Liberty Vol. V. No. 4.
Not the Daughter but the Mother of Order
“For always in thine eyes, O Liberty!
Shines that high light whereby the world is saved;
And though thou slay us, we will trust in thee.”
On Picket Duty.
The Detroit “Advance” reprints from Liberty, apparently with approval, Mr. Yarros’s excellent “Reasons Why.” Labadie, as I expected, is sound on Egoism as well as Anarchism.
The judges say that Spies and his brave comrades must hang, though they cannot prove them guilty of murder. It is for the people now to say that the judges must go, there being no doubt as to their guilt.
The poem “Paul at Athens,” which “Lucifer” prints in its issue of September 9 and credits to the “Index,” originally appeared in my quarterly, the “Radical Review,” for which periodical the author, B. W. Ball, wrote it. If the “Index” printed it, it did so at second hand.
The “opinion” of the judges in the Chicago Socialists’ case reads like a New York “Times” editorial. As a legal document it is probably unparalleled, and soon a pamphlet is to appear in Chicago to show that it is a mixture of “lies, misrepresentations, and idiocy.”
Judge Macgruder — the newspaper report says — read the decision against the Chicago Socialists with husky voice and pallid face and trembling lips. Was it his “conscience,” his sympathy for the condemned, or the vision of a dynamite bomb that caused him so much torture?
Some enterprising reporter interviewed Chicago citizens in order to find out the general feeling in regard to the affirmation of the verdict. We are informed that Judge Gary, Chief of Police Ebersold, and Phil Armour “approve” the supreme court decision. Impossible! I refuse to believe it!
Charlotte Smith, editor of the Washington “Working Woman,” keeps the presidential ticket, Blair and George, at the head of her columns. Queer, isn’t it, that such a “simplifier” of government as George should be thought of as a fitting tail for a ticket headed by that honest but rabid prohibitionist and all-round governmentalist, Henry W. Blair?
Whenever the Galveston Daily “News” exposes the true character of the rubbish with which the daily press for the most part opposes Henry George’s theory, the “Standard” hastens to quote its utterance as “sound arguments from a Texas paper.” But it is a singular fact that, whenever the “News” itself opposes Henry George’s theory with arguments identical with those used by Liberty, the “Standard” carefully ignores the Texas paper, as it ignores the Boston paper, neither quoting it nor attempting to answer it.
H. M. Hyndman says in London “Justice” that he “never knew man or woman who once understood Socialism [meaning State Socialism], and honestly adopted it, who ever went back on their views.” I could introduce Mr. Hyndman to a number of such people, many of them now stanch Anarchists on Liberty’s subscription list. Of course it is open to him to say that they never understood State Socialism, but it is none the less certain that at the time they believed in it some of them were looked upon as well fitted to champion it and trusted to fill party offices.
In disposing with his usual cleverness of the economists’ apologies for interest G. Bernard Shaw takes a position upon the money question not at all in harmony with the State Socialism toward which he usually inclines. He would be taken, in fact, for a first-class Anarchist. Speaking of the tax which the banker who has a monopoly levies upon all commerce, he says: “Only by the freedom of other financiers to adopt his system and tempt his customers by offering to share the advantage with them, can that advantage eventually be distributed throughout the community.” Only, observe. No other method will do it. Government monopoly will not do it. Nothing but laissez-faire, free competition, free money, in short, as far as it goes, pure Anarchism, can abolish interest on money. When Mr. Shaw shall apply this principle in all directions, he and Liberty will stand on the same platform.
So John Most has made application for naturalization papers, and, because he has been refused, loudly clamors for his constitutional rights. It reminds one of those opponents of marriage who are anxious to secure their rights under the marriage law. Can it be that Most wants to vote, after all his expenditure of breath in proclaiming the inefficacy and absurdity of the ballot? Rumors are rife that he and his friends are contemplating an alliance with the State Socialists against George. There may be no truth in them; nevertheless such an alliance may be looked for at any time. The revolutionary Communism which Most has preached is only another form of State Socialism, and is as far removed from Anarchism as Catholicism is. Liberty, by steadily insisting on this, has made many people angry, but its position, as usual, seems likely to be sustained by events.
On Sunday, September 18, a society was formed in Boston under the name of The Anarchists’ Club. Its purpose is the abolition of government imposed upon man by man by all methods and agencies not themselves partaking of the nature of such government, and its propaganda will include public meetings, debates, lectures, and the distribution of Anarchistic literature. A. H. Simpson has been elected secretary-treasurer. Any one desiring to become a member should apply to him. His address is “Box 3366, Boston, Mass.” There is no stipulated membership fee. Whoever signs the constitution thereby makes himself a member entitled to participate in the Club’s business meetings, which are to be held on the first Sunday of each month. A public meeting will be held at an early date, which will be opened with a more elaborate statement of the Club’s aims than is contained in the constitution. This meeting will be advertised in the daily papers, and I hope that Liberty’s local readers will all attend, and many others besides. It is designed to hold public meetings weekly, if they can be sustained. This attempt at Anarchistic organization for propagandism should be warmly welcomed, and comrades in other cities should similarly organize.
Just as I have more respect for the Roman Catholic Christian, who believes in authority without qualification, than for the Protestant Christian, who speaks in the name of liberty but does not know the meaning of the word, so I have more respect for the State Socialist than for Henry George, and in the struggle between the two my sympathy is with the former. Nevertheless the State Socialists have only themselves to blame for the support they have hitherto extended to George, and the ridiculous figure that some of them now cut in their sackcloth and ashes is calculated to amuse. Burnette G. Haskell, for instance. In his “Labor Enquirer,” previous to the issue of August 20, he had been flying the following flag: “For President in 1888, Henry George.” But in that issue, having heard of the New York schism, he lowered his colors and substituted the following: “For President in 1888, any man who will go as the servant of the people and not as their ‘boss,’ and who understands that poverty can only be abolished by the abolition of the competitive wage-system and the inauguration of State Socialism.” When Haskell hoisted George’s name, did he not know that his candidate believed that poverty was not to be abolished by the abolition of the wage-system? If he did not know this, his knowledge of his candidate must have been limited indeed. If he did know it, the change of colors indicates, not the discarding of a leader, but a revolution in ideas. Yet Haskell is undoubtedly not conscious of any revolution in his ideas, and would admit none. All of which tends to show that he has no ideas definite enough to be revolutionized.
The judges of the supreme court of Illinois are in accord with the Communists of Illinois upon at least one point. They say in their opinion: “Law and government cannot be abolished without revolution, bloodshed, and murder.” Despite the sanction which the Communists thus receive from so exalted a quarter, Anarchists will continue to hold the contrary opinion, and to maintain that only under very rare and extreme circumstances is bloodshed essential to the abolition of government, that under other circumstances it can be no more than incidental to it, and that it will not be even that when there is a little more intelligence abroad regarding the principle of liberty, which, revolution or no revolution, must in any event be the chief factor in the abolition of government. Disregarding, however, the question whether the view of the judges and the Communists is correct or not, it is interesting to note the connection in which the former put it forward. Answering the claim of the counsel for the defence that one of the jurors was incompetent because he admitted a prejudice against Socialists, Communists, and Anarchists, the judges say that this is no disqualification, for, since Anarchism involves the destruction of law and government, which in turn involves revolution, bloodshed, and murder, and since Socialism or Communism involves a destruction of the right of private property, which in turn involves theft, “the prejudice which the ordinary citizen, who looks at things from a practical standpoint, would have against Anarchism and Communism would be nothing more than a prejudice against crime.” After this judicial declaration, will the jackals and jackasses of the capitalistic press dare to claim longer that the seven men under death sentence at Chicago were not tried and convicted for their opinions?
[Die Omaha Post.]
Mr. H. George ought never to have mixed the tax question with his theory. It will be the stumbling-block in his system. If the disinherited classes ever become free, that complex question will settle itself in a very simple way,— e. g., the people will tax themselves cheerfully for all legitimate purposes in a manner to suit themselves, or not tax themselves at all.
The Science of Society. By Stephen Pearl Andrews.
Cost the Limit of Price: A Scientific Measure of Honesty in Trade As One of the Fundamental Principles in the Solution of the Social Problem.
Continued from No. 107.
185. This is the true solution of the question of charity. So long as persons exist who are unable to support themselves from the products of their own labor, they must be maintained by the labor of other persons, without rendering any equivalent, and to be so maintained is to depend upon charity. There is no escaping from this necessity. Partnership or associative arrangements, or the theory of Communism, may disguise the fact, but the fact continues to exist, nevertheless. The remedy for the disagreeable features of charity is not to be sought by the impossible means of removing the fact, but by improving the general condition of society to the point where the demands for charity shall be so rare, and the general abundance of means so great, that there will be strife for the enjoyment of opportunities to gratify the benevolent sentiment. The relation of donor and beneficiary will then be alike agreeable and honorable to both. There is nothing, however, in the Cost Principle to prevent, but every thing to encourage and require, the extension of the principle of insurance to every thing to which it is applicable. Risk enters into cost, and the calculations of risk, as in the case of tables of longevity and the like, reduce that element to measurement, and render it as easy of calculation as any other element. Hence, parties who earn a surplus at any period of their lives can always insure permanent provision for the future. With reference to the very small number of those who, from the causes mentioned, may never be able to do that, the observations made above hold good. They must be the objects of the benevolent regards of the community, and not rely upon any law regulating equivalents of which they have none to give. Benevolence, being purely voluntary and illimitable, cannot be measured nor prescribed for. Any attempt to organize it, or dictate its action, is, therefore, as much out of place as it would be to regulate politeness by legislation. First do justice and extinguish the pauperism, crime, and disease which grow out of relations of injustice, and cease to fear that the spontaneous benevolence of humanity will not be amply adequate to provide for the sparsedly scattered instances of misfortune which may ever remain as an incentive to the healthy action of that affection.
