“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.
“If I were twenty-five years old,” said Zola recently to Paul Adam, “I would become an Anarchist.” Ibsen tells us that Collectivism is Zola’s creed; it seems, at any rate, that Anarchism is his confession.
Abram S. Hewitt says that Southern congressmen have degenerated. For that matter so have Northern congressmen, it being the nature of the congressional function to produce degeneracy both in those who exercise it and in those over whom it is exercised. But I observe that no Northern congressman has shown the wisdom evinced by Mr. Hooker, of Mississippi, who has introduced an amendment to the postal laws providing that printed matter shall be sent through the mails at one uniform rate, no matter who sends it, whence it comes, whether once sent or sent any number of times, and that no statement shall be required concerning it except that it is printed matter. If this amendment should become law, it would no longer cost me one cent to deliver a copy of Liberty to a street and number in New York City, where it is published, while costing me only one-ninth of a cent to deliver a copy at a street and number in San Francisco, three thousand miles away. The New York “Sun” calls Mr. Hooker’s bill “a unique piece of legislation.” Yes, it is unique, in that it is sensible, — too sensible, in fact, to pass.
A contest for a vacancy in the French Academy was lately decided by the election of Heredia, one of the most artistic of French poets, over Zola. Heredia’s candidacy had been for months a matter of public knowledge, had been widely commented upon in the French press, and had received some notice in the American press. Every scholar who pretends to keep abreast with the march of things foreign was well aware that this poet was Zola’s opponent. But there is another Heredia in France, an insignificant politician, who once happened to be Minister of Public Works. When the Academic election had taken place, a cable despatch appeared in the New York “Sun” announcing that the ex-Minister of Public Works had defeated Zola. Now, it is a commonly-accepted proposition (in the “Sun” office) that the verdict of history upon all foreign problems, complications, and doings whatsoever is anticipated in the columns of the “Sun.” It discusses and weighs them in ponderous editorials, which, as Ruskin said of Mill’s definition of wealth, “sound so very like satisfactory information that one is ashamed, after reading them, to ask for any more.” Accordingly, a day or two after printing its cable despatch, the “Sun” heaped its best editorial ridicule upon the action of the French Academy. Educated people all over the city had not finished laughing at its blunder when another editorial paragraph followed, beginning thus: “We have received from Paris [probably a lie, it being much more likely that some less ignorant subscriber had called the editor down] a most welcome and satisfactory correction of a singular piece of Parisian news printed in this country last week. We took occasion the other day to moralize upon this news, which was to the effect that a certain humdrum ex-functionary of the government had been elected to the French Academy over that piquant novelist, M. Émile Zola. The thing seemed incredible and grotesque; but, as no American can ever tell what the Parisian immortals may think when there is a vacant fauteuil to be filled in the Academy, we could do nothing else than comment in a guarded way upon the peculiarity of the selection.” Now, to say nothing of the fact that day and night would have continued to succeed one another if the “Sun,” left in doubt by this “incredible” news, had said nothing at all about it, and to say nothing of the further fact that, had it been a well-informed journal, this news would have left it in no doubt at all, since a knowledge of Heredia’s candidacy would have enabled it to perceive the gross blunder, it is the height of impudence on the “Sun’s” part to claim that it made its comment “in a guarded way.” Observe these words from its original paragraph: “His [Zola’s] failure in the election of this week was even more mortifying to his vanity than his failure in the election of last year; for the successful candidate was even more contemptible in his eyes than any of the other candidates who have triumphed over him, one after another. Think of a humdrum ex-Minister of Public Works defeating the author of a hundred [sic] novels, and winning immortality, along with a yearly salary of fifteen hundred francs, at his expense!” Anything “guarded” about that? And then, in its later paragraph, the “Sun” goes on: “We now have the pleasure of receiving the knowledge that there are at least two notable personages of the name of Heredia in France, one of whom was formerly Minister of Public Works, while the other is the delightful middle-aged poet of ‘Les Trophees,’ and that it was the latter of these who was chosen by the Academicians in preference to the indecorous Zola M. Jose Maria de Heredia, the new Academician, a native of Cuba, is a sonneteer of rare merit, a most worthy scholar, and a deep student in at least one branch of historical research. He is an honor to the French Academy. He is a marvel.” What, pray, is the value of the “Sun’s” laudatory verdict upon the work of a man of whose existence, by its own confession, it has but just heard for the first time? Evidently it is taken on trust from some other authority, just as the editor took on trust the original cable despatch, knowing of his own knowledge nothing whatever. He simply made a ridiculous blunder, and followed it with a frantic effort to conceal his self-exposure. But why, it may be asked; does Liberty go out of its way to tear off the covering? Because it is well to let light into the hollow pretensions of a journal which, from behind a mask of liberty hideously distorted, surpasses all others in the virulence and malice of its assaults upon the cause of labor.
Prefatory to his report of an extended interview with Voltairine de Cleyre, a New York “Sun” reporter makes this statement, after referring to a lecture which she had delivered in New York some months before: “The ‘Sun’ sent a reporter to find this young woman and learn something of her history, but she had disappeared as suddenly and, seemingly, as mysteriously as she had turned up. And, although, as it now appears, she made no attempt to conceal herself, yet no one to whom the ‘Sun’ reporter applied during those two months could tell where she lived.” This does not speak well for the ability of the “Sun’s” staff. A reporter starting from Newspaper Row in search of Voltairine de Cleyre and returning after twenty-four hours without knowing even her residence should have been discharged on the spot as utterly incompetent. Such a man would instantly have found employment as a Tammany detective to hunt for confidence-men on the Bowery, gamblers in the Tenderloin, and thieves in the City Hall. He never would have discovered any, and his employers would have been the better pleased. I suspect, however, that the reporter is no such ass as the sentence quoted would make him appear in the eyes of those who know that Miss de Cleyre, poetess though she is, is really prosaic in her accessibility, but that the words were inserted in his “copy” by the editor with a view to lending an interest to the object of the story by surrounding her with an atmosphere of mystery that does not belong to her, and to impressing the gullible public with the idea that the searching rays of the inevitable “Sun” must eventually fall even on a needle hidden in a hay-stack.
Little Jack Horner
Sat in a corner,
Eating his Christmas pie;
He put in his thumb,
And he pulled out a plum,
And he said: “What a brave boy am I?”
“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.
Who are Plutocrats?
In an article in the February “North American Review” which asks and discusses the question, “Are We a Plutocracy?” W. D. Howells takes the following position: “No one makes money at a trade, or in the same sense at an art; properly speaking, money is not made at all in the trades or in the arts, though in the arts a great deal more money may sometimes be earned than is made in business. But business is the only means of making money, and in these days it may be fairly said that no man gets rich by his own labor, that no man gets rich except by the labor of others.”
The social question, then, is one of earning versus making, is it? I trust that Mr. Howells is not trying to excuse by a phrase the plutocrat that is in him. No man gets rich by his own labor? How, then, did Emile Zola get rich? How did Adelina Patti get rich? How did Mr. Howells get rich? Are any of these employers? Not at all.
There are two classes that get rich. One consists of the mere interest and rent receivers, who do no work and who do indeed get rich by the work of others; the other consists of a fraction of the business men, of the artists, of the littérateurs, and of the professional men, who work and who get rich by obtaining a big price for their work. I draw this distinction, not to clear the business men of the charge of plutocracy which Mr. Howells brings against them, but to place the charge also upon the successful artists, littérateurs, and professional men. ‘It is just as plutocratic to get a monopoly price for one’s own work as to get, through monopoly, a part of the product of others’ work.
And all those who get rich by their own work get monopoly prices for it. Under freedom they could not get these prices. The business men get big wages because of banking laws, tariff laws, and patent laws; littérateurs get big wages because of copyright laws; some professional men get big wages because of patent laws, others because of medical laws, others because of the extreme prevalence of evils and superstitions growing out of and sustained by the social conditions engendered by monopoly and authority in general; and not even the artists form an exception, for free conditions would result in the multiplication of artists, thus preventing them from getting a monopoly price for their work.
Cease your altrurian dreaming, Mr. Howells; stop your railing at competition; no longer sing the praises of monopoly, even though it makes you what you are; and join the Anarchists in their effort to make competition free, universal, and perfect. Only thus can you abolish plutocracy. T.
Is Interest the Reward of Ability?
Those Anarchists who, while opposing interest on capital, uphold property in ideas should read W. H. Mallock’s criticism of “Fabian Economics” in the February number of the “Fortnightly Review.”
Mr. Mallock maintains that the Fabian distinction (a distinction made by all Socialists) between the idle shareholder and the working superintendent of production is ill-founded; that the dividend paid to the one and the salary paid to the other are equally the reward of ability, — that is, of brain-labor, — which reward the Fabians approve; that the proper reward of ability is the difference between the total product and that part of it which common labor could have produced without the aid of ability; that the aid thus furnished by ability takes the form mainly of invention and device, and hence is perpetual in its nature, increasing the productivity, not only of today’s labor, but of all future labor in the same line; that the reward, therefore, must not stop with today’s salary, but must continue as long as this aid is made use of; and that the idle shareholders in receipt of dividends are simply receiving the continued salaries of the men of ability who were their ancestors.
It would be interesting to observe the effort of a believer in property in ideas to overthrow this argument. Not, however, that it is sound; the Fabians, who deny property in ideas, as I do and as, in my view, all Anarchists logically must, will have no trouble in controverting it; but from the standpoint of property in ideas it is incontrovertible.
Mr. Mallock’s fallacy is to be found in his measure of the proper reward of ability. The reward of the able man, the man of brains, the inventor, is not in equity equal to the added product resulting from the invention, as becomes manifest at once as soon as it is seen that to admit the inventor’s claim to such a reward is to deprive everybody else for all time of the chance to invent — that is, discover — the same thing for themselves. To oblige all other men to part with such an opportunity in favor of a single individual, whose sole virtue is that, perhaps by ability, perhaps by accident, he “got there first,” is as inequitable as to oblige them to part with the prospective use of all land or any other natural force or opportunity in favor of the original discoverer.
The proper reward of ability is whatever ability, unsupported by legal monopoly, can obtain in the open market. And, since no idle share-holder could continue in receipt of dividends were it not for the support of monopoly, it follows that these dividends are no part of the proper reward of ability.
I have purposely avoided notice of Mr. Mallook’s unwarranted assumption that the existing shareholders are descendants or legatees of the able men. As a matter of fact they often are not, but have come into possession of the results of ability by hook or by crook; and therefore Mr. Mallock’s argument, even were it thoroughly sound, would fail to justify the status quo. But this is an accidental element of the question, the main point being whether ability can equitably bequeath a perpetual wage to its genuine posterity or its chosen beneficiaries. I think the Socialists are right in maintaining that it cannot.
In making these comments upon Mr. Mallock’s article it has not been my purpose to revive the controversy on patents and copyrights which at one time pretty nearly exhausted the subject in these columns, but simply to point out the close connection, amounting almost to identity, between property in ideas and interest on capital, and that the latter cannot be denied in the same breath in which the former is affirmed. They stand or fall together, and it is Liberty’s view that both fall. T.
Two Criticisms Answered.
State Socialism is beset with many difficulties. Its foes within are almost as great as its enemies without. Anarchism is its implacable adversary, but a scarcely less one is itself. It is attacked from both the front and rear. Well may it pray for safety from its friends and those who profess to love it as well as from those who hate it. I recently attended a meeting at which organized authority in all its forms had been receiving some pretty severe blows, when at last its champion faced the fray. His argument was based upon the assumption that some man might some time invent a method of producing something of such universal necessity to humanity that the possession of this secret would render him the absolute master of his fellow-beings, enabling him to levy unlimited tribute upon their labor; in other words, to make abject slaves of all mankind. In such a case, and even in one less pronounced and distinct, said this collectivist advocate, State Socialism would demand the secret of the inventor and, in the event of his refusal to divulge it, would put him to the torture until he saw fit to communicate his discovery to the world. There was no opportunity for an Anarchistic response to this balderdash, but there is really nothing to be regretted in this circumstance. Such things best answer themselves. State Socialism has much to contend against, not the least of which is, as I have said, some of its own enthusiastic talent. But it is decidedly unfortunate that all worshippers of authority are not as sublimely idiotic as this specimen.
