Liberty Vol. II. No. 2.
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.
P. J. McGuire’s paper, “The Carpenter,” has been removed from New York, and will hereafter be published at 613 Callowhill Street, Philadelphia.
Society may do what it pleases, and the individual may do what he pleases if society pleases to let him, say the State Socialists. Liberty says that the Individual may do what he pleases, and society may do what it pleases if the individuals comprising the society please to let it. Between these two positions there can be neither peace nor compromise.
It is becoming the fashion to malign the Jews. The articles and caricatures now current picturing the faults and vices of the Hebrew character and neglecting its many virtues strongly remind us of the indictments of the Chinese, in fact, these racehatreds are all alike. They belong on the same low level, and originate in the same spirit of devilish jealousy and sanctimonious pharisaism.
Walt Whitman is an economist as well as a poet,— age of the right and radical sort, too. Liberty entirely agrees with him in the following: “The profits of protection go altogether to a few score select persons who, by favors of Congress, State Legislatures, the banks and other special advantages, are forming a vulgar aristocracy full as bad as anything in the British or European castes, of blood, or the dynasties there of the past. As Sismondi pointed out, the true prosperity of a nation is not in the great wealth of a special class, but is only to be really attained in having the bulk of the people provided with houses or land in fee simple. This may not be the best show, but it is the best reality.”
The Rechester “Sunday Morning Mail,” referring to Henry Appleton (“Honorius” of the “Irish World”), says that he is “one of the best educated and clearest writers upon the social questions of the day. He is cool, deliberating, and convincing. He is a fitting companion for Henry Carey Baird and the great Parnell. His reputation is destined to become a household word.” Coming from such a source, this intended compliment is a rather doubtful one. A paper which holds up the writings of Henry Carey Baird and Parnell as standards of lucidity does not know what clear thought is. Mr. Appleton is a far clearer thinker and more vigorous writer than either of them; and the “Mail,” in reducing him to their level, does him an injury which Liberty promptly resents in his behalf.
Mr. Van Patten, editor of the “Bulletin of the Social Labor Movement” and champion of extreme State Socialism, has been analyzing Liberty in his paper. “Liberty,” he says, “is a natural right, against which constraint can exercise no legitimate power.” But he thinks that this right terminates where the liberty of others begins. From this he concludes that “personal Liberty must always be subordinate to the collective liberty.” Let us carry this peculiar argument a little farther. If “personal Liberty must always be subordinate to the collective liberty,” it may always be legitimately constrained, and hence the termination of this “natural right,” which Mr. Van Patten starts by defining as one which can never be legitimately constrained, must be simultaneous with its beginning. Well may Liberty exclaim: “If so soon I was to be done for I wonder what I was begun for.”
“At a certain manufactory in this city,” says the Fall River correspondent of the Providence “Journal,” “where there are a number of young ladies employed, it was determined on their part to present their employer with an album and a large family Bible as a testimonial of their regard for him. The money was collected and the articles purchased. On the appointed alter noon the girls collected at the office of their employer, and, in a neat speech, presented him with their offering. The recipient accepted the gifts and thanked the givers in a few choice words. After conversing some time, tho overseer glanced at the clock, and said: ‘Girls, I think you had better go back to your work now; you have lost three-quarters of an hour already.’ The girls were taken aback, and, feeling much disconcerted, went back to their work, but great was their surprise and chagrin when the next pay-day came round to find that the overseer had ‘docked’ every one of them for the time lost in making the presentation.” Served them right! Factory operatives who know no better than to use the little that is left of their earning after the bulk of them have been, stolen, in buying presents for the thieves, deserve to have insult added to injury.
