Liberty Vol. II. No. 4.
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.
A postmaster in Colorado, who subscribed to Liberty almost at the start, has been dismissed from his position in consequence of avowing himself an Anarchist.
One of Liberty’s rentiers in the West, who, we believe, has long been a supporter of the “Truth Seeker,” writes as follows: “D. M. Bennett has committed the same wrong concerning Heywood’s arrest that B. F. Underwood committed concerning Bennett’s imprisonment. But let it be said to Mr. Bennett’s credit that he took back in another number of his paper what he said in the previous one.”
Another “bitter fling,” Mr. Bennett!
A circular recently distributed at a meeting of Germans in Faneuil Hall shows what the principle of prohibition will end in if adopted. Emanating from an impertinent society in Cambridge, which we never heard of before, calling itself the “Society for the Reform of the Social Habits of Foreigners,” it seriously proposed the enactment of laws prohibiting the sale, manufacture, importation, and storage of Limburger cheese and sour-crout on aesthetic and sanitary grounds, claiming that these substances are decomposed matter eaten only by persons of depraved taste. Well, it is gratifying to know that some of the world’s fools are logical, at least.
Rev. Dr. F. M. Ellis, pastor of one of the largest Baptist churches in Boston, recently returned from a trip to Europe. The ocean so impressed him that he devoted his first sermon after his arrival to “the works of the Lord and His wonders in the deep.” And this is what he said: “The ocean is wonderful in itself. Its saltness alone is wonderful to think of. How came the ocean salt? Science has tried to explain it, but the explanation is not satisfactory. God made the ocean salt, and that is how it came to be salt.” Parsons are wonderful in themselves. Their freshness alone is wonderful to think of. How came the parsons fresh? Science has never tried to explain it, because parsons are not subjects of scientific interest. Presumably God made the parsons fresh, and that is how they came to be fresh.
The following item, sent to the London “Daily News” by its Naples correspondent, is interesting to all Anarchists and instructive to all who are not: “A workmen’s meeting, called by the Agrarian Committee, was held last Sunday in Intra, to decide upon the manner of accomplishing the planting of 8,000 young trees on the mountains of Premeuo. It was a happy thought to dedicate this plantation, which will in future do its part in preventing the disasters that so often occur in one of the most beautiful Italian provinces, to Garibaldi. The operation of planting is to commence next Sunday, and will be carried on by the operatives on every holiday.” And yet Republicans and universal suffragists hold that there is no disposition on the part of the people to voluntarily perform their public duties, that to perform such good works as the above we must have State Boards of Forestry and other clumsy commissions, and that the whole machinery of the State must be kept in motion to prevent the entire population from shirking. When Anarchy shall prevail, such spontaneous cooperation to increase the public welfare as is now instanced by the Italian laborers will become the order of the day, and the only pariah of the coming social state will be the man who fails to do his part therein.
The examination of E. H. Heywood on the charges preferred against him by Comstock did not occur November 16, but November 23, a postponement to the latter date having been effected. The results thereof will be announced in our next issue. Mr. Heywood has engaged J. F. Pickering, who defended him on his former trial, as senior counsel, and John Storer Cobb as junior counsel. These gentlemen say that they intend to press the right of the jury to judge of the justice of the law; but, as Mr. Pickering failed to do this in the previous case (though such a course was urged upon him), we are not very confident that he will show a bolder front on this occasion. Mr. Heywood seems to have decided to let his lawyer make the final argument instead of summing up the case himself. In our judgment he is thus making his conviction sure. Though Judges Nelson and Lowell, before one of whom the case will probably be tried, are exceptionally fair men,— very different in that respect from the bigoted Judge Clark, who presided at the previous trial,— it is doubtful if either of them would allow a member of the bar to question in open court the right of the judge to dictate the law to the jury, while the widest latitude would have to be allowed a prisoner speaking in his own defence. This reluctance of Mr. Heywood to improve his only opportunity to escape is creating a reluctance among the friends of Liberty to come to his aid pecuniarily, few caring to see their money spent uselessly.
