Liberty Vol. II. 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.”
On Picket Duty.
Bakounine’s “God and the State” is having a splendid sale. We are now on the point of printing a fourth edition.
Expectant authors, to whom we are grateful for kindly favoring us with copies of newly published books and pamphlets, must pardon us for delaying notice of the same. Pressure on our columns compels it.
A profound sensation has recently been created in Oxford, and indeed throughout England, by a lecture delivered by William Morris, the poet, in that conservative University town, in response to an invitation from a society of undergraduates. A sufficiently commonplace occurrence, one would think at first blush, but not a little startling when one learns that the lecture consisted of an indictment of our present industrial system, and a championship of modern socialism, from the standpoint of art. Professor Ruskin gave his presence in sanction of the lecturer, and social and literary circles are stirred to their depths. At this rate the universities of England may become, before long, like those of Russia, “hotbeds of Nihilism.” Who knows? Mr. Morris, we believe, has already been followed by H. M. Hyndman of the Democratic Federation, and a lecture is announced for February by Ruskin himself on the significant subject: “The Storm-Cloud of the Nineteenth Century.” From Mr. Morris’s lecture we quote the following: “One man has an idea, and you say he is mad. Two men have the idea, and they are fools. One thousand have it, and you hear of a new religion. Ten thousand, and society trembles. One hundred thousand, and there is war. A million, and there is peace upon earth.”
The New York “Times” having asked if there is “anything to prevent Mr. Thurber from issuing one million one-dollar notes on his personal credit, if he can get anybody to take them,” the “Sun” very pertinently answers: “Nothing but the statutes of this State and the tax of ten per cent, imposed upon such notes by the laws of the United States.” We are glad that the “Sun” has stated this. Just at present it is the most important fact that the American people can learn. To it is due that other fact that labor is poor and idleness rich, as any one can see who will read and take the pains to understand Colonel William B. Greene’s work on “Mutual Banking,” or the writings of Proudhon and Lysander Spooner on finance. The repeal or nullification of these statutes and taxes by organizing to resist them is the first and indispensable step in the solution of the labor question. But the economists tell the people that here in this country we have freedom of credit, and the people are fools enough to believe it. The “Sun” has shone upon this lie and exposed it. But why does it stop there? The “Sun” pretends to believe in liberty, and shows that of credit we have no liberty. Why, then, does it not make a fight to achieve this liberty? It is much more important business than “turning the rascals out.” The reason that the “Sun” does not do this is that it really believes, not in liberty and competition, but in privilege and monopoly.
Two Reformers Contrasted.
Many good people, and especially radicals, are in the habit of reverently looking back to Martin Luther as their intellectual ancestor, a habit which the recent floods of adulation poured out in honor of that much overrated man have probably done not a little to confirm. To all such, Liberty, in translating from “Le Révolté” the following “Thoughts of a Proletaire upon Luther and Munzer,” furnishes a startling eye-opener as to the true character of the “Father of Protestantism:”
The Protestant bourgeoisie is rejoicing. For several months it has been getting ready for processions, concerts, and meetings, in celebration of the four hundredth anniversary of the birth of the great man who four centuries ago was already the incarnation of the egoistic type of the modem bourgeois.
The thought of Luther, like that of the bourgeois of to-day, was superficial; it never rose to the height of a disinterested philosophy exempt from narrow class prejudices. On the contrary, the whole reform of Luther took into account at every step the desires and aspirations of the rich, the nobles, and the bourgeois.
Far from initiating himself in the faith of John Huss burned alive at Constance, Luther, four centuries before Garabetta, denied the existence of the social question, and summed up all the needs and duties of man in faith.
Little matters it to him that the poor suffer all the tortures of Gehenna on this earth; “let them believe, and they shall have future life” as a reward.
This dogma tums up the whole philosophy of the great reformer, and explains at the same time his success and the halo with which the rich surround his memory.
And who were, in fact, the protectors and allies of Luther? Princes and bourgeois to whom “rape,” says M. Weil in his “History of the War of the Peasants,” “was a gay frolic, and if the father or brother of the unfortunate victim attempted any resistance, he was dragged into the court by the lansquenets of the duke and exposed, half naked and with hands tied, to the outrages of a pack of drunken courtiers.”
To the friends of Luther, to his most powerful disciples, “the peasant is only a beast of burden which, succumbing under its load, will rise again under the spur of a few lashes on its back.”
