“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.
Two thousand private bills were introduced in Congress in one day. But, says “Today,” we have reason for self-congratulation in the fact that, while Congress is passing private bills, it cannot be enacting laws which are more costly. A single law may easily cost the country more than two thousand private bills.
The Dogberrys of the Supreme Court of Illinois have decided that it is libelous to falsely publish of a person that he is an Anarchist. An Anarchist, according to a cyclopædia of political science, is a believer in self-government carried to its extremest limit, Anarchy being “the last step in the progress of human reason.”
In “calling attention to one of the beauties of the competitive system,” the “Journal of the Knights of Labor” submits the following interrogations: “Is it not a fact that under the competitive system, for men to increase their output and to enhance its quality would be a certain way to reduce their own wages? If the makers of shoes, for example, were to make fifteen pairs of shoes where they now make ten, would they not, by increasing the supply of shoes, decrease the price? Were they to make shoes so well that a pair which now lasts six months would last nine, would not this, by lessening the demand, decrease the price? And would not every decrease in the price be met with a cut in wage? On the other hand, were all shoemakers, by general consent, to loaf half their time and ‘scamp’ their work so that shoes would only wear half as long as now, thus decreasing the production and increasing the demand, would they not thus increase the price of shoes and so raise their wages?” the “Journal” imagines it has utterly nonplussed the “supply and demand economists,” and made it plain that competition puts a premium upon fraud and attaches a penalty to honest dealing. Let me dispose of the difficulties raised by asking whether competition is not likely to impel shoemakers to attract custom and patronage by the adoption of the contrary method of making good shoes? It is manifest that the disgusted public would gladly pay the honest shoemakers the highest wages obtainable by skilled labor, and vigorously boycott the dishonest shoemakers. Threatened by starvation, the dishonest shoemakers would have to offer the public still greater advantages in order to secure some employment. Under free competition honesty is soon seen to be the best policy. It is perfectly true, dear Journal, that for all shoemakers to increase their output and enhance its quality would be a way to reduce their wages for a short time. The money saved on shoes would be expended by the public on something else, with advantage to all laborers, the shoemakers included. But for some shoemakers to increase their output and enhance its quality is a certain way to raise their own wages materially and drive the poor workman out of their trade.
A correspondent of the Memphis “Commercial” having submitted the query, “What constitutes an Anarchist?” that paper makes an honest effort to enlighten him in a long editorial giving a summary of the history of political institutions, and aiming to realize to imaginative readers the impossibility and folly of abolishing all the habits and institutions which go to form civilized life. With the historical part of the “Commercial’s” argument, we are not concerned. Its conclusion is that “Anarchy is a crime” — “a crime against the law which marks the orderly progression of civilization,” — a crime which “is in those who advocate it a survival from savagery, like theft and murder.” “Even,” says the “Commercial,” “if we admit that many or all of the leaders of the Anarchists in this country and in Europe are men and women of refinement, and of learning and culture, as our correspondent states, we must insist that that would not lessen but rather emphasize the enormity of the crime which they advocate. No amount of personal culture can alter, amend, or abolish the fact that the word Anarchy means ‘want of government; a state of society, or a condition of things, unregulated by any principle of government, law, or order; confusion and disorder.’ So Worcester defines the word in his Dictionary.” It clearly follows that an Anarchist is one who seeks to bring about a condition of society unregulated by any principle of law or order. Naturally an intelligent paper like the “Commercial” can have no sympathy with Anarchists or Anarchism. Not knowing what Anarchism is, it wisely consults Worcester or Webster; and their definitions leave one without any alternative to the course of determined opposition to the wild and dangerous notions in question. I regret to see, however, that, in describing Anarchy as a crime, the careful “Commercial” departs from its authority. It is not accurate to say that Anarchy is a crime. It is no crime to advocate a reversion to a state of confusion and disorder; it is a manifestation of lunacy, imbecility, but no crime. Regard for dictionary definitions of crime prompts an amendment of the “Commercial’s” answer to its correspondent, which answer must take the following form: “An Anarchist is a person advocating the inexplicable and insane notion of dispensing with all rules of conduct, principles, and institutions.” Of course this is glaringly inconsistent with the admission that Anarchists are persons of culture and refinement; but the “Commercial” is not responsible for the paradox. It is bound to recognize facts. If the Anarchists are neither fools nor lunatics, then the inference is inevitable that the definitions of Anarchy in the dictionaries do not apply to their Anarchy. Manifestly, there must be anarchy and anarchy, or, rather, anarchy and Anarchy. The dictionaries are valuable guides; but they are not infallible. If the “Commercial” wants to know what the Anarchy not dreamt of in the dictionary philosophy is, it should study Liberty.
