Liberty Vol. IV. No. 4.
Not the Daughter but the Mother of Order
Tchernychewsky’s Life and Trial.
Eighteen Christian Centuries:
Or, The Evolution of the Gospel of Anarchy.
An Essay on the Meaning of History. By Dyer D. Lum.
Mr. Lum Finds Liberty Wanting.
Use Them Instead of Abusing Them.
Luckily His Shoulders are Broad.
“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.
The Chicago “Vorbote” has appeared again, but with four pages instead of eight. Its appearance, however, by no means indicates a victory for the freedom of the press, for its editors doubtless realize that, if they pass certain limits in the expression of their opinions, their paper will be promptly suppressed, and are scrupulously avoiding this danger. Censorship, no less than suppression, is a denial of freedom.
The long delay in the issue of this number of Liberty was unavoidable. Another publishing house announced its intention of publishing a translation of “What’s To Be Done?” which obliged me to drop everything else and give all my time and energy to the immediate appearance and sale of my own edition. My efforts were rewarded. My book was the first on the market, the first edition was exhausted in four days, and the second is now ready.
Contributors whose articles have been waiting a long time, and publishers whose books and pamphlets have thus far gone unnoticed, must forgive me and be patient. That concrete ratiocinative process termed the “logic of events,” to which my friend Lum is so prone to subordinate his own reason, has had a moderately strong grip on me for a few weeks past, and much matter that has been prepared for these columns I have been obliged (to use a printers’ phrase) to “hang on the outside of the chases.”
At the special session of the General Assembly, Knights of Labor, in Cleveland, there was a great hue and cry about an alleged combination or ring known as the Home Club, formed within District Assembly 49 of New York, with the purpose of obtaining the salaried offices of the older, the leading spirit in the conspiracy being Victor Drury, i know nothing about the Home Club, but I do know something about Victor Drury, and have no hesitation in saying that he is the leading spirit in no enterprise for the feathering of individual nests. If there lives a man who thoroughly despises filthy lucre, that man is Victor Drury.
Present the theory of Anarchy to an inquirer or argue it with an objector and, nine times out of ten, the first and last question asked you will be: “If there is no government, how will you run the railroads?” With this question, and that of “Corporations” generally, Charles T. Fowler deals very satisfactorily in the third number of his “Sun,” which, after some months of obscurity, has again made a rift in the clouds that darken the social horizon. Mr. Fowler shows how the people, by pooling their patronage, may practically control the railroads and secure their services at cost without the intervention of the State. This number contains a portrait of Wendell Phillips. An advertisement of it appears in Liberty’s Library, from which it may be seen that I supply it at the same low price as its predecessors,— six cents for one copy and ten cents for two.
The communications in the present issue upholding Anarchists in joining the Knights of Labor ought to I have been printed long ago. The question of compromise, upon which they hinge, has been discussed at such length in Liberty since they were written that I do not think it necessary to make further reply. If I could have chosen, I would have answered them directly, instead of indirectly and in advance, but circumstances having compelled the latter course, it does not seem best to repeat myself. I will only say to Mr. Lum that, if he thinks it justifiable to join the Knights of Labor with a mental reservation, resolved to work for certain parts of their platform and smile at the rest, his course is discountenanced by his G. M. W., Mr. Powderly. That functionary writes as follows to the secretary of the New England Lasters’ Protective Union: “The man or woman who cannot cheerfully subscribe to the declaration of principles of the order of Knights of Labor cannot make a good member.”
An idea for a cartoon, which “Puck” probably will not utilize: Grover Cleveland in the White House with his new and legal wife; to the right, in a companion picture, George Q. Cannon in a prison cell; to the left of the White House, Maria Halpin, Cleveland’s illegal wife, and their illegitimate son, dwelling as social outcasts in an abode of wretchedness and want because wilfully abandoned by the husband and father; to the right of the prison, Cannon’s illegal wives and illegitimate children, dwelling in an abode of wretchedness and want because the law has imprisoned the husband and father instead of allowing him to live with and protect them; on the walls of the White House, illuminated texts concerning the purity of the home and exclusiveness of love, taken from the president’s message to congress on the Mormon question; on the walls of the prison cell, the constitutional amendment forbidding the passage of laws abridging religious freedom. Title for the cartoon: “Mormonism in Cleveland’s eyes, like the tariff in Hancock’s, a purely local question.”
“Tucker, the Boston Anarchist,” says the editor of the Winsted “Press,” “calls Batterson’s proposition to divide annually one-third of the net profits of his business among his employees, in addition to their regular wages, ‘one of the foulest plots against industry ever hatched in the brain of a member of the robber class.’ It must not be expected that anything on earth or in the heavens above will please an Anarchist.” How little this editor knows about Anarchists! Why, I was “tickled almost to death” by his editorial on “The Knights of Labor” which stood by the side of the above paragraph in the same issue of the “Press,” — so pleased, in fact, that I print it in full in this number of Liberty. And if he will present his readers in my own language the reasons why I consider Batterson’s proposition a font plot against industry, I shall be better pleased still. Just a little fairness will please an Anarchist every time. True, he finds this a scarce commodity at present, both “on earth and in the heavens above.” Up to this point I had written a few weeks ago. Since then, I have seen so much in the “Press” that was kind and fair to Anarchism that I am bound to exonerate the editor from any intention to be unfair at any time, and so much that was soundly Anarchistic that I have strong hopes of seeing him become an out-and-out Anarchist himself.
“Le Révolté” having announced the abandonment of the attempt to publish the London “Anarchist” with a new programme, I supposed the latter journal had given up the ghost, and I was congratulating the cause that Mr. Seymour would now have a chance to pursue the studies which I lately recommended to him. But in a few days along came the “Anarchist,” and I found that it was not dead, but had only “flopped again,” — this time from Communism to Communistic-Anarchism, if anybody knows what that is (Mr. Seymour is quite right in saying that I do not). The only outward sign betrayed by this latest feature in the programme of our lightning-change artist is the substitution of signed for anonymous articles, the anonymous plan having been adopted a month before in obedience to the teachings of Communism. Mr. Seymour now says that “the collective editorship, while looking very well in theory, hasn’t proved so very well in practice,” and he makes disparaging remarks in reference to “certain advocates of our ideas who forsake titles and names and responsibilities in the revolutionary press, yet trade on all these when writing for the bourgeois press.” From all of which I infer that Prince Kropotkine and Mr. Seymour have had a few words and parted. Referring to my criticisms, Mr. Seymour writes: “Liberty says I have abandoned liberty in embracing Communism. This is untrue. I have embraced Communistic-Anarchism, but by no means Communism. I am Anarchist at least as entirely as ever.” But a few inches lower down he writes: “‘Le Révolté’ has yet to learn that the ‘new programme,’ in so far as it was anti-Anarchist only, has been abandoned.” Thus Mr. Seymour confesses that the new programme was anti-Anarchist to some extent, a fact which, in answering me, he had just denied. He invites me to “cross swords” with him. What need have I to cross swords with a man who crosses swords thus deftly with himself? I leave him with the remark of one of my friends: “Seymour is rapidly qualifying for the position of clown to the Anarchistic movement.”
Albeit I have the sincerest liking for our warm-hearted and brilliant comrade, “X,” I must confess my sympathies in the recent plumb-role controversy have been chiefly with his opponents, our fair coadjutrix, Gertrude B. Kelly, and bold Ben Tucker.
Now that the report is gaining ground that we Anarchists are robbers and criminals, enemies to the private ownership of goods honestly acquired, and the wilful users of deceitful, equivocal, and paradoxical language, it is high time, is it not, that we declared ourselves for uncompromising outspokenness? What can we gain by any other course?
True enough, our sympathies can hardly be too broad, our hearts too warm, our hands too helpful, for those who labor, no matter how mistakenly, for humanity’s weal; but it is also true that sympathies can hardly be too well directed, hearts too closely guarded against Judas-friends, and hands too firmly restrained from acts of useless and retrogressive charity. The doctrine of “love me, love my dog,” — i. e., my faults,— is a most pernicious one. Love-clarified eyes are the very ones to see, love-speaking lips the very ones to effectively rebuke, the errors of friends. I have nothing to say against courtesy and cooperation, patience and good-fellowship; rather do I applaud those time-honored and eminently practical virtues; but they must never interfere with the straight backbone and the stiff upper lip. True, we should not make our obnoxious points too prominent, need not keep our flags always flying, our war-cries pealing, but never should we rally under a false standard or give a deceitful countersign.
Our foes are many and mighty; Church and State, Capital, Caste, and Custom, are all arrayed against us, and, if we are found among those “fit” who “survive,” it will be because we have proved ourselves more righteous than they, and made ourselves indispensable as truth-tellers and watchdogs of Justice.
Let us, then, so far as we may without Pharisaism or invasive discourtesy, be upright and downright, free-spoken, out-spoken, and full-spoken, shooting to the centre no matter what the target, or who stands in front.
J. Wm. Lloyd.
Tchernychewsky’s Life and Trial.
Translated from the Russian for Liberty by Victor Yarros.
Nicholas Govrilovitch Tchernychewsky was born in Saratoff in 1829. His father, a clergyman, was a very intelligent and benevolent person, whose exceptional honesty and kindness won him the love and admiration of all who knew him. The poor had in him a devoted friend and adviser. He was, in short, very little of a priest. Young Tchernychewsky attended the seminary, where he studied ancient languages and the Bible. His knowledge of the last was perfect. He was a strict dogmatic Christian so long as he did not do his own thinking and his brains were not consulted in matters of faith and religious habits. Soon, however, Tchernychewsky grew sceptical and began to feel uncomfortable in the close atmosphere in which he moved and lived. His father not objecting, he went to St. Petersburg and entered college, choosing the philological faculty. He sought to perfect his knowledge of ancient languages, and diligently read everything recommended by his professors. He looked up old manuscripts and compiled dictionaries for them. Philosophical criticism and social science were not then in his line. An accidental acquaintance completely changed his programme of study and manner of life. He was introduced into one of those highly interesting little groups that make student life in Russia so attractive and fascinating. The entertaining and enlivening conversations at the tea-table; the instructive and hot discussions and the long debates, of which, as Tourguéneff says, only the Russians are capable, opened Tchernychewsky’s eyes to a new and unknown world. There he first heard of the social and political problems of the day; there he caught a glimpse of modern life, and with surprise, interest, and enthusiasm he rushed out of his gloomy and dark quarters into the broad daylight of social and political life and activity. He left the company of the dead for that of the living. Giving up his old manuscripts, he devoted himself entirely to the study of economics and social science. He read everything he could lay his hands upon in Russian, German, and French. And owing to his great natural abilities, to his strong intellect, splendid memory, and love of dialectics, he soon outstripped his friends and teachers, and took up the high station in the group which naturally belonged to him. He appeared a new man among the advanced new types of Russian civilised society.