General Butler, who is now running for the governorship of Massachusetts on the Democratic ticket, is a unique figure in American politics, personally embodying, like all politicians, much that is bad, but also, unlike them, representing much that is good. As Anarchists we naturally take little interest in the result of his canvass, but, as far as we have any hopes at all, they are for his success The entrance of such a bull into the State china-shop would undoubtedly cause the destruction of a great deal of rotten ware. How far the smashing would be guided by any intelligent and consistent ideas concerning government may be judged by General Butler’s recent speech at Springfield. Arguing against the reckless expenditure of the people’s money in the building of needlessly elegant public works, he cited a gate-house at Lake Cochituate, costing several thousand dollars, which stops and lets out much less water than a gate-house owned by the general himself, costing only one hundred and twenty-five dollars, and truly said that the administrators of the people’s affairs should conduct them in the same manner that a private citizen conducts his own affairs. Later in the same speech, discussing the eight-hour system, he said that no private manufacturer could introduce it, for the reason that his competitors would continue to work their operatives ten hours and thereby undersell him in the market. But the government, argued General Butler (who a few minutes before had been insisting that public business should be done on business principles), ought to introduce it into its own works. As if the loss of the people is not as great when their money is spent in employing extra labor in the navy-yards as it is when the same money is spent in employing extra labor to build gate-houses! In fact, the loss is greater in the case of tho navy-yards, for the people get no more ships for their money than before, while in the other case they at least get a handsomer gate-house.
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“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.
The First Political Platform.
Whereas, I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage, and am steering thee to the land of Canaan, where there is milk and honey, and every man shall have forty acres and a mule; and
Whereas, I, the Lord thy God, am a jealous God, and opposed to competition in the deity business, insisting upon a monopoly of admiration and worship; and
Whereas, I visit the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me, and thus get square with the whole family; and
Whereas, in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, including sin and sorrow, and loafed the seventh day; wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath-day and made the saloons close up; therefore be it
Resolved, that thou shalt have no other gods before me, inasmuch as I am the great and only original, and all others are base imitations.
Resolved, that Jehovah vieweth with alarm the constant encroachments of stone gods, wooden gods, mud gods, and little tin gods on wheels upon the prerogatives and perquisites of the big boss God, and therefore declareth that thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them.
Resolved, that thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain, for too much familiarity breedeth contempt, and the Lord will endeavor to make it sultry for him who waxeth too fresh.
Resolved, that the Sabbath-day shall be remembered and kept holy and devoted exclusively to the giving of taffy to Jehovah, who is a vain God and pointeth with pride to his record on the labor question, which lieth in the first chapter of Genesis. As the Lord made everything in a six-day’s go-as-you-please race with nothing, thou shalt do no work on the seventh day.
Resolved, that the time-honored principles of eternal justice which were recognized by men before the Lord thy God was invented be reaffirmed and included in this platform for the sake of appearances and to give countenance to the preceding resolutions, as follows:
Resolved, that thou shalt honor thy father and thy mother.
Resolved, that thou shalt not kill; provided, however, that the Lord may suspend this commandment when he deems it advisable to have Philistines, and people who disbelieve in him as the only original God, slaughtered for his eternal glory.
Resolved, that thou shalt not commit adultery.
Resolved, that thou shalt not steal; but, for the sake of harmony, the Lord declareth that plundering the Amalekite is not stealing.
Resolved, that thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.
Resolved, that thou shalt not covet anything that is thy neighbor’s.
Resolved, that the foregoing platform and resolutions be lithographed and published by Secretary Moses under the title of “Ten Commandments.”
Liberals and Liberty.
The spectacle afforded by that incongruous group of mortals known as “Liberal lecturers” is one which invites some very serious comments in the light of Liberty. Our affiliations are naturally with these would-be reformers; and it is in no spirit of malice that we call attention to a few points touching that now vague and much-abused term “Liberal.”
The Latin root of Liberal is the same as that of Liberty. To be a Liberal is, etymologically, to be a preacher and practicer of Liberty. But, practically, the so-called Liberal is simply an ally, paid or unpaid, of some clique or other, laboring under the shallow delusion that, because he has put on the mantle of what the world calls infidelity, he is necessarily broader and bigger-brained than the benighted Orthodox. He is a sectarian, and does not know it; indeed, he is not unfrequently the meanest kind of bigot. There are men sailing under the banners of Atheism and Free Religion whom no respect for Liberty would prevent from burning an Orthodox believer at the stake to-day, if that old pastime had not gone out of fashion; while the churches are almost as largely sprinkled with organically-constituted Liberals as are the halls of infidelity.
