Liberty Vol. I. No. 15.
Not the Daughter but the Mother of Order
“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.”
— John Hay.
On Picket Duty.
“Society,” some one has truly said, “is produced by our wants, and government by our wickedness.”
The New England “Methodist” illustrates the singular unwillingness of O. B. Frothingham to define his position, in view of the fact that he has avowed a new one, by the story of the Irish lad who fell into a deep well, and, when his father called to know if he were dead, replied: “Not dead, father, but spacheless.”
An exchange tells us that a rich Italian land-owner resorts to an obsolete feudal custom of making his laborers wear iron muzzles during the grape harvest to prevent them from tasting the grapes. The stockholders and directors of horse-railways who make their conductors use bell-punches to prevent them from “knocking down” fares will probably be the first to boisterously brand this Italian’s conduct as a relic of the dark ages, which could have survived nowhere else than in an “effete monarchy of the old world.”
“It is as safe a prediction as any that we are able to picture to ourselves in European politics to say that the Irish peasant and the Irish landlord will have as completely reversed their relations of every kind to one another between the year 1880 and the year 1900 as did the French peasant and the French lord between 1789 and 1794? Some may think this a bold prophecy on the part of Mr. John Morley, but in the eyes of Liberty it is not as bold as the truth, which is that before the year 1900 landlords of every civilized nationality will have disappeared from the face of the earth.
One of the grandest of revolutionary anniversaries again draws near, the eleventh of the foundation of the glorious Paris Commune. The Internationalist and Anarchists of New York have been actively preparing for its commemoration, and will give a grand concert and ball in its honor Saturday evening, March 18, at Irving Hall, New York. Fine musical talent has been secured, and no pains will be spared for the achievement of a success worthy of the occasion. Family tickets may be had for twenty-five cents, the proceeds of the sale to be devoted to the Asile Laique Francais and to the revolutionary cause in Russia. The time will come when the peoples of the earth will unite in adopting the Eighteenth of March as a day of international festival.
All believers in the State, however much they may try ta disguise it, or however it may be disguised beyond their recognition, believe that “might makes rights.” In the last analysis, they invariably hold that the State may rightfully do that which it would be wrong for an individual to do; in other words, that morality is entirely independent of justice, and may be made and unmade by the human will. Here is an instance, taken from instructions issued to General Burbridge by General Sherman in 1864, the publication of which a personal controversy has lately led to: “You may inform all your post and district commanders that guerillas are not soldiers, but wild beasts, unknown to the usage of war. To be recognized as soldiers they must be enlisted, enrolled, officered, uniformed, armed, and equipped by some recognized belligerent power, and must, if detached from a moving army, be of sufficient strength with written orders from some army commander to do some military thing.” Thus, General Sherman and his army of soldiers, who went “marching through Georgia” destroying other people’s property and taking other people’s lives, were honest patriots and humane gentlemen, because they did these things under the sanction of the State; but Colonel Mosby and his band of guerillas, who did things precisely similar, but in an irregular way, were thieves and murderers and wild beasts, because they acted on their own responsibility.
Senator Edmunds of Vermont says that, in the matter of finance, there are four courses open to us. We must, he asserts, either continue the national bank notes, or substitute the old state bank notes for them, or issue a national currency from the treasury, or confine ourselves to coin money. These four, and no more, argues the wise senator. But he is wrong. He has overlooked a fifth thing which we may do, namely, abolish all that we have done, and do nothing more. Whatever may be the proper functions of government, to supply the people with money is certainly not one of them. The people are entirely competent and willing to make their own money, if the government will only leave them to do it. And they will make much better and cheaper money than the government can. Here, as in every other branch manufacture or business, the superiority of private enterprise will manifest itself. The government might just as well make our hats and our shoes and our bread and our books and our pictures as our money. On this point the State socialists are consistent, and have the advantage over such governmental financiers to oppose them, for greenbackism and national bankism are but phases of compulsory communism. The first condition of a true system of finance is Liberty.
Our friend George Chainey has been talking at random again. In accepting as genuine Oscar Wildes’s profession of discipleship to John Ruskin, he unintentionally but inexcusably slanders the latter. Mr. Chainey may champion any humbug that he likes,— that is comparatively a small matter,— but he has no right to saddle the humbug on the shoulders of sincere and noble man. Oscar Wilde’s art teachings show that his knowledge of Ruskin’s thought is of the most superficial nature, and Mr. Chainey’s identification of the two shows that he is incapable of distinguishing between fundamentally opposite schools of art. The character of a school of art depends primarily on its conception of the purpose of art. What is the conception held by the true aestheticism which John Ruksin stands for? Mr. Chainey answers rightly: “To Ruskin nothing was beautiful that was not at the same time in some way useful to either the physicial, intellectual, or moral elevation of society. It must either state a true thing or adorn a serviceable one. It must never exist alone, never for itself. It exist rightly only when it is the means of knowledge or the grace of agency for life.” What is conception held by the false aestheticism which Oscar Wilde stand for? Hear Mr. Wilde himself: “Any element of morals or implied reference to a standard of good or evil in art is a sign of a certain incompleteness of vision.... Poems are either well written or badly written; that is all ... All good work aims at a purely artistic effect ... True art exist for art’s sake. Two schools of art founded on principles so diametrically opposite as these must necessarily differ as widely as two schools of religion founded one on authority and the other on Liberty. Yet Mr. Chainey pronounces them one and the same. With as much reason might he indorse any professed disciple of Darwin who should teach that the existence of each species is due to a separate act of creation. And the insult to the master would be no greater than that which he has offered to Ruskin. To accept and pass the counterfeit is to clip the genuine coin. But habit is strong, Mr. Chainey has not been long out of the pulpit, and snap judgments, we suppose, must be expected from him for some time yet.