In 1850 he graduated, and, obeying his mother’s will, went to Saratoff and took the position of professor in the local gymnasium. This was a very great sacrifice on Tchemychewsky’s part, as he left in St. Petersburg a number of warm personal friends and admirers, and deprived himself of the means of continuing his scientific studies. In Saratoff he found an old-fashioned, ugly school, with a number of antediluvian bigots as teachers and an old stupid Jesuitical director. In society even among its most liberal and cultured representatives, he hardly found two or three persons who did not share the general contempt for the “cranky” and unconventional new professor. In his family, too, he felt himself a stranger, having very little in common with that quiet nest. Only when alone in his own room did he feel at ease. There he used to be visited, now and then, by a few, very few friends and some young students of his class, who were surprised and charmed by Tchernychewsky’s novel way of treatment and unusual cordiality. He canvassed and discussed all kinds of subjects with them in the most plain, frank, and unassuming manner, treating them as equals,— a thing never heard of before in Saratoff! Great was Tchernychewsky’s moral influence; much good did he accomplish among his youthful companions. He always succeeded in breathing new vitality, fresh courage and hope, into the despondent and despairing young fellows, who easily break down under unfavorable circumstances, and who have that unfortunate trait in their character of losing all courage and strength after one or two futile attempts at gaining some end in view. And, to the great horror of the clean and resjiectable school authorities, he was known to have occasionally furnished money and other things to the starving and barefooted students.
Thus Tchernychewsky passed two years. His life was not very interesting, though he tried to make the best of it. Now and then, to please his loving and beloved mother, Tchernychewsky suffered himself to be taken to parties and entertainments, or visited his family connections, where he was obliged to pass long, tedious hours in the society of government clerks, officials, and other dry and lifeless individuals. But so strong was the influence and magic of this exceptionally bright nature that even these conservative, musty personages felt uncomfortable and nervous in his presence. Not a few of these were actually converted and saved by Tchernychewsky. They reformed their habits, gave up the practice of bribetaking, treated their children less tyrannically, and generally sought to live more honorable and decent lives.
In this sphere Tchernychewsky met a young girl, whom he loved with all the ardor and passion of a youth. In his lectures and correspondence he talked about the ennobling influence of love and the charms of married life. They were married in 1858. A short time before the marriage his mother died. Tchernychewsky was deeply affected by this sudden loss. But as he did not express his grief in such manifestations as would fully satisfy the respectable and virtuous provincial society, as he did not wail and sob in church, did not fall on the coffin in a deep swoon, and was shameless and impudent enough to leave his father at such a time and contract marriage before the term of mourning fixed by provincial etiquette hail expired,— the bon ton society of Saratoff with exceptional unanimity declared Tchernychewsky a heartless, soulless, unfeeling, and indecent son. The old gentleman, however, thought otherwise. He was very proud of his Nicholas, and was glad that he went to St. Petersburg, as he well knew that a fuller and better life was in store for him in the capital. When, in 1882, his father died, surrounded by friends and admirers, Tchernychewsky was again roughly handled by public opinion. He was charged by society with nothing less than parricide, as it was universally agreed that his pitiless indifference and ingratitude were the cause of the poor old gentleman’s death.
Meantime Tchernychewsky, depressed and moneyless, struggled hard in St. Petersburg. He gave lessons in some government military school, translated novels for the Russian magazines, and worked away the rest of his time at a dissertation “On the Esthetical Relations of Art to Reality,” by which he was to obtain a diploma of master of arts. He properly passed the examination, and ably defended his masterly dissertation. The minister of public education, the conservative professors and learned officials, did not at all like the views and ideas of this hold and supercritical young man...They detected in his dissertation a dangerous tendency to belittle the role and importance of pure, ideal art. Self-confident and smiling, Tchernychewsky sarcastically answered the timid savants. He made fun of the “absolute importance of the Ideal,” and showed very little respect for old traditions and authorities. This, of course, could not be tolerated, and Tchernychewsky was not awarded the diploma. Just about this time he quarrelled with the liberal authorities of the military school, and, in consequence, gave up his professorship there.
After that he devoted himself to literary work exclusively. His first notable paper was a review of a pamphlet “On Aristotle,” written by a renowned Moscow professor. The paper was hurriedly written, with little care and in a very short time; but the learned professor was deeply hurt, and keenly felt the well-directed criticisms of the young philosopher. His ill-fated dissertation “On the Aesthetical Relations of Art to Reality” made him famous. It made his views and tendencies familiar to the best literaly circles and leading journals of the day, who at once recognised in him a superior talent and a great mind. The “Sovremennic” (Contemporary) engaged him permanently on its editorial staff, and gave up into his management the best two departments of the magazine,— the critical and political. The “Sovremennic” was the most radical and brilliant periodical of that time. Here Tchernychewsky found his opportunity for the highest and fullest development of his remarkable intellectual powers. Here was a broad and magnificent field for active work; here was a channel for the full expression of his best thoughts. And, indeed, soon the splendor and lustre of his genius was revealed. His writings were widely and eagerly read. He inspired the youth of the country with enthusiasm for intellectual development and moral culture; he made life worth living for the mature elements of society, and raised literature to a very high standard. Who does not remember his series of articles “On the Poushkin and Gogol Period in Russian Literature,” which surprised everybody with its deep and extensive knowledge, clearness and force of expression, its dash and boldness in smashing and annihilating old literary idols? Those articles have revolutionized Russian literature. Many were charmed and filled with unbounded admiration for the new and young literary hero; some were displeased and angered; but no one remained indifferent, no one ignored the new drift. His teachings and methods were alike novel and fascinating.
[To be continued.]
Eighteen Christian Centuries:
Or, The Evolution of the Gospel of Anarchy.
An Essay on the Meaning of History. By Dyer D. Lum.
Continued from No. 81.
Rome conquered and remodeled. With Roman arms went Roman customs. Military success involved civil reconstruction and Roman organization. By the side of the Roman camp grew a miniature Rome. The rapacity of the indigenous tyrant was replaced by that of the foreign tax-gatherer; in which, however, there was often the boon of law and order, or — less euphoniously — systematized robbery, not seizing what it could, or might desire, but assessing a stipulating sum. The law and order of might, it is true, but often preferable to the arbitrary exactions dictated by capricious will.
Under this unity of administration that Roman conquests had prepared, and the Empire was to perfect, the antagonizing influences of local jealousies, which had hitherto divided the world into petty and hostile States, and having as a consequence their distinctive national, or local, deities, were to give place to a common interest and a common aim. Caesar but carried out what the dominant instinct of the Roman people demanded. He was the incarnation of Roman genius; realizing in fact what Rome had long seen in vision. Caesar was a great man, not because he laid the foundation for the Empire and enabled his nephew Octavianus to assume the imperial crown, nor for the reason that he reduced civil chaos to military order, but for the greater reason that he was a true child of Rome, inheriting her genius, and with the mental calibre to realize the ideal which had risen before his clear vision into tangible form. Lewes has said: “The great thinker is the secretary of his age,” and Caesar was great because he could grasp and render explicit what was implicit in the Roman mind.
We thus trace the origin of the modern State to Caesar’s legacy, but this is not all. The dogma of authority, or imperialism, that the Caesarian age introduced was not confined to the realm of politics alone. God and the State are the twin dogmas of Caesarism. It extended its conquests from earthly princes to Olympic deities, and sought to subordinate both realms to the pleasure of a Universal Will. Instead, therefore, of accepting the teleological hypothesis of a strategic hand “behind phenomena” determining the result of human actions, or graciously permitting similar sequences to follow similar antecedents, we are led to conclude that the monotheistic belief is an outgrowth of the social environment which made the personal rule of a single will triumphant in social affairs. I would not be understood as asserting that, but for the realization of the Roman dream of universal dominion, monotheism would not, nevertheless, have supplanted polytheism, for that is one of the “might have beens.” But in such case it would not have been characterized by the features Rome has so deeply impressed upon that belief. The barbarians, as well as the cultured Greeks, had risen to the conception of unite as personified in a Great Spirit and All-Father, but the intellectual tendencies of Grecian development were rather to a pantheistic unity. Rome, with her hard, practical genius, seized the thought, and under the guiding hand of Roman bishops it hardened into the rigid form of the Christian God. In the words of Dr. Draper: “Monotheism was the result of the establishment of an imperial government in Rome.”
With the triumph of Caesar over the Senate there was indissolubly connected the later triumph of Caesarism in theology; the political order introduced by Roman arms carrying with it the conception of imperialism governing the moral order of the universe familiarized by Roman thought. The same sequence of events which had undermined tribal limitations destroyed the theological conceptions which were an outgrowth of those limitations. Grecian travellers and expeditions had undermined the power of Grecian gods. Grecian thought had already become emancipated in intellectual circles, and the increasing solidarity of social interests and aims must still further have modified conceptions arising in a more primitive age. But to Rome belongs the final distinction of supplanting the liberty-loving optimism of Greece with the pessimism inherent under the long exercise of autocratic power, where the mind had been fettered and hope become despair.
If Rome had fallen, the fertile seeds of intellectual revolt contained in Grecian literature would have remained, and from another centre might still have kept alive and invigorated the latent capacities of the human intellect. But Rome lived! Its genius realized its dreams, and there necessarily resulted that stupendous social degeneration on which imperialism fattened, and which cast upon the world the fatal incubus under which for long centuries the moral nature was to be deformed, manliness of character changed by panem et circenses into slothful indolence, independence of thought replaced by monkish servility, and Grecian literature with art and science buried in oblivion to give room for mystical rhapsodies and monastic rules. The course of intellectual development, which had already taken its rise from subjection to the early myths into far grander and broader conceptions tinged with a living humanism when Rome was but an Italian provincial city of cutthroats and robbers, might or might not have been checked by circumstances which, under another policy, lay hidden in the womb of time; still, it is difficult for human imagination to conceive of a more tragical ending to that bright dream of awakened mind than the genius of Rome entailed.