In rebelling against the Pope Luther only championed the interests of the nobles and the rich, who found it useless to have priests and bishops by their side to extort from the people what would otherwise go into their own pockets. The dukes and the bourgeois saw in the Reformation only a means of getting rid of an accomplice who subjected them to severe competition in rape and robbery.
And, in truth, in what is the situation of the Protestant peasant and laborer superior to that of the Catholic wage worker? Does the Lutheran employer content himself with a smaller profit than the employer who pays his devotions to the Holy Virgin? Are we not as much oppressed, bunted down, and preyed upon by the disciples of Luther as by the pupils of Loyola? Is not the Lutheran faith as hostile to science as the Catholic religion? Is not Lutheranism as full of superstitions as Catholicism? The great reformer believed in the devil, and to this day they show us in his chamber the inkstain left by the inkstand which he hurled at the horns of the king of hell!
What, then, was the progress accomplished by the Reformation? What is the value of Luther to humanity? In what was he greater than his contemporaries, the nobles and the rich, the enemies of light and of the people who desired to obtain it?
Yes, at that very time the people, Luther’s “beasts of burden,” were already ripe for progress both in religion and in science and especially in social life.
At that very time the peasants were already making war upon property and proclaiming that
(1) “the meadows and pasture-lands usurped by the lords must return to the commune;”
(2) “that to all belong the birds and the fish in the rivers and the beasts in the forests, for to all in the person of the first man did the Lord give dominion over animals.”
Just as Luther is the representative of the bourgeoises reforms, Thomas Munzer is the representative of the socialistic aspirations of the peasants. “In him were concentrated,” says bis historian, “those elements of vitality which always seem to the people the majestic expression and personification of its needs. Powerful, energetic, audacious, endowed with a rude and savage eloquence, illumiated by a proud and inspired look, he felt himself called in all the points of his being to carry out through the masses the cherished plans of his heart and mind.
“Urged on by the desire for equality, Munzer travelled through the country, lighting everywhere the flame which devoured him. He was to be seen by turns in the churches, in cottages, by the roadside, under the eternal canopy of the forests, thundering to-day against the oppressors of the weak, to-morrow describing in words of fire the era of fraternity and equality which he heralded.
“‘We are all brothers,’ he cried to the people, eager to hear him; ‘whence comes, then, this distinction in rank and fortune which tyranny has introduced between us and the great people of the world? Why should we groan in poverty and be overwhelmed by evils, while they swim in delights? Have we not a right to an equality of the goods which by their nature are made to be shared without distinction among all men? Restore to us, rich men of the century, greedy usurpers, restore to us the goods which you hold back with so much injustice; it is not only as men that we have a right to an equal distribution of the advantages of fortune, it is as Christians.’”
The effect produced by these words was marvellous. Germany was immediately agitated by a secret ferment of which the centre was at Oldstadt, Where Munzer lived.
The lords, dukes, and bishops began to think of taking measures against the terrible events which were preparing. At first they parleyed, trying to gain time in order to gather a sufficient force. Luther, for his part, by voice and pen, urged all the princes to rise against the peasants. The latter then began to get excited in their confidence. They demolished castles, burned monasteries, amusing themselves by humiliating the lords in a thousand ways, and making them march in the rear of the army dressed in rustic garments and bearing no arms.
These manifestations, which kept increasing, inspired in Luther, who did not understand them, a terrible fright. The great man was even guilty of the infamy of pointing out Munzer to the court of Saxe as one of the most dangerous of men who should be pursued everywhere like a wild beast.
Munzer did not lose courage. To gather all his forces at a single point as well as add still further to the moral intensity of the partisans of equality, he first issued a manifesto coached in ardent and violent terms.
“Fear nothing,” he said to the peasants in concluding; “be united and do not fall back. As soon as you fall back you are lost, you, your wives, and your children. Let those who fear death remain behind. A thousand men resolved to die are stronger than fifty thousand wavering men. If you do not come out victorious from the struggle, unhappy will it be for yoe and your descendants! If you were serfs before, after you will be slaves. You will be sold like horses in the market-place. At the slightest breath you will be seized bodily as rebels, deprived of air and food, put to the torture, and finally empaled. Your daughters will be the mistresses of your lords, and your sons, their lackeys, will hold the hands of their sisters that they may be outraged and then cast aside like the rind of citron after the pulp has been sucked from it. . . . You see that there is nothing left for you but to conquer. Such a life is a thousand times worse than death, death preferable to life.”