To be a Liberal, in any sense that can effect true reform, is to be a man or woman who loves Liberty understandingly. And, to love Liberty understandingly, the man or woman must have a rational philosophy. The bulk of our Liberal lecturers are semi-uniformed moral carpers. They go about preaching temperance, righteousness, and moral judgments to come; but they know no scientific principles by which to define these terms. They tell us to be just and true, and pure, but they have no rational standard of justice, truth, and purity. They leave the potency of their terms to whatever vague conceptions and prejudices may happen to possess the minds of their hearers, and, unfortunately, the lingering bias, even in the minds of the most liberal audiences, is on the side of the old, diseased standard of morality, begotten of morbid fanaticism and repression.
The most contemptible clique of moral “softs” now in the arena of Liberalism is that of the falsely-named “Free-Religionists.” The Free-Religious culturist stands in his or her pulpit, dressed in sainted garb, and between every few periods interjects some solemn appeal to the audience to lead lives of purity. “Purity” seems to be the main seasoning of Free-Religious decretals. But have these people any scientific standard of purity? Do they enter into any rational examination of purity, based upon the entire constitution of man? Is purity synonymous with the normal, healthy activity of the whole range of human functions, or does it mean repression, starvation, stultification, and chronic asphyxia?
No, it is purity,— purity and nothing more. Purity may mean all things to all men and women, but with the Free-Religious high priest it is enough that it is purity. With the simon-pure, pseudo-ecclesiastical, Free-Religious dogmatist it really means something akin to moral dyspepsia, or perhaps might be more properly likened to the chaste icicle that weepeth under the eaves of a tomb.
So with the terms justice, truth, virtue, and the term morality itself. Our Liberal friends fail to define these expressions, and for the simple reason that they cannot. They have no rational starting-point from which to develop the true theory of human relations. Justice is what some authority has defined it to be, ratified by public opinion. Truth, paradoxically speaking, is a vague fiction. Virtue is the dogmatic fiat of popularized asceticism, whoso dictum is total abstinence; and morality is majority-rule, meddling despotically with everybody’s business.
Now, we earnestly invite all these Liberal wanderers, at present intellectually lost in the woods, to come into the folds of Liberty. Here they will find a distinct rational philosophy that settles the significance of all their vague terms. For we have a starting-point that is unassailable,— the absolute sovereignty of every individual. Upon this rock we build, and all our social structure in morals and dignity is securely braced by the cost-principle. Those who inhabit it always know where they stand and I how to treat all questions of social conduct. Their philosophy and method cannot fail to be Liberal, being the very science of Liberty itself. Those already on the anxious seat would do well to come forward at once. The burden of Liberty is light, its yoke is easy to hear, and priceless are its blessings.
That “Unearned Increment.”
To the Editor of Liberty:
Dear Sir,— Under the scheme of Henry George land is to be put up in parcels and rented to the highest bidder by the elected auctioneer of the Socialistic State. Suppose, now, that a given parcel, apparently unlit for anything but ordinary tillage, is old off by an ordinary farmer at a low rental. It contains a patch of woodland. Some tine day an ingenious mechanic, who has long been experimenting in different kinds of woods and their adaptability to special mechanical mentions, strolls over this patch, and, discovering a pecularity in the wood, cuts off a piece and takes it home. After various experiments, he discovers that it can he applied to the manufacture of an article of great utility to society and profit to himself. Accordingly, when the parcel of land is put up, the next year he overbids all other comers, takes it, erects a shop upon it, puts his invention into the market, and in a few months discovers that the next year he will be able to realize $1,000 profit, all of which is the result of years of skill, study, and expense.
Now, in George’s scheme, the “unearned increment” resulting from the natural wealth residing in the wood belongs to the State; the $1,000 must be taxed out of the skilful tenant, and his years of study and expense in adapting the natural wealth to the service of society avail him nothing. All that is not literally labor must be confiscated. Whatever results from skill, study, and indefatigable purpose in adapting natural wealth to its best uses is contraband. Under this scheme whoever makes natural wealth available, thus increasing the rental value of land, must he victimized to the extent that he has benefited society.