The civilization of Rome had for its corner-stone — Authority, and freedom languished in chains. Municipal duties became onerous and were avoided. Imperial rescripts interfered with trade, with the franchises of the citizens, and the common concerns of life. Civic office became the appanage of a small local aristocracy. But although imperial exactions were devastating the country, converting freeholders into slaves and depressing every spring of enterprise and activity, the curiates, or magistracy, of each city were still held personally responsible with their lives and fortunes for the collection of the impositions of the fiscal edicts. Authority, hated and feared, supplied such bond of union as still existed in social life. The rude familiarity of the Gallic chieftain with his dependents, and their free intercourse at a common table and under a common roof, began to give place to the privileges, immunities, and dignities of an aristocracy living a life apart; while the bitterness of despair of an enslaved peasantry robbed them of all energy and deprived them of all hope. The consolations afforded them by their ancient religions vanished as their local deities grew pale in the light arising from extended intercourse with the world. When the gods were ranged in the Pantheon in the fierce light of publicity, the charms of mystery which had hitherto surrounded them were dispelled. They had shown their powerlessness in the moment of danger, and passed into forgetfulness when men saw their shrines devastated, as in Gaul, and no avenging dart follow. Bankrupt in faith, in manly energy, in moral independence, and doomed to the most relentless slavery, they dragged on their wearied lives in misery.
Roman imperialism had not only triumphed on earth, it had scaled the heavens and seated itself on the throne of the universe to triumph over the soul. Rome, with all the inherent vices which that word conveys, was still to survive the invasion of the liberty-loving Teuton, and, donning a pontifical robe over the royal purple, continued the attempted realization of her traditional dream of unity by the use of the same weapons, whose keenness of edge had lost nothing from the consecration they had received.
II. The Teuton. During the fifth century the Empire reeled under the blows everywhere given it by the invading barbarians. The Franks in Gaul; the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes in Britain; the Suevi and Visigoths in Spain; the Burgundians in the valley of the Rhone and the Alps; the Ostrogoths in Italy, toward which the Lombards were already wending their way; the Vandals in Corsica and Sardinia,— all had come to stay. In A.D. 476, the last of the emperors of the West, a timid youth, named with cruel mockery, as if in anticipation of his fate, from the founder of the city and the first of the emperors, Romulus Augustulus, was forced to resign the imperial purple, and the line became extinct. Extinct, save as represented by the Vicar of Christ, from whom the crown would be received by a new line of emperors in after centuries. But the barbarians, in spreading themselves over the Empire and destroying the fiction of temporal unity, had introduced a far deadlier foe to the genius of authority than Roman politics had ever known. The Teutons brought the germ of liberty. Individuality, personality, not of the soul, but of the flesh; not of the inner and spiritual, but of the outer and carnal man, was insurgent in the new blood which was to revive the expiring vitality of the West.
In their forest homes the earth belonged to no one; every year the tribe assigned to each one of its members a lot to cultivate, and the lot was changed the following year. He was proprietor of the harvest, but not of the land. Their kings, or chiefs, were elected, and could be easily deposed; they were leaders rather than rulers. “The power of the kings,” says Tacitus, “is not arbitrary or unlimited; they generally command power by warlike example rather than by their authority....
Their passion for liberty is attended with ill consequence: when a public meeting is announced, they never assemble at the stated time. Regularity would look like obedience; to mark their independent spirit, they do not convene at once; between two or three days are lost in delay.... No man dictates to the assembly; he may persuade, but cannot command.” When the young Roman assumed the prerogatives of a citizen, he was invested with a toga as the emblem of civil equality; when the young Teuton attained to manhood, he was given a shield and javelin before the assembled tribe as the symbol of personal independence. The toga virilis of the Roman inculcated obedience to constituted authority: the shield and javelin to the young German were an incentive to personal energy. Their kings deliberated in the public assemblies, and were carefully excluded from the power to decree laws, or to apply them in particular cases.
The conquerors brought with them the simple faith of barbaric tribes. Grossly superstitious, the imposing ritual of Christianity could not but fill their minds with awe and respect,— the first step toward reverence. Their simple rites were but ill suited for lands where the native faith had fallen before Roman skepticism and monastic zeal. They were struck with the wonderful administrative genius displayed by Rome. In seizing the cities and establishing themselves on conquered estates as the dominant race, they felt the need of a talent they did not possess. To capture a city, or a province, called for personal bravery, for deeds of daring and courage, and this they had. To govern it demanded what neither personal prowess nor the laws of their forest life could supply. The forms of law were in their hands, but their clumsy fingers lacked the suppleness to use them. All knowledge, all intelligence, was with the clergy. In receiving baptism they gained the intelligence and skill of the bishops in the work of administration. The bishops gained possession of the arm of flesh. Of the Franks Sismondi says:
Their high veneration for the church, and their savage orthodoxy, so much the more easy to preserve, because, never studying nor disputing concerning the faith, they did not even know the questions controverted, gave them in the clergy powerful auxiliaries. The Franks were disposed to hate the Arians, and to fight and despoil them without listening to them. The bishops in return showed themselves to be no more scrupulous in the moral teachings of religion; they closed their eyes on violence, murder, debauchery; they authorized, in a measure, public polygamy, and they preached the divine right of kings and the duty of obedience for the people.
Of the early Frank kings and their indifference to ecclesiastical affairs, Guizot says:
Unless impelled by some powerful motive, neither Gondebald, Chilpiric, nor Gonthran troubled themselves in the matter. And words have come down to us of Burgundian, Gothic, and Frank kings which prove how little they were disposed to exert their power in such causes. “We cannot command religion,” said Theodoric, king of the Ostrogoths, “no one can be forced to believe in spite of himself.” “Since the Deity suffers different religions,” said King Theodobat, “we dare not press a single one. We remember having read that God must be sacrificed to willingly, and not under the constraint of a master. Those, therefore, who attempt to do otherwise evidently oppose themselves to the divine commands.”
Truly, here was difficult soil for Rome to cultivate. In these royal converts the old Teutonic love for individuality manifested itself strongly, but from age to age it grew weaker as the hand of Rome grew stronger. In the days of Charlemagne such language no longer was heard from royal lips, Well could St. Prosper of Aquitaine say: “Rome, the See of St. Peter, made the head of the world in honor of the Apostle, holds by its religion what it no longer possesses by its sword.” Fortunately for the world, constant war saved Europe from the dangers of peace. In Gaul constant invasion kept alive the fierce activity of the conquerors. The Huns and warlike tribes beyond the Alps, the pagans of Saxony and Friesland on the North, the Moors in the South, followed later by the piratical Northmen along the coast, kept for centuries the martial spirit dominant. The church had to accommodate itself to its environment.
The dream that, but for this rude necessity for constant strife, a state of Christian progress might have resulted under the more genial influences of a milder spirit, is directly disproved by the history of contemporary Spain. Admirably situated, combining advantages of an insular as well as of a continental position, and on the North defended by the barrier of the Pyrenees, Spain presented all the elements for national greatness. Her rich plains abounded in cattle and luxuriant fruits, mines of various precious metals lay in her soil, and her seaports had early attracted the attention of the roving Phenicians.
In the opening years of the fifth century the barbarians passed the Pyrenees, and in the year 414 had founded the Visigothic monarchy, thus antedating Clovis in Gaul by seventy-two years. They had been converted to Christianity in their native forests, but held it under its Arian form. For three centuries Spain had been a field of Christian missions, and had here met with less resistance. Teutonic individualism, here as elsewhere, curbed absolutism by constant self-assertion. The new monarch, elected by the swords of his adherents and raised on a shield, upon assuming power, was addressed in these words: “If thou doest the right, thou shalt be king; if thou doest not the right, thou shalt not be king.”
In two particulars the Visigothic monarchs differed from the Frank: 1, They had entered upon dominion as Christians; 2, The Pyrenees defended them from invasion from without. Its insular position produced somewhat similar effects to that witnessed in Britain. The system of real laws, or laws based on land, began to gain over their hereditary personal laws, or laws based on the origin of individuals. In Spain, however, the whole code of the Visigothic law was the work of the clergy, and the Roman principle predominated, overruling the fundamental principle of other barbarian codes, i. e., “the furtherance of private interests.” The release from danger of constant irruption of hostile hordes by land, and the ease with which they met the Vandal, Sueve, and Roman troops and dispersed them, quieted the fierce activity of the Goth, and the priest rase correspondingly in influence. Still Arian Spain could not give unity; there was no cohesion among her provinces. In the year but a new king, Recared, declared himself Catholic, and Spain entered upon the highway of centralization, unity, and peace. As a consequence, we find that, in the words of Hallam, “no kingdom was so thoroughly under the bondage of the hierarchy as Spain.” While the fierce warrior lost influence, that of the priest augmented.
By Georges Sauton.
Translated from the French for Liberty by Sarah E. Holmes.
Continued from No. 81.
And Paddy, who, all this time, was strutting about, paraded in real peacock style, arching his back and spreading the flaps of the famous coat, like a glorious tail, prouder of this ornament than of a general’s plume on an enormous, embroidered, gold-laced cap! The idiot!
“See!” said the distressed Edith, in the house, “he shares the ridiculous taste of many of our people for pompous garments, for loud colors; but red, the abhorred color of the English,— I can’t forgive him for that.”
She displayed against the poor hoy, whom nevertheless she loved intensely and like a second son, a severity entirely unjust, and the final epithet applied to Neill by Arklow was also undeserved.
No: the cast-off clothes of the admiral did not tempt him; all the gabble of Lichfield would not distract his attention, or turn him aside from his aim, which was nothing else than to make the big Englishman pack off. William Grobb had run off already, so much the better; the place would be empty, and Harvey could escape from his retreat transformed into a condemned man’s cell, and slip away to a safe spot.
