Liberty Vol. I. No. 8.
Not the Daughter But the Mother of Order
Shines that high light whereby the world is saved;
And though thou slay us, we will trust in thee.”
On Picket Duty.
Judge Black, in replying to Ingersoll, says: “The most perfect system of human government that ever was invented by the wit of man, and the holiest religion that has revealed to his creatures, when united together, form a monstrous compound highly injurious to the best interests of the human race.” To be sure! What else could be expected? Is not the character of a compound determined by the character of its ingredients? Revealed religion is an evil; human government is an evil: how could a mixture of the two be anything but evil? Judge Black’s remark strikes deeper than he intended. If the Liberal League is shrewd, it will hasten to seize upon this, the most forcible statement of its central doctrine ever framed, and make it the text of all its propagandism. Coming from the enemy, it will carry more weight.
Months ago Liberty instituted a vigorous search throughout Europe to discover an authentic picture of Michael Bakounine, the founder of Russian Nihilism, in order to reproduce his features for the benefit of her readers. The search has been in progress ever since, and has only just ended in success. We are now in possession of a photograph of the great revolutionist as excellent as it is rare, and a magnificent head and face it represents. It has been placed in the hands of the engraver, and subscribers to Liberty will have the pleasure of seeing an enlarged copy of it on the first page of our next issue, accompanied by an interesting biographical sketch. If they wish to reward our enterprise and effort, they best do so by helping to extend the circulation of the number. We will supply extra copies, for gratuitous distribution at one cent each. Let every subscriber send for as many as he or she can possibly afford to buy, and circulate them among friends. It is desirable that all orders should be in our hands prior to November 23.
At the dinner in honor of Henry George prior to his departure from Ireland he is reported by the “Irish World” to have pronounced himself in favor of the nationalization of land. So far Mr. Ford, editor of the “Irish World,” has not only never stated his own position on this point, but has apparently studiously avoided so doing. In the article referred to, Mr. Ford expresses the opinion that that George’s views of man’s relation to soil are making such rapid progress as to make there adoption only a matter of time. Liberty is interested to learn what ground Mr. Ford occupies, if any, on this question, and, if he agrees with George that the land ought to be nationalized, what he means by this term. Mr. George’s doctrine of land may be stated in three propositions: 1, that all human beings have an inalienable right to the equal use of the soil, water, etc. and that no human being has the right to private property in them; 2, that the land of a country belongs to the people of the country,— the community; 3, that the revenue of the State ought to be derived from a land tax upon the basis of the margin of cultivation. He then affirms that the only title to property is rooted in labor. George, further, justifies interested, affirms the right of capital to a share of labor’s products, and declares that this right rests upon the same thing as rent,— namely, the margin of cultivation, or the point in production where rent begins,— all of which is part of the land question and George’s ideas of man’s relation to soil. We affirm that these three points of George’s land doctrine are irreconcilable with each other, that only the first is tenable, and that his law of rent, interest, and earnings of capital has no better basis than the law of wages and the Malthusian doctrine which he so ably refutes,— in a word, that it is fiction. Conceding the grand ability of the author of “Progress and Poverty,” and confessing our great esteem for him as a man, writer, and reformer, we can not be so unjust to other eminent thinkers and writers as to assent to the statement of the “Irish World” that George’s book is the most remarkable work of its kind written in this century and that really great minds have universally acknowledged the worth of his work (as unrivalled), since Proudhon has previously accomplished what George later attempted, and as we hold, failed to do,— namely, exhibit the relation of progress to poverty, though not under the title. The attempt made by George to identify the school of Proudhon with that of Lasalle only demonstrates his utter failure to understand either.
Wendell Phillips, urged by the Land League to visit Ireland and bring the power of his eloquence to the support of the no-rent gospel, declines on account of his health. It is a poor excuse. Imagine Mr. Phillips halting in his anti-slavery work, because of his health! He could give his glorious life a more glorious ending nowhere than on an Irish platform, expending his last breath in persuading the tenants to pay no more rent. So he might make his battle with slavery literally life-long. He sacrifices a grand opportunity. But, in view of a sentence in his letter of declaration, his decision is not to be regretted. He says: “Honest rent is the surplus left after the tenant has lived in comfort,— material, intellectual, personal, and social comfort.” The man who says that can do Ireland no better service than to remain on this side of the ocean and keep his tongue in his head silver though it be. As if rightfulness of rent depends, in any sense, upon the condition of the tenant! On the contrary, it is the condition of the tenant that depends very largely upon the rightfulness of rent. The manner of an industrious man’s life is not the measure of his earnings, and does not constitute his title to them. He may live like a pauper, if he will, or like a price, if he can; in either case the equitable reward of his labor remains the same. What he produces is his to consume, if he chooses to consume it; and, if he does not so choose, it is still his to keep. But Mr. Phillips says that the producer shall be allowed to consume enough of his product to make him comfortable, but must give the balance to men who produce nothing and whose sole function in the world is to consume and waste and destroy. Out upon such doctrine! It is that of a tender-hearted highwayman, neither more nor less. Ireland already has too many men within her shores who are influenced in this matter of sentiment rather than by principle to need to add another to their number.
