Liberty Vol. III. No. 24.
Not the Daughter but the Mother of Order
John Swinton Squints Anarchy-ward.
What’s To Be Done?
A Romance. By N. G. Tchernychewsky.
Do the Knights of Labor Love Liberty?
Macdonald Shows His Heels Again.
An Honest Government a Miracle.
A Letter to Grover Cleveland:
On His False, Absurd, Self-Contradictory, and Ridiculous Inaugural Address. By Lysander Spooner.
“For always in thine eyes, O Liberty!
Shines that high light whereby the world is saved;
And though thou slay us, we will trust in thee.”
On Picket Duty.
When Liberty’s readers have given the attention that it deserves to the remarkably interesting letter from Australia that appears in this issue, they will be ready to forgive me for giving so much space to it, and even the valued contributors whom it crowds out will not feel disposed to chide. If the writer, Doctor Andrade, is a fair specimen of Australian Anarchists, they make up in quality whatever they may lack in numbers, and will prove indomitable. This appearance of Anarchy at the Antipodes is an encouraging sign.
Rev. John W. Chadwick, in reviewing for the “Index” Will Carleton’s latest volume of poems, “City Ballads,” quotes the following as the four best lines in the book:
The Deacon lay on his first wife’s bed,
His second wife’s pillow beneath his head,
His third wife’s coverlet o’er him wide,
His fourth wife slumbering by hist side.
I’m shocked that a Unitarian minister and con-tributor to the “Index” should thus compliment “promiscuity.” Or is it really in accordance with the teachings of pure, undefiled, and Free Religion to have three wives in heaven, while it is the depth of immorality to have even two on earth?
The remarks of John Swinton, reprinted elsewhere, upon the recent strike of the New York car-drivers, indicate that he is opening his eyes to the real nature of the ballot. What he says, if he did but know it, amounts to a square acknowledgment of the superiority of Anarchistic to political methods. And yet, whenever he formulates his platform in detail, it is found that almost every measure proposed depends for its realization upon a majority vote. Perhaps this new utterance indicates that he is preparing to smash his old idols. I certainly hope so. If ever a man was built for an Anarchist, it is John Swinton. With his impetuosity and dash and fire he belongs on the side of spontaneity and liberty, instead of on that of rigidity, formalism, and authority. But in almost all his practical demands he has thus far stood with the formalists.
Importance of Individuality.
To the Editor of Liberty:
Your recognition and vindication of the fact that the individual, under Liberty and Intelligence, is the source and only possibility of humanity, divinity, and every other conceivable form of happiness that the Eternal Now can be enriched by should be a talismanic incentive to every person to emancipate himself from the present abominable state of legal, authoritative self-enslavement.
Every person should realize that he himself is his own God and his only God; that his body is the living temple of the lord; that Now is his eternity; that here is his heaven or his hell, as he himself makes it,— for those are states of existing happiness or unhappiness here and now, and not a location other than here, or a time other than now; that he himself is the truthful witness, the unerring judge, and the efficient executor of his own affairs; that his own brain is his sanction of justice, or high court, and his Reason the presiding principle of omnipotent rectitude; that, to himself, when possessed of his natural inheritance, Liberty and Intelligence, there is no superior conceivable.
Man, or rather the imbecile slave ironically called man, needs a courageous intelligence with a humane motive to take him, self-abjected slave, contented dupe, by the hand and bid him stand erect,— his full altitude in Nature,— and realize what he is, and contrast it with what he ought to be. Let him be untaught. Or, teach him to despise and actively trample under foot every form of man-imposed authority,— temporal and spiritual. Teach him that he is the centre of his individual sovereign sphere,— his own universe; that attraction, and not compulsion, is the constructive principle in humanity as in Nature; that the supreme option of the individual is the royal assent, to oppose which is to oppose the laws of human creation, is self-destruction; that the recognition of the fact of equality before Nature of all her children kills off at once all forms of privilege, injustice, authority, and the theologic farce called government, hacked up and sanctified as it is by the popular delusion called majority rule. Facts such as those, in my opinion, will teach the people to know their rights and assert their manhood and not regard themselves, as too many of them now do, as some spurious bastard progeny, having no rights in Nature and merely privileged to drag out a menial existence by permission of some arrogant governmental thief, some divine authority. Let this usurpation called government and this sanctified farce called religion be pat on trial for murder. Ghosts of the dead, the judicially murdered, and many of those called the living — those in process of being killed by government — will testify against them and a healthy humanity will cause an immediate execution of the twin monsters. This is a duty which the present age owes to the future, if those now living do not wish to remain slaves and be the fathers of a race of slaves.
P. K. O’Lally.
55 I Street, South Boston, August, 1885.
China points with pride to her antique civilization, and looks down upon the parvenu nineteenth century of Christian civilization with the same ironical scorn ancient Egypt listened to the boastings of the Greeks. And signs are not wanting that our puny great men are heading the flock to jump the bars which yet distinguish occidental from oriental wisdom. With the advent of the fierce spectre of the Sansculotte the old Gospel has paled. A transformation has taken place among the sons of Puritans as great as that recorded in the transition from Pagan to Christian Rome. The pagan gods faded away; not driven out, but absorbed; not replaced by the Jewish Yahveh, but concentrated into One, “angels and authorities and powers made subject unto him.” The people still flocked to the same shrines; the temple of Romulus and Remus was now occupied by two Christian brothers; Janus left Peter his keys and robe; Isis became rechristened as Mary, and held the same babe, and a young pagan Bacchus tried to forget natural joy as a statute of Christian virtue!
So today the Gospel of Commonplace has well nigh overlaid the Gospel of the past. The Holy Sepulchre is deserted by pilgrims, who have turned off to rush headlong for Blessed Mediocrity. There is no God but Commonplace, and the State is his Prophet!
Have you talent? Better hide it in the napkin of the daily press then step out of the ruts so well-worn by the sainted dead. Do you talk in your sleep in society of sincerity? Let not your rash thought take you out of the highway into the untraveled common, or you will perish from want. Are you an editor? Shut up your books, consult the inspiration of passion and ignorance in the mob, and rail at the Mormon and the Heathen Chinee. Are you an incipient statesman? Dismiss all allusions to “patriotic sires” save in perorations, and confine your labors to primaries, and studies to parliamentary precedents. Are you a clergyman? Bow at once at the Shrine of the Commonplace, and proclaim your eternal faith in the creed that your mind is a slate wiped with the sponge of divine grace for the inscription of praises to Mrs. Grundy. Are you a lawyer? Ah! it is well with thee; no bill need be presented you for advice. Are you a capitalist or merchant? The path for either is the same. Join the Union of your fellows, proclaim the rule of Might, run rampant over the defenceless, and fight for monopoly of privileges.
Be an Apostle of the Gospel of Commonplace, and thou shalt be saved! Success will wait upon you. Though all cannot belie their life by writing “Hon.” before their names, you may attain to a corner-lot in the suburbs and a centre pew in the sanctuary to attest your reward.
Refuse obeisance to the shrine of the Commonplace, and lo! thou art a Crank!
Dyer D. Lum.
John Swinton Squints Anarchy-ward.
A short time ago the New York car-drivers struck for a reduction of their hours and got it in no time, upon which “John Swinton’s Paper” remarks as follows:
We hear it every day that there are only two ways by which the working people can gain any of the things that they seek; they must either vote for them at the polls or fight for them in the field. Now the car-drivers neither fought in the field nor voted at the polls. They got no help either from the politicians or the Generalissimos. They managed the whole business in their own way. How they won was thus: they quietly organized themselves into a solid body; they unitedly determined that their hours of labor must be shortened; they fixed upon a direct course of action; they made an alliance with a very powerful Order which took them under its shield; they made full preparations for the decisive moment; they laid their demands before the parties of the other side, who resisted until they saw that further resistance would be vain; — in the darkness of the morning the blow was struck, and before noon the corporations succumbed. The hours were shortened with no corresponding reduction of wages. That is the whole story. We must say that it was by far the best managed piece of business ever done by any organization in New York city; and they were a new organization at that, and a class of men who are among the hardest to organize.
Destined to Die of Despotism.
[E. H. Heywood.]
Resolved, That, since the Knights of Labor adopt sex-equality and the mutual interest of all workers to unite for common defence,— two leading doctrines of this league,— we invite them to reject their despotic policies relative to land, money, and exchange; to thing overboard treacherous timber which tends to make their great order a pirate ship rather than an ark of safety for toiling millions; that, like the Labor Congress, the Grangers, the Sovereigns of Industry, and many other extinct organizations, life in Knights of Labor will he abortively short, unless they speedily turn from tyrannous ways and head towards liberty.
“For Law and Order!” ’Tis the shout ascending
From traders’ lips in every land and time,
Who deem the hands upon the clock of time
Are motionless; and tyrants fiercely rending
The liberties from sire to son descending
Re-echo back the slavish cry with chime
Of steel on steel, and pontiffs bless the crime
in God’s name, damning him who thinks of blending
With Order, Progress. Where the slave was kneeling
’Twas Order piled the lash till Progress raised
The slave to serf; again when human feeling
Redeemed the serf, ’twas Order wage appraised
At living’s cost; but Anarchy, all else repealing.
Declares true Order is on Progress based.
The clout with which our lathers sought to bind
The growing limbs of Freedom’s new-born child
Has with the country’s growth been long defiled
In putrid stench; yet still the statesman, blind
To growth and progress, insanely hopes to find
Relief in patches on each other piled,
Or, turning to old methods still more wild.
Relies in force to limit growth. Mankind,
With sturdy limbs and rocked in freedom’s air.
To stature grown, turns from his childish plays;
The ballot-box, his youthful rattle, fails
To ease the wants maturer age entails,
And manhood seeks with freedom’s sons to share
A liberty unknown in simpler days.
Dyer D. Lum.
By Georges Sauton.
Translated from the French for Liberty by Sarah E. Holmes.
Continued from No. 75.
Sure enough, the gibbet was vacant; the horse kicked the fallen image. They would nail Sir Harvey in its place, and the devotees would lose nothing; they would rather gain by the change: the face of the Irishman, framed in an abundant head of hair and a fine red beard, like that of the Nazarene, was incomparably more prepossessing than the wooden face of the Christ, dark, flat-nosed, toothless, which was now lying prostrate in the dirt and whose worm-eaten frame was now crumbling under the horse’s hoofs.