The Philadelphia “Labor World” says that “governments are becoming more liberal, laws more just and comprehensive, obstacles to advancement are disappearing, and opportunities for the gathering of wealth are multiplying.” Liberty is glad to be assured that such fine things are going on, but confesses to a little curiosity regarding the proofs thereof. The latest Observations taken in England, Russia, Germany, France, and the United States had led us to believe that just at present governments are becoming more illiberal, laws more unjust and narrow, obstacles to advancement are multiplying, and opportunities for the gathering of wealth are being confined to fewer and fewer persons. Not that we were with-out confident expectation of an approaching turn in events; otherwise were Liberty without an occupation. But the order of the day had seemed to us to be a tightening of the chains, a strengthening of the barriers, and a riveting of the yokes. Will the “Labor World” tell us on what grounds we should change our opinion?
There is food for serious thought in the statistics furnished by Professor Leone Levi to the British Association for the Advancement of Science, bearing on the relation between the economical condition of the people and their height and weight. Town artisans appeared from the returns to be of an average height of 66.55; the laboring class, 67.15; the commercial class, 67.79; and the professional, 68.70. In weight the town artisans again stood lowest, with 136.2 lbs., the other statistics being: laboring class, 137.8; commercial, 143.9; professional, 162.7. No less instructive are the investigations of Baron Kolb of Germany, who found that, of 1,000 well-to-do persons and 1,000 poor persons, there remained of the prosperous, after five years, 943, while of the poor but 655 remained. After fifty years there remained of the prosperous 557, and of the poor only 283. At seventy years of age there remained 235 of the prosperous, while the number of the poor yet living was but 65. The average length of life among the well-to-do was found to be fifty years, and of the poor thirty-two years. Do not their stunted stature and shrunken stomachs and the frightful rate of mortality among them conclusively prove that the workers of the world are being put through the process of slow starvation, while the food that they produce goes to swell the bellies of the men who steal it? The phrase “bloated bondholders” contains an element of literal accuracy hitherto undreamed of.
“A free man is one who enjoys the use of his reason and his faculties; who is neither blinded by passion, not hindered or driven by oppression, not deceived by erroneous opinions.” — Proudhon.
God’s wicked Partners
Charles Guiteau claims that he is Lord’s partner, and that the Almighty was accessory before fact to killing of Garfield. For this Mr. Guiteau is bitterly denounced by Christians as a blasphemer and an impious wretch, and regarded with holy horror by the Lord’s anointed. These good people are inconsistent. They have addressed to the throne of grace such remarks as this: “Oh Lord! Thou hast in Thine infinite wisdom seen fit to chasten us by removing our beloved leader and taking him unto Thine own bosom. Humbly we bow before thee, and murmur, Thy will be done!” If such pulpit utterances signify anything and are not mere gospel gush, intended to flatter the Almighty by conveying the impression that the speakers would not for a moment suppose that anything could be done on earth without his knowledge or consent, they mean that the killing of Garfield was the act of God, that the murder was deliberately planned by Omnipotence for some inscrutable reason, and that it was executed in furtherance of and in accordance with some sacred scheme for the good of the World. If the Christian god is omnipotent, he could have prevented the killing, and the fact that he did not do so indicates that he desired the death of President Garfield. Guiteau, according to the Christian doctrine, merely executed the will of God. It cannot be argued reasonably that he was merely the blind instrument of God a that God simply permitted him to follow the course that has wicked passions and malignant heart dictated, leaving him responsible for the deed as for the motives that prompted it: for Guiteau had no personal motive, and has asserted repeatedly that God commanded him to kill Garfield. He was in the confidence of the Almighty from the beginning. If it was God’s will that Garfield should die, God was the instigator of the homicide, and Guiteau was his partner. If the killing was the most damnable and atrocious crime in history, then God is the most atrocious villain the world ever heard of, and Guiteau is no more responsible than the bullet which inflicted the death wound.
