“For always in thine eyes, O Liberty!
Shines that high light whereby the world is saved;
And though thou slay us, we will trust in thee.”
“A Concept of Political Justice.”
Mr. J. W. Sullivan of the “Twentieth Century” has put in pamphlet form an article written for his paper with the above title. In a foot-note he expresses the hope that his essay will prove “a formulating of thought to be corrected or assented to by those discussing social problems,” and in a late number of the “Twentieth Century” complains of the neglect of Anarchists. He offered his “Concept,” he says, as “a target for Anarchistic fire. But lo! the dissolving hosts who might have assailed it passed around it eyes shut, singing lovely paeans to liberty.” He rejoices that many “immobilized Anarchists” have given him at least “a partial adhesion.” But we find this “adhesion” is like that tendered Mr. George and all others who suggest some reform in politics or political government. But mobilized Anarchists, who reject all government, believe that all political reform, while it may have a tendency to awaken thought and thereby help to destroy the foundation of government, should have no place in their propaganda. There are so-called liberals who are members of different churches and are working for the destruction of all religious thought. But the orthodox Infidel would scorn to work in such harness. Likewise there are those whose avowed object is the destruction of government, who yet believe, like Mr. Sullivan, that they can better accomplish their purpose in the harness of politics. The philosophic Anarchist looks upon these people as the naturalist looks upon embryonic creatures; he watches in silence their development, hoping that, if not they, those whose thoughts they help to awaken will advance to the higher plane of pure Anarchism. Mr. Sullivan should not expect criticism from these, for, while they approve of his ultimate aim, they hold his methods in abhorrence: Yet for fear Mr. Sullivan should “conceive” that his argument is unanswerable, I shall venture a few remarks. Had he entitled his essay “A Concept of Social Justice” and refrained from any attempt to base political government upon this principle, it would have been sound Anarchistic argument. Here is where his “conception” proved an abortion; there are no facts in the origin or history of government showing that such a conception ever was or ever could be a reality. He fails to see that the very essence of government is diametrically opposed to such a conception. Now the fact that Mr. Sullivan, being well acquainted with the writings of Anarchists, ignores this fundamental position, gives rise to a suspicion that he hopes to receive distinction by occupying a neutral ground which he fears would be denied him in the camp of the politician or Anarchist. Mr. Sullivan begins his “concept” with the predicate that man’s freedom must of necessity be limited in society; that is, perfect liberty depends upon perfect isolation. When two come together, the liberty of each is abridged, inasmuch as the two could not occupy the same space at once. Passing the absurdity of such a desire on the part of each, I contend that the idea is a fallacy. Society has no need or right to invade or curtail man’s liberty unless it can be shown that its crowded condition, monopolized wealth, and monopolized opportunities are necessary to its existence. This idea, I believe, arises from a misconception of the term liberty. Mr. Sullivan seems to regard it as including the right to invade the equal freedom of another, or, as is commonly said, the liberty to do wrong. But any definition of liberty not entirely consistent with equal freedom is wrong and not to be entertained. Mr. Sullivan’s conception of liberty is equaled by his conception of politics. He defines politics as “having reference to the general and permanent relations between man and man.” While this was necessary for the purposes of his “concept,” it is utterly false in point of fact. Politics has “reference to the general and permanent relations between man and” government. It is the methods and tactics of “the State.” Mr. Sullivan might as well have used the term religion as politics; the social relations between man and man are as foreign to one as the other. The political “State,” like the religious “God,” assumes superior wisdom, superior rectitude, and superior power, — in a word, supreme authority; and it is simply impossible to reconcile it with any conception of justice or equal freedom arising in society, — that is, in the association and commerce of men. Mr. Sullivan says: “In applying this principle of equal freedom to civilized society as it exists to-day, we have established the just bases of a democratic State”; but “the character of the justice to be attained” makes this “democratic State” a different thing from government, and he practically nullifies his principle when he makes the individual subject to “such interference from the community, through taxation or otherwise, as a majority might deem necessary to preserve the conditions of justice, — that is, to preserve the State.” Wherein does this differ from the premise of all governments? The trouble is that his “democratic State,” like the State