Trades Unions and Politics.
The politicians in the trades onions seem to be on top now, and it is probable they will have to run their course before the effects of their actions will be clear enough for them to see the results. They are like children with a candle. They don’t know it will burn them until they put their fingers in it, notwithstanding that they are told it will burn.
The idea of trades unions meddling with politics is one that has been urged for twenty years or more by the State Socialists, and they lose no opportunity to push the idea to its fullest extent. They would rather see a trade union destroyed than see it confine itself to non-political methods, because their faith in political action is so strong that they believe any union that refuses to accept that policy is a hindrance to the movement and therefore should be removed. The dissensions in every large centre of industry among the trades and labor organizations have been and are largely due to the zeal with which this sort of politicians have urged the unions to political action. The out-and-out Socialist demands that the organizations shall take independent political action, and that they have no affiliation with or no dependence upon, and look for no relief from, what they are pleased to call the “capitalistic” parties. One has but to become familiar with the history of the labor movement in New York, San Francisco, St. Louis, Chicago, and other large cities to see the State Socialists ruling or ruining. They brook no opposition; they have no patience with minorities. Their fanaticism leads them to the belief that they have the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, and they are ready to suffer martyrdom for their opinion’s sake. Liberty to them is a condition to be attained through the harshest discipline, by the most confiding obedience to the will of the majority, from the exercise of a tyranny that admits of no elasticity.
Those, then, in the unions who are not committed to the State Socialistic programme do not see the full import of their opening the door to what they call non-partisan political action. They fail to see that no political question is nonpartisan, and they are too near-sighted to see that any question that calls for the action of any political body is a political question.
The eight-hour day question, for example, is an industrial-economic question so long as it is confined to the labor organizations and is settled between the employers and employees themselves. But as soon as it becomes one of the objects of a political party to obtain through the instrumentality of a municipal, State, or national government, it becomes a political-economical question, and the unions have no moral right to take political action for its attainment. Again, the temperance question is a moral question, and is clearly within the lines of church action; but when the temperance question becomes a political question does any right-minded person contend that the majority of any church organization have a right to commit it to political action as a means of advancing the temperance movement?
The idea that a trade union has the right to do whatever the majority determines is to the best interests of its members is one that deserves no place in the mind of any one who is even remotely acquainted with the law of progress. In a new town one sees the merchant handle almost everything from needles to threshing machines. But as the town develops the stores run to specialties, and in the more highly developed commercial communities there is such a differentiation that each store is confined to the handling of special lines of goods. The time was when the printer did almost everything in the production of printed matter. He was devil, typesetter, solicitor, job printer, editor-in-chief, all in one, and this is even so now where the industry is in its lowest stage of development. But when we come to where the industry has reached its highest development, each particular part of the business is separate from the other. The division has gone so far that one rarely meets a man nowadays who is acquainted with more than one, two, or three different branches of the business.
This process of division and subdivision is going on continually in every sphere of activity, whether it be among human beings, things that are animal life, or in the forces of nature outside of animals. It is in accordance with the law of physics, that force seeks the line of least resistance. It is what Herbert Spencer calls the conservation of energy. It is the economical process of nature.