But God’s inconsistent apologists argue that there is no evidence of the copartnership beyond Guiteau’s own assertions, and that the Almighty would never select as his partner a man who had committed adultery, cheated landladie, and done other disreputable thing Christians abhor. It is strange that God did not select as his partner some trusted preacher of his word — some holy man who never did anything wrong in his life, and whose claim of inspiration would be accepted as true. Why did he not commission some regularly inspired preacher of the gospel, whom he had already called to serve him at a good salary, to murder Mr. Garfield? Was it because he intended to shirk the responsibility and leave his partner in the lurch, and thought he could spare Guiteau better than Beecher or Talmage or some other meck and lowly follower of the cross? Then why did he not select some professional murderer, who by law ought to be hanged anyway, some “Billy the Kid,” or some great military leader with the blood of thousands on his hands?
Guiteau is not half as bad a man, even admitting that he is sane, as some of those who figure in history and the Bible as being on familiar terms with Jehovah. The Lord has had some very wicked partners on earth. One of them led a band of outcasts and cut-throats for forty years, and, acting under direct orders from the head of the firm, occupied himself in murder, rapine, and plunder during a large portion of the time. The partnership between Moses and the Almighty is accepted as a fact upon no better evidence than the alleged statements of Moses himself and there is no proof that Moses was a more truthful man than Guiteau. Ever since the invention of religion certain men have claimed for themselves divine right to rob, murder, and oppress their fellows. They have called themselves kings, emperors, czars,— all partners of the Lord,— and, under authority of the senior member of the concern, have committed colossal crimes, kept hordes of hired murderers busy killing men, robbed millions of human beings of every natural rights, violated every principle of morality, lived most vicious lives, died pious deaths, and gone straight to eternal glory and everlasting bliss. Partners of the Lord have made bonfires of human flesh, broken living human frames upon the rack, and filled the ears of Infinite mercy with the agonized groans of suffering morality. There is no crime however hideous, no outrage however cowardly, no meanness however despicable, that has not been committed by acknowledged partners of the Lord.
No, Guiteau is not too wicked nor too depraved to be an accomplice of the Almighty, and his claim of divine complicity in his deed rests upon ground every bit as good and reliable as John Calvin’s or Moses’s or Kaiser Wilhelm’s. If there were any such thing as consistency in Christianity, it would have to either accept him at his own estimation or admit that he is a lunatic; but there is no such thing, and therefore Christian ministers approve of hanging him, while the read “collects” and pray God to forgive his own partner in crime.
A Glorious Meeting
The mass meeting of trades unions in Cooper Union, New York, on January 30, was the most significant and gratifying move that has been made since the so-called Irish land war began.
The Irish race, by nature of their organism, are easily ridden by superstition. The Pope has always sat in the Irish saddle with greater assurance than in any other. Blood-sucking priests have always found the Irish skin the thinnest to prey upon. With such a people — sympathetic, domestic, and deeply endeared to their traditions — the nationality craze easily finds a lodgment, and short-sighted, designing politicians are ever ready to make use of it in order to divert the attention of the people from the bottom causes of universal industrial slavery.
But this meeting stood on a thoroughly broad and de-nationalizing basis. As the splendid resolutions put it, the Irish cause was “humanity cause;” it was “Labor’s Cause.” Germans, Russians, Americans, Scotch, English, and Irish,— all clasped the brotherly hand in the grand resolve that the curse of landlordism was not local and national, but universal and human (or rather inhuman), and a part of the great scheme of usury against which Labor is everywhere called upon to wage an uncompromising war of extermination.
In asking the Irish to de-nationalize, as far as possible, their grand struggle, we would by no means look lightly upon their exceptional persecutions as a nation. But were these persecutions simply political and national, the Irish would have no especial claim to the co-operation of other nationalities. Since, however, the curse which afflicts them is one which threatens, and actually afflicts, more or less, the working masses of every other nation, they simply assert a just demand when they call upon working people everywhere to stand by them.
To attempt to argue down a superstition is the slowest process. Here and there a level-headed Irishman has sense enough to brush aside the ridiculous nonsense of expecting an “Irish republic” to do better by those who labor than does the ruling British machine. But these men are exceptions, and their voices is easily rub-a-dubbed down by the blatant nationalists.
It is useless to remind these rub-a-dub-dub, Irish republic, national flag enthusiasts that this American republic is severer on the tenant class, under its laws, than is England; but perhaps we can put it in another form with more effect. Place the Irish landlord class of America beside the Irish rent-paying class. Is the former any less merciless to its tenants than is the English landlord in Ireland? If the Irish landlord in this American republic is usurious-blood-hound, would he be anything less in an Irish republic? No, it is the system that must be crushed, and the system thrives just as audaciously under one form of government as another. The fact is that the State, without monopoly and usury as its main pillars, ceases to be the State.
It will take long to get these bottom facts into the heads of the masses, but such meetings as the one in Cooper Union are most gratifying helps in that direction. The masterly genius which moves the “Irish World” was never displayed to greater credit than on that occasion, and Liberty shouts thrice, Bravo! upon the whole affair.