His beauty, to be sure, would pass away under the influence of the inclemency of the weather, and in the decomposition of death; but, for three or four days, perhaps one or two more on account of the sobriety of Irishmen of the upper classes, this picture would certainly edify travellers and ravens.
In imitation of Gowan’s, all the other horses had stopped short, and two riders, thrown to the ground, picked themselves up bruised, one with his shoulder dislocated, and swearing.
The captain applied to each of them violent blows with the flat of his sabre, and, cutting the cords which bound the prisoner, he placed him in a sitting posture before him, like a child which one rocks in his arms and against his breast The feeble body could not support itself; Gowan shouted at him, shook him like a plum-tree or like a drunken man, as Arklow, an hour before, had done to Casper, as one shakes a decanter that is not transparent to discover whether it is empty or not.
“Thunder!” cried the brigand, disappointed, “there is nothing more in the bottle; life has drained away on the road from the drooping neck. We might have foreseen it!”
To crucify a corpse, a fine affair! He would not suffer; he would not experience the atrocious anguish of seeing the birds of prey swoop down to carve him alive; of hearing the howling pack of greedy wolves running to and fro in the darkness, and perceiving their flaming eyes, like burning coals, around the calvary; of feeling their fierce breath warm his feet, and, in miracles of ascension, these ravenous beasts, heaped one above the other, reach up to his legs and plant their fangs therein!
But from the lips of the patient a sigh exhaled, a feeble one, the sigh of an infant; a second succeeded it, others following, and the unfortunate man opened his eyes, trying to remember what had happened.
The infected breath of Gowan recalled it all immediately.
As he was preparing to leave the farm, at first the tumultuous invasion of these furies sweating with whiskey, cheeks on fire, speech thick and drivelling, laughing-in their besottedness or vociferating in anger, staggering, and getting entangled in the sheaths of their sabres! ... They had saluted him with an ironical deference, paying him military honors as to a general, and then, asked:
“Your name is Harvey. You are the one who excites the people to revolt.”
“And to the hanging of bandits like you!”
With their hands gloved with clotted blood, washed off only in those places where their potations had splashed upon them, they brutally seized him by the collar; he pushed them back, called them assassins, deserving an ignominious death, and striking them in the face with his whip, he tried to force a passage.
They rushed upon him, hemming him in, and knocked him down with blows of their lists and the pommels of their swords; overcome and bound fast, they threw him into a corner, penning him between the wall and a rampart of benches, where a dog gently licked him in silence.
He had then witnessed a revolting orgie of beer, gin, brandy, obscene songs, bluster, cynical confessions of abominable crimes, disputes, quarrels, scuffles degenerating into embraces and revivals of friendship which were renewed in alcohol.
That they might not forget him, they had picked him up again like a bundle and laid him on the end of the table, deafening him with their yells and flooding him with overturned liquor, which was flowing away in streams through several gutters.
Then, the table being suddenly overturned in one of their drunken transports, he remembered nothing more except the confusion of a mad ride in the darkness, a nightmare filled with bodily tortures and a succession of fainting fits.
Now he found himself again in the red hands of Hunter Gowan!
It was doubtless death this time, judging by the sneers of the sinister brute and the fury with which he shook him, almost turning his stomach.
Divining his anxiety, Harvey settled it.
“I am alive!” said he.
“Admirable!” exclaimed the ruffian, who, in his usual tone of mockery, congratulated him warmly.
To die in a swoon was abhorrent to a Christian; he would prefer to look death in the face and first purify his soul to appear rightly before God! Unfortunately, the company lacked chaplains; it was, moreover, of the English Church. Nevertheless, if Harvey would condescend to tell his sins, he, Gowan, would repeat them to the priest of Bunclody on his honor, and, meanwhile, he would absolve them.
“I belong to the Presbyterian church!” said the agitator, indignantly.
An apprehension took possession of him. He dreaded neither death, nor the sufferings of the death-agony, nor the terrors of execution; but the future of the insurrection troubled him. Would he not fail his brothers!
In his reverie he seemed cowardly, and the chief of the band insulted him, shaming him, and offering him his gourd to drink bumpers of gin in order to cheer him up.
“See if my hand trembles!” said the Irishman.
And the disgrace of a resounding blow fell on the face of the bully, who roared. Foaming, stammering new insults and terrible threats, he seized Harvey, who, in his attempts to free himself, dealt him blows in the face with his clenched fist, and tried to grasp his throat.
But Harvey’s muscles, enfeebled by his previous tortures, placed the combatants upon a flagrant inequality. He could not open his hands wide enough to grasp the bull-neck of the former keeper of the hounds, and his fists rebounded from the wretch’s tanned skin without scratching him.
A rattle from Harvey’s throat frightened him; he was afraid that it was the supreme rattle, and that he had lost his prize. Then, riding up against the calvary and ordering his dismounted comrades to hold his horse by the bit as motionless a pedestal, he stood straight up on his saddle, lifting his prisoner by the joint of his left arm, and, with a skilful turn of the hand, bound him with what remained of the fetters to the upright part, of the cross.
Cords which they handed up to him consolidated the ligatures, and, to finish his work, he ordered them to take out the nails from the hands and feet of the rusty Christ; these consisted, however, only of blunt fragments; what was to be done? Gowan thrust the blade of his sabre several times into a crack in the cross and broke it into as many pieces as would serve to pin the inert sufferer to the wood.
For a hammer he availed himself of the hilt of the weapon, and pounded gaily like a good workman; the warm blood which gushed out, filling his eyes, face, and even his mouth, did not hinder him.
He only spat it out, swearing at its insipidity, and, when he had finished, he rinsed his mouth with floods of gin.
[To be continued.]
What’s To Be Done?
A Romance. By N. G. Tchernychewsky.
Translated by Benj. R. Tucker.
Continued from No. 75.
“Then why don’t you commence at the necessary point?” said Beaumont, already a little animated. “It is possible; I know examples, with us in America,” he added.
“I have already told you why. What can I undertake alone? I do not know how to go to work; and, even if I knew, could I do it? A young girl is so hampered in every direction. I am free in my own room. But what can I do there? Put a book on the table and teach people to read it. Where can I go? What can I do alone?”
“Are you trying to make me out a despot, Katia?” said the father: “but it is not my fault, you having given me so severe a lesson.”
“I blush at the thought, papa; I was then a child. No, you are good, you do not thwart me. It is society that thwarts me. Is it true, M. Beaumont, that in America a young girl is much less hampered?”
“Yes, we may be proud of it, although we are far from where we ought to be; but what a comparison with Europeans! All that you hear about the liberty of woman in our country is really the truth.”
“Papa, let us go to America, after M. Beaumont has bought the factory,” said Katérina Vassilievna, jokingly: “there I will do something. Ah! how happy I should be!”
“One may find an occupation at St. Petersburg also,” said Beaumont.
Beaumont hesitated two or three seconds. “But why, then, did I come here? And who could better inform me?” said he to himself.
“Have you not heard of it? There is an attempt in progress to apply the principles lately deduced by economic science: are you familiar with them?”
“Yes, I have read a little about them; that must be very interesting and very useful. And could I take part in it? Where shall I find it?”
“The shop was founded by Madame Kirsanoff.”
“Is she the doctor’s wife?”
“You know him? And has he said nothing to you about this matter?”
“A long time ago. Then he was not married. I was sick; he came several times, and saved me. Ah! what a man! Does she resemble him?”
But how make Madame Kirsanoff’s acquaintance? Could Beaumont give Katérina Vassilievna a letter of introduction to Madame Kirsanoff? What was the use? The Kirsanoffs had never even heard his name; but no introduction was necessary: Madame Kirsanoff surely would be very glad to find so much sympathy. As for her address, it would have to be ascertained at the hospital or the Academy of Medicine.
Such was the way in which Mademoiselle Polosoff came to know Véra Pavlovna; she called upon the latter the following morning; and Beaumont was so interested in the matter that he came in the evening to inquire about her visit.
Katérina Vassilievna was very animated. There was no trace of her sorrow left; ecstasy had replaced melancholy. She described to Beaumont, with enthusiasm, what she had seen and heard; she had already told the story to her father, but it was impossible for her to weary of it; her heart was so full: she had found an attractive occupation. Beaumont listened attentively; but does one listen like that? And she said to him, almost angrily: “M. Beaumont, I am beginning to be disenchanted with you: is it possible that you can be so little impressed? One would suppose that you felt almost no interest.”
“Do not forget, Katérina Vassilievna, that I have seen all this in America; I am interested in a few of the details; but as a whole I know it only too well. It is only in the persons who have taken this initiative here that I can be much interested. For instance, what can you tell me of Madame Kirsanoff?”
“Ah, my God! she certainly pleased me much. She explained everything to me with so much ardor.”
“You have already said so.”
“What more do you want? What else could I tell you? Could you expect me, indeed, to be thinking of her, when I had such sight before my eyes?”
“I understand that one entirely forgets persons when interested in things; but nevertheless what else can you tell me of Madame Kirsanoff?”
Katérina Vassilievna called up her recollections of Véra Pavlovna, but found in them only the first impression that Véra Pavlovna had made upon her; she described very vividly her external appearance, her manner of speech, all that one sees at a glance when first meeting a stranger; but beyond this there was almost nothing in her memory relating to Véra Pavlovna: the shop, the shop, the shop,— and Véra Pavlovna’s explanations. These explanations she understood thorough...but Véra Pavlovna herself she understood but very little.
“For this once, then, you have disappointed my hopes; I should have been very-glad to learn something from you as to Madame Kirsanoff; nevertheless I do not release you; in a few days I will question you again on this subject.”
“But why not make her acquaintance, if she interest you so much?”
“I should like to do so; perhaps I shall some day. But first I must learn more about her.”
Beaumont was silent for a few moments.
“I am considering whether I should ask a favor of you. Yes, it is better that I should. This is it: if my name happens to be mentioned in your conversations with them, do not say that I have questioned you about her, or that it is my intention to sometime make her acquaintance.”