and government of reformers generally, is purely a conception of his own brains and never did and never can exist as a matter of fact. Numerous critics in the “Twentieth Century” and other periodicals are continually striving to convince Mr. Sullivan of the mythical character of government, illustrating in various ways that it is a sovereignty that exists only in name, but which, like the God idea, enables man to exploit his brother man. It is a parasite upon the body of society, and can no more be utilized than those pests which invest the human form and which have been supposed to subserve some wise purpose. Mr. Sullivan cannot or will not see the point which the Anarchist strives to concentrate his attention upon this sovereignty behind government or God, and which these names obscure, he wholly ignores, making it synonymous with society, public opinion, majority-rule, and civilization. It cannot be ignored, he says, it must be reformed. “Observing the evolution of man in various parts of the world, he cannot but see that where the majority actually makes the law freedom is at the highest, mankind is at its happiest.” Passing the fact that in “the evolution of man” and government no such condition has ever been observed, I credit him with believing that the more government is reformed, the more it is spread out so as to include in its machinery a greater number of people, the more liberty is evolved and consequently the happier man becomes. One of his critics observed that government is undergoing degeneration, and in answer Mr. Sullivan acknowledged the truth of the observation and thought that government would continue to degenerate until it became extinct. In the mean time he “sees a political party largely animated with his own sentiment, and really looking to his own first of practical aims; he accepts the aid of that party, rejecting its superstitions, retaining his right of criticism,” etc. To enter upon an argument showing the absurdity of propagating Anarchistic sentiment by joining a political party would be an insult to the intelligence of Liberty’s readers. Just imagine the wondrous influence a man must possess who, “half seas over,” and with the neck of a whiskey bottle projecting from his coat tails, holds forth to an audience on the beauties of temperance and total abstinence. The moment a man steps into the ranks of a political party, he must follow the fife and drum of that party; he cannot reject its superstitions, but must instead give aid and comfort to them. He may retain his right of criticism, but it avails him nothing. He has no more right of protest than the gambler who stakes his money on the turning of the cards. “He must abide the hazard of the die.”
In conclusion, let me say as an apology for occupying Liberty’s valuable space with so idle a criticism, it is really no subject for “Anarchistic fire.” The point I wished to emphasize was the misconception of the term government. While Mr. Sullivan has a perfect right to “conceive” any state or condition of society his prolific brain may give birth to, he has no right to call it government unless he invests it with that sovereign authority which all governments possess. Chambers’ Encyclopaedia says: “It is of the essence of every government that it shall represent the supreme power or sovereignty of the State, and that it shall thus be capable of subjecting every other will in the community, whether it be that of an individual or of a body of individuals, to its own . . . It is implied in the idea of government that it shall be politically responsible to no human power . . . Government possesses a right which politically is also unlimited, the light, namely, of inquiry into the relations, between citizen and citizen. It is of its essence that its scrutiny should be as irresistible as the execution of its decrees.” Realizing the importance of this point in the controversy waged in the “Twentieth Century,” I sought in a short essay to place it before the readers of that paper, but was informed that it could not be admitted unless “cut down to a ‘correspondence’,” — in other words, migrated. Of course I courted the oblivion of the waste basket.
A. L. Ballou.
Buffalo, N. Y.
To Any Natural Child.
Sweet babe, when the ignoble scorn and blame
Thee for thy birth, and cry: “Thou hast no name;
Thou art the child of passion and of shame,”
Ignore them, walking on the world’s highway
Full of great purpose; or, if thou shouldst stay
To answer such poor Custom’s hirelings, say:
“A name is but a sound to mark a thing
Conveniently for thought; can it make sing
The silent snake or give the worm a wing?
“The only name of worth is that I make
By my own kindly deeds for my soul’s sake;
Illustrious men have walked the path I take.
“Who reads the verses of Boccaccio
And then reviles him as a babe of woe,
Or taunts him as a bastard base and low?
“Who looks at Fillipino Lippi’s saint
With grateful heart forgets that it is paint
Wrought by a hand men say had a birth taint,
“And who are these, children of sires unwed,
Born of delirious Love the world wished dead,
About whose foreheads fame her light has shed?
“Catherine the First De Castro, and Cardan,
James Berwick and John Burgoyne, Athelstan,
And Archelaus the Macedonian.