At the instant when Edith’s husband opened his mouth to lecture him, Paddy threw him an Irish phrase, which signified: “Let your guest decamp promptly, while I make space for him.” And, taking to his heels, he scampered away, launching a sarcasm at Lichfield to excite the merchant to follow him.
“You do not lie: these are not flaps, but wings; they carry me, ye m’envole (I fly).”
“C’est moi qui suis volé (it is I who am robbed),” cried Tom. And in his desire not to lose the three shillings which he had paid for this costume, threadbare and yellow, not fit for a mountebank in a show, and for which he would have beer, paid, in any case, from the relief fund, he lost his presence of mind, and, thinking no longer of Harvey, he pursued the runaway, railing at him, calling him all the synonyms of the words sharper and pickpocket.
When, at the end of a quarter of an hour, William Grobb brought back the company of Ancient Britons, whom he had found at the public house, drinking pint after pint, some of them emptying the jugs without touching them to their lips, Tom Lichfield had not returned. The soldiers, inflamed by the drink, and above all by the news which had caused them to be summoned, urged on their sergeant.
John Autrun, perfectly livid, seemed like a dead man walking; his legs trembled; he supported himself on his cane, lessening his pace in proportion as they approached the shanty toward which his men were driving him. For a second, with the design of escaping from his cruel duty, he had turned his back upon the sad, the lamentable house, and tried to gain time, under the pretext that the capture of the agitator necessitated the presence of his officers.
“Any wavering is equivalent to treason!” muttered a corporal.
Then, ceasing to evade, resolved, alas! on obedience, but offering prayers that Harvey might have disappeared, he struck Arklow’s door with his stick, but in vain. No one came to open it, no voice answered.
He knocked again, louder, but with no more success.
“Break it in!” advised several Britons together, lifting the butt ends of their muskets.
He ordered them to put them down, and knocked again, this time with hurried blows and charging them to open:
“In the King’s name!”
Edith appeared on the threshold, pale through her tan, but calm, finishing the fastening of a neck-handkerchief about her, like a woman interrupted in the midst of her toilet.
“What does the King wish of me?” she demanded, in a voice which did not tremble.
“The rebel whom you conceal!”
The voice of the sergeant trembled.
“If I had concealed a rebel, it would be to save him from your tortures; consequently I should not give him up.”
The Britons mockingly applauded the positive attitude of the woman. Ah! the clemency of the sergeant was growing difficult. Irishmen collected around, their hands cold, their bodies frigid, but their brains boiling; they all flocked to this spot in the anticipation that events might take an evil turn and put their patience to a test past their endurance.
Regardless of the last watchword, which still and always counselled resignation, abstention, they would never permit them to touch a hair of Edith’s head.
John Autrun, who was choking with emotion, went on, his eyes fixed on the royal proclamation and reluctantly indicating it to Edith:
“Reflect: you are putting yourself in danger of the gallows!”
“Hanged!” said she, with a, smile; “then I should be still less likely to speak,” “And your house in danger of fire!” added he, sadly.
For a brief, inappreciable moment she was silent, filled with sadness at this menace, reviewing all the past miseries experienced under this roof of ragged thatch, behind these badly matched stones; joys, nevertheless, had lighted up this past: her marriage, the birth and growth of her son Michael, and pious memories were also connected with this wretched place,— memories of her father, her mother dead in the bed which afterwards became her son’s and which now awaited him. Nevertheless, she answered:
“Fire! remorse smarts more, and it is you who will be stung by that.”
The Britons were getting angry, This trifling at the door was lasting too long. They demanded the performance, the conflagration immediately, and pushed on towards the little hut, hustling the crowd of people, who muttered, feeling in their clothes for their open knives, and marking the spots on the necks of the soldiers where they would bleed them like fowls.
Once more, the sergeant tried to pacify his men, who would no longer be restrained, and, not to exasperate them by any further deference, he added, imperatively:
“Bagenel Harvey, the agitator,— deliver him into my hands.”
“Have you the promised twenty-five thousand pounds?” replied Edith. “I do not give credit to the king. He passes for too bad pay!”
The Irishmen laughed at this repartee; but the disgusted Britons crowded into the house, introducing John Autrun by force and careless of the cutting words of Edith, who cried out:
“Ah! the heroic soldiers! They win victories over a woman who does not defend herself.”
Treor and Marian had hurried to the scene, and the whole village surrounded Edith; they would surely protect her against the desperadoes, who were making a frightful uproar in the house, breaking the humble furniture, scattering the few dishes about, and staving in the shaky window-frames.
They did not find the rebel; they ripped open the beds, and slashed the thatched roof; no Bagenel Harvey anywhere! They brawled, they yelled, and now — for the search was very quickly ended between four straight wails forming two gloomy rooms — the door vomited them forth like boiling lava, effervescing with a rumbling like thunder.
“The woman! the old woman! let’s hang her!” they vociferated. “She has helped the leader of the rebels to escape.”
From the midst of the Bunclodyans provocations answered to their menace, shouts of defiance were launched like projectiles, and a harvest of knives sprang up from their pockets.
“The old woman! the old woman!” repeated the Britons, “the old woman! We will make her dance, grimacing like a puppet, from the end of a rope of hemp!”
“First,” was the answer, “we will make gashes in your stomachs; at the play one needs to be able to laugh heartily!”
And the rampart which protected Arklow’s wife bristled with knife-blades; the soldiers, on their side, levelled their muskets, aiming at the enemy; they would fire into the mass. A salad! Already ten Irishmen had squatted down, preparing to crawl under the rifles and tear open the English without delay.
The sergeant exhausted himself in useless injunctions to avert the struggle; since they had found no one in this woman’s house, she merited no punishment. His voice was drowned in the clamor; they disregarded him; he placed himself in front of their guns; so much the worse! they would fire at him with the others.
Spontaneously Treor and Marian placed themselves in the front rank to receive the first balls. Perhaps the fury of the soldiers once satiated by the fall of a certain number of victims, these wretches, their thirst for blood assuaged, would not complete the carnage.
The young girl held the hand of her father, and, courageous, with brilliant eyes, a poetic and vibrating image of patriotism, braved her executioners.
Miraculous! The muskets dropped of themselves, and all the transport of fury, all the blind wrath, all the frenzy of massacre which possessed these brigands, vanished, and was transformed into a noisy glee, a tumult of joyous cries.
But Marian, but Treor, but all their companions, regretted that they had not suffered the death which had faced them a moment before; for an erotic delirium had seized the Britons, inflaming their eyes and moistening their unclean mouths, which trembled with desire. And in place of the shower of balls which they had just promised, their gorilla-like hands, large and hairy, were throwing insulting kisses to the women, with sneering laughs, coarse compliments, and lascivious and filthy words.
“Let them be silent! Let them stop!” cried several Irishmen at once, “or we will bleed them like hogs.”
A movement was made to lead away the unfortunate women whom the attitude of the soldiers was outraging; but the brutes assailed the group with blows from the butts of their muskets, pricking and pinking the men with their bayonets, using only so much caution in this manoeuvre as would prevent them from damaging their prey.
They must have the women, in short,— all the young, all the beautiful, all the passable; and in the midst of the scuffles, notwithstanding the retaliations and the wounds received from knives, they contrived to seize their skirts, catch hold of their waists, and clasp their forms. They laid their fingers on their throats, feeling about them with painful brutalities, and placing their polluting lips upon their cheeks and necks; and bites, when the poor creatures struggled too successfully, succeeded the disgusting caresses.
John Autrun, powerless to subdue these lecherous madmen, seizing the most infuriated, struck, himself, by these demoniacs, thrown down, and trodden under their boots, rose and made a last appeal, a desperate appeal, to their reason.
“If you do not immediately come to order,” said he, “I will kill myself, and my blood will be on your head!”
Not one was restored to reason by such a trifle. Oh, well! he would bother them no longer; a pleasant journey! With his chastity, the sight of the angels would be enough for him. They were not satisfied with such thin bodies, and they did not care for wings! If he should recover, he could take his vows and become a Catholic priest; they were soldiers.
“Soldiers!” he answered, “never; the dregs of humanity, convicts escaped from the galleys, to which you will some day be returned!”
“To death with the sergeant!” they yelled as their only commentary, without interrupting their ignominious struggle, overpowering by their numbers the defenders of the women who were the objects of their frenzied lust, and incapable, moreover, of restraining themselves in the intoxication of their senses which touch, kisses, and stealthy embraces had increased to perfect paroxysms.
Then John Autrun took a pistol from his belt, and, resting it against his temple, discharged it; he fell his whole length, on his face, in his blood.
The surprise suspended momentarily the ignoble wrangle, permitting the Bunclodyans to take up the suicide, stanch his wound, and carry him into a house where they could dress it, care for him, and save him if possible, for he still breathed; but the interval lasted scarcely more than a minute or two, and the lecherous conduct of the monsters re-commenced, more tumultuous, more vile than before, since the disappearance of their chief, which had already proved so vain.
The orgie terminated with other excesses. One of the rascals had clandestinely set fire to Arklow’s shattered furniture, to his mattress of dried ferns, and the fire was devouring the shanty; and when Edith anathematized them, certain ones proposed putting her into the smoking ruins of her home. They would be showing clemency; she would, by this means, die in her bed, under the roof of her ancestors...under her own roof, surely, since it would fall on her...
They seized her; and Treor, who contended with them for her, fell, stunned by the blow of a musket on his skull; other comrades took his place by her side; but now Marian, isolated, without any immediate defender, occupied, like Edith, in wresting herself from the hands of the ravishers, tempted the amateurs, and at once two of them rushed upon this “dish fit for a king,” as they said, their mouths watering.
Their quarrel delayed for the young girl the horror and pollution of their touch, but for how many minutes? The rivals did not fight, but only exchanged proposals, expostulations, recalling the mutual concessions made by one to the other under similar circumstances, the sharing of the booty or a common use, and their quarrel terminated by an arrangement.
No more debate, a cordial, amicable understanding for the possession of the object, the sweet object at issue, and a drawing of lots to decide the order of succession of the occupants, when a third came up unexpectedly, citing the popular aphorism: “When there is enough for two, there is enough for three,” and accordingly registering himself as the patient heir of numbers one and two!