Referring to Mr. Heywood’s arrest, we said in our last number: “In this connection we must express our indignation at the cowardly conduct of D. M. Bennett, editor of the ‘Truth Seeker,’ who prates about Mr. Heywood’s taste and methods. We do not approve of Mr. Heywood’s taste and methods, but neither did we of Mr. Bennett’s, when we did our little best a few years ago to save him from Comstock’s clutches.” Quoting this under the heading, “A Bitter Fling,” Mr. Bennett answers: “Probably our ‘cowardly conduct’ consists in disliking Mr. Heywood’s taste and methods the same as Mr. Tucker does, himself. If we are guilty of cowardly conduct because we disapprove of Mr. Heywood’s taste and methods, how is it with himself? Is he not cowardly at all? Or is it also our ‘prating’ that makes our conduct cowardly?” Mr. Bennett knows very well that the context of our paragraph showed that we spoke of disapproval of Mr. Heywood’s taste only as an additional reason for defending his right to exercise it, and spoke of it incidentally at that, while Mr. Bennett made it the burden of his remarks upon the arrest, saying it as if to make amends for doing so outrageous a thing as supporting a man whose liberties were threatened. The tone pervading his article was so half-hearted and apologetic as to tend to injure Mr. Heywood rather than to help him, and that we are not alone in our “bitter fling” is shown by the rebuking letters which Mr. Bennett’s supporters are sending him.
“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.
Reform It Altogether!
It is amusing to hear the politicians prate of “reform.” Interrogate them, and they will tell you that this reform they have so much at heart lies in the direction of a strict and stern regard for political honesty. The State is to be redeemed. Its affairs are to be put on a sound business basis. Economy is to be fostered. Official integrity is to be required and observed alike in highest and lowest positions. One rule alone shall serve for all appointments: Is he able? Is he honest? And that shall save the country.
Now, it is admitted that, if the “offices” which make up the State establishment were all in the hands of honest and capable men, things would be vastly different from what they at present are,— very much improved, if you please. We have seen, for example, men, exceptional men, who had, so to speak, a genius for integrity, whom no high station could tempt or unman. One purpose animated them: not a new purpose, one assumed for the occasion from “a sense of duty,” but one inseparable from character. Turn to what business they would, they behaved in the simple, straightforward, honest fashion of men on whom it was incumbent to affect nothing, not even virtue. Loving truth, allied to justice, suppressing all prejudice of personal opinion, they sought only to divide the right and the wrong, with full knowledge of facts, by the rule of common sense. The office added no cubit to their stature. They magnified their office. They reduced the office to zero. It became as nothing; they stood in its place, it being simply their natures so to speak and so to do: ’twas the natural office of character, whose
action wore such reverence sweet
As hid all measure of the feat.
In a single word, they were incapable of abusing their power.
“Precisely” exclaims our nimble civil-service reformer, “precisely; and ’tis our mission to see that only such men are selected for office and entrusted with power. That is the reform we inaugurate.”
As we said, if only such men were assigned to official duties,— men who could not help voicing the natural laws of justice,— what you call your State affairs would be vastly improved. But it is that very if which is the stumbling-block over which your idol of the State is destined to break its neck.
The first reason the projected “reform” can not be carried out is that the kind of men referred to are not in market for the State’s service. Though their number were legion, you would be no better off. They would not serve the “bad State.” Why? Because they, by the sheer decree of character, would, must refuse to enter into either the form or the substance of despotic authority. They will decline the office which bribes them with power over their fellowmen. They will reject the State,— the symbol of Force. Official robes they may wear, but only those woven in the free choice of all whom they serve. This is a summons consonant with that due respect for others which freedom enjoins, and with self-respect. The summons of the State is different. Its voice is: “Take power — I will back you —over liberty, life, and property. All is in your (my) keeping. As you (I) will it, so it shall be, dissent the (free) individual never so emphatically. My motto is that of Richelieu: first, ‘use all means to persuade; failing of that, to crush.’” To what a service does this invitation invite? Custom hath dulled the edge of thought and feeling, and made this seem a proper tiling even to numbers who in office would scorn to rely on the State’s forceful backing, as in such cases as we have instanced. But it is Liberty’s mission to help enable such men to see that it is a custom more to be “honored in the breach than in the observance.” We hope to bring home to all such well-disposed men a realization of the true character of the State, to which they by force of habit still lend the benefit of their much wisdom and nobility of character. We intend that they and all shall come to see the State as it is with its mask torn off. We intend, as far as we are able, to make all hear the State’s true confession of its wilful, despotic nature. And we are not alone. Many co-laborers are in the field. Besides, the State itself is tell-tale. “Whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad,” is the nigh worn-out quotation, but serviceable still. The State — the Republican State no less than the Monarchical — is fast attaining that condition of madness which portends destruction. To thousands of fair-minded men it is its own worst accuser. They are “disgusted with polities.” They will not enter the senate; only third and fourth-rate men will join in the presidential race. The best men everywhere are “out of politics,” and for a good reason. If they have not elaborately formulated it, it is there in their natures, and the time is not far distant when the whole reason of their instinctive aversion to the “bad State” will be manifest to themselves and the world.