“Almagro, and too many men of fire
And force for me to name, since I desire
Neither your foolish favor nor mad ire.”
“In abolishing rent and interest, the last vestiges of old-time slavery, the Revolution abolishes at one stroke the sword of the executioner, the seal of the magistrate, the club of the policeman, the gunge of the exciseman, the erasing-knife of the department clerk, all those insignia of Politics, which young Liberty grinds beneath her heel.” — Proudhon.
The appearance in the editorial column of articles over other signatures than the editor’s initial indicates that the editor approves their central purpose and general tenor, though he does not hold himself responsible for every phrase or word. But the appearance in other parts of the paper of articles by the same or other writers by no means indicates that he disapproves them in any respect, such disposition of them being governed largely by motives of convenience.
New York. — Samuel McWhinney, 2361 Eighth Ave.; Justus H. Schwab, 50 First Street.
Boston. — A. H. Simpson, 202 Huntington Ave.
Philadelphia. — Henry Heyne, Corner of Tenth and Market Streets.
Detroit. — Herman Reif. 94 Gratiot Ave.
Chicago. — Geo. A. Schilling, 85 Washington Street.
Denver. — Henry Cohen, 1239 Welton Street.
Canton, O. — Standard News Co.
London, England. — A. Tarn, 124 Temple Chambers; C. Attersoll, 44 Ellington Street, Barnsbury.
Melbourne, Australia. — D. A. Andrade, 213 Russell Street.
We, the undersigned, hereby agree, in case Benj. R. Tucker shall decide to publish in book form a compilation of articles written by him for his paper, Liberty, to purchase of him, at the rate of one dollar each, the number of copies herewith set opposite our respective names, and to pay to Benj. R. Tucker one-half the amount due for these copies whenever he shall call for it, and the balance on the appearance of the book.
|Previously Acknowledged||213 copies.|
|John Orth, Boston, Mass.,||2 “|
|W. L. Cheney, Meriden, Conn.,||1 “|
|John Grob, Austin, Ill.,||1 “|
|M. Birk, Long Island City, N. Y.,||10 “|
|Justus H. Schwab, New York, N. Y.,||5 “|
|James Thierry, Otter Lake, Mich.,||5 “|
|George Schumm, Boston, Mass.,||2 “|
|John Shpis, Denver, Colo.,||5 “|
|Halvor Clauson, Monohon, Wash.,||2 “|
|Lizzie Jack and James H. Jack, So. Denver, Colo.,||5 “|
|William Russel, New York,||1 “|
|Werner Boecklin, Burlington, Iowa,||5 “|
|Standard News Co., Canton, O.,||10 “|
|Wm. A. Whittick, Philadelphia, Pa.,||3 “|
|Stephen T. Byington, New York,||1 “|
|George W. Evans, Boston, Mass.,||6 “|
|Pedro Larrauri, South Norwalk, Conn.,||2 “|
From One of the Old Guard.
Dear Mr. Tucker:
Of course I shall want your book. I hope you will be sufficiently encouraged to get out a fine edition. It will prove of great value, I am sure. As one of the old guard, I anticipate great pleasure in reviving precious memories, as I pore over your pages, while many of those who will read the book for the first time will receive new light, and so help hasten the better day. Put me down for two copies. Yours sincerely, George Schumm.
Shall Spooks Shelter Scamps?
It has long been admitted by common minds, and (it is necessary to confess) by most minds above the common, that a man may record upon paper the most villainous intentions, inscribe across this record the letters a, e, i, p, r, t, v, arranged in the following order, p, r, i, v, a, t, e, send this record to another unsolicited, and thereafter, under the shield of the obligation which this mystic combination of letters is supposed to enforce upon the recipient of the document, perpetrate with the latter’s connivance, with immunity and impunity, the very villainies to the plotting of which he has confessed. I am glad the opportunity has come to me to strike this superstition in the face.
