Title: Voluntary Socialism
Subtitle: A Sketch
Date: 1896
Source: Retrieved on 26 January, 2019 from http://praxeology.net/FDT-VS.htm
Notes: Index not included. Primary footnotes are the notes of the author. Secondary footnotes are online notes by Roderick T. Long on Praxeology.net.

“Equality if we can get it,

but liberty at any rate.”

Benj. R. Tucker.











“Can’t you recommend some book which will give me a brief but lucid outline of your ideas?” is a question with which every propagandist is familiar. In spite of the extent and excellence of the literature of “Voluntaryism,” I have often found it difficult to supply this demand. It was, therefore, with the idea of helping myself that I undertook to write this sketch. But I trust that my work will not prove useless to others.

It was my original intention to make the book so plain and simple, that almost anyone could understand it. But the intricacies of the subject are very great. And, while I have always aimed at simplicity of expression, I fear that those at least who are not familiar with the terms used in economic discussions, will find it hard to follow me in places.

It was my original intention to make the book so plain and simple, that almost anyone could understand it. But the intricacies of the subject are very great. And, while I have always aimed at simplicity of expression, I fear that those at least who are not familiar with the terms used in economic discussions, will find it hard to follow me in places.

I have endeavored to give a complete outline of the subject in its most important bearings. If the reader would blame me for omitting some phases of the question, I must inform him that the main difficulty with which I have had to contend, has been to keep the work within small limits. I have done this in the belief that a more lengthy document would not serve the purpose as well. The details have been admirably worked out by more able hands. I have merely gathered some fragments an blended them together, in the hope that some of those into whose hands they may fall, will investigate this much misunderstood subject more fully, instead of condemning it unheard.

I gladly avail myself of this opportunity to thank the friends who have helped me with my work. More especially would I thank Mr. James H. Pershing, to whose assistance and criticism the first chapter owes whatever merit it may possess. His kindness in rendering this assistance is increased by the fact that he does not agree with many of the ideas expressed in the subsequent chapters. But it is to my wife that the book owes most of all. Without her patient encouragement it would probably never have been written, and had I been deprived of her gentle criticism, it would have manifested many more crudities than it now contains.


It is not necessary in the present day to begin a book on social reform with a long and wearying demonstration of the fact that something is radically wrong with existing industrial conditions. The panic of 1893, the subsequent depression of trade and the tremendous conflicts between capital and labor have emphasized it more forcibly than the longest array of statistics. Even the recent writings of orthodox economists, striving as they do to bolster up the present system, admit that that system is producing very bad results. Their sole argument seems to be that it is better to submit to the present injustice, than to try remedies which are likely to prove worse than the disease. Assuming, then, that the present system is bad, it becomes important to discover where the evil lies. When this is done, some clear idea will be gained of the direction true reform should take, and all proposed changes can be intelligently judged.

In order to fully understand social questions, it is necessary at the outset to have a clear idea of the laws of development – how this world became what it is, how human beings think and act and how society is organized. By comparing the results of these investigations, perhaps some guiding principle may be found, which will indicate the lines upon which the ideal state of society must be based.

So widespread is the existence of a sickly sentimentalism, that it is necessary for everyone to be on his guard against it, before undertaking any sociological enquiry. A sympathy for the poverty and wretchedness of others is a very good thing and often stimulates people to strive to better social conditions. But it must not be permitted, as it so often us, to influence the reasoning of the economist. Human beings are very complex creatures, possessed of many emotions and motives for action, all of which must be duly taken into account. But the philosopher who is analysing human nature, must raise himself above the influence of those emotions and regard his subjects as calmly as if he himself had not the misfortune to be one of their number.

The etiquette of the medical profession forbids a doctor to practice on any member of his immediate family. Perhaps the origin of this custom may be found in the supposition that a man’s sympathies are liable to be too active under such circumstances, and so interfere with the full play of his reasoning faculties. What would we say of a surgeon, whose sentimental objection to amputating an arm, cost the patient his life? This is practically the position taken by the multitude of dilettante reformers, who shrink from the application of scientific principles to human society, because they appear cruel and repulsive to their narrow vision. The true student must put all such sentimentalism from him and approach the subject in a purely dispassionate manner.

I. Evolution

The most generally accepted facts relating to the origin of the solar system, point to the conclusion that it was once a vast, shapeless body of fiery vapor.

There was, no doubt, much motion among the particles forming this vapor, and so currents, similar to those in the oceans to-day, gradually developed. The direction of these various currents was probably different, but there must have been a preponderance of motion in one direction – from West to East. This motion, gradually arresting all counter-acting motion, caused the whole to rotate in that one direction at ever-increasing speed.

The rapid rotation caused the nebula, as such a mass is called, to assume a somewhat spherical form, and, acting as centrifugal force (the force which causes a wet wheel to cast off drops of water when it is rotating rapidly), caused it to bulge at its equator and to become flattened at its poles. Meanwhile heat was radiating in every direction and resulted in the contraction of the whole. The poles of the nebula “became more and more flattened, and its equatorial zone protruded more and more, until at last The centrifugal tendency at the equator became greater than the force of gravity at that place. Then the bulging equatorial zone, no longer able to keep pace with the rest of the mass in its contraction, was left behind as a detached ring, girdling, at a small but steadily increasing distance[,] the retreating central mass.” (Fiske, Cosmic Philosophy, v. 1, p. 361.) {1}

The inequalities of the density if this ring caused the molecules to be attracted to one or more centres, subsequently causing the ring to break into several portions of unequal weight. As these revolved around the parent mass in the same plane, the attraction of the smaller portions to the greater ultimately formed them into one body, which continued to revolve in its orbit as well as to rotate on its own axis.

These same forces were now at work to cause this mass in its turn to cast off smaller rings, which followed a similar course of development. Meanwhile the parent mass was preparing to cast another ring off into space, to commence an individual existence of its own. In this manner the planets and their satellites were most probably formed.

Of all the various bodies of matter floating around in space, the smallest naturally cooled the quickest. Thus we find the suns till in a molten condition. Jupiter and the other large planets are cooler, but still in a partly self-luminous state. Saturn, surrounded by his rings, and the belt of more than a hundred asteroids between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter, show us possibly the manner in which the rings were first cast off and afterwards broken into smaller pieces. We find the Earth and possibly Mars sufficiently cool to be able to support life on a hardened crust, and the Moon entirely burnt out, warning us of the condition to which all planets will eventually come. Just as they have evolved from the molten, gaseous condition of the nebula, gradually cooling and developing conditions favorable to the maintenance of teeming life, so will they probably continue to cool until they become dead worlds on which no life can exist, each revolving in its orbit, useless, lifeless cinders floating onward, mere monuments of departed glory. Perchance, this solemn procession coming in collision with some other system, will, by reason of the heat thus generated, result in the total annihilation of both, resolving them back into their original atoms, ready to start once more upon another cycle if development and decay. – Such is the “Purpose of Nature!”

The gradual cooling of the Earth caused a hard crust to form and the shrinkage of the mass crushed and crumpled that crust into the most irregular form. This irregularity was intensified by the mass cooling more slowly in some places than in others. Atmosphere and water, frost and hurricane working from without, and igneous agencies operating from within, have gradually modified the original surface. Thus were mountains and continents raised up in some places, lakes and oceans formed in others. Here, the land worn away and deposited in minute particles at the bottom of rivers and seas; there, places, formerly covered with water, upheaved and appearing as dry land once more. These incessant conflicts between the forces of nature, have brought order out of chaos, have evolved the Earth out of the nebula.

When, where, and how life first originated is, and perhaps ever will be, unknown. Some say at least one hundred million years, some not more than thirty million, have elapsed since it first appeared. Some claim that it originated in the tropics, others in the polar regions. About all that we do know is that it first appeared in its simplest form as a particle of plasma. So simple is this form that it may be said to be neither animal nor vegetable, but the parent of both. Nor is the question of how the living actually evolved out of the non-living any more definitely settled. Yet a belief that such a transformation actually did take place, and that by means of purely natural agencies, is fairly prevalent in the scientific world. Prof. Huxley says, “If it were given me to look beyond the abyss of geologically recorded time to the still more remote period when the Earth was passing through physical and chemical conditions, which it can no more see again than a man can recall his infancy, I should expect to be a witness of the evolution of the living protoplasm from non-living matter.”{2}

So closely allied is the non-living to the living that it is often difficult to determine to which class some forms of matter belong. Deep sea ooze is a good example of this. Scientists have not yet discovered positively whether it is living or not. If it is discovered to be living, the investigations now being made may throw much light upon the genesis of life. But “while ... the mode in which protoplasm must have arisen may by and by be partially comprehended, it is at the same time true that the ultimate mystery – the association of vital properties with the enormously complex chemical compound known as protoplasm – remains unsolved. Why the substance protoplasm should manifest sundry properties which are not manifested by any of its constituent substances, we do not know; and very likely we shall never know. But whether the mystery be forever insoluble or not, it can in no wise be regarded as a solitary mystery. It is equally mysterious that starch or sugar or alcohol should manifest properties not displayed by their elements, oxygen, hydrogen and carbon, when uncombined. Yet, however mysterious, the fact remains that one result of every chemical synthesis is the manifestation of a new set of properties. The case of living matter or protoplasm is in no wise exceptional.”[1] (Fiske, Cosmic Philosophy, v. 1, p. 435.)

When, in the development of any organism, the original cell grows to a certain size “the force of cohesion is overcome by the release of energy divided from the food, and the cell divides equally at the kernel or nucleus.” (Clodd, Story of Creation, p. 85.) {3}

The next stage of development is reached when the two cells after dividing remain together for their mutual advantage. Subsequently, as the cells continue to divide, groups of four, eight, sixteen, thirty-two are developed. And so the process continues until a large mass of individual cells is formed. Gradually the union between these cells becomes closer, slowly “the division of labor” among them and the consequent arrangement of their relative locations blend the whole into a relatively complex organism.

The history of the individual is the miniature of life history from monera up to man.{4} It is not necessary here to trace all the steps of this development, but rather to show the process by which that development has been attained. Suffice it to say that while the earlier and simpler forms are still in existence, many of the intermediate forms have entirely disappeared, leaving no trace that has yet been found. One by one, however, the gaps are being filled up as the palaeontologist extends his researches further and further among the fossil-bearing rocks of the world. So we may hope that many of the “missing links” will ultimately be discovered.

It is not to be supposed that progress is in one straight line. On the contrary, its directions are innumerable. Starting from a common stem, life divides into two great branches, animal and vegetable. Each of these divides into numerous smaller branches, which divide again and again, forming the various genera, species and varieties which we find to-day. We no more find that the lowest forms are developed form the highest forms of vegetables, than we find man descended from monkeys. What we do find is that the lowest forms of both animals and vegetables are so nearly allied that it is often difficult to tell to which class they belong, and that the difference between them increases the higher they ascend in the scale of life.

In the simplest forms of life the cell divides into two as soon as it grows to a certain size. Each of these two cells undergoes a similar operation. So the number of cells increases in a geometrical ratio, and would in course of time fill the whole universe if there were nothing to prevent them from doing so. The cause of their growth is the food they assimilate. Consequently the extent of their multiplication is limited by the supply of food obtainable. From this it naturally follows, that those who are able to obtain the most food will multiply the fastest. Any characteristic which enabled the cell, or group of cells, to obtain food to better advantage than its fellows, would naturally be manifest in those into which it divided.

This same principle applies to higher forms of life. Those individuals which can obtain the most food, other things being equal, will be the strongest, live longest and beget most offspring. So also any characteristic which enables an individual to eat and digest any form of food which has not hitherto been utilized, will give that individual a bteter chance of existence. It is easy to understand how, by the preservation and accumulation of favorable variations, different characteristics may be developed simultaneously in different individuals and result in the existence of many various species.