“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.
Ireland’s New Saviour.
We admit that the spectacle of reformers fighting each other is not a very flattering one. While the great army of oppressors remains as numerous and audacious that our limited space permits us hardly to touch the outposts in details, it is no very enviable duty to have to turn our scanty ammunition upon the thin ranks of reformers. Sentimentally speaking, the slender forces to which the poverty and ostracism of liberals restrict them ought all to be directed against the flanks of the enemy.
Yet, howsoever good the intentions of a fellow-reformer, he is liable to become a greater misfortune to progress, if his premises and methods are radically wrong, than a whole brigade of the enemy outside our camp. The author of “Progress and Poverty” is said to be a man of no airs,— quiet, plain, unpretending, modest, democratic,— a veritable man grown out of the common people. He has shown the title-labelled numskulls of colleges and other monopolizing haunts of authoritative wisdom that a workingman can write a book which, in spite of their contempt, exictes the wonders and interest of thinkers all over the world.
Mr. George’s pen-picture of the “persistence of poverty” amidst ever-increasing wealth and plenty does him immense credit as a literary giant, and his book, in demolishing the Malthusian humbug and setting the old school of economic quacks aright on many important points, is worthy of all the admiration which his friends have bestowed upon it.
Against Mr. George as a man, and against the many able and original points in his book, we have nought to say. But against Mr. George as a writer totally ignorant of the vital problems of Liberty, which overshadows all merely economic considerations, we have something very serious to say, and shall say it without stint. That he would willfully side with despotism it would be ungenerous to surmise, and that man of his acute powers of thinking should season his whole thought with the very essence of tyranny can only be accounted for on the score of absolute ignorance of the governmental problem.
Upon looking into the nature Mr. George discovers that she everywhere furnishes increase not measured by labor. Two men start in to cultivate soil. They have equal capacity, and devote exactly the same labor, each to hisfield. But one field, being by nature far less fertile than the other, simply furnishes the bare necessities of life to the cultivator, while the other furnishes a surplus. This margin, represents the varying productiveness of different portions of soil, says Mr. George, makes rent possible and natural, and persons wishing to purchase opportunities to secure nature’s will be willing to pay rent in proportion to the ratio of increase which the soil is furnishing to the existing holders. Rent, then, is natural and just.
By an analogous process of reasoning Mr. George justified interest, profits, and the whole range of usury, and proceeds to explain the laws which govern their adjustment. Had his work been confined solely to the chapters on usury, it would have simply been a poor rehash of sophistries which were demolished centuries ago and which the masterly hand of Proudhon scattered into everlasting chaos beyond the shadow of resurrection.
But the master strike of George is left for the last. Usury is just. Nature pays usury. Paraphrased into the “Irish World’s” theological terminology: “Our beneficent Creator gave it to all His children as their inalienable inheritance.” Since, then, nature gave usury to all men, and since rent represents land-usury, George would let landlordism execute its useful functions; but, when the landlords have gathered up the harvest of land-usury, he would send that sublime bully, the State, among them to confiscate it and distribute it among the whole people. There shall be no “hold the harvest” for them.
It is utterly astonishing, however, that Mr. George fails to see that, by the same reasoning, he is morally bound not to stop with rent, but to pursue the governmental raid into the banks, and confiscate their money-usury. Nor must he stop even there. He must go into the market-places, stores, and manufactories, and confiscate their surplus earnings. Yea, by the inevitable logic of his system the government is bound to seize upon the pay of all wage-laborers and confiscate the margin of increase corresponding to that which represents rent. In short, the enormity of the which Mr. George lays out is only exceeded by its ridiculousness and utter atrocity.