In Liberty of September 17 I printed an editorial in which I expressed my gratification at the appearance in the Democratic platform of an unequivocal declaration in favor of free banking, but at the same time proved by indisputable evidence taken from the Democratic campaign literature that the sincerity of the declaration was not to be trusted, and that it would be extremely unwise to confide the experiment of free money to Democratic hands. The publication of this article brought me a letter from the author of the campaign literature, Mr. J. Whidden Graham, which concluded thus:
I am beginning to doubt whether you are really more anxious for the spread of scientific principles of government than to air your own Anarchistic formulas. You must not despair of finding something to advocate, even if we Democrats do take up free trade, free money, and — many of us — free land.
In the middle of the letter was imbedded this precious bit of advice:
Don’t be so silly as to kick against a step in the direction of freedom because we find it necessary to put in a lot of rubbish about the restrictions which States may impose on their banks.
The letter was marked “Private.” After its receipt I at once wrote to Mr. Graham, informing him that I considered the closing paragraph of his letter a personal insult and terminating my acquaintance with him; which declaration occasioned a further interchange of letters, in which he vainly endeavored to explain away his impudence and his dishonesty.
Next, reflecting that I now had in my possession an explicit and authoritative confession of the fraudulent political scheme in which the Democratic party was engaged, whereby it was befogging the minds of the people regarding the meaning of free money and thus exposing to grave danger the cause which I have at heart, I considered carefully what course should be taken in this emergency. I saw that I must either respect the unsolicited confidence of the man who was promoting this fraudulent scheme, and thus allow it to be earned out without any attempt on my part to thwart it, or else must disregard this confidence and subject myself to abuse by making a public exposure. To state such a problem is to solve it. I won decided upon the latter course, and accordingly wrote the article, “The Democracy and Free Money,” which appeared in Liberty of Oct. 1. I accompanied my quotations from Mr. Graham’s letter with this explanation:
The letter from which I make these quotations, written on the printed letter-paper of the Democratic National Committee, is marked “Private,” but I take this method of informing its author, Mr. J. Whidden Graham, that no man can make me his confidant in any such piece of political chicanery, humbuggery, and rascality as that in which he is now engaged. As long as I supposed Mr. Graham to be using the Democratic party as a means of getting the truth before the people, I could only quietly wish him success, while not regarding his methods as the best; but when he virtually tells me that every truth which he sends out he must accompany with a lie that contradicts it, I not only refuse to be the keeper of his guilty secrets, but shall do my best to thwart him in this work, knowing that of such propagandism no good comes.
Following this explanation, I quoted that part of Mr. Graham’s pamphlet, fathered by the Democratic party, which he styles “rubbish,” and pointed out that the execution of the programme therein outlined could only bring discredit and ruin to the cause of free banking.
But it was useless to rest content with the publication of this exposure in Liberty. With the short time yet remaining before the election, and with no greater publicity than the circulation of Liberty could give, the purpose would not be accomplished. Accordingly I gave an advance copy of Liberty to the proprietor of the New York “Recorder,” a Republican daily of large circulation, and pointed out to him that there was material in my article which the Republicans could use as a weapon. In consequence of this, the “Recorder” of October 3 printed a long news article and a leading editorial denouncing the Democratic party as an Anarchistic party and as hypocritically concealing its Anarchism by professions which it privately characterized as “rubbish.” To sustain these charges it quoted from Mr. Graham’s pamphlet and from his letter to me.
Then I awaited the breaking of the storm. It broke the next day, when the following thunderbolt fell upon my unfortunate head:
Democratic National Committee,
No. 139 Fifth Avenue, New York.
October 4, 1892.
Benj. R. Tucker,
Sir, — I am indeed pleased to find you so promptly enforcing your own claims to honesty by making public a letter which I had marked private. You are indeed a model gentleman!
And you had the amazing gall, the insufferable cheek, to talk of being insulted by a charge of dishonesty.
You damned sneak!
Your high sense of honor which allows you to sell (I presume you got some dirty dollars for your share of the “Recorder” article) my private letter will probably be still further shocked when I inform you that I consider your act that of a scoundrel. I do not suppose a creature capable of descending to such depths can be reached by such [I omit two words here, being unable to decipher them. — Editor Liberty.] as public contempt, but, sir, be assured that your course in this matter will be fully explained to those who have hitherto regarded you as a decent man. Whidden Graham.