Then, directly rebuking Luther, he added:
“Never listen to the voice of those men who prove to you by the Gospel that you have the right to be free and end by exhorting you to bend the head under slavery. They are half men who, through fear to die, prefer to make themselves unworthy to live. . . .
“A people which is not free is not Christian!
“Be first free; then we may be Christians to live according to the law of God.”
Several times Munzer gathered regiments of peasants numbering from five to ten thousand men; they fought victorious battles with the princes, but the enemy with its innumerable forces was stronger, and Munzer was taken prisoner. The princes submitted him to torture, and amused themselves over the contortions and grimaces which the instrument of torment imprinted upon his dislocated body and martyr’s face. Once, after the torture, such an attack of fever seized him that he drank twelve pitchers of water without succeeding in quenching bis thirst. These acts of barbarism were repeated at intervals for six months, and, when the princes discovered that they could draw nothing from him, they had him beheaded.
He applauded at the defeat of the peasants and at the torture of his rival, Munzer.
And that is why the bourgeois celebrate the four hundredth anniversary of the birth of their favorite reformer.
“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.
To Our Readers.
The long delay in the appearance of this issue of Liberty, and the long intervals which will elapse between the issues for a number of months to come, render an explanation necessary. We are constantly in receipt of urgent appeals from our subscribers to enlarge Liberty and publish it weekly. There is nothing that we are more anxious to do. With the help of our readers we can do it. How much help we can count on, how many sacrifices the people who write to us are ready to make to secure the end they desire, we propose now to find out. Accordingly we have put in operation a plan which, if sustained promptly and heartily and generously by those who are to be invited to aid in its execution, will speedily result in making Liberty a twelve-page weekly. Those to whom we intend to appeal will soon hear from us privately. To the prosecution of this purpose and to the payment of debts already incurred we must for the present bend nearly all our energies, and consequently, until further notice, Liberty will appear not oftener than once in two months. If successful, we shall rejoice and work with renewed energy. If we fail, we shall nevertheless be able some months hence — perhaps four or five, perhaps eight or ten — to resume fortnightly publication. In any event, Liberty will live, do its work, and prevail.
Proudhon Viewed by a Ph.D.
It is becoming the fashion in these days for the parsons who are hired, either directly or indirectly, consciously or unconsciously, to whitewash the sins of the plutocrats, and for the professors, who are hired, either directly or indirectly, consciously or unconsciously, to educate the sons of the plutocrats to continue in the transgressions of their fathers,— it is becoming the fashion for these to preach sermons, deliver lectures, or write books on socialism, communism, anarchism, and the various other phases of the modern labor movement. So general, indeed, has become the practice that any one of them who has not done something in this line begins to feel a vague sense of delinquency in the discharge of his obligations to his employer, and consequently scarce a week passes that does not inflict upon a suffering public from these gentlemen some fresh clerical or professorial analysis, classification, interpretation, and explanation of the ominous overhanging social clouds which conceal the thunderbolt that, unless the light of Liberty and Equity dissipates them in time, is to destroy their masters’ houses.
The attitudes assumed are as various as the authors are numerous. Some are as lowering as the clouds themselves; others as beaming as the noonday sun. One would annihilate with the violence of his fulminations; another would melt with the warmth of his flattery and the persuasiveness of conciliation. These foolishly betray their spirit of hatred by threats and denunciation; those shrewdly conceal it behind fine words and honeyed phrases. The latest manifestation coming to our notice is of the professedly disinterested order. Richard T. Ely, associate professor of political economy in the Johns Hopkins University at Baltimore and lecturer on political economy in Cornell University, Ithaca, N. Y., comes to the front with a small volume on “French and German Socialism in Modern Times,” the chapters of which, now somewhat rewritten, were originally so many lectures to the students under his charge, and substantially (not literally) announces himself as follows: “Attention! Behold! I am come to do a service to the friends of law and order by expounding the plans and purposes of the honest, but mistaken, enemies of law and order. But, whereas nearly all my predecessors in this field have been unfair and partial, I intend to be fair and impartial.” And we are bound to say that this pretence has been maintained so successfully throughout the book that it can hardly fail to mislead every reader who has not in advance the good fortune to know more than the author about his subject.
We cannot examine the work in detail. The author begins by briefly tracing the origin of social agitations and grievances, and drawing distinctions more or less accurate between socialism and communism and the various subdivisions of both, and then devotes a chapter to each of the more important, generally personifying them in the lives and works of their founders or leaders. And here, by way of parenthesis, let us remark that the distinction implied in the title of the work is unjustifiable, to begin with. There is no such thing as French socialism or German socialism. Socialism knows no nationality. It prides itself on its cosmopolitan nature. The fact that the founder of a certain school of socialism is born in France does not make that school French. A man has to be born somewhere, and, if he enunciates a theory, naturally gains the bulk of his earlier adherents in the vicinity of his birthplace or residence; but the theory itself is indigenous in no sense except the very general one in which everything else is.