Upon the same occasion I was told, again without an opportunity for a rejoinder, that a great mistake of mine is that I advocate Anarchism as the only solution of the social problem, and that, by so mercilessly opposing all other forms of social reform, I am delaying the realization of that for which I am ostensibly working. I am sure, however, that I can show these charges to be unfounded.
Anarchism is based upon equal freedom. Indeed, the word Anarchy is the term which denotes the condition of society in which equal freedom prevails. In order to reach a common ground for argument, I have only to inquire of my opponents if they believe in equal freedom. If their answer be in the negative, then there is no more to say to them until they come to realize that unequal freedom is not desirable; for, if they do not believe in equal freedom, they must of necessity believe in invasion, the rule of the strong over the weak, which was the condition of things before people agreed to permit the weak to have the same rights as the strong, but which, however, in spite of the agreement, is not the condition which exists today.
But such people, I am sure, do not pretend to be reformers, and from those who do lay a claim to that distinction I expect an affirmative answer. Therefore, since it is admitted that equal freedom is desirable, it follows that Anarchism is the only true remedy for our social ills, because it is the only expedient which proposes the inauguration of equal freedom. No other device offered as a solution of the social problem leaves the non-invasive individual free of all compulsion. That not one of them does grant him such freedom is demonstrated by the very principles upon which each scheme rests. Then it is certainly clear that, if Anarchism is the only social condition that assures equal freedom, — and we have decided that we desire equal freedom, — all other schemes are undesirable, inexpedient, and worthless. So why not advocate the only true road to happiness? C. L. S.
Blaise Pascal on Usury.
“He united eloquence with Urania’s talents, but soon, immolating his genius before God himself, he vindicated the august obscurity of Faith. O thou! Religion, whose severity withdrew this great man from Philosophy, permit, at least, regrets for this.”
The above was written concerning Blaise Pascal by Jean he Rond d’Alembert. We, too, join with the famous secretary of the Institute in lamenting the immolation of a great genius before bad ideals, for the process of immolation was attended, and at times intercepted, by acts of rebellion and displays of humanity and intelligence which helped, and will still help, to overcome the influences to which he succumbed.
Examination of Pascal’s works discloses much in which we can take great satisfaction.
The writer of these lines, when a youth, formed an opinion of Pascal quite different from the one which he now possesses, his information not having been then obtained from a study of Pascal’s works in their entirety. Even now be cannot quote the most recent editions of Pascal’s works, some of which are said to be decidedly superior, not only to earlier editions, but to those of almost any classical writer.
But the more one studies classical writers, the more chance he will have to learn that almost any complete edition will give much that is more to the credit of the writer than the representations of their views with which libraries are deluged, — much also that is less.
Such passages as the following from Pascal are usually suppressed, or an attempt is made to nullify their force.
“The power of kings is founded upon the reason and the folly of the people, but chiefly upon their folly.
“The greatest and most important thing in the world has weakness for its foundation: and this is an admirably sure foundation, for there is nothing surer than that the people will be weak; that which is founded solely on reason is poorly established, as esteem of wisdom.
“Our magistrates have well understood this mystery. Their red robes, their ermines in which they wrap themselves up like furred cats, palaces where they pass judgment, fleur-de-lis, — the whole imposing apparatus was necessary; and if the physicians had not had their cassocks and mules, and the doctors of divinity their square caps and robes four times too big for them, they would never have duped the people, unable to resist this show of authenticity.”
The following is worthy of attention:
“Justice is liable to be disputed; force is easily recognized and is indisputable. So that the only thing to do was to give force to justice. Having been unable to bring it about that that which was just should have force, they have enacted that force should be justice.” *
But, although it would be interesting to consider many of Pascal’s sayings, the main purpose of this article is to present his views on usury.
In the eighth of his “Letters to a Provincial” he says, conversing with a Jesuit father: “Let us now speak of business men. You know that to turn them away from usury is the hardest thing to do with them; therefore our fathers have paid particular attention to this, since they detest this vice so much that Escobar says, in tr. 3, ex. 5, n. 1, “that to say that usury is not a sin would be a heresy,” and our Father Bauny, in his “Summary of Sins,” ch. 14, fills several pages with punishments due to usurers. He declares them to be “infamous during their lives and unworthy of burial after their death.”’
“‘O father, I had not thought him so severe!’
“‘He is when it is necessary; but, this learned casuist having remarked that one is not drawn to usury except by desire of gain, he says in the same place: “One would bring the people under no slight obligation if, in guarding them from the bad effects of usury and at the same time from the sin which is the cause of it, one furnished them with the means of obtaining as much and more profit from their money by some good and legitimate employment than they would obtain by their usuries.”’
“‘Doubtless, my father, there would be no more usuries after that.’
“‘And that is why he has furnished a general method for all sorts of persons — gentlemen, presidents, councilors, etc., — and such an easy one that it only consists in the use of several words which one must pronounce in lending his money, in consequence of which one can take the interest of it without fearing that it is usury, as it doubtless would have been otherwise.’
“Well, my father, what are these mysterious phrases?’
“‘Here you have them,’ said he to me, and in his very words, for he has written his “Book of the Summary of Sins” in French, “to be understood by every one,” as he remarks in the preface: “He, then, of whom one asks money will reply thus: I have no money to lend, though indeed I have to put out for honest and licit profit. If you want the sum that you ask wherewith to make your industry productive and will divide the profits and losses, perhaps I can fix it. But since, in truth, it is too much trouble to come to terms about the profit, if you wish to guarantee me a certain amount of it, and so much on the principal that there be no risk, we might immediately come to terms, and you could have time money at once.”
“‘Isn’t that a very easy way to get money without sin? And was not Father Bauny right in saying these words, with which he concludes this method: “There you have, in my opinion, the means by which many persons in the world, who, by their usuries, extortions, and illicit OM-tracts, provoke the just indignation of God, can save themselves while making good, honest, and licit profits.”’
“‘O my Father! what powerful words! Doubtless they have some hidden virtue, which I do not comprehend, to destroy usury, for I had always supposed that this sin consisted in taking back more money than one had lent.’
“‘That is why our Father Escobar shows how to avoid usury by a simple shift of intention in tr. 3, ex. 5, n. 4, 33, 44. “It would be usury,” says he, “to take interest from borrowers if one should exact it as a requirement of justice; but if one only requires it as a due from gratitude, it is not usury. It is not lawful to have the intention of profiting directly from the money lent, but to claim it by the medium of the benevolence of the borrower — media benevolentia — is not usury.” There are subtle methods for you, but one of the best, in my opinion (for we have a number to choose from), is the Mohatra contract.’
“‘The Mohatra contract, father!’
“‘I see clearly that you do not understand what that is. The name is the only strange thing about it. Escobar will furnish you the explanation in tr. 3, ex. 3, n. 36. “The Mohatra contract is that according to which they buy goods at a high price for credit, in order to sell back at the same instant, to the same person, at a low price for cash.” That’s the “Mohatra contract” by which, you see, one receives a certain sum in cash, remaining under obligation for a greater sum.’
“‘But, my father, I think nobody but Escobar can have used that term. Are there other books that refer to it?’
“‘How little you know!’ replied the father. The last book on moral theology (théology morale: theological morality?), printed this very year at Paris, speaks of the Mohatra, and learnedly. It is called “Epilogus Summarum,” and is “an abridgment of all the summaries of theolgy, extracted from Fathers Suarez, Sanchez, Fagundez, Hurtado, and other celebrated casuists,” as the title declares. You will find there, on page 54: “The Mohatra takes place when a man who has occasion for twenty pistoles buys goods of a merchant for thirty pistoles, payable in one year, and sells them back to him on the spot for twenty pistoles, cash down.” Thus you see plainly that the Mohatra is not an unheard-of word.’
“‘Very well, father; is that contract permitted?’
“‘Escobar,’ replied the father., tells us in the same place that “there are laws which forbid it under very severe penalties.”’
“‘So it is useless, father?’
“‘By no means,’ said he; for Escobar, in the same place, gives expedients to render it permissible: he says, “it is so when the principal intention of both buyer and seller is to make a profit, provided only that the seller does not exceed the highest price for such goods, and the buyer does not go below the lowest, and that no previous bargain has been agreed upon, expressly or otherwise.” Lessius, however, says: de jug, 1. 2, c. 21, d. 16, “that, even if one had sold with the intention of repurchasing at a less price, one need never make restitution of this profit, except, perhaps, out of charity, in case he from whom it had been exacted was in poverty, and not even then if one cannot do it without inconvenience, — si commode non potest.” There you have the utmost that is to be said.’
“‘Indeed, my father, I think further indulgence would be pernicious.’
“‘Our fathers,’ replied he, “know very well how to stop in good time. So you see the utility of the Mohatra.’”
The Provincial Letters were widely published, and a Latin translation which was made is said to have met Pascal’s approval. The above translation was compared with a translation said to have been compared with the Latin one.
We have reason, then, to think that Pascal approved of the doctrine which condemned usury. Alden.
* O. W. Wight gives a translation of part of this, with a note by Condorcet, as follows: “Thus men have not been able to give force to justice, because force has contradicted justice and has said that she was unjust: and thus, not being able to make what is just strong, men have made what is strong just.” The note of Condorcet is: “Pascal appears here to approach the ideas of Hobbes, and the greatest devotee among the philosophers of this century is, on the nature of justice and injustice, of the same opinion as the most irreligious.” It seems hardly correct to represent Hobbes as an irreligious philosopher, except in the same sense as Pascal himself was; vigorous use of reason by each threatened religion at times.
The Pivotal Problem.
The social question is pressing for a solution with accumulating and accelerating energy. But the average “intelligent agent” in the industrial drama now enacting seems to have lost his cue and to be utterly at a loss with regard to what to say and do next. The ruling powers are polishing their guns and erecting stronger fortifications for their defence, in anticipation of the fancied onslaughts of the starving and belligerent proletariat, as if the question were one to be submitted to the arbitrament of arms, while the unemployed and discontented are clamoring for State and municipal employment, as if a miserable expedient like that were a way out of their trouble. Things are approaching a desperate pass, and the outlook would be a dark and gloomy one indeed, if it were not for the wide-spread comment and discussion, on the public platform and in the press, in field and factory and mine, in the parlors of the rich and the hovels of the poor, of economic phenomena and movements. There is in this fact more than a reasonable promise that in the end sober counsel will prevail and offer a solution of the economic difficulties and perplexities surrounding us.
It is a step in the right direction to determine the point where the trouble lies. Socialists of all schools have long recognized that it is not a question of production that concerns the people at the present time. The sufferings and evils of which complaint is made are not due to a lack of the materials needed to supply human wants. Though there is no end to the evolution and perfection of the productive forces, it is also true that with the improved mechanical processes now in use enough goods of all kinds can be turned out to provide the entire population of the world with everything desirable. As ex-Governor Long recently said in a speech before the Beacon Society: “There is an abundance of food stored in our grain houses, there is clothing enough for everybody, and people who have it are anxious to dispose of it.”
The question before the worlds, then, is not so much how to produce to the best advantage as bow to distribute the goods produced efficiently and equitably. Here, also, the Socialists of all schools are agreed that it is a question, not of production, but of distribution. It is a point gained to find this admitted by ex-Governor Long, and also by the Boston “Herald” in its editorial comments on his speech. The “Herald” thinks that the problem of mediating between want and excess, the problem of distribution, ought to be a simple one, and then ventures to say in explanation of why it has not yet been solved that possibly the concentration of attention upon productive industry has complicated the problem through relative neglect, whereupon it continues: “It is probable that, when the same amount of earnest attention is given to getting the products of field and factory into the hands of those who want them that thus far has been devoted to producing these things, the solution will be found, and that, like most great problems, it will prove to be so simple that the wonder will be that no one had thought of it before. When that time comes there will be no question of lack of employment for those who want employment and are fit for it.”