The violation of this law, therefore, is a violation of natural law, and there is no escape from the punishments that follow. Wise men put themselves in accord with natural law, and in this way avoid pain and misery.
If this question affected only the trades unions there would be little need to point out these facts, but it is a too popular theory that constitutions, contracts, agreements, the words of men given orally, may be set aside with impunity whenever the seeming intent of a class demands It. Political bodies — common councils, State legislatures, congress — interpret their constitutions loosely, and the result is that they enter into fields of action that are not consistent with the powers granted them by the people and lead us into all sorts of schemes for social regeneration, instead of letting the scheme of nature work unhampered by artificial obstructions.
“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.
A New Book Given Away With Each Renewal. — Payment of subscriptions and of renewals is required in advance. The names of subscribers not heard from within two weeks after expiration of subscription are removed from the list. But to every subscriber who sends his renewal for one year, accompanied by the cash, so that it reaches the publisher not later than two weeks after it is due, will be sent, postpaid, any book published in the United States that the subscriber may select, provided that its retail price does not exceed 50 cents if published by Benj. R. Tucker, or 25 cents if published by any other publisher. This is a permanent offer, and enables every promptly-paying subscriber to get a new book each year free of cost. But only one book will be given at a time, no matter how low the price of the book selected.
Lessons on Finance.
The New York “Tribune” employs a general-utility man named Horr who instructs the farmers in the principles of finance and economic science generally. His method is excellent. He proposes short and easy lessons, and encourages questions and cross-examination from his class. He is not readily stumped, but there is one question which he finds it difficult to answer, and that is, why the government, which buys silver, stores it, watches it, and issues paper money on it, should not do the same with other kinds of property. Why would it not be right and safe for the government, asks the hard-headed farmer, to purchase the surplus of farm produce and issue grain certificates? The only answer Horr could think of was that the government pays for silver only the market price, the price which the capitalists who mine the metal could get for it in the markets of the world, and that the coining of it is for the benefit of the people who use it as money. That this does not meet the farmer’s point is perfectly clear, since the government is not expected to purchase the farm produce at any other than the market price. But Horr has at least the satisfaction of knowing that much greater authorities on finance than those employed on the “Tribune” are unable to dispose of the difficulty raised; while the enquiring farmer may be interested to learn that there is a plan under discussion which contemplates the issue of paper money on farm produce or other marketable values, not indeed by the government, but by private and free banking associations.
This introduces us to another lesson on finance, the teacher being the New York “Evening Post.” Speaking of the controversy between the Bank of France and the French Farmer organizations, that paper says:
The Bank, however, refuses to lend on any paper which has not the characteristics of commercial paper; that is, it must not run more than three months, and must be payable on a day certain, and in case of non-payment must entail the bankruptcy of the makers and endorsers. The farmers, however, are by no means satisfied with this, and the reason is that the “basing” idea has got a firm foothold among them. We are all familiar here with this idea. It used to be preached vigorously in the old greenback days, even by such orators as Wendell Phillips. That idea is that promissory notes need not be made convertible when due, or convertible at all, provided they are “based” on something, — that is, as long as something exists which the note is supposed to represent. For instance, if a man has a cow he can “base” a note on the cow for an amount equal to her supposed value, and the note remains good as long as the cow lives and belongs to the maker of the note, although the holder may not be able to get possession of her in satisfaction of his claim. Simpson expanded this “basing” idea when be proposed that the government should get experts to estimate how much gold there was in a mountain, and then “base” notes on the contents of the mountain as thus estimated. Wendell Phillips’s plan was to “base” notes on the estimated wealth of the country, and the farmers want naturally to “base” them on their farms, and cattle, and implements. The great merit of the “basing” system is that under it one’s debts never fall due, but its defect is that, when everybody takes to “basing,” there can be no demand for the notes. Nobody will take a note “based” on my cow, when he has a cow of his own to “base” on.