All this insane bosh has its source in ignorance of the rational domain of yours and mine, which is at the bottom of the economic problem. If a piece of land belongs to a man in natural equity because he personally cultivates and occupies it, then the increase which it affords through his labor is his as against all the world. If, on his own merits and independent of governmental coercion, his fellow-men choose to tolerate him in the ownership of land which he does not cultivate and occupy, the rent they may pay him is his, and no combination of men outside of him, under any pretext, have a right to confiscate what his fellow-men have freely and voluntarily given him. The fact is, however, that, in natural equity, his fellow-men would not tolerate it, and rent would become impossible. The State alone creates rent by fortifying the landlord in his ownership of what he does not occupy and improve.Mr. George’s State is a double damnation to Liberty, since it first justifies the theft and supplies its machinery and then confiscates the very increase which it has declared unnatural and just. The fact is that the writer is a governmental socialist, and, along with the rest of those deluded into dangerous foes of Liberty, has taken exactly the moral ground of the Dark Ages in assuming that the Socialistic State can do no wrong, even though it wantonly violate its own standard of justice as applied to individuals: for, with the Socialists, as with the old school Statocrats, individuals have no right which their despotic governmental bully, the Socialistic State, is bound to respect.
Twenty of editions of Liberty would not cover one-half of the ridiculous and abominable absurdities which gather at every step around the logic of Henry George’s Book. That this dangerous craze should have seized upon so steadfast and sturdy a foe of usury as Patrick Ford should serve as a reminder to the friends of Liberty that, however gentle, modest, and devoted Mr. George may be as a man, it is their imperative duty to fight down his influence in dead earnest at every opportunity. If this insinuating craze is able to capture such papers as the “Irish World” and the New York “Sun” and “Truth,” its power for evil is incalculable. The “Sun” and “Truth” are comparatively little consequence, but we earnestly hope that Patrick Ford will ponder long and well before fatally committing the “Irish World” to a system whose logic, carried for its natural outcome, would not only neutralize that journal’s splendid work in the past, but would build up a despotism compared with which all that Ireland has ever suffered sinks into insignificance. We are curious to hear how George’s New Ireland will look after his prescriptions are sent to the “Irish World,” but more curious to know whether Patrick Ford can be seduced into throwing overboard his wits and trimmings his sails for this economic gulf of perdition.
A large portion of Liberty’s space is surrendered in this issue to a skeleton report of the proceeding National Socialist Congress at Chicago, submitted by our own delegate, Dr. Joseph H. Swain. The congress appears to have been highly successful and harmonious, and its results are, in the main, eminently satisfactory. Though not adopting the theme of the “International,” it has practically made itself the American federation of that body by organizing in accordance with the action of the London congress, and will, if made the most of, contribute greatly to the progress of the world-wide Social Revolution. Dr. Swain made a strong and uncompromising fight for the principle of Liberty, and, though unsuccessful in getting them squarely adopted as the principles of the party, so influenced the action of the majority as to make it acceptable by us. Indeed, so good was the platform submitted by the majority, the he hesitated a little before proposing anything in its place.
The chief fault of the platform as it stands seems to us one of omission. So far as it attacks the monopoly of productive agencies, or what are ordinarily called such, it is splendid; but it ought also to have attacked with equal vigor the monopoly of distributive agencies. Free money is as important as free land; in this country, even more so. Besides this, we disapprove of nothing in the platform or resolution except the phrase “wage slavery” and the recommendation of armed organization. The discussions at the various session showed that the ballot craze has not yet been entirely uprooted, and the advocates of political action, though not carrying their point, succeeded in obtaining a comparatively unobjectionable concession recognizing the political independence of local groups. Liberty feels highly honored at being selected as the English organ of the movement, and accepts the position, but in no sense that impairs its entire independence or alters its editorial policy! Now let the good work go on! Local groups, which are to be the real strength of the movement, should be formed everywhere, until an Anarchistic organization is perfected that shall become even more truly the real government of the United States than the Land League is the government of Ireland.
Mr. Chainey’s Gospel.