The “Herald,” in this matter as well as in most others, is at least fifty years behind the times; else it would know that the problem of distribution, in its own sense, was solved long ago by Proudhon, who offered his solution at the same time also as the solution of the social problem. Proudhon’s solution is contained in his proposal of the organization of credit in the Bank of the People. By abolishing the royalty of gold and entitling all values to equal representation in the currency this proposal promised to facilitate the exchange, circulation, and distribution of commodities to the verge of possibility, and, by destroying interest through free competition in banking, to enable labor to secure its full product. Free trade in banking is indeed very simple, and the wonder is that it has remained neglected and ignored so long after attention had been so eloquently and powerfully directed to it, especially since it is more than probable that its practical realization would have prevented and made utterly impossible the prevailing business depression and the rise of the unemployed. The only explanation why it has not been accepted is the dearth of common intelligence, the circumstance that it contravenes the existing order or rather disorder of society, and the fact that it is interdicted by the government. But is it too much to expect that now, in the midst of want and distress and when so many people are racking their brains for expedients to help the needy and suffering, it shall receive the attention which its importance merits? G. S.
“My theory,” said Voltairine de Cleyre to a “Sun” reporter (and she has said the same to me), “is that of Jesus Christ: If a man smite you upon the right cheek, turn him the left.” But, inasmuch as I find her saying in “Lucifer” of January 26, regarding a pamphlet which she has written: “It was intended to stir in the mass the idea of the right to rob robbers, and at the same time to be so worded as not to place its author in prison,” I conclude that she has for, gotten that other remark which Jesus made in the same breath: “And if any man take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also.” How Christ would have scorned this latter-day disciple! If Miss de Cleyre believes in non-resistance and at the same time urges the people to resistance, I leave her to the condemnation of that conscience (race-conscience, does she call it?) before which she, as a moralist, bows. And if, in addition to this, in violation of her pro-fessed belief, but in furtherance of her secret wish, she is inciting the people to acts that will almost surely lodge them in prison, and deliberately so wording her incitement that she may keep out of prison herself, I “censoriously” visit upon her the condemnation of that sentiment of manliness which even the hated hedonist admires.
At Mrs. Lease’s recent lecture in Cooper Union Pentecost sat on the platform. Is this the beginning of a fresh swing around the circle of reform?
Frequently as one now sees in the New York “Sun” such Jingo ejaculations as “Vote another battle ship” and “Carry on the work of building up the navy,” it is only ten years since its editorial page was sprinkled in even greater profusion with the cry: “Reduce the army to ten thousand men.” It had not then dawned upon Dana that the existence of his brotherhood of thieves is dependent upon the State militant.
The Turkish government frowns upon those of its subjects who transfer their allegiance from the Sultan to other potentates or powers, and even goes so far as to attempt to punish them when they revisit Turkey. The United States in the put has protected its naturalized citizens of Turkish extraction against such treatment, but President Cleveland, both in his former administration and the present one, has seemed disinclined to afford this protection. As a consequence Armenians naturalized in the United States and doing business here are liable to be thrown into prison in Turkey if they go there to buy goods. Said one of these merchants to a reporter recently: “The government might as well tell Armenians who are in the Oriental business that they must go out of the business altogether as to tell them that they are not to receive protection if they go abroad. American dealers in the same line will have no difficulty in sending their agents to Turkey, and you can see the immense advantage they will have over us.” It does not seem to have occurred to this Armenian-American merchant that the attitude of the United States in this matter is probably inspired by the influence of American dealers who have a “pull” with the administration. The result which he fears is, it is to be presumed, the precise result that was intended. Among those who have contributed most liberally to the expenses of Cleveland’s campaigns are men of large interests in the dry goods trade, and a near relative of one of them was appointed by Cleveland as Minister to Turkey. Behind this piece of tyranny, as behind nearly all others, you will find the Almighty Dollar somewhere lurking.
At the recent Lincoln dinner of the Republican Club at Delmonico’s Bishop John P. Newman said: “We cannot fail. With Sherman in the Senate [applause], Tom Reed in the House [increased applause], McKinley in Ohio [applause and cheers], and God over all [enthusiastic applause and cheers], we must win.” It is interesting to note that in this quartette of monopolists God is the favorite. It used to be said that one with God is a majority; as here there are three with God, no wonder victory seems sure to Bishop Newman. But somehow things failed to go their way in 1892, when all these powers were in their respective places. Is God a recent convert to McKinleyism? I thought we had always heard of his protecting care.
Some people argue that, since Vaillant did not kill, he did not deserve to be killed. This argument might have some force on the planet Mars, where, according to the fancy of certain dreamers, social justice prevails; but on a planet like ours, where the crimes that succeed are the only crimes that are not crimes, and where the severest punishments are reserved for the men who fail, its whole weight is against Valliant rather than for him. As the conservatives often remind us, we live on Earth, not in Dreamland.
When Vaillant’s bomb exploded in the Chamber of Deputies, a pending bill was under discussion. Before the smoke had cleared away, M. Dupuy, the presiding officer, with a seeming coolness and presence of mind that secured him the eulogies of press and public and added new lustre to a waning reputation, spoke the following words: “The discussion continues.” The ever ready Clémenceau, in his journal, “La Justice,” the next day deftly turned this declaration to account by saying in substance: Yes, M. Dupuy, you have spoken the sensible word; the act of Vaillant, startlingly indicative as it is of intense and growing discontent under burdens imposed by an unjust social system, leaves us but one wise course, if indeed there ever was another, — to let the discussion continue, not only in the Chamber, but in the press and on the platform the world over, till a way shall be found of righting social wrongs. Instead of which M. Dupuy and the deputies, whose courage lasted but a moment, promptly proceeded in a fit of fear and panic to place a gag upon discussion of social questions, not only in the press and upon the platform, but even by private correspondence; and, if the discussion still continues to an extent, it is in spite, and not because, of M. Dupuy.
I print Charlotte Perkins Stetson’s poem, in another column, because, in the first place, it is a good poem, and because, in the second place, its sarcasm against charity is well-directed. Its economics, however, are bellamistic and bad. If the big brother and the little brother had “each in freedom calmly helped himself,” all would have been well; in that case, the food by the hypothesis being “free and, plenty for them both,” the big brother could not have taken it all. When Mrs. Stetson says that he did, she contradicts her premise; and if not in all poems, at least in economic poems good logic is a requisite. To say that there was plenty for both is to say that there was all that each wanted. It being absurd to suppose that the big brother took more than he wanted, there must have been left all that the little brother wanted. Then there would have been no need for charity, which would have been fortunate, or for Mrs. Stetson’s poem, which would have been unfortunate. But it is not true that “each in freedom calmly helped himself.” What really happened was this: sometimes the big brother was foolish enough to think that there was not plenty for both, and so he tied the little brother’s hands; at other times the big brother was too lazy even to take, and so he forced the little brother to do all the taking and to deposit in his (the big brother’s) lap nearly all that he took. In neither case did the little brother help himself in freedom. Because Mrs. Stetson supposes that he did, she wants to abolish freedom. If she could only understand that the little brother has always been a slave, — and to some extent the big brother too, — she would try, instead, to abolish slavery. That is to say, when Mrs. Stetson can think as well as she can sing, she will be no longer a Nationalist, but an Anarchist.
A subscriber living in Provincetown, Mass., writes: “We do not yet feel the pressure of the times here as severely as in most towns of this size, and chiefly for the reason that there is no manufacturing of any account. The only factory in the place is a shirt factory, which employed 150 or 200 girls. That closed last August for a two weeks’ vacation (?) and has not resumed operations since. The fisheries are what support our population, and here we have the law of equal liberty prevailing, in so far as every man can take his boat and go out on the water and get a catch of fish without being obliged to surrender one-fourth of his crop to a land or water lord.” Let the fishermen of Provincetown enjoy their blessings while they have them. My word for it, they are not for long. Sooner or later their industry too will be capitalized like the rest, unless free money comes betimes to prevent this by abolishing interest and raising wages. On the shores of France this’has already happened. There long ago the capitalist said to the fisherman: “Every day you go forth on an uncertain errand; you may do well, you may do ill; therefore sell me y our boat; every day you shall go forth for me, and I will pay you a certain wage, whatever the result.” Allured by this prospect of security, all the fishermen sold their boats and became the employees of the capitalistic companies. In consequence, they do surrender a large portion of their product, not indeed to a water lord, but to the money lord, and are in the condition of all wage-earners everywhere. When, in consequence of bard times, the demand for fish decreases, the fishing industry, like other industries, shuts down, at least partially, and the suspended fishermen no longer have boats of their own with which to procure even a supply for their families. And now not only is the fisherman’s support precarious, but his liberty is gone. In former times, if the storm was so severe that wreck seemed certain, the fisherman could choose to stay at home. Now, in the busy season, whatever the weather and whatever the risk, he must face it or lose his job. The capitalist must have his interest, regardless of the laborer’s life. The former, on an average, gains more by steady fishing than be loses by the occasional wreck of a boat; what, however, is an average to a dead fisherman or his family? There is a lesson in all this for the Single Taxers. Free water but partially solves the problem. Neither free land nor taxed land will do much more. Free money, capital without interest, — this is the laborer’s greatest need.
Contempt of Court.
[San Francisco Examiner.]
Judge Seawell, I am told you sent
A man to prison lately
Because the man was impudent,
And sinned against you greatly.
You are so stiff and stately
He must be very bold who dares
To speak at all before you.
Small wonder such behavior scares —
Small wonder should it “floor” you.
Such dignity you have, it stills the din
Of even Alexander Campbell’s chin.
It was a witness whom you jailed —
At least so goes the story.
In reverence for you he’d failed
And spoke his mind. What’s more, he
Scorned Campbell’s oratory —
Campbell, a man who keeps for hire
A tongue or two; — men fear him,
And even the angels don’t aspire
To go too near him.
This hardy witness feared not him nor his,
And said he was a liar. Well, he is.
Not in the sense that hoodlums use
That very bad expression —
To signify unpleasing views
About one’s mere obsession
By the spirit of transgression.
No, he’ll not lie (that is allowed)
In any wanton fashion —
Because he’s piqued, because he’s proud,
Because he’s in a passion.
He’ll tell a falsehood only for a fee.
What! shall he starve instead? Not he, not he.
That’s neither here nor there: the man
Was punished for resenting
Insulting words from one who can
At pleasure he tormenting,
Rude, brutal, unrelenting,
With all immunity from blame —
Even in your Honor’s bearing
May foul with hints a maid’s good name,
And madden men by sneering —
In short, a lawyer. Did you ever chide
One of that gang for saying a witness lied?
Contempt of court? Is ’t not contempt
When an attorney, spurning
The laws of decency — exempt
From laws of love and learning —
Goes on for hours attorning?
Why is it not contempt when he,
Of Man and God defiant,
Defames a witness for a fee,
Or lauds a scurvy client?
Does Justice need such dirty work? My view,
Judge, if you think so, is — the jail needs you!
[In This Our World.]
Came two young children to their mother’s shelf
(One was quite little and the other big),
And each in freedom calmly helped himself
(One was a pig).
The food was free and plenty for them both,
But one was rather dull and very small;
So the big smarter brother, nothing loath,
He took it all.
At which the little fellow raised a yell
Which tired the other’s more aesthetic ears;
He gave him here a crust and there a shell
To stop his tears.
He gave with pride, in manner calm and bland,
Finding the other’s hunger a delight;
He gave with piety — his full left hand
Hid from his right.
He gave and gave — O blessed Charity!
How sweet and beautiful a thing it is!
How fine to see that big boy giving free
What was not his!
Charlotte Perkins Stetson.
“The garden of the laws is full of ironical plants, of unexpected Mowers and by no means its slightest charm is this subversion of the natural order, whereby appear at the end of stems and branches fruit just the opposite of that which is promised by the essence of the tree or bush. The apple-tree bears figs, and the cherry-tree medlars: plants yield sweet potatoes, and hollyhocks salsify. It is delicious.” Séverine.
The Beauties of Government.
The readers of Liberty are urgently invited to contribute to this department. It is open to any statement of facts which exhibit the State in any phase of its fourfold capacity of fool, meddler, knave, and tyrant. Either original accounts based upon the writer’s own knowledge, or apparently reliable accounts clipped front recent publications, are welcome.
The State Plays the Confidence Game.
[New York Herald.]