186. There is a subtle objection sometimes urged against the whole doctrine of attractive industry, or, in other words, against the propriety of every individual being employed in that way in which his tastes incline him to act, and for which his natural gifts particularly qualify him. It is said that genius or superior natural endowment in any direction is always, in some sense, a diseased or abnormal condition of the man; that the true type of humanity is the exact equilibrium of all the faculties, and a consequent equal capacity for every species of performance; that the exercise of any faculty augments its power, and hence that, if those faculties which are in excess are chiefly exercised, the deflection from the true direction of integral individual development is continually rendered greater and greater. Hence the curious result, in reasoning, is arrived at that every individual should be constantly or chiefly engaged at those occupations for which he has least natural endowment, and which are least agreeable, or, in other words, the most repugnant, to him.
187. This is an extreme and erroneous presentation of a principle of psychology and physiology; but, having a coloring of truth, it requires to be carefully considered and distinguished. The assumption here made is that there is one given standard of perfection for universal manhood, which is the exact equilibrium of all the faculties. It is obvious that, according to this theory, the perfection of the race would be the reduction of all men to the common standard, until every individual would be merely the monotonous repetition of every other. It is not so clear, under this hypothesis, why the Almighty should not have created one big man instead of so many little ones. Since economy of means is one of His striking characteristics, as exhibited everywhere in nature, the probabilities would certainly be in favor of such a policy. Slight reflection, however, will show that this “Simplistic Unity” is no part of the scheme of creation. “Universal Variety in Unity” is the law of the universe. The theoretical perfection of an exact equilibrium of faculties has no example in nature. It is an ideal point around which all individual organizations rotate in orbits more or less eccentric, all of them, however, when not arbitrarily interfered with, unapproachably distinct from every other, and hence positively incapable of collision. Individuality is infinite and universal. It cannot be extinguished, and, if it could, the result would be to reduce the universe to zero.
188. On the other hand it is undoubtedly true that, where some single faculty shows itself in any extraordinary degree of activity and power, there is a certain derangement of the whole system, growing out of, or conducing to, what may be regarded as disease. Genius verges upon insanity. Too great a departure from the ideal equilibrium of powers is unwholesome and dangerous to the physical, intellectual, and moral nature. Hence the arbitrary and infinitesimal division of labor without variety, of which our existing civilization boasts, is a wretched perversion of the powers of the individual. It pushes out and develops some one faculty to the neglect and destruction of all others, sinking the manhood of the man in the skill of the artisan. Every other faculty is suffered to wither and die. The individual, instead of being integrally developed, is distorted. Men and women are sacrificed and subordinated by this means to Skill, as they are through Political Economy to Wealth, through political organizations to Government, and through the church to ritual observances. Thus Utility, Enjoyment, Social Order, and Religion are overlaid and smothered by the very arrangements which are instituted professedly to secure those ends. A person who has been forced into the performance of some one function only during life is necessarily the helpless plaything of circumstances. He is rendered wholly imbecile for all else. All the higher purposes of his being are defeated by an insane and incessant devotion to some isolated fag-end of human affairs.
189. Hence it follows that true development is not to be found in either extreme. In medio tutissimus ibis. That man may be said to be best educated who has a general acquaintance with the largest scope of subjects, coupled with a particular and specific knowledge of some one, two, three, or more pursuits to which he chiefly dedicates his labors. In the beginning of a reform movement, while the circle is small, the most useful men of all are those who are spoken of disparagingly, in existing society, as “Jacks-at-all-trades,” — those who can turn themselves the most readily from one occupation to another. In this respect the American character is superior to that of all other people. The largest development of the Individual tends in that direction. With the increase of the circle, and greater general security of condition, a more exclusive or onesided class of talent will find its position, and a greater perfection of details — a higher composite perfection of Society — will then be achieved. The highest development of society demands the existence and cooperation of both classes. The true equilibrium is that the versatile man shall not go to the extreme of having neither preferences nor excellences in his performance, nor the devotee to a particular function to that of having no tastes or qualifications for any other. The point now to be observed is that mature rarely, if ever, pushes things to either one or the other of these extremes. There is no man who is by nature totally indifferent as to what he will do, nor any so born to a single attraction that he never develops tastes for any other, while some have greater diversity, and some greater particularity of tastes, by natural organization. Hence all that is necessary in order to secure the right distribution of functions is that Nature be left wholly unembarrassed,— that no individual be driven or induced by the arrangements of society, such as inordinate profits, disproportionate honors, or poverty, into, or detained in, occupations discordant with his individual preferences or desires, on the one hand, and that those natural preferences or desires be not overstimulated by the same or a different class of influences, on the other. To secure that condition of things there must be an equilibrium between attractions and rewards. This is precisely what is effected by the adoption of cost as the limit of price. The greater the attraction for a particular occupation the less the price; consequently, while it is placed within the power of every one to follow his attractions so far as he may choose to do so at his own cost,— that is, by sacrificing the larger gains of more repugnant industry,— still, on the other hand, he is constantly appealed to by his cupidity,— that is, by another class of wants,— to compete with others in various kinds of labor more burdensome to him, and thereby to develop and keep in healthy exercise those faculties with which he is less liberally endowed by nature.
190. Again, if any individual is imbued with the theory that to indulge in the exercise of his best developed faculties is injurious to his health, moral attributes, or reasoning powers, by throwing him out of the ideal perfection of his nature, then that supposed injury to his nature becomes immediately, with him, an item of cost, raises the price of his labor in that function, throws him out of it by the competition of others having similar abilities with a different appreciation of the wear and tear of employing them, and places him in the performance of something which will call into play those faculties which he deems deficient and wishes to cultivate. The principle is adequate, therefore, to every emergency. But as we have seen already that the theory itself is only rational as a protest against an extreme use of the superior faculties, there is no doubt that the balance of natural attractions will, in the great majority of cases, determine the general direction of industry, and the more so as the increased abundance of wealth renders price a less important consideration. The true equilibrium will then be preserved, however, by an augmented scope of attractions, which we have seen is the type of individual development. That the conditions of attractive industry are supplied by the Cost Principle will be more fully shown in the following chapter, in which results will be partially sketched which are more directly in harmony with the flattering anticipations of those reformers who are most advanced, ideally.
Chapter VI. Attractive Industry, Co-operation, and the Economies.
191. We have now arrived at a point from which we are prepared to discover and appreciate the higher results of the Cost Principle. The view, however, which I shall but slightly open, of the grand and enchanting prospects foreshadowed for the race by so simple a means as the mere enactment of justice in the daily transactions of man with man will be left intentionally incomplete. The mass of mankind have but little toleration for Utopias. Those who are ready to believe in them, and who simply demand, as the basis of their faith, a more solid foundation than airy fancies, will trace, it is hoped, for themselves, the outlines of the future, upon slight hints drawn from the more obvious operations of fundamental principles. Those who are still more credulous will feel still less need for elaborate demonstrations. The great mass of those who have some aspirations after reform have no ideal beyond the first stage of the results of true principles. Their present conception will be filled by relations of justice,— the extinction of crime, frauds, pauperism, and the generally discordant features of our existing social arrangements. They have little thought of the positive construction of harmonic society. There is danger that such persons would be repelled, rather than attracted, by any high-wrought pictures of the future. They can best be left to work out a higher conception by their own intuitions and reflections while laboring for the realization of what they now perceive. There are others, especially among the admirers of Robert Owen, Saint Simon, and Fourier, whose mental vision is accustomed to the contemplation of brilliant pictures, and who will be not unlikely to complain of the Science of Society, as here presented, on the ground that it does not begin by dealing with palatial structures, magnificent ornamental grounds, operatic performances, sculpture, and abundant luxury of all sorts. To those among this latter class who trace effects back to their causes, and causes forward to their effects, who can listen with pleasure to the dry preliminary details of rigid science, the Cost Principle will, on examination, become a mine rich in treasures of the kind they are seeking. They will discover that by means of it we are planting the roots from which will inevitably grow all the higher harmonic results in society which they have ever contemplated. They will perceive that true society is a growth from true principles, not an artificial formation,— a growth from seeds implanted in the soil of such society as now exists,— the only soil we have. They will perceive that while their ends and purposes are true, and their aspirations prophetic, their methods have not been scientific; and such, perhaps few in number, will return with renewed zeal to the work of reform, through the more modest and unpretending instrumentalities of the Labor Note and the formation of Equitable Villages. Others, who have been too long dazzled by the splendor of that brilliant future in which they make their ideal habitation to be able to look with complacency upon any practical adaptation to the present wants of mankind, must bide their time.