Is the “Post” ignorant of the existence of another “basing idea,” to which the perfectly valid objections pointed out by it do not apply? The notion that nonpayment should not entail bankruptcy of the makers and endorsers is not a necessary feature of the basing idea, and the contemptuous rejection of that feature reflects no discredit upon the idea itself. From the remarks of the “Post” we infer that it has no objection to a plan under which the holder of a note based on a cow can get posession of her in satisfaction of his claim “on a day certain”; and hence its words may properly be construed into an indirect endorsement of the mutual banking plan, which adopts the basing idea while repudiating the accidental feature tacked on by the fiatists.
A third lesson which, though confused and superficial, may be rendered profitable by the exercise of the critical faculty, is the following from the financial editor of the New York “Sun”:
It should never be forgotten that the usual talk about money tends to confuse in the mind the distinction between actual wealth, which is capable of being made to yield pleasure or profit directly, and the machinery of currency, by which only industry and the exchange of the products of industry are facilitated.
Adam Smith was the first thinker to expose scientifically the fallacy that the wealth of a nation was to be estimated by the quantity of the gold and silver which it possessed; but, in spite of his efforts and of those of the thousands of eminent financiers and economists who have sought to enforce his conclusions by argument and by illustration, it has proved impossible to establish them completely in the place of the opposite errors.
I bear and read every day utterances by men high in the business and the political world, based upon the mediæval assumption that the more coin and paper money a country has the richer it is, and a clamor for more currency is set up regularly at every session of Congress.
Evidently, gold and silver, apart from the use they serve when made into articles of luxury and ornament, the total value of which is only a small percentage of the entire product of the mines, are wealth only so far as they will procure, by exchange, other articles of utility or luxury. Paper money, certainly, is intrinsically valuable only by virtue of its purchasing power, since even to attempt to change its form destroys it.
An increase in the volume of currency, therefore, unless it is accompanied by an increase of the supply of the commodities which currency can buy, is no augmentation of real wealth, and, curiously enough, gold and silver producing regions, being usually agriculturally barren and deficient in manufacturing industry, are the poorest in the world.
The most satisfactory source of wealth is labor skillfully directed and industriously applied direct to the creation of those commodities which men regard as desirable because of their ability to satisfy their wants. When such labor is active, it produces wealth rapidly; when it slackens its efforts, its product is diminished accordingly. Without its coöperation the owners of the precious metals and of the paper money representing them would be paupers.
A man with tons of gold and silver could not satisfy his hunger nor clothe his body unless some of his fellow-men labored to create food and clothing and sell it to him, any more than if be owned all the railroad cars in the country he could supply his wants unless somebody worked to furnish the articles with which the cars could be laden.
This, by the way, suggests a tolerably good illustration, though not a perfect one, of the function of money and the reason why a congestion of it such as prevails at present at this financial centre is a result and an indication of dull trade.
When men are busy in producing and exchanging commodities they require more money for the purpose than when they are idle, just as more cars are wanted when many articles are to be transported than when there are few.
Thus, when the crops are harvested, as they are every summer and autumn, a demand springs up for money with which to buy them from the agriculturists and bring them to market. The banks are called upon to furnish it, and their stock of it is depleted accordingly.
When manufacturers have plenty of orders, they use money in buying raw materials and in paying their hands, and they, too, absorb from the banks. Hence, the rate of interest or the price of the rent of money, and of credits, which supplement money, goes up when the manufacturing business is lively and goes down when it is dull. It is just as it is with railroad cars. No one supposes for a moment that a scarcity of such cars indicates anything but an active carrying business, nor that the accumulation of them at railroad centres is due to any cause but a want of freights to carry. Yet for a railroad company to boast of the immense number of cars it has lying idle in its yards is no more irrational than it is for a business community to plume itself upon the quantity of currency it has in the same condition.
