“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.
G. Bernard Shaw describes Liberty as “a lively paper, in which the usual proportions of a halfpenny worth of discussion to an intolerable deal of balderdash are reversed.”
I bespeak attention for Victor’s article on “The Woman Question” in this issue. Despite his invitation of criticism, I shall venture the hope that the believers in woman’s independence, of whom I am one, will not be moved by this assault to all speak at once, but will wait at least till the appearance of the next number, which will contain a long article by Zelm, submitting to thorough examination the position that Victor, rather vehemently reenforced at some points by Sarah M. Chipman, occupies.
I print the extract from Herbert Courtney (to be found in another column) chiefly because it aptly puts the case for the Egoists and shows that agnostics who talk of duty as against self-interest cut their own throats and bring their ethics into conflict with their religious views. I am not, of course, to be construed as concurring in the opinion that conduct should be regulated in accordance with the principle of the greatest happiness of the majority. Such a conclusion is neither rational nor logical. Mr. Courtney’s position is inconsistent with it, but, like all govermnentalists, he ignores the inconvenient fact that the “welfare of all” and the happiness of the majority are not one and the same thing.
In Mrs. Annie Besant’s magazine, “Our Corner,” G. Bernard Shaw has published the first of a series of two articles in reply to my paper on “State Socialism and Anarchism.” After the buffoonery of the “Workmen’s Advocate” and the superficiality of “Der Sozialist,” it is pleasant to be criticised by a man of brains and wit. The first article is intended as a refutation of Anarchism; the second (to appear this month) will be a defence of State Socialism. I await the appearance of the second before replying to either. From the fact that so much space is devoted in her magazine to an examination of my arguments, I infer that Mrs. Besant, who but a year ago “could support Mr. Benjamin Tucker’s strictures with perfect equanimity,” has discovered that equanimity alone is scarcely adequate to the task.
The London “Anarchist” and the Chicago “Alarm” have suspended publication. The former will appear again on July 1; the fate of the latter is uncertain. That the “Alarm” has not been better sustained is much to be regretted. Its treatment of Liberty has been such that it is scarcely in human nature that I personally should feel very friendly to it, but perhaps my testimony to its high degree of excellence as an Anarchistic organ is all the more valuable because somewhat unwilling. It has done good service for Anarchism, and I wish that it might live to do more. I rejoiced at its revival, I shall mourn its death, if unhappily that fate awaits it. The fact that it is having such a hard struggle for existence must be a dampener to those who have fondly imagined that a large amount of earnest intelligence regarding economic questions was suddenly generated by the throwing of that bomb.
Will Hubbard-Kernan, the eccentric editor of the prairies, in connection with S. F. Wilson, George Francis Train’s lecture agent, has come to the surface with another journal, “The Free-Lance.” Written in the editor’s cyclonic rhetoric and set up in accordance with his typographical idiosyncrasies, it is needless to say that it is hold, entertaining, and sham-piercing. It is filled with opportunities for laughter, but the most amusing of all to the lover of absurdities in logic is to be found in the prospectus. After announcing itself as “the only paper that will spit, and trample on the old isms and ideas of Sanctuary, Society, and State, whenever those isms and ideas conflict with the Self-Sovereignty of man,” it follows this Anarchistic generalization with the following assortment of specifications: “The only paper that will fight the hell-system which suffers men and women of unsound mind, body, or morals to marry; The only paper that will denounce the damnable custom of permitting the poor to procreate fresh tramps, paupers, and lazzaroni; The only paper that will defend the right of a man to drink rum or water as suits him best; The only paper that will favor sending every inmate of a house of ill-fame to the penitentiary, and every patron of such a place to the chain-gang.” It would appear from this that Mr. Kernan thinks, it consistent with the self-sovereignty of man to drink rum, but not to patronize a house of ill-fame. Now, it is a little queer that Brick Pomeroy, who also thinks himself a champion of the self-sovereignty of man, admits sexual liberty, but denies the liberty to drink. How few is the number of men who can allow complete liberty in face of their own prejudices! Pomeroy is afflicted with Baechophobia and Kernan with Phallophobia, and a man who has a phobia is almost sure, within its range, to be regardless of the rights of others. The “Free-Lance” is published weekly at $2.00 a year. Subscriptions may be sent to the Free Lance Publishing Co., Box 297, Kansas City, Mo.
F. F. R. says: “This subject of the liberty of woman and the state in which she now is is one of the most interesting and complicated [and I would add important] in all the range of existing social conditions.” Both sexes have an equal right to sexual freedom. They also have a natural right to make conditions in each individual case. And the idea that “a woman’s sexual favors are rightfully a matter of commerce is a principle essentially evil” seems to me quite inconsistent from an Anarchist’s standpoint. For, if “the woman who wishes this liberty tries it,” does not her liberty extend to the line of invasion? Another thought sown by “Liberty,” — viz., that “those who bear children should support them,” — in my opinion, has within it the element of death. I hate death with all the intensity of my nature. In the present ignorant state of the race, it is universally believed that both a man and woman are required to make a child. And I would like to know by what law of right all the trouble and expense should be thrown upon the woman, while the man in most eases seeks “pastures new”? Certainly not by the law of love or justice can this be done.
Men under physical sexual excitement use their seductive arts, making unstinted promises, declarations of love, etc., when, the fact is, love “has nothing to do with the case.” And average women, being fools in regard to psychic forces, are controlled, and most undesirable results follow. Very often “self-slam lost one, seduced betrayed.”
If a thing having the semblance of a man should seduce and betray my daughter, I would put a bullet through his heart or brain, and would not ask permission of the “State” or “Anarchy.”
Women have a right to make terms for their “sexual favors,” and they must exercise that right; else they will have a harder time under Anarchy (as Interpreted by some people) than they have had under the law.
A keen mental vision is not required to see that a revolution is in operation in the sexual realm. Hut the idea that all care and responsibility of children should be thrown upon the woman, and that she at the same time should be self-supporting, is pure idiocy, and I will tight it to the extent of my ability. Under such conditions the nightingale and raven would fare alike. Sarah M. Chipman.
[E. F. B. in Social Science.]
How can you exhibit to another mind the conception of value except by corresponding value? How can you create the ideal of value or ratio of value, except by some preexisting value?
In physics, value is not one of the natural properties of bodies, like form, extension, color, weight, etc. Value is merely relative and abstract. Emblems can no more represent real value than a photograph or a stone statue can represent a living soul. The most they can do is to convey an imperfect notion, or call to mind a more vivid ideal, of the real or original substance or archetype.
Sign, symbols, emblems, etc., simply suggest, point to, signify, or typify the archetypes to which they refer; only to this extent are they “representatives” of their prototypes. Their character as representatives is merely an assumption or supposition.
The commercial value which paper money or currency or funds “represent,” is simply a matter of credit, faith, or confidence placed in the parties issuing them; faith in their solvency, integrity, responsibility, ability, and good intent in redeeming their promises. If this faith be from any cause destroyed, the “representation” of value previously attaching to it is destroyed also. The stamp or emblematic design remains as perfect as before, but, the credit or faith having vanished, it ceases to represent anything. Therefore, there can be no bona fide representative of value except such as is founded on credit, or faith in the fulfillment of a promise of intrinsic or commodity value. Fiat money, the hypothetical, ideal greenback cannot “represent” value, therefore, because it promises no intrinsic value, and is consequently devoid of the element of faith, or credit. It has no foundation for credit,— a castle in the air.
Greenbackers are accustomed to saying that their fiat money would be “backed” or guaranteed by every dollar’s worth of property in the country, etc. This is bold, gratuitous assertion. What a government will not agree to, and promise to pay, it is fair to inter it does not intend to pay.
And, it must not be forgotten or overlooked that, if the government or if the Greenbackers honestly meant that the government should make good, redeem, and pay an equitable equivalent, consisting of intrinsic value, for every dollar of fiat money they would have the government issue, then they would manifest their honest motives in the best manner by promising to pay a specified sum, fair and square, and end the doubt and dispute. Of course this would be to “throw up the sponge,” abandon Greenback doctrines, and confess themselves without a cause.
Furthermore, suppose a government to go so far as to tens millions of fiat money; that is, stamp and prepare it ready for the money market. No one could obtain a dollar of it without paying full price for it in intrinsic values, or what is based on intrinsic value.
If accepted for services, the latter are intrinsic values, and are entitled to intrinsic value or its equivalent, la remuneration. When it came to the test, even Greenbackers themselves would shrink from giving their real, intrinsic values in exchange for mere suppositions and imaginary sums, represented by signs, symbols, or emblems.
All tokens of value issued by the government must be purchased at their face value, like postage stamps, and paid for in intrinsic value or its equivalent. Such tokens are not fiat values; they are credit currency for specific purposes.
The Two Fool Species.
[J. L. De Lanessan.]
Panurge’s sheep, and men, are the only animals that carry servility and stupidity to the extent of jumping into the water simply for the sake of following their leaders.
The Rag-Picker of Paris.
By Felix Pyat.
Translated from the French by Benj. B. Tucker.
Continued from No. 123.
Indignant at himself, he dealt his chest a rude blow; then he continued:
“That’s what comes of being drunk. I should have let the bandit drown, or at least I should have aided the other! I should have had legs, arms, a head of my own, and eyes to see! I should have been a man, in short, not a brute!”
