Liberty Vol. III. No. 1.
Not the Daughter but the Mother of Order
What’s To Be Done?
A Romance. By N. G. Tchernychewsky.
A Billet Doux to the Radical Review.
A Vindication of Natural Society:
or, A View of the Miseries and Evils Arising to Mankind from Every Species of Artificial Society, in a Letter to Lord —————. By Edmund Burke
A Vindication of Natural Society.
VIII. Anarchy as Defined by Results.
“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.”
Prometheus writhing on his rock of pain,
With his eternal chain,
And heaven’s fury gnawing at his heart.
In cultured Athens, in yon cell where lies
Old Socrates the Wise:
Drink up the hemlock dregs, and so depart!
At Calvary, on high between the thieves;
Or’neath the pilled sheaves
Of Diocletian’s martyr harvesting.
With Hoes or Jerome on their funeral pyre;
Or gathered from the fire
With Wyckliffe’s dust for world-wide scattering.
In Eliot’s dungeon, or on Chalgrove plain,
Or in the blood of Vane,
Or Harry Marten’s silent burial.
Ask Danton or Marat; press close to hear;
The words of Robespierre:
May he not speak before the axe must fall?
Time wears the name from Kosciusko’s tomb;
Konarski’s fearful doom
But shews new martyrs how they shall succeed.
Where is Bakounine? if alive or dead
Who knoweth? In his stead
What later Pestel answereth our need?
Ruffini’s sad inheritance;
The Bandleras’ chance;
Mazzini’s patient waiting — Waiting yet.
Who whisper’d it, returning sadly slow
From Calvary? And now
We look on our dead friend; our eyes are wet.
O martyr pains and tears and hopes sublime!
Though ye be mock’d by Time,
Shall we esteem your efficacy less?
Is sacrifice. So lay me in the tomb;
And let some perfect bloom
Grow thence, for God to pluck and call Success.
1853. W. J. Linton
Gradually Discovering Truth.
The two-faced attitude of the San Francisco “Truth” proves itself once more, most strikingly, in the September number, just appeared. The portrait of Michael Bakounine adorns the first page, after which comes the most indiscriminate praise of Marx, his bitterest, meanest enemy. To the Socialistic Workingmen’s Party six full pages are devoted, covered with praises of its mistakes. Along with this, the International Workingmen’s Association receives a pleasant, hearty puff. Herrman Stellmacher is commented on in three lines which say nothing, while the rest is filled with a heap of, for the most part, meaningless paragraphs. The self-interest of the advocate who edits the San Francisco “Truth,” his aim to make money and to keep friendship with each and every one, makes up the whole drift of this pseudo-revolutionary journal. Hoping this is the last number of this humbug paper, we warn the workingmen against such friends.
On Picket Duty.
Send in your orders for the bound copies of the second volume.
I have been so delayed in the publication of this issue of Liberty that I date it a week later than I otherwise should have done, and shall publish the next issue a fortnight from the date of this one.
“Edgeworth’s” article in the “Truth Seeker” of October 11, entitled “The New Land Projects,” is one of the best and most original criticisms of Henry George’s proposal to nationalize the land that has ever appeared in print.
The course of the “Irish World” in supporting Blaine has driven Thomas Ainge Devyr, the veteran land reformer, from its staff, and he has started a new paper called “Light.” I think “Heat” would have been a more appropriate title. Either Patrick Ford’s skin is uncommonly tough and thick, or his back has become one broad and burning blister under the withering wrath which Mr Devyr pours upon his apostasy. But I can hardly vouch for the illuminating quality of a journal that in behalf of labor supports one of its chief plunderers, Benjamin F. Butler.
Candidate St. John, says in his letter of acceptance: “If we want an honest, sober government, we must have an honest, sober people, and we can never have an honest, sober people so long as the government sanctions that which makes its citizens dishonest, drunken, and corrupt.” Between these two impossibilities the outlook for honesty and sobriety is disheartening indeed. This is the most perfect specimen of circular logic that I ever came across in print. Its curvature is absolutely flawless. As a gentleman to whom I read the sentence said: “It is Giotto out-Giottoed.” The Prohibitory candidate is evidently worthy of his party. As the latter in its platform made God the source of governmental power and then condemned all opponents of the Declaration of Independence which makes the people the source of all just governmental power, so the former in his letter makes the honesty of the government depend on the honesty of the people, and the honesty of the people depend on the honesty of the government. But how can people who place their faith in compulsion and force be expected to know anything of reason and right?
No man ever fought the principle of liberty with greater [seeming] bitterness than Edmund Burke. All the more surprising is it that he ever could have written the essay, “A Vindication of Natural Society,” which is begun on another page. It was the first work that he published, and is a remarkably strong attack, not simply upon governments, but upon government itself. Later, when he found it necessary to the attainment of his ambition to turn his coat, he did so, and affected to treat his early work as a piece of irony. But the claim is an absurd one, though the world allowed it. There never was a soberer argument. “As a satire,” says John Morley, “the piece is a failure, for the simple reason that the substance of it might well pass for a perfectly true, no less than a very eloquent, statement of social blunders and calamities.” Whatever the author’s intentions, the effect is the same. Allowing that his purpose was ironical, his reasoning is none the less acute and unassailable. Therefore Liberty resurrects this work to embody it in the Anarchistic propaganda.
A new Anarchistic weekly has been started in Paris called “Terre et Liberté” (Land and Liberty). The subscription price, including foreign postage, is $1.75 per year. Address “Duprat, 160, Rue Montmartre, Paris.”
It is to be regretted that the “Radical Review” finds itself compelled to publish at irregular intervals for a time because of lack of support. One of the few thoroughly honest journals, it speaks its mind regardless of consequences. There is never the slightest indication of a tendency on the part of its editors to cater to their subscribers’ prejudices. Of such a paper one may hope much. So, with the same earnestness that I would plead for Liberty in danger, I urge all true radicals to extend a helping hand to the brave Mr. and Mrs. Schumm now struggling to keep their excellent journal afloat.
The American groups of the International Working People’s Association are rapidly increasing in number and growing in influence, and, though a good many of them are groping about in a fog, they are doing much good, especially in those centres where they have began the publication of a journal. There ought to be an Anarchistic paper in every large city in the United States. The Philadelphia “Zukunft,” the New York “Freiheit,” the San Francisco “Truth,” the Chicago “Budoucnost,” and the Chicago “Arbeiter-Zeitung” (a daily with a weekly edition called the “Vorbote”) are papers representing various; degrees of Anarchism, supported, where not self-supporting, by International groups. There are no regularly organized groups in Boston or in Valley Falls, Kansas, but each of these places has, the one its “Liberty,” and the other its “Lucifer,” published in truest Anarchistic fashion, or individuals with the spontaneous co-operation of friends. The list is growing fast. The latest addition to it is the Chicago “Alarm,” a little more than half as large as Liberty but published twice as often, the price being $1.50 per year. (All subscriptions may be addressed to “A. R. Parsons, 107 Fifth Avenue, Chicago, Illinois.”) The first number was issued October 4, and its contents are in the main very gratifying to earnest thinkers and revolutionists. It has not developed distinctly its positive side as yet, but I am glad to find thus far no trace of State socialism in its editorial utterances, while there are many keen and bold expressions of Anarchistic principles. In short, it seems to have the true ring. The one disagreeable feature I find is the prices it sets on some of the books which it advertises. For instance, it buys “God and the State” of me at wholesale for ten cents per copy, postage paid, and retails it at twenty-five, while I retail it for fifteen. For “An Anarchist on Anarchy,” which I retail at ten cents, it pays me seven cents including postage, and then sells it at fifteen. A pretty healthy profit for Socialists to charge! Of course it is for my interest that the “Alarm” should follow this course, for it enables me to sell more books at retail than I could if the “Alarm” sold them as cheaply as I do, but none the less I dislike to see it. Since writing the foregoing the second number of the “Alarm” has arrived. While, like the first, it abounds in sayings bright and brave and keen and true, it spoils all its support of liberty by opposing the private ownership of capital. Pray, what are all other liberties worth without the liberty to own tools?
What’s To Be Done?
A Romance. By N. G. Tchernychewsky.
Translated by Benj. R. Tucker.
Continued from No. 52.
“‘Of the Russian faith. What a question!’
“‘And you belong to no sect?’
“‘To none; but what put that idea into your head?’
“‘This, Mistress (I do not know whether I am to call you Madame or Mademoiselle),— do you live with Monsieur your husband?’
“She smiled: ‘Certainly,’ said she.”
“She smiled, and answered: ‘Certainly.’
“‘Why, then, this habit of never seeing him half dressed, as if you were not united?’
“‘In order,’ she answered, ‘not to exhibit ourselves in unbecoming garb. As for sect, there is none.’
“‘What, then, does this signify?’
“‘We act in this way in order that there may be more love and fewer quarrels.’”
“But that seems to be correct, Petrovna; they are very reserved toward each other.”
“She further said to me: ‘I do not wish others to see me too carelessly dressed; now, I love my husband more than I love others; therefore it is not fitting that I should appear before him without first washing myself.’”
“And that, too, has an air of truth, Petrovna; why do we covet our neighbors’ wives? Because we always see them dressed up. while we see our own in careless array. So it is said in the proverbs of Solomon, He was a very wise king.”