The principal men with whom Professor Ely deals are Baboeuf, Cabet, Saint-Simon, Fourier, Louis Blanc, Proudhon, Rodbertus, Marx, and Lassalle. Whatever misrepresentations he may have been guilty of toward any of these men except Proudhon, he will not be convicted of them here. That judicial task we shall leave to the followers of each, who should be better qualified than ourselves to render an intelligent verdict. Of his chapter on Proudhon, however, Liberty may appropriately speak.
This chapter swarms with the grossest errors. It must convey the impression to any intelligent student of Proudhon that the only one of his works which the author has read with any care is the “What is Property?” The argument of some portions of that work he does indeed condense and present with an approximation to accuracy, but other portions even of that he misquotes, mistranslates, and misinterprets, and in treating the other works of Proudhon he generally distorts them almost beyond recognition “What is Property?” he ranks first in importance, whereas it is beyond reasonable dispute that, great as it is, it does not compare in acuteness or intrinsic value with the “System of Economical Contradictions,” the “Solution of the Social Problem,” the “General Idea of the Revolution of the Nineteenth Century,” or that gigantic monument, “Justice in the Revolution and in the Church.” In abstracting “What is Property?” Professor Ely could not well avoid quoting passages distinctly and bitterly antagonistic to communism, but in order that these might not tend to weaken the prevailing and erroneous impression that Proudhon was a communist, he volunteers the finical and strained explanation that “he was not a communist in the sense of favoring communities such as we see in a few places at present, because they involve control and authority. He was, on the contrary, in favor of anarchic equality. The distinction might be made by saying that he was a communist, but not a communitarian.” Professor Ely may perhaps attempt to justify this as consistent with his statement in the chapter on Baboeuf that “the central idea of communism is economic equality,” but any schoolboy who stops to think can tell him that such is not the central idea of communism. If all men through our present methods of producing and distributing wealth should succeed in accumulating equal fortunes, there would be a condition of economic equality, but there would be no communism, — that is, no more than at present, for the existing social and governmental machinery is, in some of its phases, to an extent communistic. The central idea of communism is possession or use or administration in common, with no individual lines of division and no data for drawing any. This idea is susceptible of many qualifications, but in its entire absence there is no communism. There is compulsory communism and voluntary communism; Proudhon believed in neither. There is universal communism and partial communism; Proudhon believed in neither. He believed in individualism, and in free association on the federative principle of contract, and in nothing else. But, if the idea should get abroad that he was not a communist, his influence would be multiplied tenfold. To Professor Ely that is a consummation not devoutly to be wished, and he therefore tries to confirm the popular error by evasive tricks of speech.
In still another way he tries to prejudice his reader against Proudhon by saying that “he hated the rich as a class, if not individually,” adding that “afterwards his hatred turned into contempt and he became calmer, though it is probable that he always retained a certain bitterness of feeling.” As proof of this he quotes the following, which Proudhon wrote to the Besancon Academy: “When I sought to become your pensioner, I was full of hate for that which exists and of projects of destruction. My hatred of privilege and of the authority of man was without measure. Perhaps I was sometimes wrong in confounding in my indignation persons and things; at present I only know how to despise and complain. In order to cease to hate, it was only necessary for me to understand.” Now, the not too observant reader who should not chance to notice that this is quoted from the preface to “What is Property?” the first large work which Proudhon wrote, would get the idea from Professor Ely’s words that Proudhon lost the hatred referred to only late in life, and the all his earlier works were written under its influence. To show that Professor Ely meant to leave such an impression, we need only to call attention to a significant omission from another long quotation with which he closes his chapter. There be prints Proudhon’s marvellously eloquent prayer to the God of liberty (calling it, by the way, an “appeal to the Deity,” as if it were addressed to some theological ghost instead of to a principle personified for the time being for rhetorical purposes), but omits from the closing sentences the passage which we here print in italics: “Inspire the strong one, the wealthy one, whose name my lips shall never pronounce before thee, with horror on account of his robberies; let him be the first to apply for admission to the redeemed society; let the promptness of his repentance be the ground of his forgiveness! Then the great and the small, the rich and the poor, will unite in one ineffable fraternity; and all together, chanting a new hymn, will re-eract thy altar, O God of liberty and of eqyality!” There is no reason conceivable by us why any honest man should omit the words italicized. He could not have done so from lack of space, for the quotation occurs on the closing page of Professor Ely’s chapter and ends only half-way down the page. Why, then, were the words left out? It will be seen at once that, without them, the passage appeared to sustain Professor Ely’s charge that Proudhon hated the rich, while, with them, it left the charge without foundation. Need more be said?