“But this is getting enigmatical, M. Beaumont,” said Katerina Vussilieriia, in a serious tone. “Through me as an intermediary you wish to obtain information about them, while you remain concealed yourself?”
“Yes, Katerina Vassilievna; how shall I explain it to you? I fear to make their acquaintance.”
“All this is very strange, M. Beaumont.”
“True. I will say more: i fear that it may be disagreeable to them. They have never hoard niy name. But I have had something to do with one of their relatives, and oven with them, in short, I must first be sure that it would be agreeable to them to make my acquaintance.”
“All this is strange, M. Beaumont.”
“I am an honest man, Katérina Vassilievna; I venture to assure you that I shall never permit myself to compromise you; I see you now only for the second time, but already I esteem you.”
“I see for myself, M. Beaumont, that you are an honest man; but...”
“If you think me an honest man, you will permit me to come to see you in order that, as soon as you shall feel entirely sure about me, I may ask you for details about the Kirsanoffs. Or rather, you shall break the silence yourself, whenever it may seem to you that you can satisfy the request which I have just made of you and which I shall not renew. Are you willing?”
“Certainly, M. Beaumont,” said Katérina Vassilievna, slightly shrugging her shoulders. “But confess, then...”
This time she did not wish to finish.
“That I must now inspire you with some mistrust? True. But I will wait till that has disappeared.”
Beaumont visited the Polosoffs very often. “Why not?” thought the old man: “he is a good match. Certainly he is not such a husband its Katia might once have had. But then she was neither concerned nor ambitious. Now one could not ask a better.”
In fact, Beaumont was a good match. He said that he thought of living in Russia for the rest of his days, as he regarded it as his native country. Here was a positive man; at thirty years, though born poor, he had a good position in life. If he had been a Russian, Polosoff would have liked it had he been a nobleman, but in the case of foreigners this is not an important consideration, especially when they are Frenchmen and still less when they are Americans. In America one may be today in the employ of a shoemaker or a farmer, tomorrow a general, the day after president, and then again a clerk or a lawyer. They are a people apart, judging individuals only by their wealth and their capacities. “And they are quite right,” reflected Polosoff; “I am such a man myself. I began in commerce and married a merchant’s daughter. Money is the most important thing; brains also, to be sure, for without brains one cannot get money: he has taken a good road. He will buy the factory and be its manager; then he will become a partner in the house. And their houses are not like ours. He, too, will control millions.”
It was very probable that Polosoff’s dreams concerning his future son-in-law were no more to be realized than the similar dreams of Maria Alexevna. But, however that may be, Beaumont was a good match for Katérina Vassilievna.
Was not Polosoff mistaken, nevertheless, in his prevision of a son-in-law in Beaumont? If the old man had had any doubts at first, these doubts would have disappeared when Beaumont, two weeks after he had begun to visit them, said that it was very probable that the purchase of the factory would be delaved a few days; at any rate he wished to defer the drawing-up of the contract, as he was waiting for Mr. Loter, who would soon arrive at St. Petersburg. “At first, when I was not personally acquainted with you,” added Beaumont, “I wanted to conclude the matter myself. Now that we are so well acquainted, this would not be proper. And that later-there may be no misunderstandings, I have written to my employers that, during the negotiations, I have made the acquaintance of the manager and principal stockholder, who has nearly his entire fortune invested in the factory, and have asked, in consequence, that the house should send some one to conclude the negotiations in my place; that is the reason, you see, why Mr. Loter is coming.”
Prudence and wisdom,— these showed clearly an intention to marry Katia: a simple acquaintance would not have been enough to prompt such precaution.
The next two or three visits of Beaumont were marked at first by a rather cold welcome on the part of Katérina Vassilievna. She began indeed to feel a little distrust of this comparative stranger, who had expressed an enigmatical desire for information concerning a family to whom, if he were to be believed, he was not known, and yet feared to make their acquaintance in the absence of knowledge that his acquaintance would be agreeable. But even during these first visits, though Katérina Vassilievna viewed him with distrust, she nevertheless was quickly drawn into lively conversation with him. In her past life, before making the acquaintance of Kirsanoff, she had never met such men. He sympathized so much with all that interested her, and understood her so well! Even with her dearest friends (for that matter, properly speaking, site had but a single friend, Polina, who had long been living at Moscow, after her marriage to a manufacturer of that city), even with Polina she did not converse so much at her ease as with him.
And he at first came, not, of course, to see her, but to inquire about the Kirsanoffs; nevertheless from the very first, from the moment when they began to talk of ennui and the moans of escaping it, it was plain that he esteemed her and was in sympathy with her. At their second interview he was very much drawn to her by her enthusiasm at having found a useful occupation. Now at each new interview his good feeling toward her became more evident. Straightway a friendship of the simplest and most fervent sort was formed between them, so that a week later Katérina Vassilievna had already told him all that she knew about the Kirsanoffs: she was sure that this man was incapable of entertaining an evil design.
It is none the less true that, when she broached the subject of the Kirsanoffs, he stopped her.
“Why so soon? You know me too little.”
“No, I know you enough, M. Beaumont; I see that your unwillingness to explain to me what seemed strange in your desire was probably due to the fact that you had no right to do so; there are secrets.”
To which he answered:
“And, you see, I am no longer so impatient to know what I desired to learn about them.”
Katérina Vassilievna’s animation continued without weakening, but it changed into a perpetual playfulness full of luminous humor. It was precisely this animation which most drew Beaumont to her; that was very evident. After having listened two or three times to the stories that she told him regarding the Kirsanoffs, he said to her the fourth time: “Now I know all that, I had to find out. I thank you.”
“But what do you know, then? I have only told you so far that they love each other and are very happy.”
“That is all that I had to find out; besides, I knew it.”
And the subject of conversation changed.
The first thought of Katérina Vassilievna, on hearing Beaumont’s first question about Madame Kirsanoif, had been that he was enamored of her. But now it was clear that such was not the case.
As well as Katérina Vassilievna now knew him, she even believed that Beaumont was not capable of becoming enamored. “Love he may. But if he loves anybody now, it is I,” thought Katérina Vassilievna.
But did they really love each other? Did she, for instance, love him? On one occasion she showed some feeling for Beaumont; but how it ended! Not at all as the beginning would have led one to expect.
Beaumont came to the Polosoffs’ every day for longer or shorter calls, but every day; it was precisely on that fact that Polosoff based his assurance that Beaumont intended to ask for Katérina Vassilievna’s hand; there were no other indications. One day the evening went by, and Beaumont did not come.
“You do not know what has become of him, papa?”
“I know nothing about it; probably he did not have time.”
Another evening passed, and still Beaumont did not come. The next morning Katérina Vassilievna was getting ready to go out.
“Where are you going, Katia?”
“To attend to some affairs of mine.”
She went to see Beaumont. He was sitting down, in an overcoat with large sleeves, and reading; he raised his eyes from his book when he saw the door open.
“Ah! it is you, Katérina Vassilievna? I am very glad, and I thank you very much.”
This was said in the same tone in which he would have greeted her father, except that it was a little more affable.
“What is the matter with you, M. Beaumont? Why have you stayed away so long? You have made me anxious about you, and, besides, you have made time hang heavy on my hands.”
“Nothing of importance, Katérina Vassilievna; I am well, as you see. Will you not take some tea? See, I am drinking some.”
“Very well, but why is it so long since we have seen you?”
“Peter, bring a cup. You see, I am well; there is nothing the matter, then. Stop! I have been to the factory with Mr. Loter, and, in explaining it to him, I was careless and placed my arm on some gearing, which scratched it. And neither yesterday nor the day before could I put on my undercoat.”
“Show me your arm; else I shall be anxious and believe that you are mutilated.” “Oh! no [Peter entered with a cup for Katdéina Vassilievna], I really have my two hands. But then, if you insist [he pulled his sleeve up to his elbow]. Peter, empty this ash-receiver and give me my cigar-case; it is on the table in the study. You see that it is nothing; it needed nothing but some court-plaster.”
“Nothing? It is swollen and very red.”
“Yesterday it was much worse, tomorrow it will be well. [After emptying the ash-receiver and bringing the cigar-case, Peter withdrew.] I did not want to appear before you as a wounded hero.”
“But why did you not write a word?”
“Oh! at first I thought that I should be able to wear my undercoat the next day,— that is, day before yesterday,— day before yesterday I thought that I should be able to wear it yesterday, and yesterday today. I thought it not worth while to trouble you.”
“And you have troubled me much more. Your conduct was not good, M. Beaumont. When will this matter of the sale be finished?”
“One of these days, probably, but, you know, this delay is not my fault, or Mr. Loter’s, but that of the corporation itself.”
“What are you reading?”
“Thackeray’s new novel. To have such talent and repeat the same thing everlastingly! It is because his stock of ideas is small.”
“I have already read it; in fact,” etc.
They lamented the fall of Thackeray, and talked for half an hour about other similar matters.
“But it is time to go to Véra Pavlovna’s; and, by the way, when will you make their acquaintance? They are excellent people.”
“Some day or other I will ask you to take me there. I thank you very much for your visit. Is that your horse?”
“Yes, that is mine.”
“That is why your father never uses it. It is a fine horse.”
“It seems to me so, but I know nothing about it.
“It is a very good horse, Monsieur, worth about three hundred and fifty roubles,” said the coachman.
“How old is it?”
“Six years, Monsieur.”
“Go on, Zakhar, I am ready. Au revoir, M. Beaumont; will you come, today?”
“I doubt it... no; tomorrow, surely.”
Do young girls who are in love make such visits as these? In the first place, no well-bred young girl would ever permit herself to do anything of the kind; but, if she should permit her evidently something very different would result from it. If Katérina Vassilievna’s act is contrary to morality, the content of this immoral act, so to speak, is still more contrary to all received ideas. Is it not clear that Katérina Vassilievna and Beaumont were not human beings, but fishes, or, if they were human beings, that they at least had fishes’ blood in their veins? And when she saw him at her frame, she treated him in a manner quite in conformity with this interview.
“I am tired of talking, M. Beaumont,” said she when he stayed too long; “stay with papa; I am going to my room.”