Ah! the disgusting, frightful, infernal bargain! Marian looked longingly at a knife in the shrivelled hands of one of her wounded or dying friends, but had not time to pick it up, being pursued so closely. Besides, would death offer her a sure refuge against the outrages of these satyrs? She contemplated the fire, now at its height, consuming Edith’s hut, and, lowering her head, started to leap into the living, roaring, red, ascending flames, which would consume her, leaving on the funeral pile no vestige of her body!
But she only reached the threshold, near enough however to singe the hair upon her forehead; the impudent soldiers, associated for fraternal gratification of their brutal passion, held her back by her dress, and she struggled in vain to free herself, to secure her salvation by drowning herself in the waves of fire; the one barred the way, and the other wrapped her in his arms.
“Help! help!” she cried, vehemently.
“Go on!” replied the one who held her, inhaling with delight the fragrance exhaled from her neck in the heat of her efforts; “go on, my beauty! you shall not escape, in spite of all the champions in the world who may answer your appeals.”
“Even in spite of me?” asked some one, whose arm, like a bar of iron, fell upon the soldier, pushing him far away from the young girl.
“Sir Richard Bradwelll” pronounced the Irish and the old Britons in chorus.
Sir Bradwell arrived with all the guests of Cumslen Park, who had risen precipitately from the table at the rumor of the arrest of Harvey. Lord Newington and his staff had hurriedly mounted their horses, which were still saddled and bridled; but Lady Ellen and Sir Edward Walpole had got into a farmer’s vehicle which was standing near the kitchen, and Richard, sitting in front, had lashed the horse so vigorously that they arrived several minutes before the others.
He had leaped to the ground without taking the trouble to stop and while yet entangled with his reins.
“And I, Richard,” cried the Duchess, “how am I to get out?”
She stood upright, shuddering and pale, in the very uncomfortable vehicle without any step, still calling Bradwell, without answering Sir Edward, who urged her, for greater safety, not to mingle with the crowd. But she would rather have jumped out at the risk of a sprain, and had decided to do so when the officer gallantly opened his arms and received her against his breast with delight. He did not, indeed, keep her there long; she touched the ground, agile and alert, disengaged herself, and immediately rejoined her lover.
Seeing her hurriedly, feverishly, with wildly dilated pupils, cross the space which separated her from him, Sir Walpole expected an exposure. The perspicacity of the lieutenant equalled his self-conceit, and having tried to draw the attention of his beautiful hostess at breakfast, he had discovered the secret of the intrigue between the son and the wife of Newington.
On the road, some words were dropped that clearly revealed to him the situation, the cries of the women accelerating the haste of Bradwell, excessively agitated; the Duchess, in spite of the presence of a third party, offered scarcely any resistance to a fit of wild jealousy, and begged him to stop, to drive more slowly, and not to pitch them headlong into a ditch.
For whom, besides? For the young girls yonder, to whom he feared that some misfortune might happen. And as Bradwell did not cease tormenting his horse, whose sides he striped with such terrible blows of the whip that the cart jolted abominably and, instead of rolling, seemed rather to sail on the crest of the waves of a rough sea, she grew angry, cursing Miss Marian, who was the cause of this disorderly race, and she furiously described the young girl to the officer.
A silly, romantic jade, ridiculous in her affectation of dreamy airs, of inspired attitudes; a comedian, tragedian of the first order! Of the first order, she explained, in intention; not in execution,— that was pitiable.
And in confirmation of her criticism Lady Ellen related the scene with Paddy: an actress of the twentieth class, a strolling country player on the boards, would have played it incomparably better. Nevertheless, accustomed to the most insignificant roving mountebanks who every two or three years set up their stage on the village square between four lamps, the Bunclodyans were inexhaustible in their eulogies of her talent.
“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.
A Light Extinguished.
Stephen Pearl Andrews is dead. More mental force went out with him than is left in any one person on the planet. This man was an intellectual marvel. We are too close to him in time to judge him justly; I certainly shall not attempt to estimate his worth. It is my belief that, in point of personal character, his memory will suffer as time goes on, but his service to the world will never be over-estimated. Anarchists especially will ever remember and honor him because he has left behind him the ablest English book ever written in defence of Anarchistic principles. Josiah Warren used to say that “The Science of Society” was the clearest statement and elaboration of his own ideas that had ever been given to the world, and he doubted the possibility of improving it. That work is Mr. Andrews’s lasting monument. It will be remembered when the Pantarchy is forgotten, when Alwato is forgotten, when Universology is forgotten. As yet it has exercised but a fraction of its influence. Some day it will be reprinted and complete its author’s glorious mission.
The persistency with which the worship of authority and place, made sacred by all the ingrained prejudices of the past, retains its hold in men is sadly apparent wherever one treads.
The falsely-called Anarchists who committed the late assaults upon person and property are now in the hands of that other mob, the law. In the case of Most, if the despatches are true, he was made the butt of insult by the officers, chained to the vilest criminals in his cell, and treated to indignities while on trial and presumably innocent until proved guilty, which would shame the worst banditti of southern Europe. Only the other day the prosecuting officer in a court of so-called justice ranted to the jury that, if they failed to convict, he would shoot Most with as little compunction as he would a rattle-snake. In fact, this officer of the law was committing the very same offence for which Most was on trial, and the court smiled, while the people applauded.
Another species of amazing insanity growing out of au unconscious reverence for authority and place was evinced by Professor Buchanan the other evening at the Institute of Heredity. Speaking of the abject misery and driveling idiocy which transmitted pauperism had made chronic in Italy and Spain, this otherwise exceptionally intelligent philosopher thought it would be a wise dispensation of mercy and justice if these besotted millions could be removed from the earth artificially to make room for fitter species. It never occurred to him that all this misery of millions had its cause in a few hundred nobles and privileged titled robbers of rank, and that they were the persons to be removed.
In this same blindness the barbarous Malthusian theory war conceived. Parson Malthus thought pestilences that swept away millions of the victims of a few score of despots were wise providences whereby to check surplus population. The surplus population of this earth has never been more than a few lecherous, idle drones holding the prime sources of life and well-being in monopoly, and the pestilence that would have swept away a few hundred authoritarians would have permitted the rest to survive.
The asserted workings of heredity are true, but the sources of transmitted misery and disease are located in a few tyrants. Cut these off, if a sacrifice must be made, and spare the millions. Until we can get this respect for place and authority out of professed thinkers, the drippings of the Malthusian blasphemy will continue to annoy Anarchists who go to the bottom of things, and this everlasting trade of pitying misery and setting up patent moral machines to cart it away will go on.
A Book That Will Live.
In the English translation of Tchernychewsky’s “What’s To Be Done?” the radicals of America, to whatever school they may belong, have the most potent instrument of propagandism that has ever been placed in their hands. I care not who the reader may be, if there is a spark of earnestness hidden anywhere in the recesses of his nature or hers, this book will find it, and fan it into a flame. Whoever comes under its influence will fall in love with high ideals. There are thousands of young people in this country who need only to have their faces set in the right direction to become Véra Pavlovnas, Kirsanoffs, Lopoukhoffs. Then let us put this book in their hands. It will manufacture the elements of the new society to come.
Let every reader of Liberty purchase one, two, three, five, ten copies,— all that his means will afford,— and distribute them judiciously. People will read it who could not be induced to look at any other work included in the radical propaganda. An idea of the work it will do can be formed from the attention already given it by the daily press. Metropolitan papers of the largest circulation are giving it from one to three columns of review, and it is selling rapidly. It has in it all the elements of success. It appeals to the love of sensation by its remarkable history and the persecution of its author; it appeals to the purse by its remarkable cheapness; it appeals to the sesthetic sense by the beauty of its binding and typography; it appeals to the taste for fiction by its power as a love story; it appeals to the literary sense by its marvellous and yet simple style; it appeals to the philosophical by its keen analysis of human nature and society; and all who are susceptible to any of these appeals find themselves rapturously gazing, before they know it, at a picture of the world that is to be. It is a quickening book, a creative book, a book that will live.
The New York “Herald” of May 26, replying to my article in Liberty of May 22, thinks I am “greatly mistaken” as to the real character of Anarchism and Anarchists. Well, perhaps I am. I do not care to argue the point, as it has nothing to do with the matter I now have in hand, to wit, the duty of the “Herald” in regard to those “bad laws,” which it acknowledges to exist, and to be the main causes of all the “abuses” and “grievances” from which mankind suffer. The “Herald” will pardon me for repeating its precise words:
Abuses grow mainly because of bad laws, and the remedy lies, not in enacting more laws, but in repealing injurious laws. Whenever any part of the people suffer a grievance, it will be found that this is the consequence of a law [or laws] interfering with their liberty of action in some needless way, and that the remedy lies not in more law, but in striking off a law [or laws].
Now, this, I hold, is very weighty, all-important truth. And all I have asked of the “Herald” is, that it will do what it can in procuring the repeal of all “bad laws.”
I did not ask the “Herald” to accept my opinion as to what are, and what are not, “bad laws.” We might disagree on some, or perhaps many, of the laws that one or the other of us would call “bad.” And I do not wish to go into any controversy on that point. I only ask the “Herald” to be its own judge, and to act on its own judgment. When it asserts that “abuses” and “grievances” result mainly from “bad laws,” it must be presumed to have had an opinion of its own, as to what are, and what are not, bad laws. Why, then, will it not go forward, and do what it can to procure the repeal of all laws, which, in its own opinion, come under the head of “bad laws”?
My article presented this duty distinctly to the “Herald,” and I am sorry to see that the “Herald” gives no promise of performing it, and no reason why it does not perform it. But, instead of doing so, it attempts to divert attention from its delinquency, by insisting that Anarchy is a very bad thing; that it means no law at all; that, in order to procure the repeal of “bad laws,”
It is not necessary to carry dynamite cartridges with you, nor is it necessary to set the city on fire, or to create a riot ending in bloodshed.
I agree that it would not be necessary to do any of these things — and I am also of the opinion that nobody would ever think of doing such things — as a means of procuring the repeal of “bad laws” if only the “Herald,” and all other influential papers, would but set themselves openly and honestly to the work of procuring their repeal by reason alone.