Another erroneous impression, though not of much consequence except as additional evidence of the confusion which Professor Ely leaves behind him, is carried by these words: “The essay on Property is important, because it led socialists and even political economists to a revision of their theories and a more careful observation of facts. Louis Blanc discouraged fantastical and supernatural schemes of reform, but the sharp, cutting criticism of Proudhon, directed now against the communists, now against the Saint-Simonians and Fourierists, now against the political economists, rendered them impossible. High-priests and revealers of visions could henceforth count on no favor on the part of the laborers.” One would infer from this that Proudhon and Louis Blanc were engaged in united, or at least sympathetic, warfare upon utopias and risions, whereas in reality the highest of the “high-priests” whom Proudhon never tired of puncturing with his “sharp, cutting criticism” was Louis Blanc himself, whose schemes of reform he often showed to be arbitrary and unscientific in the extreme. This bull confirms our suspicion that Professor Ely has practically confined his reading to “What is Property?” for in that work Proudhon has page after page of attack upon Saint-Simon, Fourier, and the communists, while Louis Blanc, if we remember correctly, is not so much as referred to, the criticisms upon him occurring in later works.
A more important and inexcusable offence against the truth is Professor Ely’s insinuation that Proudhon’s “Bank of the People” failed in consequence of its own demerits. The fact is that, as long as it was allowed to live, it met with remarkable success, and that it was because of this very success and the danger therefrom to the privileged classes that Louis Bonaparte, taking advantage of one of Proudhon’s speeches against him to charge him with a political offence, caused his imprisonment for three years and the winding-up of the bank’s affairs. The effect of this sentence upon the bank is thus described by J A. Langlois in his sketch of Proudhon’s life:
Proudhon had not abandoned for a single moment his project of a Bank of Exchange, which was to operate without capital and a sufficient number of merchants and manufacturers for adherents. This bank, which he then called the “Bank of the People,” and around which he wished to gather the numerous working-people’s associations which had been formed since the 24th of February, 1848, had already obtained a certain number of subscribers and adherents, the latter to the number of thirty-seven thousand. It was about to commence operations, when Proudhon’s sentence [in March, 1849] forced him to choose between imprisonment and exile. He did not hesitate to abandon his project and return the money to the subscribers. He explained the motives which led him to this decision in an article in “Le Peuple.”
And yet Ely has the assurance to make the following statement without qualification or explanation: “He attempted the execution of his plan without the aid of the state, by the erection of a bank, which failed about April 1, 1849, after an existence of a few weeks. Thus ended the attempt of the last great French socialist to carry out a scheme of social and economic regeneration.” How wicked is this attempt to misrepresent! And how evident, when the facts are once stated! But it was highly important to Professor Ely’s case and to his clients, the “friends of law and order,” that this bank should be pooh-hoohed out of sight; for, if any civilized nation should ever permit the existence of any similar bank, its inauguration would be the beginning of the end of privilege, poverty, crime, and tyranny, and it is upon privilege, poverty, crime, and tyranny that the “friends of law and order” live.