All went well, then, at the Lopoukhoffs’. Véra Pavlovna was always gay. But one day—about five months after their marriage — Dmitry Serguéitch, on returning from one of his pupils, found his wife in a somewhat inexplicable humor; her eyes shone with pride as well as joy. Then Dmitry Serguéitch remembered that for some days past she had shown signs of an agreeable restlessness, a smiling thoughtfulness, a gentle pride.
“Something pleasant seems to have come to you, my friend; why do you not let me share it?”
“Indeed, I believe I have reason to be joyful, dear friend, but wait a little while: I will tell you about it as soon as I feel sure of it. It will be a great joy for us both, and will also please Kirsanoff and the Mertzaloffs.”
“But what is it, then?”
“Have you forgotten our agreement, my darling? Do not question. As soon as it is a sure thing, I will tell you.”
A weak passed.
“My darling, I am going to tell you my joy. I need only your advice: you are an expert in these things. For a long time I have wanted to do something useful, and I have conceived the plan of establishing a dressmaker’s shop; is that a good idea?”
“It is agreed that I am not to kiss your hand, but that referred only to general situations; under such circumstances as the present no agreement holds. Your hand, Véra Pavlovna.”
“Later, my darling, when I have succeeded.”
“When you have succeeded, not to me alone will you give your hand to kiss; Kirsanoff, Alexey Petrovitch, and everybody will demand the privilege. Now I am alone, and your intention of itself is worth the kiss.”
“If you do me violence, I will cry out.”
“Well, cry out.”
“You make me ashamed of myself, and I will have nothing more to say to you.”
“Is it, then, very important?”
“Indeed it is, and that is why we talk all the time and do nothing.”
“And you, who commenced later than any of us, are the first to begin action.” Vérotchka had hidden her face in her husband’s breast.
“Too much praise, my dear friend.”
“No, you have a wise mind.”
Her husband kissed her.
“On, stop! No one can say a word to you.”
“Very well; say on, my good Vérotchka.”
“Do not call me that.”
“Then I will say my wicked Vérotchka.”
“Listen, Mr. Impertinence! The most important thing now, in my opinion, is first to make a prudent choice of honest working-girls, industrious servants of proven steadiness of character, dreading quarrels and capable of choosing others.”
“I have found three young girls satisfying these conditions; but how I have had to search for the last three months, how I have been through the stores, making acquaintances, until at last I have found what I wanted and am sure of my choice!”
“They must also understand business management; the house must be self-sustaining and the business must be successful in a commercial sense.”
“Not otherwise, it is needless to say.”
“What else is there upon which advice is needed?”
“What are the details? You probably have thought of everything already, and will govern yourself by circumstances. The important thing now is the principle, character, and skill. Details settle themselves, in accordance with the conditions of each special case.”
“I know it; nevertheless. I shall feel more confident having your approval.”
They talked for a long time. Loupoukhoff found nothing to correct in his wife’s plan, but to herself the plan developed itself more clearly as she told it.
The next day Lopoukhoff carried to the “Journal of Police” an advertisement announcing: Véra Pavlovna Lopoukhoff does sewing and laundry-work at a moderate price.
The same morning Véra Pavlovna called upon Julie. “She does not know my present name; say Mademoiselle Rosalsky,” said she to the servant.
“You come to see me without a veil, your face exposed; you give your name to the domestic: why, this is madness! You will ruin yourself, dear child!”
“Oh, now I am married, and I can go everywhere and do as I like.”
“And if your husband should find it out?”
“In an hour he will be here.”
Julie plied her with questions about her marriage. She was enchanted, she kissed her, weeping all the while. When her enthusiasm had at last quieted down, Véra Pavlovna spoke of the object of her visit.
“You know that we remember old friends only when we need them. I have a great favor to ask of you. I am about to establish a dressmaker’s shop. Give me your orders and recommend me to your friends. I sew well, and my assistants are equally good seamstresses; you know one of them.”
Indeed, Julie did know one of them as an excellent needle-woman.
“Here are some samples of my work. I made this dress myself. See how well it fits!”
Julie examined very carefully the cut of the dress and its scams, and the examination satisfied her.
“You ought to be very successful; you have talent and taste. But to that end you need a tine store on the Nevsky.”
“In time I shall have one, be sure; meantime I take orders at my house.” These things arranged, they returned to the subject of Vérotchka’s marriage.
“Storechnikoff led a very dissipated life for a fortnight, but afterward became reconciled to Adéle. I am very glad for Adéle: he is a good fellow; only it is a pity that Adéle has no character.”
Started in this direction, Julie launched into gossip about Adéle’s adventures and those of others.
Now that Mademoiselle Rosalsky was no longer a young girl, Julie did not deem it necessary to restrain herself. At first she talked reasonably; then, as her excitement increased, she painted orgies glowingly and in colors more and more licentious. Véra Pavlovna became confused, but, Julie did not notice it; then, recovering from her first impression, Véra Pavlovna listened with that pitiful interest with which one examines a dear face disfigured by disease. Lopoukhoff came, and Julie for a moment transformed herself into a woman of society, serious and full of tact. But she could not play that role long. After congratulating Lopoukhoff on having so beautiful a wife, she again became excited.
“We must celebrate your marriage.”
She ordered an impromptu breakfast, to be washed down with champagne. Vérotchka had to drink half a glass in honor of her marriage, half a glass in honor of her workshop, and half a glass to the health of Julie herself. Her head began to turn, and she and Julie became terribly noisy, Julie pinched Vérotchka, and began to run; Vérotchka started after her: they ran through the apartments, leaping over chairs; Lopoukhoff sat in his arm-chair, laughing; Julie presumed to boast of her strength, which brought all this tumult to an end:
“I will lift you with one hand.”
“You will not lift me.”
Beginning to struggle, both of them fell on the sofa, and, not wishing to rise, began to shout and laugh; finally they went to sleep.
It was a long time since Lopoukhoff had found himself in a situation where he did not know what to do. Should he waken them? He feared lest he might bring the joyous interview to a disagreeable ending. He rose carefully, and took a few steps about the room in search of some book. He fell upon the “Chronicles of the Œil de Bœuf,” a cook beside which that of Faublas is insipid. Lopoukhoff extended himself comfortably upon the sofa at the other end of the room, began to read, and in less than a quarter of an hour was asleep himself.
Two hours later Pauline came to waken Julie; it was dinner-time. They sat down to the table alone, without Serge, who had been invited to some public dinner; Julie and Vérotchka again began to shout and laugh. Then they became calm and resumed a serious attitude. Suddenly Julie asked Vérotchka (the idea had not occurred to her before) why she established a workshop. If she desired to get money, it would be much better to become an actress or even a singer; her voice was a very fine one. Upon that they seated themselves anew. Vérotchka told her plans, and Julie’s enthusiasm revived; congratulations followed fast upon each other, mingled with eulogistic exclamations. She, Julie Letellier, was a lost woman, but she could appreciate virtue; finally she began to weep and embrace Vérotchka, whom once more she overwhelmed with praises and good wishes.
Four days later Julie carried Véra Pavlovna a large number of orders of her own and the addresses of some of her friends from whom she might also receive orders. She took Serge with her, saying to him: “We cannot do otherwise; Lopoukhoff came to see me, you must return his visit.”
Julie acted like a positive woman, and her enthusiasm did not cease, so that she stayed at the Lopoukhoffs’ a long time.
There were no walls there, but thin partitions; everything could be heard, and she was on the lookout. She was not enraptured, but she was moved. After having examined all the details of the Lopoukhoffs’ somewhat meagre life, she saw that that was precisely the way to live, that there is no true life otherwise, that real happiness is possible only where there is no luxury; she even announced to Serge that they would go to Switzerland and live in a little cottage amid the fields and mountains on the shore of a lake, there to love each other, fish, and cultivate their little garden. Serge replied that he was of her mind, but that he would like to wait to see what she would think of the matter a few hours later.
The noise of Julie’s elegant carriage and fine horses made a great impression upon the dwellers in the fifth line between the Moyenne and the Petite Perspective, where nothing like it had been seen since the clays of Peter the Great, if not since a period still more remote. Many watched the surprising phenomenon, and saw it stop near the carriage gate (which was closed) of a one-story wooden house with seven windows; they saw get out a phenomenon more wonderful still, a young woman splendid and brilliant, an officer whose bearing was of the most dignified. They were greatly disappointed when the carriage gate opened and the vehicle entered the court; public curiosity was thus deprived of a sight, of the stately officer and the still more stately lady on their departure.
When Danilytch came home after his day’s work, he had the following interview with his wife:
“Danilytch, it appears that our tenants belong to high society. A general and his wife have been to see them. The general’s wife was dressed so richly that her toilet is indescribable. The general wore two stars!”
How could Pétrovna have seen stars on Serge, who as yet had none, and who, if he had any, would not have worn them on his excursions with Julie? That is very astonishing. But she did really see them, she was not mistaken, she was not lying. It is not only she that says it; I, too, answer for its truth; she saw them. We know that there were none there; but Serge’s aspect was such that, from Petrovna’s standpoint, it was impossible not to see two stars on him. Pétrovna saw them. I affirm it seriously.
“And what a livery their footman had, Danilytch! Of English cloth at live roubles an archine. And this footman, though grave, was nevertheless polite; he answered when questioned; he even allowed you to feel of the cloth of his sleeve. What good cloth! It is plain that they have plenty of money to throw put of the window. They stayed about two hours, and our tenants talked with them very simply, just as I do with you for instance, and did not salute them, and laughed with them; our tenant and the general simply sat back in their arm-chairs and smoked. Once, our tenant’s cigarette having gone out, he took the general’s to relight it. And with what respect the general kissed the hand of our tenant’s beautiful wife! It is past description. What do you think of all this. Dainlytch?”