While the obtaining of food is of primary importance to the preservation of life, and consequently one of the greatest factors in evolution, there are other factors which are scarcely less important; prominent among these is the ability to escape from accidents and enemies. It is difficult to fully appreciate the importance of these factors until we realize that all nature is at war with itself. Those animals which do not live by eating others, maintain their existence at the expense of the vegetable kingdom, which in turn derives its nourishment from inorganic substance. We perpetually find some species developing the most marvelous characteristics to enable it to catch its prey, and the prey developing characteristics no less marvelous to enable it to escape.

Keen as is the competition between different species, it is only among individuals and varieties of the same species that it is most intense. This is only what might be expected when we consider the vast number of individuals that come into existence, only a few of which can possibly survive on account of the lack of food. This is merely the Malthusian theory of population applied to the lower creation. Darwin tells us that it was by reading Malthus’s work that he finally discovered the keynote of evolution. (See Darwin’s Life and Letters, v. 1, p. 68; also Haeckel, History of Creation, v1., p. 134.){5} The history of development is the history of the strong overcoming the weak, and thrusting them remorselessly aside in the struggle for life.

When the individuals reach maturity another phase of the struggle becomes manifest in the competition for sexual mates. Here again those who have received most nourishment will probably be most successful. Should the weaker secure mates at all, they will have less vitality to impart to their offspring, who, in consequence, will be most likely to perish in the struggle for life when their turn comes. Thus, by perpetually weeding out those individuals who are least capable of adapting themselves to their environment, the ability of the whole species to adapt itself is increased each generation. It is important to note that this end is not brought about by the individual cultivating characteristics which are beneficial to the species, but by the individual developing characteristics which enable him to overcome his fellow in the struggle for existence. By the killing of the unfit and the preservation of those who possess favorable variations, the characteristics which have been beneficial to the individuals become of benefit to the species. Such characteristics are, and can be, beneficial to the species only in so far as they are beneficial to the individuals which compose that species.

These are the factors in evolution which Darwin calls natural and sexual selection. These terms are perfectly correct when Darwin’s explanation of them is borne in mind. (See Origin of Species, Chap. IV.) Yet, such is the prevalent looseness of thinking and lax use of terms that many gather an entirely false impression from them. Darwin used these terms in order to point out the analogy between the factors and the selection practiced by the human breeder. But he cautions us that it is only an analogy. Many have neglected his warning and have attached the same meaning to the word, selection, in both cases. The human breeder often selects one peculiarity and develops that regardless of its utility to the individual. With natural selection such a thing is impossible. Nothing is primarily developed except for its utility. Even a favorable variation may be lost on account of the existence of other unfavorable characteristics in the same individuals, thus rendering them less likely to survive when all things are considered. On the one hand we see the effect of an intelligent, conscious selection, on the other, nothing but the working of a blind, purposeless force.

The term “Survival of the fittest” – first used by Spencer and afterwards endorsed by Darwin – is in many respects more exact, but even it is not proof against the carelessness of the untrained mind. A large number of people think that the “fittest” are those individuals who best conform to their standard of ethics. The word is only used to signify those who can best adapt themselves to their environment. It is easy to see that in a country where food is scarce those individuals who had religious objections to killing and eating their aged parents would stand a poorer chance of surviving than their less punctilious brethren. In this case the cannibals would be the fittest to survive, while, judged from our ethical standpoint, the others would probably be considered more moral.

Though the doctrine of evolution does directly promise to produce a more perfect adaptation of a species to its environment, it in no way assures us of continued progress, that is an increase of complexity. Spencer says “If in case of the living aggregates forming a species the environing actions remain constant, the species remains constant. If those actions change, the species change[s] until it is in adjustment with them. But it by no means follows that this change in the species constitutes a step in evolution.[2] (Principles of Sociology.)

Degeneration is so important a factor in evolution that Ray Lankester has seen fit to write a book on that subject alone.{7} Evidence of it is found in very many species and even in the human race. The Bushmen and the Fuegians are examples of its force, as is also the Chinese Empire. Max Nordau would have us believe that the whole human race – except of course Max Nordau – is suffering from the same complaint.{8}

The survival of the fittest must of necessity remain inoperative until a certain amount of variation exists. If all individuals were alike there could be no “fittest” to survive. The smaller the amount of this variation, the slower must the change be. Thus the species which manifests the greatest variety among its individuals is most likely to adapt itself quickly to changed conditions. Any species in which variation is unknown and which has become a fixed type must suffer total extinction if its environments change. The only reason the lowest forms of life have continued to exist, in spite of almost universal change, is that the changed conditions do not affect their limited environments and so “the species remains constant.”

Selection pre-supposes variation and operates only through the most relentless competition. By the extinction of those individuals which are least able to adapt themselves to their environment, the species develops those characteristics which have proved beneficial to the surviving individuals.

Applying these conclusions to social reform, we see that permanent improvement in human society can only be found under conditions which are favorable to the development of different characteristics among its members, which recognize the welfare of the individual to be of paramount importance and which foster the freest competition in order that that welfare may become general.

The foolish philanthropy so prevalent to-day, which would prevent the pro-creation of the unfit and which seeks to lessen competition, must be unqualifiedly condemned. To limit the number of births, even of criminals, is to limit the variation of the species. Any such action makes the perfect adaptation of us to our environments less speedy and less sure. The wider the variation the greater chance is there for the production of favorable types. Then competition is absolutely essential in order to weed out the unfit and to make the variation beneficial to the race. It is impossible for a few self-conceited lady novelists to tell what individuals will prove the fittest, or what combination is necessary to produce such individuals. If the teachings of evolution are true, all external force which limits the pro-creation of any individuals – whether good or bad – or restricts competition must result disastrously to the human race.

From this standpoint the present social system is condemned on every hand. It places a special premium upon one characteristic – the ability to get money – at the expense of every other. It fosters a spirit of self-sacrificing patriotism and so place the welfare of the country above that of the individual. It denies the first essential of free competition – the right of every individual to the free use of the earth – and hedges us around with restrictions of all kinds. Unfortunately most of the proposed reforms seek to intensify these evils instead of to remove them.

In this outline of evolution the factor of “use-inheritance” (that is, the transmission of acquired characteristic sto offspring) has not been mentioned because it is still under discussion. Spencer, Darwin while he lived, and many other biologists of note maintain that acquired characteristics are transmitted to offspring. Weismann and many others of prominence contend that only congenital characteristics are capable of transmission. If the position held by Spencer is correct, the conclusions I have reached are fully justified. If, on the other hand, his opponents gain the day, my arguments are reinforced by their victory. William P. Ball concludes his book on use-inheritance{9} in the following words: “The effects of use and disuse – rightly directed by education in its widest sense – must of course be called in to secure the highly essential but nevertheless superficial, limited, and partly deceptive improvement of individuals and of social manners and methods; but as this artificial development of already existing potentialities does not directly or readily tend to become congenital, it is evident that some considerable amount of natural or artificial selection of the more favorable varying individuals will still be the only means of securing the race against the constant tendency to degeneration, which would ultimately swallow up all the advantages of civilization. The selective influences by which our present high level has been reached and maintained may well be modified, but they must not be abandoned or reversed in the rash expectation that State education, or State feeding of children, or State housing of the poor, or any amount of State socialism or public or private philanthropy, will prove permanently satisfactory substitutes. If ruinous deterioration and other more immediate evils are to be avoided, the race must still be to the swift and the battle to the strong. The healthy individualism so earnestly championed by Mr. Spencer must be allowed free play. Open competition, as Darwin teaches, with its survival and multiplication of the fittest, must be allowed to decide the battle of life independently of a foolish benevolence that prefers the elaborate cultivation and multiplication of weeds to growth of corn and roses. We are trustees for the countless generations of the future. If we are wise we shall trust to the great ruling truths that we assuredly know rather than to the seductive claims of an alleged factor of evolution for which no satisfactory evidence can be produced.” (Ball, Are the Effects of Use and Disuse Inherited?)

II. Egoism

The habits of the lower animals, the growth and development of plants and the motion of the heavenly bodies may all be generalized, and the laws in accordance with which they act may be stated. May not the motives of human action be also subject to generalization? This is a question to which the old school of philosophers gives a negative, the modern school, an affirmative answer.

The fact that a person reads or writes a book devoted to social science pre-supposes an agreement with the modern idea. It is only when human action is generalized that a science of society can be found possible. Such a science must consist of generalizations of human action and deductions form those generalizations. If men are “free moral agents,” that is, if they can act of their own volition regardless of the rest of the universe, any generalization of their actions is impossible. Even if under such conditions any general statement of their past actions could be made, it would be valueless, for there would be no guarantee that they would again act in a similar manner under similar circumstances. Anyone that admits the possibility of a social science is thereby committed to the doctrine of necessity, that is, that a certain individual, placed in certain environments, of necessity acts in a certain manner. This being assumed, it becomes of the very first importance to discover the fundamental law of human action, for on this law all sound theories of social reform must depend.

The Theist declares that we should always act in accordance with the commands of God. Admitting, for the sake of argument, the existence of God, why should we obey Him? Immediately the answer suggests itself. God being the supreme ruler of the universe, it is the height of folly to antagonize Him. He can heap disasters from which there is no escape on those who disobey Him, and is capable of rewarding with eternal joy those who uphold His honor and glory. We must obey the commands of God and deny ourselves in this life, in order that we may reap joys eternal. “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon the earth; where rust and moth doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven; where neither rust nor moth do corrupt, and where thieves do not break through and steal.” (Matthew vi., 19 and 20.) This is the essence of the Christian religion.

The Altruist maintains that we should love our fellow man and act for his good. If we love our fellow man, the sight of pain in him will make us unhappy and his happiness will cause us pleasure. So we proceed to ameliorate his pain and increase his happiness in order that we ourselves may be happy. But why should I love my fellow man? If I don’t love him or feel badly when he suffers, I certainly will not put myself to the trouble of helping him, unless I know that he will help me in turn when I shall need it.

“You should act for the greatest good of the community,” says another. Why should you except in so far as the good of the community is liable to result in good to you? Even if you owe the community anything, why should you pay? Still the same answer, “If you don’t it will be the worse for you.”

But now up comes another and says, “You must act from a sense of duty.” Duty to whom? To God? I owe Him only such obedience as He gains through my fear of punishment or hope of reward. To my neighbor? What do I owe him? Only that consideration which we agree to accord to each other for our mutual good. To society? To my family? To the state? The same answer applies. Turn which way you will, the idea of duty entirely disappears.

John Stuart Mills{10} says, “The internal sanction of duty, whatever our standard of duty may be, is ... a feeling in our own mind; a pain, more or less intense, attendant on violations of duty, which in properly cultivated moral natures rises, in the most serious cases, into shrinking from it as an impossibility. ... Its binding force, however, consists in the existence of a mass of feelings which must be broken through in order to do what violates our standard of right, and which, if we do nevertheless violate that standard, will have to be encountered afterwards in the form of remorse.” (Utilitarianism, pp. 67-68.) Thus there are two forces which cause us to pursue a right course of action, the external force or fear of retaliation, and the internal force or fear of our conscience.

The conscience has been considered by many as the distinctive attribute of man – the spark divine in the human breast. Darwin, however, found many evidences of it in the lower animals. Really there is nothing mysterious about it. “At the moment of action man will no doubt be apt to follow the stronger impulse; and though this may occasionally prompt him to the noblest deeds, it will more commonly lead him to gratify his own desires at the expense of other men. But after their gratification, when past and weaker impressions are judged by the ever-enduring social instinct, and by is deep regard for the good opinion of his fellows, retribution will surely come. He will then feel remorse, repentance, regret or shame; this latter feeling, however, relates almost exclusively to the judgment of others. He will consequently resolve more or less firmly to act differently for the future; and this is conscience; for conscience looks backward and serves as a guide for the future. (Darwin, Descent of Man, Chap. IV.)