192. My present labor is to commend the Cost Principle, as far as practicable, to each of these several classes without offending the prejudices of any. I shall therefore, as I have intimated, sketch merely in outline the tendencies of this principle to accomplish, in social relations, the highest results that have ever been dreamed of by any class of reformers, leaving at the same time intact, at every stage of progress, the freedom of the Individual. It is not those ulterior results with which the reformers of this day will have chiefly to employ themselves. Those who require to perceive them to find in the principles a sufficient stimulus to work for their realization, and with whom the beatific vision would serve rather as a stimulant than as a sedative, will be precisely those who can fill up the picture without foreign aid.
193. The principal among the higher results growing directly out of the operations of the Cost Principle may be generalized under the heads of: 1. Attractive Industry. 2. Cooperation instead of Antagonism, and 3. The Economies of Cooperation and the Large Scale.
194. The main features of Attractive Industry are, as already shown, that each individual have, at all times, the choice of his own pursuits, with the opportunity to vary them ad libitum. This last, the opportunity to vary one’s industry, results from the fact that all avenues are equally open to all by the extinction of speculation, and the adoption of cost as the limit of price, whereby it becomes the interest of all that each should perfect himself in various occupations, thereby discovering those at which he can be most effective, and avoiding the liability to be employed at those for which he has no attraction or capacity. The freedom to vary involves the original freedom to choose, which stands upon the same basis. The variety of individual taste leads to a continual deviation on the part of single individuals from the common standards of estimate, according to which every article tends constantly to acquire, under the operation of the Cost Principle, a settled and determinate price. The ideas here suggested require, however, to be separately and more specifically considered.
195. How is there any equality established in the price asked by different people for the same kind of labor, when the price is based upon the estimate which each one makes of the repugnance of that labor to himself or herself personally,— when, too, it is well known that there exists such variety of tastes, or attractions and repulsions in different individuals for various kinds of industry?
To be continued.
By Georges Sauton.
Translated from the French for Liberty by Sarah E. Holmes.
Continued from No. 107.
“My throat is obstructed,” said the Duke with a rattle in his voice, “an intense thirst is devouring me.”
He half opened his mouth to breathe the refreshing air.
“The tongue! the tongue!” applauded Treor, “I saw its tip; it will protrude clear to the uvula.”
“You laugh at my torment,” cried the soldier, in a furious rage at this joy which taunted him, and he brandished his hand to strike down the insulter, but his fist, heavier than a mass of lead a hundred times its size, fell back by his side with incomparable speed, and the muscles of his arms, relaxed, enfeebled, and flabby, appeared to the Duke ready to part like tenuous threads.
A bellowing came from his throat at the consciousness of his helplessness. This philter, spreading in his veins, put him at the mercy, him the indomitable giant, of this tottering spectre of Treor. Misery! misery! and the fragile phantom could continue his insults with impunity.
“Yes, a hanged man!” repeated the old man in ridiculous and unrestrained glee. “He swings in the north wind like a jumping Jack. Ho! ho! At every gust, the rope strangles him more, projects the eye-balls beyond the blue lids, and the tongue sticks out, out, out!”
Newington tried to loosen his collar, to tear it, that he might breathe more freely, but did not succeed, and, in a voice which was fast growing feebler, called for help, quickly, and for something to drink.
The words of Treor drowned his cry of distress, and he tried to gain the threshold; but his legs failed him, as his arms had before, and, tottering, reeling, he fell heavily on his knees.
“Bravo! bravo! bravo!” repeated Treor. “The rope is broken; ah! ah! ah! and see him on all fours. . . . on all fours like the Irish to scratch the earth to obtain nourishment.”
Newington had a passing gleam of hope; through the half-open tapestries he saw Lady Ellen as on the evening of his conference with Gowan and the gelder, and he cried in the hoarse voice of a dying man:
“Ellen! Ellen! save me!”
“Ellen! Ellen!” he repeated, “help!”
The form did not move, and he at first believed it was an illusion of his wandering brain: but, the curtains closing, Lady Ellen disappeared, except the tip of her foot. According to all evidence, Newington was not the sport of a partial vision, and the Duchess was doubtless standing on the other side of the curtain.
He imagined her motionless with terror; but, if she lacked the courage necessary to enter, stupor did not nail her to the spot or paralyze her voice or limbs. Then what was it that kept her from calling out or ringing for a domestic?
He listened. The servant who had led in Treor was asking the Duchess if he should not take the prisoner back, if the old maniac was not disturbing the Duke. As for danger, the domestic did not concern himself much about that; this hypothesis did not even present itself to his thought. Lady Ellen sent the lackey away, pretending that Sir Newington was enjoying the spectacle; in reality, he was submitting the old man to a sharp examination, and the hallucinated Treor, mistrusting nothing, was furnishing all the necessary information.
“What a lie!” thought the dying man, and he tried to find a reason for this imposture. Was there one, or was she simply obeying the natural feminine instinct which loves to exaggerate, to amplify everything, to color the most ordinary acts of commonplace life? But no: she could hear the death rattle in his throat, and, if she did not run to try to save him, if she even sent away the aid that offered, it must be that she wished the death of her husband, it must be that she had not struck the Duke inadvertently, but that she premeditated the blow!
“Wretch!” Newington tried to shout; and he attempted also to rise, join the criminal, and punish her. But he fell back on the carpet.
“On all fours, like a dog!” he exclaimed.
And Treor, his irritating echo, repeated after him, railing and radiant:
“On all fours, like a dog!”
But he added in the tone of an exhibiter of educated animals:
“The dogs, with music, stand on their feet to dance. Attention!”
He tuned his violin, and began a march.
“Come, stand up, stiffen your back!” he commanded the Duke; “your fore paws beating time. . . . No dogs who do not drill like experienced soldiers on hearing such music. Carry arms!”
He quickly lifted his bow high in the air, like a sword drawn to the light, and then he quickened the time so that it tired his biceps, to keep up the movement, and started the perspiration from his temples; and as Newington, quite contrary to the music, stretched on the carpet in untold agonies, he cried:
“Oh, no! oh, no! not death so soon; the next is; Present! fire!”
And angrily inveighing against his subject, he continued, with a shrug of his shoulders:
“He bites the dust, like the poor devils executed by Newington’s orders.”
“As you will be executed yourself, rebel, viper!" replied the Duke, in a moment of relief.
“Threats! Who then threatens? Newington, Newington himself!”
Treor now recognized the Duke with surprise, with unequivocal satisfaction at seeing him before his old worn eyes, in which he did not believe.
“So he threatens even death!” said he at last, gravely, solemnly. “Have it hung, have it shot!”
His bent figure straightened up in the severe majesty of an accuser, and strong in the confession that came from the lips of the executioner of his people, “I expire,” he resumed slowly and full of authority:
“You can not. It is your master. It is the universal master! the master of superb masters!”
Then, warming up, he uttered a tirade surely too theatrical, but which the intoxication of the hasheesh in his brain amplified in spite of him:
“The bishop exorcises demons, but not death; the king has no power to condemn it to the galleys, or to exile it.
“The scythe in the fingers of the tottering skeleton defies the sword and the crosier; behold the long procession of those whom the spectre pricks with its scythe: the lawyer, whose tongue it has cut out; the doctor, whose scribbled prescriptions it has speared and thrown into its basket.”
And, pointing out with his bow the apparitions clearly discerned by him in the hall which they were filling, he went on:
“The princess, whose robes of state it has torn, and whose hair it has cropped grotesquely; the bride, whose orange-flowers it has stripped off, and whose white tunic it has torn from her,— do you see them, wan and shivering in their winding-sheets?”
The wails of Newington had become incessant, but Treor remained deaf and continually railed at the dying man.
“Oh! the round, the grand round of the skeletons in which you are about to have a place, how swiftly it moves! Do you hear the concert, the groans of the funeral-procession, accompanied by the rattling of bones, like castanets?”
The victim would have moved the most cold-blooded witness; his stomach was distended by hiccoughs so violent that he seemed on the point of vomiting up his soul and which inflated his chest nearly to bursting; then the powerless effort resolved itself into a mortal prostration of some seconds followed by a new attack of nausea which did not cease.
“Oh! how quickly they go!” continued Treor, insensible to this agony: “in spite of themselves, pell-mell, the monarch uncrowned and the shoe-maker barefooted, the nun unveiled and the harlot unpainted, the selfish bourgeois stripped and empty-stomached, the beggar relieved at last of the weight of his pouch. Faster, and faster yet, they signal to you, and the procession lengthens. Be off! be off! from the tomb disappear into eternity! Let not the earth be encumbered with corpses!”
A fearful rage seized Newington. He no longer distinguished Treor’s words, no longer appreciated their cruelty in the terrors of his commencing agony, but all this vain noise, instead of the assistance he invoked, exasperated him; and as the instant before he would have willingly throttled Lady Ellen with his hands, he conceived the presumptuous design of arresting all this exasperating chatter in the old man’s throat.
At least he desired to ask Treor to be quiet: his tongue, enormously swollen, moved with too much difficulty, and he could articulate only a plaint:
“I am thirsty! water!”
And, acutely tortured by the ardent thirst which devoured him, he succeeded in crying clearly three times:
“Water! water! water!”