The only reason why so many persons become desperate, and resort to desperate means to procure the repeal of “bad laws,” is because such papers as the “Herald” do not even attempt to procure their repeal. The “Herald” says:
When a law works a grievance, it is easy to go to the polls in an orderly way, and have it removed from the statute books.
Is this really so easy a thing? If so, what excuse has the “Herald” for not leading the way,and having the work done at once? Does anybody know, better than the “Herald,” the ten thousand vile influences and artifices, which the avarice and ambition of a few bring to bear to procure the enactment, and prevent the repeal, of those “bad laws,” by which they acquire their wealth and power? Does anybody know, better than the “Herald,” that there are, in the country, hundreds and thousands of servile presses, and tens and hundreds of thousands of servile and corrupt politicians, whose principal, if not only, occupation is to procure the enactment of “bad laws,” and prevent their repeal? And that, for these purposes, they are constantly employed in confusing and deceiving the oppressed classes as to the injustice of these laws, and their effect upon their welfare?
If the “Herald,” which is sending broadcast a hundred thousand of its sheets daily, can do nothing to put an end to all this making of “bad laws,” and enforcing them upon the people, how can it say that “it is easy” for the millions of poor men, who never see a stated book, and know little or nothing of what is in them, or what is the particular operation of this or that statute, and who, moreover, are so widely scuttered over the country that they can hold no consultations with each other, as to the remedies for their wrongs,— how can the “Herald” say that “it is easy” for these men “to go to the polls in an orderly way, and have the bad laws removed from the statute books”?
I suggest to the “Herald” that it is its imperative duty to draw up a carefully considered list of all those “bad laws,” by which it acknowledges that the people are impoverished and oppressed; that it lay this list before the whole country, and faithfully explain the particular operation of each one of these “bad laws”; that it then enlighten the oppressed classes as to how they are to proceed to procure the repeal of all these “bad laws”; and that, having put its hand to the plough, it look not back until the work is done.
If, now, the “Herald” really wishes to see these “bad laws” repealed, and the enactment of new ones prevented, does it not see what an opportunity it has, and what a call there is for a bold paper, with a large circulation, to take up this cause, and do a great work for the oppressed classes, in this, and ultimately in other, countries?
Will not the “Herald” now suspend its vituperations of such temporary and comparatively unimportant things — whether good or bad — as Anarchy, Socialism, Communism, Nihilism, Democracy, Republicanism, Toryism, Whigism, etc., and strike some telling blows at the “bad laws,” which it acknowledges to exist, and asserts to be the causes of all the “abuses” and “grievances,” under which so many millions of mankind are suffering.
If, instead of doing this, it shall go on supporting the makers of all these “bad laws,” and shall expect to quiet the victims of them, by simply telling them that,
When a law works a grievance, it is easy to go to the polls in an orderly way, and have it removed from the statute books,—
if it shall imagine that such medicine as that is any remedy for the disease, it will, no doubt, in due time, find itself “Greatly Mistaken.”
Mr. Lum Finds Liberty Wanting.
To the Editor of Liberty:
I have waited patiently for Liberty in full confidence that it would speak in no uncertain tone on the outrages perpetrated in Chicago by the legal ruffian at the head of the police. Nor was I disappointed, save in what you left unsaid. Philosophising is well, but the grave situation in which the Chicago “Communists” (if you will) are placed demands at our hands more than dissertations or well-rounded and careful distinctions by “X” between “Boston Anarchists” and the “savage Communists of Chicago.”
If, as you say, there is a real menace to Liberty in the madness of the constituted authorities, it seems to me that it is a practical duty for us to show our faith by our works, and take steps to see that the men under arrest in Chicago are defended and acquitted. Or would an effort to defend them in the courts he as objectionable to a “Boston Anarchist” as the more “savage” methods of the Chicago “Communists”?
The question is not — at least with men, however it may be with time-serving cowards who are afraid that their spotless robes may he soiled — whether “the Boston Anarchists are ready to denounce the savage Communists of Chicago,” as “X” puts it, but whether they are ready to calmly philosophize and leave these men to their fate; whether the chief end of the “Boston Anarchist” is fulfilled in building sepulchres for men our fathers have stoned, or in piously mouthing the old prayer; “I thank thee I am not as other men are” — in Chicago!
In short, what is the practical duty of an Anarchist — even though he may use neither of the qualifying adjectives, “Boston” or Pharisaic — concerning men whom I do not admit to have done wrong? Is it merely to carefully distinguish my cause from less cultured but more unfortunate men? The “uncertainty” in my mind is not confined to the circumstances which “surround the throwing of a bomb at the Chicago police.”
Heartily wishing “T” had said more (and I think it could have been done without over-running the page), and that “X” had said less, I remain
Dyer D. Lum.
The chief trouble with Mr. Lum’s criticism is that he doesn’t tell me what more to say. In a private letter I asked him to supply this deficiency, but for answer got nothing more satisfactory than that Liberty, being looked up to for advice, “should have been willing to suggest — what? anything, something.” Now, I am not in the habit of saying “anything, something.” It’s a poor policy. Mr. Lum should know this himself. If he had avoided saying “anything, something,” his opinions would not have made so many revolutions before the public eye. and his influence would have been greater. When I don’t know, I say so. A few weeks ago I heard Mr. Lum say to a New Haven audience that it is not to be assumed of every man who stands up to champion certain fundamental principles that the mantle of Elijah has fallen upon his shoulders. But now he seems to think that it has fallen upon mine. I feel flattered, but must decline so heavy a responsibility.
I have denounced the treatment of the Chicago Communists in the strongest terms that I could think of. I could have done nothing more except subscribe for their defence and ask Liberty’s constituency to do likewise. If a subscription paper were presented to me, I should probably give — what? anything, something. But not a great deal. Why? Because I must direct my expenditures for the cause of Liberty in the way that seems to me most fruitful of good results. If a satisfactory struggle could be made for free speech in the courts at Chicago, I should be disposed to go in with a will. But this is impossible, because the question of free speech is mixed up with other matters there. The indictments are for murder and other kindred offences. It may be said, of course, that the murders committed by the bomb-throwing were in resistance to an invasion of free speech. Even if this is so, still the method employed was so unwise that the principal effect was necessarily to damage free speech. Suppose a parallel case. Anthony Comstock violated free speech by arresting D. M. Bennett. Mr. Bennett had an unquestionable right to resist by shooting him. Had he done so, he would have strengthened the Comstock movement immeasurably and placed free thought at the mercy of bigotry. Under such circumstances, could Liberals have been expected to rally very ardently to Mr. Bennett’s support? Mr. Bennett suffered his persecution without resort to violence, and the result is that Comstock is so crippled that he dare not arrest another freethinker. The Chicago Communists have chosen the violent course, and the result is to be foreseen. Their predicament is due to a resort to methods that Liberty emphatically disapproves. As between them and the State Liberty’s sympathies are with them. But, as they by their folly are doing their utmost to help the State, Liberty cannot work with them or devote much energy to their defence. If this be “time-serving cowardice,” so be it. Mr. Lum must make the most of it. But he should remember that this is not a question of faith without works. It is a question of difference of faith.
The phrase “Boston Anarchists,” which Mr. Lum makes the object of his sarcasm, was enclosed in quotations at the head of “X’s” article. It is not of Liberty’s selection. It was first thrown at Liberty’s supporters by the San Francisco “Truth,” (the writer who most used it is now a “Boston Anarchist” himself), and was afterwards applied to us by Mr. Lum’s Chicago friends. “X” simply took their phrase as a matter of convenience. He knows, and Mr. Lum knows, that it is devoid of sense. Liberty happens to be published in Boston, and one or two of its writers live there, but it has comparatively few friends in its once revolutionary, but now reactionary, home. The great bulk of its supporters are scattered all over the country. Grouped together, they would be seen to be a very cosmopolitan collection. No taint of Boston culture or exclusiveness attaches to their garments. The Anarchy taught by Liberty is exclusive of none except those who do not believe in Anarchy, and it is exclusive of those whether they live in Boston or Chicago and whether they call themselves Anarchists or not.
Great Idea Perverted.
The Knights of Labor convention at Cleveland voted to petition congress for the passage of an act which embodies in a very crude way the all-important principle that all property having due stability of value should be available as a basis of currency. The act provides for the establishment of loan offices in every county in the United States, which, under the administration of cashiers and tellers appointed by the secretary of the treasury, shall issue legal tender money, redeemable on demand in gold coin or its equivalent in lawful money of the United States, lending it at three per cent, a year to all who offer satisfactory security.
The Knights have got hold of a great idea here, one which has in it more potency for the emancipation of labor than any other; but see now how they vitiate it and render it impracticable and worthless by their political and arbitrary methods of attempting its realization.
One section of the act, by forbidding all individuals or associations to issue money, makes a government monopoly of the banking business,— an outrageous denial of liberty.
Another section, instead of leaving the rate of discount to be governed by cost, to which, were it not for the monopoly, competition would reduce it, arbitrarily fixes it at three per cent., thus recognizing labor’s worst foe, usury. As three per cent, represents the average annual increase of wealth,— that is, the difference be-tween the annual production and the annual consumption,— this section means that what ought to be labor’s annual savings, and would be if usury did not abstract them from labor’s pockets, shall be turned into the government treasury to be squandered as congress and corrupt officials may see fit.
Another section establishes a uniform usury law for the entire country, providing that any person who shall lend money at any other rate than three per cent, shall forfeit to the borrower both principal and interest. Legislators have heretofore been satisfied to limit the rate of interest in one direction, but this limits it in both, subjecting the lender at two per cent, to the same forfeit that the lender at four must suffer.