Knowing this, Professor Ely, not satisfied with misleading his readers as to the cause of the bank’s downfall, tries to complete its ruin by misstating the nature of the bank. Confounding it with the warehouse system which many socialists have advocated, he describes it as “a great national bank, in which product shall be exchanged against product without any intermediaries, so that money-mongers shall not be able to stop the circulation and thereby the production of goods. Paper money is to be given in exchange for whatever is brought to this place of deposit.” This is the crowning outrage. After taunting Proudhon repeatedly with being “powerful as a destroyer but weak as a constructor,” “unable to effect his synthesis,” etc., Professor Ely, when he comes to deal with the synthesis, twists it into unrecognizable shape. Proudhon’s banking system, which was to result in the abolition of usury in all its forms, was the dearest product of his mind. If this, he declared, be not true and sound in its essential features then there is no ground for socialism to stand on. At least, then, he should be fairly dealt with here. But instead, the vagaries of the utopians whom ho combated are foisted upon him by Professor Ely, and he is made to shoulder the warehouse system of finance. With this, however, the “Bank of the People” had really next to nothing in common. Instead of being a place for the exchange of products against products, it was not to deal in products, but in the titles to products. Instead of dispensing with intermediaries, it provided for a great increase of them, — that is, for a vast increase in the volume of the currency by vastly extending its basis. Instead of giving paper money “in exchange for whatever is brought to this place of deposit,” it was to give paper money only in exchange for sound business paper, mortgages, and other acceptable securities. “Every subscriber,” said Proudhon, “shall have an account open for the discount of his business paper; and he shall be served to the same extent as he would have been under the conditions of discount in specie, that is, in the known measure of his faculties, the business he does, the positive guaranties he offers, the real credit he might reasonably have enjoyed under the old system.” Every subscriber bound himself to receive the bank’s paper at par in payment of all debts, and in settlement of all transactions, but the products thus to be bought by the holders of the paper were to be found in the stores and workshops of the subscribers, and to have no relation whatever to the bank. A full description of Proudhon’s bank cannot be given here. Suffice it to say that it is simply an institution for exchanging at cost — that is, at one per cent, or less — its own widely known credit for the narrowly but certainly known credit of individuals, in order to facilitate exchanges, make cash payments the custom, and enable honest and industrious people to procure capital on terms that will not rob them of what they produce with it. But one would suppose from Professor Ely’s account of it, on the contrary, that it is an enormous central storehouse for all products under the sun, whither all people may go, unquestioned, with their own products and barter them on the spot. Is this the sort of man to place in our universities to complete the education of what ought to be the flower of the nation’s youth?
We have said enough. Some good people may complain that we have done wrong in accusing Professor Ely’s intentions, when he may be, as he says the socialists are, honest though mistaken. Such an hypothesis, to be sure, is possible. but we have preferred to impale him on the other horn of the dilemma, feeling that it would be less cruel than to wound a college professor in his tendered part by accusing him of ignorance and stupidity. If, however, the latter be the true explanation, attention should be called to a typographical error on the title-page. There the book purports to have been written by “Richard T. Ely, Ph.D” Evidently it should read “Richard T. Ely, D.Ph.,” mystic letters which the orthography of Artemas Ward explains as generally standing after the names of those who have earned the degree of Dam Phool.
Note. — After the above was in type, we were furnished good evidence of its timeliness by the arrival of the San Francisco “Truth” containing a highly complimentary review of Professor Ely’s book. Delighted by the professor’s admission that socialists are honest, the editor immediately describes the professor as “honest, truthful, and just.” You tickle me, and I’ll tickle you. Has a man, then, only to admit his opponent’s honesty and good intentions in order to obtain a license to misrepresent his views to the public in the most reckless manner? The presumption is that the editor of “Truth” has never looked beneath Professor Ely’s compliments to find out whether his substantial statements are accurate and just, and the probability is that, had be done so, he would not have been able to decide. Just there lies the most sorrowful feature of the matter, — in the fact that a man who appears before the public as a teacher of socialism does not know enough about it to tell when it is misrepresented and when it is treated fairly.
Beecher said on Thanksgiving Day that the government must pursue one of two policies towards the Mormons, — either utter extermination or no interference whatever. He favors the latter. Beecher, although a contemptible hypocrite, is gifted with more than the usual measure of common sense.
The writer of this article is not the editor of Liberty. He is simply an editorial contributor. Whatever he writes in this capacity stands for the opinons heresies, and mistakes of the editor, and the latter must therefore necessarily shoulder the costs. On the “cost principle,” therefore, which everywhere acts us solvent between confronting individual rights of assertion, the writer’s literary product is unconditionally subject to alteration, abridgment, mutilation, or whatsoever else may suit the judgment or caprice of the cost-bearing editor. His will is supreme, unquestionable, and beyond appeal in the matter. His right of individual assertion is absolute.
But the writer peremptorily declines to have his articles mutilated. To disfigure, “blue-pencil,” or qualify what to him seems his best thought and most righteous sentiment is to him next to an assault upon his mental integrity. He emphatically forbids it, and his right of assertion per se as to what shall not be done with his mental product is equally sacred with that of the editor.
Here then are two Anarchists, each asserting his inalienable individual sovereignty in direct opposition. It is at this point that the defender of what now falsely passes for government will step in and say: “I told you so! The unqualified exercise of individual sovereignty immediately ends in chaos. It is simply impossible. It arbitrarily cuts off human activity and associate co-operation. It forbids compromise, that only bridge which makes civilization and effective association possible. It is fanaticism run mad.”