A Game That Two Can Play At.
Would that we could command the satire of Voltaire and the invective of William Cobbett to flay the hypocritical bigots whose virtuous indignation is stirred at the existence of polygamy in this pious nation!
A Simon-pure, honest, square monogamist is a man who “keeps” one woman, and only one, whom he calls his wife. So long as the “keeping” of this woman is voluntary and mutual, it is nobody’s business, even though some clergyman may score a five-dollar fee out of it.
But the king of pious fraud whose holy indignation is stirred at the lustful Mormon is not a square, openhanded monogamist, he keeps two, three, or five women. On of these, whom he deceives and betrays and over whose liberty he wields absolute despotism, is known as his wife. This fellow is a polygamist at heart, but in the place of the openhanded, above-board transaction of the Mormon, he substitutes “nest-hiding,” fraud, cowardice, and hypocrisy.
It is unnecessary to say that Liberty, though opposed to the whole “keeping” system as the degradation of a passion that should be pure and noble, denies the right of the State to say to any man whether he shall “keep” one, two, five twenty, or one hundred women, or to any woman whether she shall “keep” corresponding numbers of man. Our pious legislators would be the very worst sufferers by such a law, even if it were possible to execute it. But even those who are honestly free from the practice of polygamy are committing an unmitigated piece of impudence and despotism when they attempt to deny to any man the right to “keep” just as many women as he pleases with his own money, and at his and their sole cost.
But the lecherous politicians of Washington, the lawyers and usurers who waste the people’s wealth on women and wine,— these make up the holy conclave that proposes to visit the Mormon households and destroy their homes.
Luckily, the Mormons have hit upon a spike game. They have been carefully canvassing the number of practical polygamists among the Washington congressmen. When pushed to the wall, they propose to publish the results of their investigations to the American public, and deliver sealed copies to the accredited wives of these virtuous political saints. Ten to one that the Mormons have already effectively spiked the enemy’s gang! The monogamists and polygamists threaten to become terribly mixed, and we hope that in the confusion all will conclude to mind their own business.
A Review of German Socialism.
At the last elections to the German Reichstag thirteen candidates of the Social Democracy were successful. This fact has added to the world-wide interest in German socialism, but the lamentable ignorance and misapprehension concerning that movement still prevail. Its true history and real significance are concisely and admirably set forth in the following outline sketch, which is borrowed from “Le Révolté”:
When the bold and success-crowned agitation of Lassalle had once started the labor movement in Germany, there immediately appeared a goodly number of talented men, capable of appreciating with statesmanlike clairvoyance the movement in its full extent and all its consequences and of comprehending the advantages in the future which it offered to the champions of the new party. These men at once ranged themselves by the side of the Universal Society of German Laborers (Allgemeiner Deutscher Arbeiter-Verein).
After the premature death of Lassalle, and in consequence of the questionable management of President Schweitzer, a crisis occurred, from which, nevertheless, the labor movement emerged triumphant, though divided into two hostile factions:
(1) The party of the Lassallians, under the leadership of Hasenclever and Hasselmann, whose journalistic organ was the “New Social Democrat.” This party confined itself to an orthodox observance of the doctrines expounded by Lassalle.
(2) The Party of Eisenach, under the leadership of Liebknecht and Bebel,— the former having converted the latter from an advocate of the ideas of Schultze-Delitzsch (industrial credit, &c.) and a deadly enemy of socialism into a well- grounded socialist. This party, with the aid of its Journal, the “Popular State” (Volksstaat), more as core developed communistic ideas, always in the direction of authority and centralization by the Popular State, a phrase expressive of the ideal of Messrs, Marx and Engels and their faithful disciple, Liebknecht.
The war of Prussia against Austria and the victory of the former country, combined with the annexation of Hanover and Hesse-Cassel, led to the establishment of the Confederation of North Germany (Norddeutscher Bund) and the Parliaiment of North Germany (Norddeutsches Zollparlament). To popularize these political automata, viewed with disfavor by the people, the iron chancellor (so Bismarck was called) gave the people universal suffrage in parliamentary elections, which Lassalle bad previously demanded in elections to the Prussian Chamber.
Then it was that the Social Democrats seized with enthusiasm upon “this new weapon for the enfranchisement of the people from the yoke of class-rule;” then it was that these hostile brethren sought for ascendency each over the other, and that such accusations as “sold Prussians” (the Lassallians) and “agents welfes” (the Party of Eisenach) — that is, agents in the pay of the ex-king of Hanover — multiplied.