I have no unkind feelings towards Mr. George, who, I am willing to assume, is conscientious, but it must avow that a more ridiculous and outrageous piece of imbecility never possessed a distorted brain. The “unearned increment” in all this crazy bosh is the astonishing credulity of many a blind follower, who, when he finally comes to examine such sophistry seriously, will be amazed that it could ever have carried off his head.
October 19, 1882.
Liberty has given abundant evidence that it looks upon Henry George’s theories with no friendly eye, but desires, nevertheless, to pronounce the above criticism of them not at all a valid one. Our correspondent makes it somewhat awkward for us to show why it is invalid by so confusing natural wealth with wealth resulting from his inventor’s efforts that it is difficult to tell whether he regards the thousand dollars as payment for the former or the latter. Let us suppose, however, that he means five hundred dollars of it as payment for the “natural wealth residing in the wood” and five hundred dollars as a reward for the inventor’s “study and expense.” In that case the inventor is clearly entitled to the latter five hundred, having earned it by his labor, and no State has any rightful authority to tax it away from him; but it is equally clear that neither the inventor nor the State is entitled in equity to the former five hundred, because neither had anything whatever to do with the creation of the wealth which it is supposed to represent.
Our correspondent and Mr. George commit substantially the same error in regarding natural wealth as property, the only difference being that the author of “Progress and Poverty” gives to the State exclusively the function of proprietorship, while “Dead-wood” ascribes it to the individual. Natural wealth is not property at all, and neither the State nor the individual can set a price upon it without violating the first principle of commercial justice that cost is the equitable limit of price.
But “Deadwood” must not answer us that we wish to enforce by law any standard of price. We expressly disclaim any such desire. Our first faith is always in Liberty and its power to settle all social problems without recourse to restriction. We decline in advance to print any statement charging us, either directly or by implication, with favoring anything less than absolute tree trade in the broadest sense of the term.
Perhaps we ought, further, to protest against “Deadwood’s” assumption that the work of the inventor is less literally labor than that of the manual workman.
The Condemned of Moscow.
We translate from “L’Intransigeant” the following editorial, written by Henri Rochefort à propos of the report that the szar of Russia had gone to Moscow to be crowned:
At the not very remote period when people were so simple as to imagine, in looking upon a sovereign, that he was the State, the coronation of an emperor presented all the characteristics of a national festival. The fountains ran with wine, which the passers-by drank without thinking that it was bought with their own taxes. The faithful subjects, prostrate as their master passed, craved the honor of touching with respectful hand the train of his mantle.
Today the coronation of a monarch resembles the execution of a prisoner condemned to death. Ono who reads with a little care the despatches which come to us from Russia regarding the disagreeable duty to the performance of which the czar Alexander III. has resigned himself may imagine himself assisting in the funeral preparations for the beheading of Menesclou, the murderer.
The patient (we mean the czar) has tried all methods of postponing the fatal moment. Now his wife fell sick; again he did not feel very well himself. At last the Eminent Gray-beards of the Third Section have made him understand that in Russia a czar who has not been solemnly crowned at Moscow can exercise no serious authority over the nation. He is no more than an emperor in partibus, something like those bishops who cannot visit their dioceses, situated at the ends of the world without running the risk of being eaten by the cannibals over whom they are supposed to hold spiritual kingdom.
In vain did Alexander III., very much frightened, draw up various appeals for mercy, till, the other day, his prime minister came to tell him that his petition had been definitively denied; that, consequently, he must make up his mind to start. Only, the police, fearing some attempt at the capture of the prisoner, have taken precautions which have had no parallel since the death of Louis XVI.
We quote literally the telegrams which reach us:
St. Petersburg, September 19. — The emperor started this evening at eight o’clock for Moscow, where, in all probability, the coronation will take place.
Until the arrival of the czar in that city the use of the telegraph and travel by rail are forbidden the public along the Moscow line.
The line is guarded by thirty thousand men.
Posts of soldiers are stationed on the embankments, and both sides of the railway are constantly patrolled.