Not so, friends. True, there is no compromise of the right of individual sovereignty, as regulated by the cost principle, permissible under our system; but this is not saying that all means of adjustment are thereby cut off. An almost inexhaustible field of expedients remains, after each party has asserted his sovereignty in direct opposition, whereby they may still co-operate with no compromise or violation of individual integrity.
And what we wish most forcibly to impress upon the reader is the fact that it is only as individual sovereignty is made absolute and inviolable that the possibility of honorable and effective adjustments is opened. The adjustment between the editorial contributor and the editor suggests itself at a glance. The former has simply to put his own name at the bottom of his article, and then the editor of “Liberty” has no more right to mutilate it than he has to mutilate the writer’s nose or shorten his ears; which means that by subscribing his own name to his literary product he thereby individually assumes the costs of his own acts.
But under the State everything worthy the name of voluntary adjustment is in the nature of the case cut off. If the politicians who rob me decree that I shall pay taxes to perpetuate their machine, which I do not want and in whose making I had no voice, my opposing individual assertion is answered by the jail or the forcible confiscation of my substance. When a majority beats a minority of one at the polls, it straightway pounces jeeringly and despotically upon the defeated party like some infuriated beast that has finally fastened the death grip into the vitals of the victim, even though the rights and interests of millions of sovereign individuals are involved. This is not an adjustment. It is savagery pure and simple, gilded by the forms of law and custom.
Anarchy calls for voluntary adjustments in the place of arbitrary brute force. It finds the only possible basis of such adjustments in the complete and universal recognition of the sovereignty of each and every individual. Anarchy leads in the direct path of peace, love, and brotherhood, while the State is poised upon strife, blood, and despotic coercion. Choose which shall be your idol, reader, as you penetrate farther and farther into the true inwardness of our system.
* This article is written by a dear friend of ours, living in another city, who frequently contributes to Liberty’s editorial columns with great effect. It is suggested by the fact that we have sometimes felt obliged to modify his articles in minor particulars, not caring to be held responsible for that which we did not really endorse, although we do not remember an instance, so nearly do we agree, when his central thought or main argument has been altered, He has often been urged to write over his own signature, but as yet declines to do so. These circumstances have inspired in him the happy thought of making them an illustration of the harmonious working of the Anarchistic principle. In so doing he has written an article which we should not have wished to modify, even had he had taken away our right to do so by relieving us, in his opening sentence, of responsibility for it. — Editor Liberty.
Yes, “Truth” Has Become a Liar.
Burnette G. Haskell,
Editor of the San Francisco “Truth.”
Sir, — In the last issue of Liberty I had occasion to address to you an open letter, in which, basing my charges upon a succinct statement of facts, I arraigned you for conduct and methods of very questionable morality. To this letter you have made answer in your paper with a broadside which would fill a whole issue of Liberty. In it, however, you do not, because you cannot, meet the essential facts which I have stated But, finding yourself in a corner and feeling that you must do something, you meet my facts with falsehoods and my conclusions with a vituperation which, being supported by falsehoods instead of facts, is wholly unjustifiable and outrageous. Such a flood of lies, such an avalanche of abuse, such a torrent of “hifalutin” rhetoric as is contained in your rejoinder I have never seen elsewhere. Against such wantonness it is useless to argue. It defeats itself among all right-minded persons. So I propose simply to brand you as a liar, show it by one illustration, and pass on.
In the body of your reply I find these words addressed to me:
This journal is not a private enterprise as is yours. This paper is no profit making scheme as is yours. Here all money goes to propaganda. From your office you publish words of light and make a protit on their sale. From “Truth” within the past year thousands of socialistic tracts have been published and scattered far and wide among the people free as air. Bakounine’s picture costs you three cents, and you sell it for fitty; Proudhon’s portrait costs you the same, and you vend it for seventy-five! With you, sir, obtains the unworthy practices of ecclesiasticism. You deify an individual, and grow wealthy upon the coin received by selling to blind worshippers his saintly picture or his plaster cast. The Priests who begun thus ended by selling even the bones of their dead saints.