And she went out. Sometimes he answered:
“Stay fifteen minutes longer, Katérina Vassilievna.”
“Very well,” she then replied.
But generally he answered:
“Au revoir, then, Katérina Vassilievna.”
What sort of people are these, I should like to know; and I should like to know also if they are not simply honest people, whom no one prevents from seeing each other in their own fashion, whom no one will prevent from marrying whenever the idea occurs to them, and who, consequently, have no reason to hear up against obstacles. Yet I am embarrassed by the coolness of their association, not so much on their account as on my own. Am I condemned, in my capacity of novelist, to compromise all my heroes and heroines in the eves of well-bred people? Some eat and drink, others do not get excited without reason: what an uninteresting set!
And yet, in the opinion of the aged Polosoff, the affair meant marriage. Considering the nature of the relations between the supposed lovers, how could he imagine such a thing? Had he not heard their conversations? Not always, it is true; sometimes they stayed with him, but oftener went to sit or promenade in other rooms. It is true that this did not change at all the character of their conversation. These conversations were such that a connoisseur in matters of the human heart (a human heart which men really do not have) would have lost all hope of ever seeing Katérina Vassilievna and Beaumont married. Not that they did not; talk of sentiments to each other; they talked of those as they did of everything else, but only a little and in what a tone! In a tone that was revolting, so calm was it and so horrible in the eccentricity of the thoughts expressed. Here is an example.
[To be continued.]
“A free man is one who enjoys the use of his reason and his faculties; who is neither blinded by passion, nor hindered or driven by oppression, nor deceived by erroneous opinions.” — Proudhon.
In the next number of Liberty will begin the serial publication, to continue through three or four issues, of a new novelette, entitled
The Wife of Number 4,237,
translated especially for this journal by Sarah E. Holmes from the French of
The Princess Sophie Kropotkine.
It is the simple story of an unfortunate workingman who pays with his liberty and his life for an act of legitimate indignation provoked by the sight of monstrous social iniquities, this picturesque and dramatic tale, filled with personal memories and impressions, was written by the courageous companion of the prisoner of Clairvaur in the shadow of the walls within which, for three years, the governors of France, obligingly acting as jailers for the Czar, kept confined that ardent and devoted Anarchist and eminent savant, Pierre Kropotkine.
Do the Knights of Labor Love Liberty?
To the Editor of Liberty:
In Liberty of January 9 I see, in your notice of our friend, Henry Appleton, having become the editor of the “Newsman,” this precautionary language, or mild censure, from you to him: “Will he pardon me if I add that I look with grave doubts upon his advice to newsdealers to join the Knights of Labor? His own powerful pen has often clearly pointed on it in these columns the evils of that organization and of all others similar to it.” And further on you say:
“A significant hint of what may be expected from the Knights of Labor is to be found in the address of Grand Master Powderly, the head and front of that body, before its latest national convention. He said in most emphatic terms that it would not do for the organization to simply frown upon the use of dynamite, but that any member hereafter advocating the use of dynamite must be summarily expelled.”
Now, I do not know how much you know about the Knights of Labor, nor do I know how much our friend, Henry Appleton, knows about the Knights of Labor. But this much I am impelled to say after reading your reproving strictures,— that it is neither safe, prudent, or wise to condemn or censure any body of liberty-loving and earnestly truth-seeking people who are associated together to enlighten themselves as to what real Liberty is as well as to what are their most important and highest natural rights, duties, or privileges without a full knowledge of their objects, aims, and their methods to promote and achieve them. I can farther confidently say that I have for more than forty years been an earnest seeker for these all-important natural scientific principles as taught or set forth by the most advanced individual thinkers or defenders of Liberty,— real Anarchists, if you please,— and I have found more persons bolding said views and seeking the knowledge of these natural, inalienable laws or principles of scientific government among the members of this condemned association or school than I ever found outside of it. And I am confident that I can find more friends and earnest defenders of Liberty in its ranks than I can find outside of it. In fact, this school was founded to place Labor on a scientific basis and teach individual self-government at the expense of the individual without invading or infringing on the rights of others. Therefore, notwithstanding the opinions you have formed or the conclusions you may have arrived at in regard to this association or school, I fully indorse Friend Appleton’s advice to the newsmen as well as all other useful workers who are in pursuit of Liberty, truth, justice, and a knowledge of their natural rights and highest duties. And although this association or school may b» composed of a large majority of members who are laboring under the disadvantages of previous superstition, education, or training by the bossism of Church and State, nevertheless I esteem it the best opportunity, opening, or school in which to free them from said superstitions that I have ever met with, and for which the best minds in said school are constantly and earnestly laboring. And pardon me, Friend Tucker, for the suggestion that perhaps, if you knew more about their objects, aims, and methods, you might think better of them than you now do.
Criticism from a man like “Fair Play,” whom I know to be a real knight of labor, whether nominally one or not, is always welcome in these columns, and will always deserve and secure my attention. In attending to it in this special case my first business is to repeat what I have said already,— that I misquoted Henry Appleton, that he has never advised newsdealers to join the Knights of Labor, and that he is as much opposed to the principles and purposes of that order as I am.
I don’t pretend to know very much about the Knights of Labor, but I know enough to make it needless to know more. I know, for instance, their “Declaration of Principles,” and my fatal objections to these principles, or most of them, no additional knowledge of the order could possibly obviate or in any way invalidate or weaken. Of them the preamble itself says: “Most of the objects herein set forth can only be obtained through legislation, and it is the duty of all to assist in nominating and supporting with their votes only such candidates as will pledge their support to those measures, regardless of party.” Does “Fair Play” mean to tell me that he knows of any “real Anarchist” who consents to stultify himself by belonging to a society founded on that proposition? If he does, I answer that that man either does not know what Anarchy means, or else is as false to his principles as would be an Infidel who should subscribe to the creed of John Calvin. Anarchy and this position are utterly irreconcilable, and no man who understands both of them (with the possible exception of Stephen Pearl Andrews) would ever attempt to reconcile them.
But what are these objects which these “liberty-loving” people expect to realize by that eminently Anarchistic weapon, the ballot? The “Declaration” goes on to state them. “We demand at the hands of the State” (think of an Anarchist demanding anything of the State except its death!):
“That all lands now held for speculative purposes be taxed to their full value.” How long since taxation became an Anarchistic measure? It is my impression that Anarchists look upon taxation as the bottom tyranny of all.
“The enactment of laws to compel corporations to pay their employees weekly in lawful money.” Anarchism practically rests upon freedom of contract. Does not this impair it? What party, outside of the makers of a contract, has any right to decide its conditions?
“The enactment of laws providing for arbitration between employers and employed, and to enforce the decision of the arbitrators.” That is, the State must set the rate of wages and the conditions of the performance of labor. The Anarchist who would indorse that must be a curiosity.
“The prohibition by law of the employment of children under fifteen years of age in workshops, mines, and factories.” In other words, a boy of fourteen shall not be allowed to choose his occupation. What Anarchist takes this position?
“That a graduated income tax be levied.” How this would lessen the sphere of government!
“The establishment of a national monetary system, in which a circulating medium in necessary quantity shall issue direct to the people without the intervention of banks; that all the national issue shall be full legal tender in payment of all debts, public and private; and that the government shall not guarantee or recognize private banks, or create any banking corporations.” If “Fair Play” knows of any Anarchists who have subscribed to this, I wish he would furnish their addresses. I should like to send them Colonel Greene’s “Mutual Banking” and the keen and powerful chapter of Lysander Spooner’s “Letter to Grover Cleveland” which treats of the congressional crime of altering contracts by legal-tender laws. Perhaps they might thus be brought to their senses.
But need I, as I easily might, extend this list of tyrannical measures to convince Friend “Fair Play” that, however much I might know about the Knights of Labor, I could not think better of them than I now do?
The trouble is that “Fair Play” and reformers generally do not yet know what to make of such a phenomenon in journalism as a radical reform paper which, instead of offering the right hand of fellowship to everything calling itself radical and reformatory, adopts a principle for its compass and steers a straight course by it. They all like it first-rate until its course conflicts with theirs. Then they exclaim in horror. I am sorry to thus shock them, but I cannot help it; I must keep straight on. When I launched this little newspaper craft, I hoisted the flag of Liberty. I hoisted it not as a name merely, but as a vital principle, by which I mean to live and die. With the valued aid of “Fair Play” and others, added to my own efforts, it has been kept flying steadily at the masthead. It has not been lowered an inch, and, while I have strength to defend it, it never will be. And if any man attempts to pull it down, I care not who he may be, Knight of Capital or Knight of Labor, I propose, at least with mental and moral ammunition, to “shoot him on the spot.”
Macdonald Shows His Heels Again.
What is the use of arguing with a man who is playing off, who will not stay put, and who is determined not to be convinced?
There is lots of use in it, where the man has his shingle out every week as a “liberal,” and assumes to stand for truth. It keeps the man prancing, and every time he kicks up he gradually convinces the public that the mule end of him is the biggest side of him.
I have got Brother Macdonald of the “Truth Seeker” to prancing. He kicks up like a wild colt on this subject of Anarchism, and, if I can keep him kicking long enough, he will yet certainly convince his readers which end of him is talking. He knows that he and all his tribe of “freethinkers” are radically lame and inconsistent in standing for the State, while going for the Church, and it makes him “whee up” when his ribs are poked on the subject. His is a “whee up” argument all through, and I propose to keep poking him so long as he even dares to whee up. Some of the old nags in liberalism cannot do even as much as that.
Liberalism! Ye gods and little fishes! Macdonald says that, when I go from my house to my office and find a sidewalk intervening, it is my duty to either help pay for it, or walk in the slush of the street. Yet even after I take to the street, I am still a trespasser, for that has been paved for me. My plain duty is to get out of the town. But after I get out of the town, I am no better off, for somebody has built the roads for me. The thing very soon reduces itself to the plain proposition that, if I do not like to pay for the traps and trumpery that have been laid ahead of me in my path in life without my knowledge, request, and consent, it is my duty as a consistent man to get right off of this planet.