And so, gentlemen of the State’s Reform Party, apace with your “reform,” outstripping it, goes this more real reform which cries, “Do not reform it indifferently, but altogether.” You are checkmated by a vaster, more sweeping, more sincere reform than you have dreamed of. You demand “honesty and ability” in office? You will find neither at your service. Honesty will not go with you to the wedding of Liberty to Tyranny. And ability — true ability — is not divorced from honesty. The twain go together as one flesh.
Give over, therefore, your puny, false “reform,” and, like stalwart men and brave, cheer for the reform that liberates.
We have advanced to you only our “first reason” why your “reform” is a loolish and mistaken one, but that will here suffice. It is quite enough of itself for all practical purposes. Attend well to it, and, as Emerson sang, so shall you:
Live for friendship, live for love,
For truth’s and harmony’s behoof;
The state may follow as it can,
As Olympus follows Jove.
Those Three Awful Isms.
As the tidings of the death warrant of the old regime of the State begin to be sounded more and more ominously in various parts of the world, a singular confusion of ideas in the popular mind is no more than might be expected. The terms “communism,” “socialism,” and “anarchy” are indiscriminately thrust upon the public mind as though they all meant one thing. The impression sought to be conveyed by that professional falsifier and sensationalist, the newspaper press, is that chaos threatens to be let loose; and, making due allowance for the ignorance of the sensation-catering scribes on great contemporary issues outside of vulgar polities, it is still plain that the main purpose of their drivel is to get up a scare. To this end such terms are most serviceable as are most easily caught up by popular prejudice, and it is supposed that, no matter how unscientifically they are jumbled together, the ordinary reader is too ignorant and uncultivated to notice it. It is enough that a sensation is worked up on him.
“Communism” is the chief handle for the newspapers and pulpits. The “communist” is represented as an idle, thriftless, lazy, vicious fellow, who basks all day in the sun, cursing all manner of useful and industrious people, until his paunch asks for more food and whiskey, when he sallies forth and demands that somebody who has borne the heat and burden of the day shall divine the fruits of his labor with him. Seeing that industrious men who keep the world alive and moving do not willingly submit to this, the “communist” is represented as a social element who proposes to get up an agitation among other loafers of his own ilk, and, aided by threats of dynamite and assassination, compel society to divide its honest savings with his tribe.
That the very cream of editorial and clerical respectability in educated New England should persistently thrust this view of communism before their readers and hearers affords striking evidence of the utter rottenness of the professional conscience which hires itself out to public opinion. As we have repeatedly said, Liberty’s philosophy is utterly opposed to communism, but we hope never to be so lost to decency as to intimate that communism, as defined in sociology, ever anywhere contemplated the lying picture that is currently held up to the public. The very God whom these professional hypocrites profess to worship was an outspoken communist, if his accredited Word is to be believed. Communism is the prevailing system of land tenure in Russia and some other countries to-day. We make bold to differ with God, his agent, the Czar, and all other disciples of communism as to the soundness of their system, but are not mean enough to accuse any of them of fostering the system for the benefit of loafers and idlers. Were the Czar intent on devoting the soil of Russia to the fattening of loafers and idlers, he would long ago have introduced the British system of land tenure, which is especially adapted to that purpose.
Socialism is a somewhat vague term, which, when generalized, may mean any manner of organized system intended to effect better social conditions. The nature and purposes of specific drifts of socialism may be found in numerous works upon that subject, or in the cyclopaedias. But here again the hypocritical hirelings of press and pulpit are constantly fulminating the assertion that socialism means a sweeping levelling of things, so that all may share alike,— the idle and vicious along with the industrious and virtuous. With every phase of socialism that allies itself to the State, or in any way recognizes the State, Liberty is squarely at war, but no socialist of any description ever proposed to saddle the drones and loafers upon the industrious and thrifty. It is the exclusive province of theology and orthodox political economy to do this.