Liberty has already had occasion to refer approvingly to the excellent work that George Chainey is doing in Boston at Paine Hall, and throughout the country by his “Infidel Pulpit.” That approval it is our desire to emphasize further. He is steadily widening his field, boldly stepping beyond the confines of theological discussion, and wisely identifying his religion (or irreligion) with the whole of human life. His efforts must not lack appreciation. Every Liberal should subscribe to the “Infidel Pulpit,” which it is his purpose soon to enlarge and make more attractive then before. And now that we are about it, will Mr. Chainey forgive us if we couple this word of encouragement with a word of criticism? According to a report of his recent lecture on “Irish Liberty and Land,” he used these words: “If the landlords of Ireland were Irish, I believe the tenant would be as dumb before them as the sheep before the shearers, because they are so dumb before priests.” Does he not know that they are Irish? That they are absentees? In Ireland an English landlord is the exception, not the rule. Mr. Chainey should be more careful of his facts. Again, after expressing admiration of the motto, “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity,” he continues thus: “When I speak of equality, I would not be understood as advocating under that name soul-murdering communism. While every man and woman should be free to enjoy the fruit of his or her labor, equality in the natural opportunities of life is the first principle on which life depends. Through equality alone can we reach liberty. Equality is the root and liberty the flower of existence. From the flowers of liberty comes the perfume of fraternity.” Our Declaration says not so. “All men are born equal and free.” Jefferson understood the French motto better than Mr. Chainey, who has unwittingly twisted it into the shape that suits Louis Blanc and other advocates of that “soul-murdering communism” which he rightfully deprecates. He would have it read: Equality, Liberty, Fraternity. As Proudhon wittily said, this is like the crucifixion of Christ between two thieves. For compulsory equality and forced fraternity are thieves, and between them there is no life for Liberty. In the face of Mr. Chainey Liberty still flies her flag, not as the daughter, but the mother of order.
Guiteau Not a “Child of Liberty.”
“The Guiteau Generation” is the title of a recent discourse by Dr. C. A. Bartol. The printed report is now before us, but a few sentences come readily to our lips, and furnish the suggestion of what we would here say, “Guiteau is our production, a child of Liberty.” This is an assumption, based on the fact that he was born in this country and raised under “our institutions.” Waiving a moment the rather important question whether “our institutions” do, in any real and effectual way, solve the problem of Liberty; or admitting, for the sake of argument, that “our institutions” and Liberty are in all respects synonymous,— does it, as a consequence, follow that Guiteau is a “child of Liberty.” Liberty, if it exists in America inherits the material on which it is at work. The appearance of a man like Guiteau in America has inherited as to what it is in and of itself. Put into one word, what is that inheritance? No one can doubt. It is Force. And Guiteau is a child of Force, Dr. Bartol, not of Liberty. Children, sir, are supposed to resemble and reproduce the character of their parents. They are, in a familiar phrase, “chips of the old block.” In what way can Liberty be said to be the sire of Garfield’s assassin? In this way only,— the way in which you have said it,— that he was self-prompted to the deed. But that certainly is a most unjust way accusing Liberty. Do you in the same breath call men as Napoleon, Cromwell, the czars of Russia children of Liberty? They were “self-prompted” men. And if to be thus self-moved constitutes a man an heir of Liberty, either of the tyrants named could claim the inheritance by a title more indisputable than Guiteau’s. But, of course, Dr. Bartol is ready with the qualifications that one must be moved by a self in harmony with the law of Liberty in order to be Liberty’s child. Very well, was Guiteau so moved? Ah, sir! had it been so, Garfield would have been living to-day. Liberty does not invade the right of life in any man. Liberty is without weapons of offense. Her devotees are bound hand and foot in her only law, which hold the Liberty of others as sacred as their own. To kill another is not to set forth the nature of Liberty. The slayer is not Liberty’s champion, but Tyranny’s. It is the resource of despotism, the triumph of Force.
Therefore do we affirm that Guiteau is no child of Liberty, though he is, as we now insist, a child of “our institution,” in so far as they rely, not upon voluntary support, but upon Force. Guiteau wished Garfield dead, and he compelled his death. Dead, he desired him, or made over to his idea of what he should be. He would have him dead as he was, and, if he had seen the way to have him so die and yet live among men, we doubt not he would have kept the money that purchased the pistol in his pocket. But he had no such idea. He had the common, prevailing idea,— the idea of the supremacy of Force. He was the child of what you Dr. Bartol, you and the majority of your countrymen,exalt, Law forced— “en-forced,” you put it.
And that, sir, is what America has inherited; not what she has invented. No matter about our Forth of July craze; we still live, not on our own genius for Liberty, but on our borrowed capital,— namely, the organization of despotism, whose weapon is Guiteau’s pistol.
Is it not so?
Capital: What It Is and What It Is Not.