Now, Editor Macdonald, I have just as good a right on this planet as you have. Yet you want to drive me off because I demur from paying for things that I have not ordered. Do you like to pay for what you have not ordered? You say I should not take advantage of what other people have done, unless I am willing to pay my portion. I cannot help it, unless I commit suicide; but does this fact constitute any valid reason why I am morally bound to help pay for what I had no part in ordering? Upon your sublime reasoning every fat-bellied Catholic priest of whose ecclesiastical paunch you take advantage in getting up your “Truth Seeker” cartoons ought to tax you to pay for a portion of his big dinners.
Pretty boy! How sweetly you talk! “Civil government,” you say, “performs a thousand necessary acts which individuals cannot do.”
How do you know what individuals can or cannot do, when civil government takes their business by force out of their hands?
“It protects us from outside invasion,” you say.
Ask your tax-payers in New York about that.
“It gives us a stable currency.”
A good body of your readers are Greenbackers. How they will smile at this joke of yours!
“It gives us schools, instead of having each family teach its own children.”
Yes, and that is why your free-thought children are obliged to have the Bible pumped down them in the public schools, and you forced to pay for it when do not believe in the book. It is rather extraordinary check, even in you, Macdonald, to present such an argument as this.
“It punishes domestic wrong-doers, cares for the poor, the insane,” etc.
But first settle whether it is itself not the chief of wrong-doers. Does it ever punish itself? Is it not the fact of its own existence that primarily creates the poor and the insane? It is to this point that I cannot hold you, Brother Macdonald. You “whee up” every time.
But at last civil Deacon Macdonald wheels in his big gun. he says the people can change or abolish the government if they choose, and they are alone to blame if their servants steal from them.
It is, as it were, as if somebody should roll a big stone before my door. When I protest, the man says that I am to blame if I tolerate it, for there is a constitutional provision by which I can change or abolish this state of things whenever I will. But what is the stone before my door for? I insist. The man then has the effrontery to say that I helped roll it there.
This is just the position of Brother Macdonald. I ask him by what right this big stone (the State) is rolled before the door of my individual liberty in the first place, that I should be at the pains of abolishing it constitutionally? Macdonaid says I helped roll it there. He knows better. But, finding no other way to get out of ray house, I climb over it, and thus make use of it. For this forced use of the stone Macdonald says I ought in duty to pay, or else get off of the planet. O thou wonderful youth thou rising Prince of Truth Seekers! thou dost indeed deserve a chromo.
Once again do I call Brother Macdonald back to the original question of his blank inconsistency. I expect that he will do little more than “whee up” again but, as I say, if he continues to show the best end of himself long enough, he will furnish an argument stronger than my philosophy, which unfortunately he seems constitutionally incapable of assimilating.
The Senator and the Editor.
IV. The Editor.
The Bona Fide Editorial.
One word, reader patient,— reader interested, too, we hope,— one word to explain that, when we began giving the “Herald’s” editorial we had discovered, in the previous number, we had quite forgotten that the remarks of our editor that were of real, absolute interest to us were contained in the second instalment of his views inspired by the Edmunds speech. This little fact set forth in order that you should understand our statement that the editorial utterance there furnished would constitute a full reply to the bogus editorial first introduced, we make way at once for
Work and Wealth.
“In yesterday’s brief comments on the remarks of Senator Edmunds at the Merchants’ dinner, we alluded to the growing disparity between the gains of money and muscle; between financiering skill and mental or manual labor. It must be apparent to the dullest apprehension that this great and increasing difference in the results of different kinds of labor can not be accounted for except on the supposition of some lurking injustice. How is it that money, which of itself does nothing at all, can be manipulated so that it shall command a hundred and a thousandfold to the onefold of labor, and labor not be defrauded? Answer that, financiers, and you will go far to justify the present condition of things. In our judgment you can not answer. If you attempt, you will be confused by your own logic. For what is all your financiering but so much labor? And who are you that your labor is to your fellows, as a hundred to one?
“No, gentlemen, the complaint of labor is legitimate. Senator Edmunds spoke words of truth and soberness; there is something wrong at bottom. The world is for all and not for a few. In no other country has so much emphasis been laid on this fact. We have spent a century in vain efforts to establish the political significance of it. America has to learn now that industrial equality is the first step to a free civilization. All else follows.
“In what spirit, therefore, shall we approach this subject? Can any one offer a good reason why we should not regard the wide-spread discontent among the laboring classes sympathetically? It is common enough to denounce the agitators who are getting the ear of the public as ‘knaves or fools,’ and to decry all their various movements. Socialism, Nihilism, Communism, Anarchism are too apt to be regarded as only the wild and visionary outbreaks of ignorance and passion stirred into frantic life by demagogic appeals. But the wise and thoughtful will make no such mistake. Men like the Vermont senator understand too well the workings of human nature to harbor such a delusion. That a substantial claim for justice lies at the heart of all these outcries of reform only the ignorant will deny.
“What is that claim?
“Suppose in the investigation it shall appear that the ‘criminal class’ in every community, speaking with a due regard to the fact, goes dressed in broadcloth, lives on the bounty of the land, and moves in so-called highest social circles? If injustice is being done to labor, who is doing it? Who but the well-dressed manipulators of capital?
“We come to the discussion of the labor problem with the profoundest human sympathies. And with a courage, also, to be prepared for whatever startling result honest and patient research shall reveal.
“In considering the various propositions for the redress of the wrongs of labor, we encounter, first, the one rapidly coming into public approval,— that of conference and arbitration. The various labor organizations, for a long time inefficient, have grown so strong of late that capital has been forced into a more conciliatory mood. Suppose that it now consents to meet labor half way, and yield its claims with those of labor to arbitration. Are the demands of justice then met? We shall not question but that this mode of settlement may be an improvement on the past. To say, however, that it is at all satisfactory as a final adjustment of the relation between capital and labor, employer and employed, would be, in our judgment, to abandon the industrial problem as impossible of solution. It is not a little surprising that those who prate most of the ‘harmony’ that should exist between capital and labor in the same breath glorify arbitration? What opportunity for a third party as arbiter, unless capital and labor are belligerent? In one sentence, it may be said that arbitration is the equal rights of belligerents to be heard and have their claims adjusted in a court of compromise. This is not peace. It is only a truce. Matters are eased up, and work goes on until the next occasion when capital gets greedy or labor ambitious.
“When harmony, of which we hear so much, is really secured, it will not be by some patched-up compromise of conflicting claims, but by direct appeal to a recognized standard of equity. In other words, the labor question will be settled by principle, and not by the kindly offices of a court that has no known law of justice to guide it. Suppose the laborer can not live on his wages? By what principle is it known that he ought to have more, and how much more? Justice may be done, or injustice may be done, by this guess work of the arbiter. Equal rights, fair play in letting out to a third party a decision that ought easily to be made by the two parties directly interested, is only a shifting of responsibility, and to no other purpose than preventing an open fight and lotting matters drift a while longer.
“It is said that the employer is wrong when he insists on dictating the terms on which he will employ labor. And the laborer is wrong when he assumes alone to say on what terms he will dispose of his labor. Is not this to confess again that capital and labor are at odds?
“But, aside from this fact, the statement needs clearing up. As between man and man every employer has an absolute right to say what he will pay an employee for his labor. And the right of the laborer to say what he will accept for his labor can not gain-said. Neither can dictate to the other. They are equals. The one may have the other at a disadvantage, and so force the other into submission. That is, the one can starve the other out. In this sense there may be a dictation. It does not follow, however, that dictation of this sort is always wrong. If A wishes to employ B, and B refuses to be employed except at an exorbitant price, A by refusing to pay that much, or more than a specified sum, may be said to dictate terms to B, if B must yield or starve. But would there be any injustice in such dictation? So, on the other hand, B might dictate terms to A and do nothing unjust. It is when one party or the other getting the advantage forces or dictate terms that are unjust that the wrong is done. But, as we have before remarked, who knows when the terms are unjust? How is this matter of wages to be determined? ‘We will not work on starvation wages.’ You wish to live comfortably and lay by something for old age? ‘Certainly, why not?’ And so you consider that your labor is worth enough to allow you to do that? ‘Certainly, it ought to be.’ True — it ought to be. But you and your neighbor differ widely in regard to living ‘comfortably.’ If you are both to determine wrongs by that standard, thought you may do precisely the same work, the amount you will each receive in recompense therefore may vary widely. Thus the only standard of equity attained is each individual’s caprice or whim. Or, it may be honest conviction of what he needs in order to live properly. But the position stated any way can be reduced to an absurdity. If you are to claim reward according to your needs and not in accordance with the service you render, the highwayman can urge precisely the same claim. He may be as much in need as you or the best of men.”
Reader, as we find after all that we shall have to divide this editorial and reserve a part for another time, this may be as good a place to stop as any.
An Honest Government a Miracle.
Such a thing as an honest government, as a whole, is wellnigh impossible. If it were possible, the maxim would not have arisen, that is the best government which governs least. Honest men are, as a rule, content to govern themselves. Bold, grasping, or crafty men are in the majority among those who make a profession of the art of office-getting. It suits these men to be able to “govern.” Honest government is looked upon as a miracle.
A Letter to Grover Cleveland:
On His False, Absurd, Self-Contradictory, and Ridiculous Inaugural Address. By Lysander Spooner.
[The author reserves his copyright in this letter.]
To justify its declaration, that congress has power to alter men’s contracts after they are made, the court dwells upon the fact that, at the times when the legal-tender acts were passed, the government was in peril of its life; and asserts that it had therefore a right to do almost anything for its self-preservation, without much regard to its honesty, or dishonesty, towards private persons. Thus it says:
A civil war was then raging, which seriously threatened the overthrow of the government, and the destruction of the constitution itself. It demanded the equipment and support of large armies and navies, and the employment of money to an extent beyond the capacity of all ordinary sources of supply. Meanwhile the public treasury was nearly empty, and the credit of the government, if not stretched to its utmost tension, had become nearly exhausted. Moneyed institutions had advanced largely of their means, and more could not be expected of them. They had been compelled to suspend specie payments. Taxation was inadequate to pay even the interest on the debt already incurred, and it was impossible to await the income of additional taxes. The necessity was immediate and pressing. The army was unpaid. There was then due to the soldiers in the field nearly a score of millions of dollars. The requisitions from the War and Navy departments for supplies, exceeded fifty millions, and the current expenditure was over one million per day. Foreign credit we had none. We say nothing of the overhanging paralysis of trade, and business generally, which threatened loss of confidence in the ability of the government to maintain its continued existence, and therewith the complete destruction of all remaining national credit.