This cry of distress penetrated to Treor’s heart, and suddenly all his insanity departed, his medley of vain declamations hushed, and he thought only of relieving the wretch who called for help with such anguish, in torments of such agony.
That it was Newington, the tyrant, the executioner, did not matter! Humanity, under these circumstances, had the ascendancy, and malice, the legitimate right of retaliation, abdicated.
The old man did not even reason, did not consider the charity which he was preparing to accord to the suppliant. The spirit of solidarity awakened within him instinctively. On the sideboard where the Duke had first drank, he perceived the decanter, and started in that direction to fill a glass with water and give it to the agonizing man.
But he could no longer stand on his feet. His last work of improvisation, his over-excited utterance, his extravagant mimicry, all the fire expended, had at last exhausted him, and his legs, even more unsteady than Newington’s, finally sank under him.
He recovered himself by a fortunate grasp at the back of an arm-chair; otherwise, he would have rolled on the carpet by the side of the Duke; but he remained there, leaning on the seat, incapable of straightening up or abandoning the support, though exhausting himself in excessive attempts which all failed.
And the torment was aggravated by the proximity of the desired object,— hardly two arm’s-lengths away; without reflection, unconsciously, he extended his hand, bending and disjointing himself to diminish the obstinate distance. An open abyss before him, as immense and broad as a river, would not have been more insuperable.
With a despairing eye Newington followed the efforts of the old man. The rattling went on unceasingly between his jaws, which contracted by degrees like the jaws of a vise when one turns the screw; the burning in his throat reached its height, like a collar of living flames constantly stirred up and gradually decapitating him; his chest seemed to be on fire, as if he had swallowed a cask of burning alcohol or imbibed a barrel of melted lead; and, the delirium finally seizing his overheated brain, he fancied that the fire formerly lighted in the house of the elect continued to burn in his body.
Only these words escaped from his swollen lips.
And still on all fours like a dog, wheezing, coughing, snorting, he no longer looked even human, so much swollen was his face, so sunken were his features in this uprising of puffy flesh. One would have said it was some hideous monster expiring in a gilded costume placed upon it in obedience to some carnival whim, but for the perpetual and monotonous cry of his torturing agony.
Truly Treor suffered the torments of hell in his inability to assist this dying wretch, and he lost his self-possession for a time. At last, however, it occurred to him that, though fastened there like a post, he perhaps had not lost the faculty of speech, and with the thought he recovered all his energy. Raising his voice, he gave a call which would certainly have been heard a long distance, if Lady Ellen had not run in madly and stifled it with her hand.
In vain the old man struggled to free himself, even trying to bite the rosy fingers; they were held so firmly over his mouth that they cut short his respiration, and the choking made it impossible for him to struggle against the wrath of the young woman, who shook him brutally and succeeded, without great difficulty, in making him let go of the arm-chair to which he was clinging.
While he whirled on his stiff legs for a second and beat the air with his arms, trying in his desperate gyration to grasp something, Newington, who, in spite of his derangement of mind, recognized the Duchess, gave a cry like that of a wounded stag at bay; at the same time, he moved along on the carpet, like a feeble man with a broken back, using his knees, hands, and elbows, trying to get to Lady Ellen.
His face, when the arms gave way, struck the floor, and the Duke wailed and roared by turns, like an animal that feels itself mortally wounded. Grazing with his fiery cheek the fresh skirt of the Duchess, he tried to cling to the stuff and lift himself to her waist, thinking to grasp the poisoner in a spasmodic embrace that would cause her death; he fell back powerless, and then made another and more ambitious attempt, hoping to hoist himself to the height of her throat, so as to strangle the criminal, on a level with her face, and disfigure her atrociously.
A semblance of the wavering reason which was little by little fading still gleamed through this thick brain, and now revealed to him the sole motive which Lady Ellen had obeyed in killing him. He recalled the journeys of Richard and the Duchess into the country, the hours when they absented themselves from the castle, on all kinds of pretexts, and the sudden way she had taken the arm of the young man the evening before.
To be continued.
“In abolishing rent and interest, the last vestiges of old-time slavery, the Revolution abolishes at one stroke the sword of the executioner, the seal of the magistrate, the club of the policeman, the gunge of the exciseman, the erasing-knife of the department clerk, all those insignia of Politics, which young Liberty grinds beneath her heel.” — Proudhon.
The Lesson of the Hour.
Unlike some of my friends, I have never entertained any hope that the supreme court of Illinois would overturn the verdict against the condemned Socialists of Chicago, and so, terrible as the recent news from that city is, I was not disappointed at it. But my heart grows heavier as the resources of defence diminish and the day approaches on which the brutal State proposes to execute upon these rash but noble men a base and far more rash revenge. To avert this act of madness and the unspeakable terrors to which it very possibly will lead, there remain but two cards yet to play in that game of statutory “justice” in which there is a percentage of chances in favor of the State that, if possessed by the backer of the games at Monte Carlo, would ruin him by driving all his victims to suicide. One of these cards is appeal to the supreme court of the United States; the other is appeal to the governor of Illinois. Now, as experience teaches us that the ascending scale of judicial “supremacy” generally registers a corresponding increase of stupidity and cold-bloodedness, there seems little reason to expect more fairness from Washington than Ottawa; and, unless Governor Oglesby is far less a tool of capital than the average Republican governor seeking political advancement, appeal to that quarter will be equally useless. Still, no stone should be left unturned. Let ample funds flow in, in order that all that can be done may be done, regardless of cost; and though capital’s faintest whisper should sound louder in official ears than labor’s mighty voice, let that voice give all its power to protest loud and long. Only so shall we have no error to regret.
Above all, we must not fail to learn the lesson of these troublous days. In all that Liberty has had to say about this sorry business from the first, the effort has been to make plain the folly of supposing the State to be at all concerned about justice. More than ever am I convinced of this after reading the long opinion of the Illinois judges. Their very able summary of the testimony offered at the trial confirms me in the opinion that under the law as it stands there was a sufficiency of evidence to convict the prisoners of murder. For it takes but precious little. For aught that I can see, the State’s attorney has it in his power to hang thousands upon thousands of innocent citizens of Chicago as easily as he will hang the seven victims now under sentence. It is the infernal conspiracy law itself which is responsible for this iniquity, and this law, which passes almost without question, shows how inevitably the State becomes an instrument of tyranny. This monster cannot be reformed; it must be killed. But how? Not by dynamite; that will not harm it. How, then? By light. It thrives in the darkness of its victims’ ignorance; it and they must be flooded with the light of liberty. If the seven must die, such must be the lesson of their death.
A Polite Epistle from Mr. Perrine.
The world advances, especially New Jersey. Mr. Perrine, of Newark, who was but lately heard from in these columns as a counsellor of Anarchists from the standpoint of ballot-box reform, is now so wedded to the “common cause” that he laments as detrimental to it any discord among its friends. Therefore he tries to calm the troubled waters with a little oil — of vitriol.
To the Editor of Liberty:
While regretting the presence of any discord between friends fighting for the common cause of Liberty, I must still heartily indorse the position taken by the Kellys in the controversy ending in the last number of Liberty. As much as I may regret this discord, it is not as great as my regret and disappointment at the position taken by Liberty in regard to the movement. If the pleasure in the work — and hence its execution — is of the same order as the taste for “fresh, cool lager beer,” then either would be surrendered for the same cause,— personal advantage. I suppose, then, should your work in this cause happen to interfere with your sound sleep at night, it will be thrown aside,— unless the Goddess Liberty has added a heaven to her domains, and you are looking forward to your reward in the pleasures of a future existence.
Surely you cannot expect to see liberty an accomplished fact during your present life, and, were it not for your heaven, you could certainly attain greater personal advantage in the ranks of the governmentalists, or, should you prefer a little reform, with Most and his co-workers. They both enjoy fresh, cool lager beer.
It is an additional cause of regret that a question of veracity should have arisen between you and Miss Kelly. Considering, however, that truth is with you but a matter of expediency, while she still believes that “change lays not her hand upon truth,” I must believe that her statement of the case is the correct one, especially since her letter of proof was rejected through the fear that it might throw some light upon the identity of Tak Kak.
Oh, Liberty! are these then the men we are asked to follow in thy name?
One “misrepresents when he finds it to his advantage to do so.”
Another, afraid that he might be charged, as Shelley, with being crazy enough to try to live according to his beliefs, amuses himself with writing from behind a bush at more earnest workers.
While a third esteems the cause as highly as he does a glass of beer.
Surely this is the stuff for martyrs, and a new light is thrown upon the motto:
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.
She must sorely have promised the faithful future repayment in pleasures for a paltry slaying here.
Since Mohammed is to be outdone, we would that we might share in the revelation.
Yours, Frederic A. C. Perrine.
Newark, New Jersey.
The first thing I have to say to Mr. Perrine is that, having declined to further discuss Egoism with the Kellys, I certainly shall not discuss it with him. Good soldiers dislike an easy victory.
The second thing I have to say to Mr. Perrine is that no question of veracity has arisen between Miss Kelly and myself. His words seem to indicate that he refers to my comments upon Miss Kelly’s statement that Tak Kak had written elsewhere over his own name. I did not deny it, but simply said that, so far as I knew, he had published nothing over his own name. In the rejected letter there was not a word of proof, or of anything purporting to be proof, that he had written over his own name.