“Everything comes from God, that is what I think; acquaintances of all sorts and relatives, all come from God.”
“It is true, Danilytch. Everything comes from God, there is nothing else to say. For my part this is what I think,— that our tenant, or his wife, is the brother, or sister, of the general, or of the general’s. And, to tell the truth, I am nearly convinced that she is the general’s sister.”
“Are you very sure, Pétrovna? I do not believe it. If such were the case, they would have money.”
“That can be explained, Danilytch. Either the mother or the father may have had her outside of marriage. The face is quite different; there is no resemblance there.”
That may be it, Pétrovna,— outside of marriage. Such things happen.”
Thanks to this adventure, Pétrovna acquired for four whole days a great importance at the grocery which she was accustomed to frequent. For three whole days this grocery drew a portion of the trade of the neighboring grocery. Pétrovna, devoting herself to the interest of public instruction, even neglected her mending a little during this time in order to satisfy those who had a thirst for knowledge.
All this had results. A week later Pavel Konstantinytch appeared at his son-in-law’s. Maria Alexevna obtained information about the life of her daughter and her rascal of a son-in-law, not in a constant and careful way, but from time to time and out of pure curiosity. One of her friends, a gossip of the lowest rank, who lived in the island of Vassilievsky, was charged with inquiring about Véra Pavlovna, whenever she happened to pass that way. The gossip brought her information sometimes once a month, sometimes oftener, according to circumstances. The Lopoukhotfs live on good terms. They do nothing extraordinary, the only thing remarkable being that they are visited by a great many young people, all of them men and modestly dressed. It cannot be said that they live richly; nevertheless they have money. Very far from selling anything, they buy. She has made two silk dresses for herself. They have bought a sofa, a table, and a half-dozen second-hand arm-chairs for forty roubles, which were worth perhaps a hundred. They have given their proprietors notice to look for new tenants in a month, for then they intend to move into their furnished apartments,— “though remaining grateful to you for your civility,” they added. The proprietors of course said that on their side the feeling was the same.
Maria Alexevna was happy to hear this news. She was a very brutal and very bad woman; she tortured her daughter, she would have killed her if she had found it to her advantage, she cursed her as she thought of the ruin of her plan for adding to her riches; all that was true, but did it follow that she had no love for her daughter? Not at all. The affair over and her daughter irrevocably escaped from her hands, what had she to do? Whatever falls into the trench is for the soldier. Vérotchka was none the less her daughter; and now, in case of need, Véra Pavlovna might readily be useful to Maria Alexevna. The mother therefore sincerely wished her daughter well. There was nothing peculiar about this affection; Maria Alexevna did not watch her carefully; what she did was simply for form’s sake, to satisfy the what-will-people-say consideration, and to show that Véra was really her daughter. Why not become reconciled? Especially since the brigand son-in-law, according to all accounts, is a positive man, with whom one may in time do something. So Maria Alexevna gradually came to the conclusion that it would be better to renew her relations with her daughter. It would have taken six months longer and perhaps even a whole year to reach this result; for there was nothing pressing, and time enough ahead. But the news about the general and his wife suddenly advanced matters at least one-half. The brigand had indeed shown himself shrewd enough. He, a poor devil of a student who had left college without a degree, with two sous in his pocket, had formed a friendship with a young general; he had also made his wife a friend of the general’s wife; such a man will go far. Or else Véra has formed a friendship with the general’s wife, and has made her husband a friend of the general. What is the difference? That would simply show that Véra may go far.
So, as soon as the visit was known, the father was sent to tell his daughter that her mother had pardoned her, and that she was invited to the house.
Véra Pavlovna and her husband went back with Pavel Konstantinytch and remained a portion of the evening. The interview was cold and formal. Fédia was the principal subject of conversation, because the least thorny subject. He was at school, Maria Alexevna having been persuaded to place him at boarding-school; Dmitry Serguéitch promised to go to see him, and holidays he was to spend at Véra Pavlovna’s. Thus they managed to kill time until the tea-hour; then they hastened to separate, the Lopoukhoffs pretending that they were expecting visitors that evening.
For six months Véra Pavlovna had been breathing a vivifying air. Her lungs had already become completely unaccustomed to the atmosphere of strategy, in which every word was uttered with a pecuniary end in view; her ear was no longer used to the discussion of swindling schemes and vile conspiracies. As a result this return to the cellar made a horrible impression on her. This corruption, this triviality, this cynicism struck her like a new thing.
How did I help succumbing in such surroundings? How was I able to breathe in that cellar? And not only did I live there, but I kept my health! Incomprehensible thing! How could I have been brought up there, and still acquire a love of the good? It is incredible!” thought Véra Pavlovna, on returning to her apartments, with that sense of comfort which one feels on breathing freely after having been stifled.
Shortly after their arrival their accustomed visitors came,— namely, Alexey Pétrovitch with Natalia Andrevna, and Kirsanoff; they passed the evening as usual. What a new pleasure Véra Pavlovna felt after this interview in living amid pure ideas and in the society of pure people! The conversation was, as usual, now gay and mingled with souvenirs, now serious and upon all imaginable subjects, including the historical events of that day, such as the civil war in the Caucasus (the prologue of the great war now going on between the South and the North in the United States, which in its turn is the prologue of events still greater and of which the scene will not be America only). Now everybody talks politics, but at that time those interested in them were few in number; of this small number were Lopoukhoff, Kirsanoff, and their friends. They even entered into the discussions then prevailing of Liebig’s theory of agricultural chemistry, as well as the laws of historical progress, a subject never forgotten in such circles. They concerned themselves also with the importance of distinguishing real desires which seek and find satisfaction from whimsical desires which it is impossible and unnecessary to satisfy. For example, when one has a hot fever, he is always thirsty, but the only truly desirable satisfaction is not in drink but in cure. The unhealthy condition of the system provokes artificial desires while changing normal desires. Besides this fundamental distinction then put forward by anthropological philosophy, they went into other analogous subjects, or,in different, subject leading back to the same point. The ladies also from time to time took part in these scientific discussions conducted in a simple fashion; they sometimes asked questions; but as a general thing they did not listen, and had even been known to sprinkle Lopoukhoff and Alexey Pétrovitch with clean water when they seemed too much impressed with the great importance of mineral manure. But Alexey Pétrovitch and Lopoukhoff discussed their favorite subjects with an invincible tenacity; Kirsanoff did not aid them much; he generally took the ladies’ side, and all three played and sang and laughed until a late hour, when, fatigued, they would at last succeed in separating the indefatigable zealots of serious conversation.
III. Vera Pavlovna’s Second Dream.
Véra Pavlovna, sleeping, saw a field in a dream; her husband — that is, her darling — said: “You wish to know, Alexey Pétrovitch, why one sort of soil produces the good, the pure, the delicate wheat, and why another sort does not produce it? You shall account for this difference yourself. See the root of this fine ear; around the root there is soil, but fresh soil, pure soil, you might say; smell of it; the odor is damp and disagreeable, but there is no mouldy or sour smell. You know that in the language of our philosophy that is real soil. It is dirty, to be sure; but look at it closely, and you will see that all the elements of which it is composed are healthy. This is the soil that they constitute in this combination; but let the disposition of the atoms be a little changed, and something different will result; and this something will be equally healthy, since the fundamental elements are healthy. What in the reason of that? Look closely at this portion of the field; you see that there is an outlet for the water, so that there can be no putridity.”
“Yes, motion is reality,” said Alexey Pétrovitch, “because motion is life. Now, the principal element of life is labor, and consequently the principal element of reality is labor, and the characteristic by which it can be most surely recognized is activity.”
“Thus, Alexey Pétrovitch, if the sun should warm this soil and the heat should displace the elements and form them into more complex chemical combinations,— that is, combinations of a higher degree,— then the ear which would grow out of this soil would be a healthy ear?”
“Yes, because this is real soil,” said Alexey Pétrovitch.
“Now, let us pass to this part of the field. Here take likewise a plant, and examine in the same way its root. This too is dirty. Look well at this soil. It is not difficult to see that this is putrescent soil.”
“That is, abnormal soil,” said Alexey Pétrovitch.
“I mean, the elements of this soil being unhealthy, it is natural that, whatever their combination and whatever the resulting product, this product must be in a state of corruption.”
“Evidently, since the elements themselves are unhealthy,” said Alexey Pétrovitch.
“It is not difficult for us to discover the cause of this corruption.”
“That is, this abnormal putridity,” said Alexey Pétrovitch.
“That’s it; examine this part of the field again. You see that the water, having no outlet, stagnates and rots.”
“Yes, absence of motion is absence of labor,” said Alexey Pétrovitch, “for labor appears in anthropological analysis as the fundamental form of motion, the form which is the basis of all the other forms,— distraction, rest, games, amusements; without labor preceding them these forms would not be real. Now, without motion there is no life,— that is, no reality; consequently this soil is abnormal,— that is, rotten. Not until modern times was it known how to make such parts of the earth healthy; now the way has been found in drainage; the superfluous water flows away, and there remains only just what is necessary; this moves, and thus makes the fields healthy. But, as long as this means is not employed, the soil remains abnormal,— that is, rotten; under these conditions it cannot produce good vegetation, while it is very natural that real soil should produce good plants, since it is healthy. Which was to be demonstrated; o-e-a-a-dum, as they say in Latin.”