Dear Mr. Tucker:— I have no desire whatsoever to obtrude myself into your controversy with Mr. Babcock, but I cannot help wishing to say a word or two about Bastiat’s plane story, which you quote from Ruskin with his own remarks regarding it.
The story itself is, of course, nothing but an economical conundrum; and it would have no point whatever, were it not for the absurd property system which makes it necessary for our “William” to borrowplanes and other instrumentalities of labor from our “Jameses.” (1)
Mr. Ruskin himself only uses the illustration to ignore it as at all explanatory of the principle of interest (2); and, were it not for the first part of the article that you quote from him, I should derive some hope, from his last sentence, that he has a glimmering idea of the true nature of capital.
He says: “There are, indeed, very many subtle conditions involved in any sale; one among which is the value of ideas,... (the article is not one which modern political economists have any familiarity with dealings in;)” &c. (3)
The point I wish to make relates to his supposition of the, practically, total destruction of “capital” (4), in the passage in the beginning that I have referred to.
He says: “If all the money of all the capitalists in the whole world were destroyed; the notes and bills burnt, the gold irrecoverably buried, and all the machines and apparatus of manufacture crushed, by a mistake in signals, in one catastrophe; and nothing remained but the land, with its animals and vegetables, and buildings for shelter,”— well, what then? Why, he says: “the poorer population would be very little worse off than they are this very instant... it is only we who had the capital who would suffer.”
I must not ask for space to quote his description of the conditions of the two classes — laborer and capitalist — under the supposed — catastrophe. (The word calamity would not be appropriate to such and event, for, in my opinion, it would be anything but a calamity in its general results.)
Now, it is quite evident to me that Mr. Ruskin, when he wrote those words, has not a correct idea — and I doubt if he has to-day — of the misapplication he was making of the term “capital” And yet the very results which he was partially right in imagining would occur from the catastrophe ought to have taught him that, were all these things which he erroneously called “capital” suddenly destroyed, capital, real capital, would still remain, comparatively unimpaired!
Things that perish almost as fast as they are produced are not capital.
The accumulated and developed thought and experience of the race alone are capital. (5)
It is this thought and experience embodied in material forms that are really that property of “wealth” which makes it an invaluable aid to labor, and which renders wealth, in any other than its private (6) use, a privilege as dangerous to society and to Liberty as we all see it to be.
But the value of capital, embodied in these material forms, is as nothing compared with its value in the form of knowledge stored up in men’s minds, and reaching to their fingers’ ends. This was the portion of capital that Mr. Ruskin left out of the account (7) in the above supposition, and it would exist in all classes of men in about the same proportions as it does to-day. So that, in the case supposed, Mr. Ruskin would not “starve,” for learned teachers like him would be wanted just as much, and, I may add, would be highly appreciated, and command greater influence. But I am encroaching.
Yours faithfully, W. G. H. SMART.
Boston, October 9, 1881
[For convenience of comment under Mr. Smart’s letter, we have inserted in it parenthetical figures at the points which it is our intention to consider.
(1.) We made practically the same statement in the following issue of Liberty in these words: “Those who would have the userer rewarded for rendering a service always find it convenient to forget that the userer’s victim would not need his service were it not that the laws made at his bidding prevent them from saving themselves.” “Apex,” one of our valued correspondents, elaborates the same important point in a litter printed in the present issue.
(2.) Not at all! Mr. Ruskin accepts the illustration as explanatory of the principle of interest, and alters only the language in which it is couched, so simplifying and abridging it as to bring the atrocity of that principle more clearly into view.
(3.) In our view Mr. Smart misconceived Mr. Ruskin’s meaning in using the phrase, “value of ideas;” though it must be confessed that his meaning seems rather vague. That he had clear meaning, however, need not be doubted.
(4.) Mr. Ruskin makes no such supposition. He supposed the destruction of what is ordinarily calledcapital — that is, money and machines,— and shows that in that event, the laborers would immediately by the exercise of their wits,— that is, the really important part of their capital,— manufacture new machines and proceed as before. In saying this he should have Mr. Smart’s applause (he certainly has ours), for he calls attention to Mr. Smart’s pet idea, that capitalistic nature of accumulated thought and experience.
(5.) We quite agree with Mr. Smart that “accumulated thought and experience are capital,” but we utterly fail to see why “things that perish almost as fast as they are produced are not capital.” Any product that lasts any time at all and is capable of use as an aid to reproduction is capital.