We must by no means underestimate the important part which this internal force plays in deciding the happiness or unhappiness of most men. But both the internal and the external forces, which deter us from a wrong course of action, operate upon our knowledge that such a course will ultimately result in unhappiness. This is the only ultimate motive of action.

If every individual always attempts to attain the greatest amount of happiness, the doctrine of Necessity follows as a logical deduction. Given a complete knowledge of all the environments in which an individual is placed and a complete knowledge of that individual’s conception of happiness (this latter includes an exact idea of his intelligence) and we could determine with mathematical certainty what course of action he would pursue. That this exactness is never reached is due to the practical impossibility of obtaining all the necessary data. But it is surprising how accurate the keen observer of human nature often is in forseeing the actions of another. This accuracy will be found to increase or diminish in proportion as more or less correct estimates if the actor’s character and environments are formed. Conan Doyle gives us a glimpse of the possibilities in this line in his famous Sherlock Holmes stories.

If, on the other hand, men do not always act from motives of self interest, but sometimes from selfish and sometimes from unselfish motives, it is impossible to generalize their conduct in the slightest. In which case, as above stated, a science of society is absolutely unthinkable. The absurdity of such a position need hardly be pointed out, in spite of the voluminous works which have been written in its defence. So we are justified in maintaining that all action resolves itself into an attempt on the part of an organism to place itself in harmony with its environments; that is, to increase its happiness or, what is the same thing, to decrease its pain. Such is the philosophy of Egoism.

This is the only theory of psychology which is in harmony with the doctrine of evolution, for it is a sine qua non of that competition which is so essential to natural and sexual selection.

In accordance with this principle all our actions may be divided into two classes: those from which we expect to derive pleasure directly, and those from which, though often unpleasant in themselves, we hope ultimately to gain more happiness than pain. When a man goes for a walk on a pleasant afternoon, he expects to derive pleasure form the walk. But when, on a cold, wintry night, he walks several miles through the snow to go to a dance, the walk becomes only a means to attain happiness; in other words, he sacrifices his immediate pleasure for one which is greater though more remote. The two possible courses of action are perpetually conflicting with one another. We pursue one course or the other, according as our experience and intelligence may prompt us.

So many of our actions are the result of sacrificing the immediate to the remoter pleasure, that people begin to look upon that sacrifice as something noble, forgetful of the fact that it is only a means to attain greater happiness sin the end. Experience teaches us that it is often advisable to sacrifice minor points for the benefit of others, in order that we may escape either the pain of self-reproach, or that we may reasonably expect others to help us when we shall need it. This is a purely Egoistic course of action. We can often perform great services for others at the cost of very little trouble to ourselves, and we often need assistance which others can give us without much inconvenience, but which is invaluable to us. These exchanges are for mutual benefit. When people lose sight of that mutual benefit and say we must sacrifice ourselves without any hope of reward, they get altogether beyond the pale of reason.

If self-sacrifice is good, the more we have of it the better, and the man who gives away all that he has except just enough to keep him alive is the finest member of society. But now a paradox is manifest. If the self-sacrificer is the noblest member of society, the one who accepts that sacrifice is the meanest. So to manifest due humility we should debase ourselves by permitting others to sacrifice themselves for our good. This nice little piece of jugglery may be kept up ad infinitum. A can sacrifice himself, by permitting B to sacrifice himself, by condescending to allow A to sacrifice himself, and so on as long you like.

If self-sacrifice is good, to sacrifice oneself for the benefit of the lower animals, from whom no return of the kindness can be reasonably expected, is still better. Since we cannot even breathe, much less eat, drink, or be clothed, without destroying life, suicide becomes the only moral course. Now the same old paradox confronts us again. The fulfilment of duty is a source of happiness from which the self-sacrificer should flee. Instead of committing suicide as in duty bound, he should live to kill others. Mental gymnastics of this nature may be highly amusing, but they are hardly satisfactory when offered as a substitute for a philosophical system. Yet this is all the self-sacrifice theory, or Altruism, as it is called, has to offer, It is absurd whichever way it is approached.

“If a man smite thee upon one cheek, turn to him the other also,”{11} is a very ennobling and comforting doctrine – for the man who is doing the smiting. But the other fellow will generally find it more satidfactory to follow the advice which Charlotte Bronte puts in the mouth of Jane Eyre: “If people were always kind and obedient to those who are cruel and unjust, the wicked people would have it all their own way: they would never feel afraid, and so they would never alter but grow worse and worse. When we are struck at without reason, we should strike back again very hard; I am sure we should – so hard as to teach the person who struck us never to do it again.” The Egoist does not advocate a spirit of revenge, however, but rather a spirit of self-protection. In some cases an apparent non-resistant attitude offers the most effectual method of resistance. In such cases non-resistance will be the not intelligent attitude. But these cases are few indeed. It will usually be found that a good active show of resistance commands more respect than all the submission in the world.

“Inquiring into the pedigree of an idea is not a bad means of roughly estimating its value. To have come of respectable ancestry is prima facie evidence of worth in a belief as in a person; while to be descended from a discreditable stock is, in the one case as in the other, an unfavorable index.” (Spencer, Nebular Hypothesis, p. 108, v. 1 of his Essays.) As soon as man began to have ideas concerning a supernatural agent, his fear prompted him to endeavor to propitiate that power. His worship was based on purely selfish motives. It was better to suffer considerable pain than to incur the anger of the Gods. The practice of self-immolation is not to be wondered at, but for its origin “we must once more go back to the ghost theory. ... There are the mutilations and blood-lettings at funerals; there are the fastings consequent on sacrifices of animals and food at the grave; and in some cases there are the deficiencies of clothing which follow the leaving of dresses (always of the best) for the departed. Pleasing the dead is therefore inevitably associated in thought with pain borne by the living. ... Sufferings having been the concomitants of sacrifices made to ghosts and gods, there grew up the notion that submission to these concomitant sufferings was itself pleasing to ghosts and gods; and eventually that the bearing of gratuitous sufferings was pleasing. All over the world, ascetic practices have thus originated.” (Spencer, Ecclesiastical Institutions, pp. 758-759.) It requires but little imagination to trace the effect of the spirit of utilitarianism operating upon this useless self-immolation and transforming it into the modern idea of self-sacrifice. People often find it necessary to submit to temporary pain in order to gain more permanent happiness. Gradually the cake of custom hardens. The means are mistaken for the end, and the whole trend of human thought is perverted in consequence.

Egoism, as such, does not teach us how to act. It simply states why we act as we do. It is merely an analysis of the motives of action, but on the result of this analysis all true ethics must rest. In declaring that all action is the result of an attempt on the part of the individual to secure the greatest possible happiness, the Egoist merely asserts a fact. Having discovered this fact, he will base a theory of conduct upon it, with the end in view of obtaining the greatest amount of happiness. He will sacrifice an immediate pleasure for one more remote when it seems good to him, and not otherwise. Thus he says to himself, “I will countenance the killing of animals for my food, because the good to be derived from so doing is greater than the disadvantage. But I will discountenance unnecessary cruelty; first, because cruelty to animals makes a man brutal in his nature, and such a man is liable to injure me or some one I love; secondly, because the sight, or even the thought, of unnecessary pain is unpleasant to me; and thirdly, because I derive no benefit from it.

So with regard to all his actions with other men, after taking into consideration the feelings of satisfaction or remorse he will experience from a certain act, the chances of the action exciting the resentment or commendation of the rest of the community, and the effect of setting an example which is liable to be followed by someone else to-morrow and cause a similar course of action to be applied to him, after taking all these and similar factors into consideration, he will, if he be a wise man, be governed by the highest expediency.

But when have we time to weigh and consider all these factors before performing a certain action? “The answer to the objection is, that there has been ample time, namely, the whole past duration of the human species. During all that time mankind has been learning by experience the tendencies of actions; on which experience all the prudence, as well as all the morality of life, is dependent. ... Nobody argues that the art of navigation is not founded on astronomy because sailors cannot wait to calculate the Nautical Almanack. Being rational creatures, they go to sea with it ready calculated; and all rational creatures go out upon the sea of life with their minds made up on the common questions of right and wrong, as well as on the far more difficult questions of wise and foolish.” (J. S. Mill, Utilitarianism, pp. 56-58.)

So imbued do we become with the idea that certain acts are wise, and we get so in the habit of performing them, that we often do so unconsciously. But these reflex actions, as they are called, are really based upon experience and habit and are the result of previous calculation. The fact, that having calculated it so often before we know the result at once, is merely a matter of economy.

If all our acts are attempts to gain greater happiness, it behoves us to exert all our energies to the attainment of that end. This gives us a direct rational basis of ethics. The idea of duty is absolutely lost. Actions appear to be good only insofar as they minister to our happiness, and bad insofar as they cause us pain. The term right is synonymous with wise, and wrong, with foolish.

The highest morality is to devote all our efforts to attainment of happiness, leaving others free to do the same. The golden rule must be stated negatively and made to read, “Mind your own business.” As Egoists we are bound to assume that others are seeking their own greatest happiness, and as long as they do this, it is impertinent to interfere with them and foolish to set an example which will probably be followed and result in interference with our own affairs. If others attempt to meddle with us, we are justified in acting toward them in such a manner that they will find the pain resulting from such a course far outweighs the pleasure and, consequently, will not be tempted to repeat the experiment.

The Egoist should abstain from all interference with others and resent any similar liberties they may take with him. He is not even justified in meddling with another’’s business for his own good. He is bound to assume that everyone is wise enough to know what constitutes his own happiness. If he isn’t, he will suffer the consequences and know better next time.

Every individual should be brought to understand that he is responsible for his actions and will suffer the consequences of all his mistakes. This is really inevitable. The attempt to evade the law of individual responsibility invariably results disastrously. It leads people top suppose that they can act foolishly and not suffer the consequences, and when their folly finds them out there is no one to help them. The doctrine of individual responsibility is a corollary of Egoism. It teaches self-reliance instead of self-sacrifice, dependence upon self instead of upon others. To develop this feeling it is only necessary to give people a chance to practice it. To say that I am my brother’s keeper, is to admit that he is also mine. Devote yourself to being happy and I will do the same. If we all succeed the social question will be solved. If we fail, let us try again with our intelligence improved by past experience. “Enlightenment makes selfishness useful and this usefulness popular.” (“Egoism,” Vol. 1, No. 1, May, 1890.)

III. The State[3]

It often happens that men will repudiate certain theological ideas and yet cling with great tenaciousness to corollaries of those ideas. An excellent example of this may be found in popular ideas in regard to the origin of the State.1

While repudiating the idea of the fall of man and even while affirming the doctrine of progressive evolution, many men maintain that the State was originally a voluntary association of individuals for their mutual protection and the maintenance of personal liberty, and that it has since degenerated into a conspiracy against the human race conducted for the benefit of a few individuals. It would be strange indeed if primitive man, with a degree of intelligence scarcely superior to that of other species of the highest orders of mammals, should form a State so far superior to any in existence to-day.

Although there are no histories of primitive man – perhaps because there are none to mislead us – much is known of the origin and development of the State. An investigation of the various social systems, or lack of such systems among savages in various parts of the world, and the discovery of many implements, monuments and other relics of races which have ceased to exist, teach us that the State was founded in aggression.