As I have already said, it gives me great pleasure to think that, by an act so public, I have been able to strike an unmistakable blow at the foolish but almost universal notion that one man can impose an obligation upon another. It takes two to create an obligation, and I have not consented to become the keeper of Mr. Graham’s secrets. The ethics of the private letter needs an airing. As a friend well said to me the other day, the party who marks a letter private thereby simply indicates a wish, which wish may have more or less weight with the recipient of the letter, but cannot oblige him to abdicate his judgment. Under ordinary circumstances, probably few men are more scrupulous than I in the observance of such a wish. If the party expressing it is one with whose purposes and methods I am in sympathy, I invariably observe it unless circumstances arise under which I am sure he would wish me not to. If he is one whom I personally respect while not sympathizing with his purposes, I observe his wish, unless the consequences of such observance will be too serious. But if he is one whose methods I cannot endorse and whose character I cannot respect, his wish has not a feather’s weight with me; I throw it to the winds. Let me illustrate. In Russia, where I believe violence to be justifiable, if Sophie Perovskaia had confided to me her intention of killing the Czar, I should have kept her secret because of my sympathy with her purpose. In this country, where I believe violence to be harmful to progress, if Berkman had confided to me his intention of killing Frick, I cannot say surely that my respect for his motiles would have induced me to preserve silence. But if Frick should confide to me an intention of killing O’Donnell, I most certainly would expose him to the police, since I despise the man and hate his purpose. The same rule governs me in my treatment of Mr. Graham. I consider his method of working for free money almost certain to bring disaster to the cause of freedom, and after his confession of dishonesty regarding a matter so vital I have little or no respect for him as a man; therefore he can have no confidences with me. In supposing that he could, he made a mistake which, I rejoice to say, is likely to embarrass him seriously. In seeking shelter behind a superstition, he forgot that I am no respecter of spooks.
Mr. Graham’s charge that I sold his letter to the “Recorder” is a lie that scarcely needs notice. Several years ago, when I exposed the “firebugs” among John Most’s followers, the cry went up that I had sold my facts to the daily press. That accusation long since descended to the limbo of exploded lies, whither the present one will speedily follow it. I have not asked or received, and shall not hereafter receive, from the “Recorder” or from any other source, the slightest compensation, pecuniary or other, for my “share of the ‘Recorder’ article,” which share consisted, as I have said, in the simple exhibition, to the proprietor, of an advance copy of Liberty. I make this statement because it is the simple fact, and not with any sense of pride. To tell the truth, I am a little ashamed that I did not take advantage of my financial opportunity. The proprietor of the “Recorder” voluntarily observed that he was under great obligations to me for calling his attention to the matter, and, if I had asked him, he probably would have paid me well. In not asking it, I presume I was influenced by considerations really discreditable to a plumb-line Anarchist. Probably I so far forgot myself as to reflect that people would charge me with a purely mercenary motive. Yielding to this dishonorable fear of public contempt, of which Mr. Graham thinks me incapable (would that he were wholly right!), I left the “Recorder” office without a cent of reward. The next time I will not be so foolish. Certainly I am entitled to sell that which I have a right to give away. In establishing my right to give away Mr. Graham’s letter, I establish my right to sell it also. And surely this right of sale ought not to be disputed by one who, in the paid employ of the Democratic National Committee, writes pamphlets for them, appends to sundry copies his autograph as author, and mails them to his acquaintances in Boston and elsewhere, after writing in the margin opposite various passages the words “Rot!” “Bosh!” “Rubbish!” and other equivalent exclamations of disgust at his own lies written for pay.
In concluding my comments upon this blackguard’s letter, I have only to say that I await with no trepidation the results of his declared effort to change the opinions of my friends regarding my personal character. I venture to say that not one of them, after hearing his statement and mine, would hesitate to make me his confidant or to send me a “private” letter. But though there should be a thousand such, I should still pursue the even tenor of my way. Benj. R. Tucker.