The defect in the illustration consists in the fact that the lack of actual coin and paper money can be supplied, as it is to an immense extent, by credit, whereas no such substitute exists for the actual railroad cars.
The conclusion that those who Bet up a clamor for more currency are victims of a delusion does not follow from the premises. The opinions of the writer are sound enough; but he misses the point when he says that the lack of actual coin and paper money can be supplied by credit. It is, of course, utterly impossible to determine just how much money the country needs; but since industry and exchange are facilitated by the machinery of currency, it is plain that a scarcity of money is a serious impediment to industry and exchange. The supply of currency, then, needs to be taken out of the hands of the government, which is not in a position to determine and supply the needs of the people. Under free competition in the supply of currency, supply would adjust itself to the demand, as in the case of other commodities. It is evident that the greater the demand for money, the higher will the price of the rent of money and credits be under the present monopoly system. But who can say what the price would be under free credit and free banking? A scarcity of money means a high rate of interest, according to the writer’s own analysis; but, while a high rate of interest is evidence of commercial activity, it certainly injures the business men and the wageworkers, who must content themselves with a smaller share of the product. A scarcity of cars indicates an active carrying business, but it is not pretended that such a scarcity is good for the farmers and dealers. It might not be profitable for the railroads to supply more cars, but the profit to their customers from such an addition is apparent.
Most of the schemes proposed for the increase of the volume of currency are doubtless grotesque; but the cry for more money is not absurd. V. Y.
A Prohibitionist Advocate of Free Rum.
Most prohibitionists seem to be willing to support the high license system where and when complete prohibition meets with strenuous opposition. Half a loaf is usually considered better than none, and some restriction better than none at all. Liberty is gratified to note that the New York “Voice” is clear-sighted, logical, and brave enough to denounce the whole license system as a travesty on equal rights and unjustifiable monopoly. The “Voice” would have either total prohibition or perfect freedom in the liquor traffic, and distinctly declares that a reign of free rum is preferable to existing legislation on the subject. The “Voice” says: “One person out of every 258 has the privilege of going into this business and reaping the enormous profits. He alone has the permission of the law. The other 257 are debarred from the business, and an attempt on their part to sell liquor will be followed with legal penalties. Before a man can enter into this business, in any State of the Union, with few exceptions, he must secure the permission of certain men. He may have all the capital necessary, all the facilities required by trade, all the knowledge essential. He may proffer the amount of the license fee in good cash. But nothing will avail if those few men say no, he shall not have a license. We protest, in the name of equal rights and privileges! If there is any one thing that should be indisputable in America it is that all men have an equal chance before the law. The doctrine is carried out in most lines of business. Any man in America has an equal chance with every other man to engage in the grocery business, the hardware business, the dry goods business, the tobacco business, or any other line of business. What is this law that comes to one man and says you may have this privilege of making $5,000 a year and says to 257 others, ‘Stand off; don’t you dare to enter into this business; let it alone or the prison will be your resting place’? The whole scheme is an illustration of superb insolence. Applied to any other business beneath the sun, it would call out execration and invite revolt. Of all the monopolies ever created this is the greatest, the most atrocious in its defiance of every fundamental principle of a republican form of government, and it has been the most appalling in its political results.” With the opinion expressed in the last sentence, Liberty cannot agree. The facts show, too, that the same principle is applied to other and more important branches of commerce without exciting any general indignation. But these overstatements do not prevent me from congratulating the “Voice” on its logical and intelligent position on the liquor question. We welcome the prohibitionist pleader for freedom. V. Y.
By a Conservative.
When I was young I sighed for fame,
And burned the midnight oil;
But, now I’m old, my blood is tame,
I sit and nurse the sea-coal’s flame,
And read how others toil.
Here Henry George, for all he’s worth,
Proclaims his one taxation,
Crusading to set free the earth,
And make the loafer, rich from birth,
Dismount his poor relation.