So gradual is the process of evolution, that it is impossible to fix the time of the birth of the human race. It is consequently impossible to say what was the earliest form of human association. Many species of the lower animals have regular social systems, the most complex of which are found among the bees and ants. Some species of monkeys form groups of a gregarious, we can scarcely call it a social, nature. A similar state of affairs is found among some savage tribes to-day, and this was probably the earliest form of human association. “To eat, and not to be eaten, to satisfy their amorous passions like beasts in the thickets, as do now the Papuans, the New Caledonians, and the Andamans; such were in this primitive stage of social development the only objects of human life.” (Letourneau[,] Sociology, p. 540.){12}

With but poorly developed mental power, almost destitute of implements, physically inferior to most wild beasts, primitive man was subject to the keenest, and what appear[s] to us the most brutal, competition in the struggle for existence. The incessant conflict between the members of each of these groups resulted in the supremacy of the strongest man, and the war between the various groups gave the victory to the strongest and best organized group. Crude, though such organization must have been, since it was nothing more than submission to one or more men whose strength was their sole claim to leadership, yet that organization was frequently of paramount importance in the struggle. Other things being equal, the most perfectly organized group would naturally be victorious in time of war. As the members of the defeated groups were usually killed and eaten by their conquerors, natural selection favored the development of organization.

With the development of human intelligence, the recollection of past experience led men to take thought for the morrow. This became manifest in rude attempts at agriculture and kindred occupations. Henceforth the lives of captives were spared on condition that they performed such labor as might be required of them. They became mere domestic animals whose very lives were in the hands of their masters. They were spared only because they were worth mote alive than dead. The introduction of slavery completed the first great step in progress, and from it all known forms of civilization have sprung.

From this on society became more complex. The smaller groups c[e]ased to exist. Some were entirely exterminated. Others consolidated into larger groups in order to protect themselves better and to make war upon their neighbors with greater success. Large tribes were thus formed which were, with very few exceptions, essentially warlike in character. In times of peace between the tribes the warlike spirit often found vent in severe internal dissensions. This greatly assisted the formation of different castes and ultimately tended to complete the organization of the tribe. It is somewhat strange that these internal struggles should, by developing a certain organization, enable the tribe to overcome its competitors in the struggle for existence. The religious superstitions of primitive man began to invest the rulers with many of the attributes of divinity. In Peru, for example, the Inca was looked upon as the son of the supreme God. This added many powerful incentives to obedience and, what is a pre-requisite of obedience, confidence in the commander. As it assisted the centralization of power it may be looked upon as a “favorable variation” and its widespread existence is only what might be expected.

Traditions, superstitions and custom soon formed around this organization which was founded in violence and aggression, and so the State developed.

As the idea of private property became general, people were punished for committing crimes against it. In early social forms the two great crimes of this nature, theft and adultery, were punished long before crimes against life and person. But even these crimes were seldom punished when committed against the property of inferiors. “A man has no rights that his superior is bound to respect,” seems to have been a fundamental principle of jurisprudence even at that early date. It was not, as some have imagined, the invention of the Supreme Court of the United States.{13}

The difficulty of being able to make use of a very large number of slaves in countries which were beginning to be relatively thickly settled, gradually led the victors to permit the conquered people to continue to occupy their lands, on condition that they paid an annual tribute. It was thus that the Romans spread their dominion over the ancient world and sowed the seeds of the Feudal System.

These earlier stages of social development form what Spencer calls the Militant type of society – a type under which warfare is the great element of competition. During these periods the tendency was towards greater centralization of power in the hands of the State. Natural selection developed organization of the non-fighting as well as of the fighting members of the community. The former were the serfs or slaves of the latter, and it was their duty to keep the armies well supplied with food, clothes and impedimenta. A tribe so equipped would be far better able to fight than their less fortunate enemies.

Under such a system the warrior was of course chief, and being chief he soon became the richest. This again added to his power by increasing the number of his retainers. At his death his son usually inherited this wealth and power, which necessitated this following the occupation of his father. These and similar forces operated to make all occupations hereditary.

Incessant conflict between different tribes precluded the possibility of commerce between them, so the “fostering of infant industries” and “patronizing home production” was essential. Associations of individuals, except such military associations as were under State control, were injurious to the more perfect organization of the State, and consequently were not permitted.

“The nature of the militant form of government will be further elucidated on observing that it is both positively regulative and negatively regulative. It does not simply restrain; it also enforces. Besides telling the individual what he shall not do, it tells him what he shall do.” (Spencer, Principles of Sociology, v. 2, p. 574.) The development of the State and the restriction of individual liberty; the growth of compulsory association and the suppression of voluntary co-operation, coercion, aggression, regimentation, rigidity, stagnation, these are the fruits of the militant type.

But the militant type contained within itself the germs of its own destruction. The protection of a man’s property from the cupidity of his inferiors begat the idea of protection of men from the rapacity of their superiors. It took many centuries for this idea to develop, even to the extent it is practiced to-day. Many attempts to gain freedom failed, many pioneers lost their lives. During times of civil war opposing factions were often desirous of adding to their strength. In order to do this they promised greater freedom to the industrial classes. Often these promises were violated, often they were but partly fulfilled. But by occasional uprisings, perpetual demands and incessant supplication the powers of the State were gradually restricted and the liberty of the individual was increased.

With the increase of liberty, industry began to develop and commerce, instead of warfare, gradually became the main element of competition. This brings us down to the dawn of the Industrial type of society, which commenced in England early in the Tudor period and has grown ever since with varying fortunes. The great changes that have taken place have been progressive insofar as they have tended to the development of the industrial type. That is to say, the development of industrialism is the decay of militancy, since the characteristics of the one are the antithesis of the other. Future progress must be looked for in the development of individual liberty, the removal of restrictions, the growth of voluntary association and the decay of the State.

It is curious to note that in existing forms of society, State regulation of the actions of individuals is greatest in the most militant countries. In Germany we find a large standing army accompanied by compulsory military service, compulsory insurance, compulsory education and State regulation of all kinds. Much the same conditions exist in Russia in a more intense form, and in a less degree in France. England is less militant and the idea of liberty is better developed. Switzerland manifests the highest development of any European country and has not been engaged in war for centuries.

Sometimes State regulation is greater in any given country than it is at other times. Close observation reveals the fact that increased regulation almost always follows military operations. A good example of this is found in the United States. Previous to the war of the rebellion{14} the love of individual liberty was very great among the white population. After the war State activities increased wonderfully. The G.A.R., the S.O.V.{15} and similar societies have fostered this militant spirit and red flag patriotism, until now every man who has a grievance asks the State to interfere in his behalf. The Prohibitionist, the Protectionist, the Greenbacker, the National banker, the Coxeyite, the Populist and thousands of others are victims of this species of mania. It is but natural that any manifestations of violence and force on the part of the Sate should result in an increase if its powers. It is founded on violence and aggression, and draws its strength from them. The bully is always a little more arrogant after thrashing one of his victims. Successful military operations beget a spirit of hero-worship, pensions are freely bestowed, military men are appointed to civil offices and all classes of society are permeated with a spirit of militancy.

As the development of industrialism and all ideas of modern progress are dependent upon the dissolution of the State, we must look upon that organization as essentially anti-social. In its purity it is simply an organization for the coercion of the many by the one, or of the minority by the majority – it matters not which. Insifar as its power to coerce has been restricted just insofar has it been dissolved. Further progress is only to be found in the same line.

As I have suggested above, the State is in a large measure fostered by the religious sentiments of the community. In most early forms the sovereign was looked upon as the representative of God, as in China and Ancient Mexico. In Peru and Egypt he was even regarded as a God. “The divine right of kings to govern wroing” was almost universally recognized in Mediaeval Europe. To-day we are taught to believe in the divine right of the majority. “Vox populi vox Dei{16} is still the motto of our text books of civil government. The very attributes of divinity are still accorded to the State. All laws for the suppression of vice, the protective tariff and every act of our legislative assemblies, except those for the protection of life and property, pre-suppose that the State is infallible and omnipotent. What power but one that lays claim to infallibility can consistently dictate to the individual what he shall do and what he shall not do, what he shall or what he shall not eat and drink, and the thousand and one things that the State directly or indirectly dictates to us to-day? What power that is not omnipotent could enforce these regulations? And if they cannot be enforced what is the use of making them?

If not of divine origin, what is this intangible power? It does not depend upon the existence of any one individual in a monarchy, or of any body of legislators in a republic. When the Czar dies, or when the term of every legislator expires, the State still lives, intangible, inscrutable. We often find men living under a monarchy who condemn most strongly the acts of their sovereign, and are yet stout advocates of that form of State. So in America, we find men who condemn ever Congress they know anything about, and yet howl lustily about the sacredness of “our glorious institutions.” Often will a man maintain that our legislative halls are filled with men whom he heartily despises; he will assert that the protective tariff is a tyrannical imposition on the people; yet he will be willing to punish the smuggler for disobeying a bad law, enacted by a set of disreputable politicians, just because it is necessary to obey the mandates of the State.

The State is of God or it is nothing. To deny the existence of a God who delegates his powers to the rulers on earth, is to deny all the pretentious claims of the State. From a very different standpoint the “Civilta Catholica” of Rome reaches this same conclusion. “ ‘We want no God!’ declared the men of 1789, and they pout liberty in the place of the Creator. The motto ‘No God, no master,’ is but a natural consequence of this.” (Translated in Literary Digest, 15th March, 1894.) This theory is sup[p]orted by the fact that the dissolution of the State has followed the decay of religious belief. It was not till after the Reformation that the denial of the divine right of kings, as manifested in the beheading of Charles I., was possible.{17} The development of Free-thought preceded and accompanied the French and American Revolutions.

In the higher forms of life the individuals epitomize the life history of the species. “The higher structures passing through the same stages as the lower structures up to the point when they are marked off from them, yet never becoming in detail the form which they represent for the time being.” (Clodd, Story of Creation, p. 102.) In like manner we find that States which have recently come into existence in a complex condition manifest many if the characteristics of lower forms. The British colonies and the United States clung to slavery long after it has been abandoned in every other civilized country. The great reversion to militancy in this country, while dreictly caused by the late war, could not have been as intense in older States under similar conditions. In newly settled districts on the frontier of civilization the far greater value that is placed upon property than upon human life, causing theft to be punished with death while the murderer is permitted to go free, is very characteristic of the earliest forms of society. As progress is very rapid in such places these characteristics are soon lost and a relatively high form of State is organized. But even in then more densely settled portions of the New World many reversions towards the militant type are found. The marvelous growth of secret societies and the elaborate regalia worn by their members are clearly characteristics of a militant race. Nothing seems to delight the average American more than to strut around in a gaudy uniform. Even in professional societies, where regalia is manifestly out of place, it seems almost impossible for them to relinquish this custom altogether. Instead of a uniform, large badges, made of colored ribbon, are worn upon all great occasions. This is practiced among all classes in the United States. In Europeans countries “playing at soldiers” is usually left to children. Side by side with the greatest commercialism, we see a spirit of jingoism manifested that would put a warlike European nation to shame. In spite of the lack of a large standing army, men delight in titles of all kinds, but military titles in particular. Glaring absurdities and contradictions of this kind are seen on every hand, and have puzzled nearly all our foreign critics. They are nothing but the symptoms of national babyhood which are destined to be outgrown as maturity is reached. While they exist they make the United States one of the most interesting, though one of the most annoying countries to study, and prove beyond question its kinship with older forms of State.

The State is founded in aggression. Its main function is the suppression of individual liberty. It claims absolute jurisdiction over all within its borders. It derives its power from the superstitious veneration of its subjects, and governs and coerces them in proportion to the depth of that superstition. But gradually superstitions decay. A few members of the community demand more liberty, and they obtain it when they become sufficiently strong to enforce their demands. The State is the machine of the militant type and is essentially anti-social in its nature. It must gradually dissolve as the spirit of industrialism gains strength. Voluntary association cannot be perfected while the State exists, for each is antagonistic to the other.

IV. Equal Freedom

The doctrine of evolution teaches us that progress is due to the most relentless competition, which, by destroying those indiv[i]duals who possess u[n]favorable characteristics and preserving those whose characteristics are better adapted to their environments, ultimately develops in the species those favorable characteristics. So the progress of the species is dependent upon the progress of the individuals. The existence of different characteristics pre-supposes variation. The greater the amount of variation, the better chance has the species of adapting itself to its environments and of surviving in the struggle for existence.