And, folding his arms, he added in a terrible voice:
“I have drunk the blood of a man!”
Then, falling on his knees before the corpse, bareheaded, with the respect of a Parisian for death, he extended his hand solemnly, and said:
“I renounce wine forever. That should be my penalty. No, not another drop! I swear it here over the body of this unfortunate, killed by my drunkenness as well as by this brigand’s hook. I am his accomplice.”
Still the patrol approached.
Jean rose and noticed at last the sound of the guards making their round, queer police, announcing with their heavy resounding steps their useless arrival as powerless for the prevention of the crime as for the arrest of the criminal.
“I must not stay here,” exclaimed the rag-picker, hurriedly. “There’s nothing to he gained by the side of a corpse. And my sack?”
He ran against Garousse’s basket.
“Ah! his basket! An entirely new one, too! And to steal when he had that! A vicious rascal, indeed! Yes, to had hands the good tools.”
While making his reflections, he put the basket on his back and picked up the hook stained with Didier’s blood.
“Mine the inheritance,” he concluded, “and with it to do my best to help the wife and child of this poor fellow . . . . Ah! if he had carried only rags, as I do! But the other,— if ever I find him again. He was not worth even this sack,— yes, to be put into it!”
Ami, taking his old sack, he threw it into the basket.
The forms of the soldiers were becoming visible in the darkness, a few steps away.
Jean put out his lantern and crouched down.
“The patrol!” he exclaimed. “High time, I should think!”
But he had just been seen and hailed.
“Who goes there?”
“A dead man,” said he, as he stole away. “Too late, snails, good evening!” The patrol came into full view at the comer of the wine-shop, keeping step with regulation indifference, and halted under the lamp that lighted the body of Jacques Didier. . . .
The Berville Mansion.
Midway of the Rue du Louvre rose a heavy and cumbrous freestone structure, high if not grand, whose ponderous aspect and strong-box solidity indicated the establishment of a bourgeois master-Plutus, preferring rough stone to mouldings and placing security and comfort before taste, style, and art.
On a clean black marble tablet, fastened to the wall, appeared this simple inscription in shining and well-kept silver letters:
The lower part of the edifice — ground-floor and second story — was divided symmetrically, by doors containing slides, into a cashier’s office, counting-rooms, and manager’s office. Much order and no luxury, everything necessary, nothing superfluous, a massive and substantial whole. The upper part — three stories — served as the private residence of the owner, M. Berville, recently left a widower, with his only son, Camille, a school-boy of nine years, and his cousin, Mile. Gertrude Berville, who, on the death of her relative, had assumed the care of the house.
The banker, a man of mature age, already fat, with an apoplectic look, at the zenith of life and success, was, like almost all Parisians, from the country, which is ever recruiting Paris with its best blood. Which makes Paris really France.
M. Berville, then, had come from Bourges, where he had succeeded, to Paris, where he succeeded better still. Ambitious only for wealth, industrious, exact, trained for his business, as precise and orderly as clock-work, he was born a specialist und strong consequently in his single capacity of calculating profit.
To a certain extent he shared, no doubt, the ideas of his class and age. Voltairean in religion, liberal in polities, constitutional in principle; but at bottom his creed was his cash-box, the charter his ledger, the Constitution his coin; his figures were his principles, his business his honor; and his opinions, more metallic than religious and political, all passed through his strong-box before reaching his head and his heart. Interest was his real passion, dominating everything in him,— religion, society, and even family, so dear to the bourgeois. His country was his pocket. His France stretched from the Bourse to the Bank, and the future of the nation was the end of the month. In short, he counted as he breathed, as the bird flies and the fish swims, by birth and training a perfect banker.
Like father, like son, says the proverb,— an error. Like mother, like son,— that is the truth. Washington’s mother was worthy; Bonaparte’s mother was base. A wise law of nature which seeks variety in human unity, and in the absence of which the would would always be one and the same man. Berville’s son, then, stood as the contrast of his father and the image of his mother. For, by another law of nature no less wisely ordered for the variety and progress of the race, by the very attraction of opposites, the man of money had married a woman of heart.
Catherine Berville, a beautiful and good creature, belonging to the same cast as her husband but of city and republican stock, a daughter of the French Revolution, a pupil of the philosophy of the great century, that of Rousseau and Voltaire, the century infatuated with humanity, had learned to read in “Émile” She had broken with the Bible, giving her son a Roman name. Democratic although bourgeiouse, and of the people although rich, she was the Providence of the neighborhood. The poor called her the good lady.
But her tender affections and her lofty aspirations hail been speedily checked by the marital arithmetic; she lied concentrated all her woman’s heart in her child. She was nothing but a mother, but completely a mother. Her son was her life, her faith, her law, her gold; she lived only for him; to her he was the Divine Child! At Bourges, a lady of charity, by precept, example, and practice, this Cornelia had taught him humanity; she had taught him to write by dictating bread tickets to him, showing him the poor and saying to him “Their bread makes your cake.” At Paris, under the influence of the change of air and life, deprived of her benevolent habits and above all of her son, who has been left, at school in Bourges, as indifferent to pleasures as to business, she soon declined and succeeded, suffocated by the verdigris atmosphere in which her husband prospered. She died, leaving the best part, of herself, her greatest wealth, her hear, to a child made in her own image,— the work par excellence of woman, a child destined to become a man worthy of the name.
Camille, in fact, was more than a resemblance, he was a survival of his mother. “That boy will never bite at a bargain,” said the hanker, thinking of his heir and looking at his offspring with an air of stupefaction.
Full of fun and feeling, impulsive, charming and excellent, Camille pleased everybody except the author of his being.
A precocious, passionate, spontaneous child, the pet of his mother, the terror of his father, a Gavarni, he, thanks to the memory of his mother’s love and to his filial piety, preserved the respect of himself and of others, kept himself unbroken and undamaged, and maintained his originality and his purity even in school, in that promiscuity of the boarding-school, as harmful physically and morally as that of the convent, of the barracks, of the hospital, and of the prison; in which children rub against each other, wearing each other away like pebbles on the shore, staining each other like plums in a basket; from which must of them come out dry or rotten fruit, deprived too early of their mothers’ teaching, of woman’s moral nursing, of the influence of the family which suffers no less than the child, as ill reared as taught, all formed after one pattern like their dress coats, all east in the same mould, having lost, to the detriment of society itself, independence, initiative, individuality, personality, and liberty.
Through his mother’s influence Camille escaped this deformation. A liberal school-boy at the Jesuitical epoch when the school resembled the ecclesiastical seminary, he was even then secretly reading Béranger instead of Loriquet. Rebellious against the clerical and royal spirit, he got expelled from school for two offences. He had taken a drink of the wine while serving the mass; and, like the people, he had described as malodorous the huge fleur de lys, emblem of the big king, Louis XVIII, which that “fat hog” had brought back from Ghent with the Charter and placed everywhere, even on the school-boys’ buttons.
Camille had then come hack to his father’s, dismissed and recommended with this complimentary remark promising well for his future: sacrilegious, seditious, incorrigible, an utterly worthless scamp.
“The child is father of the man,” says the English proverb, with humor and sagacity. We shall see its truth.
Mademoiselle Gertrude Berville, who affected to call herself de Berville, was different.
Already an old maid, irreproachable, impeccable, as stiff and starched as a dragonfly, always looking as if just out of a hand-box, pretentious and affected like every woman who reads Balzac, steeped in devotion and nobility, she was as singular as the two other members of the family, of whom, however, she was sincerely fond; for beneath her ridiculous ways of a Berri woman wedded to God and the king she was not without heart or mind. Perverted by a false ideal and an intense need of authority, she divided her time between her domestic reign and the worship — with strictly honorable intentions — of an abbe, her confessor, of whom she took as good care as of her dog, going every morning to mass in an equipage which she ordered harnessed simply to take her across the street from the house to the church and back. In all things and for all things Mlle. de Berville liked the grand style.
At Bourges, the cathedral town par excellence, she did not go out of the church; she was wholly devoted to the chapel of Mary, to the month of Mary, to the flowers and robes of Alary. She was called the Holy Virgin’s maid.
The influence of the Church in the provinces, especially in a cathedral town like Bourges, is extraordinary. The Church fills the same place in the minds of its patrons that its temple fills on the pavements of the streets. At sunrise the stone leviathan covers with its deadly shade one-half the city, and all its souls throughout the day. Its hell is heard for five miles around, its towers may be seen at a distance of twenty miles. Its power is proportional to the ennui of its flock. Ennui, that bane of the provinces, that rust of the heart, which takes possession of the inhabitants of these dead cities as the grass lakes possession of their streets,— ennui delivers them, especially the women, body, soul, and possessions, to the Church, which exploits their idleness, the two cardinal pensions of the human soul, hope and fear, and even their need of social life. In the provinces, where a department is still called a diocese, the Church has no competitors as in Paris, no offsets like the great theatres, the conceits, the museums, the meetings, and all the distractions of the capital.