Moscow, September 20. — The emperor and empress, with the princes their children and the grand-dukes George-Alexis and Paul-Serge, arrived here at noon today, accompanied by the prince of Montenegro.
The city was occupied by the military. On the arrival of the royal train numerous detachments of troops kept the crowd far away from the streets through which the czar was to pass.
Do you see this emperor requiring closed doors for the ceremony of his coronation, as they do for the trial of a prisoner accused of committing an outrage against public decency! Ordinarily, when a king visits a city of his realm it is to measure the joy which his presence excites. The son of Alexander II., who fears other explosions than those of enthusiasm, is perfectly willing to appear in public on condition that there shall he no one in the streets. At that rate, the day when he shall enter the cathedral of Moscow to be definitively consecrated, like the kings of France in the cathedral of Rheims, the basilica, evacuated by superior orders, will be absolutely deserted. That will be what might be called a cellular coronation. Under such conditions it would have been more logical to choose, for its consummation, not a church, but a cellar.
To complete the festivities the emperor and empress, on their arrival at Moscow, immediately repaired to the chapel of Our Lady of Siberia. The object of their visit was indeed admirably chosen. It is almost as if, on the day of bis advent to the presidency of the Republic, Mac-Mahon had gone to pay his devotions at the chapel of Our Lady of New Caledonia.
But the czar, who sees himself so irremissibly condemned that he goes to chapel, must entertain at this hour strange reflections regarding the instability of human power. He whose grandfather was not only the sovereign but the pope of Russia addresses himself today to the metropolitan of Moscow as Lebiez and Barré addressed themselves to the Abbe Crozes to try to soften the horrors of the last punishment.
This picture of the anguish of a potentate scarcely daring to take possession of the crown is the best reward that the revolutionists have yet received for their sacrifices and their perils. To make the life of kings so intolerable as to disgust them with their royalty,— that perhaps is the best method yet discovered of founding republics.
Proof, for the rest, that the augustes of Moscow intend to treat their condemned criminals in the future with a certain degree of humanity may be found in this further despatch transmitted by the Havas agency:
“The day of the coronation is kept absolutely secret.”
It is clear that, still as in the case of Menesclou, they do not wish to augment the torments of this sufferer by informing, him of the exact hour of supreme expiation. Only a few minutes before delivering him to the executioner will they come to warn him that he has no hope left save in the divine mercy. They will serve him a bounteous breakfast, after which the executioner will proceed to the final toilet; then the funeral procession will take up its line of march, and in the evening the newspapers will thus conclude their account of the event:
“To avoid any pretext for a riot the prefect of police had decided that the coronation should take place within the walls of the prison, before the judges, assisted by a clerk charged with taking down the confessions of the condemned. The emperor manifested no weakness and with firm tread ascended the steps of the throne.
“At six o’clock human justice was satisfied.”
Property in Land.
A series of Sunday debates is now in progress at Investigator Hall in this city upon the question of the right of ownership in the soil. On September 17 the discussion was opened by J. W. Stillman, who, after the usual preliminaries, spoke as follows:
Before determining whether man has property in land, it seems to me that we ought to determine what is property itself. Now, if I were called upon to give a definition of the word “property,” I would say that it is a right to the absolute and exclusive use of the thing possessed, with power to destroy it or to dispose of it, either by gift or by sale. According to this definition, you will at once perceive that there are very few objects or things which a man can be said to own exclusively or absolutely. A man speaks of hischildren: but are they his absolute property? They are the products of nature. He has not the right to sell them into slavery, or to take their lives. He has a limited jurisdiction over them, but he has not absolute property in them.
Again, does a man own himself? He certainly does not create himself. It is true that he has exclusive use of his own faculties and powers; all that is so from the necessity of the case; hut can he rightfully destroy himself? There are some who maintain that a man has a right to commit suicide; there are others who dispute it, and that, today, is a debatable question. But has a man a right to sell himself into slavery,— to become the absolute property of another person? I question it. So, when you consider the question, What does man really own? in what things does a man have absolute property? — we at once discover that it is very difficult to determine that a man has property in anything whatsoever.