Permanent improvement in human society can only be found under conditions which are in harmony with these principles; that is to say, in a state of society which is favorable to the development of different characteristics among its members, which recognizes the welfare of the individual to be of paramount importance and which permits the freest competition among its members, in order that that welfare may become general.

The philosophy of Egoism, which is merely the doctrine of evolution applied to psychology, teaches us that each individual always seeks his own greatest happiness. Any interference with an individual in the pursuit of his happiness is unwarranted, as no one can know better than the person himself in what direction his happiness lies. Individual freedom is necessary to the attainment of individual happiness.

Any restraint of the free activities of the individual are [sic] certain to violate the conditions of social progress.

Every activity is either beneficial or detrimental. Surely there can be no sense in restraining beneficial activity, so the only excuse for restraint is that the activities restrained are detrimental, either to the person himself, to some other person, or to society.

We have already seen that no one can be a better judge of whether a certain course of action will result in happiness or pain to the actor, than is that person himself. But even supposing greater experience enables another to forsee the misery that will result from certain actions, while the actor is blind to those results and sees only the bright side. Shall we not permit the older and more experienced man to restrain the impetuous youth? By no means. Apart from the possibility of the older man being mistaken, restraint will only make the youth more impetuous still. Even if his actions are curbed for the moment, they are not suppressed, but will break out with greater violence as soon as an opportunity arises. Meanwhile the youth has been fretting and chafing under the restraint, and has probably suffered more pain from this cause than he would have from doing as he wished. Such restraint can teach a man nothing. If absolutely successful it stultifies his character, if unsuccessful it only adds fuel to the fire. On the other hand, if permitted to have his own way, at worst a man can but fail in his attempt to gain happiness. This failure will teach him to try better next time. Success is only achieved by constant failure. By these means alone can men be taught to bear the responsibility of their actions, for responsibility is ever the cost of freedom. If a man is left alone to pursue a seemingly foolish course of action, he may succeed in making himself happy, in which case he adds to the sum total of human wisdom. A man of experience may often advise an impetuous youth, but he will never restrain him, for the desire to restrain is born of inexperience.

If a man is not to be restrained for his own good, why should he be restrained on account of another. If the happiness of one results in the unhappiness of the other, who is to judge between then? Nearly every action results in unhappiness to some one. Are all actions therefore to be restrained? The success of one man depends upon the defeat of another. To protect the weak from defeat is to prohibit success. Such a denial of competition is at variance with our guiding principles, and is absolutely absurd and untenable.

Now we come to those actions which are said to be detrimental to society. How do we know that they are detrimental? With every new development of social growth, ideas which before were considered detrimental are found to be beneficial. The heretic of yesterday is the hero of to-day. An infallible power might be able to tell what action s are detrimental and what are not, but no one else can. This excuse of social utility is invalid, because it makes the welfare of the individual subservient to that of Society. This is contrary to the higher law of social utility, the law of progress. Any restraint of the activities of the individual denies free competition, is inimical to the development of different characteristics and is consequently in direct violation of the teachings of evolution and Egoism.

If freedom is the condition of progress, all invasion of that freedom is bad and should be resisted, whether it is practiced by one upon another, by one upon many, or by many upon one. In other words, individual freedom pre-supposes the suppression of the invader, whether that invader appears as an individual criminal or as the corporate criminal – the State, – and whether as the Republican or as the Imperial form of State.

The freedom of each individual denies all the freedom to invade. For when one individual invades, the activities of another are restrained. “If men have like claims to that freedom which is needed for the exercise of their faculties, then must the freedom of each be bounded by the similar freedom of all. ... Wherefore we arrive at the general preposition, that every man may claim the fullest liberty to exercise his faculties compatible with the possession of like liberty by every other man.” (Spencer, Social Statics, p. 36, revd. Ed.) This is the principle of Equal Freedom, which, being derived from the conclusions of biology and psychology, must be observed if good results are to be expected in human society.[4]

While everyone is willing to endorse the principle of Equal Freedom, not more than one per cent. of those individuals knows what it means. They daily advocate measures which are diametrically opposed to it and expect to attain good results.

The only way a man can invade the liberty of another is by doing something. A man cannot violate another’s liberty by remaining passive, unless by so doing he breaks the terms of a contract. So any form of compulsion to act, or as Spencer calls it, “positive regulation,” is contrary to Equal Freedom. “Negative regulation” is the only form which is permissible. Nor are all acts to be subject to this negative regulation. All our acts are either self-regarding, as Mill terms it, or social. Self-regarding acts are those which directly concern ourselves alone. Social acts are those which directly concern others. Eating, drinking, sleeping, personal habits, etc., are included in the first class, commercial and professional transactions in the second. To assume that self-regarding acts can interfere with the liberty of others, is ti deny that those acts are self-regarding. If an act violates the liberty of another, it cannot concern the actor alone. Such a proposition is absolutely absurd. This narrows the field of regulation to social acts. It would be absurd to say that all social acts shall be regulated, for this would certainly not be the greatest freedom compatible with equality of freedom. Where then shall the line be drawn? Clearly only those actions which directly interfere with the freedom of others are to be subject to regulation. Anything short of this is less than the maximum of freedom. If all actions which indirectly result in the invasion of the liberty of another are to be regulated, nearly all social acts and many which are considered as self-regarding will be included. For example; A purchases $100 worth of goods from B instead of from C. C is in consequence unable to dispose of his goods, and so cannot pay his creditors. Is A to be compelled to purchase from C instead of from B? Even if this were done, B might now be no better off than C was before. This seems to be an extreme case, but surely it is not half as absurd as many propositions that are heard daily. How often has it been said, that a man should not be allowed to drink intoxicating liquors for fear that his example would corrupt others, that these others might drink to excess and, while in a state of intoxication, commit some overt act? The Prohibitionists reconcile their theory with Equal Freedom by arguments which have far less basis than this. The reason usually given for the suppression of vice is, that if it goes unchecked, others will become vicious from example. If the vice in the first man is not a direct violation of Equal Freedom, how does it become so in the case of the second? If we are not justified in protecting the first man from the result of his folly, why are we justified in protecting the second? If a vice does directly violate the freedom of others, it ceases to be a vice and becomes a crime. Vices are a man’s personal property and all interference with them is impertinent.

Every act of our lives has an indirect effect upon a very large number of people, producing happiness in some individuals and pain in others. These acts have a tendency to discourage one and to drive another to despair, to accuse one to help his fellows and to produce lawlessness to another. If any acts are to be regulated because they produce unhappiness and often indirectly result in a violation of Equal Liberty, then all our acts must be subject to official supervision and the principle of Equal Freedom is but the nightmare of a disordered brain. But even if this is admitted, it is equally fatal to this theory of regulation, for its adherents only attempt to justify their interference by an attempt to gain that Equal Liberty which they now deny.

The fact that an act directly, in and of itself, invades the liberty of another is the only excuse for interference with that act. At no other place can the line be drawn. While this line is often indefinite, it gives us a good working basis. The experience we will gain from applying it, will gradually teach us to discriminate in all doubtful cases. Obscure, though it sometimes is, it is infinitely better than no guide at all, or than any less definite, and these are all that are offered in its stead.

The first essentials of freedom are, of course, the freedom to live unmolested and the freedom of the producer to retain unrestricted the full product of his toil. While there may be serious differences of opinion in regard to the definitions of “producer” and “product,” I think no one will deny that crimes against person and property – murder, assault, theft, etc. – are violations of Equal Freedom.

If a man voluntarily contracts to perform certain actions, a failure on his part to fulfil the contract must be considered in the light of an invasion. He made the contract expecting to receive some benefit in return for his services. If, after receiving that supposed benefit, he refuses to pay the price agreed upon – that is what a breach of contract virtually means – he is receiving something for nothing. To say that it is inconsistent with Equal Freedom to compel a man to act, is, under these circumstances, about as sensible as to say that the liberty of the thief is invaded when he is compelled to return his plunder to its rightful owner. If a man finds that the benefit he derives from a contract is not as great as he supposed it would be, this is no excuse for any violation of the contract. He should have known what he was doing in the first place. Any mistake of his must be borne by himself. The other party has performed his part and is justified in claiming his reward. Even the demands of Shylock, though merciless, must be considered as perfectly just. If Antonio was such a fool as to sign the contract, it was the most disreputable sculduggery on his part to take advantage of unjust and tyrannical legal technicalities. The only things that can justify the violation of a contract are the use of force or fraud by the other party in the procuring or execution of the contract.

These are some of the violations of liberty which are punished by our laws. Now let us see the violations which the law commits.

Since the State is founded in aggression, and is inimical to individual liberty, it is but natural to suppose that its very existence is threatened by the principle of Equal Freedom. This is actually the case. If all forms of compulsion are tyrannical, the enforced payments of taxes is no less so. Men who pay all debts cheerfully will lie like Waterbury watches to evade the tax collector. Why is this? Simply because they think they gain no adequate return for the money so invested. Whether they are right in this assumption or not is immaterial. To compel a man to buy that which he does not want is the grossest tyranny. If he finds that it is necessary to his happiness, he will buy it without compulsion. If he does not find it necessary, by what right can anyone compel him to pay for it? But taxes are the source from which the State derives its life’s blood. So it is, as its history would lead us to believe, essentially a tyrannical institution.

The ways in which this tyranny is exercised are too numerous to mention, but it will be advisable to point out a few of the most important. Prominent among these are the laws which relate to the issuance of money. To tell a man that he shall accept a certain coin or piece of paper in payment of all debts due to him is in the nature of positive regulation. The laws which base the circulating medium of the country on one or two commodities, place a premium on those commodities and consequently destroy the possibility of free competition. A man cannot invade the liberty of another by issuing a note or circulating medium, provided he compels no one to accept it, or misrepresents its value. Yet this is practically prohibited by the United States Government by the imposition of a ten per cent. tax, and is a criminal offense in nearly every State. By these means competition is restricted, the freedom of contract is violated and the individual who possesses certain characteristics is fostered at the expense of all the rest of the community. The remedy for this cannot be given here, but will be found in subsequent chapters.

Since labor cannot be thought of, except in connection with something to which it can be applied, there can be no free competition in labor unless the natural sources of wealth are free. If they are not free to all, those who are debarred from access to them, must either starve or pay such tribute as the other more fortunate members of the community may demand. On these two monopolies most of the important social evils depend.

In spite of all our vaunted freedom we are still enslaved by the State. Even the freedoms of speech and press, which we hear glorified on every hand, are but shams after all. You doubt it? Then go into any court room and criticize a decision of the Judge, and see how much freedom of speech you are allowed. Tell a lot of strikers that they will never gain anything by peaceful methods. Publish a paper for the promotion of suicide. Expose certain of the evils that result from the present marriage system. Then you will see how much the liberty of the press is respected in this “land of the free and home of the brave.” “But these are dangerous doctrines,” it is said. How do you know they are dangerous? Christianity was considered dangerous once. Protestantism was considered dangerous. Free-thought was considered dangerous. That is why stringent laws against the promulgation of such doctrines were passed. The only freedom of speech that is worth having is the freedom to preach dangerous doctrines. In no age, no matter how benighted, in no country, no matter how tyrannical its form of government, has the freedom to preach harmless doctrines ever been denied. It was for preaching dangerous doctrines that Jesus of Nazareth was crucified, that Bruno was burnt, that the Chicago Communists were hanged. Thousands of others have been tortured and out to death for a similar reason. Nothing but the freedom to preach all doctrines, no matter how dangerous they seem, is worthy of the name of liberty.