The Church alone has this grandeur and this variety. Such as they are, it offers the multitude festivities, music, painting, decorations, costumer, all its spectacular effects, free of charge. It breaks the monotony of isolation by gatherings, and the prose of daily life by ceremonies. Thus it meets more or less the individual need of collective life. While the man, rich or poor, is with his fellows in the wine-shop or the café, the woman has only the Church in which to seek her associates, whether in silk or woollen, and satisfy her instincts of art, of the ideal, of curiosity, and of society. This explains why women were the first, as the Bible says, and will be the last, to see God. That only is really destroyed which is replaced; and so far the Holy Mother alone holds her children in her bosom from their birth until their death and even afterwards.
Gertrude Berville, left an orphan with a pious guardian and a large fortune, had been speedily captured by the priests, who had called her angel and then saint, and overwhelmed her with earesses and blessings, receiving in return her entire affection both as a child and as a rich and devout, young girl.
Baptized, confessed, communicated, confirmed, and canonized in advance by them, in hope of inheriting her property, she had passed through all the sacraments except that of marriage; and doubtless she would have ended by that of the Order, but for the death of her cousin, which had restored her to the family. Neglected by the stronger sex in spite of her dowry, she had not given herself to God without a sigh or a desire for man. She had not yet taken the veil, clinging to the vague hope of a spouse less polygamic and more earthly than the husband of all the female saints in Paradise.
Already past the age of thirty, slim and frail physically, long rather than tall, pale rather than hale, slender but not graceful and beautiful but not charming, elegant without chic and coquettish without the power of captivation, precisely as an effect of celibacy so contrary to nature, especially in women, who mow than men are observant of nature, she was still thin at an age when she should have been stout, and slim when she should have been plump. Youth without lustre and maturity without power, there was something of the faded row and shrivelled apple about her which inspired regret rather than desire.
Lettered moreover, well informed, as arch and cunning as a cat, devout without austerity and feminine without frivolity, capable of exaltation and enthusiasm, she had nothing in common with the Berville race save the spirit of despotism and economy, accompanied, however, not by greed or severity, but even by generosity ridiculous certainly, but interesting in spite of prejudices and faults due rather to her surroundings than her person, and of which she was a victim rather than it guilty cause; in short superior, far superior, to her constitutional cousin, whom site regarded as a well-bred man, who for a moment hail thought of marrying her for the sake of domestic economy, but who, trading her sufficiently devoted without it, had abandoned the design without sorrow either on her part or on his own.
Such was the Berville trinity seated at table on Mardi Gras, 1828, at a Carnival dinner given to all the celebrities of Parisian bourgeois society.
The Paris of Berville was not, that of Garousse or of Jean.
We then had three classes in France, The Restoration had reconstructed the orders which the devolution had torn down,— Nobility, Clergy, and Third Estate. It, had even divided the Third Estate into two parts, the bourgeoisie and the plebeians, which, mated, had made the Revolution, and formerly France itself through Jacques Coeur and Jeanne d’Are, and which may ruin everything, both Revolution and France, by their disunion.
The One and Indivisible of ’92 no longer existed, then, in 1828, any more than it exists in 1886. Let us hope for it at the centenary.
There were then the feudalist, the bourgeois, and the proletaire; De Garousse, Berville, and Jean; carnivora, ruminants, and stereovora; three faubourgs,— Saint-Germain, Saint-Honore, and Saint-Antoine; palace, mansion, and garret; three social strata corresponding to the three racial strata, the Frank, the Gallo-Roman, and the Celt, composed or rather superposed in the alloy which constituted France, and which is still better represented by a mixed railway train containing first, second, and third-class cars.
In this social chemistry the two real elements of the nation, the bourgeoisie and the people, were still held together by the common hatred of the carabus and the calotins, and of their Bourbon princes again enthroned by the foreigner.
The bourgeois, through envy of the nobility, disgust with the priesthood, and fear for their national possessions; Bonapartists on half-pay, in the rancor of defeat and hope of revenge; Orleanists, struggling against, their elders; the people, moved by their love of country and liberty,— all were as one, forming what was called the liberal party.
Undoubtedly a philosopher could already have discerned in this coalition a fatal cause of rupture, though latent then and destined not to manifest itself till after the victory, the revolution of July.
Those seated at the Berville table on the evening in question, in a dining-hall where everything was rich and abundant, with provincial solidity beneath Parisian refinement, all belonged, whether guests or hosts, to this class and this party.
To be continued.
Love, Marriage, and Divorce,
And the Sovereignty of the Individual.
Henry James, Horace Greeley, and Stephen Pearl Andrews.
Queries to Mr. James, by Mr. Andrews.
New York, Friday, Nov. 26, 1852.
To the Editor of the Tribune:
I have read with some interest a recent article in The Tribune, by Henry James, in reply to an “assault” upon him, made by the Editor of The New York Observer, on the Marriage Question. Perhaps it would be discourteous to say that, in relation to the issue of the conflict between these parties, I am quite indifferent. My own opinions differ considerably from those avowed by either of the contestants. My curiosity is piqued, however, by the positions assumed by Mr. James, to see how he will maintain himself, and I find myself given over to a sort of “hope-I-don’t intrude” propensity to ask questions. Without venturing on polemics, I may perhaps be allowed, as a third party, the Socratic privilege of propounding difficulties and seeking for further information.
It was a saying of Daniel Webster that “if a thing is to be done, a wise man should be able to tell how it is to be done.” Hence, I can not but hope that Mr. James may be able to remove some of the darkness which obscures my perceptions of the tenability of his positions. I confess that, comparing my recollections of his earlier writings in The Harbinger and The Tribune upon the same subject with the somewhat rampant and ferocious morality of a recent article in The Tribune, in review of the book of Dr. Lazarus, called Love vs. Marriage, which I attributed to his pen, I said to myself, “My friend, Mr. James, is certainly coming up on both sides of the same question.” But I now stand corrected. This still more recent manifesto defines him with respect to his position, if the position itself proves susceptible of definition. He is a “cordial and enlightened respecter of marriage” – a champion, indeed, of the institution of Marriage – but at the same time he is in favor of entire freedom of divorce, “provided only the parties guarantee the State against the charge of their offspring.” He is surprised that an intelligent man should “see no other security for the faithful union of husband and wife than that which dates from the police office.” “By freely legitimating Divorce within the limits of a complete guarantee to society against the support of offspring,” you do, according to him, “place the inducement to mutual fidelity no longer in the base legal bondage of the parties merely, but in their reciprocal inward sweetness or humanity.”
In affirming all this, it seems to him the while, that “he is saying as good a word for marriage as has ever been said beneath the stars.” He indignantly repudiates all affiliation of his doctrines with the laxer kind of morality, or the systematic enlargement of marital privileges by certain religious sectarians, whom he scornfully pronounces destitute of common sense, for no better cause, so far as he enables us to discover, than that their views differ from his, and whom, he informs us, he, moved by the divine afflatus, lectured for their “disorderly lives.” As Mr. James professes himself ready and apt to instruct the public, and desirous withal to forward “the good time coming” by reforming the abuses of the institution of Marriage, I flatter myself that he can not object to relieving a few doubts and honest difficulties which perplex my understanding of his doctrine upon the subject.
These doubts and difficulties are stated in the following list of queries:
What does Mr. J. understand to be the essential and determining element of marriage, the kernel or sine qua non of the Marriage institution, after the complete removal of the characteristic feature of “legal bondage” or “outward force,” by the repeal of all laws sanctioning and enforcing it, and after the feature of necessary perpetuity is removed by the entire freedom to end the relation by the will of the parties at any instant? Noah Webster informs us that to marry is to “join a man and woman for life, and constitute them man and wife according to the laws and customs of a nation.” Now, any constraint from custom is as much an outward force as a constraint by law, and in case both these species of constraint are removed, that is, if the man and woman are joined with no reference to either, but simply with regard to their mutual or individual choice and wishes – the union occurring not for life, but to be dissolved at the option of the parties – both limbs of the definition are eliminated, reminding one of the oft-quoted expurgation of the tragedy of Hamlet. [Online editor’s note: i.e., “Hamlet without the prince.” – RTL] It seems to me, then, that I am quite in order to call for a new specification of the essentials of Matrimony. But I am forgetting that Mr. J. still provides for the ghost of a legal tie, in the bond to be given as a guarantee to Society against the support of the offspring. This brings me to my second query.
Why – if the maintenance of the unswerving constancy of husband and wife can be safely intrusted to the guardianship of “their reciprocal inward sweetness or humanity,” with no “base legal bondage” superadded – why may not the care and maintenance of the offspring be, with equal safety, intrusted likewise to that same “inward sweetness or humanity,” without the superaddition of a “base legal bondage,” or “outward force?” If the first of these social relations may with safety, not only, but with positive advantage, be discharged of accountability to the police office, why not the second? Why, indeed, be at the trouble and expense of maintaining a police office at all? Indeed, if I understand Mr. J. rightly, after imposing this limitation upon the absolute freedom of divorce, or, in other words, upon the extinction of legal marriage – ex gratia modestiae [Online editor’s note: “for modesty’s sake” – RTL], perhaps, lest the whole truth might be fitting to be spoken openly – he again dispenses with the limitation itself, and delivers the parental relation over to the same securities to which he has previously consigned the conjugal; for, I find in a subsequent paragraph of the same article the following sentence: “It is obvious to every honest mind that if our conjugal, parental, and social ties generally can be safely discharged of the purely diabolic element of outward force, they must instantly become transfigured by their own inward divine and irresistible loveliness.” Here it is not Marriage only, but the maintenance of offspring also, which is to be intrusted to the “inward sweetness or humanity” of the individuals to whom the relation appeals, which seems to me much the more consistent view of the matter, inasmuch as, if the principle is good for any thing in one case, it is certainly equally applicable in the other. But here, again, we come back to the point I have made above – the query whether Marriage, discharged of all law, custom, or necessary perpetuity, remains Marriage at all? and if so, what is the essential and characteristic element of such Marriage? – upon which point I crave further information.