And now, O Anarchism! — the giant scare of all! Behold, the conquering Anarchist comes, loaded with dynamite from top to toe. His nostrils breathe fire, and hideous are his glaring eyes of nitro-glycerine. Compared with him the communist is a harmless babe. This monster wants blood and chaos, and his savage, deadly hand is at every man’s throat.
Such is the ghastly demon that is now being portrayed by the hireling professional cowards of press and pulpit. And yet, as a system, Anarchism has in itself less of aggression and violence than all the others. It does not propose to set up a vivid despotism by force at the side of the ... simply asks to be left to peacefully attend its own business. The Anarchist says: “While communism and socialism propose to set up by force a vivid and antagonistic machine, I have no machine, and am the enemy of all machines. All I want is my Liberty at my own cost; but, humanity having been strangled in the womb of progress for centuries, the time is ripe when he or that which stands denying Liberty must go under,— not in sanguinary vindictiveness, but in pure self-defence. Thou, O Despotism, are the aggressor,— not I!”
The venal press and the hypocritical pulpit orators may whine ami fret, but this new voice of Liberty crying out of the wilderness of despotism will not be silenced, it has come to stay, and the sooner society’s leaders make up their minds to lend an ear to its protest and make their houses in order, the easier the advent of the coming reign of peace, justice, fraternity, and good will, to men. Anarchism favors peace, but knows no peace without Liberty.
One of the most interesting problems of the day (politically speaking) is whether the Democratic party can behave itself long enough after coming into power to keep the Republican thief out of the pantry till hunger drives him permanently into the woods.
Of course it is understood by both parties that politics stands merely for the science of theft. The “great moral issue” is upon the monopoly of theft by a single party for an indefinite period. Believing as we do that the law of justice obtains with equal force, whether among thieves or saints, our sympathies naturally gravitate to the Democratic side of the ethical point involved (if a point can be said to have two sides). If we err here, we shall be obliged to retreat to the more unassailable position that both parties are simply the two arms of one thieving body, the State: each alternately resting and diving down into the people’s pockets. Until the people see this, their pockets will go empty. Cut, when they do see it, the State will be swept away unhesitatingly and perhaps vindictively, no matter what goes with it. Will the thieves take warning in time?
Land Limitation and Taxation.
The following article recently appeared in the “Irish World.”
Editor Irish World:— People, I see, are holding different ideas regarding the phrase, “the nationalization of the land.” Some retain the idea of State property in land and discard the idea of individual property in land. Now, it is very plain to see that, if the individual has no just right to property in land, the State does not justly have that right either, for the right of the State is based upon the right of the individual, as I have before shown in an article in the “Irish World,” entitled, “Unjust Taxation.”
The State has no inherent right. All its rights, duties, powers, and functions are delegated to it by the people; but the people possess these rights by nature. They inhere in the individual.
When we have proved that private property in land is unjust, that fact settles the point, viz., that public property in land is also unjust.
If the State has a just right to sell land, rent land, or buy land, that power was delegated to it by the people, in whom all political power inheres naturally, and denying a power to exist in the individual or in the people that is admitted to exist in the State, is ample proof that the State has usurped a power that is unjust.
“The Land for the People” means the land for those who wish to use it without being the servant to or the master of any other person or persons; to use without paying rent to or exacting rent from other persons.
This means that by some way we are to limit man’s use of the soil to his needs, and thus prevent a monopoly of more land than is needed for industrial use.
No one yet, to my mind, has solved the whole of this problem, but there are several able exponents in land reform that have done very much in the direction of a solution.
“Land Limitation” solves one part of the problem, and in the minds of many it solves the whole problem. But it seems to me that this alone is inadequate. I find those who hold to land limitation do not object to private property so much as to monopoly of land, not seeming to perceive the fact that private property in land leads to monopoly.
Limitation cannot justly extend to any species of property. Man must be free to surround himself with the means to advance to a higher condition; “a pursuit of happiness” has especial reference to this. But land limitation is not property limitation. The right to restrict man to the amount of land accessary for productive use is a power that man can justly delegate to the State, because it is in the very nature of man, for man is bounded in his natural rights by the sphere that bounds others’ rights.
The soil is a natural element, in which man has a natural right to use as his neighbour does; but the right of property in land has been sustained by the State, so that a man’s sphere may reach out and cover the land occupied by a whole people.