How do they say in Latin: “Which was to be demonstrated.” Véra Pavlovna could not clearly understand this.
“You seem to like kitchen Latin and the syllogism, Alexey Pétrovitch,” said her “darling,” — that is, her husband.
Véra Pavlovna approached them and said:
“Enough of your analyses, identities, and anthropologisms. Vary your conversation a little, gentlemen, I beg of you, in order that I may join in it; or, rather, let us play.”
“Let us play,” said Alexey Pétrovitch: “let us confess.”
“Let us confess, that will be amusing,” said Véra Pavlovna: “but, as you started the idea, it is for you to set the example.”
“With pleasure, my sister,” said Alexey Pétrovitch: “but how old are you? Eighteen, are you not?”
“But not quite; we will say eighteen, then, and confess, all of us, up to that age, for we must have equality of conditions. I will confess for myself and for my wife. My father was the sexton in the chief town of a government where he followed the trade of bookbinder, and my mother rented rooms to theological students. From morning till night they did nothing but talk and worry about our daily bread. My father was inclined to drink, but only when poverty bore too heavily and painfully upon him or when the income was more than sufficient: in the latter case he would bring my mother all the money and say to her: “Now, my little mother, we have, thank God, all we shall need for two months; and I have kept a Poltinnitchek with which to drink a little drop in honor of this joyful occasion.” To him it was a real happiness. My mother got angry very often, and sometimes beat me, but this was at times when, as she said, she had lamed her back by lifting too many iron pots, or by doing the washing for us five and the five students, or by scrubbing the floor soiled by our twenty feet without galoches, or by taking care of the cow; in short, it was because of excessive nervous fatigue occasioned by wearing and ceaseless labor. And when, with all that, ‘the two ends did not meet,’ as she expressed it,— that is, when there was no money with which to buy boots for her sons and shoes for her daughters,— then it was that she beat us. She caressed us also when, though children, we offered to aid her in her labor, or when we did something intelligent, or when she got a rare moment of rest and her back became limber, as she said. To us those were real joys.” . . .
To the devil with your real sorrows and joys!” said Véra Pavlovna.
Well, then, in that case, condescend to listen to my confession for Natacha.”
“I do not wish to listen; she has similar real joys and sorrows, I am sure.”
“You are perfectly right.”
“But you will be pleased, perhaps, to hear my confession,” said Serge, mysteriously making his appearance.
“Let us see,” said Véra Pavlovna.
“My parents, although they were rich, did nothing but worry and talk about money; rich people are no more exempt from such anxieties” . . .
You do not know how to confess, Serge,” said Alexey Pétrovitch, in an amiable tone: “tell us why they worried about money, what the expenses were that tormented them, what were the needs that it embarrassed them to satisfy.”
“I well understand why you ask me that,” said Serge, “but let us lay that subject aside and view their thoughts from another standpoint. They, too, were anxious about their children.”
“Were their children sure of their daily bread?” asked Alexey Pétrovitch.
“Certainly, but it was necessary to look out that” . . .
“Do not confess, Serge!” said Alexey Pétrovitch: “we know your history; care of the superfluous, preoccupation with the useless,— that is the soil out of which you have grown; it is an abnormal soil. Just look at yourself; you are by birth a fairly intelligent and very polite man; perhaps you are no worse or more stupid than we are; but what are you good for, for what are you useful?”
“I am good to escort Julie wherever she wishes to go, I am useful to Julie in helping her to lead a dissipated life,” answered Serge.
“Thereby we see,” said Alexey Pétrovitch, “that the abnormal unhealthy soil” . . .
“Ah, how you weary me with your realism and our abnormalism! They know that it is incomprehensible, and yet they never stop talking about it!” said Véra Pavlovna.
“Then you do not wish to talk a little with me?” said Maria Alexevna, also appearing mysteriously: “you, gentlemen, withdraw, for mother wishes to speak with daughter.”
Everybody disappeared, and Vérotchka found herself face to face with Maria Alexevna. Maria Alexevna’s countenance assumed a scornful expression.
“Véra Pavlovna, you are an educated person; you are so pure, so noble,” said Maria Alexevna in a tone of irony; “you are so good; am I, a gross and wicked drunkard, the person to be talking to you? You, Véra Pavlovna, have a bad mother; but tell me, if you please, Madame, about what this mother has been troubled? About daily bread; that is what, in your learned language, is called the real, the veritable human anxiety, is it not? You have heard bad words; you have seen wicked and corrupt conduct; but tell me, if you please, what the object was. Was it a futile, a senseless object? No, Madame. No, whatever the life of your family, it was not a futile, whimsical life. See, Véra Pavlovna, I have acquired your learned style. But you are ashamed and distressed at having so bad a woman for a mother? You would like it if I were good and honest? Well, I am a sorcerer, Véra Pavlovna, I know how to use magic; therefore I can realize your desire. Condescend to look; your desire is fulfilled: your wicked mother has disappeared; there is a good mother with her daughter; look!”
A room. Near the door snores a dirty drunken man. What is this,— he is unrecognizable, his face being covered half by his hand and half by bruises. A bed. On the bed lies a woman,— yes, it is she, it is Maria Alexevna, but the good Maria Alexevna! Further, she is pale, decrepit at the age of forty-five, worn out! Near the bed is a young girl of about eighteen; yes, it is you, Vérotchka, yourself, but in what rags! What does this mean? You are so yellow and your features so gross, and the room itself is so poor! Of furniture there is almost none.
“Vérotchka, my friend, my angel,” says Maria Alexevna: “lie down a little while; rest yourself, my treasure; why do you look at me? It is wholly unnecessary. This is the third night that you have not slept.”
“That is nothing, Mamma; I am not tired,” says Vérotchka.
“And I feel very sick, Vérotchka; what will become of you when left without me? Your father’s earnings are small, and he is a poor support for you. You are pretty; there are many wicked people in the world. There will be nobody to put you on your guard. How I fear for you!”
“My dear child, do not take offence; I do not mean to reproach you, but simply to put you on your guard: why did you go out Friday, the day before I fell so seriously ill?”
“He will deceive you, Vérotchka; abandon his company.”
Two months later. How two months have slipped away in a single moment! On a chair is seated an officer. On the table in front of the officer a bottle, and it is she, Vérotchka, upon the officer’s knees!
Two months more slip by in a moment.
On a sofa is seated a lady. Before the lady stands Vérotchka.
“And do you know how to iron, Vérotchka?”
“Yes, I know how.”
“What are you, my dear, a serf or free?”
“My father is an office-holder.”
“Then you are of gentle birth, my dear? I cannot take you. What kind of a servant would you make? Go, my dear, I cannot take you.”
Vérotchka is in the street.
“Mamzelle, mamzelle!” says some drunken youth, “where are you going? I will escort you.”
Vérotchka runs to throw herself into the Néva.
“Well, my dear child, how do you like having such a mother?” said the old, the real Maria Alexevna: “am I not clever in the use of magic? Why are you silent? Have you no tongue? But I will make you speak just the same. Have you been in the stores much?”
“Yes,” said Vérotchka, all of a tremble.
“Have you seen, have you heard?”
“Is their life honorable? Are they educated? Do they read old books, do they dream of your new order of things, of the way in which men may be made happy? Do they dream of it? Speak out!”
Vérotchka, trembling, said not a word.
“You have lost your power of speech, it seems to me. Is their life honorable, I ask you?”
Vérotchka maintained her silence and felt a shudder.
“You have then really lost your power of speech? Is their life honorable? Are they virtuous young girls, I ask you again? Would you like to be as they are? You are silent! Do not turn away your face! Listen, then, Vérka, to what I am going to say to you. You are learned; thanks to the money that I have stolen, you are educated. You dream of the good, but, if I had not been wicked, you would never have known what the good is. Do you understand? It all comes from me; you are my daughter, mine. I am your mother.” Vérotchka weeps and shudders.
“What do you wish of me, Mamma? I cannot love you.”
“Do I ask you to love me?”
“I should like at least to esteem you, but I cannot do that either.”
“Do I need your esteem?”
“What do you want, then? Why have you come to talk to me in so dreadful a way? What do you wish of me?”
“Be grateful, without loving or esteeming me, ingrate that you are. I am wicked; is there any chance for love? I am dishonest; is there any chance for esteem? But you should understand, Vérka, that, if I were not what I am, you too would not be what you are. You are honest because I have been dishonest; you are good for the reason that I have been wicked. Understand it, Vérotchka, and be grateful.”
“Withdraw, Maria Alexevna; it is now my turn to speak to my sister.”
Maria Alexevna disappeared.
The sweetheart of so many lovers, the sister of so many sisters took Vérotchka by the hand.
“I have always wanted to he good with you, Vérotchka, for you are good yourself. Now, I am whatever the person is to whom I am talking. At present you are sad; so am I. Look! Though sad, am I still good?”
“Always the best in the world.”
“Kiss me, Vérotchka; we are both in distress. Your mother told you the exact truth. I do not like your mother, but I need her.”
“Can you not do without her?”