If the inception and the dissolution of Marriage is to be left to the option of the parties on such grounds as are stated by Mr. J., is the expansion or construction of the relation also to be abandoned to the altogether private and individual judgment of the same parties in logical deference to the same principle? That is to say, if more than two parties are taken into the conjugal partnership, is that degree of license to be tolerated likewise? or are we still to retain a police office to provide against such cases? We are aware that men have differed in theory and practice in divers ages and nations – between Monogamy and Polygamy, for example – and with all restraints, both of custom and of law removed, possibly they may differ in like manner again. What, then, is to happen under the new regime? Who is to be the standard of proprieties? Is Mr. James’ definition of a “disorderly life” to be my definition because it is his? If not Mr. James’ definition, whose then? What is the limit up to which Man, simply in virtue of being Man, is entitled, of right, to the exercise of his freedom, without the interference of Society, or – which is the same thing – of other individuals? This last, it seems to me, is about the most weighty question concerning human society ever asked, and one which a man who, like Mr. James, attempts to lead the way in the solution of social difficulties, should be prepared to answer by some broader generalization than any which relates to a single one of the social ties, and by some principle more susceptible of definition than a general reference to humanitary sentiment. There are some acts which the individual is authorized to do or not to do, at his own option, and in relation to which other individuals have no right to interfere to determine for him whether he shall or shall not do them; as, for example, whether he shall go personally to the post office or send a boy. There are certain other acts, on the other hand, which the individual can not do without directly authorizing interference, resistance, or constraint, on the part of others. If a man plant his fist in the features of another, or tweak his nose, I take that to be such an act. What, now, is the clear and definable line which Social Science, as understood by Mr. James, reveals, as running between these two classes of acts? If that can be discovered, perchance it may settle the Marriage question, not singly and alone, but along with every other question of human freedom. Hoping that Mr. J. will consent to enlighten me and others by any knowledge he may have upon the subject, I submit my interrogatories.
Stephen Pearl Andrews.
Mr. Greeley’s comments.
Having given place to the essays on Marriage and Divorce by Mr. Henry James, in reply to attacks upon him in The Observer, we have concluded to extend like hospitality to the queries of Mr. S. P. Andrews, suggested by and relating to the essays of Mr. James. Our own views differ very radically from those of both these gentlemen; but we court rather than decline discussion on the subject, and are satisfied that the temper and tendencies of our times render such discussion eminently desirable, if not vitally necessary.
This is preëminently an age of Individualism (it would hardly be polite to say Egotism) wherein “the Sovereignty of the Individual” – that is, the right of every one to do pretty nearly as he pleases – is already generally popular, and visibly gaining ground daily. “Why should not A. B., living on our side of the St. Lawrence, and making hats, exchange them freely with C. D., living on the Canada side, and growing wheat, without paying a heavy impost or violating a law?” – “Why should not E. F. led his money at ten or twenty per cent. to G. H., if the latter is willing to pay that rate, and sees how he can make more by it?” – “Why may not I. J. educate his own children, if he see fit, and decline paying any School Tax?” – “And why should not John Nokes and Lydia Nokes be at liberty to dissolve their own marriage, if they have no children, or have provided for such as they have, and believe that they may secure happiness in new relations which is unattainable in the present?” These questions all belong to the same school, though the individuals who ask them may be of superficially different creeds or persuasions. They all find their basis and aliment in that idea of Individual Sovereignty which seems to us destructive alike of social and personal well-being.
The general answer to these questions imports that the State does not exist for the advantage and profit of this or that individual, but to secure the highest good of all,— not merely of the present, but of future generations also; and that an act which, in itself, and without reference to its influence as a precedent, might be deemed innocent, is often rendered exceedingly hurtful and culpable by its relation to other acts externally indistinguishable from it. A hundred cases might be cited in which the happiness of all the parties immediately concerned would be promoted by liberty of divorce; and yet we have not a doubt that such liberty, if recognized and established, would lead to the most flagrant disorders and the most pervading calamities. We insist, then, that the question shall be considered from the social or general rather than the individual standpoint, and that the experience, the judgment, and the instincts of mankind shall be regarded in framing the decision.
Polygamy is not an experiment to be first tried in our day; it is some thousands of years old; its condemnation is inscribed on the tablets of Oriental history; it is manifest in the comparative debasement of Asia and Africa. The liberty of divorce has been recognized by great historians as one main cause of the corruption and downfall of the Roman Empire. The sentiment of chastity becomes ridiculous where a woman is transferred from husband to husband, as caprice or satiety may dictate.
To be continued.
“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.
Still Avoiding the Issue.
As I expected, Herr Most, in his controversy with me upon private property, Communism, and the State, is as reluctant as ever to come to close quarters in any attempt to destroy my main position, and, for sole response to my challenge to do so, crouches behind the name of Marx, not daring even to attempt upon his own account the use of the weapons with which Marx has assailed it. Herr Most had promised to accept private property if I would show him that it is compatible with production on the large scale without the exploitation of labor. He warned me, to be sure, against showing this by Proudhon’s banking system. But I answered that he is bound to accept my proposition on the strength of whatever proof I offer, or else demonstrate that the proof offered is no proof at all,— in other words, that he cannot reject my evidence without first refuting it. My proof, I then told him, consists precisely in that principle of freedom and organization of credit which is embodied in Proudhon’s banking system and other systems of a similar nature, and I referred him to a recent essay in which I have explained the process whereby freely organized credit would abolish usury — that is, the exploitation of labor — and make production on the large scale easier than ever without interfering with the institution of private property.
Now it would naturally be assumed that, in answer to this, some examination would be made of the process referred to and the flaw in it to be pointed out. But did Herr Most do anything of the kind? Not he. His only answer is that Marx disposed of Proudhon’s banking system long ago, that it is fifty years behind the times, and that it is not at all clear that there is any foundation for the claim that, with the prevailing inequalities of property, all could obtain credit. No, Herr Most, nor is it clear that any such claim was ever made by any sane champion of the organization of credit. The real claim is, not that all could straightway get credit if credit were not monopolized, but that, if all or half or a quarter of such credit as could be at once obtained under a free system should be utilized, a tremendous impetus would thereby be given to production and enterprise which would gradually increase the demand for labor and therefore the rate of wages and therefore the number of people able to get credit, until at last every laborer would be able to say to his employer, “Here, boss, you are a good business manager, and I am willing to continue to work under your superintendence on a strictly equitable basis; but, unless you are willing to content yourself with a share of our joint product proportional to your share of the labor and give me the balance for my share of the labor, I will work for you no longer, but will set up in business for myself on the capital which I can now obtain on my credit.” Herr Most’s misstatement of the claim made by the friends of free banking shows that he has no knowledge of their arguments or system, which probably explains his reluctance to discuss them otherwise than by reiteration of the magic name of Marx. Proudhon’s banking system may be fifty years behind the times, but it is evidently far in advance of the point which Herr Most has reached in the path of economic investigation.
Even more careful is the wary editor of Freiheit to avoid the following question, which I asked him à propos of his promise: If Communism is really, as Herr Most generally claims, no infringement of liberty, and if in itself it is such a good and perfect thing, why abandon it for private property simply because the possibility of the latter’s existence without the exploitation of labor has been demonstrated? To declare one’s willingness to do so is plainly to affirm that, exploitation aside, private property is superior to Communism, and that, exploitation admitted, Communism is chosen only as the lesser evil. Herr Most knew that it would never do to admit that Communism curtails liberty. Yet he could not answer this question without admitting it. So he prudently let it alone.
But what, then, does he say in his three-column article?
Well, for one thing, he tries to make his readers think that I offered my incidental remarks, rather suggestive than conclusive, regarding the likelihood that the Communists’ position, being based on a supposed necessity of great combinations in order to produce on the large scale, might soon be undermined by the tendency, of which symptoms are beginning to appear, towards the simplification and cheapening of machinery,— he tries to make his readers think, I say, that I offered these remarks as a necessary link in my argument. “On such grounds,” he says, “we are expected to believe,” etc., giving no hint of my express declaration that I offered this idea for what it was worth and not as essential to my position.