Well, now, it has been said here repeatedly in this discussion that labor is the source of wealth and the source of power. But can man by labor produce that which did not before exist? Man by his labor simply changes and transforms existing matter,— nothing more and nothing less. Can I by simply changing or transforming a material substance make that substance my property?
It has been said here that improvements in land necessarily lead to property in land. Let us consider that proposition for a moment. If it be true, those who maintain it must show exactly how much improvement in land creates property in it. Suppose that I enclose an acre of the earth’s surface. Half of that acre I improve, change, or modify; the other half I leave in its natural condition. It is enclosed; you might call it mine; but, according to the logic of these gentlemen, all I really own is the part I have improved, and the fact that I have enclosed another portion of the earth’s surface and called it mine does not make it mine. Until it can be shown exactly how much improvement in the land is necessary to constitute property in it, I think those who maintain that proposition will fail absolutely to prove it.
Again, if the doctrine of property in land is true, it seems to me that the doctrine of human slavery must also be true. If I have a right to use one portion of nature and call it mine, why not another portion? Man is nothing but matter,— organized matter, it is true; but, if I have a right to appropriate inorganic matter to my own use, why not organic matter? If I have the right to use and call my own, mineral substances, why not animal substances? Certainly the right to property does not depend upon the nature of the substance; hence I say that, if the doctrine of property in land is true, why not the doctrine of human slavery and every other form of oppression?
Again, the doctrine of property in land necessarily leads to slavery, because, if I own a portion of the earth’s surface, I have a right to keep off that portion of the earth’s surface every other human being; and whoever dares to put his foot on it is a trespasser; and in course of time it may be that a strong few may ultimately take possession of the whole earth. All those who do not have the power to take possession of an equal portion becomes trespassers. Their liberty and their very existence depend upon the will of the landholder. Hear Mr. George on that point:
Place one hundred men on an island from which there is no escape, and whether you make one of these men the absolute owner of the other ninety-nine, or the absolute owner of the soil of the island, will make no difference either to him or to them. In the one case, as in the other, the one will be die absolute master of the ninety-nine, his power extending even to life and death, for simply to refuse them permission to live upon the island would be to force them into the sea. — Progress and Poverty, p. 312.
Again, it has been said in this discussion that occupation, prior occupation, is a title to land. If so, what title have you to the land which you now occupy in the city of Boston and state of Massachusetts? All this land was formerly occupied by the North American Indians. They were the prior occupants; and, according to your own doctrine, you are trespassers upon their rights. If anybody owns anything, it is that mythological being known as God Almighty, whom we don’t believe in in this hall,— not many of us, at least. If man had the power to produce something out of nothing, he might own land; but, until man has such power, he cannot own anything. I may qualify that statement, perhaps, by saying that the only thing which a man may own is a new thought, a new idea, a new invention, and that is immaterial; so, consequently, I cannot see how anything that is material can become property, unless, as I said before, man bas the power to produce something out of nothing.
Let me read one paragraph from Proudhon’s book, entitled, “What is Property?” (pp. 52–53):
If property is a natural, absolute, imprescriptible, and inalienable right, why, in all ages, has there been so much speculation as to its origin? — for this is one of its distinguishing characteristics. The origin of a natural right! Good God! Who ever inquired into the origin of the rights of liberty, security, or equality? They exist by the same right that we exist; they are born with us, they live and die with us. With property it is very different, indeed. By law, property can exist without a proprietor, like a quality without a subject. It exists for the human being who as yet is not, and for the octogenarian who is no more. And yet, in spite of these wonderful prerogatives which savor of the eternal and the infinite, they have never found the origin of property; the doctors still disagree. On one point only are they in harmony; namely, that the validity of the right of property depends upon the authenticity of its origin. But this harmony is their condemnation. Why have they acknowledged the right before settling the question of origin?
It seems to me that, if what I have said be true, society must be entirely revolutionized. Rent must be abolished, for rent, according to this doctrine, can be nothing more nor less than robbery! Why should I pay others for occupying that which I have a perfect right to occupy myself? Why should I reward a robber, if he is a robber, by continually paying him tribute? It seems to me, therefore, that there can be no such thing as absolute equality among men until the doctrine of property in land is entirely destroyed.