“Later I shall be able to, when it shall be useless for men to be wicked. But at present I cannot. The good, you see, cannot get a foothold of themselves, for the wicked are strong and cunning. But the wicked are not all of the same sort. To some of them it is necessary that the world should grow worse and worse, to others it is essential that it should improve, essential in their own interest. It was a good thing for your mother that you should be educated; and why? In order that you might give lessons and thus earn money; in order that you might catch a rich husband. Her intentions were bad, but did you profit by them any the less? With the other class of wicked people this is not the case. For instance, if you had had Anna Petrovna for a mother, could you have had an education? Would you have known the good? Would you have loved it? No. Either you would not have been allowed to learn, or you would have been made a puppet of. The daughter of such a mother must be a puppet, for the mother herself is nothing else, and lives only to play to puppets with puppets. Now, your mother is bad, but she has been of the more value to you, for it was essential to her that you should not be a puppet. You see, then, that the wicked are not all of the same sort. Some prevent the existence of men worthy of the name, and would have them only puppets. But wicked people of the other sort come unconsciously to my aid by giving men the possibility of development and gathering the means that permit this development. That is exactly what I need. Yes, Vérotchka, I cannot do without this kind of wicked people to oppose the other wicked people. My wicked people are wicked, but good grows under their wicked hand. Therefore be grateful to your mother. Do not love her, since she is wicked, but do not forget that you owe everything to her, that without her you would not exist.”
“Will this always be the case? It will not, will it?”
“Later, when the good shall be strong, it will be otherwise. The time is approaching when the wicked will see that it is against their interest to be wicked, and most of them will become good: they were wicked simply because it was disadvantageous to them to be good, but they know, however, that good is better than evil, and they will prefer the good as soon as they can love it without injury to their own interests.”
“And the wicked who were puppets, what will become of them? I pity them too.”
“They will play to puppets without injuring any one whomsoever. Their children will not resemble them, for of all members of the human family I make good, strong, intelligent human beings.”
“Oh, how good that will be!”
“But those who prepare the war for this future are among the good from now on. When you aid the cook in getting your dinner, do you not feel good, though the air of the kitchen was stifling? Every one feels good at the table, but whoever has aided in getting the dinner feels better than the others: the dishes seem much better to her. You like sweets, if I mistake not?”
“Yes,” said Vérotchka, smiling to see herself thus convicted of a fondness for pastry and of having aided in making it in the kitchen.
“What reason have you to mourn? Pshaw! all that is passed.”
“How good you are!”
“And joyous, Vérotchka, joyous always, even when sad. Am I not?”
“Yes, when I am sad, you come appearing sad also, but every time you drive away my sorrow; it is very pleasant to be with you.”
“You have not forgotten my song: Donc vivons?”
“Let us sing it.”
“Let us sing.”
“Vérotchka! Why, I seem to have awakened you! But, at any rate, tea is all ready. You really frightened me: I heard you groan; I come in, and find you singing.”
“No, my darling, you did not awaken me; I should have awakened without you. What a dream I have just had! I will tell you about it while we are taking tea. Leave me; I am going to dress. But how did you dare to enter my room without permission, Dmitry Serguéitch? You forget yourself. You were frightened about me, my darling? Come here and let me kiss you. And now leave me quickly, for I must dress.”
“You are so late that I bad better act as your dressing-maid to-day; I? “Very good, my darling, but how abashed I am!”
[To be Continued.]
“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.
Lessons of the Hour.
The ordinary American has a tremendous faith in what he calls “the masses.” “Individuals, cliques, syndicates, and caucus conspirators may be ever so vile and venal,” he will tell you, “but ‘the masses’ are all right.” “I trust the masses, after all,” he says, with an air of satisfaction and resignation, as though he had fallen back under the mantle of some divinity.
But who are “the masses,” and does the expression really have any intelligent meaning in the light of a scientific social analysis? Any conceivable block of the people, no matter how great or small its dimensions, immediately resolves itself into distinct individuals, with infinite diversities of thought, motive, opinion, and wants. When the whole people of the United States are called “the masses,” it is a term having no scientific value and utterly meaningless in sociology. It is, moreover, misleading and stultifying, and conduces to an entirely false drift as to progress in correct social evolution.
But, for the purposes of political blacklegs, priests, and tricksters in general in Church and State, there is what may be called “the masses.” It consists of certain great blocks of humanity whose average intelligence and education are so low and whose superstitions are so firmly knitted into the spiritual fibre that they can be carried in the lump, if only the right decoys and tricks are dexterously handled. In the political sphere these blocks of voting cattle may now be seen night after night tramping behind brass bands and decorated with gaudy shoddy, somewhat after the manner of savages who paint and plume themselves for battle. The base trick that is chiefly overshadowing their thin wits is the so-called “protection of American labor,” a swindle so thin and so luminous with sophistry that an honest man is seized with semi-despair at the prospect of wide-spread intelligent revolt from the slavery of capital.
And just here is the point that I wish to impress upon my fellow Anarchists, viz., that any and all attempts to carry “the masses” in bulk for any intelligent and effective revolt against the murderous tyranny of capital is unscientific and practically futile. Capital has the right to be tried and sentenced by its peers in intelligence, and these must be gathered from among the great mass, organized into iron-clad secret societies and working after the manner of the Nihilists and other revolutionary societies in Europe. It is useless to wage war in open battle with such material as one may now see howling by thousands in the streets of our cities shouting, “We want protection for American labor!” or the scarcely less imbecile cry, “Turn the rascals out!”
The great capitalistic Czars are few in number. An equal number of solidly intelligent laboring-men Anarchists are their peers, and have the equal right to try and sentence their deadly machinery that they use to doom the masses to slavery and death. They would be only too happy to conduct the trial in open court, if it were permitted them, but, since it is not, then I held that they are fully justified in organizing secretly and seeing to it that capital, armed against human life and liberty, shall not prove a paying investment. The sooner men get over this hollow delusion of dragging along the masses in bulk, the sooner radical emancipation will get organized and begin to tell. The revolutionists of Europe are far ahead of this country in this respect, and despotism already quakes in its boots. We in America seem deep-buried in our worship of this insane fetich, “the masses.” It is only as the mass evolves out of itself intelligent peers of its murderous masters who as associated individuals know their business and dare to do it that capital will ever be brought to bay. Whenever expects to wait for the masses will wait till his deluded class is itself swept into the great struggling heap, and bought remains but unchallenged despots and hopeless slaves. The true law of social dynamics knows nothing about “the masses.”
Caved Down the Bank.
A few months ago I was pleased to tell Liberty’s friends that a new and earnest champion of the rights of toilers had appeared in the “San Franciscan,” a weekly paper published in California, and, although its editors were still groping in politics for some remedy for social wrongs, they seemed in earnest and I hoped much from them. In one of the early numbers of the paper the editor said many true things about “the educational cure-all,” the Morrison’s pill of the political economists, and asked how education “is to loosen the clutch of the capitalist, the employer, the transporter, and the speculator upon the lion’s share of the good things brought into existence by work.” He noted the reductions of wages, strikes, and the fact, “established by official investigation, that the working classes in the comparatively new and rich state of Illinois have been pushed so near the starvation limit that they cannot live without the assistance of the labor of their children.” Noting these things, the editor of the “San Franciscan” said: “We are giving the children of the country the education of freemen, and our industrial system will condemn most of them to live the lives of slaves. Every public school is helping to breed an army of rebels against the theory that Providence has decreed that the many shall grunt and sweat under the burden of a weary life, in order that a few may have a gorgeous time of it.” And much more of similar purport,— brave, honest words, full of righteous indignation at the wrongs suffered by the toilers of the world.
But the “San Franciscan” as an enemy to the exploiter of man, as the teller of truth about the infamous railroad robbers of California, as a friend to the disinherited, did not pay. It suspended publication in sheer disgust at the pusillanimous conduct of the railroad-ridden people of California. Better had it never again made its appearance to deceive and aid in tricking the people. It has reappeared, and it gives me pain to see that its editorials are as dishonest and cowardly as they were before truthful and fearless. I hope they do not come from the same pen.
Contrast with what I have already quoted this extract from an editorial on the workingman in the “San Franciscan” of September 20:
Too many of the men who do the rough work of the world are imbibing the pernicious notion that their poverty is owing to industrial laws, which they are wise enough to repeal, instead of to their own improvidence. It is a pity, for the workingman’s own sake, that there are not more preachers of the gospel according to Ruskin, who has the sense and courage to say to the horny-handed son of toil:
Be assured, my friend, that if you work steadily for ten hours a day all your life long, and if you drink nothing but water, and live on the plainest food, and never lose your temper, and go to church every Sunday, and always remain content in the position in which Providence has placed you, and never grumble nor swear, and always keep your clothes decent, and rise early, and use every opportunity of improving yourself, you will get on very well, and never be sent to the poorhouse.
This sort of doctrine is not so welcome to the workingman, of course, as the pretty twaddle about the dignity of his position that he gets from the press and the stump; neither is it so comfortable as the assurance given him by the anti-monopolists, and other kinds of Socialists, that his hardships are dne to oppression at the bands of the rich and powerful. But it is doctrine that, if put in practice, will pan out well for the workingman. In this country, any man of industry and moderate ability can in a few years raise himself above the necessity of daily toil, provided he does not drink, does not gamble, or otherwise waste his earnings on his vices. The workingman who can keep this fact in his mind, and live up to it, may not enjoy himself so much during political campaigns as one who believes what he hears from stumpers about his dignity and wrongs, but at the end of five or six years he will have a house of his own, and strong personal reasons for objecting to the theories of the Socialists, who would make the idle or wasteful workingman believe that he can secure by his vote what the industrious and sober workingman has had to labor and save to get.