Nevertheless it is not easy to see why he should regard this thought as so utterly chimerical, when he finds it so easy, in order to show Communism to be practicable, to assume that the time is not far distant when wealth will be so abundant that individuals will not think of quarreling over its possession, but will live as birds do in their hemp-seed. Of the two hypotheses the latter seems to me the more visionary. Certainly great strides are yet to be taken in labor-saving, and I do not doubt at all that a state of society will be attained in which every sound individual will be able to secure a comfortable existence by a very few hours of toil daily. But that there will ever be any such proportion between human labor and the objects of human consumption as now exists between bird labor and hemp-seed, or that land and other capital will ever be superabundant, is inadmissible. If, however, the means of life shall ever become so utterly divorced from human toil that all men look on all wealth as air is now looked upon, I will then admit that, so far as material enjoyment is concerned, Communism will be practicable (I do not say advisable) without violation of liberty. Until then, I must insist that a State will be necessary to its realization and maintenance.
But Herr Most asks me, if respect for private property is conceivable without a State, why is not Communism so conceivable? Simply because the only force ever necessary to secure respect for private property is the force of defence,— the force which protects the laborer in the possession of his product or in the free exchange thereof,— while the force required to secure Communism is the force of offence,— the force which compels the laborer to pool his product with the products of all and forbids him to sell his labor or his product. Now, force of offence is the principle of the State, while force of defence is one aspect of the principle of liberty. This is the reason why private property does not imply a State, while Communism does. Herr Most seems to be as ignorant of the real nature of the State as he is of Proudhon’s banking system. In opposing it he acts, not as an intelligent foe of Authority, but simply as a rebel against the powers that be.
What is the use, in fact, of discussing with him at all? Does he not confess at the very outset of the article I am now examining that, although he has racked his brains, they refuse to perceive my distinction between the laborer’s individual possession of his product and the sum total of legal privileges bestowed upon the holders of wealth? Is there any hope that such a mind will ever grasp an economic law? The reason he gives for his inability to recognize this distinction is his conviction that private possession and privilege are inseparable. The more one calls his own, he says, the less others will be able to possess. This is not true where all property rests on a labor title, and no other property do I favor. It is only true of the increase of property through usury. But usury, as has already been shown, rests on privilege. When the property of one increases through an advance in the productivity of his labor, the property of others, far from decreasing on that account, increases to an almost equal extent. This year A produces 100 in hats and B 100 in shoes. Each consumes 50 in his own product, and exchanges the remaining 50 for the other’s remaining 50. Suppose that next year A’s production remains the same, but that B’s, with no extra labor, rises to 200. In that case A’s remaining 50, instead of exchanging for B’s remaining 50 as this year, will exchange for 100 in B’s product. Under private possession, unaccompanied by usury, more for one man means, not less for another man, but more for all men. Where, then, is the privilege?
But, after all, it makes very little difference to Herr Most what a man believes in economics. The test of fellowship with him lies in acceptance of dynamite as a cure-all. Though I should prove that my economic views, if realized, would turn our social system inside out, he would not therefore regard me as a revolutionist. He declares outright that I am no revolutionist, because the thought of the coming revolution (by dynamite, he means) makes my flesh creep. Well, I frankly confess that I take no pleasure in the thought of bloodshed and mutilation and death. At these things my feelings revolt. And if delight in them is a requisite of a revolutionist, then indeed I am no revolutionist. When revolutionist and cannibal become synonyms, count me out, if you please. But, though my feelings revolt, I am not mastered by them or made a coward by them. More than from dynamite and blood do I shrink from the thought of a permanent system of society involving the slow starvation of the most industrious and deserving of its members. If I should ever become convinced that the policy of bloodshed is necessary to end our social system, the loudest of to-day’s shriekers for blood would not surpass me in the stoicism with which I would face the inevitable. Indeed, a plumb-liner to the last, I am confident that under such circumstances many who now think me chicken-hearted would condemn the stony-heartedness with which I should favor the utter sacrifice of every feeling of pity to the necessities of the terroristic policy. Neither fear nor sentimentalism, then, dictates my opposition to forcible methods. Such being the case, how stupid, how unfair, in Herr Most, to picture me as crossing myself at the mention of the word revolution simply because I steadfastly act on my well-known belief that force cannot substitute truth for a lie in political economy!
Head and Heart.
It is a well-known fact that the feelings often, though perhaps unconsciously, speak the decisive word in questions that seem to pertain to reason alone. Undoubtedly the subject of Anarchy too has frequently been summarily dealt with and dismissed by the heart, after having occupied the intellect for a long time, and even after the immense confusion cavised by the name has given way to some clearness, and the principle of complete individual liberty in political and economical matters has found a favorable hearing.
In reality the subject does not concern only the intellect, for even more than religion,— what is generally called religion,— to which we deem it necessary to concede so much from the emotional side of our nature, does this principle of liberty, in its practical application, involve the feelings. We need the intellect only for a thorough exploration of the country. Having set ourselves at ease concerning the climatic conditions and prospects for material welfare and thrift, the affections step forward with the question: “Can we find a home in this new country? Can it in any way satisfy our longings and needs?” It is perhaps but natural that the answer to this question should influence the acceptation or rejection of the principle not a little; how is it, however, that the decision should so often be in the negative?
There can only be this reason why the intellectual recognition of the principles of Anarchy should occupy second rank in their final, unconditional acceptation,— that in their practical application they call for a complete revolution in our way of feeling and acting. Those sweet habits, how hard it is to abandon them! The habit of lording it over our surroundings, on the one hand, and the habit of patient submission and of dependence on the other — that these have to be given up seems an easy matter, unaccompanied by disagreeable sensations, although in reality we shall find it a most difficult task to rid ourselves of either of them; but also the habit of devotion, of fellow-feeling, the sweet sense of belonging together, which promises to prosper burn a state of mutual dependence,— these promptings of pure humanitarian instincts we fear to lose as we progress toward that perfect liberty which the Anarchists demand and which seems to mean: “Every one for himself, and the devil take the hindmost.”
But nature has made her provisions against the devils taking the hindmost, in that she has made man’s need for love and sympathy one of her laws, and so strong, indeed, that all human laws, sprung from man’s lust of power, have been unable to quite counteract it. Mankind will always love, always feel for one another; and whoever has come in contact with that new type of men who have chosen individual freedom for their device will know that they too are capable of highest devotion, of sympathy and love toward their fellows.
But while they may and do give their sympathy freely, they undoubtedly make greater demands on their love. They wish to keep it free from lowly interested motives; they want, for the sake of their own self-respect, to be able to respect the object of their love as a sovereign individual. It may be that, because the ideal is a higher one, we cannot at once put our trust in it. Everything that is new and untried leaves us cold at first; it even chills us. We cannot straighten out our bias with a sudden jerk. We can not transplant our whole mode of thought and feeling from the soil in which it has sprouted and grown into a new field, and expect it to take firm root at once. Some, with all its defects, is dear to us. Place the native of a desert in a sunny, blooming vale, and the very sun will appear cold, the flowers and birds will have nothing to say to him; he will be homesick for his barren plain. After years of absence he returns, his native desert is but a desert, and the fertile vale will have become dear, not only to his good sense, but to his heart as well.
To the Christian also who feels the ground of his belief beginning to shake under him everything appears to be in a state of dissolution. His scepticism poisons all joys of life. He is at variance with himself and the world. He asks himself anxiously: what is to become of my humanity, of my love for the good and the beautiful, if my faith is gone? Has life any attractions after this, or is it indeed not worth living? But with perfect intellectual clearness, when no doubts can any longer shake his unbelief, his inner peace, his joy in life, return. He finds that the hearts of his fellow-infidels beat as warmly as Christian hearts, and he takes new courage.
Can we then expect to do away so easily with our opinions on State and society, which have become our very flesh and blood, and especially if the new opinions which are clamoring to take their place are merciless in their radical destruction of everything that once was sacred? Even chains do not break without leaving wounds, and “the great right of individuality to everything that it needs in order to become everything that it can become,” and the necessity “of breaking with every authority to gain this right,” makes such severe demands on the heart and seems to make the tying of new affectional bonds impossible from the start. To do so upon the same ground upon which the old bonds have tightened into fetters will indeed lie impossible, but to believe that in the new social order all common interest, all enjoyment of social home life, all tenderness, and all devotion will have disappeared from the world, that all promptings of the heart, called love, will at least be but of a superficial, transitory character, is to mistake human nature as completely as the believing Christian mistakes it who expects the utter moral ruin of mankind to follow upon a decline of Christianity, and as those mistook it who foresaw in the intellectual development of woman the decay of all the finer feminine qualities.
But although the absence of all enthusiasm for and the repugnance towards this new school of thought, even after the intellect has exhausted its arguments against it, can be accounted tor as quite natural, it is still altogether unworthy a truly thoughtful person. No real lover of truth is without perfect faith in truth, the faith that it cannot do violence to human nature; if it does, it is not truth, and we must look for it elsewhere.
And is there anything simpler, but that in a state of perfect liberty, where man’s nature is his only ruler, the needs of this nature, and especially the emotional needs, can be better satisfied than under any other condition? Be of good cheer, then, fearful heart; put forward your claims, and plead your own cause.
E. H. S.
Coinage of the Heart.