It was at such a time, and in such circumstances, that congress was called upon to devise means for maintaining the army and navy, for securing the large supplies of money needed, and indeed for the preservation of the government created by the constitution. It was at such a time, and in such an emergency, that the legal-tender acts were passed. — 12 Wallace 540-1.
In the same case Bradley said:
Can the poor man’s cattle, and horses, and corn be thus taken by the government, when the public exigency requires it, and cannot the rich man’s bonds and notes be in like manner taken to reach the same end? — p. 501.
He also said:
It is absolutely essential to independent national existence that government should have a firm hold on the two great instrumentalities of the sword and the purse, and the right to wield them without restriction, on occasions of national peril. In certain emergencies government must have at its command, not only the personal services — the bodies and lives — of its citizens, but the lesser, though not less essential, power of absolute control over the resources of the country. Its armies must be filled, and its navies manned, by the citizens in person. — p. 503.
Also he said:
The conscription may deprive me of liberty, and destroy my life....all these are fundamental political conditions on which life, properly, and money are respectively held and enjoyed under our system of government, nay, under any system of government. There are times when the exigencies of the State rightly absorb all subordinate considerations of private interest, convenience, and feeling. — p. 505.
Such an attempt as this, to justify one crime, by taking for granted the justice of other and greater crimes, is a rather desperate mode of reasoning, for a court of law; to say nothing of a court of justice. The answer to it is, that no government, however good in other respects — any more than any other good institution — has any right to live otherwise than on purely voluntary support. It can have no right take either “the poor man’s cattle, and horses, and corn,” or “the rich man’s bonds and notes,” or poor men’s “bodies and lives,” without their consent. And when a government resorts to such measures to save its life, we need no further proof that its time to die has come. A good government, no more than a bad one, has any right to live by robbery, murder, or any other crime.
But so think not the Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States. On the contrary, they hold that, in comparison with the preservation of the government, all the rights of the people to property, liberty, and life are worthless things, not to be regarded. So they hold that in such an exigency as they describe, congress had the right to commit any crime against private persons, by which the government could be saved. And among these lawful crimes, the court holds that congress had the right to issue money that should serve as a license to all holders of it, to cheat — or rather openly rob — their creditors.
The court might, with just as much reason, have said that, to preserve the life of the government, congress had the right to issue such money as would authorize all creditors to demand twice the amount of their honest dues from all debtors.
The court; might, with just as much reason, have said that, to preserve the life of the government, congress had the right to sell indulgences for all manner of crimes; for theft, robbery, rape, murder, and all other crimes, for which indulgences would bring a price in the market.
Can any one imagine it possible that, if the government had always done nothing but that “equal and exact justice to all men” — which you say it is pledged to do,— but which you must know it has never done,— it could ever have been brought into any such peril of its life, as these judges describe? Could it ever have been necessitated to take either “the poor man’s cattle, and horses, and corn,” or “the rich man’s bonds and notes,” or poor men’s “bodies and lives,” without their consent? Could it ever have been necessitated to “conscript” the poor man — too poor to pay a ransom of three hundred dollars — made thus poor by the tyranny of the government itself — “deprive him of his liberty, and destroy his life”? Could it ever have been necessitated to sell indulgences for crime to either debtors, or creditors, or anybody else? To preserve “the constitution” — a constitution, I repeat, that authorized nothing but “equal and exact justice to all men” — could it ever have been necessitated to send into the field millions of ignorant young men, to cut the throats of other young men as ignorant as themselves — few of whom, on either side, had ever read the constitution, or had any real knowledge of its legal meaning; and not one of whom had ever signed it, or promised to support it, or was under the least obligation to support it?
It is, I think, perfectly safe to say, that not one in a thousand, probably not one in ten thousand, of these young men, who were sent out to butcher others, and be butchered themselves, had any real knowledge of the constitution they were professedly sent out to support; or any reasonable knowledge of the real character and motives of the congresses and courts that profess to administer the constitution. If they had possessed this knowledge, how many of them would have ever gone to the field?
But further. Is it really true that the right of the government to commit all these atrocities:
Are the fundamental political conditions on which life, property, and money are respectively held and enjoyed under our system of government?
If such is the real character of the constitution, can any further proof be required of the necessity that it be buried out of sight at once and forever?
The truth was that the government was in peril, solely because it was not fit to exist. It, and the State governments — all but parts of one and the same system — were rotten with tyranny and crime. And being bound together by no honest tie, and existing for no honest purpose, destruction was the only honest doom to which any of them were entitled. And if we had spent the same money and blood to destroy them, that we did to preserve them, it would have been ten thousand times more creditable to our intelligence and character as a people.
Clearly the court has not strengthened its case at all by this picture of the peril in which the government was placed. It has only shown to what desperate straits a government, founded on usurpation and fraud, and devoted to robbery and oppression, may be brought, by the quarrels that are liable to arise between the different factions — that is, the different bands of robbers — of which it is composed. When such quarrels arise, it is not to be expected that either faction — having never had any regard to human rights, when acting in concert with the other — will hesitate at any new crimes that may he necessary to prolong its existence.
Here was a government that had never had any legitimate existence. It professedly rested all its authority on a certain paper called a constitution; a paper, I repeat, that, nobody had ever signed, that few persons had ever read, that the great body of the people had never seen. This government had been imposed, by a few property holders, upon a people too poor, too scattered, and many of them too ignorant, to resist. It had been carried on, for some seventy years, by a mere cabal of irresponsible men, called lawmakers. In this cabal, the several local bands of robbers — the slaveholders of the South, the iron monopolists, the woollen monopolists, and the money monopolists, of the North — were represented. The whole purpose of its laws was to rob and enslave the many — both North and South — for the benefit of a few. But these robbers and tyrants quarreled — as lesser bands of robbers have done — over the division of their spoils. And hence the war. No such principle as justice to anybody — black or white — was the ruling motive on either side.
In this war, each faction — already steeped in crime — plunged into new, if not greater, crimes. In its desperation, it resolved to destroy men and money, without limit, and without mercy, for the preservation of its existence. The northern faction, having more men, money, and credit than the southern, survived the Kilkenny fight. Neither faction cared anything for human rights then, and neither of them has shown any regard for human rights since. “As a war measure,” the northern faction found it necessary to put an end to the one great crime, from which the southern faction had drawn its wealth. But all other government crimes have been more rampant since the war, than they were before. Neither the conquerors, nor the conquered, have yet learned that no government can have any right to exist for any other purpose than the simple maintenance of justice between man and man.
And now, years after the fiendish butchery is over, and after men would seem to have had time to come to their senses, the Supreme Court of the United States, representing the victorious faction, comes forward with the declaration that one of the crimes — the violation of men’s private contracts — resorted to by its faction, in the heat of conflict, as a means of preserving its power over the other, was not only justifiable and proper at the time, but that it is also a legitimate and constitutional power, to be exercised forever hereafter in time of peace!
Mark the knavery of these men. They first say that, because the government was in peril of its life, it had a right to license great crimes against private persons, if by so doing it could raise money for its own preservation. Next they say that, although the government is no longer in peril of its life, it may still go on forever licensing the same crimes as it was before necessitated to license!
They thus virtually say that the government may commit the same crimes in time of peace, that it is necessitated to do in time of war; and, that, consequently, it has the same right to “take the poor man’s cattle, and horses, and corn,” anil “the rich man’s bonds and notes,” and poor men’s “bodies and lives,” in time of peace, when no necessity whatever can be alleged, as in time of war, when the government is in peril of its life.
In short, they virtually say, that this government exists for itself alone; and that: all the natural rights of the people, to property, liberty, and life, are mere baubles, to be disposed of, at its pleasure, whether in time of peace, or in war.
Anarchy in Australia.
To the Editor of Liberty:
Australasian Anarchy is as yet in the womb. The distinguishing characteristic of these colonics at the present time is of an exactly opposite nature. We are the victims of what Herbert Spencer calls “over-legislation,” the colony of Victoria generally taking the load, and the other colonies apeing her with lamb-like humility. Anarchy is a cause not yet clearly represented, and neither understood nor advocated in Australia; though, on the other hand, its fundamental principles are sunk deep in the minds of some of our clearest thinkers, and the remarkable powers which the State has usurped have helped to force on the minds of reflective persons the innate evils of a powerful government, and the vital necessity of individual liberty as the only safeguard of the general welfare. Biblical research makes men infidels, philosophic reasoning makes them atheists, and political experience makes them Anarchists. And no better hot-bed for Anarchy could be wished for than State-ridden Victoria, except perhaps the likes of Asiatic despotisms or the unfortunate land of the Czars; where State tyranny has developed almost to its full. Well did Mr. Joseph Symes tell the jury recently that the present policy of the government would “drive people to form secret societies or to become Nihilists.” If they do not do that, they will become helpless paupers if the present state of things is continued much longer. The prevailing impression is (and those styling themselves “free-thinkers” are amongst the strongest adherents to that impression) that the State is the most sacred and necessary institution in existence, and that it is the duty of every human being to not alone treat it with unquestioning respect, but to assist one and all in strengthening and fortifying its powers,— in short, making it omnipotent. To give you some idea of what I mean, let me briefly note some of the “laws” of Victoria, framed frequently by charlatans and office-seekers, and then forced by an ignorant majority on a weak-kneed and cowardly minority, who have not the manhood to stand up for their rights, but exclaim with knavish sycophancy: “Oh, it has now become the law, and it is the duty of every citizen to respect the law!”