(6.) Mr. Smart’s distinction between social and private wealth, calling the former capital to be held in common and the latter personal property to be held by individuals, lies well towards the bottom of his philosophy, but nevertheless is unmitigated bosh based on pure chimera. All wealth is social wealth; all wealth is private wealth. Capital is product, and product is capital. And to the producer belongs product and capital. In the words of Proudhon, “we produce to consume and consume to produce.” A man’s coat is capital as truly as a steam-engine. The food that we eat is capital; the clothing that we wear is capital; the picture that we feast our eyes upon, provided they are well executed and teach ennobling lessons, are capital. And in just the same sense and for the same reason,— namely that they aid in reproduction,— the spade and the axe and lathe are capital. And any man may own one as well as the other, but neither unless he earns it. And wealth that is earned, whether by labor of brain or labor of muscle, is never a privilege, and cannot, per se, injure either society or Liberty. To be logical, Mr. Smart must either stand for unqualified communism and deny individual possession altogether, or stand for unqualified Liberty and claim for each and every individual the possession of his product or an equivalent of it. His so-called socialism is a hybrid philosophy, incoherent in its structure and unreal in its elements.
(7.) As we indicated above, Mr. Ruskin, instead of leaving this portion of capital out of account, wrote this paragraph in question expressly to emphasize the importance of taking it into account.
Mr. Smart’s letter ought to have appeared more promptly, but the character of our reply will probably convince him that the delay was due to no disinclination to grapple with his criticisms. — Editor Liberty.]
Another Answer to Mr. Babcock.
Mr. Tucker:— In your issue of October 15 I notice a question by J. M. L. Babcock, and, although you have answered it, yet, I beg to give my answer. The question is this:— “Is a man who loans a plough entitled in equity to compensation for its use?” My answer is, “Yes!” Now then, what of it? Does that make something for nothing right? Let us see. We must take it for granted that the loaning of the plough was a good business transaction. Such being the case, the man who borrows the plough must give good security that he will return the plough and pay for what he wears out. He must have the wealth or the credit to make the owner of the plough whole in case he should break or lose the plough. Now, I claim that this man, having the wealth or credit to secure a borrowed plough, could transmute that same credit or security into money, without cost, and with the money buy a plough, were it not for a monopoly on money. For a monopoly of money implies a monopoly of everything that money will buy.
If people should give to landholders, as a right, what they now give to bondholders as a special privilege,— why, you might loan ploughs for a price, but the price would not include a money cost, as it is inevitable under our present monetary system.
Let us remember that an individual transaction under a system of monopoly does not represent nor illuminate the truth as it would under a natural or just system. Again, superficial ideas do not always harmonize with the central truth.
Briefly, but truly yours,
Tony Revillion, who has shot into notice in Paris as a writer of workingmen’s novels and a radical, began his literary career at the antipodes of Belleville life. One of his first efforts was an elegantly written volume of souvenirs of the Fanbourgh Saint Germain.
The Chicago Congress.
[REPORTED FOR LIBERY BY HER OWN DELEGATE.]
In accordance with the call initiated by the groups which sent delegates from the United States to the congress of the International Working People’s Association recently held in London, for a National Socialistic Congress to meet at Chicago, Oct. 21, 22, 23, and in which socialistic groups and sections of all shades, weary of compromise and desirous of accomplishing the social revolution by other means than political action, were invited to participate, I was duly appointed to represent Liberty, and now offer the following report. I arrived at Chicago in time to be present at the afternoon session of Friday, the opening day. The convention had been called to order at 10 A.M., at the North Side Turner Hall, but, after appointing a committee on credentials reported the names of twenty delegates entitles to seats and representing New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, Jersey City, Hoboken, St. Louis, Milwaukee and other socialistic strongholds. The following preamble and resolution was then offered by A. Spies of Chicago, and adopted.
Whereas, The British Government has most outrageously, and in opposition to the usage and customs of that country, as well as in opposition to the spirit of our age, incarcerated and persecuted men who were manly enough to expose the wrongs and robbery committed by that government upon the poor and destitute Irish people; and
Whereas, The British Government thereby sanctions and advocates the perpetuation of the wholesale robbery of the Irish people by unscrupulous and monstrous landlords, and recognize the monopoly and ownership of the resources of life, such as land and means of labor, in possession of a privileged few, while on the other hand depriving the masses of their houses, liberty, and bread; and
Whereas, the ownership of land and means of labor is legal theft, which causes serfdom, destitution, and misery, and which for the universal benefit of mankind should by all means be abolished; and
Whereas, By the recent steps of the British Government, free speech, the expression of deep-felt grievances of the people of Ireland has been suppressed; be it therefore
Resolved, That we, now assembled in congress, hereby condemn and denounce the British Government for the arrest of the Irish land agitators, and that we express our deep-felt sympathy with the Irish people who are now struggling against the oppressive and unnatural system of land ownership and capitalism.