The third thing I have to say to Mr. Perrine is that, had the rejected letter contained such proof, that would have been an additional reason for its rejection. If a writer for Liberty makes a statement in its columns which he cannot prove save by asking me to break faith with another writer, he must let it go unproven. One of the plainest of editorial “obligations” is that of protecting a contributor’s pseudonym, and I do not “find it to my advantage” to repudiate my responsibilities as an editor.
The fourth thing I have to say to Mr. Perrine is that the glib composure with which he estimates the greater or less degree of earnestness which characterizes a man of whom he knows next to nothing is a trait that frequently distinguishes the newly-converted apostle.
The fifth thing I have to say to Mr. Perrine is that, supposing his assumption of an issue of veracity to be correct, I admire his readiness to believe those with whom he is in close and constant association. In his place I would do the same.
The sixth thing I have to say to Mr. Perrine is that when, having determined that Miss Kelly is honest and I am a liar, he asks me to give gratuitous circulation to this interesting opinion of his upon an issue which, if it existed at all, would be an entirely personal matter between Miss Kelly and myself, I find his performance unique. The fact that I humor his insolence must convince him that, whether honest or not, I am tolerably good-natured.
Having said these six things to Mr. Perrine, I will add to whom it may concern that, if there are any other friends of the Kellys who would like to publicly call me a liar and are unable or unwilling to do so at their own expense, these columns are at their service for the purpose.
Henry George’s “Secondary Factors.”
In trying to answer the argument that land is practically useless to labor unprovided with capital Henry George declares that “labor and land, even in the absence of secondary factors obtained from their produce, have in their union today, as they had in the beginning, the potentiality of all that man ever has brought, or ever can bring, into being.”
This is perfectly true; in fact, none know it better than the men whom Mr. George thus attempts to meet.
But, as Cap’n Cuttle was in the habit of remarking, “the bearin’ o’ this ’ere hobserwation lies in the application on’t,” and in its application it has no force whatever. Mr. George uses it to prove that, if land were free, labor would settle on it, thus raising wages by relieving the labor market.
But labor would do no such thing.
The fact that a laborer, given a piece of land, can build a hut of mud, strike fire with flint and steel, scratch a living with his finger-nails, and thus begin life as a barbarian, even with the hope that in the course of a lifetime he may slightly improve his condition in consequence of having fashioned a few of the ruder of those implements which Mr. George styles “secondary factors” (and he could do no more than this without producing for exchange, which implies, not only better machinery, but an entrance into that capitalistic maelstrom which would sooner or later swallow him up),— this fact, I say, will never prove a temptation to the operative of the city, who, despite his wretchedness, knows something of the advantages of civilization and to some extent inevitably shares them.
Man does not live by bread alone.
The city laborer may live in a crowded tenement and breathe a tainted air; he may sleep cold, dress in rags, and feed on crumbs: but now and then he gets a glimpse at the morning paper, or, if not, then at the bulletin-board; he meets his fellow-men face to face; he knows by contact with the world more or less of what is going on in it; he spends a few pennies occasionally for a gallery-ticket to the theatre or for some other luxury, even though he knows he “can’t afford it”; he hears the music of the street bands; he sees the pictures in the shop windows; he goes to church, if he is pious, or, if not, perhaps attends the meetings of the Anti-Poverty Society and listens to stump speeches by Henry George; and, when all these fail him, he is indeed unfortunate if some fellow-laborer does not invite him to join him in a social glass over the nearest bar.
Not an ideal life, surely; but he will shiver in his garret and slowly waste away from inanition ere he will exchange it for the semi-barbarous condition of the backwoodsman without an axe. And, were he to do otherwise, I would be the first to cry: The more fool he!
Mr. George’s remedy is similar — at least for a part of mankind — to that which is attributed to the Nihilists, but which few of them ever believed in,— namely, the total destruction of the existing social order and the creation of a new one on its ruins.
Mr. George may as well understand first as last that labor will refuse to begin this world anew. It never will abandon even its present meagre enjoyment of the wealth and the means of wealth which have grown out of its ages of sorrow, suffering, and slavery. If Mr. George offers it land alone, it will turn its back upon him. It insists upon both land and tools. These it will get, either by the State Socialistic method of concentrating the titles to them in the hands of one vast monopoly, or by the Anarchistic method of abolishing all monopolies and thereby distributing these titles gradually among laborers through the natural channels of free production and exchange.
Try the State!
The seven brutal lackeys of capitalism who call themselves judges of the supreme court of Illinois have handed down their decision in the case of the eight Chicago Socialists whom one of their fellow-conspirators sentenced to be legally murdered. As was expected by all who know the real character of monopoly’s justice, the condemned have been refused a decent trial, and are to die for the only “crime” which was proven to have been committed by them,— lack of respect for what the tyrants and their hired assassins call “law and order.” Do the workingmen of this country, for whom the condemned men worked and struggled, and whom they sought to emancipate from the yoke of economic servitude, intend to stand indifferently by while the legal bandits choke seven of their fellows to death upon the gallows? Those men may have been in error as to the truth and expediency of their doctrines; they may have been unwise in their methods and policy; but not even the vile and shameless gang of the capitalistic press, which religiously inflamed and incited and poisoned their ignorant readers’ minds against the condemned, dared, in the face of the actual facts, question their sincerity, earnestness, or faithfulness. Will this infamous and monstrous “decision,” dictated by blind fury, class hatred, and personal motives, rouse the people to the realization of the immediate danger in which the cause of labor and freedom is involved? Are they willing to live under the law which hangs those men on suspicion,— law which the Czar of Russia would never dream of enforcing? Not if they still possess the faculty of reason or the instinct of self-preservation. Let labor, then, utter a determined, emphatic, and resounding “No” in answer to the cowardly verdict of corrupt judges. Let labor try the accused, if capital refuses to try them. And, if it finds them innocent of any crime, let it try that fiendish institution, the State, which is organized for the purpose of plundering the people and murdering all those who expose its machinations. There can be no doubt as to the verdict.
Father McGlynn Again.
It is well to follow up Father McGlynn. He is in some sort a representative man, pointing to that inevitable breaking away from the arbitrary claim on human ignorance that keeps alive the so-called Catholic Church. It is not what he may think of Henry George or any opinions he may hold on the land question. In all that pertains to labor problems he has shown himself neither profound as a thinker nor wise in methods. Neither he nor George are to be credited with much beyond the good that may lurk in the stirring up of the stagnant pools. Their philosophy, or their science, limps and goes sadly astray.
But as a protestant against “infallible” Rome, this earnest-hearted and courageous priest may turn out a new and most serviceable pioneer in America. He yet claims for himself that he is a sincere adherent of the church; but that just now the church is in the hands of a “machine.” From pope, from archbishop, he appeals. He waits for new popes, new archbishops, and new priests. In other words, he looks to the time when the church shall not be run by a “machine,” — as though that time ever existed, or ever will exist. Does Dr. McGlynn believe the church infallible? What, pray, is an infallible church but a “machine,” I — a power that sets up its authority over individuals land turns them in paths of its own making, with no appeal from its dictatorial will possible? If this protesting priest may turn to his mother church and say to the officiating Pope: “You are drunk with power; I appeal from the church drunk to the church sober,” what confusion will such conduct work in the Catholic brain?
Dr. McGlynn says: “If you go to the confessional and the priest asks, ‘Do you sympathize with Henry George, and go to his meetings?’ tell him it is none of his business. If no priest will receive your confession, then confess to God. The priest, at best, is but an agent of God. If the agent will not hear you, you are still free to turn to the priest’s Master.” I quote from memory, but have, I think, stated the idea correctly.
Now, what does this mean? Nothing less than this: upon a pinch a man can do without the church. God made the church, but, if the church won’t hear you, God will. Perhaps the time has come when God doesn’t need the mediating church any longer. He and his children can get along in a more democratic way. They can have direct communication with each other, and dispense with all officiating middlemen,— popes, bishops, priests.
This seems to be the substance of the new thought Father McGlynn and his adherents find themselves unexpectedly indulging in. The free air of the new world is clearing the brain of thinking men everywhere — Catholic and Protestant alike — of the many old mediaeval cobwebs spun there so industriously by mother church.
As a leader in this so-needed emancipation Father McGlynn is interesting, and may, perchance, become a historic character.
The “Christian Advocate” relates this instance of special providence: “In Boston a large house prints for several religious papers of different creeds, and also an Atheistic paper of evil fame as especially enomous. The building was damaged by fire, and the only forms saved were those of the godless sheet above mentioned.” Upon this the “Truth Seeker” asks: “What was the name of the ‘especially venomous’ paper?” Liberty, perhaps. At any rate, four or five months ago a fire pretty thoroughly “cleaned out” the press-room of the large printing-house which does Liberty’s press-work, and after the conflagration it was found, not only that Liberty’s forms had escaped, but that the entire edition of Liberty, printed on one side and waiting to be printed on the other, was undamaged, though surrounded on every hand by a mass of ruins. I grieve to add, however, that my “special providence” did not thoroughly protect me, for not a trace remained of five hundred copies of that wonderful but wicked novel, “What’s To Be Done?” which stood in sheets ready for the binder.