This right to invade another’s sphere does not inhere in man, but is often assumed, and even delegated to the State, as at the present time in reference to the use of the land; hence the necessity to discover our natural rights, and those which cannot be carried out or defended by the individual alone must be delegated to the State, and focalized there, where he can draw from a fountain of power commensurate with his necessities for protection.
Man does not surrender a right by conferring a power to the State; he simply helps create a power for the protection of his natural rights by joining, co-operating, with others for a similar purpose.
“Limitation,” then, is a part of the solution of the question of “The Land for the People,” because it is in the very nature of things.
Land tax must also take a part in the solution of this great problem of “The Land for the People.” No other tax can be made to fall equitably upon the people.
All productive industry is based on the land. No person can surround himself with the means of happiness without occupying the land, and hence if the land alone is taxed, no person engaged in productive industry can escape paying his just contribution to the State.
It may be asked, Who would escape taxation? I answer, The sick, the insane, indolent, and those who lived on charity. Would the State lose much tax by this class that it does not lose now? I venture to say that the idle rich escape more taxation on property hid away, and exempted by unjust laws, and by false swearing, than would take to support all the insane and the beggars of this whole country.
What tax some people escape by hiding, bribing, and false swearing, comes out of other people that do not hide, bribe, nor perjure themselves. Our present tax system is a monstrous system, requiring an army of tax-gatherers and assessors, who could not, if they would, enforce the law. Although the law requires them to stick their nose into everybody’s business, it can’t be equitably enforced. Land as a basis of tax would dispense with two-thirds of this army to assess and collect tax, and could be made to fall equitably, because the land could be found and properly assessed to those who occupied it; and this arrangement would prevent all fraud on the part of the occupants of the land.
An article critically commenting on, but mainly approving of, the foregoing, was sent to the “Irish World” some time ago by one of its ablest contributors, Mr. J. K. Ingalls. Though put in type, it has not yet appeared, and the writer has extended to Liberty the privilege of its first production, of which we gratefully avail ourselves. Can it be that the “Irish World” is determined to admit to its spacious columns no further adverse criticism of the lunacies of George and Davitt? Is the great Light-Spreader afraid of the Light?
Editor Irish World:— Permit me to convey to Mr. J. Wood Porter my sincere thanks for his dear and conclusive statement in regard to the necessity of limiting “man’s use of the soil to his needs, and thus prevent monopoly,” and also in respect to the basis of all State or Governmental right depending upon the rights of the individual people.
It seems to me that his positions are unanswerable, and I do not propose to make plainer what he has so clearly shown, that “if private property in land is unjust, public property in land is also unjust.” I am sure he will pardon me for pointing out in a friendly way what to me seem mistakes of detail, into which he would probably not have fallen if he had followed throughout the tendency of his original thought, instead of taking for granted the propositions of accepted writers.
I want to say first, however, in regard to a matter of fact that for more than forty years I have been familiar, and, indeed, to an extent identified, with the land limitation movement, but have never seen an advocate of the doctrine who avowed that “it solves the whole problem.” They have usually held only that it was a fundamental step necessary to any solution whatever of the monopoly problem, as Mr. Porter also clearly shows.
Matters of taxation, social order, etc., are subsequent, and may be employed to complete the movement as wisdom suggests. Provision to sustain government and the social guarantees and to carry out the principles of limitation follow as a matter of necessity. There is no call to antagonize these things with “land limitation.”
I think the statement that “limitation cannot extend to any species of property” is made without sufficient reflection. The abolition of chattel slavery was effected by a limitation of property in living things, placing all human beings except one’s self beyond that limit. It could never have been abolished by any other process.
We greatly need to disabuse ourselves of all that nonsense about absolute property. There is no such thing. We have no such property even in our bones and tissues. They are constantly changed, and the matter of which they are composed is hourly passing beyond our grasp into a “state of Nature” again. Property in our clothes does not give us the right to put them on and lay them aside at pleasure without reference to the immunities we owe to others. We cannot ring our bell or blow our horn to the annoyance of our neighbor; we cannot lawfully maltreat our beast of burden, burn our house, or sell decayed meat or vegetables, notwithstanding we have paid on money for them, and they are our property, and we will be protected in the possession of them and in the use of them within certain limits.