It does not seem possible that the atrocious misquotation of Ruskin could have been made through ignorance or carelessness. In his lecture on “The Work of Iron,” Ruskin says: “Nothing appears to me at once more ludicrous and more melancholy than the way the people of the present age usually talk about the morals of laborers,” and then he puts in quotation marks the words “Be assured,” etc., and says that is the way people talk to the laboring man. Ludicrous and melancholy enough to him are such words,— not his gospel at all. He sees “oppression of the poor at the hands of the rich and powerful” on every side, and protests vehemently against it. Before advising the workingman to practice “the virtue of Socrates, the philosophy of Plato, and the heroism of Epaminondas,” he thinks “it would be well if we sometimes tried it practically ourselves” under conditions similar to those in which the workingman is placed, and he ranks first among the various forms of the oppression of the poor “the oppression of expecting too much from them.” He tells the rich.and powerful that the unintelligent, the idle, the improvident are “the kind of people whom you can oppress, and whom you do oppress, and that to purpose,— and with all the more cruelty and the greater sting because it is just their own fault that puts them into your power.”
It is indeed a pity that there are not more preachers of the gospel according to Ruskin. Much greater is the pity that there is such a perverter of that gospel as the “San Franciscan,” sowing lies in the minds of workingmen, preaching quackeries and unveracities, stealing the garb of Liberty to serve the conspiracy of thieves in. From the very lecture so mischievously misquoted I take a few things which show Ruskin’s way of viewing the effects of the “industrial laws spoken of.”
“We steal habitually from the poor. We buy our liveries and gild our prayer-books with pilfered pence out of children’s and sick men’s wages.”
“There never lived Borgias such as live now in the midst of us.”
“Whosoever has not his hand on the stilt of the plough has it on the hilt of the dagger.”
“By far the greater part of the suffering and crime which exist at this moment in civilized Europe arises simply from people not knowing that produce or wealth is eternally connected by the laws of heaven and earth with resolute labor, but hoping in some way to cheat or abrogate this everlasting law of life, and to feed where they have not furrowed, and be warm where they have not woven.”
But there is little need to expound Ruskin’s gospel for Liberty’s readers; they know that he preaches justice. Still less need is there that the editor of the “San Franciscan” be told that the working classes, who “cannot live without the assistance of the labor of their children,” can never “raise themselves above the necessity of daily toil” by temperance, prudence, and repression of their “vices.” I wish I could be assured that the writer of “The Educational Cure-all” did not write the outrageously dishonest editorial on “The Workingman,” for I have known him as an honest, earnest man and a bitter foe to every form of knavery, and it is sickening to think that the railroad rogues have caved such a man down the bank.
John Swinton warns off the “old hacks” who are “putting up jobs” in the name of the People’s party. “They cannot sell out the People’s party,” he tells them. No, indeed, they cannot; for the bargain was made by the boss old hack of them all at the outset of the campaign. He proposes to deliver the goods on election day; later we may learn his price.
Save Me From My Friends.
Who is to be saved? The laborer. What is to be saved? Not his life, precisely, for that, however compromised by misery and unwholesome conditions, is threatened with no new or unusual dangers. Not his property, for he has none worth mentioning. Not his character; nobody is meddling with that. It is the hope and the opportunity of his redemption from misery,— in a word, his future,— that is in question. Who are the dangerous friends? They are men of sentiment, philanthropists, in whom political ambitions blend with indignation and compassion. Emotional and eloquent, partisan leaders, their idea of the practical consists in surface agitation, sensational effects, and party triumphs. That truth which lies at the bottom of the well does not concern them. The danger to which they expose labor is the alienation of that middle class, pre-eminently facultative and industrious, which combines with specialized intelligence and skill the foresight, self-control, and modicum of fortune which are wanting to the proletary masses. It is through this middle class that society has emerged from its primitive servitudes to military and aristocratic feudalism. Some of its members have become in turn oppressors, by a sinister control of the financial power, in combining it with the political, but by such tyranny they have unclassed themselves, and the body which remains is the true leaven of humanity, progressive in thought, inventive, fertile in expedients, and plowed in all directions by liberal ideas. The imprudent agitators whom we signalize are themselves of this class. It was not a hand-to-mouth subsistence that fostered in them their faculties for good or evil, and they well know that the fundamental instinct of their influential class is to keep itself out of the mire of necessity. To propagate the work of emancipation, it must itself enjoy some liberty. Not independent of the useful industries to which they owe their relative advantages, they are disposed to look with a jealous eye on the encroachments of speculators and privileges of monopoly, which threaten to force the poorer and more numerous mass of them into the proletariat. They are its natural and necessary allies, but they would prefer the oppression of the millionaire to that of ignorant brutality in the vandalism of mob rule. Communism is abhorrent to them, i.e., State communism, or the interference of authority against those inequalities of condition which result from the fair competition of faculties, after such guarantees of starting even, as industrial education can bestow, this being so regulated as to pay its own costs, which is not difficult, considering its economy of crime and punishment.
While functions of social charity may conciliate the efforts of the middle and the rich classes, those of social justice can hope no aid from the latter as a class, but enlist by common interests the middle class with proletaries. Hence the delicacy and prudence needed not to repel and make enemies of them in the treatment of border line questions, such as those of rent and interest, in which extreme views, whether of license or of prohibition, are equally fatal to progress and reform.
These reflections have been suggested by a paragraph signed H. W. Brown, in “John Swinton’s Paper” of September 5.
Mr. Brown is one of those reformers who have a crow to pick with the dictionary, and find short cuts to justice by making words squint from their ordinary and accepted meanings. It matters little whether or not Mr. Brown means and understands what his phrases imply, which is simple communism, or the ownership of all means of production by the State. Now, it is precisely the numerous class of those just independent by their labor, or conscious of the faculties that can make them so, who will fight to the death against expropriation; while the few, of more dominating faculty, will simply transfer their ambitions to getting control of the State, and, as its officers, administering to their own profit and honor the collective fortune. I do not accuse Mr. Swinton of this premeditated perfidy. It is simply deplorable to see him neutralize the good influence of his labor statistics, so impressive and suggestive, by showing thus the cloven hoof of communism. That a State might manage railroads with less abuse of privilege than other corporations is just conceivable, but that no capital should be private is to retrograde beyond Sparta with its black-broth and helots. Such an aspiration indorsed by a gentleman, by a man of wealth, and refinement, shows how partisan zeal throws the mind off its balance and vitiates judgment.
Mr. Brown’s definition of capital is “that form of wealth used as a source of income.” Now, as labor or production is the only true source of either capital or income or the goods which render income desirable, this definition might be innocent enough, though quite inferior to the common one that capital is the surplus result of past labor. But Mr. Brown explains farther that the income he means is confined to idlers. The farmer who owns his farm, the miller who owns his mill, the mechanic who owns his tools and the house he lives in, must not call those essentials of production their capital; they most find some new name for their stock in business to please Mr. Brown, if indeed be should graciously and by inconsistency with his principle allow them to own anything, for, in order to correct the present “dreadful misunderstanding of capital” and in order to kill his bugbear “profits,” “capital must become public property.”
His definition with this arbitrary pendant accepted, “the danger of the private control of capital will be more apparent.”
We suppose that Mr. Brown in his innocence sees no danger in the State control of capital, including land, roads, mills, machinery, and all means of production. State, that is impersonal and a synonym of honesty. And statesmen? Of course the Goulds and Vanderbilts and Huntingdons are not to be the statesmen. They will only be the Browns and the Swintons.
Virgil answers you: Sic vot non vobis nidiftcatis, ares. The management of State socialized capital must be entrusted to men of experience in kind, to such adepts as the millionaire monopolist, Ben Butler, great protectionist manufacturer and chief of the bonanza cattle farm, whose nest is so well feathered that he can afford, with the aid of a $50,000 salary, not to steal any more in his old age. But how about his army of office holders? Mr. Butler is too pious and too orthodox to biblical and party traditions to be suspected of “muzzling the ox that is treading out the corn.”
There is a partial truth in Mr. Brown’s view that “the whole trouble of society today is the private irresponsible control of the means of labor,” but what maintains their irresponsibility is the State. But for its armies and police, ever ready to defend the privileges of capital, of land monopoly, of market cornerers, of stockjobbers, of bankers, what fence could protect from settlers the million-acre stock farm, the million-bushel grain depot from the famishing laborers, the millions of government bonds from taxation, or prevent all property represented in currency from ruining the monopoly of the banks. To combat privilege State Socialism would enormously increase the powers of the greatest source and safeguard of privilege. This is homoeopathy with a vengeance, but not with infinitesimals.
The trouble with society, Mr. Brown, lies partly in the private control of capital, but mainly in that control being vested in others than the workmen who use it in production. The function of the State is not arch proprietorship, but the transfer without rupture and by gradual liquidations of corporative property like railroads, mines, and manufactories, into the control of their operatives become stockholding partners. This may be effected here and there without State intervention, but more rapidly and generally through it, and such action only can justify its longer existence among the powers that be.
A Word to the Donkey Brigade.
There is no Republican party to-day in this country, and there is no Democratic party.
There are several organized bands of public robbers, who are banded together under the above names.
Their only object is spoils.
Every honest citizen knows that this is so.
The leaders of both parties are on one side; the people are upon the other,— the skinners against the skinned.
We do not believe that as a party ticket, the Democratic nominees, when elected, will honestly try to alleviate the ills we suffer under.
We do not believe the Republicans will, either.