Evidences of the tyranny of the State abound on every hand. In spite of all our progress we have far to travel before the goal of Equal Freedom can be reached. All the laws, which prohibit or restrict the free exchange of commodities, or services, between individuals of the same or different countries, are inconsistent with the fundamental law of progress. The protective tariff, then laws prohibiting private individuals from carrying the mails, those compelling a man to pay for the education of another’s children, or to supply gratuitous novel-reading for gum-chewing school girls, copyrights, patents, the laws regulating intercourse between the sexes, all these and many other similar forms of coercion will be found on close analysis to be reversions to the militant type of society. But bad though such things undoubtedly are, their removal will benefit us but little until the freedom to issue money and to use land is gained.

The invasive acts of individual transgressors are comparatively insignificant beside those of the State. The power of the individual for harm is at worst limited to a short term of years. His acts are isolated and temporary. But those of the State are organized, systematic, universal and well nigh eternal.

In the last chapter it was shown that the State has ever been [an] engine of militancy, and that progress towards Industrialism has been gained only by restricting its powers. We have just seen how it violates Equal Freedom in almost every way. So we are inevitably forced to the conclusion that its entire abolition is necessary before a perfect system of Industrialism is possible. “This century’s battle then is with the State: the State, that debases man; the State, that prostitutes woman; the State, that corrupts children; the State, that trammels love; the State, that stifles thought; the State, that monopolizes land; the State, that limits credit; the State, that restricts exchange; the State, that gives idle capital the power of increase, and, through interest, rent, profit and taxes robs industrious labor of its product.[”] (Tucker, Instead of a Book, p. 31.) This is the Philosophy of Anarchism – the absence of all coercion of the non-invasive individual.

To many this doctrine will seem absurd. The idea of the State is so firmly rooted in men’s mind that it is no light task to overthrow it. Most people look upon it as a necessity – a necessary evil, some will even say. The sane was said of a supreme church some 300 years ago. But compulsion has given place to voluntary association in religion. Why may not such a change be possible in civil affairs?

The possibility of dispensing with State interference in a few of the most important matters is discussed in the following chapters. If we can protect life and property, effect exchanges and carry on public business without compulsion, the necessity for State interference in our more personal affairs is surely disproved by implication.

V. Defence of Person and Property

Probably the first question which presents itself to the mind, when the abolition of the State is suggested, is how crime will be suppressed. It will be apparent to all who understood the last chapter, that actions are only criminal insofar as they directly transgress the freedom of others. Many people still cling to the idea that the main function of the State is to maintain Equal Freedom, an idea which has already been exploded, by showing that the State is the greatest violator of the law – in other words, the greatest criminal. How then can we expect it to protect us? True it affords us a certain security against smaller criminals, in order that it may have an excuse for its own crimes. How well it fills the position of criminal-in-chief may be read in the reports of the Lexow committee. Nor is it in New York alone that such things are carried on. Committees in nearly every other large city, though ultimately “whitewashing” the authorities, exposed enough rottenness to satisfy the most credulous.

“A little investigation of the yearly services of policemen in the city of Boston affords interesting food for thought in this connection. In this city of nearly half a million of ‘all sorts and conditions of men“ there have been no more than 508 and no less than 310 cases of breaking and entering buildings, in any one year from 1887 to 1892. And in this same city, within the same period, there have been no more than 140 cases of robbery in any one year and no less than 100. But the following remarkable fact is true of each year. From 1,700 to over 2,000 innocent persons – the majority of whom are foreigners and half of whom are minors – are arrested without warrant, purely on suspicion, disgraced by unjust arrest and imprisonment, and then turned loose without redress! This happens with almost the regularity of clock works. Read the record as found in the police reports:

Year | 1888 | 1889 | 1890 | 1891 | 1892

Arrested on suspicion | 1,784 | 2,266 | 1,861 | 1,819 | 1,943

Discharged | 1,778 | 2,263 | 1,858 | 1,817 | 1,929

Held for trial | 6 | 3 | 3 | 2 | 14

“But this is not all. In the year 1890, 37,000 people (in round numbers) were arrested with and without official warrant, only 2,000 of whom received imprisonment after trial. In 1891, 41,000 were arrested, only 3,000 of whom received imprisonment. In 1892, 48,000 were arrested, only 7,000 of whom received imprisonment. The average yearly amount of property stolen is $95,000. To recover this we have an expenditure of $1,170,000 – that is, on the assumption that property protection is the chief province of the police.

“Now, considering that there are only about 500 persons each year, in a population of 500,000, whose property is in danger, and considering that no one of this population of half a million can be assured that he or she will not be one of the 500 bound to be robbed in spite of supporting an expensive police, is it not a legitimate question whether or no protection of property is worth paying for under present conditions?” (Ellen Battelle Dietrick in “The Twentieth Century.”)

This statement says nothing of the blackmail collected by the police. This item alone would swell “the cost of protection” enormously. If this is the way the State manages things – and of this there can be no doubt – it is surely time private enterprise had a turn. It can hardly do any worse, and I hope to show that it will do much better.

In nearly every large city business men either employ special night watchmen, or else subscribe to some merchants’ police company, in order to have their stores protected. Here are men who are compelled to pay the State for protection that is so inadequate and worthless, that they voluntarily pay a private institution to perform the same services. The State fails to perform its duty but still continues to collect the money for it by force. Meanwhile private enterprise steps in and does the work properly. Is there any danger that a community, in which the rights of life and property are held in such high regard that men will pay twice over for their protection rather than go without it – is there much danger that such a community will fail to protect itself from crime if left to do so without State intervention?

The work of insurance companies is suggestive of a method by which this might be done. If the State collects taxes from you to save your house when it is on fire, insurance companies will, if you pay your premiums, reimburse you for all your loss. The former thrusts its services on you unasked, and makes you pay for them whether you want them or not. The latter is a purely voluntary arrangement, and is perfectly willing to leave you alone if you do not molest it.

There are accident insurance companies which insure elevators. Should any person get hurt while riding in an elevator so insured and sue the owner of the building, the insurance company will settle the whole matter and pay such damages as may be awarded. In Colorado – I don’t know how it may be in other States – there is no State elevator inspector, consequently insurance companies inspect the elevators themselves and issue proper certificates. These companies have everything depending upon the correctness of their inspection. The loss of large sums of money and the shaking of public confidence are the penalties they must pay for mistakes. So their certificates are far more reliable, and command much greater public confidence, than those of irresponsible State boiler inspectors or State inspectors of mines, who have nothing to lose by issuing as many certificates as are demanded. The experience of all who have had any dealings with State inspectors teaches them that they are nearly always either dishonest or incapable and sometimes both. If you abolish such offices, those who have a vested interest in the inspection will have it performed to their satisfaction and at their own cost. As soon as State protection is removed, individual enterprise steps in and affords a better article at less cost.

I have heard it asserted that, during the cholera scare in 1893, the life insurance companies gave more money for the protection of the country from that disease, than did the United States Government. I cannot vouch for the absolute accuracy of this statement, but from the sums given by some of the largest concerns, I should think it is not exaggerated. One company alone gave $40,000.

Why cannot such institutions protect our persons and property from theft and assault as well as from accidents, fires, storms, etc.? That they are capable is clearly demonstrated by their past history. The exorbitant prices that they charge will be curtailed as soon as the monopolies of land and money are destroyed.

Every bicycle rider knows of insurance companies which insure people against the loss of their wheels, and the excellent work they do in recovering stolen property is gaining for them a widespread patronage. Other companies insure houses against burglary. Who ever heard of a State doing as much? At best it will watch your premises, and if you are robbed it will try to catch the criminals. But the idea of reimbursement! Who ever heard of such a thing? These insurance companies sometimes rely upon the State officers for the protection of their clients’ property but more often upon their own special watchman.

It is surprising how easily people will get what they want without State interference if the State will only let them do it. The best way to protect a man is to let him protect himself.

On two occasions during the police board troubles which occurred in Denver in the Spring of 1894 (of which more will be said later), the entire police force was suddenly called, late in the afternoon, to guard the City Hall through the night. This left the city without any police protection. But a demand nearly always creates a supply. A committee of citizens, which had been organized to maintain peace, employed Pinkertons to guard the morals of the community. Thus private enterprise steps to the front and fills the “functions of the State” after that decrepit old institution has failed.

Pinkerton men have a very bad name, especially among labor leaders. But this is due to the action taken by them in labor troubles. This in turn is due to the economic system which creates those troubles. Once solve the economic problem and you trim the claws of private enterprise, rendering it incapable of great evil, while retaining its good qualities. But even now Pinkerton men are not one whit less responsible than ignorant ward politicians in brass buttons and blue coats. Pinkertons derive their support only from the men who employ them, whereas policemen are paid as much by the victims of their tyranny as by those that tyranny benefits. The ill repute in which Pinkertons are held is in itself an argument in their favor. If a man is unjustly assaulted by one, he has no compunction at resisting him. But if he is unjustly clubbed by a brutal policeman, he has the glorious remembrance that he himself is paying for the club which hits him, and so he is deterred from resistance by a superstitious veneration for the idol of his own creation.

Such institutions as I have suggested would derive their support, both financial and moral, from their subscribers. Any that were unjust or tyrannical would soon lack patronage, and so competition would give us the best article at the lowest cost, in the administration of justice as in everything else.

The oft quoted argument that this is merely abolishing the State in order to establish a lot of little States is hardly worthy of comment. These institutions lack all the elements which are essential characteristics of the State. The State is primarily invasive, these are defensive. The State is founded on compulsory co-operation, while these are distinctively voluntary. The State claims absolute control over all within its borders, while these permit the freest competition. In other words, one is the State, and the other an honest business undertaking. What we do demand, if you wish to put it that way, is that the State shall restrict itself to the protection of person and property and the maintenance of Equal Freedom, and then, in conformity with that principle, cease to compel anyone to support it. If you wish to call what is left “a State,” our only disagreement will be on the use of the word.

It is highly probable that some people will, under such a system, occasionally reap a benefit for which they do not pay. But this seems to be the inevitable with everything we do. If I improve the lot on which I live, I make the surrounding property more valuable. If I dress neatly I help to make the town where I reside a more pleasant place to live in. These benefits are purely incidental. If a protective association, by making crime more difficult, incidentally renders the property of people who do not subscribe to it more secure, surely no harm is done! If a man refuses to patronize such an association he need not expect any special service from it. If a stranger was being robbed, however, such associations would usually find it to their advantage to render him assistance in cases of emergency, and take chances of collecting afterwards. If the stranger refused to pay he would be extremely foolish, as he need then never expect any such help in future. The protective association would “black-list” him, so to speak, and probably notify other associations of their action. In this manner the man would find himself abandoned, and he would soon become the prey of criminals. But these are only very exceptional cases hardly worthy of consideration.

Many people seem to fear that with the existence of several different protective associations in the same city, there will be incessant conflict between them. But as each will be endeavoring to get the largest number of patrons, each will endeavor to follow the policy that is most universally approved. The ordinary business man does not lie awake in the small hours of the morning pining for civil war. So the probabilities are that protective associations will not attempt to place such an expensive commodity upon the market when there is no demand for it.

“The history of Mohammed’s life shows us several instances in which a city is inhabited by two or more independent tribes, and the different sections of the city go to war with each other. But it does not appear that they were more disorderly, or fought more, than the tribes of the samne turbulent blood in other circumstances. At least, the system was able to live, and give satisfaction to those who lived under it, till overthrown by a power which also overthrew great empires. This ought to be an answer to those who think that two police agencies cannot co-exist in the same place; for there never was a people who ‘needed a strong government’ more than these Arabs.

“But this system has been changed in the direction of greater liberty. A man can now change his citizenship and the laws to which he is subject, whenever he chooses – provided he will leave his country. Now, imagine what some fine old Tory of the clan system would have said if this change had been proposed to him. ‘How Anarchistic! A man would be able to escape from all the laws that bind him by simply running away! Law and order would utterly cease!’ But the world has survived it. Anarchism proposes to increase liberty further by removing the condition that a man must leave his country. This would introduce no difficulty, it seems to me, that the world has not got along with fairly well in one or another of the systems which have existed.