Dear Comrade Tucker:
My salutation is not to the Anarchist (except with sundry reservations), but to the man who has the courage to avow his convictions,— the true exemplar. For two years I have been not merely a reader, but a student, of Liberty,— in my opinion the best text-book on all sorts of fundamental propositions anywhere publishing,— and, while I have duly paid the stipulated money price in the coin of the realm, I feel so deeply indebted for helping thoughts that I must needs ask you to accept also some coinage of the heart, my deepest thanks. While your own work is always in the best manner,— each sentence standing squarely on its feet, and searching the reader’s understanding with clear and meaningful eyes,— you are at the same time sagacious in the preferment of co-workers, and especially happy in the choice of selected matter. And it is this rare combination of intellectual faculties, joined to good taste, that makes Liberty the exceptional periodical it is.
And there is another I will call comrade, if I may. His name is J. Wm. Lloyd,— a true apostle of “sweetness and light,” if ever there was one. In his case it is not the mere man, but the embodied spirit, that uttereth itself for man’s salvation. I am a Spiritualist, and therefore a believer in Spirit,— an undying “better self.” However, in rare instances man succeeds in being or expressing that “better self” while yet in mortal form, in living the law of love and “peace on earth and good will to men”; and in my belief J. Wm. Lloyd is one of the elect. And I want to say to him: Brother, weary not in well doing. Iterate and reiterate the divine solvency of love. In more than one instance, but notably by your epistle to the friends of the Chicago martyrs, you have helped me to draw the serpent’s tooth out of my heart, and for this inestimable boon I owe you eternal gratitude. And, brother, my voice is but the echo of many another seeker and searcher for the better way, and I thank you in their name also.
All this I have wanted to say before, again and again. But it is not too late to say it now.
Frederick F. Cook.
12 Beekman Place, New York.
Anti-Egoistic Morality a Contradiction.
[Herbert Courtney in Our Corner.]
The agnostic admits — indeed insists — that both right and wrong are correct and necessary terms; but correct only in relation to our-elves. Whence, indeed, comes our idea of morality at all? Simply from the egoistical pursuit of happiness. That which causes misery to each ego is to that ego immoral, i.e., out of place, and that which pleases the ego is moral, i.e., in place. Then as with the growth of the higher and altruistic faculties each ego recognizes by influence the existence of other egos beyond self, yet being similarly constituted and having like desires as himself, so our ideas of morality expand, until we at length learn that the surest way to the welfare of each is found in the welfare of all, and morality is therefore established on the rational principle of the “greatest good to the greatest number.” And as the first essential to happiness is liberty to think, to speak, and to act without restriction (so long as not encroaching on the like liberty of others, which entails retaliation), therefore all that opposes liberty of thought, of speech, or of action is, from our relative point of view, wrong (that is, conducive to misery), while all that supports such liberty is right (that is, conducive to happiness). The end of morality is therefore that each may obtain the greatest possible gratification for himself with the least possible injury to others. This derivation of an actual moral principle is, however, apart from the principal issue, which simply is that all possible (human) morality is relation only, and cannot be absolute or affect any other state of existence than the present, in which virtue has now its own and sufficient reward, whilst vice brings its own inevitable retribution.
The Convicts’ Farewell.
A bout is rowed along the sea,
Pull of souls us it may be;
Their dress is coarse, their hair is shorn,
And every squalid face forlorn
Is full of sorrow and hate and scorn!
What is it? It is the Convict Boat,
That o’er the waves is forced to float,
Hearing its wicked burden o’er
The ocean to a distant shore:
Man scowls upon it, but the sea
(The same with fettered as with free)
Danceth beneath it heedlessly.
Slowly the boat is borne along;
Yet they who row are bard and strong,
And well their oars keep time
To one who sings (and clanks his chain,
The better thus to hide his pain)
A bitter banished rhyme!
He sings; and all his mates in woe
Chant sullen chorus as they go.
Row us on, a felon band,
Farther out to sea.
Till we lose all sight of land,
And then — we shall be free:
Row us on, and loose our fetters;
Yeo! the boat makes way,
Let’s say good-bye unto our betters,
And hey for a brighter day!
Row us fast! Row us fast!
Trials o’er and sentence past;
Here’s a whistle for those who tried to blind us,
And a curse on all we leave behind us!
Farewell, juries — jailors — friends
(Traitors to the close);
Here the felon’s danger ends,
Farewell, bloody foes!
Farewell, England! We are quitting
Now thy dungeon doors;
Take our blessing as we’re flitting —
A curse upon thy shores!
Farewell, England — honest nurse
Of all our wants and sins!
What to thee’s a felon’s curse?
What to thee who wins?
Murder thriveth in thy cities,
Famine through thine isle;
One may cause a dozen ditties,
T’other scarce a smile.
Farewell, England — tender soil,
Where babes who leave the breast,
From morning into midnight toil,
That pride may be proudly drest.
Where he who’s right and he who swerveth
Meet at the goal the same;
Where no one hath what he deserveth,
Not even in empty fame.
So fare thee well, our country dear!
Our last wish, ere we go,
Is — May your heart be never clear
From tax, nor tithe, nor woe.
May they who sow e’er reap for others,
The hundred for the one.
May friends grow false, and twin-born brothers
Each hate his mother’s son!
May pains and forms still fence the place
Where justice must be bought.
So he who’s poor must hide his face,
And he who thinks his thought.
May Might o’er Right be crowned the winner,
The head still o’er the heart,
And the Saint, be still so like the
Sinner You’ll not know them apart!
May your traders grumble when bread is high,
And your farmers when bread is low,
And your pauper brats, scarce two feet high,
Learn more than your nodes know.
May your sick have foggy or frosty weather,
And your convicts all short throats,
And your blood-covered bankers all hung together,
And tempt ye with one-pound notes!
And so — with hunger in your jaws,
And peril within your breast,
And a bar of gold to guard your laws
For those who pay the best,
Farewell to England’s woe and weal! —
For our betters so bold and blithe,
May they never want, when they want a meal,
A parson to take their titue!
“The Woman Question.”
Possibly at the expense of my reputation as a radical, but certainly to the entertainment and interest of Liberty’s readers, I intend to express in this article some conservative thoughts on the so-called Woman Question. This I will do, not so much because of my desire to present my own views, but because it appears to me a good way of eliciting elaborate statement and clear explanation from those with whom I shall take issue. The discussion (if such it may be called) of the Woman Question bus so far been confined to platitudes and trivial points, while it has been deemed one of the absolute requisites of an advanced, progressive, and liberal thinker to believe in equality of the sexes and to indulge in cheap talk about economic emancipation, equal rights, etc., of the “weaker sex.” Declining to repeat this talk in a parrot-like fashion, I ask to be offered some solid arguments in support of the position which I now, with all my willingness, cannot consider well-grounded.
But let me state at the outset that I have not a word to say against the demand — which, alas! is not very loud and determined — on the part of women for a “free field and no favors.” I fully believe in liberty for man, woman, and child. So far as I know of Proudhon’s view upon the function and sphere of woman I utterly oppose it, and his exclusion of the relations of the family institution from the application of his principle of free contract I regard as arbitrary, illogical, and contradictory of his whole philosophy. Nor, on the other hand, am I jealous of the privileges and special homage accorded by the bourgeois world to women, and do not in the least share the sentiments of E. Belfort Bax, who declaims against an alleged tyranny exercised by women over men. Not denying that such “tyranny” exists, I assert that Mr. Bax entirely misunderstands its real nature. Man’s condescension he mistakes for submission; marks of woman’s degradation and slavery his obliquity of vision transforms into properties of sovereignty. Tchernychewsky takes the correct view upon this matter when he makes Véra Pavlovna say: “Men should not kiss women’s hands, since that ought to be offensive to women, for it means that men do not consider them as human beings like themselves, but believe that they can in no way lower their dignity before a woman, so inferior to them is she, and that no marks of affected respect for her can lessen their superiority.” What to Mr. Bax appears as servility on the part of men is really but insult added to injury.
Recognizing, then, this fact of injury and insult which woman complains about, I sympathize with her in the aspiration for self-control and in the demand to he allowed freedom and opportunities for development. And if this desire to work out her own salvation were the whole sum and substance of the “woman question,” that would have been to me a question solved.
Women, in the first place, are the slaves of capital. In this their cause is man’s cause, though the yoke of capitalism fails upon them with more crushing effect. This slavery would not outlive the State and legality for a single day, for it has no other root to depend upon for continued existence.
In addition to this burden of economic servitude women are subjected to the misery of being the property, tool, and plaything of man, and have neither power to protest against the use, nor remedies against the abuse, of their persons By their male masters. This slavery is sanctioned by custom, prejudice, tradition, and prevailing notions of morality and purity. Intelligence is the cure for this. Man’s brutality and cruelty will be buried in the same grave in which his own and woman’s superstitions and fixed ideas will be forever laid away.
Normal economic conditions and increased opportunities for intellectual development are in this case, as in all others related to the social problem, the indispensable agents of improvement. It would be idle to discuss the possibility of any change under the present industrial and political arrangements. Woman must now content herself with indirectly furthering the cause, nearest to her heart: she must simply join her strength to that of man — and even the most selfish of us will wish more power to her elbow — in his effort to establish proper relations between capital and labor. And only after the material foundations of the new social order have been successfully built, will the Woman Question proper loom up and claim attention.
Let us attempt here to briefly summarize the problem, the remedy, and the reasoning process by which the same are formulated, so far as we understand the position of the most extreme radicals in our ranks.