No one but myself can fully appreciate the amusing nature of this charge. Whenever I read it and then look at my pocket-book, a sense of that incongruity which is said to be the essence of humor takes full possession of me, and I explode into a loud guffaw. This, however, is neither here nor there. Whatever sacrifices I have made for the cause in which I am working, it is not my intention to parade them before the public unless compelled to it by more exacting needs than the present. So, leaving the question whether I am growing rich or poor, I deal here only with your specific assertions concerning the pictures of Bakounine and Proudhon as showing your disregard for the truth. You say that Bakounine’s picture costs me three cents, and I sell it for fifty. The facts are these. Bakounine’s picture is a photo-lithograph, and is printed from an electrotype which was produced by a mechanical process from a pen-and-ink drawing made by the artist from a photograph. It is a comparatively cheap method of getting comparatively fine picture, but nevertheless the electrotype alone cost me either nine or eleven dollars (I forget which) before a single picture was printed. Each copy printed involves an additional cost for paper and presswork of five cents. And yet you audaciously charged that the total cost of these pictures is but three cents each. As a matter of fact I have not got back one-third of my outlay. But more enormous still is your other statement that Proudhon’s portrait costs me the same as Bakounine’s and I sell it for seventy-five cents. Proudhon’s portrait is a steel engraving, and one of the very finest. To get the plate alone cost me just one hundred dollars. Each copy printed for it costs me twelve cents extra for paper and presswork, and of my outlay on this picture I have got back much less than one-third. You dare not dispute these figures. I can prove them, if necessary, by my printers and engravers. And until they are disputed and disproved, you stand in the pillory before the public as a deliberate liar. For it will not do to answer that you did not know these things That would only prove you to be worse than a liar, a reckless slanderer. This lie of yours is but one of many contained in your reply, and is a fair sample of them. Ex uno disce omnes. From one learn all.
Before dropping this subject altogether, I must accord to Mr. H. W. Brown an explanation which I owe him. In a postscript to my letter I charged you with signing Mr. Brown’s name to a communication in your paper which he never wrote. I made this charge on the strength of Mr. Brown’s own statement to me. He has since published in your paper a statement that I have “betrayed his confidence.” At least he appears to have done so, although I have no evidence that this second communication is not a forgery like the first. But assuming it to be genuine, I have to say that Mr. Brown told me what he did in a loud tone of voice, at the same time vehemently expressing his disgust at the manner in which “Truth” is conducted; that he has told it to at least one other person; and that he gave me no reason, either by his manner or by any direct caution, to believe that he was confiding a secret to me. But no man holds confidences more sacred than I do, and, if I have unwittingly betrayed Mr. Brown’s, I am exceedingly sorry for it, and herewith tender him my sincere apology. It is a little singular, to say the least, that he has never complained to me of my conduct, and that he has met me several times since the alleged betrayal precisely as he always met me and as one good friend meets another. Mr. Brown’s later letters in “Truth” (always assuming them not to be forgeries), in which he speaks bitterly of me and even says things which are not true, show that, probably without realizing it, he has parted with his honor to save his friends. An enthusiastic devotee of State Socialism, he could not bear to see a State Socialist convicted of misconduct by an Anarchist. I much regret that he has thus done injustice to the essential integrity of his character. One of these days he will regret it himself, and then will come to tell me so. I know him well enough to believe this of him. It is to be noticed, further, that neither Mr. Brown nor you have denied my statement that you printed Mr. Brown’s signature to a letter, parts of which at least he never wrote.
One word more. You ask me to print your reply to me in the columns of Liberty, or else to send you a list of Liberty’s subscribers that you may send copies to them. I decline to do either, having no space for the former and no time for the latter. But, that no injustice may be done you, I hereby urge every reader of Liberty who feels an interest in the matter to send to you for a copy of “Truth” containing your reply. Your address is “916 Valencia Street, San Francisco,” and you propose, I believe, to send the paper to all such free of cost. I ask nothing better than to abide by the verdict of my own readers on the extraordinary document which yon are so anxious to get into their hands.
Benj. R. Tucker.
Our edition of “God and the State” can be obtained in England from The Science Library, Tunbridge Wells, Kent, or from George Standring, 8 & 9 Finsbury Street, London. Thus the English people will be supplied with Bakounine’s work, despite the failure of English publishers to issue it. Concerning their failure in this regard, we are in receipt of the following from our faithful friend, Tchaykovsky: “Dear Comrade — Having read in your last your letters against ‘Truth,’ I feel obliged to inform you immediately that Miss Le Compte’s translation of Dieu et l’Etat was trusted to my care to be published in England, but still lies in my portfolio without any use on account of want of a courageous publisher in this country. Please mention this my communication in your next. Yours as ever, N. Tchaykovsky.”