“But why go into ancient history? Kansas City is much handier. The State line runs right through the edge of the city, among popular streets. Men who live on the same street are subject to different laws, and look for protection to different powers. Kansas has prohibition; but where the streets run into Kansas saloons are built up to the State line. The theoretical difficulties in the way of a Missouri policeman’s chasing a man into Kansas are much greater than those in the way of two Anarchistic associations exercising police power on the same ground. But Kansas City claims to be a highly prosperous place.

“When New York and Jersey City are connected by tunnel or bridge, nearly the same predicament will arise. The impossibilities of Anarchism are about to be introduced in New York. Why do not the defenders of public order protest against the improvements?

“Worse yet. Under Anarchy every man would be subject to his neighbor’s association to this extent, that the association could punish him for clearly invasive acts. But to-day, in every civilized country, there is a large body of men who are under no law whatever. Envoys and consuls are responsible to no one but the government which sends them. Cromwell once hanged an ambassador for murder, but no one ever dared follow the example. If a consul commits a crime here, all we can do is politely to request the consul’s royal master to recall him as a persona non grata, and to punish him at home in such a way as may seem adequate. This privilege extends to the foreign representative’s retinue also, including, I believe, even household servants.

“It is the uniform practice of Christian countries to maintain as against non-Christian countries the ancient principle that their subjects in a foreign country are not subject to the laws of that country. This privilege is always provided for in treaties. Hence the European in such a country is bound by no law but such as his consul will enforce. In places like Cairo and Jerusalem there are considerable colonies of at least half a dozen nationalities, each of which is responsible solely to its consul. I never heard of a proposition to unite all the Europeans, not to say all the city, under a single authority.” (S. T. Byington in “Liberty,” 5 May, 1894.)

We often find that this very evil which is so feared under Anarchy is not unknown to-day. For example: the Governor of Colorado has the right to appoint and discharge members of the Denver Fire and Police Board. When he determined to exercise this power in the Spring of 1894, the members he had discharged called upon the police force to protect them in their offices. At this the Governor called upon the State militia, and subsequently upon the Federal troops, to execute his order. But the Police Board was in possession of the field. On the housetops, at every window and scattered among the spectators were men armed with revolvers, Winchesters and dynamite ready to fight the troops. Whereupon the Game-Warden, fearing that the rights of sportsmen might be trampled upon, organized a small army of deputies to assist the Governor. After three days of excitement it was decided to await the action of the courts. The peaceable citizens had the privilege of paying the salaries of all concerned upon both sides.

A similar trouble has recently occurred in Omaha. Another scene of the same kind was witnessed in Topeka in 1893, when the Populists attempted to organize a State Legislature, in order to elect a United States Senator. Under similar circumstances the same trouble arose in Colorado in 1891. No doubt many other instances could be given. From these facts we find, that while in modern times there never has been any actual conflict between different police associations, or associations under the command of different men, operating in the same city, yet there have been serious disagreements which almost resulted in open hostilities. But these disagreements have in every case been due to the endeavor of men to secure political power. This would be impossible if political power ceased to exist owing to the abolition of the State.

“But who will perform the legislative function when the State is abolished?” is another frequent question. “You would surely not entrust that to Pinkerton or his fellows!” Most assuredly not. When a person subscribes to a protective association, a clause might well be inserted in the contract by which the subscriber agrees to serve as a juror whenever he is called upon to do so. When a prisoner is to be tried, a juror will then be selected by lot from among all the subscribers of the association. This jury will then judge the facts, and if they unanimously find the prisoner guilty, they will determine what punishment he shall receive. Strange as such a proposition may seem, it is by no means new. The original jury in ancient times was a means employed by the people to guard themselves against the tyranny of the State. The laws were enacted by the ruling powers, but when they were transgressed, the accused was tried “by his neighbors,” who rendered a verdict, not upon the facts alone, but also upon the law, and decided the penalty in case of conviction. They might find that the facts proved the prisoner guilty of the charges preferred, but that the law was tyrannical, and therefore he was justified in violating it.

In this manner the jury practically possessed a veto power. If the opinion of the community supported the law, the verdict would be in accordance with it. If the people considered the law bad, they would so express themselves by their verdict. Or they might see fit to modify the interpretation of the law, so as to adapt it to the particular case which they were trying. In this way the greatest flexibility can be given to the administration of justice. With these powers the jury-system is really a “safe-guard of freedom.” Without them, all the true power is vested in the State. The jury was the representative of the whole people in a truer sense than are legislative bodies to-day. They were not elected – mere representatives of a majority – but were taken from among the whole people, as a handful of corn is taken form the sack as a sample of the whole.

The jury trial was really a trial by the people, as contradistinguished from the trial by the State. That its powers were curtailed by the perseverance in tyranny of the State is manifest all through history. Now the jurors are fined and imprisoned for perjury, because they rendered a verdict at variance with the wishes of the crown. Now the selection of jurors is given to judges, sheriffs and other employes of the king. For the State has ever held itself superior to its own contracts, from the time King John evaded the Magna Charta, to the time every town in this republic passes laws against carrying weapons, the constitution of the United States notwithstanding.

This jury system practically gives the people a veto power over the acts of the State. It fills, in a great measure, the functions of the Referendum without the red tape of that institution. Unanimity must be required in the verdict of the jury, or the idea of a trial by the whole people is absolutely lost. To descend to the nose counting process in politics is bad enough, but in the administration of justice it is awful to contemplate. As soon as anything is left to the decision of the majority, the minority are robbed of their individuality.

Many claim that jurors picked from the mass of the people, having no special training in the law, would be incapable of administering it. This rests upon the a priori assumption that the law is good, and is really begging the question. The jury would not have to determine the application of the law to their particular case, but the equity of the law, especially in its bearings on the case on hand. In Illinois juries are nominally given the power of interpreting the law as well as the facts. What is needed is a jury which can judge the law as well as the criminal. Should the jurors be appointed by the officers of the State, they become the tools of the State. Should the demand for professional jurors be put into practice, we should have the State as judge, jury, prosecutor and tyrant-in-chief, with the people left to defend themselves as best they could.

The way in which jurors are selected to-day is alone enough to condemn the present system. To exclude a man because he is convinced that the law is in error is to deprive the defendant of a fair trial. It limits the jury to a part of the people, and to that part which is prejudiced in favor of the State. Furthermore, no man can give sociological questions much thought without arriving at some opinions on these questions. So to disqualify a juror because he has formed opinions of the law, is to make intelligence a disqualification. Any personal prejudice for or against the prisoner, which would be strong enough to prevent a fair consideration of the facts, should of course disqualify a juror; but not an opinion of the righteousness or iniquity of the law.

This system would limit the powers of the judge to merely presiding at the trial, to preserve order and to keep the cross-examination from wandering from the point at issue. He might also have power to grant a new trial. The jury would possess the real power, and would inflict what penalty it deemed adequate. Certainly errors would be made, but under such a system the verdicts will coincide as nearly as possible with the opinions of the community, and we can never hope for any more than this. The administration of justice must ever be dependent upon the intelligence of the people.{18}

The application of the definite principle of Equal Freedom in determining doubtful cases, will certainly not cause more mistakes than our present haphazard method. As that principle is applied we shall gradually learn by experience the solution of these difficulties. The number of doubtful cases will grow smaller as our experience of liberty enlarges. Meanwhile I must agree with Mr. Tucker, “no force in doubtful cases unless immediate action is imperative.”

In the absence of law – except perhaps such regulation as the protective association may have made – the jury will practically make the law to suit each individual case. Nor will this be such a stupendous undertaking as would appear at first sight. Before any such system as this could possibly come into practice, a much clearer idea of individual liberty must be generally entertained than is current in the present day. With the principle of Equal Freedom as a guiding maxim, and a system of prison ethics based upon that law, the practical difficulty of deciding the punishment for each crime is reduced to a minimum.

It is commonly asserted that the criminal has no rights that we are bound to respect, and so we may treat him as we see fit. This idea is radically inconsistent with Equal Freedom. If we deprive the offender of more liberty than is necessary to secure the equal liberty of all, we are clearly curtailing the fullest amount of liberty consistent with equality of liberty. On the other hand, any restraint that is inadequate to secure the liberty of others is unjust to the rest of the community.

The only just definition of the word criminal is, one who violates the liberty of another by a crime committed on the person or property of that other. Crimes against property can always be easily estimated in money. While the measuring of crimes against person in the same manner often presents difficulties, it is probably the most just manner yet attempted of estimating the damage caused; at least the practice of doing so would seem to justify such a conclusion. Assuming, then, that all crimes may be approximately measured in money, Equal Freedom demands that the criminal be compelled to make full restitution to the injured party. Since his crime has involved the expense of capturing, trying, and keeping him under restraint, he must also pay for all this. To impose these charges upon someone else, is to make them pay in part for his crime. To require more of him than this is a violation of his liberty for which there is no excuse. There is no reason, save that of expediency, why his jailors should provide labor for him to perform, but that reason will be sufficient to induce them to give him such occupation as they can, or else to help him to exchange his labor without the outside world. The jury will merely have to determine the extent of the damage done and the minimum period of incarceration. The jailor will then perform his duty and assist the prisoner to exchange his labor with the outside world. Of the product of his labor, a certain portion will be set aside to defray the cost of the trial and the prisoner’s board. A certain portion will be deposited for the reimbursement of the victim, and the rest given to the prisoner for his own use. If he so desires, any of this latter portion might be applied to either of the other purposes, with a view to shortening the period of his incarceration. When a sufficient amount has been saved by the criminal to pay all the costs and damages assessed against him, he might then be released, if he could induce anyone to give bail for his future good behavior – a task of no great difficulty if the man was of previous good character, but which would present serious obstacles to the hardened criminal.

But putting aside all questions of justice to the criminal, let us see the advantages if such a system. As necessitarians, we must lay aside all sentimentalism as well as all idea of revenge in the treatment of criminals. We must regard them simply as machines which do bad work. The problem which confronts us, is how to mend the machine so that it will do good work in future, not how to make it suffer most for past transgressions. A systems such as that here advocated is most admirably adapted to such a purpose. It tends to cultivate habits of industry, thrift and honesty, and so to transform the erstwhile criminal into a useful member of society.

While this system has never yet been tried, Spencer tells us that wherever it has been partially attempted, the success which has attended the experiment is sufficient to justify the whole scheme.{19}

After all this whole question of defence is relatively unimportant. I would not have taken up so much space discussing it, did not the opponents of Anarchism lay so much stress upon it. In all probability police duty will be the “function” of the State which will survive the longest. The economic question will most likely be settled long before the policeman will relinquish his club. All authorities agree that most crimes are, directly or indirectly, due to poverty. So we will have but little to fear from this source under equitable economic conditions. The establishment of such conditions, then, is of the first importance, and now claims our attention.

VI. Value and Surplus Value

Before it is possible to gain a clear idea of what constitute equitable economic conditions, it is necessary to understand the shortcomings of our present system. This involves analysis of the occurrences of trade and commerce as they exist to-day.

It is not unusual to consider that value is derived from the power of wealth to gratify desires. This is only partially true. Certainly, a value does attach to everything on account of its utility, but this is a very different kind of value from that which attaches to commodities which are kept for sale. The latter are valuable, not because they are of use to their owner, but because he can exchange them for something else. This value is known as price, or exchange value; that is, the value which attaches to goods from their characteristic of exchangeability, as contradistinguished from the value which attaches to them from the use to which they may be out. This latter is known as utility, or use value. It will be readily seen that many things may possess great use value, while possessing no exchange value whatsoever. Air is absolutely essential to our existence, and consequently has a very great use value, but as no one would ever buy or sell it, it has no exchange value.