The Franco-German war, with the reconstruction of the German Empire and the transformation of the Parliament of the North Germany into the Parliament of the Empire (Reichstag) on a basis of universal suffrage, extended still further the parliamentary agitation of the Social Democrats. And in spite of the excellent pamphlet by Liebknecht “On the Political Attitude of the Social Democracy, Especially in Relation to the Reichstag,” in which he showed very clearly the impossibility of the enfranchisement of the people by parliamentary methods and the inconvenience to laborers of participation in elections, and while crying: “No peace with the present régime! And war on the doctrine of universal suffrage!” the Party of Eisenach, under the leadership of this same Liebknecht, gave all its efforts to the enlistment of German Workingmen in the parliamentary struggle and to the choice of the largest possible number of socialistic deputies as members of that parliament where “one can only sacrifice his principles” because “principles are indivisible, and must be either completely maintained or completely sacrificed,” for “he who treats with the enemy parleys, and he who parleys compromises.”
The two factions of the Social Democracy were soon compelled to see that they principally injured themselves in fighting each other so furiously, while really having in view common object. Both desired social reform through the State. Little by little they came together, and in 1875 at the congress of Gotha they achieved a consolidation in the Socialistic Workingmen’s Party, after which they rapidly advanced from one “electoral-victory” to another.
It undoubtedly will seem very strange to our readers that the Liebknechts and their fellows while seeing so clearly the futility of participation in elections, should nevertheless have dared to urge (and with success) the laboring masses into the electoral path. But, on the one band, while continually achieving these apparent successes in the election of socialistic deputies, they could and did say to the workingmen: “OH!, we are obliged to take part in the elections, not to be deputies, but only to count voices, to ascertain the number of our followers, which it is impossible to find out otherwise, and, above all, to profit by the general excitement attending an electoral campaign in successfully developing our principles at political rallies; “and on the other hand, it should not be forgotten that the German workingman, long accustomed to blindly follow a few men either in one direction or another, could not easily shake off this habit, it having entered, so to speak, into his blood.
The workingman saw in all these agitators and editors of socialistic sheets — founded one after another and paid for out of hi pocket — sincere friends of the people, incapable of harboring any other thought than the immediate enfranchisement of the people. He forgot that these men, undoubtedly devoted with all their hearts to the interests of the party when they joined it,— whose speeches were always denunciatory of the selfishness of the bourgeoise,— must necessarily, by the security of the position created for them, view the situation less darkly from the simple fact that they no longer ran the labor’s risk of being thrown at any hour upon the pavement at the mercy of an employer,— one of the chief cause of the social revolution.
And finally, it must be said, it was easier for the workingman to follow the advice of eloquent men than to take upon himself the heavy burden of thinking for himself and investigating for himself the grave questions then coming to the fore.
But while the number of votes for the socialistic candidates kept on increasing at every election, it became evident that already there were a certain number of laborers who were scarcely Social Democrats, but Anarchists rather, for not only did they repudiate electoral tactics, but denied also this pretended beneficence of the Popular State; they were opponents of all authority, of all submission of minorities to majorities.
No doubt there had been in Germany for a long time learned men who, in their social studies, had occupied themselves with anarchistic theories; nevertheless, the fruits of these studies had scarcely seen the light and had not entered the heads of the laborers. Not until 1875 did a few German workingmen embrace and publicly defend the anarchistic ideas.
As was to be expected alter the methods employed by the Social Democrats against the Anarchists in other countries, the most distinguished men of the Social Democratic party of Germany and Switzerland were not slow in beginning a deadly struggle against these sincere and disinterested workingmen, whom they were pleased to honor with such titles as “mad-men,” “lunatics,” “hired agents of sedition,” “spies,” and many other pleasant appellations. Their hatred of them was the greater inasmuch as many of these “madmen” had formerly been for many years very zealous agitators for this party of “scientific socialism,” and therefore were acquainted — to the sorrow of the leaders — with troublesome facts that had occurred within the committees.
The foundation of an Anarchistic Journal in the German language at Berne in 1876 was not calculated to appease the anger of these system-making gentlemen. With all possible variations they repeated the most infamous slanders against the Anarchists. And, in spite of that, it was impossible to stifle the movement by such means. The Anarchists soon found adherents in several such German cities as Berlin, Leipzig, Magdeburg, Munich, and other places. Then at the universal socialistic congress of Gand in 1877 two German delegates appeared to defend anarchistic principles. There it was that, one of the delegates having said, in reply to the reproaches of Grenlich “that it was easy to preach anarchistic ideas in free Switzerland, but that they should do the same in Germany,” “Yes, that is just what we mean to do,” Liebknecht, rising excitedly, cried out: “Dare, then, to come into Germany to attack our Organization, and we will annihilate you by every possible means!”
They tried hard to keep this promise, but unsuccessfully. The anarchistic idea spread through Germany further and further.