A letter from a friend contains the following excellent suggestion regarding the probable solution of the copyright question under Anarchy: “About copyright I think Anarchists can with propriety leave it an open question whether it would not be advisable to treat writings as property, and thus to establish a copyright rule among ourselves. For my own part, I would countenance an author or the publisher he preferred, provided they should sell the work at a reasonable price, and I would protect such natural copyright during the author’s lifetime by refusing to buy other publications from publishers who infringed upon it, provided always that the author and publisher so protected would observe the same comity toward myself and all adhering to this natural copyright rule. If an Anarchist author has printed on his publication ‘copyright reserved,’ I take that to be his demand upon other men to recognize his natural, and not an assertion of legal, copyright. The form of declaration for the latter usually refers to the book having been entered with the government librarian, etc.”
The Anarchist Trial.
We have received of a book entitled: “A Concise History of the Great Trial of Chicago Anarchists,” compiled by Dyer D. Lum, containing two hundred pages. Price, twenty-five cents. Also a printed copy of the celebrated speeches of the eight condemned men, entitled: “The Accused the Accusers, being the famous speeches of the eight Chicago Anarchists in court,” comprising two hundred pages. Price, fifteen cents. Workingmen and others who have read the prejudiced and perverted accounts of this great capitalistic trial as given in the corrupt capitalistic press now have all opportunity to learn the facts as taken from the official record of the trial, as well as from the statements of the condemned men themselves, which they made in their speeches expounding their principles before the court. Send orders to Socialistic Publishing Society, No. 274 West 12th Street, Chicago, Ill.
Edgeworth’s Miserable Insinuations.
To the Editor of Liberty:
The sovereign impertinence of Edgeworth is exhibited in personal hints contained in some articles from him in the Winsted “Press,” on “Anarchy vs. Egoism.” Speaking of the Jay Goulds and Napoleons, Edgeworth says: “If — which I do not know to be a fact — Tak Kak is identified with these in interest and ambition, why does he let the cat out of the bag?” Now, if any one lets those villains’ cat out of the bag, does it not argue that he is, if intelligent, not identified with them in interest and ambition? But Edgeworth plays with the strings of other bags and chances the letting out of other cats.
I warn Edgeworth that, if he knew me personally, he would be ashamed as long as he lives for having written some things about me. So would another of your correspondents be.
According to Edgeworth, “the humor of the thing consists in this conscienceless doctrine of successful egotism being preached to the poor devils who are perishing under its infliction by the dominant powers.” Really! and is not universal individual sovereignty the cure for absolutism and usurpation?
English Individualists In the Rear.
English Individualists are a little behind their brethren in America. We have at last got accustomed to the idea (as a subject of discussion) of a private enterprise post office. But, if anybody mentioned such a thing in parliament, he would undoubtedly attract the attention of the lunacy commissioners. Whereas, if he were to hint at a free mint, his examination would probably be dispensed with, and he would be marched off to Hanwell without delay. In the States, however, it appears the notion has “friends.” Says the Boston Liberty: “What the friends of free money are fighting for is the right both of individuals and of cooperators to issue money when and as they choose, and what they are fighting against is the laws which in any way make it impossible for either individuals or cooperators to exercise this right. This, and nothing else, is the free money theory.” It would surprise many of us to learn how very recently the issue of money became a rigid State-monopoly. It is hardly a century old.
The chances are slim that the English government will ever admit that the police were aggressors in the Mitchelstown riot in Ireland. — New York Tribune.
(Note: That’s just the trouble with the Chicago police, as to the so-called Anarchists’ riot.)
The Hessian fly is an unmitigated nuisance. Then why does not the State stamp it out? Such is the imbecile cry raised by a number of persons who understand very little of the habits of the fly, and still less of the powers of the State. — London Jus.
(Note: Hasn’t the State too much on its hands already?)
The arrest of William O’Brien for the crime of loving his country and speaking freely in its behalf proves that the Tory government is possessed by the madness that precedes destruction. — New York World.
(Note: Liberal governments are often possessed with the same kind of madness.)
There’s got to be some law by which a man with children can rent some place to live in. — Paul Finn in New York Sun.
(Note: Great Heaven! More law?)
Be honest,— that is, calculating; make no mistake in the calculation; remember that the whole is greater than any of its parts,— that is, that your human nature is stronger and of more importance to you than any of your aspirations taken separately; place its interests, therefore, before the interests of any of your special aspirations, if they happen to be in contradiction; to put the whole in a simple definition: Be honest, and all will go well. A single rule of great simplicity, but containing all the prescriptions of science, the whole code of happy life. — Tchernychewsky in What’s To Be Done?
(Note: Enlightened self-interest, rational egoism, is Anarchy.
Economic Theories of Interest.
[G. Bernard Shaw in Our Corner.]
It is not easy to gather from the economists a precise idea of what interest really is, except that it is always an excuse for an idle man to live on the labor of an industrious one. Elucidation as to the rate of interest, and mystification as to its nature, is the rule in the popular treatises. The only view that can be called orthodox is that from which interest appears as a payment to a producer to induce him to postpone consumption of his product in favor of some other person who wishes to consume it immediately, and who proposes to replace it ultimately and restore it to the produced, paying interest in the meantime as a solatium to the producer for his abstinence. Now, there is no doubt that payments called interest are actually made to the tune of £250,000,000 a year in this country; but the orthodox explanation of them hardly carries conviction; for they are not made to producers; many of the non-producers to whom they are paid, so far from abstaining, consume as much and as quickly as they care to; and, above all, the postponement of consumption, far from being a penalty which a man need be bribed to suffer, is a necessary provision against old age and infirmity, the power of arranging for which is one of the chief advantages which members of a continuous human society have over wild beasts. What evidence have we that the borrower’s desire to anticipate the act of production outweighs the lender’s need to defer the act of consumption? If the borrower needs the help of the lender, the lender no less needs the help of the borrower, since deferring consumption is not a matter of locking up gold in a safe and taking it out a year or ten years hence to spend, but a matter of disposing of machinery that will rust, and food that will rot, to men who have present occasion for them and are willing to repay their cost at some future time. The reply is that the undeniable fact that the payments are made to the lenders proves that the borrower’s need is the greater. But before that evidence can be accepted it remains to be seen whether the payments cannot be accounted for on other grounds.
And here be it said that, in the conversation of the average city man startled by a Socialistic suggestion that the rate of interest is not the law of God, the phenomenon is accounted for on many other grounds. Sometimes it is insurance against risk of loss. Sometimes it is rent of ability, or profits. Sometimes it is the difference between the normal price and the market price of machinery, caused by the demand exceeding the supply. Sometimes it is increase due to improved methods of production. Sometimes it is the earth’s natural increase. There is, in fact, little advantage in ordinary discussion in assuming that this or that theory is the standard theory of Interest, because, although our capitalists vehemently assert, or pay others to assert, that they are standing by sound economic principles, it will be found that to drive them out of one economic position is merely to drive them into another, until all possible economic positions are occupied by their opponents, when they simply proclaim the whole science of economics unpractical if not immoral, and defend their property on the plain ground that they enjoy it and mean to keep it as long as they can. But before they are driven quite to that point, they often strike out brilliant impromptu theories of their own. For example, it is not uncommon to hear those who defend capitalists as the class to which we owe machinery [a romantic notion] contend gravely that labor-saving inventions should not save labor,— that the quantity of toil undergone should remain constant, and the increase of product be the property of the inventor and his heirs for ever. Thus society should consist of a class of non-inventors — or anticipated inventors — and their descendants, working as hard and living as poorly as aboriginal barbarians, and a class of inventors and their descendants enjoying all the surplus produce,— all the advantages of the steam digger over the unprotected hand and nails,— of the ocean steamer over the naked swimmer. In such a state we can imagine the aboriginal class asking why the inventors should appropriate the surplus. “Because,” the inventors would reply, “we have benefited society by our inventions.” “But you don’t benefit society,” the others would answer: “we are no better off than if nothing had ever been invented,— nay, we are worse; for if you had not invented spades and ships and the like, we might have invented them for ourselves.” The inventors’ retort would be: “It is false; we have benefited society: we are society; and we are benefited. You are but the scum and dregs,— the stupid, the thriftless, the drunken, the congenitally diseased, and criminals. If not, why do you not invent something, as we — or at least our ancestors — did?” These inventors would be in a position to retain an army of policemen and soldiers to maintain and extend their legal rights. Finally, all the evils that have sprung from private property in land would ensue from private property in the profits of discovery. Interest is not due to this cause among us; for the law limits patents and copyrights to periods only sufficient to prevent holders from losing by their labor. It is true, however, that inventors themselves strive to appropriate the advantages of their inventions. For example, banking is a device for saving labor to society. But the banker’s object is not to save labor to society, but to himself. Exchange costs a body of merchants a certain quantity of labor. “Let me conduct your exchanges,” says the banker, “and I will undertake that they shall cost you less than they do at present.” If the merchants consent, he conducts their exchanges on the banking system at much less cost than before, makes them pay nearly as much as before, and pockets the difference. Only by the freedom of other financiers to adopt his system and tempt his customers by offering to share the advantage with them, can that advantage eventually be distributed throughout the community. Give the first banker a patent for ever; and out of all the benefits of banking his fellow-citizens will enjoy nothing except the small makeweight needed to prevent them from being perfectly indifferent whether they bank at all or not. And even the makeweight may safely be withdrawn as soon as the community, having adopted the banking system, has forgotten that any alternative to it is possible.
