The Anarchist wishes to be governed only by ethical rules and be himself the judge of what those rules are, and their interpreter. Whatever government there is — and some is conceded to be necessary — would be founded on mutual consent and be binding on no one any longer than his consent should be continued. There must be no such thing as enforcing laws under the Anarchistic system, — if it is not a contradiction in terms to speak of Anarchy and system together. The Anarchist society would have only the tie of mutual need of protection from foes without and within to hold it together. No other laws save those absolutely essential to preserve social life would be tolerated. Violations of these laws would be punished by voluntary coöperation. If any chose to refuse to coöperate and preferred to individualize all by himself, he might do so to his heart’s content and no one should say him nay.
Again making proper allowance for confusion due to unfamiliarity with the subject treated, it appears that two errors are firmly rooted in the mind of my critic, — the notion that the Anarchist insists on being the judge and interpreter of the ethical rules by which he is to be governed, and the assumption that government by consent means that rules are binding only while consent to belong to the voluntary association for defence continues. It is not clear how these errors could have withstood the tacit and direct asseverations to the contrary with which the “Arena” article is replete. How can a logical thinker be so careless as to say in the same breath that Anarchists wish to abide by the principle of equal liberty, and that each Anarchist contemplates being the judge and interpreter of the principles of his conduct? Equal liberty is a scientific conception, and a willingness to abide by it amounts to more than a readiness to act on one’s own professed notion of what is due to others. According to the “Republican” we are guilty of the absurdity of confessing ourselves helpless before murderers, say, who pretend that their ethical rules make murder a legitimate act. To punish them despite such protestations is plainly to refuse to permit them to be their own judges and interpreters of ethical principles. What criminal would be idiotic enough to declare himself deserving of punishment, if he knew that he could escape by asserting his criminal act to be right in his own eyes? No, we do not propose to ask a man convicted of a breach of equal freedom whether he approves of the course taken with him or not. Nor would it matter whether he still belonged to, or even joined, the voluntary association. It is not necessary to be a member to entitle one to the privileges of punishment for offences committed against any human being. The man who voluntarily joins the association and supports it can claim the protection and can count on the coöperation of his fellow-members; while he who remains outside will have no protection except as an exercise of beneficence and humanity, having no claim to protection. Equal liberty would be enforced in all cases and under all circumstances, unless special considerations called for the exercise of mercy and generosity. Members and non-members alike would have to respect equality of liberty and to submit to punishment for anti-social conduct. How the “Republican” could have formed any other idea of our design is a mystery. Evidently prepossession is stronger than the logical faculty.
Finally, the “Republican” reiterates the old, flat, tiresome charge of overlooking the centripetal forces in society, in the following tirade:
Anarchism is thus the apotheosis of the individual, as Socialism is the exaltation of the State or whole body of society above the individual. It is a common but surprising mistake to confound these two theories of society, while they are in fact mutually destructive. Socialism declares that the whole is greater than its parts, while Anarchism reverses the saying and makes the individual unit of society the greater. In a sense Anarchism is egoism run to seed. It is selfishness of an intense order. It resolves the human race into individual atoms, each active in its own little orbit and touching its neighbors only to clash. It has a deep reaching truth at its heart, for there is a sense in which the development of the individual is the one important end for which society exists. It has also this further truth, that the farther this development of the individual is carried, the greater his need for freedom. At the same time Anarchism ignores the equally great if not greater complementary truth of the solidarity of the human race, — that men must advance together if at all, and that no man can possibly live to himself alone.
Where, pray, is the least shred of evidence for all these assumptions? More liberty is urged by us precisely because we realize that men would “advance together” more steadily, surely, and rapidly than under prevailing conditions, because the atoms would clash less, and because more liberty for the individual means greater progress and order in society. If we are in error; if less liberty is demanded by social interests rather than more, as some actually maintain, — then there is an important issue raised for consideration, and the citation of evidence is in order. But it is time the silly and stale talk about society being overlooked by Anarchists should be abandoned. It is assumed that order, profitable coöperation, and harmonious social development are desirable. The question is solely and simply as to the means. Equal liberty is offered and defended as the first essential condition of social happiness and stability, and as such let it be discussed. Instead of saying, contrary to fact, that partisans of equal liberty ignore social needs or interests, let it be shown that equal liberty would result disastrously to society. Nobody proposes or wishes to ignore society, and nobody does ignore it. Some fancy that the road to advancement lies through restriction of liberty, and some argue that the mother of social order and progress is liberty. The question is, which side has the better case. V. Y.
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.