The year 1878 followed, and the attempts of Hoedel and Nobiling on the life of the emperor. The Reichstag voted the famous laws against the “extravagances” of the Social Democracy, the law which suppresses the whole socialistic press and all socialistic societies and assemblies; the law which permits the dissolution and prohibition of every assembly in which there may be a Socialist; the law which allows the regional authority to ask permission of the federal council to declare the minor state of siege, in order that each suspected citizen may be expelled as dangerous to the general safety. One would suppose that, after the commission of such an act by the Reichstag, the Social Democrats would have abstained from attendance on a parliament which tramples under foot the last vestiges of equality and justice. Far from that, the majority of the socialistic deputies, under the pretext of defending “every inch” of legal ground still left to them, continued to sit among their implacable enemies, ready to assent to all measures, even the most violent, against the Socialists.
Nevertheless, everybody did not agree with them, and after the exceptional law a good portion of the Social Democrats separated themselves from the legal party,— among them Hasselmann and Most. Another portion declared themselves against further participation in elections, proclaiming revolutionary tactics. Others withdrew altogether, and withdrew, and, from fear of the persecutions which socialistic agitation involves. A large portion of the socialistic laborers still remain in the legal path, as the last elections prove; in spite of that it may be affirmed that a considerable number of workingmen have abandoned the idea of the enfranchisement of the people by legal means.
The club of German communists at London has founded the social-revolutionary journal, “Freiheit” (Freedom), whose first editor, Johann Most, was condemned at London for an article on the death of Alexander II. On every occasion, and lately á proposof the German elections, this journal has declared itself in favor of electoral absention and revolutionary propagandism. But it must not be forgotten that its founders have often improved an opportunity to declare themselves revolutionary Social Democracts in order to fix it in their readers’ minds that their object, also, is the Popular State. Nevertheless, it should be recognized that from the beginning the journal has permitted free discussion in its columns,— and perhaps that is the reason why the “Freiheit” becomes more and more anarchistic, and why the ideas discussed in its pages draw further away from the authority theory in each successive number. Indeed, nothing else was to be expected for in free discussion the anti-authority theory will always triumph over authority ideas of whatever sort. In spite of the continual prosecutions brought by the police against every man suspected of receiving it, the “Freiheit” is widely read in Germany. Besides the journal thousands of tracts on different subject have been scattered throughout Germany,— for instance, “To Our Brothers in the Barracks” (destined exclusively for circulation in the army), “The Revolutionary Social Democracy,” “The Madness of Property,” “Electoral Absention,” and many others.
It is certain that such an agitation often calls for victims from our ranks, and we should be carried too far, were we to attempt to count all our companions who have had to suffer for their zeal; let it suffice to remind our readers of the late trials at Leipzig.
Another proof that our brother in Germany are not only laboring to organize the masses for the revolution, but also repudiate the whole idea of authority, so inimical to the definitive enfranchisement of humanity, is the attitude of the German delegates to the revolutionary congress at London.
Let the bourgeoisie do what it will, let the summit of the oppressive class strive to suppress our agitation, let “our friends,” the editors of the “Social Democrat” and the other “great men” of the parliamentary party, treat us as “madmen,” “spies,” and “hired agents of sedition,” and libel us in any way that pleases them,— none of these things shall prevent our ideas from spreading, new adherents from joining us every day, or even our misfortunes from finding us unexpected friends.
We are sure that the day will come when champions of the Popular State will no longer be able to command even the 280,000 votes now remaining to them out of the 800,000 of which Braun d’Altona was the representative. We, the Revolutionary Anarchist of Germany, shall do our utmost to strip the political intriguers of their remaining strength, and, the old idols once overthrown, the people will understand that there is no necessity for creating new ones; relieved of all prejudices and of that bad habit of allowing themselves to be led, they will freely organize themselves to the final struggles, for the truly GREAT REVOLUTION, and, the struggle over, will know how to organize for other purposes without the aid of all these “scientific” men who pretend to have found the philosopher’s stone in the Popular State.
The Weakness of Compulsory Credit.
The following extract from a speech recently delivered by Thomas F. Bayard in the United States senate shows that a voice for Liberty is sometimes heard in the halls of power:
I argued and voted against the coercive principle which compelled any citizen of the United States, any person in the United States, artificial or natural, any set to citizen who had their money invested in bank stocks or not in bank stocks, to take any obligation of the government perforce and under compulsion. I believed then, and I believe now, that, whenever it is necessary to accompany your demand for credit by a threat, you weaken that credit and do not strengthen it. I think it is a symbol of weakness, and not of strength, for the government to make either its demand notes or its bonds an enforced legal tender upon anybody. It did not add one silver to the value of the treasury notes issued in time of war. It did not prevent their depreciation one penny when disaster threatened the government that issued them and its credit was threatened to be weakened by disaster. Your bonds are not to be made stronger, they are not to be held with more confidence, by fixing upon them any feature of compulsory acceptance by the banks, or by individuals, or by anybody, foreign or domestic. It is a mistake to suppose so.