Perpetual Motion an Orthodox Economic Doctrine.
[Hugo Bilgram in Philadelphia Mechanics.]
The statement that “an increase of the working days, in number or in length, means the throwing out of employment men who otherwise would secure it,” is apparently a reflection of a generally conceived doctrine rather than the result of logical thought. If it were true that “the circulation of money . . . is but a current of equivalence and balance of a counts continually circulating and bearing from point to point, from individual to individual, the true reward of labor, the proportion of the world’s production that each man has won,” each worker, when producing a surplus, in bringing it for sale, would be at the same time a purchaser of an equivalent amount of other products. Were money only a mediator of exchanges, each new supply of some wealth would be a new demand for some other wealth, either directly or through the intervention of money. Hence, the more one man works, the more demand there would be for the work,— i. e., the products of others. But today money performs a secondary function which the modern economists fail to recognize, and which alone can account for the discrepancy existing between facts and what would appear to be the logical sequence.
If an inventor should show a professor a motor which, once charged with a given amount of energy, would from time to time give out new energy without consuming the original power therein stored, he would have reason to maintain that the new power was not the result of the original charge, but must have some other source, and had he the opportunity of a close examination, he would not fail to find the hidden belt, the covered shaft, the secret pipe, or electric wire, which out of the sight of the casual observer conveys the additional power to the contrivance.
Yet, when our industrial machinery is charged with a given amount of labor-power, in the form of capital, we not only observe with stoistic equanimity a phenomenon having the essential features of a physical perpetual motion, but even denounce the crank who dares to assert that there is a screw loose somewhere in our social and industrial machinery, soon as the complete analogy of an apparent perpetual motion and the present operation of capital is recognized, it will not take long to discover the social contrivance by which the increase, now attributed to the cooperation of capital, is really abstracted from the workers, both mental and physical, and the cause may then be seen which with unerring certainty brings about that industrial distress to the study of which at present so much thought is directed, of which the ultimate outcome will be the solution of the labor problem, independent of the consideration of what constitutes a working day.
The State’s Mad Folly.
To the Editor of Liberty:
The decision of the supreme court of the State of Illinois in the case of the Chicago Anarchists has given another proof — if any were needed — that the State is an organized conspiracy for the aggrandizement of a special few who have the means and power of running it for their special interest and for the protection of their own vested rights. All Anarchists know this; but there were some (and I was one of them) who thought that, in a case of the importance and magnitude of the Chicago case, the court would use some discretion, and not barefacedly expose the inherent villainy of the whole machine. Not that I believed the court had any sense of justice,— because I know that their only law and justice are the dictates and will of their masters,— those who enjoy the legal privileges of the stolen rights of the people,— but I believed that their ferocity and malevolence would be tempered with policy, and that they would find it not expedient to any one more new and glaring fact to the catalogue of crimes that the Anarchist has drawing gainst the State. But we were mistaken; for, as ever, the tyrant has been blind to his own fate, and has weakened himself by exposing his own soft place,— cowardice.
I trust there is no reader of Liberty who has been so blinded by the press as to believe that the Chicago men were convicted for throwing, or aiding and abetting in throwing, the bomb. If there is such a one, I hope that, before holding any opinion, he will obtain and read Dyer D. Lum’s “Concise History of the Trial,” published by the Socialistic Publishing Company in Chicago.
I challenge any reader of the State’s Attorney’s brief to show any proof that the convicted men were anything more than suspected of throwing, or aiding and abetting the throwing, of that bomb. No. In the words of the State’s Attorney, in his address to the jury, they were on trial for Anarchy: “Don’t try, gentlemen, to shirk the issue. Law is on trial. Anarchy is on trial.” That is to say, they were tried for holding an opinion, for having theory,— and that theory was a danger to the existing institutions, and social evils, and law and order. (I am not going to defend their theories of Communism; I am entirely opposed to them.) It is true, a pretence was made that they were being tried for conspiracy. The most that was proved against them was that they were men who believed that the present State was such an inhuman, brutal, diabolical institution that nothing but force would upset it: that theory and appeals to intellect were powerless against it, and that, as it was maintained by force, nothing but force would destroy it. That was their belief, that their theory, and for that they are to hang. They are to be hanged on a presumption. It was presumed from the editorials some of them wrote and that Neebe had read (and for that he was sentenced to fifteen years’), and from the garbled newspaper reports of speeches they had made, that they were just the sort of men who would aid and abet in throwing a bomb, and on that presumption they are to hang.
When men are to be hanged on presumption, it is getting rather dangerous for theoretical and philosophical Anarchists. It is time, then, for the philosopher to wake up to the danger — actual, not theoretical danger — that encompasses him. Victor Hugo’s “Address to the Poor” was read in open court from the columns of Parsons’s “Alarm” to show what sort of ideas these Chicago men cherished. A philosophical Anarchist who has a “God and the State” in his possession may find himself in great danger m excitable times, and it would be strong presumptive evidence against him. A picked “jury of gentlemen” would be too “practical” a set of men to trifle over the differences between the various schools of Anarchy. And if it should appear that, after all, there was more danger to the existing social order from passive resistance than by active resistance, a supreme court would be always ready to ratify a verdict born of fear and prejudice and class hatred.
Therefore, I hope that the readers of Liberty who have not made themselves acquainted with the real facts of this case, will bestir themselves and do whatever is in their power to draw public attention to the real facts, and help arouse the feeling of indignation that should go up from the people of this country if the case is not reversed by the United States supreme court. All active, working Anarchists should do this. If they fear being confounded with bomb throwers and advocates of physical force and remain dumb, then I shall be greatly disappointed in them.
A. H. Simpson.
Egoism in a Mist.
Our brilliant young friend, Mr. Yarros, in building the platform of Egoism, attempts to put planks together that do not dovetail. I might suspect that his difficulty arose from a misconception of the meaning of terms; but his command of English, marvellous in one not born to the tongue, forbids that explanation. Must there not be, then, some error in his analysis or logic? Promising that reason is the only authority, and happiness the sole object of life, he proceeds to the recognition of justice and liberty as the law of human society. Then he immediately spoils this by repudiating all fights and duties. This confusion of terms envelops his statement in an obscuring mist. For what are justice and liberty but distinct individual rights? Why does he ignore all rights after admitting into his scheme the most fundamental of all?
There is another weakness in his statement. I can hardly wish to live in social contact with one who proposes to be just to me only because he may thus “feel free from fear of disturbance”; because that is as much as to say that he would be unjust whenever he might feel equally safe in so doing. He might feel “safe” on that line of action; but I should be much happier if we mutually recognized rights which neither were to violate.
I recognize a man’s right to seek pleasure in an occasional glass of lager beer,— though the beverage is not to my taste, he may also find pleasure in the pecuniary and other sacrifices which the purpose and the hope of making the world better shall cost him (of which the editor of Liberty may be taken as an example); but surely such a purpose has a nobler impulse than mere love of pleasure. In the gratification of his desires a man will often encounter the risk of making another wretched; but it will be some defence against such a temptation if he cherishes the conviction that others have rights as sacred, at least, as his own desires. There are certainly higher objects in life than the pursuit of pleasure. I cannot suppose that the Nihilist at home confronts almost certain death, in the effort to overthrow a detestable despotism, for the mere sake of feeling “perfectly safe and secure in his possessions.” The track of human progress is marked by the blood of self-devoted men and women, shed in the cause of reform or revolution; and we instinctively venerate the memory of him who dies for an idea.
J. M. L. Babcock.
Egoism Seen Through a Mist.
I take pleasure in answering the friendly criticism of Mr. Babcock, and am particularly gratified and encouraged by the spirit of fairness and conciliation in which he seems disposed to treat the Egoists. For his inclination and ability to do so more than anything else, and in spite of everything else, lead me to believe that he is a very good Egoist himself, though he may not suspect it. “Scratch a Russian, and you will find a Tartar,” — such is the verdict of the world. Recent experience would almost seem to conclusively establish the fact that, when we scratch a moralist, we are apt to come in collision with a bigot. Evolutionary moralists are no exception to this rule. Given equal opportunities, equal liberty to defend their ideas, and equally fair and attentive examination, they, nevertheless, accused everybody of conspiracy and treacherous designs against them. While the Egoists, all through the controversy, have remained courteous, calm, forbearing, and perfectly collected, resting their case upon argument, the moralists have lost their tempers, abused and denounced and ridiculed and warned and threatened everybody, and seemed to be doing their best to degrade a serious and purely theoretical discussion into a personal feud and general rupture. Mild and dispassionate criticism was met, not with stones, as among religious moralists, but with cries of villain, knave, hypocrite, wretch, fool, and with threats of withdrawing support. Friends of free discussion and fair play, these!