Max’s Substitute for Statute Law.
Again we quote from the court-room conversations of Philosopher “Max” (reported in the Boston “Globe”), who, the more familiar he becomes with the workings of the law, becomes more pronounced in his adhesion to Anarchism:
“Truly the law is a wonderful invention for protecting society and the individual members thereof from the depredations of the wicked,” quoth Max, leaning upon the sill of the court-room window, where a breath of free air could be obtained, and watching the busy throng of expressmen in the square. “I suppose you can tell me, Counsellor, the end and aim of all criminal legislation, and the real functions of a criminal court?”
“I should say,” replied the Counsellor, “that laws are made to restrain people from doing that which may injure others in person or property, to preserve the morals of the community from; the licentiousness that would otherwise run riot, and, in short, to compel everybody to follow a line of conduct consistent with the best state of society. The courts are necessary to enforce obedience to the law by punishing all who violate its commands or do what it prohibits. Fear of the law undoubtedly deters many from doing the mischief which their depraved natures would delight in.”
“Then, if you were not afraid of the physical force which the law can employ, you would perhaps knock me down and take my pocket-book for your own use.”
“By no means. That would be an outrage which I would not think of committing. It would be a violation of what I recognize to be your natural rights; but there are persons who would not respect those rights, and they must be restrained. Just imagine what a riot of robbery, violence, and murder would be in the world in the absence of the restraining power of the law.”
“Of course you and I are better than the rest of the crowd and would do right anyway, simply because it is right; but I can imagine all these men in the square below, who are now engaged in peacefully earning their living, deserting their teams at the first intimation of the abolition of statute law, and proceeding to loot the town. It is very fortunate for you end me that we are under the protection of the law, and it is very sad to reflect that other people are not as honest and conscientious as we are. Clearly, this is a weary, wicked world when left to its own devices, and I am quite lost in wonder that there should be even two of us in this vast multitude of natural-born scoundrels called humanity who are not secretly enamored of crime for its own sake. Can you tell me, Counsellor, by what mysterious means the principles of truth and justice found even such lodgment in the world as our two minds afford?”
“Oh, of course, I don’t mean that all of us would cut each other’s throats if we had our way; but you know there must be some restraint upon the vicious and dangerous classes. If it were not for the wholesome influences of law and the Christian religion, we should have anarchy.”
“A very reasonable conclusion,” interjected Max.
“But to have justice we must have law and the authority to enforce obedience to the rules of justice. The law is the wisdom of ages boiled down and applied to the regulation of society.”
“I think you confound law and justice, and understate the functions of courts. Theoretically, the courts punish those who endanger the peace and good order of society, but practically they serve to perpetuate the superstitions upon which the authority of law is founded, and thus maintain its power. There is much technical humbug about so-called justice. Men are often punished, not for injuring others, nor for doing that which a correct conscience declares to be wrong, but for failing to comply with some petty, imbecile form of law. A curious illustration has been afforded today. A gentleman assisted a friend in doing what the judge declared he had a perfect right to do, and that was merely going away from a depot in a carriage with his betrothed. The mother of the young lady attempted to force her company upon the couple, which the judge decided she had no legal right to do, and the young man had a legal right to prevent her from entering the carriage. The first gentleman assisted his friend by holding the elder lady as she was about to forcibly enter the carriage, and was arrested for assault and battery. The judge gravely ruled that he would have been within the law had his friend specifically requested him to hold the mother, but, in the absence of such specific request, he was not within the law, and had no right to put his hand upon the lady. Therefore he was guilty of a crime, and was sentenced to pay a fine. That was the law, as laid down and enforced by a court. The gentleman was not punished for interfering with the rights of another, but for assisting in the preservation of another’s rights without having first obtained the technical sanction of the law so to do. The conviction and sentence were merely steps taken to maintain the authority of that superstition of the reason, statute law. I suppose the safety of society, the eternal principle of justice, and the sacred lights of individuals demanded that the concentrated wisdom of the ages should punish the gentleman on technical grounds.”