Montreal, Jan. 6. — The news received here that the two Scotch crofter settlements at Killarney and Salt Goats in the province of Manitoba are utterly ruined is the first announcement of the failure of the pet immigration scheme of the English Colonization Board and of Sir Charles Tupper, High Commissioner for Canada in London.
The crofters were fanners on a small scale, who, on representations made to them, removed from the Western Highlands of Scotland to the Canadian Northwest. They were actually turned off their holdings by the titled landlords in order that their land might be turned into deer preserves.
The Colonization Company took these crofters up, and such glowing accounts were given out of the fertility of the Canadian Northwest, where, it was represented, these crofters would be much better off than they could possibly be in Scotland, that the imperial government readily voted $100,000 for the transportation of the crofters to Canada. The more well-to-do class were accepted, and granted $584 per family for travelling expenses, agricultural implements, etc. Many of the families also bad considerable sums of money saved.
The crofters, however, were not established in those fertile lands before referred to, but on two of the coldest spots in the Northwest. The system of farming was so entirely different from what they had been used to that the crops were failures, while the intense cold of winter has caused great suffering. They not only have lost the money advanced to them, but also their own savings, and today the crofters are absolutely penniless and on the verge of starvation.
The Colonization Board has instructed their Manitoba agents to take proceedings to recover the advances made by the imperial government to the crofters.
[The farmer forbidden to plough that the land-lord may hunt; the involuntarily idle developing into troublesome citizens; the troublesome citizens induced by governmental bribery to leave the country, and enticed by false promises to a land where, if there were any milk and honey, neither could flow because of the low temperature; and now the helpless victims of the bunco-steering State to be fleeced of the money which the tempter had first put into their pockets, — all this affords a delightful illustration of the way in which government disposes of the evils which it creates.]
Murder as a Sanitary Measure.
Suppose a child was vaccinated last November, or even on the 31st day of December, less than two months ago. The resolution of the board of health forbids its attendance at school unless it is again vaccinated. Such a resolution in such an instance becomes outrageously unjust. It is ridiculous upon its face. Even were the child vaccinated within the last year or five years, the sweeping decision of the board becomes too severe. Here is an instance: One of the schoolboys was vaccinated five years ago this winter, and at that time he was made so ill by the vaccination that the daily attendance of a physician was required for nearly two weeks. The physician in charge was at times fearful of the patient’s recovery, and said that scrofulous conditions of the blood existed that might render the re-vaccination of the child very dangerous, if not fatal. If this schoolboy is sent to school, the board of health says he must be vaccinated again, and his second vaccination may be the cause of his death. It is not probable that the board of health would permit a private tutor to give him lessons in his own house, for the superintendent of the schools and the principals are asked to furnish the committee of the health board a list of names of those refusing to furnish the certificate of vaccination, and the committee is authorized to enforce the law and take any and all necessary steps they deem proper. It is either vaccinate at the unnecessary risk of the child’s life or move out of town.
[The same State that imprisons people for attempting to kill themselves kills them to prevent them from catching disease.]
The Coming Age of Universal Infancy.
These are indeed parlous days on Beacon Hill, and within the sacred State House devised by Bowditch.
Legislators who have a thirst for regulating everything are very much In evidence this session. There are schemes to prevent a man from calling in the physician of his choice, unless he belongs to a certain school. There are plans to debar the dyspeptic from taking any kind of medicine, no matter how beneficial it may have proved in his case, unless it has been mulled over and vouched for by a solemn state commission. And, latest in this line of campaign, comes a proposal to prevent any representative of the rising generation from witnessing any stage entertainment, unattended, until he has reached the age of 16, or perhaps 18.
What notion will next be exploited in proposed legislation? The work of going backward, crab fashion, to the usages and customs of puritanical days cannot logically stop with this attempt to curtail the privileges of our young people. It will be the old folks’ turn, next thing the public knows.
Perhaps this very day some legislative regulator will offer a law providing that no citizen of the commonwealth shall absent himself from home after 9 p. m. without being subject to fine, unless he can show to the satisfaction of a commission that he had urgent business on hand.
[It is probable that, under the State at its perfection, the chief industry, and the first to be taken over by the State Socialists, will be the manufacture of diapers for the use of the over-grown but helpless brats that all of us then will be.]
Beyond the Reach of the Policeman’s Proboscis.
[New York Press.]
One of the consequences of the abnormal activity into which the police have been spurred by Dr. Parkhurst is the proposed formation, by a party of young men who are fond of late suppers with cheerful young women who are not eligible to registration at the Vaudeville Club, of a supper club on the London model. These London supper clubs are numerous and prosperous. The law closing public houses and restaurants at midnight is strictly enforced in London, and young men who have no mind to end their evenings at that hour combine to organize a club, where, as club members, they can eat and drink as long as they choose without molestation. Each club has its own peculiar following, and one set rarely infringes upon another. Admission to these clubs is, of course, dependent upon introduction, but that and the ability to spend money are about the only qualifications for membership. Parliament has tried its best to reform the supper clubs, but the English law doesn’t seem to be able to reach them. This New York club, if successful, will at least carry out Superintendent Byrnes’ theory of isolation. It probably will not get out a housebook, as the members will be averse to celebrity.
[The privacy of the aristocracy is the only privacy which the police and the Parkhursts respect.]
At This the State Socialists Point with Pride.
Remarkable as are some of the ways of the Post Office authorities, none, perhaps, are so full of novelty as those which exist in the West Hertfordshire district, within thirty miles of London. Choulesbury and Hawridge Commons are two small contiguous villages of not more than a mile in length together, and the neighborhood is served from no less than three postal depots, — viz., Berkbampstesd, Tring, and Chesham. It appears that letters and other postal packets delivered at Hawridge are taken thither by a rural postman from Berkhampstead, which is five miles distant. Continuing his walk, this same postman passes through Choulesbury to Rays-hill Bottom. Choulesbury is, however, served through Tring, from where the postman comes four miles to deliver letters to the Choulesbury village post-office at the top of Rays-hill. From this small office the postal missives for places beyond are taken by the local post-master to their destination through Rays-hill Bottom, a mile towards Chesham, on a parallel road to that of Hawridge and Choulesbury. The Chesham postman then comes along with his load, and virtually overlaps part of the district already covered by his other two comrades. He delivers his letters at a farm-house and other places three and a half miles from Chesham, separated by only a meadow from that for which letters are delivered from Tring (four miles away), and then crosses the road to the houses but a stone’s throw from the district covered by Berkhampstead, five miles away. Following up these official peculiarities, which puzzle the local residents, it is found that, if letters are misdirected Choulesbury instead of Hawridge, about one hundred yards from the Choulesbury post-office, they are kept at that office for the day, sent, back to Tring at night, thence to Berkhampstead for delivery the next morning, this Mode of transit taking twenty-four hours, and travelling nearly fifteen miles to reach a destination one hundred yards away. By the same rule letters mis-sent to Choulesbury for Rays-hill Bottom follow a similar roundabout course. To add to these anomalies, Hawridge boasts of a Sunday delivery, while the other districts do not; but why, no one in the village seems to know.
The Rigidity of Governmental Error.
[New York Sun.]
A simple but costly blunder occurred in the Tariff act of 1883. It vies intended to place fruit plants on the free list. In enrolling the bill the clerk inserted a comma between fruit and plants, thereby placing fruit on the free list. This blunder cost the Government about $2,500,000 in revenue a year.
[Clerical errors will be possible under Anarchism, but their correction, upon discovery, will also be possible.]
Ready to Stretch the Law.
[New York Sun.]
London, Feb. 16. — The police at 9 o’clock tonight raided the Autonomie Club. The club is composed of Anarchists and has headquarters in Grafton street, Tottenham Court road. The police took possession of the house and detained all the inmates. The raid was managed so quietly that neither the pedestrians in the street nor the nearest neighbors knew what was happening, and the members arriving late walked unsuspectingly into the arms of the policemen waiting to arrest them. The members who were arrested as they entered the front door were astonished and indignant, but only one of them, a Frenchman, resisted the police. He struggled savagely, clawing and biting right and left, and cheering for Anarchy when finally pinned against the wall.
The total number of prisoners is about eighty. The majority of them are Germans and Bohemians. All were examined carefully and then ordered to show their passports. Few of them could do this.
The police have searched several buildings near the club house, notably Martial Bourdin’s private lodgings in Great Titchfield street and the rooms of Jean Pierre Francois, whom the French Government considered an accomplice of Ravachol and tried to extradite. They found much Anarchist literature of the orthodox kind in both places and a few explosives in Bourdin’s rooms.
London, Feb. 17. — Shortly after midnight all the men arrested at the Autonomie Club were liberated. The main object of the police in arresting them was to examine them. Important information is said to have been obtained from them by the police.
London, Feb. 17. — Public exasperation against the Anarchists throughout Europe has reached a point of unanimous intolerance. The indignation against London and the British Government has been growing hotter all over Europe for several months. Now that it is becoming clearer that nearly all the recent outrages in France and Spain were plotted in London, the Continental governments have resorted to formal protests. Thanks to Thursday’s incident in Greenwich Park, the authorities have practically yielded, and instructions have been issued from the British Home Office to the police to pursue the Anarchists without mercy. It has also been intimated that the police need not be bound by the ordinary forms of law when seeking a justifiable end against the conspirators. High-handed measures, if followed by legal difficulties, will be upheld by the Government, and those using them will be protected. This extraordinary step is quite necessary in England, for under the law the police have not a fraction of the power exercised by Superintendent Byrnes in dealing with suspected persons. Last night’s raid on the Autonomie Club, made without warrant or shadow of legal authority, was personally ordered by Home Secretary Asquith. He has an understanding with the leaders of the Opposition. No opposition will be made to a bill for indemnity if legislation becomes necessary.
[New York Herald.]
The Inspectors of Immigration are keeping a. bright lookout for the Italian steamer Plata, which left Naples on January 30, and is now due at this port. She brings 680 steerage passengers. Most of them, the immigration officers say, are of an objectionable character, if information now in their possession is to be credited. They are said to be Sicilian Anarchists fleeing from the wrath of the Italian government, and Commissioner Benner proposes to close the doors of this port against them. The laws restricting immigration ignore the Anarchist. He seemingly has the right to enter this country, if properly equipped in other respects, but the immigration authorities say they propose to “stretch the law” a little to fit the situation, should the Plata’s passengers prove to be those engaged in the Carrara riots. Inspector Philip T. German has been specially detailed on the case, and be is prepared to make matters interesting for the incoming passengers, should they prove to be the ones expected. When the Plata arrives, her passengers will be detained at Ellis Island and subjected to the closest kind of an examination. Anarchists, if discovered, will be held and sent back upon grounds which the immigration authorities decline as yet to make public.
[New York Sun.]
Assistant Immigration Commissioner McSweeney got out half a dozen of his Italian inspectors yesterday and prepared to give a vigorous welcome to a crew of Sicilian Anarchists and banditti who were due to arrive on the steamer Plata, which got in from Naples and Palermo. But the 657 passengers were found to be eminently respectable immigrants. More than half of them were women, many of them young and good looking, and others with children tagging at their skirts. The inspectors were quite relieved to find the men such comparatively desirable immigrants. They were declared to be the best lot that has come to New York in a long time. Many of them had engaged passage as far back as September, and they all had passports from the Italian government approved by the American consuls at Naples and Palermo, showing that they were not of the criminal class.
There was a short, thick-set, surly fellow, named Samaratano Paulo, who did not give satisfactory answers to the questions put to him, and he was put aside for further examination. He may be sent back. Fifteen contract laborers were barred from admittance to this country. Then there was another group of sixteen men bound for New Orleans under what was apparently a sort of padrone arrangement, and these were also barred.
[Too rigid and unbending to save $2,500,000 by the correction of a simple error, to save its life the State becomes the most elastic thing on earth. Technicalities and forms are sacred when they serve the basest criminal, but are brushed aside like straw when they protect a man suspected of believing that the State should be abolished. Under government the fact that a man believes in liberty is sufficient ground for depriving him of his liberty.]
Why One and Not the Other?
[New York Press.]