There Bellamy, another crank,
Fiction with fact would mingle;
He sees that men in file and rank,
Like oars arranged in tier and bank,
Beat twice their number single.
And so the great industrial mob
He’d mould into an army,
And send it forth to kill and rob
Famine and Surfeit, which hob-nob,
While discontent grows barmy.
“Amen!” cries Boston’s Dawn of Bliss,
“But don’t be too paternal.
Fraternal the true watchword is.
Man in management to miss
Were tyranny infernal.”
Yonder is Pentecost, whose cue
Seems caught from sport, not killing.
See how the players dare and do;
What order, yet what ardor too!
Because each part is willing.
He’d have no man controlled by man, —
Police or politician;
For each will do the best he can,
Simply through fear of public ban,
Or hope of recognition.
So he holds; and this loose-hung state
He calls ideal freedom;
Where men may join or separate,
Live gods or beasts, in love or hate,
As happiness shall lead’em.
The poet Morris, oversea,
Sick of civilization,
Dreams how England’s wealth may be
Common wealth, and Britons free
Even from education.
In Germany upstarts Mackay,
The Anarchists proclaiming,
Across the Storm a steadying cry,
A torch to lighten earth and sky,
For equal freedom flaming.
“Bravo!” calls Tucker, looking up
Above the Transatlantic.
“That’s Liberty; that’s Proudhon’s cup,
Whereof when nations learn to sup,
Their greatness grows gigantic.”
Last, Sullivan exclaims serene:
“God bless you all, my hearties!”
Deuce take them, I say, for I’ve seen
Too much reform to care a bean
For any of their parties.
I’ll wager if I had’em here,
Well fed, with none that know by,
Two fingers round a glass of beer,
Some good havanas lying near,
They’d give the crowd the go-by.
I’d wager, yet I won’t be sure;
I own I can’t quite place them.
They really seem to love the poor,
Gold seems powerless to allure,
Or honors to debase them.
’Twas like this in the tiresome days
We now call ante-bellum;
Garrison setting all ablaze,
And Beecher drowning Parker’s brays,
With Phillips to outyell’em;
Whittier hounding us in rhyme,
And Mrs. Stowe in fiction,
And Lowell with them keeping time,
But trying to disguise his crime
Beneath the rabble’s diction.
I promise these the self-same fate.
Who now spouts abolition?
Just so you’ll see, if you but wait,
A time when fools no longer prate
About the poor’s condition.
Harry Lyman Koopman.
Police Regulation of Vice.
[“R” in London Personal Rights Journal.]
The Paris “Bulletin Municipal Officiel” of November 24th reports a long and somewhat heated debate which took place in the Municipal Council on the subject of one of the raids made by the Morals-Police upon supposed “filles publiques.”
The debate would — if it could be studied by them — be full of instruction for those moralists among our own people whose hasty enthusiasm leads them to advocate quack remedies for the social evils which they honestly deplore. Nothing is made clearer by this debate than that, by the sanctioned degradation of women to the service of men, the minds of the latter become wonderfully demoralized, and that police “regulation” of vice, far from enhancing the safety of respectable women, contributes a serious element of danger to their lives. The circumstances which called forth the discussion are briefly as follows, condensed from the report of “Le Temps”:
On Tuesday evening, November 17th, between nine and half-past, the Morals-Police made a raid at the convergence of several streets by Chateaudun. The mode of procedure was to draw a cordon around a given area and arrest all the filles publiques found within it. Naturally, the unfortunates so hunted fly, emitting cries of terror; and often the first captives of the Morals-Police are honest women who, unsuspicious of danger, find themselves included in this summary operation. This is precisely what happened on the night in question to Miss Mercédès Fernandez, who has been for seven years the first hand at Madame Berthier’s, a milliner, 36 bis, Boulevard Haussmann. She was crossing the road, when suddenly she saw persons running in alarm, and someone seized her roughly by the arm. She cried: “Leave go, sir!” but at the same instant she was grasped with violence by the other arm, and was bruised from her elbows to her shoulders. Her captors ordered her to follow them to the station. She struggled, explained who she was, and asked the men to go with her to her employer; but they replied only by coarse insults, spoke to her with the familiar