To the Editor of Liberty:
It appears to me your charge of class distinction, growing out of the cholera panic, so far as Islip and Fire Island are concerned, is not well taken. New York has not put on the Islip people more than she is willing to bear herself; rather less. Fire Island, eight or more miles removed from the mainland, is set apart for well passengers only, — i.e., for a class of passengers amongst whom the cholera has not appeared; while the Islands in the bay, much nearer New York, Brooklyn, and Staten Island than Fire Island is to Islip, receive the mass of dirty and poorly-fed passengers amongst whom the cholerai is a fact. Another point. Surely, - you cannot contend with a sober face that the distinction made between cabin and steerage passengers in the matter of compulsory bathing is other than one of dirt? I arrived in port on the Gallia on the first of September. We had 950 steerage passengers, but no cholera. The steerage people only were detained, and this for the purpose of giving them a scrubbing; and, I am bound to say, they would have received it as a defensive measure even under Anarchistic conditions, for a dirtier mass of humanity, mostly Polish and Russian Jews, I never saw in my life. They simply reeked with filth. Whatever else first-class passengers may or may not be, they are, at any rate, clean people physically. F. F. Cook.
[However far from Islip. Fire Island may be, it is so near to Islip’s fisheries and oyster beds that even the report that the island was to be made a quarantine station almost ruined the market. I presume that the fish which they catch form a large part of the diet of the citizens of Islip, and certainly they are dependent on this industry for their livelihood. Being thus endangered, they had as good a right as any other people to establish their own quarantine. In denying them this right and selecting them for subjection to a special danger, the State instituted a class distinction; and the press and people of New York were animated by the spirit of class distinction when they denounced these fishermen as an “inhuman mob” simply because they resisted this encroachment. Mr. Cook would see this if he had framed any adequate notion of the nature of class distinction. That he has not is clearly shown by his remarks about compulsory bathing. The class distinction here consists in the State’s assumption that all people who pay less than a certain sum to cross the ocean are dirty and that all people who pay more than that sum are clean. Mr. Cook’s language shows that he shares this assumption. The fact is that some of the cleanest of people travel in the steerage, and that some very dirty people travel in cabins. The clean steerage passenger who is stripped and bathed by force feels the insult as keenly as any cabin passenger; and the dirty cabin passenger is as dangerous to the community as any equally dirty steerage passenger. When all the passengers, both cabin and steerage, are stripped and examined, and when only those who are thus found to be dirty are required to bathe, then there will be no class distinction except between the clean and the dirty. But as long as the clean poor are bathed and the dirty rich are not interfered with, there is a class distinction based on wealth. — Editor Liberty.]
Government Assailed by a Bishop.
To the readers of Liberty the novelty of the following sentiments is not intrinsic, but arises from the significant fact that they were uttered in the wealthiest church in the United States, on the eve of Labor Day, by Right Reverend Hugh Miller Thompson, in a sermon entitled “Work and Pay,” written and delivered at the request of the Church Association for the Advancement of the Interests of Labor, and now published as a pamphlet by Thomas Whittaker, 2 and 3 Bible House, New York:
Labor, as such, has no rights. Capital, as such, has no rights. The workingman, as such, has no rights, but also the millionaire, as such, has no rights. . . . .
Each side appeals to what is called “Government.” I am sorry to see the use of that word in the Chinese way growing in the United States. In that sense I do not believe in “Governments.” “The best government is that which governs least.” As “one of your own poets,” in quite another connection, “has said”: “I am a Democrat.” Government is only the arrangement of a community for its own order and peace, that each member of the community may be protected in his life, property, and good name. That absolutely is all that any sensible government may exist for, — purely police duty internally among its own citizens. And outwardly as a protection against possible enemies. The first part of this duty has never been and is not now perfectly performed in any part of the United States. No community indeed in any part or age of the World has ever entirely performed the ordinary police duty of making life, property, and honor safe.
Governments have taxed, tariffied, and dutified to raise money to fight other people. They have never succeeded in making life quite safe at home. More lives have been sacrificed in the United States by murder, homicide, or preventable accident five-fold than in all our foreign wars.
More property has been destroyed by arson, riot, or robbery ten-fold than by foreign enemies.
And yet we are taxed, and our patriotism appealed to to build ships, and forts, and make “defences” against an imaginary foreign enemy, when for eighty years we could find no enemy in the world, and so turned to cutting each others’ throats as an expression of Northern or Southern patriotism!
One might think the Anarchists half right! The governments of the earth are without sense, principle, or reason, as soon as you take them far away from the firesides and the home communities. They have based themselves on the notion — the old diabolic notion — that men were by nature the enemies of men, and therefore that each people must stand armed and bristling against each other people.