And this is a specimen of what these respect-deserving laws are like. In the first place, every individual is dictated to by this bullying government as to where, in many instances, he shall purchase his necessities, and what price he shall pay for them, if he fails in attending to these mandates, he is amenable to “the law.” In other words, the greater part of our imports have to pay that thieves’ den, the custom-house, an exorbitant tariff on nearly every article imported, unless the importer chooses the alternative of purchasing an inferior article of a man possessing no other qualification than that his place of business is situated somewhere within the boundary line of what is called, “the colony of Victoria.” So the unfortunate housekeeper has to frequently pay something like twenty-five per cent, and even fifty per cent, extra for the articles he requires in order to recoup the importers the amount paid to the custom-house plus the importers’ profits on the outlay. And all this to give a few incompetent noodles an opportunity of running a trade when they lack sufficient nous to do it in competition with better workmen, who use better materials, but have committed the unpardonable sin of living the wrong side of our boundary line. The sound principle of buying in the cheapest market and selling in the dearest is rejected, and “encouragement of native industries” (irrespective of merit) takes its place. Sometimes an erring one tries to obtain a certain article from abroad without paying the officially-appointed thieves at the custom-house, and he has to pay still more for thus daring to assert his independence of the officers of “the law.” Only the other day, four men (three of whom were foreigners) were charged with this grave offence. They had been caught smuggling eight boxes of cigars, on which about seventeen pounds (or about eighty dollars) duty should have been paid recording to law; but, as they had attempted to evade it, due was fined one hundred pounds (four hundred and eighty dollars) and the other three were fined twenty-five pounds (one hundred and twenty dollars) each, the cigars being forfeited into the bargain.
But the unfortunate Victorian importer has more than that to suffer from. If he desires to bring into the colony for purposes of sale anything which the ignorant and arbitrary custom-house officers object to, they seize it and the rest of the importation too, if he is not too smart for them. In October last, Mr. Terry, a Melbourne bookseller, landed a case of the “Truth Seeker” publication from the United States; but the fool who is set to meddle in other people’s business had his religious sensibilities rudely shocked when he came across Bennett’s “Open Letter to Jesus Christ” and the report of the “Trial of D. M. Bennett” for sending objectionable matter through the mails. Could anything be more preposterous? The State officer of this country condemns as obscene a report of the official actions of another country similarly constituted! The whole case was seized, and would have been detained, had not Mr. Terry taken a firm stand against it. He threatened to institute legal proceedings against the authorities (which probably would have proved fruitless), but at all events they appeared to dread a public exposure, and restored the whole shipment minus the two books specially objected to by the officer.
And when a man gets his goods through the customs, the State has not done with him. It is actually passing a bill at the present moment to prohibit, men keeping their shops open after a certain hour each evening and to limit the hours of work in factories. Some years ago, private enterprise started all “eight-hours” movement in the colony. It grew; and it has effected a mighty influence throughout Victoria. Now, those who are reaping its benefits have forsaken the grand old institution which has won for them so much, and have induced that rotten old fossil, parliament, to introduce a Factories and Workshops Bill, making “eight-hours working” part of the law, and its non-observance a crime. Nearly all admit that only private enterprise could have inaugurated the movement, and yet, now that they have so influenced public opinion in its favor,— and even influenced the government too,— they have cast it aside as valueless; and the government, seeing “which way the cat jumps,”— and that cat is the majority,— has introduced and nearly passed a bill dictating the hours in which the minority shall work, whether it be to their advantage or their ruin.
Our grandmotherly government is also trying to reform our drinking habits, and make teetotallers of us all. The new Licensing Amendment Bill, which our Chief Secretary, Mr. Graham Berry, introduced some months ago, aimed at abolishing barmaids, creating a kind of “local-option,” giving each district the right of granting licenses according to their own discretion, and other similar “reformatory” measures. The bill has since passed to and fro between the upper and lower houses, and has been beautifully mutilated in the operation, so much so that many of its admirers, who have watched it with a careful interest, are as uncertain as I am as to what it resembles in its present shape. I can only say that the “temperance” party, who rejoiced over it at its initiation, have utterly repudiated it since its transformations, and nobody seems willing to father it. Probably it will shortly be published in its new garments, when I may enlighten you (and myself too) as to its real nature.
It is a dangerous thing for a Victorian to become a parent, unless he is an Anarchist; for we have copied many of the evil institutions of “Mother England,” and one of these is her Vaccination Act. Vaccination in this unfortunate colony is compulsory on every child born into it. Though a man may know, and be ready to prove, that vaccination is a terrible! evil and far worse than the disease which it is wrongly supposed to be the preventative of, he is bound to have every child vaccinated before it is six months of age; or, in the event of refusal, he will be liable to a penalty of from ten to forty shillings as often as the police choose to bring him before the magistrates, unless he is wanting in the Anarchist spirit and “caves in” in the meantime by getting his child vaccinated and thereby running the risk of having its blood poisoned for life.
Neither should a man commit the unpardonable crime of being a Chinaman, in Victoria. There is nothing Australians more thoroughly detest than a Chinaman. They object to him because he works for lower wages than white men do; for they cannot see that his working cheaply is a gain to the society employing him, and that, if he worked for higher wages, they would have better cause to complain of him,— though, as a matter of fact, it would still be no business of theirs. They object to him because he feeds on little else than rice; and in this, likewise, they think they have a grievance; for they cannot see that the less he consumes of their food supply, the more they have left for themselves. They object to the Chinaman because he works harder and longer than the white servant does; and in this they fail to see that they are the gainers, as it simply means that the Chinaman is giving his employer better results for a less remuneration than a white servant would do. And for all these and a similar lot of “crimes” of which the Chinese are guilty, the Australian legislatures have passed enactments imposing “poll-taxes” on every Chinaman entering the colonies. A return recently laid on the table of the Victorian Legislative Assembly showed that daring the three and one-half years ending September, 1885, the sum of £3,360 had been extorted from 336 Chinamen by our knavish poll-tax system in Victoria alone. Two days after this motion had been tabled, the same legislative body introduced a clause into the Factories and Workshops Bill (which I have already-referred to) making it compulsory on every Chinaman manufacturing any kind of furniture to stamp all such goods with the name and address of the maker, failing in which he shall be liable to a fine of not less than five pounds and not more than fifty pounds for each such “offence.” I need hardly tell you that this arbitrary law is being enacted to check the sale of all furniture of Chinese manufacture. This is a colony which has adopted the principle of “Protection,” and these ridiculous principles (if they can be rationally designed as such) have permeated the minds and influenced the sentiments of the greater part of our society. And our trades unionists are no better than our legislators. At the Intercolonial Trades Conference hold at Sydney (N.S.W.) a few weeks ago, it was decided that it is advisable to exclude the Chinese from these colonies by indiscriminately imposing a poll-tax on every one of them desirous of immigrating to our shores, and by imposing an annual tax on every employer of Chinese labor. They even went so far as to propose that it should be “compulsory upon Chinese to denationalize themselves by cutting off their pigtails and adopting the European clothing and customs.” The latter clause, however, one of the party succeeded in getting struck out of the resolution. What ingenious busy-bodies our trades unionists and “workingmen’s friends” are, to imagine that the cutting off of the Chinamen’s pigtails would have any effect upon the law of supply and demand which is operating between us and themselves! But it is after all on par with the rest of their ideas.
There are other functions of the local “State,” which I might tell you of, but I have only time to enumerate some of them; at some future time I may tell you more about them. We have a State system of education, State railways, State laws against Sunday trailing (and ludicrous they are!). The State possesses our public library, art galleries, and museums, and closes them on Sundays. It possesses our post-offices, and withholds their use from whom it likes, and also prohibits them from running an opposition one. I expect that when the post-office authorities discover that they are delivering to me Liberty and the London “Anarchist,” my own name will be amongst the list of those who are deprived of the right of using that institution. I can merely allude to the now Administration of Justice Bill, which a politician named Kerferd has introduced in order to create a judgeship for himself, just after drawing public attention and sympathy towards himself by persecuting the freethinkers. The tax on bachelors, which one M. P. seriously proposed in the Legislative Assembly, I must also pass over with this brief allusion; as I must also the proposal to introduce “direct labor representation” into parliament, by giving individuals in the various trades the privilege of direct voting to send their representatives to parliament, in addition to the vote they exercise as ordinary citizens.
One piece of corruption which has just come to light I ought not to pass over in silence. In our Legislative Assembly last month it eked out that a lawn-tennis court was being fitted up at the rear of the parliament house for the convenience of M. P.’s, and that the government had paid the Church of England ten thousand pounds for the land. This is what our politicians tax us for, and yet nobody seems to pay any attention to this swindling, but cheerfully vote for the men who tax them the most.
It cannot be expected that a State which thus limits human actions at almost every turn would draw the line at the liberty of press and platform. If any one had thought otherwise, his mistake must have been rudely dispelled long before this. Mr. Thomas Walker has recently been prosecuted by the Sydney government for lecturing on Malthusianism and illustrating his remarks with diagrams of the human body from standard works on anatomy and physiology, which the State authorities considered “obscene”; through a technical inaccuracy in the summons, the case fell through, and he was discharged with a caution not to repeat the “offence.” Mr. Walker, who has a mild touch of Anarchy in him, said he would “offend” at the first opportunity. It is to be hoped that the opportunity will soon occur, and the promise be fulfilled.
Mr. Joseph Symes, the able atheistic lecturer — but who clings to the republican superstition of “the right of the majority” to dictate modes of action to the minority, and the principle that a government should be as near omnipotence as it is possible to make it — has undergone a series of prosecutions by the government for daring to lecture on Sundays when a charge was made for admission in direct defiance of the law; though it is really a covert attempt to stop free-thought lectures,— no other law being applicable. Twice was Mr. Symes brought before the police court, three or four times before the supreme court (what irony there is in that name!), and twice have the cases come before a jury only to result in his acquittal and the reluctant acknowledgment of the government that they are unable to effect a conviction, and will consequently take no further action in the matter. A somewhat similar action has been instituted against Mr. Symes for daring to publish and edit a paper called the “Liberator” without finding sureties for five hundred pounds against the publication of “blasphemy” or “sedition” as required by our act of parliament. For neglecting to find these sureties, he made himself liable to a penalty of one hundred pounds. The case was brought before the law-courts, resulting in a resolution of the jury that he pay a penalty of twenty-five pounds in all,— the minimum penalty which they could inflict. There the verdict stands, and the debt too, for Mr. Symes has publicly stated over and over again that he would rot in jail before he would pay it. You would perhaps think from what I have just said that Mr. Symes is an avowed Anarchist. Far from it. He may be so in practice, but he is not in theory. He says he believes in respecting laws; freethinkers are the most law-abiding of the citizens; he only breaks bad laws. Strangely enough, Mr. Symes overlooks the fact that the badness or goodness of a law varies according to the opinions of the critic who inspects it, and that what he is really lighting for is the right of private judgment. The very laws he has been breaking are good in the eyes of the majority which he professes to reaped and to be willing to submit to, and that same majority would spurn laws which he would consider good ones. Although I note this State-respect in Mr. Symes, I am bound to admit that it is fast leaving him, and Anarchist principles are following Anarchist actions, as I shall try to show. This brings me to the subject proper of this article,— Anarchy in Australia.