thou, and even struck her. The poor girl, half fainting from fear and pain, lost the full consciousness of what was passing; but she presently found herself thrust into a room where about twenty women had preceded her, and there she demanded to be brought before a responsible officer and interrogated. She volunteered her name, her address, the names of all the people she knew in Paris, and all the information she could think of; she begged her custodians to telephone enquiries; she even offered them money, entreating them with tears not to force her to pass the night at the station; but all this only drew fresh insults upon her. Later on she was compelled, along with the filles publiques, to enter the vehicle kept for this purpose, and was taken to the Prefecture, where she remained in durance until noon of the following day, when she was brought before M. Goron and interrogated. This official immediately liberated her — after she had been fourteen hours in the custody of his agents. Further particulars concerning Miss Fernandez, all of which redound to her credit, are given by “Temps,” together with the details of her captivity; one most notable circumstance being that the only fellow-creatures who treated her with anything like decency were the very “unfortunates” against whom the raid had been organized. These not only showed her the meagre kindness within their power, but interceded with her jailors, declaring that she was not “one of them.”
A long debate in the Municipal Council, on the work and character of the Police des Mœurs, ensued upon the citing of this case, in the course of which, although reforms of their methods and restrictions of their action were eagerly advocated, no councillor raised his voice in direct condemnation of an institution which is a blot on civilization and an incentive to that vice which it is supposed to hamper.
The Morals-Police, while theoretically recruited from a most respectable class of men specially fitted for the mission of suppressing immorality, — i. e., hunting, capturing, and retaining control of the female victims of sexual vice, — are declared by many persons to be men whose past careers disqualify them for more honorable vocations. M. Prudent Dervillers said, in the debate of November 24th: “I have in my possession a note indicating the method of recruiting the Police des Mœurs. . . . . In the report upon the budget of the Prefecture of Police of 1881 there is the following passage: ‘Two policemen having recently allowed a prisoner to escape, M. Caubet has given out that he has transferred them, in disgrace, to the morals service. . . . . M. Benjamin Raspail, Deputé, procured the departure from a commune in the Department of the Seine of a Commissary of Police who had made himself noted for acts worthy of a satyr: some time afterwards M. Raspail enquired what had become of him, and was informed that he was placed in the morals service, where, no doubt, his predilections would have freer course.’” Later in the debate M. Georges Berry said: “Four years ago a man came out of Mazas prison, having undergone two terms of two and three years respectively. He was called to the Prefecture of Police, where he was made to understand that he could no longer find means of subsistence, and it was proposed to him to enter the morals service. . . . . I have the name of this policeman, and the proof of his sentences, . . . . and, M. le Préfet, let me tell you that the gravest rumors are in circulation as to the methods of your men. It is said that they find out young girls and arrange that, for a payment of five or ten francs a month, they shall be forewarned of raids. . . . Gentlemen, it cannot be doubted that the greater number of the Morals-Police receive money from the unfortunates. And the proof is that, when the police make a raid, it is only the penniless, or innocent women, like Miss Fernandez, who are arrested.”
Of course the Prefect of Police denied these and similar allegations, but without convincing the councillors who made them, and without carrying conviction to the mind of any reader of the debate who is in the smallest degree conversant with the manners and customs of the men employed in the “regulation,” or, as it is usually called, the “suppression” of prostitution. To quote an authority who has proved himself to possess the courage of his convictions: “It is well known that among police officials of every rank, lying is merely a professional acomplishment.”