A communication from radical socialists of Boston favoring reorganizingof the socialists of the United States, abandonment of political party methods, total destruction of existing economic institutions, non-use of force where no force is used to prevent free propagation of socialistic ideas, and objecting to the resolution of the London congress so far as they do not agree with the foregoing, but fully endorsing the resolution to make all possible efforts to spread the revolutionary idea and the spirit of revolt among the masses who do not yet take part in the movement, was, with others from various groups, read and placed on file. The roll was then called, in order to learn what instructions had been given to the delegates. One or two besides Liberty’s representatives had none, but were entrusted with absolute freedom. After a brief discussion of various plans of organization, the congress went into executive session. During the session committees on platform, organizations, etc., were appointed, and at 7 o’clock a motion to adjourn until half-past 9 Saturday morning was agreed to.
In the evening the committees were able to finish their labor, and adjourned to 9 A.M. Saturday, at which time your delegate was on hand, but was obliged to wait until after 10 o’clock for all members to appear. The committees occupying the rest of the morning, no session of the congress was held until 3 o’clock P.M., when the committee on platform and principles, of which your delegate was a member, presented a majority report, signed by Justus H. Schwab, Aug. Spins, and A. R. Parsons. P. Peterson, not agreeing to the resolution on independent political action, did not join in the report, although others of the committee equally objected to this plank. Liberty’s delegate, after aiding in the preparation of the majority report, dew up a partial report of his own (the limited time not allowing for its completion), which be offered to the congress. As section after section of the majority report was voted, he moved to substitute a section of his own, giving his reasons therefor. The majority platform, as finally adopted, reads as follows:
Whereas, We have certain desires and necessities, upon the satisfaction of which life and happiness depend, and that all means for such satisfaction exist in nature, to wit: air, land, water, and all else exists, as well as all benefits that grow out of nature; association of men: therefore, we declare that any seizure of these great necessities by one or more persons excludes others from their equal use, and, though sanctioned by law and custom, is robbery — and invasion of the inalienable rights of man, resistance to which is the highest virtue.
Whereas, the natural resources and means of production have been and are being converted into private property, by which the working classes are held in dependence and wage slavery, it becomes the right and duty of the despoiled to recover their natural inheritance by every possible means.
The Congress of Socialists assembled at Chicago, Oct. 21 and 22, 1881, recommend:
1. The organization of workingmen and woman (being foremost interested in the solution of the social problem) into local, national, and international associations for the purpose of educating themselves as to the cause and circumstances which led to their enslavement, and to learn the remedies by which the evil may be abolished.
2. The organizations of the revolutionary propaganda and preparation for aggressive warfare to be waged against the system, supports and upholders of exploitation of man by man, and to introduce in its stead free social and industrial cooperation.
The rejected platform offered by Liberty’s delegate, which was in my respects similar to the foregoing, read as follows:
Whereas, All humans being have desires and necessities upon the satisfaction of which their life and happiness depend and for the gratification of which the means are supplied in nature, viz., air, land, water, and all else not produced by man, including the natural forced by the discovery and utilization of which through associative effort progress has been and is along possible, we declare that free access to and free use of these means of life are the inalienable right of every human being, and that any seizure of these great necessities by one person, or by any class of persons, that excludes others from equal opportunities, though sanctioned by law and custom, is robbery,— an invasion of these inalienable rights of man, resistance to which is the highest virtue; and
Whereas, These great necessities have been and are being seized and held by some as as to exclude others from equal participation in the use of them, it is the right and duty of the despoiled to gain their natural inheritance, from which they have hitherto been debarred, by every possible means: therefore
We recommend, as the most economic programme of resistance and revolution, the organization of the friends of human right into local, national, and international groups upon the following bases:
POLITICAL PRINCIPLES: individual sovereignty; no government of man by man; anarchy.
POLITICAL METHODS: organized abstention from polls; resistance to taxation; free speech.
SOCIAL PRINCIPLES: cost the limit of price, no exploitation of man by man; equity.
SOCIAL METHODS: organization of credit and exchange; creation of mutual banks; free trade.