So Europe is to-day an armed camp, and every German, French, and Russian peasant hoes his poor patch of ground with a soldier on his back.
For the solution of the difference between labor and capital, for the solution of any other differences or difficulties, the last place to look for help is to the thing you call “Government.”
Government, at its very best, is only the expression of the average good sense and honesty of the people. But no Government ever succeeded in being at one-tenth of its best. Certainly the government of the United States or of any particular State has never in your memory or mine expressed the beat intelligence or honesty of those it represented.
For you and me, and most men trying to make our honest livings on the earth, Government, Federal or State, stands for a thing that gets money from us.
It does not protect our lives from violence, our houses from burglary, or our own good names from slander. In its Federal form it taxes everything we eat, wear, or use to pay its own running expenses, support two or three hundred thousand patriots, and build cruisers, to be ready to fight Chili or the Principality of Monaco some coming century!
The United States has contrived to invent in one century of existence the most expensive government by five-fold in the world, ancient or modern, and to get the least protection out of it for the single citizen.
One wise State has, to save the expense of supporting its thieves and murderers, hired them out in rivalry with honest miners, and because they protested, the only way they knew, against being brought into competition with the farmed-out felony of a “sovereign State,” has been shooting them right and left. The State was, of course, forced to do so. But it is pitiful.
In this same Sovereign State the Governor has practically interpreted the law, as its newspapers declare, to mean that, when a “Gentleman” assassinates another, he must not be hanged as the law requires, — just sent to be a clerk in the Penitentiary till the next Governor pardons him out!
So whatever be the contests between labor and capital hereafter, let labor, at least, distinctly understand there is no hope for it in any governmental interference.
There is not on record the single case in which any republican government took the side of labor. I trust there never will be. Republican Governments are supposed to exist on the theory that labor can take admirable care of itself. Alexander freed the serfs of Russia; but Alexander was an arbitrary sovereign. Abraham Lincoln proclaimed freedom to the slaves; but Abraham Lincoln did so outside the Constitution, and as a war measure. In neither case would a constitutional Legislature, Congress, or Court have dared to do what these men did!
For the just and wise settlement of the conditions which are confronting the foremost people now there is no hope in the machine we call “Government.”
Government is not some paternal power organized to take care of all imbeciles and furnish pap to all fools or knaves, and provide dinners and shirts and greenbacks for all patriots who need them.
I am ashamed that there are people in the United States who have so far forgotten the traditions of their race and country as to think the thing they call “Government” was ever made to take care of anybody. There are some of us yet who believe that it is our duty to take care of “Government,” and to see that “Government” most energetically encourages every man to take care of himself!
If we are going into the business of a “Paternal” Government, it must be confessed we have, in the United States, invented the most expensive and extra-ordinary “Paternal” Government ever dreamed of by man!
It is perhaps natural enough that there should be a superstition that a thing called “Government” is the great Providence over men’s lives, — that some doings of “Government” should be looted to as the solution of all difficulties.
But the whole history of Man, as a social being, is the story of a struggle with “Governments,” a long, painful, wretched story of his struggle to get from under the load of “Governments,” and compel “Governments” to let him alone!
The poor, mad Anarchists who come to as from abroad have some cause, as all insane folk have, for their madness!
But did we not settle that a hundred years ago when we proclaimed that the thing called “Government” was only an arrangement by the community to preserve its own quiet and order, and to arrange things so that a man should be able to mind his owns business?
We thought we did, without question. And now we are confronted with all the heresies which we thought we had buried, and are taxed and ridden in the interests of all forms of Government, from boodle Aldermen to ring Senators, from town constable to President, the most be-governed people going.
The Moral Sanction.
“Witness, raise your right hand.”
“Very well, your honor.”
“The right, I say.”
“Pardon me, your honor, I am left-handed, and I am bound to warn you that, if I raise my right hand, it will mean nothing at all to me.”
The court retires to deliberate.
The Moral of the Fable.
Mamma. — You see, Jeanne, the wolf ate the lamb because the lamb was not good.
Jeanne. — I see, Mamma. If the lamb had been good, we should have eaten it.
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.