There is no respectable civil code in which the limitations of the right of private property are not co-extensive with its guarantees. And there is no reason why property in land should not be limited to actual occupancy and improvement. If, as Mr. Porter so forcibly shows, leases were held instead of title-deeds, without limitation, the abominations of monopoly would go on just the same, for leases can be trafficked in as well as deeds.
There can be no objection to nationalization of the land, with limitation, because that would give the individual access to what is his natural environment, and to all opportunities for self-employment and self-culture.
To my mind, however, Mr. George’s suggestion of the “townshipization of the land” is far better, as that would give the control to the local government and bring it nearer to the people. Another step, familization, or rather individualization, would be complete; for, when the land was possess by everyone, it would be thoroughly nationalized. In saying this, I have no feeling averse to Socialism; but true Socialism must be voluntary — not coerced. Even in the most complete system of society we can conceive the individual must still have rights and property. He must appropriate food to sustain his life. He must wear clothes which are his. He must, have his private and exclusive apartment, and must have the right to be in some place on God’s earth from which he cannot be evicted by landlord or society.
I fully accord with my friend on the proposition to tax production from the land immediately rather than to tax back rents or have any Government rents. I trust he will more fully develop this idea hereafter. While coercive taxation remains, it were better to have all taxation ... as he suggests than to follow the exhaustive, indirect, and subtle methods now employed, which encourage bribery, false swearing, and all forms of corruption, as he points out.
But we must not forget that nothing but productive labor can be taxed. Land cannot. It can be confiscated and the occupant evicted, but that is not taxation. Property or capital cannot be taxed except by most special and arbitrary assessment, which really are not taxation, but confiscation.
It is true that the author of “Progress and Poverty” discourses learnedly of taxing “lands which are uncultivated” and men who are idlers, but these things are known only in the study of the litterateur. Mr. Davitt even talks of taking the burdens of taxation from the shoulders of labor and placing them on property. Nothing of the kind is possible. The landlord finds no difficulty in shifting the tax from his shoulders to those of his tenant. The tenant even of a store of a $100,000 annual rental finds no difficulty in shifting the whole rent, tax and all, to the shoulders of his customers, and they find as little in shifting it to theirs, and so on, until at last it gets down to the laborers, who produce the wealth from the soil.
There nature detects the counterfeit claim, refuses to honor it, and the burden crushes labor to the ground. Taxation, wherever and on whatever laid, reaches here at last, though it may be somewhat reduced by the broad shoulders of labor along the line employed in various callings. On labor, productive labor alone, it all finally falls, and by no possibility can it be made to fall anywhere else. The sooner the workers of the nation and of the world understand this, the sooner they will organize to remedy the gross imposition under which they now suffer.
New York, October 12, 1882.
Gambetta’s Huge Scare.
Liberty, which, in its last issue, was the first paper in this country to tell the real truth about the troubles in France, was glad to find its statements corroborated and almost literally reiterated a day or two later by Theodore Child, the New York “Sun’s” intelligent Paris correspondent, who wrote as follows:
In arresting Gautier, Crie, and the other “anarchists,” the government committed a gross violation of liberty, and had recourse to the preventive means in vogue during the empire, but which are inadmissible under a republic. There is no reason to believe that the riots of Montceau-les-Mines are due to any other immediate cause than the aggressive bigotry and religious tyranny of the Chagot family, the great local family; there is no reason to believe that an anarchist plot existed or was in course of formation now any more than at any time during the last eighteen months; there is, on the contrary, every reason to believe that this grand revolutionary conspiracy is a fiction invented by an effete cabinet in order to gain prestige. As it is, the cabinet has simply covered itself with ridicule and shame by resuscitating an imaginary spectre for the sake of laying it by a public display of imaginary energy. Furthermore, seeing that nothing could be proved against the miners of Montceau-les-Mines, and that the trial was about to end in nothing at all, the government has caused the case to be adjourned till next session, some three months, during which time the miners will be kept in prison, and their wives and children left to starve. It is the unanimous opinion of the press that this decision is regrettable, stupid, and the condemnation of the Duclere cabinet. Meanwhile arrests are still being made at Amiens, Saint Etienne, and Lyons, and practical jokers are taking advantage of the panic of the bourgeois to spread broadcast anonymous letters, incendiary proclamations, and grotesque posters.
Have We Advanced?