A plank in the majority report recommending “independent political action wherever such may be deemed advisable for the purpose of demonstrating to the workingmen the utter wrongfulness and inefficiency of our political institutions and the so-called free-ballot remedy.” gave right to a long contest between the Chicago delegates, who urged that its adoption was absolutely necessary to the preservation of the party in Chicago, and the visiting delegates, who, with few exceptions, strenuously opposed it. It was rejected, but at the last session a substitute recognizing independence of each group in politic was adopted. The considerations of the above occupied the afternoon and evening of Saturday.
Sunday forenoon the report of the committee on organizations and resolution, presented by the chairman, Adolph Herben of Jersey City, was adopted.
The name “International Working People’s Association” was offered by P. Peterson as a substitute for the name reported by the committee, and was supported by Schwab and Swain. This was one of the hardest contests of the session, your delegate resisting the majority with all resources at his command. The full report on organization, as adopted, reads thus:
This party shall be called the Revolutionary Socialistic party.
It shall be composed of all organized groups recognizing the revolutionary principles adopted by this Congress.
Each groups shall enjoy entire autonomy, and shall judge for itself the right and proper way of propaganda suitable to its locality, provided it be consistent with the platform and resolution of the party.
Each group is advised to call itself after the name of the city in which it is located.
Five members shall be deemed sufficient to form a group.
A bureau of information shall be established in Chicago, composed of a secretary for each principle language spoken, and one for French correspondence; its duty shall be the recording of all existing groups, or organizations, and those hereafter organized; to keep up a correspondence with the secretaries of groups and exchange information; and to correspond with all organized groups of the Old West recognizing the revolutionary principles contained in our platform.
Groups wishing to be recorded must have the endorsement of an existing group near its locality, and must give its membership.
Ten groups shall have the right to call a National Convention.
Applicants for membership shall sign a pledge declaring their conviction in the party principles.
The following resolutions, reported by the same committee, were adopted also:
Resolved, That we hereby ratify the action of the Congress of the International Working People’s Association, recently held in London, and, acting upon its advice, we have organized ourselves in the United States in conformity with the conditions and circumstances surrounding us.
Resolved, That we hereby extend, on behalf of the defenders of liberty everywhere, our heartfelt thanks to the Socialists of Russia for their unrelenting warfare upon the evils of Czarism, and they have our unqualified support in employing any and all means to extirpate such monsters from among men.
Resolved, That the Congress assembled recognize the armed organizations of workingmen who stand ready with the gun to resist the encroachment upon their rights, and recommend the forming of like organizations all over the States.
Resolved, That under no circumstances our members are allowed to vote for any person or with any party which does not absolutely approve our platform.
On motion, a committee was appointed to revise the proceeding and prepare them for publication in pamphlet form, after which President O’Meara made a few closing remarks, and at 4 P.M. declared the congress adjourned sine die.
A reception tendered the delegates in the evening at North Side Turner Hall was attended by about three hundred men, women, and children. After the performances of the Socialist Mannerchor and the German Typographical Mannerchor, and a zither performance by Miss Dethmanu and Messrs. Krutse and Cobelli, Justus Shwab, read congratulatory messages from the socialists of New York and Philadelphia, and exhorted friends of the revolutionary cause to remain steadfast, working to their utmost to disseminate the “doctrines of Liberty.” He congratulated the delegates that the labors of the congress had been successful enough to warrant all in entertaining the most sanguine ideas of the work in the near future. He further recited a poem in German, about a contest between King of Money and Hunger, in which the later managed to win the prize — Liberty. The formal programme closed with the “Marseillaise,” after which dancing began, continuing till a late hour.
In writing this report your delegate has relied largely on his memory. Interesting matter has been omitted, and doubtless some inaccuracies will be made apparent by the revised report when issued. It was the general opinion that no congress of the kind was ever so harmonious, being unmarred by personalities or bitterness. Liberty’s delegate, standing alone on the floor as the advocate of American socialism, Josiah Warren’s Sovereignty of the Individual, and Proudhon’s Anarchy, is glad to acknowledge his cordial reception by his brother socialists, and to testify to their uniform courtesy and patience during the sessions of congress, the time of which he used to no small degree in the presentation of his views. A strong disposition was shown to extend the circulation of Liberty, and it was selected as the English organ of the new party. Evidence was not wanting to show that the socialistic party has developed great strength in Chicago,— in fact, that it is a power not to be ignored or ridden over rough-shod by the industrial kings and barons of to-day.
J. H. Swain.