Albany, N. Y., Jan. 5. — After Mayor Manning some time ago ordered the saloons and gambling houses to be closed according to law, the Common Council passed a resolution providing that the law calling for the closing of all places of business and prohibiting the operation of street railroads and delivery of milk by milkmen on Sundays should be enforced. The Mayor has vetoed the resolution, saying there is no necessity for its adoption.
Chicago’s Official Leeches.
[New York Sun.]
Chicago, Feb. 2. — The salaries of city employees are to be cut. The police and fire departments are to be reduced, and every man drawing pay as high as $900 a year will be compelled to give up some of his share for the general good. The comptroller’s estimates referred by the council to the finance committee are $2,000,000 in excess of what the city can afford to pay without becoming bankrupt. It is necessary to reduce these estimates by $8,000,000 if the municipality wants to avoid wreck. Mayor Hopkins announced today that there was no mistake about the city’s financial distress. He bitterly assailed the source of the evil, — Chicago’s system of assessment, — declaring a willingness to go before the people on that issue. He said: “The people are being robbed by officeholders. The remedy is with the legislature, and I shall use all my influence to have the charter changed.”
[What are officeholders for, anyhow? Is not robbery their function?]
Vaillant’s Grave Must Not Be Kept Green.
[New York Sun.]
Paris, Feb. 18. — The government is determined to stop the pilgrimages that are being made to Vaillant’s grave in Ivry Cemetery. An order has been issued forbidding any one to visit the grave, and policemen have been stationed at the cemetery to see that the order is carried out.
Would Disgrace a Country Bank.
[New York Sun.]
Washington, Jan. 28. — A commission of experts, appointed under an act of congress of Sept. 30, 1890, to investigate the safe and vault construction of the Treasury Department, have submitted their report. The vaults in the big Treasury building are characterized as a disgrace to the government, and of such obsolete character, inferiority of construction, and minimum of security as would cause them to be rejected as unfit for use by any country bank in a backwoods town.
[Here the best remedy would be to make the government so poor that it would need no vaults.]
Compulsory Education of Adults.
Many of the young men of Lorraine living near the French frontier almost entirely forget, by the time they are old enough to do military duty, the German taught them at the primary school to the exclusion of French. Their school-days over, the children, like all those about them, use only their mother tongue, and thus quickly forget their German. This condition of things is now occupying the attention of the authorities, and special courses and libraries are to be established in this part of Lorraine, at which young people over fourteen are to be obliged to spend a few hours every month in order to continue the study of German.
[Compulsory education has always been defended as essential to the production of good citizens; the real reason for it would seem to be that it is essential to the production of good soldiers.]
Following in Russia’s Footsteps.
At a meeting of the Sheffield City Council on Wednesday a long discussion took place on a resolution to blot all betting and gambling news from the papers taken at the various public free libraries in the city. The vice chairman of the libraries committee and others spoke strongly against the proposal. It was contended that it would be difficult to decide what news should be blotted out and what left in. More persons were ruined by Stock Exchange gambling than by betting on horse-racing, and yet it was not proposed to blot out Stock Exchange quotations. Eventually the motion to blot out was carried, nineteen voting for it and sixteen against.
Everybody Caught Except the Guilty.
[New York Herald.]
A gang of desperate and skilful masked burglars has made life on Long Island undesirable for several Months past. The police of Long Island City put three details of men at work on the cases. There is jealousy in the police force of that city, and, instead of working in harmony, each detail followed a different course, hoping to capture the gang and be made detectives forever and all time. The result is that two separate gangs of alleged masked burglars are under arrest, each charged with committing the same crimes. Each faction of police glories in its particular capture, and the real masked burglars and their friends are laughing in their sleeves.
[Under government, punishment is considered such a good thing in itself and such a blessing (to the men paid to do the punishing) that it is always deemed advisable to let a guilty man escape if thereby ninety-nine innocent men may be punished in his stead.]
This Beauty Takes the Cake.
[New York Sun.]
Montpelier, Vt., March 1. — The State Supreme Court today rendered a decision in the famous case of the State against John O’Neil, of Rutland. The court denied O’Neil’s petition for an arrest of judgment and sentenced him to a fine of $8,160 and two months in the House of Correction. This case has been on trial for twelve years.
O’Neil, a liquor dealer in Whitehall, N. Y., sent liquor to Rutland in jugs. He was arrested in 1882, convicted before Justice Wayne Bailey in Rutland for 457 offences, and sentenced by Bailey to 28,8.36days, or over seventy-nine years, in the House of Correction. O’Neil appealed to the County Court, where he pleaded guilty of 807 offences, reducing the penalty to about sixty years. He appealed to the Supreme Court on the ground of excessive and unusual punishment, but the decision of the lower court was affirmed. The case was then taken to the United States Supreme Court on the plea that the Vermont prohibitory law was unconstitutional. That court decided that it had no jurisdiction. As a last resort it was taken back to the State Supreme Court on a motion to arrest judgment.
An Industry Not Affected by the Tariff.
[New York Tribune.]
Chicago, Jan. 5. — Fifty-two prisoners are now in the Cook County jail, charged with murder. Besides this large number of men who are to be tried for their lives, over 500 other prisoners are in jail awaiting trial. Not a cell is empty, and in many instances three and four are crowded within the narrow walls of a cell.
[In these hard times, when nearly all industries are idle, that criminal factory, the State, should shut down also. Its warehouses will not hold the product.]
Peace Only for the Wicked and the Sick.
[New York Press.]
Albany, N. Y., Jan. 5. — The New York State Homeopathic Medical Society will bring before the legislature the question of marriage among those tainted by heredity with crime, insanity, or disease, and to demand the enactment of suitable scientific laws restraining such marriages. The society believes that the State can pass laws that will prohibit such marriages.
[When this law goes into operation, many good people suffering in the bonds of matrimony will repent their early lives of innocence. And in that coming day when the good and the sane and the healthy will refuse to marry, what will become of marriage if the wicked and the sick and the daft are not allowed to marry?]
Selectmen Obey Select Women.
[New York World.]
Amesbury, Mass., Jan. 5. — The rather loud posters advertising Sam T. Jack’s Creole show were dismounted today by order of the selectmen, instigated by the Women’s Christian Temperance Union.
[The billboards belong to the saints, and the saints all belong to the W. C. T. U.]
The Execution of Vaillant.
Liberty, which in its issue of February 24 gave a full account of Vaillant’s trial, supplements it in the present issue with several accounts of the execution, taken from French newspapers of various political opinions. The first is from “Le Figaro,” a conservative organ.
Not until seven o’clock of the evening previous to the execution was M. Deibler, the executioner, summoned to the prosecuting attorney’s office, where he received his orders to carry out the death-sentence the following morning (February 5) at half past seven. Only at eleven in the evening were the various officials notified of President Carnot’s decision not to commute the sentence. M. Gaillot, the chief of the municipal police, immediately sent a force of 1060 police to the Place de la Roquette. At one o’clock in the morning barriers were set up at the usual points. Access to the street and to the upper end of the square was permitted to the public, who were not allowed, however, to enter the reserved space. The crowd outside the barriers was smaller than usual. Far from being noisy, like the crowds that gather to witness the execution of notorious criminals, it was silent, as if absorbed in thought. Entrance to the reserved space was permitted only to journalists and the few persons who had admission cards, — scarcely two hundred in all. The night was damp and cold. The people paced up and down the sidewalk in little groups, stamping their feet to keep them warm, while M. Deibler, very nervous and agitated, urged upon M. Debeury, the officer in charge of the police, the importance of giving him a sufficient escort to go after the guillotine and an escort “more sufficient still” to accompany the body to the cemetery. Not the least bit at ease seemed M. Deibler.
“Oh! it’s all right, it’s all right,” answered M. Debeury with a smile. “You shall have your two escorts, rest assured.”
As usual, a few wine-shops are open by special permission, and are filled with customers. It is a day of big receipts for these establishments. At both ends of the square windows are lighted up. Some are even open. The report is spread that a special watch is kept on the house at the corner of the Rue Merlin and the Rue de la Roquette, it having been ascertained that a suite of apartments on the third floor, fronting on the square, had been rented a few days previously by friends of Vaillant. Some go so far as to say that from one of these windows Vaillant’s little daughter Sidonie will witness her father’s death. Perhaps, too, they fear that a bomb will be thrown thence into the crowd.
It is four o’clock. The vans arrive. The guillotine is taken out in sections, and the setting-up begins. It is half’ past five when it is finished.
Suddenly a rumor circulates. An important arrest has just been made. It is said that an Anarchist has been discovered in the yard of M. Rochesson, a marble-cutter at the corner of the Rue de la Vaquerie and the Rue de is Roquette. He turns out to be simply an honest janitor from the Boulevard Voltaire, whom curiosity has driven to hide himself in this yard in the hope that he would be able to witness the execution from the top of the wall. M. Debeury sets him at liberty, but orders him outside the barriers.
Now arrive in succession M. Lespinas, examining magistrate, whose duty it is to receive any final revelations that Valliant may see fit to make, M. Horoch, clerk of the court, and M. Lepine, prefect of police. The Abbe Valadier, who is not without anxiety as to the way in which the condemned man will receive him, follows these gentlemen closely and enters the prison. The machine is in readiness. M. Deibler tries the knife and makes sure that it works properly.
At the right and the left, as the hour advances, the number of lighted windows increases. The working-men are rising to go to their work. Fears of an attack by some of them cause extra care on the part of the watchers.
Finally the clock strikes six. The day is beginning to dawn. It is time to waken the condemned. Vaillant is sleeping soundly when M. Lespinas, M. Horoch, and M. Leygonie, the district police commissary, enter his cell, escorted by M. Brun, the jailer. M. Brun touches him on the shoulder. He wakes suddenly and sits up.
“Vaillant,” says the jailer, “the hour of expiation has arrived. Have courage.”
“I have never been lacking in it,” he answers, beginning to dress.
They try to help him, but he rejects their aid. As he puts on his stockings and pantaloons, be begins to expound his Anarchistic theories. He has made war on society, on this rotten society which he would have liked to destroy; society takes its revenge, it is within its right. He denounces M. Carnot vigorously.
They ask him if he wishes to see the Abbe Valadier. He shrugs his shoulders disdainfully and begs them to suffer him to die in peace. He has settled with his own conscience, and he needs nothing more.
As he quits his cell to be taken to the clerk’s office, where M. Deibler awaits him, it is observed that he leaves three letters, — one for his mother, one for his daughter and Mme. Marchal, and one for M. Labori, his lawyer.
At the clerk’s office he sits on a stool assigned to him. He shows signs of repugnance at the touch of the executioner, but quickly recovers, and with docility submits to the tying of his arms behind his back.
“How many precautions!” he exclaims. “Are you afraid, then, that I will run away?”
They offer him a glass of brandy.
“Keep it for another time,” he says; “I do not need anything to give me courage.”
At eight minutes past seven the two sections of the prison gate swing open. Vaillant appears, the executioner at his left, two assistants at his right. He advances with a firm step, his head held high. He wears his full beard. His face is slightly pale. His overcoat is thrown over his shoulders; the sleeves are knotted over his half bare breast. When half-way to the guillotine, he suddenly halts, turns his face toward the public, and shouts in a fearless and vibratory voice:
“Death to the bourgeoise society! Vive l’Anarchie!”
Then he takes a few steps forward, and voluntarily throws himself upon the board. At eleven minutes past seven the knife falls. The basket containing the remains is immediately placed in the van, which starts, with an imposing escort, for the Ivry cemetery.
The body, not being claimed by the family, belonged by law to the Medical Faculty. Such, moreover, was Vaillant’s desire. But the dean of the Faculty, notified too late, had not been able to give the necessary orders, and the body was lowered into the grave.
“L’Echo de Paris,” representing the moderate wing of the French Republicans, gave the following account written by its reporter, Edouard Conte:
To witness the putting of a man to death is a fashion of participating therein. One sanctions it by his presence. If the man who goes to see his fellow-creature killed should analyze his curiosity, he would find himself to be a little Nero. So I have no reason to boast of having seen Vaillant’s head cut off, although the intrepidity with which he went to his fate contains an element of beauty. But the suspicion that one is entitled to entertain concerning the sincerity of certain reports of court proceedings had left me in doubt regarding the condemned.