“Of course individuals must sometimes suffer in order to maintain a general principle, but that, is to be expected. The law cannot make distinctions in favor of individuals.”
“Certainly not. It cannot and it does not. Individual rights and freedom are wholly inconsistent with the spirit of authoritative legislation.”
“Very well. Then what are you driving at? What can you suggest as a substitute for statute law and courts with authority?”
Political Economy Boiled Down.
Tennyson can take a worthless sheet of paper, and, by writing a poem on it, make it worth $5,000. That’s genius. Vanderbilt can write a few words on a sheet, and make it worth $5,000,000. That’s capital. The United States can take an ounce and a quarter of gold and stamp upon it an “eagle bird” and “twenty dollars.” That’s money. The mechanic can take the material worth $5, and make it into a watch worth $100. That’s skill. The merchant can take an article worth 25 cents, and sell it to you for $1. That’s business. A lady can purchase a very comfortable bonnet for $10, but prefers to pay $100. That’s foolishness. The ditch digger works ten hours a day and shovels out three or four tons of earth for $1. That’s labor.
Different Ways of Wooing Liberty.
It is very pretty, writes Henry Maret, the brilliant and witty journalist who edits the Paris “Radical,” to talk of the hour of progress. I think, for my part, that that hour strikes when we ask the clock to strike it. And, as soon as a question is raised, it should be solved in the most liberal sense. Such is my politics, clear and definite. It is easily understood. Less easily understood is the politics of the people who call themselves Liberals and who steadily vote against Liberty, pretending that the masses who demand it are unworthy to have it. Such people make Liberty a singular sweetheart. When she opens her arms to them, they recoil like Joseph, for fear of that Potiphar called the State. These chilly lovers are simply impotent. We, who desire to possess the beautiful creature, send Potiphar to the devil, not desiring to pass our existence at the knees of our darling.
The Modern Highwayman.
The ancient highwayman was stout and brave,
And robbed the lonely traveller of his pelf;
The modern highwayman’s a sneaking knave,
Who tries to steal the great highway Itself.
Whitman’s Music and the Lute.
Links to Walt Whitman.
Being a Plea Against the Good Gray Poet’s Lawless Paces.
[Sam Ward in New York “World.”]
Wherefore scorn the tuneful measure
Like a lout?
Drowning Art’s melodious pleasure
In a shout?
As the Mœnads corybantie
Used to wound
Beauty’s eyelids, in their frantic
Must not every Muse deny him
For a churl,
Who will hut-ward haste to hie him
From the whirl
Of the rhythmic cadence, speeding
On the dance,
Lads and lassies gayly leading
In its trance?
‘Tis not cornu mirum’s blaring,
All their senses is ensnaring!
But — the Nine!
Gliding feet and ringlets straying
Touch and kiss;
Wavy swaying to such playing
Is such bliss!
Vulcan’s hammer clangs and clashes
With a glow,
But its splendors fall in ashes
At each blow!
Gracefully his shafts
Apollo Flings abroad;
Ecstasy and glory follow
Him — the old Eternal Warder,
The most High,
Set, with Time and Rhyme, to order
Earth and Sky!
Lines to Sam Ward.
Being a Plea Against the Lascivious Playing of a Lute.
[Byrne’s Dramatic Times.]
Therefore, chant the Lydian measures,
Mi, sol, fa.
Man the monkey always treasures,
La di da.
Rare enough the rush intruding
Of the few.
Swarms the graceful hoop-de-dooden,
Not to played the ancient player
On the strings;
Neither David nor Isaiah
That way sings.
When the soul had songs of passion
To the Lord,
Whimpering was not the fashion —
“No!” he roared.
With the wrongs upreared gigantic
Of the race,
Not indeed were strophes bacchantic
Then his pace.
Silent heat Apollo reigneth
With his thunder-crash obtaineth
Every inch the lowly maketh
Is a fight.
Every shout of victory shaketh
Every song that won the nations,
Every song that outraged patience,
When the heart its longing chaunteth
On the rack,
Is the one thing that it wanteth