This piece of tyranny, however, as well as numerous others in the act, are thrown entirely into the shade by a section providing that any person convicted of offering for sale gold and silver coin of the United States “shall forfeit as a fine his entire estate, goods, money, and property, or may be imprisoned at hard labor for fifty years, or suffer both fine and imprisonment, and in addition forever forfeit the right of citizenship in the United States.” What an opportunity for Recorder Smythe, should this offence ever come within his jurisdiction! His insane lust for cruelty, which lamented its inability to hang John Most for making an incendiary speech, might find greater gratification under this statute. Imagine him addressing the prisoner at the bar:
“John Jones, a jury of your peers has found you guilty of a most heinous crime. You have presumed to offer in the market-place and subject to the sacrilege of barter our sacred cartwheel, the emblem of our civilization, the silver dollar of the United States. It is evident that you are a member of the dangerous classes. You are probably the greatest scoundrel that ever disgraced the face of the earth. It is a great pity that our too merciful law will not permit me to burn you at the stake. But as it will not, I must be contented, in the interest of law, order, and society, to go to the extreme verge of the latitude allowed me. Therefore I impose upon you a fine equal to your entire estate, I sentence you to imprisonment at hard labor for fifty years, and I strip you forever of the right to vote me out of office.”
A beautiful organization, these Knights of Labor, for an Anarchist to belong to!
William Holmes, one of the Chicago Communists, has a silly letter in “Lucifer” of May 21, abusing the editors of that paper for joining with Liberty in condemnation of the crimes of Most’s followers. I wish I had room to reprint it just to let my readers see what these Communists are capable of saying about me. But I can only advert to the especially silly assertion that Liberty is “Lucifer’s” Boston divinity and that “Lucifer” is Liberty’s sycophant. Men like Holmes are so accustomed to blindly following that they are entire strangers to spontaneous cooperation. When they see two persons doing the same thing, they conclude that one must be leading and the other following. Holmes confesses that such is his practice when he virtually says that, sooner than write a word in condemnation of anything wrong in his own party, he would suffer his hand to be burned from his body. Liberty and “Lucifer” are on no such tender footing. I know the editors of “Lucifer” for earnest, honest men, of keen insight, with whom I generally agree, but sometimes differ. I believe that they hold a somewhat similar opinion about me. Where we agree, we have cordially cooperated. Whenever we have differed, we have said so openly, vigorously, and sometimes sharply. And I suppose we shall continue in this course, whether Holmes and his Communistic friends like it or not.
The authorities are growing madder and madder. The monomaniac Smythe gave Most the full penalty of the law, one year in the penitentiary and $500 fine, Braunschweig five months and $250, and Schenck nine months with no fine. In addressing Most, the recorder told him that he was the greatest scoundrel that ever disgraced the face of the earth, and that he was sorry he could not sentence him to be hanged. Such talk as this is the language of lunacy, or else of knavery bidding for the vote of lunacy.
A newspaper, describing the scene when Most, Braunschweig, and Schenck were sentenced, said: “None of the Anarchists attempted to speak a word, but were as meek as lambs and disgracefully cowardly in their demeanor.” I suppose this reporter expected to see one of them launch a bomb at the recorder. It may be taken for granted hereafter, on every occasion where an Anarchist figures, that, if he throws a bomb, he will be put down as a fiend, and, if he does not, he will be I branded as a coward.
Use Them Instead of Abusing Them.
I know it is not polite, to say the least, to ask admittance into a house in order to throw stones at its members. But I will say frankly at the very threshold that that is what I want to come into the present number of Liberty for. I want to find fault with the greater part of what has been said in recent numbers about the Knights of Labor. It seems to me that there is an error in all this, a fatal error, that lames most of the Anarchistic method. Far be it from me to criticise complainingly the methods of my brethren, older and wiser in Anarchy than I. Still it does seem to me — and I must tell them so — that they mistake in being so little disposed to take advantage of all those good impulses and right tendencies to be found in the present state of things. If is hard enough to get the world along in the right direction, the best that can be done,— so hard that I am convinced it is a great mistake not to make use of overy possible opportunity of making people familiar with Anarchistic principles.
Therefore, I say, instead of berating the Knights of Labor, use them.
Of course, there is much in their methods and their intentions that is repulsive to an Anarchist. But it is a wonderful means, presented all ready for use, for the spread of Anarchistic ideas. Its leaders and its members are deeply in earnest, and they are pressing along according to the best lights they have. Instead of carping at them, let us instruct them. Undoubtedly, they are doing good,— as much good as could be done on so large a scale at the present time. But if their wonderful power could be given an impulse in the direction of less legislation, instead of going pell-mell toward more; if a little leaven of Anarchy could be put into that vast, fermenting mass,— what wonderful results might come of it a few years hence! And the time is the one time of a hundred years for the growth of Anarchy. It is the spring of labor’s long, long year, and labor feels the wonderful new life in its veins, is stirring itself in a dumb, numb way preparatory to making such wonderful growth as never it made before, as never the world saw before. And Anarchy ought to have large share in all this. The great goddess, Liberty, might come to her own some centuries sooner, I think, were Anarchists to use rather than abuse the Knights of Labor.
How? If every Anarchist in the United States were a member of a Knights’ assembly, participated in its discussions, and into them all threw the seed of his beliefs, lost no opportunity of spreading among its members a knowledge of the doctrines of Anarchy,— the plan is simple enough, but what great results might follow!
F. F. K.
The Knights of Labor.
The rapid growth of the organization of the Knights of Labor is one of the signs of the times. The age is moving on with rapid strides toward a social revolution. As in all pre-revolutionary periods, men are blindly groping and associating together to discover some patent method of compromising light and darkness, authority and liberty, hoping to discover the happy twilight medium in which both can agree. Such is the political platform of the Knights of Labor. Brought into close associative effort by the pressure of economic necessity, their hearts stirred by the unconscious influence of the spirit of the times, blind to the logic of events that is proclaiming still further liberty to the individual, and with their minds thoroughly permeated with the virtues of the quack nostrums of the day, it is no wonder that crude methods should still retain a foothold in their councils.
But Man is ever wiser than men. The unconscious leadership under which they art acting sees more clearly, and will guide more accurately, than the narrow views of nominal and known leaders. The contest of the age is between legalized Capital and compulsory Labor. Capital entrenched in legalized privilege, not only defended by the arm of, but constituting, the State, has fallen heir to the mantle of Caesar. Holding the will o’ the wisp of political action in a modern commercially organized State before the straining eyes of the people, it prates loudly of the sacredness of personal liberty. It was in behalf of “liberty” that the proprietor of the Springfield (O.) shops expelled the Knights, and refused them the means of living by their accustomed labor. Secure in their entrenchments of legalized privilege, capitalists dread change, and ring the cry of “liberty” in every key.
The Knights are avowedly banded together to work for the final “abolishment of the wage-system”; and proclaim that “among the higher duties that should be taught in every local assembly are man’s inalienable inheritance and right to a share, for use, of the soil, and that the right to life carries with it the right to the means of living, and that all statutes that obstruct or deny these rights are wrong, unjust, and must give way.” To be sure, they look upon political action as a means to this end, but it is as a means, and not as the end. With their aim I have the fullest sympathy, and as an Anarchist hold that all statutes “obstruct and deny” this aim.
The question, therefore, arises, shall we stand aloof because of the incorporation among their methods of one which we believe will not accomplish their aim? Are we not in danger of mistaking the means for the end, and, in standing so stiff as to crack our spinal column by bending backward, becoming, in effect, sharpshooters and scouts for the entrenched enemy?
The Knights of Labor are based on the principles of cooperation in industry and arbitration in disputes, and because among their methods I find among their means of action one of the crude notions of the day, shall I withdraw and place a cartridge in my musket to do their enemies’ work? We are passing out of the political into the economic phase of social administration, and as when we passed from the religious to the political phase, the old weapons are still the handiest to the muscles habituated to their use. The Puritans and Fifth Monarchy men of Cromwell’s day are ridiculous enough in many respects. Men who could rejoice in such names as “Praise-God-Barebones” tried to fight the battles of political liberty with religious methods, but the unconscious leadership of the spirit of their age made their associative efforts effective toward the end in view. So I, believing myself to be a “real Anarchist,” can be a Knight pledged to work in unison with them in economic * measures, while smiling at the presence of “survivals” of political means to secure economic ends. As a Knight, too, I am under no obligation to assist in furthering their ends by political* methods.
In fine, the aims of the Knights of Labor is one thing, the political demands of their “platform” is another, and is but the temporary excrescence of the times.
Therefore, instead of being in the position of subscribing to Calvin’s creed, I rather stand as one who refuses to aid Rome by burning Calvinists at the stake, because, like Rome, I disagree with certain methods they still retain.
Dyer D. Lum.
The Knights of Labor.
When the Knights of Labor have succeeded in establishing a reign of terror over the employing classes,— and they surely will succeed, if matters keep on as they are now going,— we suppose they think the millennium for labor will have dawned. But they will find themselves mistaken. Blood cannot be sucked out of a turnip, nor can high wages be got out of industry that is not in a prosperous condition.
Even were the capitalist or employer — for it is against the employer rather than the capitalist that the Knights direct their hardest blows — entirely eliminated from the problem today and labor left to its own devices to employ itself, we doubt very much if there would be any great improvement in the condition of labor. It would still be confronted with congested markets and so-called “overproduction.” Inability to exchange will confront it, and palsy all its efforts to increase its wealth and multiply its comforts.
There are but few industries in the country today which are very profitable to those who employ labor in conducting them, and this under the shrewdest, most close-fisted management, with an eye single to the interests of the employer, regardless of those of the employed. There are many branches of manufacturing run without profit in the hope that better times will come when something can be made out of them by those who take the risks and have the care and responsibility of their management. Here and there a huge monopoly piles up great profits and can afford to pay great wages, but the general profits of business are not large, nor is there any prospect that they will be. Do the Knights of Labor suppose that they can take the management of affairs in their hands and make them better under such circumstances? Do they expect to draw blood from a turnip?
The cause of the trouble lies deeper than these people seem to suppose. Behind the employer, whose exposed head they are just now engaged in pummeling, is a condition of things for which he is not all to blame, forcing him to antagonize their interests in order that he may live; and were he to be got out of the way at once and a new employer substituted, the evil system would remain, and the evil consequences of that system follow without material abatement.
The numerous labor papers which come to this office are filled with rant and war cries against the conductors of industry, but hardly ever go deeper into the principle of things than the immediate effects which are apparent to everybody. They abuse the collector of rent, but his principal, who pockets the collections, escapes their comment, and the system which produces him and compels him passes unobserved. Anything more unsatisfactory than such ranting to one who cares for the permanent prosperity of the masses of his fellow men, unless it be the hypocritical professions of the false friends of labor, can hardly be found.