At last daylight condescends to illuminate our pale and cadaverous faces, not proud of what they are about to see, and to revive in our hearts the emotion which hours of waiting have weakened. All looks converge upon the prison door, the opening of which is awaited with hope and fear at the same time. Five interminable and feverish minutes, shaken by the blows that one deals his own soul to punish it for witnessing this foul deed. Suddenly all heads advance at once, in the same direction. The doors have been seen to swing; the condemned appears. Ah! how pale is his face, and what steel in his eyes, embracing with their sweeping glance the entire square with its lines of troops and groups of uniforms, darting a gleam at us, the curious, whom he disdains, and rightly, for he is about to die and we feed on his distress. His chest expands extra-ordinarily. There is a simple majesty in this march to the rack. In the carriage of his head there is a degree of contempt that forbids all doubt of its reality. No, I have never seen a man look down upon other men from a loftier height. Half-way to the guillotine, he looks at it squarely, and then, deliberately, master of his speech, there rings from his throat, clarion-like, a strong and serious voice. “Death to the bourgeoise society! Vive l’Anarchie!” And this said, without a particle of that instinctive recoil familiar to those who have witnessed executions, he lies down on the plank. . . . . .
“There was a head for you!” cries an enthusiastic policeman.
“Yes, indeed, there was a head!”
The account given by Marcel Pradier in “Le Journal,” an independent newspaper devoted mainly to literature, closes thus:
Vaillant appears. The Anarchist walks very rapidly and firmly, in spite of his bonds. His white shirt wide open at the neck discloses a powerful frame. Not a word, not a breath; all except he were breathless. When within eight steps of the guillotine, Vaillant, like the cock that crown at day-break, launches, in trumpet tones capable of commanding a battalion, the terrible cry: “Death to the bourgeoise society!” Then, in a softer voice, but still as penetrating in the implacable silence, he continues as if hopefully: “Vive l’Anarchie!”
The Abbé Valadier, who had followed him, advanced. But Vaillant now saw nothing but the guillotine knife, which he contemplated with a smile of ecstasy. With perfect self-possession, he placed himself against the plank and bent forward. The executioner’s assistants had only to aid his movement. One of them adjusted the head, and the knife fell, leaving nothing to be seen but an enormous spurt of blood and a decapitated body rolling into the basket. Quickly the first assistant seized the other basket into which the head had fallen and emptied it upon the body. Four men placed the basket in the van, and, under the escort of twenty horsemen with drawn sabres, the body started on its journey to the cemetery, while Deibler’s assistants began washing the blood from the machine preparatory to its removal. One of the horses in the procession fell upon the slippery pavement, causing a delay at the Rue de la Roquette, which, though brief, was too long to suit Deibler, who was sweating with fear.
During the day the grave was visited by many working-people. About four in the afternoon a laborer appeared, leading his two little girls by the hand. The little girls placed modest bouquets on either side of the mound.
French Opinion of Vaillant and His Act.
It is interesting and instructive to know that in France, where the newspapers are written, not by hacks and scribblers, but by the foremost literary men of the country, opinion, and even bourgeois opinion, is by no means unanimous, as it is in the daily-press of the United States, in recklessly and vociferously condemning Vaillant’s conduct as utterly without excuse, but is, on the contrary, disposed to consider the matter with some degree of philosophy. Below are given some examples of Paris newspaper comment before and after the trial and execution. Henry Fouquier, a conservative journalist of high reputation contributing many articles every week to the principal Parisian dailies, and until recently a member of the Chamber of Deputies, wrote as follows in “L’Echo de Paris” of January 10:
Today opens, in the Court of Assizes, the trial of M. Vaillant. It seems to me that this judicial drama must be one of the most interesting of our time. Not that it is one of those cases which excite a rather base curiosity born of uncertainty regarding the facts. It in no way resembles those trials, put together like good melodramas, where it is a question of ascertaining whether the accused, who pleads innocence, is really guilty. Here the facts are patent. M. Vaillant, I imagine, will not retract his admissions made at the preliminary examination. He will acknowledge that he has, menu militari so to speak, attacked society as it exists today, in the persons of its official representatives, putting together in one sack the deputies of the Right and of the Left, and even the parliamentary Socialists, — all “bourgeois,” all “exploiters.” So we shall see Anarchy, in all its beauty, appearing before opinion, — that is, before the jury. An impassioning confrontation, pregnant with the unexpected, raising the most delicate and most terrible problems. For the question submitted to the conscience of the jury is not one of fact. For the solution of a question of fact there is a safe rule. The accused must be given the benefit of any doubt. But today the matter to be judged is the state of soul of a man whose crime is a disinterested crime, however abominable it may be. Of course, I know very well what will take place in the court-room. The prosecuting attorney, playing his game, which is an old game, will do all in his power to exhibit M. Vaillant in the light of common-law criminal. Old stories and extracts from court records will be raked up to show that M. Vaillant has committed already I know not how many peccadilloes ordinary among people of no standing, — to say nothing of other people less excusable. It will be shown that he once boarded a railway train with a ticket that had expired, — there are many deputies who have done the same, — and perhaps even that he has been guilty of some petty swindle. Thus an effort will be made to diminish his personality. Evidently this Anarchist does not cut the figure of a Tolstoi or a Kropotkine. He is neither a gentleman nor a prince, but a simple workingman. Nevertheless all that can be said will not change the nature of his act. He has tried to terminate the existence of a set of people who had done nothing to him, who were the representatives of the nation, elected by universal suffrage, very freely; and to perform this act he has risked his head. In thus acting he has obeyed an idea; he has applied a doctrine. The idea of calling him a madman must be abandoned. Do you notice that the Catholic journals, while blaming M. Valliant, while attributing his crimes to the absence of religious beliefs, maintain a certain reserve? It is because the state of soul of the militant Anarchists is historically analogous to that of the early Christians, whom it is customary to admire. If Polyeuctes had been familiar with dynamite, who knows that he would not have blown up Zeus’s altar instead of overturning the idols? The madness of the cross and the madness of the bomb resemble each other from many points of view. Christians and Anarchists, the former believers and exposing only themselves, the latter atheists and sacrificing others with themselves, are people whom social conditions oppress, or incite to rebellion, and who wish to bring about, by violence and destruction (for the Christians were terrible destroyers), a radical change in all things, without hoping, moreover, to personally benefit by this change.
It is with such a philosophical phenomenon (for the material crime is put out of the question) that the twelve bourgeois constituting the jury are to be confronted. If they understand their situation, they will be stupefied. I really feel a deep pity for the mental distress into which these improvised judges are to be plunged. What tempests within these craniums containing brains evidently ill prepared for their terrible task! The jurors might as well be subject to the terror of possible reprisals as to the exaltation of civic courage. The social crime of a fanatic is indisputably more dangerous than the isolated crime of an assassin who kills a belated stroller in the dark. But his motives are at once more detestable and superior. Social utility, the necessity of defence, what we may call the right of war, make extreme severity a right and even a duty; but a loftier, more philosophical view of things may counsel pity. I imagine that, M. Vaillant’s bomb having killed nobody, this fortunate circumstance will permit a compromise. But the problem will not be solved.
For myself, in principle, and in opposition to what is called liberal opinion, I consider merciless severity upon social crime, the only really dangerous crime, legitimate. But, in order that a society may say to itself, with the poet:
To kill this man at once you need not hesitate,
it must possess the consciousness of having done all in its power to deprive the rebel who attacks it of all excuse for his rebellion. Is such the present case? I am more than uncertain about it. If madmen make their appearance among us from time to time, is it not because Goodness has fled to the skies, like that Shame of which Juvenal spoke? I know very well that I shall be reminded of the prevalence of charity. Certainly. But it is only the luxury of a few good hearts, and its beneficiaries, moreover, do not always take it kindly. Christian charity was a law and had a sanction. It is not the same with the charity of today, and human solidarity is not yet born. The contemporary chimera, a frightful chimera, a devouring sphinx before our petty Ædipuses, is the illusion that faith, the source of resignation and also of selfish calculation (for paradise compensates many miseries), could disappear without the disappearance of resignation. It is pure madness. Resignation, as a purely human virtue, cannot continue to exist in the presence of social injustices. Is it true that at the hour at which I write there is some worthy and useful man, a workman desirous of working, who is dying of hunger and cold and sickness with his children, and that at the same time some high liver, useless when he is not pernicious, who has never done a thing in his life, is putting on his coat in front of a good fire, getting ready to go to dinner with prostitutes? In this there is no justice. Note, I pray you, that I regard protest by bomb as criminal and absurd. Note also that I am a believer in hierarchy and condemn the Communists’ imbecile belief in equality. But there is a minimum of life, in exchange for labor, which becomes a right for the human being, if all is to end with his terrestrial existence. Has there been any thought of giving him this minimum? Who will dare to answer yes?
Sometimes, in my reveries, I have a terrible dream. The witches’ kettle in “Macbeth” appears to me, like the kettle [the French often call a bomb a kettle] of the Anarchists. There is a frightful cookery, a terrifying philter, a chemistry that appalls. Spectres approach the mysterious vessel, casting into it their ferments of poisoned hatreds. Marguerite casts in the little body of her new-born child, which she has strangled because society, which smiles upon the poets who sing of love, humiliates, despises, drives out, prostitutes, or assassinates the beautiful girls who make it. Cesar Birotteau casts in his ribbon which has been torn from him, for the most infamous of laws brands the honest debtor for the benefit of Gobseck who ruins him. — though lees than the treasury, that abominable usurer. And spectres and more spectres! The natural child stripped deprived even of the caresses which the animals bestow upon their young; the girl prostituted, in marriage or otherwise, by her family; the laborer who lets his useless tool fall from his exhausted hands; the small merchant devoured by the big one, like a gudgeon by a shark; the beggar punished because he begs, — all the victims of a pitiless society! Frightful dream, only too like reality!
And in the same journal of a later date, shortly before the execution, the same writer published the following article:
It seems that they have resolved to cut Vaillant’s head off, and perhaps the thing will have been done at the hour when this is read. It will be, I believe, — and it is a serious thing, — the first time that a political crime resulting in nobody’s death was followed by such a repression. It will be said, I know, that, if the deputies have got off with a few scratches, they owe it to chance. But every day in the courts criminals benefit by such chances. The truth is — not to be hypocritical about it — that the government feels itself threatened, and with it bourgeoise society as it was organized by the Revolution and by Napoleon I. and as it has existed, identical with itself, under the régimes of various names that have followed one another since. Government and society are quite right in defending themselves. The question is whether they defend themselves well.
I often doubt it. Almost every day I ask myself if there is not something else to do than what is being done; if there is not a risk of aggravating the evil they are trying to combat; if, while acting strictly in accordance with legality, they have also on their side that law, superior to law, which is justice. It is not to be disputed that we are confronted with something entirely new, with a rebellion which rests on emit of philosophy and which resembles nothing that has been known hitherto. Scarcely and only for a moment, under the first Revolution, was the violent solution of social questions attempted by the committee of l’Eveche and by the Hebertists. It was a small matter. Under the Restoration, under the monarchy of July, the conspiracies, the riots, the numerous attempts at regicide were purely political in character. The formidable insurrection of June was the first avowedly socialistic uprising. But if we look closely at the soul of that rebellion we find there accidental causes, such as the suppression of the national workshops, rather than permanent causes and a determination to destroy the social order in its essential principles. I knew some of those old combatants of June. They would pass for conservatives by the side of the revolutionary socialists of today. It is an entirely new thing, in our society, to find men who talk no longer of reforming, but of destroying. A philosophy which has come to us from the foggy countries of the North has filtered its way into certain minds, a sort of aggressive and violent Buddhism, whose ideal is the suppression of all ideal. For the revolutionary socialists everything — faith, traditions, resignation, political conception of disciplines is replaced by an idea of justice. But this idea, unfortunately, is the most unjust of ideas. Revolutionary justice, in fact, is equality of the grossest and most inequitable character; it is the suppression of legitimate hierarchy, it is the suppression of human effort by equally rewarding all effort. It is an aspiration to barbarism scientifically organized, worse than the instinctive barbarism of societies in process of formation. Very well. But to combat this new thing, born of the very doctrines of the Revolution, I consider that it is necessary to have recourse to other means than to those of classic repression, resistance of the old style, and a firmness of character that may appear very like cruel obstinacy.