The professional politician has his slimy hand on the throat of all of them. All of them are going for spoils.
And whichever is elected will secure them.
They do not want good government — they want coin.
They do not desire public convenience, but private wealth.
They do not want economical public service, but fat salaries.
They do not want to enforce laws, but to receive blackmail for not enforcing them.
They do not want to relieve your poverty, but to make you poorer!
What is the use of talking about it?
You know it as well as we do. After you have read this article, will you then slide out this evening, and put on your oil-cloth cape and cap, and take your kerosene torch, and whoop and howl for some politician or lawyer or “best citizen” till you are hoarse?
You slave of wind, you bondsman of “gas,” you charmed monkey of the political circus, if you do, you are a fool, and you know it.
If you would put into governmental affairs one ten-millionth of the sense you put into private business, you would not sleep tonight until you had put yourself in a position to honestly do some practical good.
You wouldn’t parade any more streets for somebody else.
You wouldn’t spend your breath in three cheers for men who sneer at and spit on you, after they have pulled the wool over your eyes and kicked you to the polls.
You wouldn’t pay taxes for some cheap smarty relation of your master’s to squander as a city employe.
Can’t you withstand a band of music? or hired oratory? or a newspaper “boom” bought and paid for?
Haven’t you man enough, and sense enough, in you, when you are being robbed right and left, above and below, to *** the thief, instead of helping him to rob you the more? In this city there are ordinarily cast about forty thousand people. Thirty-five thousand of these ballots are the ballots of tools, fools, and slaves. On the day when these men refuse to go to the polls under the lash, the five thousand masters will understand that the slaves have waked up, and Justice will begin to show its presence.
Man About Town.
A Billet Doux to the Radical Review.
Notwithstanding your professions of radical independence, professional spreadeagleism, we are not so innocent as to suppose independence possible without money. C. K. D. — not Anacreon’s cicada — ought, according to the theory of natural compensation, as expounded by Emerson, to have a purse better lined than his skull. I judge from the tone of his articles that he is one of your more important patrons, and in your position humble pie may be a more nourishing diet than Anarchism. No high falutin on the raft of the Medusa. What is most evident, en dernier ressort, of our discussions, is the truth of the old saw, “Any man may lead a horse to water, but who can make him drink?” Language is a drug, where there is no receptivcness to ideas, and we are far from pretending to such exclusive property in Anarchy as to debar others from use or abuse of it in the parade of their stupidity. No apostle of Hymen, yet in honor of Elective Affinity, I would solemnize the nuptials of C. K. D. with Rita Belle, and persuade Uncle Sam to stand god-father to their first-born idiot.
Ignorance, as well as Science, has its lessons for us. That of the hour is to shun classical terms or polarized words in the advancement of principles. Criticism, judgment, condemnation, of the State and Church as they are, general and particular, is a kind of dirty work of which, pro tem., even hollow-hearted politicians are relieving us. ’Tis a lot of old thunder among the stage properties of socialism,
A tale of little meaning, though the words are strong.
Our flag-snip is the People’s Bank, or Labor Exchange Bank. That is the distinctive initiative of our revolution. Where Baboeuf or Karl Marx (in the accord of brutality with “Scientific Socialism”) would lead us on to Palestine through the red sea, benevolently drowning therein the horsemen and chariot of Pharaoh (read Capital), Proudhon, confessing the Almighty Dollar as the God of Civilization, puts his “Thus saith the Lord” in the Labor exchange note. By the success or failure of this business system which cuts to the root of parasitic commerce and government, at once, emancipating us from fealty to either specie or national banks, we must live or die, sink or swim, survive or perish. This is not all: anticlerical iconoclasm is collateral; but that has already cut its teeth. Neither is labor exchange the last word of the gospel, but it is the axis of Emancipation. In the practice of it we shall learn whom to trust; we shall make those acquaintances which are necessary to ulterior cooperation, to industrial and domestic association.
We have no time to lose in theoretic fioriture. Practical education is synthetic. Already the profound demoralization of this people, whose English leaven of hypocrisy Democracy has kept at blood heat, where incoherent competition is married to governmental privilege, and Christian comes to mean repudiation of Jesus’ moral teaching,— this cloaca asphyxiates. In few parts of our country does there yet remain such a combination of intelligence with honesty as is indispensable for the initiative of our mutual contract principle. It must be in New England, if any where. In my own span of personal experience I am reminded of that Italian mediaeval dungeon, walled with iron apparently of one block, but whose sides and roof, invisibly jointed, were made to slide plate over plate, with a noiseless contraction, just so much each night, until from seven windows only one remained, and the prisoner, no longer walking, could not stand erect, biding his doom. The last contraction mashed him into pulp. That is what is happening to the prisoner Love enclosed within the walls of Marriage, Church, Government, and Property. That is what is happening to the prisoner Thought, enclosed within the walls of Dogmatism, Poverty, Government, and Prejudice. That is what is happening to Labor, imprisoned and exprisoned by the wire fence of land-robbers, squeezed between the revenue of the State and the profits of Capital; penned in the “Black Holes” of cities and factories, with Government steadily turning the screw.
A Vindication of Natural Society:
or, A View of the Miseries and Evils Arising to Mankind from Every Species of Artificial Society, in a Letter to Lord —————. By Edmund Burke
The history of the remarkable Essay before us — “Burke’s Vindication of Natural Society” — presents one of the most extraordinary examples of literary repudiation to be met with in English Literature We have all heard the anecdote of the counsellor who, in a lit of absence of mind, or inadvertence, went on arguing a case, in a court of law, against his client, instead of in defence of him; and who, when reminded of his error, readily got himself out of the scrape by protesting that he had made no mistake at all, but that he was simply bringing forward the arguments which he knew his learned friend on the other side would adduce, in order that he might show to the Court their utter invalidity, which he then proceeded to do, logically refuting every point which he had previously maintained!
Burke’s denial of the legitimacy of his own mental offspring is, however, more barefaced than the subterfuge of the counsellor in the anecdote; because, instead of attempting a logical refutation of what he had said before (which he knew was impossible), he took a shorter and easier mode of shirking the difficulty; he coolly pretended that his “Vindication” was simply a piece of irony! and, strange to say, the literary world has, up to this time, believed him, albeit the only ironical passage in the Essay corroborates the bona fide character of the rest! It is, indeed, one of the soberest productions ever written, in some parts bordering even on the trite and common-place. The real cause of Burke’s pretending that his Essay was written in an ironical spirit appears to have been an apprehension that the novel doctrines he had enunciated therein — so utterly subversive of all old established opinions — would be an effectual bar to the realization of the ambitious plans which he had subsequently formed for his advancement in the political world of the day; and, as no other subterfuge was at all available, he adopted the very shallow one of irony, although, as every reader of his works will quickly perceive, irony was a branch of rhetoric quite foreign to his nature, and one to which he rarely had recourse. But Burke is not the only instance where the youthful worshipper of Truth has, in after life, become a renegade from her divine principles, and to his own moral sense of right and wrong, in deference to worldly and selfish interests.
The “Vindication of Natural Society” appears to have been Burke’s first printed effort, and was published anonymously in the year 1756, in the form of a letter to Lord —————. We do not learn when the author accepted its paternity, or how it came to be brought home to him. When reprinted, there was added to it a short, but elaborate, preface, in which, after animadverting upon the mischievous tendencies of the anti-religious writings of Lord Bolingbroke, the “Editor” states that his design in the “Vindication” was to show that, “without the exertion of any considerable forces, the same engines which were employed in the destruction of religion might be employed with equal success for the subversion of government; and that “a mind which has no restraint from its own weakness; of its subordinate [?] rank in the creation; and of the extreme danger of letting the imagination loose upon some subjects, may very possibly attack everything, the most excellent and venerable; that it would not be difficult to criticise the creation itself; and that, if we were to examine the divine fabrics by our ideas of reason and fitness, and to use the same method of attack by which some men have assaulted revealed religion, we might, with as good color, and with the same success, make the wisdom and power of God in his creation appear to be no better than foolishness.”
Before concluding his Preface, Burke remarks that the subject of the “Vindication” is not so fully handled as obviously it might; it was not his design to say all that could possibly be said: it had been inexcusable to fill a large volume with the abuse of reason; nor would such an abuse have been tolerated, even for a few pages, if some underplot of more consequence than the apparent design had not been carried out!
Burke’s own apology to Mrs. Grundy for having once had the weakness to give way to the dictates of reason and conscience, in opposition to conventionalism and self-interest, is lame enough; but the excuses of his eulogists are still lamer. One of his biographers says that the only fault to be attributed to this “‘Vindication of Natural Society’ lies in its very cleverness, for so concealed is the irony throughout that the reader runs the risk of taking the whole for earnest, and being led by the fascinating elegance and energetic eloquence of the diction to a conclusion very different from the one intended!”
Treating the work, however, as what it really is,— a serious and earnest denunciation of State Governments, under whatever name or form they may exist,— we shall occupy no further space or time in its mere literary history, but shall proceed at once to lay the text of the Essay before our readers.
The text now given is reprinted from Bohn’s edition of Burkes’ works, published in 1854, which has only a few verbal differences from the original edition, such differences generally strengthening the arguments, originally adduced by Burke, in support of a theory, then, perhaps for the first time, formally broached in Europe, but which now, if we mistake not, is about to take its place as one of the most important truths in moral and social science.
A Vindication of Natural Society.