So much for the character of the individuals whose occupation requires them, of all men in the world, to be above mundane temptation. Let us now observe some of their methods and the effects these produce. M. Prudent Dervillers, in the course of his speech, instanced two cases which are in themselves enough to condemn to destruction the whole system of “regulation”; and which drew from the Municipal Council of Paris a resolution in favor of abolishing the Morals-Police, and of dealing with persons giving themselves over to prostitution before the ordinary tribunals, — a resolution that was quietly ignored.
The first was an arrest made in the street. A policeman called Gros found a poor woman near midnight in the neighborhood of the Sorbonne, and arrested her. She entreated to be set free, explaining that she was only out to obtain remedies for her little sick child, but the policeman replied: “This is a pretence,” and dragged her to the station. The child died during the night, and the woman afterwards died, mad, in the Salpétrière. The second instance occurred in the course of one of those hotel visitations, at which the Morals-Police arrest women indiscriminately. A terrified young seamstress endeavored to escape by jumping from a second floor window to a roof beneath. This roof was partially glazed; the glass shattered and she fell through, horribly torn, and her two legs broken. She was carried to the hospital, where she expired in two days. She was a perfectly reputable young woman, her age was twenty-four, and she had only three days quitted the newly-married sister with whom she had, up to that time, lived.
It is not generally known in England that zeal for well-regulated “morality” has made it an offence, under Art. 334 of the French Penal Code, to let furnished rooms to any girl under 21 years of age. The law permits the police to arrest every girl having no recognized dwelling-place as a vagabond. The police are, therefore, not only able to exercise an intolerable tyranny over‘the girls themselves, but at the same time to put a bit into the mouths of all lodging-house keepers. These persons, knowing that the police can either tighten or slacken the rein, as it suits them, take advantage of the tyranny exercised by that honorable body over girls, and charge to a minor a higher price for their rooms in order to indemnify themselves for the risk they run in infringing Art. 334 of the Code. This Article, moreover, by rendering it impossible for a minor legally to rent a room for herself, drives her to the expedient of seeking some one to live with her, who will be, actually or ostensibly, responsible for the rent. If two or more women live together the police have it in their power to swoop down upon them with the accusation — impossible for them to disprove — of clandestine prostitution. If a girl lives with any individual of the other sex, his presence enables the police to threaten the lodging-house keeper with the accusation of facilitating the debauch of a minor.
“By these and similar methods of persecution, these girls are gradually hunted to their last shelter — the Maison Tolérée — for the keepers of these temples of debauchery are allowed, so long as they keep on good terms with the police, to harbor as many minors as they choose, and to exact from them as much travail as they choose.” “It is a significant fact that neither the matrones nor the girls themselves make the smallest pretence that any sort of ‘pleasure’ is connected in their minds with the trade they carry on. A girl who shows repugnance to the slavery imposed on her, ‘travaille mal’; and the matrone will say approvingly of another, ‘C’est une bonne fille, elle travaille bien.’”
“In France,” says M. Guyot — referring to the retrogressive legislation into which the English Parliament was betrayed a few years ago by an only too successful journalistic enterprise — “we have discovered by experience, what we might have known by logical inference only, that the regulation of vice in women by any body of men tends inevitably to the demoralization of that body and to the consequent increase of vice. It creates a slave-class among women and a far viler class of slave-drivers among men. The powers given for the suppression of the houses in which women who are accused of immorality reside, constitute a step taken by England towards the regulation of female vice by male police, precisely when the most liberal and the most enlightened municipality in France [that of Paris], judging the complete system of the Police des Mœurs by the experience of a century, has determined upon its abolition.” Unfortunately, this salutary reform is difficult to effect. Year after year the budget of the Prefecture of Police is refused, but the will of the municipality sustains defeat. Nevertheless, its ultimate victory is sure. Meantime, the present foul system enables the Morals-Police, under a variety of pretexts, to “pounce upon young girls and compel them to be licensed as prostitutes, and to live in Maisons Tolerées”; and, when once they have registered a girl, “they make it their business to compel her, from that day forward, to have no other means of gaining a livelihood than prostitution.”
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.