I doubt even whether repression, however active it may be, can be indefinitely sufficient. There is passing through the minds of our time something vague but powerful, over which force will not always prevail. Opinion is more disturbed at severity than astonished at indulgence. Vaillant’s blood may flow, and at the same time ripen bloody harvests. To the criminal attempt of the despairing man reason itself, as well as sentiment, opposes the causes of his despair. He is born — oh, irony! — of a policeman who abandons him; he wishes to labor, and cannot; he undertakes enterprises, and they fail. Threefold question of the family, of the right to labor, of the right to credit. It seems to me that those who strike the rebels cannot do it with sufficient authority unless they show a noble concern about social problems. There are, in history, troublous hours when law must doubt itself, — those hours when it perceptibly fails to respond to a growing ideal of equity. Who knows that the present is not such an hour?
I should not like to seem to joke about such matters. But what the government chiefly lacks, in my view, is the spirit of originality and a certain “romanticism,” shall I say, which finds its place at times in politics as well as in literature. To guillotine Vaillant is classic and commonplace. I confess that, if I were a deputy, even though I had received a nail in my head, I should be deeply moved at the thought that a man was doubtless to die for this impersonal crime, which, in his hand, punished the long impotence, the idleness, and the egoism which have been the characteristic mark of our Parliaments. I should ask myself if it is not of this egoism that are born those sincere despairs which lead a man to risk his life. And from this narrow-mindedness of some, from the egoism of others, from the fear which some have of greatness and others of wisdom, it will follow that a man, in the morning, will mount the scaffold, conquered, killed, unconvinced of his fault, a man who, having made no victims, will be looked upon as a victim himself, and that our republic, hailed by so many dreams, will have its spectres who will survive the dead.
And the day after the execution the same writer continues his impressions:
I desired to go to see Vaillant die. I confess that I had not the courage. Not that I am extraordinarily sensitive. I have been a medical student and thus learned to overcome the instinctive horror of blood; and, like all the men of my stirring generation, I have seen war, battlefields, Paris burning, and have experienced the hideous confrontation with corpses red with the blood from their wounds. But at the hospital scientific interest or humanitarian emotion triumph over physical repugnance, which soon disappears; and in war, even after the battle, one is sustained, still intoxicated, by the action, by the risk run. On the contrary, there is something frightfully sinister, coupled with a shade of tragic ridicule, in this display of forces, in these wheels of the administrative machinery set in motion to kill a man, defenceless, bound, led to the social slaughter-house. Yes, I was afraid of this spectacle which I never before desired to see, afraid of the crowd, afraid of myself. Accuse me of cowardice who will. But I have read the accounts of the execution with intense interest. It is beyond doubt that Vaillant died with admirable courage. In him there was neither dejection nor bombast nor rage. In his attitude was to be seen that contemptuous firmness which is given only by faith in an idea. He was a man. A criminal, do you say, a sectarian, a madman? So be it. But he was a man, and into the word I throw, together with pity, regret for a lost force. They are not so numerous, those who are capable of dying for a mad idea!
If, for the last time, I return to this sad subject, it is not because, having favored mercy, I feel anger and bitterness toward those who have refused it. They too had reasons, and I presume that, thinking to obey their duty, they chose the solution most painful to them. It would be too degrading to think that wretched electoral considerations could here play any part, thrown into the balance trembling in the hands of men entrusted with the responsibility of hearing and judging the appeals taken from the uncertain justice of earth. Let us not deprive of its grandeur the loftiest debate of conscience imaginable. Only I mean to say further that this bloody affair is not so simple a matter as some seem to think, that it ends nothing, and that the headsman’s axe has not solved the problem.
- Clemenceau, in “La Justice,” struck one of his most direct blows:
Who has given us — us — this right which we deny to Valliant, — the right to kill?
If ever a prodigious stupidity was triumphantly formulated, it was Alphonse Karr’s “Let the assassins begin.”
So, all that you have to say to the assassins, you, society, trustee of the moral sanction in this world, is to invite them, these beings of inferior morality, to set you the example, you who pretend to do justice.
And if the assassins do not set you the good example that you ask of them, if they do not rise to your level, you will descend to theirs.
Lofty social conception, surely, which does great honor to the civilization which we adorn in vain with the pompous lies of humanity, without succeeding in concealing the barbaric reality.
No, it is not for the assassins to begin, it is for the honest people. And it is for M. Carnot to speak for them.
Following up the thought of M. Clemenceau, Henry Maret wrote as follows in “Le Radical” of January 15:
Yesterday in a certain number of journals was to be found this interesting bit of news:
“M. Deibler is not without occupation this year. He has now nine heads to cut off.”
Some gave this item lightly, as they would have declared that M. Sardou is writing a play for the Vaudeville. Others enlivened it with a few witty comments, it being indeed a very comical subject.
There is nothing so droll, I allow, as a man announced in advance as having to kill nine persons. It is excessively gay, especially when it is remembered that these premeditated murders are to be executed under the paternal eye of the law, which condemns murder. To do what we forbid others to do, in order to prove that it should not be done, is one of those exquisite inventions which give a high idea of human reason.
I know very well that there was Alphonse Karr, who said: “Let the assassins begin.” But Clemenceau is quite right in declaring this phrase a gross stupidity. For it consists in asking malefactors to set honest people the example of virtue. Yet it is the only argument in favor of the death penalty. Let the assassins begin? That is to say: We, Society, find nothing better to do than to imitate the assassins and take them as a model, and, as soon as they assassinate, we hasten to assassinate in our turn. This is simply to justify them; for, if we can give, as a reason for killing them, the preservation of our welfare, they can give, as a reason for killing, an interested motive absolutely analogous. Ours is worth neither more nor less.
I am aware that in speaking in this way at this moment I must seem like a lunatic. Thirty or forty years ago such would not have been the case, for then there were resolute opponents of the death penalty. In this matter, as in many others, we have gone such a distance backward that not only do we apply today the death penalty to those who have killed, but even to those who have not killed, like the Anarchist Valliant.
Everybody applauds the verdict which orders the decapitation of a man whose victims are all living. That has not been seen for a long time. Evidently we shall not stop there, and we have reason to hope that, following our retrogressive course of progress, we may soon reestablish hanging for thieves, poachers, and destroyers of property.
We are recoiling at a rapid rate. Soon, of all the Revolutionary conquests we shall have left but a distant recollection. There is nothing so amusing as this crowd of republicans returning to the quarries with the cry: “Vive la liberté!” Day before yesterday they revived the cabinet noir, orders being given to intercept correspondence and seize letters in the mail. Yesterday they invented an ingenious process, worthy of the empire and of the Sixteenth of May, for destroying the liberty of the press without seeming to touch it.
The empire had its peddlers, the Sixteenth of May its wineshops; we have our tobacco shops. As, in all the little towns and villages, it is the tobacco merchants that sell the newspapers, our Machlavels use this argument:
“Tobacco is a monopoly; the tobacco shops are dependent upon the government. The government therefore has the right to furnish to the tobacco sellers the list of newspapers which they are authorized to sell.”
This is exactly as if I, in placing a picture with a dealer to be sold for me, were to say to him: “My friend, I forbid you to sell henceforth the ink manufactured by Richard Roe.” He would probably answer me: “What you give me to sell concerns you, but what I sell besides is none of your business.”
It is the same with the tobacco dealers in their relation to the government. They are subject to it in the matter of tobacco, but no more in the matter of newspapers than in the matter of groceries, fruit, or any other article of commerce which they may see fit to add to their stock.
If the empire had resorted to such a measure, what an outcry would have been made by our republicans of today! But the reactionary wind that is bearing us along knows no obstacles. We are shooting backward at a rate of I know not how many knots an hour; we recognize as we pass them all the places that we have formerly seen, — this island, that reef, such a cape, yonder strait; every day carries us farther away, and takes us back into familiar waters; an adverse current has seized our bark, and we are off for the countries whence we ame.
Well, my brothers, there being just now a slight revival of religion among us, let us pray God to stop us at Louis XIV. Perhaps society will have been sufficiently saved when it shall have once more known the Dragonnades.
A Healthy and Timely Protest.
It is pleasant to reflect that the following editorial article from the Boston “Labor Leader” is from the pen of a man (Frank K. Foster) who is one of the most influential trade unionists in the country and who formerly was a pronounced and cocksure State Socialist.
For the first time in this State, so far as I am aware, a bill has been introduced in the legislature — by Representative George of Haverhill — which proposes to abrogate the right of contract and to make it an offence punishable by fine for any firm or corporation to employ men more than fifty-four hours in one week. Several labor men have testified in behalf of this bill, and it is not unlikely that its promoter seriously supposes that the principle it represents is in favor with perhaps a majority of the membership of organized labor. Waiving for the time the specific objections to the compulsory feature of the measure, such as its unconstitutionality and impracticability, it will be well for wage-earners to consider carefully a few of the reasons why their support should not be given to legislation of this nature.
There is a wide distinction, in the first place, between a “legal” nine-hour working day, as the phrase is used in this country, and a “compulsory” nine-hour day. We have, for instance, a legal ten-hour day, but a man may make a contract to work any number of hours he chooses, so far as the law is concerned. It is an entirely different principle which is contemplated by the bill of Mr. George, i. e., an interference with the theory that the adult male citizen, armed with the power of free association, is quite capable of looking after his own interests without asking the State to be his mentor and guardian, and to set him back three hundred years into the domain of status.
Even those tyros in social economics who regard it possible to do almost anything by the vote of the politician ought to hesitate a moment before surrendering something so precious as the right of contract, I know that there are some visionaries so far “advanced” that they do not mind a little thing like this, but the sober student of history and human progress is not prepared to cast from beneath his feet the very rung upon which the wage-earning class has mounted to a higher industrial and social level. The tendency of any bill which would make the acts of wage-earners hedged in and hampered by administrative process fixed by status is-distinctly unsound, mischievous, and retroactive. It is no answer to say that the end is desirable. No intelligent wage-earner questions the desirability of a reduction of the hours of labor. But there is such a thing as paying too high a price for a desirable thing. It is desirable, for instance, that there shall not be such monstrous inequality in social conditions. This would not justify legislation which should absolutely abolish protection to property and thereby establish license and rapine.
Bagehot, in his masterly “Physics and Politics,” traces out the slow and painful processes by which the right of contract was established among men, and demonstrates conclusively that it is the concomitant of the highest civilization. The English-speaking race has had a pretty fair test of what cannot be done by the interference of the State in hours and wages for adult males. Under pretence of helping the laborer, the paternal guardianship of the government from 1575 to 1824 made his burdens almost intolerable. Thorold Rogers says: “For more than two centuries and a half the English law, rod those who administered the law, were engaged in grinding the English workman down to the lowest pittance, in stamping out every expression or act which indicated any organized discontent, and in multiplying penalties upon him whenever he thought of his natural rights.” This has been the common result when the State has been given power to act as dictator in industrial affairs.
Mr. George’s bill would be a direct hindrance to the legitimate short-hour movement. It teaches men to look to that shadowy entity, the State, for things they can do better themselves; it contradicts in principle every polity which has made this State what she is as leader and teacher; and, if there was any danger of its receiving much support, it would be a serious matter, indeed.
A Writer’s View of Literary Property.
[Amine Alexander in L’Eclair.]
This question of literary property, which now touches so closely the material interests of writers, will doubtless seem a paltry matter in the future, when the idea of all shall belong to all and the earning of one’s living shall be a separate thing from the accomplishment of one’s life-work.
We have among us people who would like to abolish radically everything that exists and carry us back, by violence if need be, to a régime discarded and condemned more than a century ago. They are called conservatives.
For the Other Fellow Only.
Conscience is a club of which each makes use to beat his neighbor.
The Measure of Liberty.
One is free in proportion as one is strong; there is no real liberty save that which one takes one’s self.
A Usurpation of Function.
[L’Echo de Paris.]
The Judge. — “You have been caught stealing goods from a window.”
Prisoner. — “I did not steal.”
The Judge. — “Why lie? [After a pause.] You have a lawyer.”