The Free Religions Association, expecting to found the Church of the Future, has decided to give a certain sum of money to some young man who desires to fit himself to preach its gospel. One condition attached to its gift is that he be a college graduate. Neither Thomas Paine, Herbert Spencer, nor William Shakespeare could have applied for the fund. Fortunately, such men can get through the world without any such aid. The Liberalism that think more of college culture than native talent and true moral power enthusiasm is a base pharisaism that thanks its stars that it is not like other men. — George Chainey
Thomas Paine’s Monument.
Thou hast no need of monument of brace,
Or that men pile up granite to the heavens
Lest thy deeds be forgotten, or thy words
Cease to he household memories. For there stands
A monument to thee erect by hate,
Enduring as is time, or love of truth,
And right, and noble deeds. For thy great deeds
Fill all the base with hate, and thy true words —
The inspiration to all noble deeds —
Make heroes of the good, and win their love.
To that cloud-piercing shaft, such adds a stone
Who claims to rule o’er man by right divine;
Or who for favor, wealth, or love of place,
Serves in the ranks that uphold tyrannies,
All who would forge a fetter for a slave,
And drive him to his unrequited toll,
Or fix a brand upon a feeble race
To breed men slaves, like cattle, for the mart,
Or would seal up the eyelids of the mind,
That men may walk in darkness, as of old,
When a blind fate, or ire of gods, made death
The penalty for knowledge. Men have built
Temples and shrines, all decorate with art,
And worshiped one as God, who cares to bring,
Not white-robed Peace, but the avenging sword,
The scourged and crucified, whose mournful cry,
“Oh why, my God, hast thou forsaken me?”
Sound down the ages; yielding up his life
But fo his kindred. It was thins to brave
An ignominious death for one who knew
No claim to service or to thy regard,
Save that he was thine enemy,— a king
And the oppressor of his people. Thine
To counsel mercy to the man, but death
To the oppression only, and the claim
To rule by right divine. Thy monument?
It is the love of all the good; thy words
Of wisdom, when the counsellors were dumb;
Of courage, when the spectre of despair
Appalled the bravest. In the tented field
Where, by the campfire, naked peasants’ feet
Or hunger pled more more piteous than words;
Or where the leaders of the host were met
Despondent of the issue, and none dared
Utter the word that trembled on the lips,
Thy voice proclaimed it, and thy eloquent pen
Winged the announcement through all the land.
The starving soldier, by the flickering light
Of the red watch fire, spelled the stirring words,
And every hamlet echoed with the cry,
“The States United, Independent, Free.”
These, also, are thy monuments. But more
Than spires that reach to heaven, or flourishing States
That, with their commerce, whiten all the sear,
It this great lesson that thy life hath taught
“The State if for man, not man for the State;
And all the pomp and circumstance of state
Are but for him, and for his happiness!”
This, thy great truth, is thy best monument.
England and the Czardom.
The following is the closing portion of an interesting letter received, not long since, by Liberty, from one of her numerous friends across the Atlantic:
As one who has lived in Russia, And as a stanch admirer of Michael Bakounine, I thank you for the portrait you have given us of this most excellent man, earnest-patriot, and unflinching enemy of despotism. Further, I have to than you for the straightforward, manly way in which you have referred to him, setting off his likeness in the most honorable frame the Apostle of Anarchy could desire,— a record of his own brave deeds. His escape from Siberia should alone be enough to deserve undying fame. But for such unselfish pioneers of Liberty, you and I would still be as his countrymen are.
Before this reaches you the English magazines for December will be in your hands. May I ask your attention to an article in “Frase” on “The New Departure in Russia” by O.K.? You have doubtless seen some of this lady’s pen-and-ink performance before, but I doubt if she has ever written anything so daring in untruth and reaction previously. To me it is clear that this article is written for reproduction in Russia. It will be read by some thousands in this country alone, the grater number of whom will be influenced by party passion in their judgment, and not at all by a knowledge of the subject. For I regret to say that the whole demeanor of England towards Russia is a ludicrous anachronism. Russia is a slow and conservative country. Its government, as every one knows, is autocratic, despotic, damnable. And yet this is the power, above all others, that Liberal England takes under its wing, shields, defends against the attacks of the Tories, who alone seem to recognize (of course, for their own purposes) the systematic coercion and intriguing determination by which it continually penetrates further into the territory of independent tribes, oppressing them — hitherto free- with the same kind of bondage as that which, with cruel consistency, it inflicts upon its own people. Surely, parties in this country should change their relative positions! As a radical I am disgusted with what I see every week in our press — slavish adulation of Russian institutions and an utter absence of truthful exposures on the part of the Liberal papers, while on the other hand, the Conservative press, led by the “Telegraph,” loses no opportunity of venting party spleen on a government and on institutions which are essentially of a conservative nature. I earnestly trust that English Liberals will soon perceive the foolish attitude they have assumed, bravely admit their error, and consistently withdraw from the positions. Meantime, I am obliged to support a party I otherwise detest, in so far as its foreign policy in this particular is concerned.