But as Mr. Babcock is open to argument, I have no doubt he can be made to see the absolute emptiness of moralism. And he shall not have to go far for proof: he shall only examine his own Ego. Nothing is better calculated to destroy the illusion of altruism than a thorough self-examination, which is bound to reveal the truth that what the world calls “noble,” “great,” “high,” etc., is in reality simply what the individual finds most pleasurable and self-satisfying. Only those completely emancipated from religious superstition are, of course, capable of thus analyzing their conduct; but it is only to such that we appeal. Can men who do not understand themselves be expected to understand Others?
My claim, then, is that any self-conscious Ego who studies his own conduct and the course of his own progressive development must inevitably admit the profound truth contained in the two fundamental affirmations of Egoism, which, compactly stated, are:
I. That personal satisfaction is the sole object in life and the ever-present motive of conduct.
II. That the differences in conduct observed in actual life, are the results of the differences in the degrees of development, refinement, and enlightenment existing among the individuals constituting society.
Now, while all men are Egoists, not all are self-conscious Egoists. The great majority of mankind believe in some form or other of authority to which the individual owes submission, and the logical consequence of this belief is the Inquisition, in one form or another. All men, whether narrow or broad-minded, brave or cowardly, upright or deceptive, humane or cruel, are acting out their several natures and striving, each in his own peculiar way, to achieve the greatest possible happiness. Happiness is not a fixed quantity, and we cannot judge one man’s conduct from the standpoint of another’s conception of happiness. The editor of Liberty, the Russian martyrs, and the heroic characters of history, whom Mr. Babcock triumphantly points to as examples of unselfish devotion to ideas, are, on the contrary, the strongest witnesses for Egoism.
The reason why Egoists so readily sacrifice all “earthly,” “material,” palpable, and every-day advantages for the sake of the higher pleasures is because they find therein the means of more intense gratification, fuller happiness, greater enjoyment, and deeper satisfaction. Why should I drink whiskey, if I can afford to pay for champagne, which I have learned to like better? That more people like whiskey than champagne is no reason why I should approve and admire their taste; nor, on the other hand, am I in duty bound to engage in anti-whiskey crusades, preach the excellence and virtues of champagne, and exhort the people to improve their taste. If, however, it is more pleasing to me to associate with cultured, refined, modernized, champagne-loving gentlemen than with whiskey-drinkers, I will naturally try to convert people to my reformed way of looking at beverages, and thus surround myself with delightful company.
In the same manner a Bowery dime museum ceases to be an attraction when a higher stage of development permits the appreciation of German Opera at the Metropolitan or of the highly artistic acting at the Union Square Comedy Theatre. The “Arabian Nights,” which may, at one time, appear to be of all-absorbing interest, is at another time found to be considered dull and dreary, while “Sartor Resartus” is rapturously read, perhaps for the fifth time, long after midnight. The sweating in a public library, on one of the dog days, over Mill’s “Logic” or Spencer’s “Progress: Its Law and Cause,” may be found to meet one’s desire for pleasure far better than the going out into the country with a picnic party full of merriment, fun, and spirits. The last nickel, good for a glass of beer or a whole quart of peanuts, is often, without a single thought of duty or sacrifice to the “cause,” exchanged for a copy of a dry philosophical paper containing a discussion on evolutionary theories of morals.
Do all these different pleasures belong to the same order? Certainly not. They are as far removed from each other as are the different schools of moralism; but, as the common feature characterizing all moralists is intolerance and jealous hatred of spontaneity, so the common characteristic of all those various forms and kinds of pleasures is their genuineness as pleasures and their unqualified freedom from the element of constraint or duty. No matter what the forms, means, and ways of gratifying the craving for pleasure,— the important fact remains that the editor of Liberty and the Russian Nihilists deserve no more credit for their mode of living than the undeveloped pleasure-seeker who knows of no mode of making life worth living except by dividing his time between cards, wine, love-intrigues, and meddlesome gossip about others’ affairs. We may consider the former far superior as men, far more desirable as associates, and far more advanced in every respect, but to speak to them of veneration, adoration, and esteem for their devotion, sacrifices, self-denial, etc., is to make ourselves ridiculous and contemptible in their eyes. They do not deny themselves anything except that which is impossible of attainment without the sacrifice of something they want more, and they are no more “devoted” to anything than they are to the mathematical axiom that twice two make four.
No man has ever died through devotion to ideas. Those that had too much self-love and too much love of independence to suit the despots now enthroned in this world very frequently were forced to accept death as a less evil than a life of slavery, suffering, degradation, and mental anguish. But, in choosing death rather than submission to tyrannical control and regulation, they proved themselves the most uncompromising Egoists, who scorned to make any concessions and despised all compromise with the conditions and the environment. Their own will, their own inclination, their own reason, and their own way of living were placed by them above all the world. The Ego demanded his own, and insisted on having the whole of it.
Look where we may, no trace of the presence of altruistic motives is felt or detected. Stirner “writes as the birds sing,” and Mr. Babcock, not finding Egoistic theories to his taste, is pleased to criticise them; while I, in making this rejoinder, am likewise unconscious of being prompted by any “duty” to spread the light and save the moralists from blunders and self-deception.
(Even Mr. Kelly, in spite of his professions, retired from the controversy the moment he found it disagreeable for him, although, if he had wished to do his whole duty, he should have continued to combat the dangerous heresies of the Egoists as long as opportunities offered themselves. He may have lost hope of converting Tak Kak, but his duty to the rest of Liberty’s readers was none the less inexcusably neglected. As to Miss Kelly, no punishment seems too severe for her egotistic withdrawal from Liberty’s battle-field. Having written but one article in defence of morality, she certainly cannot pretend to have satisfied her conscience. And not only did the turn her back on the poor Egoistic sinners, but solemnly vowed never to appear in the columns of Liberty, which she knows full well to be the only paper in which she could exercise perfect freedom in advocating any and all ideas she may deem essential to the world’s salvation.)
I am, however, vitally concerned in the matter of clearing the social horizon from fogs of all sorts, for, as I have endeavored to show in my “Reasons Why,” just as long as the individuals surrounding me are deluded and befogged by ideas of duty and sacred rights, harmonious relations between us are rendered unattainable. It is at this point, that Mr. Babcock fails to view the subject clearly. I do not admit that justice and liberty are fundamental rights. I deny the existence of rights and duties. I recognize and deal with desires and necessities of individuals only. These desires and necessities bring social life into existence, and intelligence leads us gradually to the recognition of what we call justice as condition calculated to maintain, foster, and improve otfr relations as social beings, as well as to secure and aid us in our pursuit of happiness as individuals. As long as some individuals, on the one hand, are free from superstition, and the masses, on the other, are prostrating themselves before the creations of their own foolish fancy, inequity, inequality, and despotism will prevail, the free and strong few taking advantage of the imbecility of the many. When all become “conscienceless criminals,” justice, or the recognition of equality and solidarity, will achieve her permanent and final triumph,— never to be disturbed unless the constitution and organization of man undergo a decided transformation.
Mr. Babcock should bear in mind that I take cognizance of all our social sympathies and antipathies no less than the moralists. I never attempted to rest the gigantic structure of social life on the mere desire for security; but I maintained that this desire was the primary and fundamental cause of that structure. Mr. Babcock avers that he would be “much happier if we mutually recognized rights which neither were to violate.” This is perfectly natural and Egoistic on his part; and the question remaining to be settled is whether I, too, share that feeling. If yes, all is well, and the agreement is made. If not, he will have to persuade me into accepting his proposal by some very satisfactory grounds.
One word more, and I am done. In consequence of our laying so much stress on the part played by reason, the erroneous impression seems to have taken root in many minds that we ignore or underestimate the influence and importance of sentiment. The fact is that we count on it much more confidently than the moralists. It is they who mourn over the natural and chronic depravity of human nature; it is they who recoil with horror and in mortal fear from the spontaneous play of human sympathies; and it is they who demand a spiritual police, a moral detective agency, and restraints without number. And it is the Egoists, on the contrary, who trust to the social sympathies and kindly feelings and sentiments of love, friendship, solidarity and comradeship, and who are willing to allow the Ego to “be true to himself,” in perfect belief that he will be “true to every man.”
Duty and Inclination.
The believers in conscience and in inclination assume that these forces are antagonistic, and upon the strength of this assumption they go for each other hammer and tongs.
They are intelligent, and would see, at once, how absurd it would be to assume that positive and negative forces are antagonistic, or that centripetal and centrifugal forces are irreconcilable and that the earth should obey one force and disobey the other.
Conscience is a ratchet, and not a lamp. Unenlightened conscience leads astray, and so does unenlightened inclination. If the butcher who slept in his refrigerator and died the next day had known the consequence, it would have greatly modified his inclination. Wisdom is the principal thing. I do not write to discuss the question, but to counsel moderation.
Among the most unpleasant recollections of my childhood are the angry disputations among the two factions of “Friends” known as Hicksites and Orthodox. The “Light within” burned fiercely, consuming the friendship of the combatants and scorching many an innocent spectator. “Comrades” hold their tempers better than those old-time Friends; still, exhortation is in order. The spirit of the boy’s declamation is correct, if the versification is faulty: “Children should never let their angry passions rise, Your little hands were never made to tear out each other’s eyes out.”