Shingle Money in the Corner State.
Shingle certificates operate as a circulating medium in Blaine, Wash. A certificate for $16 recently circulated until it had paid nearly $300 in local debts before finally reaching the place whence it started. The basis of the certificate was shingles, and it would purchase flour, meat, coffee, blankets, fuel, clothing for the wife and babies, and perform all the functions of a gold-basis certificate.
Interest is Unjust.
The Manchester “Times” of May 18 published a criticism, by J. G. Fisher, of my paper, “Is Interest Just?” (Liberty, April 22), which is a fair sample of the logic of the defenders of capitalism.
Language is a tool for conveying thoughts, but unfortunately the ambiguity of words makes it impossible to establish a rigid relation between words and thoughts. A critic should therefore endeavor to accept the words of the author in the sense in which he uses them, to the exclusion of all other meanings. Moreover, he should be well informed and not deny or ignore facts of which be happens to be ignorant. My critic has honored these maxims by their breach.
In the attempt to controvert the theory that money bears interest because of its inadequate supply and that capital brings a net profit because money bears interest, he falls back upon the stereotyped reply that in the absence of money hire would be paid for tools. This I never denied, since I admit that, in a state of no-interest, hire would be paid equal to risk and deterioration. But more than this. If interest accrues to capital because we have not enough money, then interest will rise as the volume of money is reduced, and in the absence of money interest will assume the form of abject servitude In slavery. A high rate of interest in the absence of money is therefore in full accord with the theory I defend.
According to the modern school, money bears interest because actual capital, capable of being profitably employed, can be bought with it. In contesting this explanation of the interest-bearing power of money I had assumed as self-evident that the promoters of this theory consider money as such to be barren. But Mr. Fisher declares this a fallacy, stating that gold coin is not barren, intimating that it is capable of gratifying desires. In this he does not attack me so much as his friends; but, notwithstanding, I can defend them in this particular. Barren means incapable of increase and not incapable of gratifying desires, a property of gold which cannot be denied; nor has it any bearing on the interest question.
Nowhere have I intimated that government restricts any form of credit. It is the monetization of credit which is restricted. And, quite consistent with his misconstruction, he takes exception to my comparing the government control of the issue of credit-money with a supposititious restriction of the making of shoes, saying that I should have compared it with a restriction of the amount of gold. But since I have shown how money can be made of the raw material “credit,” just as shoes can be made of the raw material “leather,” I beg to reject his suggestion, which is due to his failure to follow the spirit of my argument. In order to defend his inability to follow my reasoning, he accuses me of an erroneous classification of wealth, intimating that gold coin is money while bank-notes are not. My critic’s forte evidently consists in misunderstanding the meaning of the words I use. By “money” I mean anything that performs the money-work; hence credit-money is included in the term as I use it, and the context plainly shows this. My critic might more successfully accuse me of an incorrect use of words, saying that I should have used the word “currency” in place of “money.” But this does not affect my argument and would be simply a verbal quibble.
To illustrate the correctness of my classification, let us suppose that I, a stranger to Mr. Fisher, buy of him $100 worth of goods and, having no “money” (gold coin), I offer in payment $100 in bank notes, which constitute a non-interest-bearing lien on the property of the issuing bank, monetized by act of government. Will he accept my offer? I fancy he will. But if I should offer him a non-interest-bearing lien on my property, however well secured, he will reject it. Why this difference? It is because the government has assumed the guarantee and has authorized the use in circulation of the banker’s notes, but not of mine. Can Mr. Fisher give a valid reason, other than the avarice of the conspirators, for the existence of a law, in obedience to which the government accepts the bankers’ security, assumes guarantee of payment, and authorizes the circulation of his debts, while it not only rejects my offer in the form of, say, a mortgage on real estate, even though I offer ten times greater value and agree to cover by insurance all remaining risks, but even forbids me to put my debts, however well secured, into circulation in competition with the banker’s notes? With the government’s guarantee, or possibly even by a simple withdrawal of the law forbidding the WIGS of such promissory notes, the lien on my wealth, properly secured, would be as acceptable as the lien on the banker’s wealth. Can Mr. Fisher deny the existence of an unjust discrimination? He appears to be ignorant of the law forbidding the circulation of bearer checks for even sums made to be used in place of currency. Nor does he seem to know that my employees would emphatically object to being regularly paid in checks, since they cannot use them in stores where they are unknown. Checks are for this reason unfit to perform the money work, and are in this sense not money. Why, then, quote them as though they were?
Mr. Fisher also impugns my assertion that bank-notes are only nominally redeemable on demand. Is he really ignorant of the fact that only a portion is so redeemable? No bank can carry a redemption fund equal to the issue of its notes. Nothing but the willingness of the people to circulate them for an indefinite period renders possible their issue in excess of the amount of true coin. I do not deny that under prevailing conditions they are, with few exceptions, practically redeemable on demand, but the fact that there are exceptions confirms my assertion.
In objecting to the inference derived from my illustration of the process of borrowing, which shows borrowing to be merely a temporary exchange of promissory notes, he reminds me that my note has been lying idle while the banker’s notes have been in active use. But he overlooks that my note was condemned to idleness because the government forcibly prevents its issue in a form in which it can take the place of the banker’s notes. This only confirms my assertion that I was compelled to pay interest to the banker merely because of the government’s discrimination between the banker’s notes and mine.
I am finally referred to the fructification theory of interest. Has my critic ever read Volume I of Boehm Bawerk’s “Capital and Interest”? In this volume the fructification theory is so completely refuted that Mr. Fisher should think twice before digging up this grave-yard. An outline of the only rational theory of interest is given below.
I can conceive no better proof of the correctness of my position than the fact that I am criticised only in the measure in which my critic misinterprets that which I have said.
Mr. J. K. Ingalls’s criticism (Liberty, June 10) of the same paper may be summed up as follows. The paper omits to condemn a number of other forms of unjust incomes; interest accrues to capital for reasons other than the monopoly of money; interest, rent, and profits are different in name only; and an excess of production over consumption, if it becomes the property of the producer, is not an unjust income.
He seems to have expected an exhaustive treatise on the Distribution of Wealth. There are but a few words to be said in response.
Every income has an economic cause, and, if different incomes have heterogeneous causes, or even if they require a different treatment in tracing the cause, the logician is compelled to classify them. A distinction must therefore be made between rent, interest on money, capital-profit, occasional profit, and profit (or wages) to the producer, the last two being perfectly just. For the same reason a distinction must also be made between land and capital, the latter being the produce of labor used in the act of further production. The land question being not pertinent to the interest question, I can here say no more than that I consider the private appropriation of rent to be unjust. The only pertinent complaint relates to my failure to trace the cause of capital-profit. I will endeavor to give an outline of the only theory which, to my mind, can account for it.
Capital-profit, or interest, is an excess of the value of a product over the cost of production, an excess which is found to be approximately proportional to the capital employed. But the theory of value teaches that market-values tend to the marginal cost of production, and, if value and cost are equal, there can be no room for an excess. But this excess can be accounted for as follows: Money is a tool of trade, without which a division of labor would be impossible. The producers, as a class, need this medium for interchanging their productions. The amount of money in circulation being inadequate to mediate these exchanges, producers will borrow money, which commands a premium for reasons shown. This interest is to the producers an unavoidable outlay, and therefore a part of the cost, which as such enters the market-value of the produce. Those individual producers who were so fortunate as to escape the necessity of borrowing can sell their productions at the market-value, containing, as an item, the interest payable by their less fortunate competitors, and can accordingly score an excess over cost. This, and nothing else, is the interest proper accruing to capital, regarding which the modern economists are doing their utmost to find a theory that will not expose the system of industrial piracy of today. But, since every one of their pet theories is based on some fallacy, they cannot agree upon any one.
According to the above theory of interest it is plain that the abolition of the money monopoly will also abolish the power of capital to appropriate a net profit. Hugo Bigram.
The Single Tax “As She is Spoke.”
“Justice,” the Philadelphia organ of Anarchism minus free land, prints the following admirable satire upon Henry George, the apostle of State Socialism minus the custom-house. It is written by G. F. Stephens, a member of the Single Taxers’ national committee and one of the most fair and independent men on earth:
Rule I. We must advocate a Single Tax on the rental value of land and the abolition of all other taxes.
The exceptions to above rule are as follows:
Exception 1. — Taxes on dogs. ” 2. — Taxes on bank notes. ” 3. — Taxes on incomes. ” 4. — Taxes that yield no revenue. ” 5. — Taxes heavy enough to be prohibitory. ” 6. — Taxes in enforcement of police powers.
Rule II. We must assert the exclusive right of the individual to that which is justly his property.
Exception 1. — Property in intoxicating liquors. ” 2. — All the exceptions applying under rule I — property in dogs, State bank notes, incomes, etc., etc.
Rule III. We must demand absolute freedom of speech for all.
Exception 1. — Anarchists.
Rule IV. We must assert the equal rights of all men to the use of the earth.
Exception 1. — Foreigners who won’t “assimilate.” ” 2. — Foreigners whose coming reduces wages. ” 3. — Foreigners of questionable health or morals. ” 4. — And always — the Chinese. Note. — Further exceptions to above rules may be looked for in later editions.
The Woman Taken in Adultery.
[Gospel according to St. Judas Iscariot.]
1 Jesus, being at Jerusalem, saw a woman whom the scribes and Pharisees had taken in adultery and whom they were preparing to stone. They approached Jesus, hoping to embarrass him.
2 “Master,” said they, “this woman was taken in adultery. It is the law of Moses that such women should be stoned for their sin. But what thinkest thou should be done to them?”
3 Jesus saw their souls and answered them: “How could Moses have known of this woman’s sin? Who can foresee the sins of the future and punish them? Act ye according to your conscience. Let him who is without sin cast the first stone!”
4 The scribes, crestfallen, looked at each other and consulted together.
5 “The Nazarene is right. Who, then, will dare to say that he is without sin and stone the woman? For we all know ourselves to be sinners and adulterers.”
6 Nevertheless one man advanced, selected from the heap of stones the largest and heaviest one, and cast it at the woman with all his strength.
7 And Jesus, in wrath, rebuked him.
8 “What doest thou, proud judge? Art thou without sin that thou strikest this woman?”
9 “No, Master,” said the man, “but I am her husband.”
Liberty’s Healthy Influence.
[New Bedford Mercury.]
The suspension of the “New Nation,” Mr. Bellamy’s organ of Nationalism, is followed by the revival of Liberty, Mr. Tucker’s organ of Anarchism. Between Mr. Bellamy and Mr. Tucker there is a great gulf, in which we apprehend the larger part of humanity is standing. It is scarcely likely that the death of the Nationalist journal and the resuscitation of the Anarchist paper can be taken to indicate that the socialistic idea is visibly yielding to the individualistic theory. If the tangible signs are of any worth, the Bellamy school has more followers than the Tucker school. Most of us are in some way desiring extensions of the scope of government, and even men who scout the fantasies of “Looking Backward” and would be astonished to know that they are incipient Socialists are yet looking to the State for help in some line in which they are specially interested. Against this tendency Mr. Tucker and his journal are a protest, — an extreme protest, it may be, — but a protest about whose meaning there is no shadow of a doubt. For ourselves, we have no question that such a protest is needed, even if it is couched in the strong and sometimes intemperate language in which the editor of Liberty is wont to indulge. It may be that the evolution of society is to lead to an entirely different end than the ideal of the Anarchist. That is a matter which may safely be left to the centuries to determine. For the present, the tendency to dependence upon “the State” is too pronounced. The debate is too one-sided. The knowledge that a diluted Socialism is popular leads to acquiescence in it in quarters where there should be questioning and dissent. The country needs an advocate of the other side. And we fancy that to be heard it is necessary that he should sometimes speak in strident tones.
A Convincing Reason.
[L’Écho de Paris.]
Papa. — And now, Master Paul, will you tell me why I am going to give you a whipping!”
Master Paul, aged eight. — “Yes, Papa. It is because you are the strongest.”
To Hugh O. Pentecost.
I would never suggest
A plague on your house,
But yet must protest
That a lion ’s turned louse.
Charles E. Nichols.
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.