The Knights of Labor, as an army carrying destruction before it and leaving consternation in its rear, is doing a salutary and perhaps a necessary work, and by compelling the dominant classes to institute some reforms for their own self preservation, will do a certain amount of good, no doubt; but, instead of Liberty and Equality, they will find only a Napoleon and his bloody legions when their struggle is over,— an improvement, perhaps, as all change and struggle is an improvement,— but not much gain for themselves after all; a change of masters, but not a change of system by which masters become less exacting.
There can be no general prosperity in any country under falling prices, and no war upon capital or upon employers will of itself prevent prices from falling. Rather will it tend to lower them and increase the suffering and inequality which it seeks to remove. Whatever its ultimate effects on coming generations, its immediate consequences will be the reverse of satisfactory to all concerned. Until adequate provision is made for the exchange of wealth and the distribution of production, no lasting or wide-spread improvement may be looked for. This monopoly may be forced to yield an inch, and that oppressor may be driven into exile, but another will succeed him, and the monopoly which yields an inch in one direction will take an ell in another. So labor will continually find itself oppressed and overburdened, and no better able to pay itself high wages as its own employer than it is now under the employment of the managers of capital.
The sufferings of the industrial classes are caused, not by the direct oppression of the employing classes, but by inability of the latter to dispose of the products of industry. Of course this results in lack of employment, and that results in fierce competition among laborers against each other for work, and that brings wages down to the lowest living notch. At the same time thousands are in sore need of the very things which employers would be glad to produce if there was any market for them. Now, does any reasonable man suppose that it will immediately, permanently, and to any great extent help matters to have labor make organized war on employers? Or that labor as its own employer will find itself able to make a market under the very conditions which have destroyed the market? — that is, under conditions which preclude the ready exchange of product among the producers, and which forbid the needy from supplying their wants by purchase from other producers who have an overabundance of the things the needy need, and who are themselves needy because of the very abundance of their own product?
We have given the subject constant attention for years, always sympathizing with labor and always speaking in its behalf; we have read acres of argument pro and con, in labor papers and in capitalistic papers, in books and in pamphlets, and we are today more firmly convinced than ever that the chief trouble is in the machinery of exchange,— not in production, over-population, lack of demand, or overabundance of supply; — certainly not in the squandering of public moneys, or exclusion of the people from the land, or increased use of machinery.
Our sympathies are strongly on the side of the Knights of Labor, but this does not prevent us from seeing that their efforts, however successful, will not result in the great benefit which they expect, for, as we said at the beginning, they cannot draw blood from a turnip; they cannot get big wages out of industries which, like the vast majority of industries in this country today, have small profits or no profits at all.
Luckily His Shoulders are Broad.
The Anarchist figures in the present labor troubles to some extent, and, if anything particularly outrageous is done by anybody not enlisted in the cause of capitalism, it is considered safe to lay it to him.
Mr. Walker’s Neo-Nonsense.
I am sorry to see that E. C. Walker, having taken a position on Malthusianism, probably without due consideration, seems to had himself hound now, for the sake of consistency, to maintain that position at all hazards. Consistency is a very fine thing but truth is far finer. Mr. Walker is still determined to call himself a Malthusian, though he denies the fundamental doctrine of Malthusianism,— i. e., that the working-people would be better off, everything else remaining unchanged, if their numbers were diminished. Does Mr. Walker know that Malthus’s “Theory of Population” was written in answer to Condorcet’s “Esquisse des Progres de l’Esprit Humain” and Godwin’s “Political Justice,” the two most Anarchistic works of the last century, which demonstrated that poverty and vice and crime were due to the inequality of conditions, generated and fostered by unjust political systems. Both Godwin and Condorcet foresaw that some day the population question would come up for consideration, but they saw also, as we see today, that it was not the burning question, calling for immediate solution, not the question on the solution of which depended the solution of all the others, but that it was a dependent question, secondary to that of justice. Condorcet especaily has shown that with improved conditions, and the increased morality necessarily resulting from this improvement, the population question would settle itself, for no man would then desire to bring beings into existence for whose happiness he could not provide, and that recklessness in this respect today was due to the general degradation of the people. Malthus came to the rescue of the rising bourgeoisie, and was one of the most noted signs uf the reaction following the French Revolution. He endeavored to show that any attempt made to improve the conditions of the people would only make things worse, as it would make room for a larger population. Mr. Malthus’s followers have since pointed with pride to India as a proof of their master’s insight. The positive checks, of war, pestilence, etc., to over-population having been removed by the motherly care of the British government, the Indian people have been reduced to a condition of more hopeless poverty than that in which they were before. They take no note of the part which the fostering care of the British usurers has had in the production of this poverty; it is not part of their scheme to recognize that.
A large part of Mr. Walker’s article is more suited to the columns of the Women’s Christian Temperance papers than to the columns of Liberty. It betrays about as much sense in regard to the population question as the ordinary Christian in relation to the temperance question. Mr. Walker probably admits that the condition of the individual workingman is made worse by intemperate habits, but nevertheless he would consider it a very superficial movement which confined itself to treating the intemperance, but left the poverty which produced the intemperance untouched. Intemperance and the large families will disappear with the conditions that produce them, and therefore it is to these conditions that our attention must be directed.
In his desperate floundering endeavor to maintain the position which he has assumed, Mr. Walker has deserted the high plane of the Anarchist for that of the ordinary bourgeois or trades-unionist. He says that the workingman “is living in the present, and not in some millennial future.” In his criticisms of the ideas and actions of the trades-unionists, Mr. Walker has shown an impatience and disgust with them which a really philosophical student of society would never have displayed, and just because of this very impatience and this disgust I am not at all surprised to see him descending to the arguments of the trades-unionists. The trades-unionists always tell us: — “Your theories are very fine, but what we want now are better wages and shorter hours.” When we say that, when these become general, they will be no better off than they were before, they answer that they are dealing “with the present, and not with some millennial future. When we have higher wages and fewer hours, we will then have more intelligence to consider the labor question,” etc, etc. Mr. Walker ought to join Mr. Atkinson in his improved system of domestic economy, and also to take lessons from Miss Corson on how to make a neck of beef last a family of six persons for three weeks. All these subjects are highly important, and deal with “the here and the now.”
But Mr. Walker has really begged the whole question of Malthusianism. Malthus said that, in proportion to the food-producing capacity of the world at any time, the number of people has always been too great, and hence war, famine, and pestilence are absolutely necessary, and that the only way poverty (which is due to over-population) can be removed is by lessening the population. Mr. Walker says that the individual workingman is better off when his family is small, but admits that, if small families became general, poverty would exist in as great a degree as before, but that all men, from the training they had received in lessening the pize of their families, would be more fitted to combat the difficulty. Wondrous training-school! He has changed the discussion from a question of political economy to one of domestic economy, with which the question of the just distribution of wealth has nothing whatsoever to do.
As to France, France is a proof that Malthusianism — that is, a restriction of the population — is a failure as a means for the destruction of poverty. It is in the country districts of France, if I understand J. S. Mill rightly, that the small families originated, for it was to the country people and not to the city people that the Revolution guaranteed a certain means of support which could not be easily increased. In the tables of population of France from 1870 to 1880, I find that more than one-third of the increase of population is credited to the large cities. Now whether this increase in the cities be due to all increased number of births in the cities, or to increased emigration from the country, the population of the country districts must in either case be almost stationary, and, according to the theory of Malthus, the country people should be much better off than in those countries in which large families prevail. This we have already shown not to be the case. Much admiration as I have for the French people, I cannot admit that “they more quickly and effectively than any other: modern people resent invasions of their rights, and have at higher ideal of industrial and social life.” In the first place, they do not resent invasions of their rights by the State nearly; as much as the English people do, but are constantly clamoring for more and more State regulation, and in the next, the ideal of even the most advance of them is not at all high in our sense of that word, as even “Le Révolté” cannot keep out of communism.
No, the Anarchists or Anti-Malthusians do not assume that the “wage-system is to be eternal,” and it is for this reason that they are not Malthusians, for the true Malthusian does assume the wage-system to be eternal, I will quote from what seems to be Mr. Walker’s Book of Common Prayer, “The Elenents of Social Science,” which he recommended to Mr. Heywood in the last number of “Lucifer” as representing his views on Malthusianism: “There is one method, and one only by which they [the working classes] may escape from the great, evils which oppress them,— the want of food and leisure, hard work and low wages. This is, by reducing their numbers, and so lessening the supply of labor in proportion to the demand.” One method only, remember; no hint at the abolition of the wage-system. And again: “Wages cannot rise, except through there being more capital or less laborers, nor fall, except through there being less capital or more laborers.” “Poverty arises from an overcrowding of the labor-market and an undue depression of the margin of cultivation.” “The great social evils of old countries, when reduced to their simplest expression, are found to arise from the vast superiority of increase in man, over the powers of increase in the land.” “Profits are the rewards of abstinence [not of monopoly] as wages are the rewards of labor.” This book not only supports all the theories of the orthodox economists, which are true under present conditions, and all the orthodox deductions from these theories, but also all their absurdities, such as the existence of a “wages-fund,” and Mill’s absurd proposition that a “demand for commodities is not a demand for labor.” The book is so full of economic absurdities that I am not at all surprised at Mr. Walker’s temporary state of mental aberration after reading it.
A true Malthusian (I have been unable to discover what constitutes a Neo-Malthusian) sees no other cause for poverty but over-population, no other remedy for poverty but a reduction of the population, and therefore a Malthusian who is a labor-reformer is an anomaly, a contradiction, an absurdity. As to the Malthusians tending toward Anarchy, I wish Mr. Walker would point them out. Mr. Walker and Mr. James tend toward Anarchism, but Mrs. Besant tends just as strongly toward State Socialism. Which tendency is due to the Malthusianism? Are not both in opposition to it? And the people who practically carry out Malthusianism, the French, have a very much stronger leaning towards State Socialism and Communism than the English, whose families are proverbially large.
Gertrude B. Kelly