To the Editor of Liberty:
I have just read your leader of the 11th inst, and I feel like the Scotchman’s owl.
You never heard that story: Well, I will relate it.
Sandy (a tailor) promised Jenny to bring her home a parrot from the East Indies.
Base man, he forgot his pledge; so, passing through Aberdeen market, be bought an owl for her instead.
When Jenny received it, she said: “Sandy, that’s not one of the pretty painted green and yellow birds I expected.”
Sandy replied; “We’e’, Jenny, he’s no vera handsome, but look at his e’en: there’s a power of thought in him!”
That’s my case; there was a power of thought in me when I read your article.
I am a naturalized citizen; you are native and to the manor born; yet I love the paper government of the United States, as I find it in our great State documents.
I honor my civil and religious liberties, as I find them in the Constitution, and wish they would come out of it, and go to work.
What a beautiful thought it is that “We, the people of the United States,” ordained that supreme Code of Laws.
There’s no poll tax about that, no property qualifications, both of which Governor-elect Butler very justly lately condemned in Rhode Island.
I doubt that many of the upper ten thousand in Boston wish “his candlestick was removed.”
Then there are my religious liberties in the Constitution,— they also appear to be fixtures in that instrument.
What are they?
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or forbidding the free exercise thereof.”
Now, come on with your Sunday laws, and your Bibles in the schools — let our supreme law sleep —
Like to an o’ergrown lion in a cave
That goes not out for prey!
But, if our country doesn’t heed our laws, other nations do.
The doctrines of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution underlaid the great French Revolution, and have compelled the introduction of universal male suffrage in several great nations in Europe.
The simple statement of man’s right to religious liberty as found in the Constitution, though it be a dead letter here, has broken open the doors of the British House of Commons, and let in the Quaker, the Catholic, and the Jew. It will yet force a way for the freethinker.
For these reasons I consider myself “a child of promise;” and, though I have not received its benefits yet, I hold our American Government to be better than an absolute despotism, that proposes nothing for the good of the people.
I remain yours respectfully,
Robert W. Hume.
Long Island City, N. Y., November 11, 1882.
[Yes, the American government is an advance on the old despotisms, but only on condition that we abandon it for a position further on. Protestantism similarly is an advance on Catholicism, but not so unless we step from it into the full light of Free Thought. The boy who, wishing to cross a brook, stops upon a stepping-stone, advances, but his advance is worse than a retreat if he fails to follow it up till he reaches the opposite bank. The Republican and the Protestant are in the position of the boy standing in the middle of the stream, fondly imagining and triumphantly proclaiming that he has crossed it. But the solid ground of Free Thought and Anarchy are in front of them, and, if they do not see it, the current will sweep them away. Mr. Hume, like many others, one foot on Free Thought and the other on Republicanism, is straddling ungracefully, and, unless he quickly assumes a more dignified and consistent altitude, he is likely to take a ducking with the rest. — Editor Liberty.]
A Tragedy of Terrors.
“Here and there amid the fallacies and ineffectualities of the law, a glimmer of something akin to the truth may be detected,” quoth Max to the Counsellor, as he sat at the desk making pencil marks upon the cover of a volume of the Public Statutes in an apparently abstracted manner.
“You don’t say so!” replied the Counsellor, with the least tinge of irony in his tone. “I am quite surprised to hear it, as I have supposed that you were dissatisfied with the whole arrangement of society and government, and could see no good in any law. So there is a glimmer of sense occasionally discernible in the rules and regulations of civilized society. This is indeed a relief.”
“Yes, now and then; for if there were no truth, no suggestion of justice in law, it could not have endured all these weary years. There is just enough of the salt of truth in it to keep it from becoming altogether putrid and too offensive to be tolerated by the least sensitive human nose. If the laws were us unjust in application as in the principle at the root of all legislation, if the administration of them were palpably wicked, how long, think you, before legislatures and statutes would he abolished? The law, in a dim, half-intentional way to be sure, recognizes the fact that work is the only salvation for man on earth, and that no man who does not work can be trusted to deal justly with his fellows. Dimly, not clearly and fully, I say, does the law perceive this great truth, and get itself enacted in accord therewith. You may have noted that during the French revolution a man came clamoring to the national assembly for ’the arrestment of knaves and dastards’ as the one remedial measure for all the ills of French society. Well, it is all this world needs for the abolishing of poverty, misery, and sin. Accomplish the arrestment of knaves and dastards by whatever means you can, and you may turn your court houses into schools and your prisons into mills for the grinding of other grist than the souls and bodies of men. Carlyle demanded only this and nothing more. The law, perceiving with much obscuration that work is the prime necessity and condition precedent of social safety and order, aims to make it inconvenient for certain persons to be idle and disorderly, and frequently arrests them. The idle man is dangerous, but there is always possibility of good in the man who works, and the better he works the truer man he will be. It is in that arraignment of persons for being idle and disorderly that the light of truth flickers faintly through the fogs of criminal legislation as a beacon afar off. The idle and disorderly person is arrested and compelled to devote himself for a space of time to productive labor and cease his disorder. If government could only see and make men feel the whole truth, do its own work and cease from its own disorder, there would be a result or two worth noting.”