“Woman must have equal rights and equal freedom and must in all respects be the equal of man. They must conduct on absolutely equal terms.” How attain and permanently maintain this condition?
“Economical independence is the first and most important thing to women who would he and remain free. When a woman ceases to be self-supporting and begins to look to man for means of life, site deprives herself of independence, dignity, and power of commanding respect. Complete control over her own person and offspring is the next essential thing. With this right of disposing of her own favors she must never part, and to no one must site delegate the privilege of determining the circumstances under which she shall assume the function of maternity. Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.
“Communism being the grave of individuality, woman must beware of ever abandoning her own private home, over which she exercises sovereign authority, to enter into man’s dominion. Someone is bound to rule in the family, and the chances are decidedly against her gaining the supremacy, even if this be considered a more desirable issue than the other alternative.
“The ideal, then, is: independent men and women, in independent homes, leading separate and independent lives, with full freedom to form and dissolve relations, and with perfectly equal opportunities and rights to happiness, development, and love.”
Beautiful as this ideal may seem to some, I confess that it inspires me with no enthusiasm. On the contrary, it seems to me unnatural, impossible, and utterly utopian. While welcoming liberty, I do not anticipate such results.
Pray, let no rentier hastily condemn my lack of sober judgment and pronounce me a sentimentalist and a dreamer. I am the most prosaic and unemotional of mortals. I utterly lack the “moral sense.” Crime arouses no indignation in my breast, and vice fills me with no abhorrence. “Virtue” has a very half-hearted champion in me. For instance, I am never moved to any outburst of intense feeling by the hue and cry against prostitution. I cannot help regarding it as entirely proper and natural for a woman to accept pecuniary remuneration for sexual intercourse with men, just as she accepts it for other services involving surrender of time or labor-power. The idea of sacredness of sex appears to me a survival and result of antique worship of the sexual organs, which Christian theology unconsciously assimilated and made part of us own mystical teachings. And, though the mysteries of love are as yet unexplained, nevertheless it is safe to say, a priori, that a large proportion of what has been written about it is nonsense and pure imagination. Thus it will he seen that what I have to say on this subject is born, not of sentiment, but of thought and dispassionate reflection.
“Right” is but a euphonious equivalent of “might,” — a melodious and gentle term substituting the harsh “might” to the religious Bunthornes. A “right” to a thing means the capacity to profitably secure it. The rights of an individual are fixed by his powers of body and mind. He has a right to appropriate and enjoy all that he can. If all men were intelligent and mentally free, no need of theoretical enlightenment and urging as to the principle of equal rights would exist. Each would naturally remain in full possession of his own. But in the absence of this intelligence, chaos is the rule. Sonic manage to obtain shares far beyond their individual capacity of procuring wealth, and many ignorantly and stupidly suffer themselves to he most unceremoniously use land abused by cunning persons. Consequently it becomes necessary to open their eyes to this fact of their getting results utterly disproportionate to their expenditure of energy, and of their perfect ability to get and keep the entire amount without any external aid. Instead, however, of saying, “you can take it,” we are obliged to speak of their “right” to take it,— so have the jugglers and artful tricksters confused their ideas of true and real titles to property. But it is evident that no one would stop to argue about the right to do a thing which cannot be done.
From this standpoint, what becomes of the demands for equal rights and opportunities in the relations of men and women? “Words, words, words,” without meaning or significance. Nature having placed woman at such a decided disadvantage in the path of life, of what avail are her protestations and cries for equality with man? In order to gratify one of her strongest natural desires, she is compelled to enter into relations with man of which the burdensome and painful consequences she alone has to hear. While man’s part in the relation is pleasurable throughout, woman purchases her enjoyment at an enormous price. And woman’s loss here is man’s clear gain. Up to the moment of her contracting to cooperate with man in the production of offspring woman may be considered as man’s equal,— ignoring the questions of physical vigor, weight and quality of the brain, etc., which cannot and need not be discussed here. A young girl would, under proper and normal conditions, enjoy equal opportunities with the young man in the matter of providing for her material and intellectual wants. Economic independence, education, culture, and refinement,— all these would be fully within her individual reach. But let her enter into love relations with the young man and resolve upon assuming parental obligations and responsibilities, and all is changed. She is no longer the equal of her male companion. For some time before and a long time after giving birth to a child, she is incapable of holding her independent position and of supporting herself. She needs the care, support, and service of others. She has to depend upon the man whom she made the father of her child, and who suffered no inconvenience from the new relation. With the equality of powers for self-support vanish all other equalities,— a fact of which believers in the equality of the sexes are not only well aware, but one which they continually use as an excellent argument for economic independence of women. Surely, then, they ought not to overlook this cruel, illusion-breaking fact of natural inequality of men and women resulting from the wide difference in the consequence which reproductive sexual association entails respectively upon the partners to the same. Women must either look to their male companions for making good the deficit thus occasioned in their accounts,— in which case the foundation is laid for despotism on the one side and subjection on the other,— or else find the means of support in excessive labor or in economy of consumption during the intervals of freedom from the restraints and burdens mentioned above,— which would make the burden of life heavier to her and so reduce her opportunities for development and recreation. In both cases — inequality.
“Few children” will no doubt be suggested as the solution of this difficulty. But is this desirable and compatible with our conception of a future happy condition? Children are a joy and a blessing to parents whom poverty, or the fear of poverty, does not transform into unnatural, suspicious, brutal, and eternally-discontented beings. I do not exactly entertain Mr. Lloyd’s doubt as regards the superiority of the motto, “More and better children,” over “Fever and better children”; for, though not a Malthusian, I believe that some classes in society might well moderate their activity in the matter of reproduction. But I do not think human happiness would be subserved by carrying the limitation to an extreme. Moreover, this control over nature can only be successfully maintained by either the employment of artificial chocks and preventives or by the practice of abstinence,— methods which nobody will recommend except as necessary evils, but which should never be resorted to in the absence of serious reasons.
Of course, if — as seems fairly established — mental exertion, access to other pleasures, and comfortable surroundings generally are really important factors in checking fecundity and frequency in the matter of offspring, this last problem will of itself be most happily solved under the new conditions of life. But this prospect, while it may cheer the hearts d believers in small families, scarcely affords relief to those with whom position we are now mainly occupied.
Assuming sexual passion to be no stronger in women than in men (some are of the opinion that it is much stronger), there will always be a preponderance of forces and tendencies in favor of men in this natural antagonism. Man has no motive to deny himself gratification of his sexual desires except his dislike to be the cause or even the witness of the pain and suffering of those whom he loves, whereas woman, as we have seen, stakes her most vital interests when she follows her natural impulse.
Leaving it for advocates of independent homes to settle these difficulties for me, I may ask here, wherein would ho the evil or dancer of family life when, tho economic necessity for it having disappeared, so far as tho woman is concerned, under a more rational industrial system, a should ho maintained in the higher interests and free wishes of both parties to the contract? Why should not the love relations remain much as they are today? With the tyranny and impertinent meddling of Church and State abolished, would not tho relation between “man” and “wife”...ways be the relation of lover and sweetheart? Between true lovers who are really devoted to each other the relations are ideal. But legal marriage is the grave of love; material conditions and tho current notions of virtue and morality destroy tho individuality of the married woman, and she becomes the property of her husband. Remove these, and living together ceases to be an evil. The family relation in that state will continue to be perfect as long as they will continue at all.
Readers of “What’s to he Done?” know how Tchernychewsky’s heroes arranged their married life. To that and similar plans there can he no objection. It depends upon the temperaments and tastes of the individual persons. But why a man should not “make a home” for the woman ho loves, I am unable to see. While he is providing the means, she is educating the children and surrounding him with comfort. When they cease to be happy together, they separate. And, as in the commercial sphere, the fear of probable competition suffices to prevent monopolistic iniquity without necessarily calling forth actual competition, so in family life under freedom the probability or rather certainty of the woman’s rebellion against the slightest manifestation of despotism will make the man very careful in his conduct and insure peace and respect between them.
I am not blind to the fact that any ideal contains the element of Communism, and also involves the concentration of love upon one person of the opposite sex at a time. But, as long as these are a spontaneous result of freedom, they are no more to be theoretically deplored than especially recommended. Personally I hold, however, that some sort of Communism is inevitable between lovers, and that “variety” in love is only a temporary demand of a certain period. A certain degree of experience is just as necessary in the matter of love as it is in any other branch of human affairs. Variety may be as truly the mother of unity (or duality, rather) as liberty is the mother of order. The inconstancy of young people is proverbial. But when free to experiment and take lessons in love, the outcome might be that finally each Apollo would find his Venus and retire with her to a harmonious and idyllic life.
Upon the last two phases of the question a greet deal more might be said. I will return to them at some future time.
My remarks are far from being systematic or clear, but it is not my purpose to put forth anything positive and conclusive. I merely desire to provoke discussion and call out some explicit and elaborate statements from those of Liberty’s readers who, unlike the writer, have in their minds a more or less complete solution of the “Woman Question.”
Pursuit of Happiness by Proxy.
I am told that it is for my good that I am governed; now, as I give my money for being governed, it follows that it is for my good that i give my money: which is possible, but calls nevertheless for verification.