Excuse a man’s hobby, dear friend Tucker, when it does no harm to others, but rather good. Russia is my hobby. It is a large one, and I find much in it to admire. If it could only succeed in establishing a republic and in disbanding its two great armies, the Tchinóvnikes (officials) and Soldátes (soldiers),— the curse of every country, but especially the curse of Russia,— a vast slice of this earth would be returned to its primitive use,— that of furnishing and abode for a naturally happy, jovial, contented people, a people not naturally cursed with “earth-hunger,” whose great fault for some centuries has born the belief that life is “not worth living without a czar and attendant satellites.
With best wishes, I am sincerely yours,
London, December 8, 1881.
The Two Guiteaus.
To the Editor of Liberty:
I was lately riding in the cars with “a God-fearing and a God-serving man,” who represents the old type of orthodox Christian and is a leading pillar in one of our churches. Knowing that he was one of the Rhode Island State Board of Prisons, Charities, and Correction, I asked him, in connection with the Guiteau trial:
“Do you believe in capital punishment, sir?”
“Well, sir,” he replied, “on rational, human, utilitarian grounds I do not, but, inasmuch a God’s will, as expressed in his Holy Word, is above my weak fallible human reason, I am compelled to believe in it, and therefore I believe that Guiteau ought to be hung.”
Now, wherein is this Christian’s position any different from Guiteau’s? In order to make it plain let me put the two positions side by side.
I do not believe in killing and would not, of myself, harm a fly. I personally bore no ill will to Garfield, but, inasmuch as God’s will is above mine, I obeyed the divine command and killed the president. I am sorry I caused him so much suffering; but God’s will be done, and not mine!
Orthodox Fellow Christian.
I do not believe in judicial killing. It is contrary to my human feelings. I personally would not kill Guiteau, but inasmuch as God’s will will is above mine, I succumb to the divine command. I am sorry for the poor ill-starred fellow in his sufferings, but, in my capacity as a Christian citizen, I obey the divine command and kill him; but God’s will be done, and not mine.
If Guiteau is hung, the Christian State will murder him in accordance with the very same logic which it professes to abhor in him. Is any further comment necessary with your intelligent reader?
Light from the Laborers.
The following are the resolutions passed by the mass meeting of trades unions recently held in New York, and referred to at greater length in another column:
Resolved, That labor has the chiefest interest at stake in every cause affecting economic administration in all countries, since labor is asked to feed, clothe, and fatten landlords, usurers, monopolists, politicians, and all the unproductive army who enslave it.
Resolved, That the issue between landlord and tenant in Ireland, and in every other country, is but one of the phases of the labor question; that, since rent is an immoral tax on productive labor, its infliction upon the oppressed of any land makes labor in every other country its natural ally and defender.
Resolved, Therefore, that the working people of every other country, irrespective of race, language, creed, and color, are morally bound to stand by Ireland in this her hour of need, and that the voice of this mammoth gathering of the trades unions of America should be seconded in every country where the voice of labor is not utterly stifled by savage absolutism and repression.
Resolved, That, while we recognize Ireland to be the most woful victim of landlordism, through especially iniquitous laws and governmental administration, we are chiefly assembled to emphasize the fact that the bottom causes of landlordism — land monopoly and rent — are not local, but universal curses, inflicted upon labor, and against which labor is everywhere called upon to wage an uncompromising war of extermination.
Resolved, That we, nevertheless, recognize in the heroic no-rent stand in Ireland that this long-persecuted and rent-ridden isle is fighting the grandest battle and wielding the most effective artillery that ever confronted landlordism; that her battle is humanity’s battle; that her cause is labor’s cause; and its workingmen of America here represented do, therefore, heartily endorse her righteous methods, and solemnly promise her every means of support, co-operation, and sympathy within their power.
St. James on Liberty.
[From the Memphis “Free Trader.”]
“But whoso looketh into the perfect Law of Liberty and continueth therein, he being, not a forgetful bearer, but a doer the work, this men shall be blessed in his dead” — General Epistle of St. James
When the people of the earth are sufficiently Christianized to adopt that “perfect law of liberty and continue therein,” two-thirds of all the sorrow and suffering that afflict humanity will end. It is a melancholy reflection, it is a dark and depressing reflection, that all the blood ever shed on earth, every war, every battle, every murder, every civil wrong, came from that desire which the devil puts into the souls of men, to hold rule over their fellow mortals. This devilish desire to rule others is directly contrary to the “perfect law of liberty” taught by St. James.
An Unexpected Compliment.
[From the Detroit “Labor Review.”]
While we belong to exactly the opposite school of social philosophy as does our friend Liberty, yet we cannot but admire its consistency and bold and aggressive attitude. It is refreshing to read a paper that says what it knows and it wants. It is so unlike the thousand and one paper that do not or cannot distinguish between the philosophies of communism and individualism, and who adhere to that bastard political economy that breed monopolies and corruption. We earnestly wish Liberty success, so that the people can readily learn the legitimate and logical conclusions of the two different schools.