The pencil slowly and half-mechanically traced lines upon the cover of the Public Statutes, and the Counsellor tied knots in his watch-chair and said: “Then it is a good law that discourages idleness and disorder among the dangerous classes, and I don’t see why you qualify your approbation by saying the perception of the saving nature of work is dim in the minds of law-makers or only partially recognized by government. Is it not the constant endeavor of government to arrest all the knaves und dastards?”
“Unhappily I answer, No! The idle and disorderly are more numerous than the law recognizes them to be, and more dangerous, more criminal to any true social order than the poor devils who now and then manage to get themselves arrested and classified as law-breakers. The real knaves and dastards are not the men who do no work and live no other man knows how — or, knowing how, declares to be dishonest and dangerous ways — but those who do no useful thing on God’s green earth and live in luxury upon the produce of other men’s work, the blood and sweat of toiling fellow-creatures. There is no public workhouse, no pauper prison for the monopolist of land, the usurer, the idle dastards who shirk the duty of producing what they consume. Where can you find me a house of correction in which is securely confined and prevented from doing damage a disorderly manipulator of corners in grain, a manufacturer who creates disorder and distress by robbing workmen of their honest wages? Government has not yet discovered, nor will the government by quackocracy ever discover, how to effect the arrestment of knaves and dastards. The law has a faint perception of the truth, but it does not reach and punish the real idle and disorderly, the actually dangerous classes.” And when the Counsellor picked up the Public Statutes, he found that the apparently aimless pencil point had traced dimly upon the cover, “A Tragedy of Terrors.”
M. Reclus and His Daughters.
The union of the two daughters of Elisée Reclus to the lovers of their choice, regardless of the sanction of Church or State, has given rise to a stormy discussion in Europe, and resulted in the publication of the following letter from M. Reclus to Lucien Victor Meunier:
Monsieur,— I am bound to thank you for the words of sympathy which you have spoken regarding the marriage of my daughters, and which very largely compensate for the outrages so contemptible in their source. The approbation of an honest man makes me happy.
Raving done nothing to justify the press in making a purely private act as prey, I have not seen fit to contradict the fantastic tale which called forth all this discussion. But I am bound to tell you personally that I have used no paternal authority in “marrying” my daughters. It has never entered my head that the sacrament of religion and the majesty of the law should have parental authority for their successor. In the fullness of their liberty the young people have chosen, and they asked me to speak only because they saw in me the best and closest of their friends. On them alone fall the responsibility and honor of their acts. This good word for them I am bound to say.
You predict that this example will be followed; I am sure of it, for they are right in seeking the sanction of their conduct, not in the articles of the penal or civil code, but in their conscience. They have done what they thought they ought to do, and forthwith are rewarded by the sympathy of men of heart. As for the insults of the unclean, these also are a reward.
Be so kind, my dear sir, as to accept my respectful salutations.
Paris, October 25, 1882.
Liberty and Free Love.
A recent editorial in “L’Intransigeant,” written by Maurice Talmeyr, ends as follows:
The vice of marriage, as of so many institutions, is its root in the principle of authority, at an epoch and in an era, when authority is gradually disappearing and will inevitably disappear altogether. Divorce destroys marriage, but it destroys it only by cutting into it, as the parliamentary regime cuts into monarchy. It is a sort of constitutional matrimonial regime, with a prospect and possibility of a change of administration. Through all trials, all violence, all reactions, all stupidities, all faults, and all public crimes, we march on to Liberty. And in marching on to Liberty, we march on to free love.