Moreover, in addition to the fact that no one can be more familiar than myself with the means of making myself happy, I also find it strange, incomprehensible, unnatural, and extra-human, that people should devote themselves to the happiness of those whom they do not know, and I declare that I have not the honor of being known to the men who govern me.
Hence I am justified in saying that from my standpoint they are really too good and, in fact, somewhat indiscreet who concern themselves so much about my felicity, especially when it is not proven that I am incapable of pursuing its realization myself.
Men are four:
1. He who knows not and knows not he knows not; he is a fool, shun him.
2. He who knows not and knows he knows not; he is simple, teach him.
3. He who knows and knows not that he knows; he is asleep, awake him.
4. He who knows and knows he knows; he is wise, follow him.
“Child Slaves” was he subject of a lecture delivered lately by a lady before a Socialist society in New York.
The terrible condition of child wage-slaves was dwelt upon at great length. Denunciations of the soulless capitalist were indulged in freely. Statistics collected by the lectures showed that in the State of Connecticut alone fifty thousand children are wage-laborers.
Set end persons followed in a discussion. One of the male speakers, a veteran reformer, “expressed his gratification at finding a lady who, with a womanly heart full of sympathy for the sufferings of children, comes forward to speak against the crying social evil, instead of gabbling about political rights, as so many women do. Redress could only be got through organized labor compelling the legislature to enact laws of repression against grabbing capital.”
To petition Congress to frame new adequate laws for the suppression of the evil by “making the employment of children under fifteen years impossible, and compelling the education of those until they reach that age,” was advocated by nearly all the speakers.
It is certainly very gratifying to see women moved by tender emotion in the presence of the sufferings of the young; it is also gratifying to see men respond to the sympathetic feeling. But, in the case of the child wage-worker, the “crying evil” calls for some more energic efforts titan sentimental effusion of words and petitions to the legislature to quash it at all hazard. The question at issue is not a mere incident or accident, having a defined and self-embracing sphere. It is simply one of the features characterizing the huge phenomenon of human degradation which reveals such a distressing condition in the relation of labor to capital.
Being such, it cannot be dealt with separately, but has to stand the tossings and convulsions pertaining to the body of which it is but a limb. To try to cure this relative evil would be like bestowing cares upon a few pimples, without administering to the diseased body suitable medicines to cleanse the blood of the impurities which produced the pimples, and must produce much until the cause in the blood is removed.
Can these advocates of the suppression of child wage-labor grapple with the question in an intelligent and humanitarian manner? Can we grasp the fearful system in an étreinte de fer, and never let it go until we have crushed every hone in its hideous form? Can we rescue those poor, struggling, and fading buds of humanity, and place them in the sunlight to bloom in health and happiness?
It is but too evident that we are powerless to deal a deathblow to the monster. It is not the female suffragists alone who are gabbling. To contemplate the eradication of child slavery through additional legislative laws with a view to benefit the toiling classes is a gabbling of a much more insane nature than political rights for women. The child of the proletaire must undergo and share all the sufferings and miseries which his ancestors have bequeathed to him from remote centuries. It must inevitably be so until the time when his father and mother shall have become conscious of their power and right to secure to themselves their share of the comforts which are so lavishly supplied by Mother Earth for the rightful enjoyment of mankind. Until such emancipation takes place, the children of the poorest classes must need work for their bread. Should they he forbidden to work, starvation must he the immediate result. The mere fact of a child being compelled to seek work proves that his parents, for one reason or another, are unable to feed him; and as long as the cause is there, the effect also will he there. As long as hunger stares at the pallid faces of the family, so long must labor he performed in order to obtain food.
But the pitying, motherly, and benevolent women, in consort with so-called philanthropic men, would step forward and say: “You are too young and too weak to work. We forbid you to earn your own living! Go home, take your books, and go to school until you are fifteen years of age”!!
Ah, Philanthropists! tender-hearted men! loving mothers! women! It is not to school you are sending the child! You send him to the gnawing tortures of hunger! You bid him die from starvation or steal to appease the cravings of an empty stomach! You send him to steal, . . . thence to jail. . . . thence to . . . what next? When you had laws passed forbidding the child to work, you were neither intelligent nor humane enough to have these laws repealed which condemn the thief to eternal ignominy! If it is injurious to the child to work, what of criminal offences and the companionship of jail-birds? Insane demagogues! You have yet to learn how to love mankind for the sake of mankind itself, and not to flatter your petty notions and prejudices.
What is needed to enfranchise the child wage-worker is not protection, help, charity, or legislation. It is the enfranchisement of the entire proletariat. Child slavery is but one of the symptoms of the malady now distressing the great social body. No laws can be enacted to adjust that difficulty in a satisfactory manner. Any attempt in that direction would prove both disastrous and cruel. Violent denunciations of the capitalists are certainly in bad taste, to say the least. These do not use compulsion to secure child labor. Employment in their factories is solicited, and applications for such are unfortunately so numerous that they are able to choose the fittest individuals and dictate their own terms. Our present competition in trade (being the offshoot of numberless State laws, which, like all established rules, are acting as a protection for the wealthy and a repression on the poorer classes) has inevitably brought forth a a system of litter dishonesty in business transactions. Goods have to be produced at a low rate of expenses. Machinery is so numerous and so perfected that, in many instances, it matters little whether a child, a woman, or a man is employed to manufacture. Very often it is not a question of brute strength, but of intellect and agility,— two attributes which are easily secured in women and children. Suppressing woman and child labor would not necessarily imply the demand for men laborers. It would simply imply the possibility of a greater number of men getting employment at the rate of wages allowed to women and children: for we must not deceive ourselves: the demand for situations for men is larger than the supply, the fact being due to the extended employment of machinery.
The entire commercial system of our time, being produced, as it is, by the fallacy of established laws, rests on a decaying ground-work. Capitalists, in their capacity for unfair and selfish dealings; workingmen in their ignorance and torpitude, which lull them to a sense of thoughtless apathy,— are, both of them, the creatures and victims of circumstances and of the surroundings of organized forces, legislated statutes, and sophistic common laws.
Child slavery cannot be removed by the causes which produced it. The remedy must be sought in their antidotes.
Philanthropists, both of the temporal and spiritual soul, have a wonderful faculty of swelling up their bump of devotion when they detect in the oppressed any symptoms of revolt against their bondage. How quickly they approach the dissatisfied and with a benignant face say, in the style of Tartuffe: “Gently, dear ones, don’t hurt yourselves. Let us see. What is it you want? We will let you have anything that is good for you,— at least, as far as we can judge. You want your freedom? Ah! but are you strong enough to walk upright? You want to work, my child, at your age? But you are only fit for school. You are hungry, you say? What nonsense! Look at your books and their pretty covers; think of your lessons and all will be well!
“You want to work, young woman; you want to vote, you want to marry for love, and not for the sake of a home? Surely, the world is coming to an end when a woman is foolish enough to work for her living in order to secure liberty of action and thought; when she desires to vote for the laws she must obey; when she pretends to a natural right to marry for love and not far mercenary purposes!
“A woman is too weak to work; too beautiful and too angelic to mingle with the coarse, brutal, masculine element on election days; too silly to know when she loves a man or when she does not; too senseless to guide her own steps through life. Trust to us, weak and dissatisfied ones. We will protect you against all evil or violence. We will frame laws and statutes enough to surround you and cover you over and above; we will shield you from all evil influences; we will rise the age of consent to forty-five or as close to it as possible.”
Save us from our friends when these come to us in our difficulties with mediation, palliative means, favors, and charity.
What we need to be saved is Liberty to act; Liberty to work; Liberty to live; Liberty to feel that our own acquired emancipation and happiness are not soiled by the aid of jealous proxies.
To labor for his own sustenance in life is the inalienable right of the Individual, and no one has a right to dictate as to whether certain or all labor is undecorous for women and undesirable for children under fifteen years of age. In such cases, let the woman judge about decorum and the parents of the child about the undesirability of factory or other work for their offspring.
In June, last year, the Lancashire pit-brow women gave an example worth admiring when they stood firm for their right to work at the coal mines.
Montreal “Witness” had the following in its columns:
All legislation restricting the occupation in which women may engage should be most closely watched, as what is intended for a philanthropic measure may cause great evil. As instance of the necessity of this occurred a short time ago in England. The law abolishing female labor in mines has admitably done great good, and, when a measure was introduced into the Imperial Parliament preventing the employment of women at the pit-brow, it, on the face of it, looked as if it was but an extension of the principle. These pit-brow women are employed particularly in Lancashire to screen over and save the smelt coal. They earned moderately good wages, and the work, while hard, was neither unhealthy nor did it being them into degrading surroundings. The plea of the advocates of these measures was that the work was unwomanly, and, as a proof of this, they alleged that the women committed the unpardonable offence of wearing trousers and coats when at work. The pit-brow women were not at all inclined to allow themselves to be outlawed without a protest. A strong deputation of theirs, clad in their working-clothing, interviewed the Home Secretary in order to induce him to get the Government to oppose the bill. They succeeded in their efforts and have still the right to earn an honest livelihood in the open air. The underlying cause of the bill being presented was that the trades unions wore desirous of getting possession of the women’s branch of work.
So the pit-brow women won their own battle and are still working at mines and wearing the “unpardonable” trousers and coat.
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.