If anyone is spreading the seeds of Anarchy in this colony, it is Mr Joseph Symes. He came out here, comparatively speaking, fresh from the pulpit, preaching respect for the laws of the land; and though he had discarded the omnipotent god of theology and the throned monarch, he still retained substitutes in the form of an omnipotent house of parliament, and an occupant of the presidential chair; and although he had denied the divine right of a King to govern wrong, he still granted the right of a majority to do the same thing. But how little is he calculated to continue advocating that course. He came here preaching Individualism, contempt for gods, priests, monarchies, and aristocracies. He had been here but a few months when he adopted the Anarchical tactics of publishing the “Liberator” in his own way, in utter disregard of a law which he objected to,— the law calling for sureties. In the question of charging for admission on Sundays, he told the Melbourne Secularists from the first that he would tight it out; he would not surrender, if the Melbourne Secularists did not want him to fight it out, he would not work with them, but would leave them at once, and go and fight the battle of Liberty elsewhere. And what did he do with his “Liberator”? (For although it is nominally and financially the property of a company, it is virtually his.) He kept up such a constant tirade of “blasphemy” against the gods, jesuses, holy ghosts, spirits, and the rest of the craft, that it drove the majority which he so admired nearly frantic. And as to “sedition,” — he settled that point at the outset, by advocating republicanism for all these colonies, although they are part of the British Empire; and he severely attacked our ruling monarch, Queen Victoria,— that costly toy which the foolish laborers of our mother-country so liberally support; and he struck neither home, and gave our chief secretary, our attorney general, and many other members of the Victorian parliament such drubbing as probably few of them ever experienced before. Three months ago, when the law cases were impending against him, he held a religious satire, in which he dedicated the hall wherein he lectures to “the worship of Cant,” and facetiously named it “The Church of St. Kerferd,” (Kerferd being the name of the attorney general who was prosecuting him in accordance with the law). During the ceremony he delivered a sermon on the text: “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers, For there is no power but of God; the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.” (Romans, XIII,1, 2.) After satirically allowing from the Bible that kings were divinely appointed, he went on to say: “Rulers cannot possibly rule alone, however great and able they may be. Subordinate rulers there must be of all grades from the king right down through bishops, and peers, and squires, and attorney generals, and governments, and oppositions, to the very lowest policeman, and even to the common informer and the spy....It has been boldly and blasphemously said by the sons of Belial that, since God has taken so much pains to appoint rulers for us, it was much to he regretted that he did not pay them out of his own purse instead of taxing their subjects for that purpose. ‘But God’s ways are not our ways.’ He does the work, and leaves us the duty of paying for it....And it would be monstrous for us to refuse to pay our rulers, when God has appointed them to take care of us. Besides, Beloved, we must not forget that raising taxes and spending the money is really the principal work of government, and how, I ask, could we obey rulers if we refused to pay the taxes they levy. To do so would be flat rebellion....And furthermore, let us note how very rich the people might-become if they had no rulers to support....For the people would no doubt expend the money upon clothes and books and food, and other so-called necessaries of life, instead of paying it to the government; and thus poverty would cease, and people would be so rich and contented that they would so love the present world as to forget all about the blessed world to come....It may be election time, and the people are about to select their rulers, as they vainly suppose; but the Lord does it all....And, lo, when the votes are counted, God’s own chosen rulers are in their proper places, and the people are contented, because they think the choice was their own....Our duty is to obey those rulers whom God has ordained to govern mankind....Martin Luther rebelled against the pope; and the result is that half of Europe has ever since been left to its own devices, boasting of freedom and having no infallible head to direct them. And the Lord has punished the Protestant countries by showering upon them more intelligence than upon any others....And now behold the horrible condition of those that rebel against and disobey their ruler....In such a state the rulers are checked and hampered; they are not half so rich as God intended, and the people are not half so poor. Newspapers and books abound, and the people read them in spite of gods and rulers both. They are independent, and openly boast of it....Choose ye this day whom ye will serve? Will you take the rule of God’s anointed priests, prophets, attorney general, and the police, along with poverty and ignorance, here, with all the glory of Paradise somewhere else? Or will you insist upon having your so-called rights here, with liberty, intelligence, and independence, and risk damnation in some other world? I cannot choose for you. If you prefer wealth, intelligence, liberty here to the bliss which only slavery and poverty can merit, take your choice.” Such were the sentiments which Mr. Symes uttered in that sarcastic sermon not long since. A few weeks after, he delivered an excellent lecture upon “The Worship of Moloch, Past and Present.” It was no satire, like the preceding, but a scathing denunciation of the principle of government. I shall not weary you with extracts, but shall merely quote the concluding paragraph, which is too good to overlook. Hero it is; “And now, what is the cure for Moloch-worship? Independence. That is the independence I mean which grows from personal enlightement. There is no other cure. You may alter the form of government, you may extend the franchise. But as long as men are fools enough to worship at all, the priests will fleece them. It is the superstition within that is the root of the evil. Destroy this, and the external embodiment vanish. There is no cure for these evils except the rejection of the god-idea; he who worships is either hypocrite or slave. Be neither; and gods and kings and popes and priests and all fortune-tellers must cease their tyranny and impositions.
I am not a Nihilist. I cannot see how the world can ever do without some sort of government. But it seems to me inconceivable that the world could ever suffer more from absolute Nihilism than it has suffered from governments. What is history? The record of the crimes of Moloch, the crimes of kings, queens, aristocrats, and priests, and of the senseless folly of their dupes and victims. Shall it be ever so? It is for the masses to say yes or no to that.” Again, in his admirable lecture upon “Giordano Bruno: the Atheist Martyr,” Mr. Symes said, when speaking of Bruno when facing his death: “He still stood up for the MAN. Yes, the MAN; I want no better word. And it is that I am fighting for. I want to see the MAN take the place of the gods. I want to see manhood and womanhood come to the front in its proper nature,— not looking up to the policeman or the father-confessor, or to any superior, to guide them. But I want to see a true manhood, which dares to think, dares to speak, dares to do, and dares to suffer.” And. to crown all, Mr. Symes says in last week’s “Liberator”: “When I came to Victoria less than two years ago, I was not a lawyer; I am not a lawyer now, and never intend to be. I love neither law nor gospel; they have both far more authority than truth or common sense. Expensive luxuries they may be, but of little practical advantage.” Such is the rebellious stratum which underlies Mr. Symes’s recent utterances and writings; and I leave to my Anarchist friends to decide whether I am not right in terming him an Anarchist in practice and a good deal in theory also.
However this may be, there are two individuals in Melbourne, to my own knowledge, who have donned the appellation of Anarchists lately, and do not hesitate to defend its principles from the public platform; and they are Mr. F. P. Upham, late of Rhode Island (U.S.A.), and myself. Mr. Upham delivered an interesting address a few months ago entitled “What is Anarchy?” in which be advocated the rights of the individual against any majority or minority whatsoever, illustrating his remarks with many stubborn facts drawn from contemporary history. He warmly advocated the use of dynamite where other methods were futile to overthrow tyranny and demand the freedom of the individual. I warmly supported him, though taking up a somewhat different line of argument. Other speakers partially supported him, the majority of them opposing him vehemently. Another able exponent of Anarchist principles is Mr. James Donovan, a disciple of Herbert Spencer, whom he follows closely and unswervingly. He will show every fault in the systems of government that the most advanced Anarchist can; but at the same time he, like many others, falls back on the ungrounded hope that that essentially rotten and corrupt institution, the State, is the only one which we can trust to ensure justice in the dealings between man and man. Mr. Henley, an able exponent and student of Darwinism, read a paper a few weeks ago, entitled: “What is Man?” in which he showed that the law of evolution and scientific observation had taught us that, in the lower stages of life on the earth, the struggle between the species was keener and more destructive, but, as the type advanced towards perfection, interference gradually lessened till it reached the highest point in man, where liberty was more developed and progress therefore made more sure. Subsequent speakers said that laissez faire meant Anarchy, and that Anarchy meant disorder; whereupon I once more got on my legs and defended Anarchy from the imputations which had been cast upon it, and the false conception of it which prevailed. I have offered to read a paper before the same society, entitled: “What is Anarchy?” and I have no doubt it will lead to an instructive debate. I shall try and send a copy to Liberty, if it will be acceptable; and if I should make any misstatements in it, I should like you to correct them. But I do not fear any flagrant errors, for the more I study the literature of Anarchy, the more am I satisfied that it is chiefly the different use of words which divides us occasionally, and that your principles and my own are virtually the same, though yours may be somewhat more clearly defined and further worked out.
Such is briefly the relative position of State Socialism and Anarchy in these parts, as far I can learn. There may be some Anarchists among us, but they keep it secret, and as there is no organization to bring them together, it is impossible to know them or to know their numbers. There is one thing, however, I do know,— and that is that the Australian colonies, and Victoria especially, want a good pronounced Anarchist lecturer to crush out the pauperizing spirit of State reliance which is destroying the health and vitality of the nation, and leaving us a helpless lot of cowards, dependent on the priests and politicians instead of upon ourselves. Sydney (N.S.W.) can run five or six freetliought lecturers at a time; Melbourne has now two; and the sooner a staunch Anarchist lecturer, like your E. C. Walker, is added to the number, the better will it be for us law-ridden Australasians.
David A. Andrade.
South Yarra, Melbourne, December 20, 1885.