Shall I venture to say, my Lord, that, in our late conversation, you were inclined to the party which you adopted rather by the feelings of your good nature, than ay the conviction of your judgment? We laid open the foundations of Society; and you feared that the curiosity of this search might endanger the ruin of the whole fabric. You would readily have allowed my principle, but you dreaded the consequeuces; you thought that, having once entered upon these reasonings, we might be carried insensibly and irresistibly farther than at first we could either have imagined or wished. But for my part, my Lord, I then thought, and am still of the same opinion, that error, and not truth of any kind, is dangerous: that ill conclusions can only flow from false propositions; and that, to know whether any proposition be true or false, it is a preposterous method to examine it by its apparent consequences.
These were the reasons which induced me to go so far into that inquiry; and they are the reasons which direct me in all my inquiries. I had, indeed, often reflected on that subject before I could prevail on myself to communicate my reflections to anybody. They were generally melancholy enough; as those usually are which carry us beyond the mere surface of things, and which would undoubtedly make the lives of all thinking men extremely miserable, if the same philosophy which caused the grief did not, at the same time, administer the comfort.
[To be continued.]
Then and Now.
VIII. Anarchy as Defined by Results.
Boston, October 25, 2084.
My Dear Louise:
I have now ceased to be a great curiosity, and have an opportunity to walk about the streets and visit stores, manufactories, schools, places of amusement, etc., and study the people under all phases of life. Every moment, almost, there is something new to attract my attention, some strange thing to give me food for thought. There is a most striking contrast, surely, between the condition of the people of today and of those of two centuries ago. Humanity seems to be a different thing from what it was then. The mere fact that there is no such thing as poverty must prove this to you. There are no hard times now-a-days; there is plenty for all to do, and, of course, you can easily understand that, where there is work for every one, there must be plenty for every one to eat, drink, and wear. Charitable organizations are not needed to keep men and women and children from starving and freezing. Poverty was always the great cause of crime. To plenty, more than anything else, is due the honesty and gentleness of the people today.
Don’t think from this, Louise, that I have become an Anarchist I believe — for I cannot help believing — that the people of today are more happy without the State, but this system of society under which the people live is not Anarchy. After all that I have written to you, I know that you must be surprised at this statement, but let me explain.
Mr. De Demain says that society today is based upon Anarchistic principles, and I gave you his definition of those principles in my last letter; but I know that he must be mistaken. During two hundred years the meaning of the word Anarchy has changed. It means today peace, prosperity, liberty, and happiness; two hundred years ago it meant revolution, tyranny, crime, and misery. Would not this latter be your definition? Does not Anarchy mean to you something terrible? When you speak the word, does it not call up in your mind scenes of riot and murder?
I cannot see why the quiet, happy people that I see about me should use a word, which means to them so much, which ready means all that is terrible and chaotic.
Mr. De Demain says that I have a very old-fashioned idea of the meaning of Anarchy, and not only very old-fashioned but very wrong.
“If,” says he, “you wished, in your time, to get the correct definition of some medical term, would you have asked a physician, or some person who knew nothing about the science of medicine? Which, do you think, would have been most likely to have defined the term correctly for you? Is it not, to say the least, probable that an avowed Anarchist can tell you better what Anarchy means than can one who claims to know nothing about the word or the thing except that he has looked up the word in the dictionary and has heard that a king or two lets been killed by the hands of Anarchists? No man is an Anarchist who does not know what Anarchy means, and I know that there never could have been a man who knew what Anarchy means who was not an Anarchist. In your time, if you ever saw a person who said he knew the meaning of Anarchy and for that very reason was not an Anarchist,— and you have probably seen many such,— you could easily have discovered how little he knew about it, by asking very few questions. You say this is not Anarchy which I claim is Anarchy? And why? Simply because you find that Anarchy is not what you thought it was, because it is not what you had been told it was by those who knew nothing about it, but who claimed to know all about it. Anarchy two hundred years ago could not be fully and clearly defined because it had never been practically tested. A thing to be clearly defined must be defined by its results. In your time Anarchy had produced no results.”
“How about the murder of a king or two?” I asked.
That was not the result of Anarchy, but merely of the struggle for Anarchy. Until a thing is, it cannot have results. It would be absurd to say that the Revolutionary war was the result of American independence; it was merely the result of the struggle for that independence. The founders of the American republic were men who could look into the future, and they knew full well what such a republic as they strove for meant, but the people, even those who fought for it, did not know. They had faith, but faith is blind. What was the definition of that republic given by people of the old world? That it was an impossible theory, a pretty theory perhaps, but one which practical demonstration would prove to be a curse for the people who lived under it. So with Anarchy. Those who struggled for it two hundred years age could look ahead to this time and see what Anarchy meant. They could define it, partially. They could not follow out all its blessings in detail, but they could say that blessings would result, and some of those blessings they could name. We today can define it fully. It is defined right before your eyes. You have a clearer definition of it every day as you see more of its effects. There are hundreds of things that you have not yet seen, little things they may be, but nevertheless they go to make up a grand sum total of happiness. Anarchy has made the world — a world necessarily of sin and misery, it used to be considered — fairer than was heaven painted to the dreams of the Christians of the olden time.”
Mr. De Demain’s arguments may be good, and it may be only my woman’s persistency that still leads me to say that I cannot believe that what is called Anarchy today is what was meant when the word Anarchy was spoken two hundred years ago.
Rogue or Fool: Which?
To the Editor of Liberty:
The following letter, which was sent for insertion to the “National Reformer” (London), explains itself:
To the Editors of the National Reformer:
I noticed in the “correspondent” column of the “National Reformer” last week a few remarks in reply to an “Inquirer” concerning the views of “Anarchists”; and, being an Anarchist myself, I venture to suggest that the remarks made were as false as they were foolish. “Anarchy” is simply synonymous with liberty, and, in declaring against Anarchy, you have, of course, declared against liberty, and consequently in favor of shivery of some form or other. It is surprising that so many talk so much of liberty, and yet know so little about it. You assert that “the views of Anarchists are explicable in countries like Russia; but they are most unfortunate wherever held. In civilised society there must be government, and it is the duty of every citizen to try to secure, first, that the government shall be representative, expressing the people’s will by the people authority; and next, that its functions shall be as limited as is consistent with general wellbeing.” Will you be good enough to make more clear these assertions, and logically support them by replying to the following questions, which are perfectly relevant to, and are the outcome of your remarks?
What meaning and importance do you attach to the ambiguous word “unfortunate?
How can a “view” or “views” be “unfortunate”?
If a “view” is “explicable” in one country, why not in another,— *i.e., what has geography to do with the matter?
Do you mean by “civilized” society the state of affairs which now exists? or what?
How do you propose to prove that “there must be a government” in “civilized society”?
What constitutes a “citizen”?
From whence do you derive the authority to determine the ”duty” of a “citizen”?
How can “a government be representative, expressing the people’s will by the people’s authority”?
If you mean a majority only of the people, am I to infer that by “general well-being you mean the well-being of the greater-half of the “people” only?
Can “majority” voting equitably settle a sociological problem,— i.e., can “might make fight”?
Can any “representative” “consistently” represent any other than himself?
Whose “will” can a “representative” support, consequently, but his own?
The Science Library, September 22, 1884.
As might be reasonably conjectured, Mr. C. Bradlaugh, the “practical politician” and “Radical Rader,” wilfully suppressed the above letter to make capital out of its contents by replying to it, as follows, through the “correspondent” column.
To H. Seymour, Tunbridge Wells,— We consider all views unfortunate which result in the cowardly and murderous use of explosives as means of agitation. Such views are explicable, though not defensible, in countries where there is no reasonable expression of opinion allowed, or opportunity of association permitted. Your other questions are either foolish, or impertinent, or both. If you claim the right in all things to take your own liberty without limiting it by any sense of duty to your fellows; if you deny the right of the majority to make law, reasonable hearing first secured for the minority; If you are opposed to representative government on the ground that you have the right to act direct, and even in opposition to all the arrangements of every one else,— then your views are fittest for an island in which you would be the sole inhabitant. An Englishman who considers that progressive society would be passible with all government abolished, and who denies that citizens have any duties towards each other, is possibly an illustration of political and social atavism, but is certainly beyond argument.
It would be superfluous to comment upon Mr. Bradlaugh’s “unfortunate,” evasive, and incoherent twaddle. It “is certainly beyond argument.” Unable to extricate himself from the labyrinth of absurdity into which be has entangled himself, he is compelled to assume that “the cowardly (?) and murderous use of explosives” is synonymous with opinions merely, although, as may be seen above, I had informed him (he appearing ignorant of the fact) that Anarchy and liberty were simply one and the same thing. This sort of shuffling is consistent with the character of the man with whom we are dealing, but such miserable sophistry doesn’t even satisfactorily dispose of arguments “either foolish, or impertinent, or both.” Neither does it in any fashion support his own reckless, original assertions. But the oracle has spoken, and Anarchists must henceforth hide their diminished heads, for they are simply “an illustration of political and social atavism,” and each of the idiots ought to be exiled to “an island in which” he “would be the sole inhabitant.”
Tunbridge Wells, England, September 27, 1884.
 The phalansterian will understand what these windows mean, why there are seven, and also why high up. To explain the allusion would be tedious. These windows are the outlook of the social and intellectual passions, the last to be closed by compressive authority being the parental; we are at this stage of the agony where misery necessitates infanticide.
 This preface is that of the editor who reprinted the essay in London In 1858.