The term, use value, denotes the average utility to the community, not the use a given article may be to a certain member of the community. This latter varies with every individual. A coat is of greater use to the man for whom it was made, than to the tailor who made it. It is upon this varying quality of usefulness that exchange rests. Exchange only takes place when each party to the exchange obtains, or thinks he obtains, something which will be more useful to him, than that with which he parts. So both parties expect to be benefited by the transaction.

The price of goods is often said to depend upon the relation of the supply to the demand. As the latter increases in comparison to the former, so the price increases. As the supply increases in relation to the demand, the price falls. If both remain stationary, or if both increase or decrease in the same proportions, the price remains constant.

Why is this? It has been noted above that the same commodities may be of varying degrees of usefulness to different individuals. We can even go farther than this. The wants of each individual are various, and the degree of usefulness of each commodity varies in proportion as it is applied to the gratification of a more or less pressing need. To the man who has no clothes, one suit is absolutely necessary. After he has that suit, it is very nice for him to have a second, so that he can change his clothes to correspond with his occupation. But the second suit is of less vital importance to him than the first. The same is true of all subsequent suits. It is upon this difference in the varying usefulness of commodities that price rests.

Every man is working for his own best interests. He always endeavors to sell in the dearest market and buy in the cheapest. The man dying of thirst in the desert would give everything he possessed for a glass of water. If he could procure it, he would use it for drinking only, because that is its highest use, being the use which is most essential to his existence. Now suppose this same man has enough water to drink, but none with which to wash himself. He will be willing to give a good deal for it still, but not nearly so much as if he were dying of thirst. If he has enough to wash himself, his next demand will probably be for some to wash his clothes. For water for this purpose he will be willing to pay still less. If he is where water is comparatively plentiful, he will want some perhaps to water his lawn, or even to have a fountain in his front yard. But as each of these needs is less imperative than the one which precedes it, he will not be willing to pay as dearly for water for a fountain, as hr would if there were hardly enough for him to wash himself. If he can get enough to supply a fountain for six months for a few dollars, he will not pay $5.00 for a glass of water to drink. He will take some of the water from his fountain for this purpose. So while the uses to which a man can out a commodity are manifold and of different degrees of necessity, the price is determined by the highest desire which the limitations of the supply leave him unable to gratify. As the margin, or desires which are left unsatisfied, increases, the price decreases. Thus it is the “margin of utility” which determines the price.

The supply of raw material is, in most cases, practically unlimited. How is it, then, that the supply is not always sufficient to gratify all desires, and so reduce the margin, and consequently the price, to zero? Simply because, while every man is desirous of buying in the cheapest market, every one is also anxious to sell in the dearest.

Every commodity represents to the producer the embodiment of so much labor, as well as the possibility of a certain utility. He certainly will not exchange it for one which he can produce with less labor, or for one which is less useful to him. As similar motives actuate all with whom he comes in contact, in a free community he can only exchange his commodity for another which cost the same to acquire, and which, possessing greater usefulness for him, as only the same degree of social utility.

If an article suddenly acquires an increased utility, people will be willing to give articles which embody a great amount of labor in order to obtain the more useful article. So the producers of that article, will be able to reap a greater reward for their labor than the other members of the community. This immediately causes a number of the producers of other commodities to leave their old occupations and engage in the one which promises higher remuneration. Thus the supply is increased to meet the demand, until the equilibrium is once more established. So likewise the converse holds good. If for any reason the demand for any commodity decreases, the wages of the producers of that commodity fall, and many of them will seek more lucrative positions. Thus an increase in the demand is met by an increase of the supply, and a decrease in the demand by a decrease of the supply. So while exchange values fluctuate considerably, they always trend to remain at the cost of acquisition. The operation of this law is often hindered by such artificial restrictions as trusts, etc., which, by limiting the supply, increase the margin of utility and consequently the price.

But of what does this cost of acquisition consist? If labor were the only factor in production, no one would be able to obtain anything which he did not produce, unless he exchanged it for some article which embodied an equal amount of labor, or received it as a free gift. But there are other factors which must be taken into account. In the first place, it is necessary to apply labor to land. If this land is monopolized, the holders of it can demand a very great portion of the product of the labor applied to it. Under a form of complete monopoly, the only limit tot this tribute is the portion which the laborer finds absolutely necessary to the maintenance of life. That it does not reach this point at present, is due to the vast areas of unoccupied land in various parts of the world.

In order to produce anything except the very simplest forms of wealth, money is required to effect the necessary exchange of labor. If a man has a labor-saving machine which increases the productiveness of the community ten-fold, and no one else can obtain that machine, or any substitute for it, without the consent of that man, he will be able to rent it for at least nine times the former average productiveness of labor. By these means the producer will receive twice as much return for his labor as before, but the owner of the machine will receive more than four times as much as the producer. As money is the greatest of all labor-saving machines, for it is representative of all forms of capital, those who are able to monopolize money are able to reap the lion’s share of all the advantages of civilization.

Thus the twin monopolies of land and money, by means of their tribute, rent and interest, prevent an equal exchange of the products of labor. Under free conditions A, the shoemaker, would exchange a pair of shoes for a coat made by B, the tailor. When rent and interest exist, A has to pay three pairs of shies for a coat, and B pays three coats for a pair of shoes, while the capitalist and the landlord each have a pair of shoes and a coat.

In addition to rent and interest, profit and taxes must also be added to the actual amount of labor embodied in the commodity – which is known as the cost, or labor value, – before the cost of acquisition is fully accounted for.

By profit is usually meant, the difference between the price which a merchant pays for goods, and the price at which he sells them. But this is not a sufficiently accurate definition for economic purposes. Such profit is composed largely of rent, interest, taxes, wages and the necessary expenses of business. Economically speaking, profit is that which is left between the cost and the price, after the factors above mentioned have been deducted. Much of this is often due to some special privilege, such as the existence of a protective tariff, patent, copyright, or other similar form of monopoly. But it depends principally upon the existence of rent and interest. With the elimination of these various factors, the cost of acquisition will depend solely upon the labor value. Free competition will then force the price down to the actual labor value, making cost and price equal.

It should be noted that the labor value does not necessarily mean the actual amount of labor embodied in the identical article, but the amount of labor necessary to produce an article of exactly similar and equal utility.

In order to be able to think of a labor value, it is necessary to treat labor as an abstract quantity. In reality, of course, it is of various degrees of quality. But, as in everything else, the qualitative differences can be stated quantitatively. Foe example, we say that one gold ring is twice as pure as another, consequently the former is worth two of the latter. So with labor, it can all be measured by a common standard of intensity. The mechanic, we will say, has spent five years learning his trade. The average length of life of men engaged in the same trade, is such as to allow a period of twenty years of usefulness. It is no very difficult task to determine how much more wages he should receive per day, than the man who has not spent those five years learning the trade, and whose period of usefulnes [sic] is twenty-five years. Other factors have to be taken into consideration, such as the amount of money necessarily expended on education, the average length of life in various trades, and the repulsiveness of different occupations, which includes of course the hardness of the work. So in reality, while the various degrees of the intensity of labor present a somewhat complex mathematical problem, it is only a mathematical problem and perfectly capable of solution. This is all that concerns us at present. It is not necessary to work out all these problems in order to see that such a thing is possible.

Exchange has here been spoken of as existing directly between commodity and commodity. In civilized countries some medium of exchange is used to facilitate the process, but this does not effect [sic] the principles involved. To say that a pair of shoes is worth $4.00 and a coat is worth $4.00, is to say that they are worth each other. Nor does it matter whether each is worth $1.00, $4.00, or $10.00, the equality of value between them is still maintained. The coat and shoes have remained constant factors, while their price as mentioned in money has fluctuated.

We value money solely for what it will purchase. We would not accept it as money, if it was not capable of purchasing what we need. Therefore, when anything is sold, that is, exchanged for money, it is virtually exchanged for such other commodities as the holder of that money may desire. This exchange is consummated when the money is exchanged for other goods. Economically it may be said to be complete when the first sale was made, for the same reason that a man will give a receipt for money when he receives a note payable thirty days from date, though he cannot collect until the note matures. Money is a lien upon all the goods for sale in the community, and the possession of it is prima facie evidence of some service having been rendered for it. Thus he who has money is rich only from his stored up capacity of buying, and that capacity becomes valuable only as it is exercised. So all exchange may be spoken of as existing directly between commodities and commodities.

But to return to the main question. It has been shown that rent, interest, taxes and profit are the elements which constitute the difference between the cost of acquisition and the labor value of commodities – the difference between the amount of labor embodied in a commodity, and the price demanded for it. They are spoken of collectively as usury, or surplus value. If this passed directly into the hands of the laborers, the evil would be immaterial. But it does not, and that is where the trouble lies, for it prevents the producers from buying back as much as they produce. It is difficult to understand the extent of this surplus value, until attention is drawn to the large fortunes of many millionaires. A very large proportion of the wealth of the country, is owned by a very small per cent. of the population, and that small portion derives incomes from its usury which are far in excess of its power of consumption, great as that power of consumption is. It saves a surplus annually which is again invested. The result of this is that surplus value has ever a tendency to increase until it absorbs all the wealth of the country. As a result of this, wages ever have a tendency to decrease, until they reach the lowest point at which men will consent to work and to reproduce their kind. So great is the amount of surplus value, that it annually exceeds the total increase of wealth in the United States. Hence the periodical recurrence of times of general bankruptcy is inevitable as long as surplus value exists.

Another effect of this condition of affairs is seen in this; the surplus value collected by the capitalistic classes exceeds their power of consumption, so the world produces more than it consumes. As this surplus increases, a time comes when the markets of the world are glutted, factories are shut down, laborers are thrown out of unemployment and are unable to pay their debts, small stores fail, wholesale merchants are affected, banks are unable to meet the sudden demands made upon them, and confidence is destroyed. This is another fruitful cause of the great financial panics, which sake the business and industrial world to its centre, and leave the rich, richer and the poor, poorer than before.

The immediate result of such panics is that all securities are called in. Those who are unable to pay are forced to sacrifice their property at a very low figure, and those who buy realize large profits as soon as times get better. Thus panics have a tendency to further centralize wealth in the hands of a few. Just after a panic, however, and owing to the calling in of securities, large sums are found in the vaults of capitalists. Thus the money market is glutted and interest falls for a short time. All other forms of usury become lower, owing to the general depression, and, by degrees, a more normal condition is reached. Thus it is evident that surplus value is the cause of these periodic convulsions. Abolish surplus value and they will cease to exist.

The abolition of surplus value simply means that the price of commodities must be limited by the labor-cost of production. In other words, that the product of an hour of A’s labor shall be able to purchase the product of an hour of B’s labor of equal intensity – no more and no less. This is the great Cost Principle which was first proclaimed by Josiah Warren, and almost immediately afterwards by Proudhon and Marx, all of whom arrived at this conclusion independently and without any knowledge of the work of either of the others.

This cost principle is the common basis that underlies all forms of Socialism. For “Socialism, as such implies neither liberty nor authority. The word itself implies nothing more than a harmonious relationship. In fact, it is so broad a term that it is difficult of definition. ... The word Socialism having been applied for years, by common usage and consent, as a generic term to various schools of thought and opinion, those who try to define it are bound to seek the common element of all these schools and make it stand for that, and have no business to make it represent the specific nature of any one of them. ... Socialism is the belief that the next important step in progress is a change in man’s environment of an economic character that shall include the abolition of every privilege whereby the holder of wealth acquires an anti-social power to compel tribute.” (Tucker, Instead of a Book, p. 364.)

Starting from this common basis Socialists divide into two distinct armies; State Socialists, who hope, by placing all industries under State control, to make surplus value flow into the pockets of the laborers; and Voluntary Socialists or Anarchists, who maintain that free competition is the one thing needful to the establishment of the cost principle. These are the only two consistent schools of reform. They alone go to the bottom of the evil and suggest an adequate remedy.

As long as surplus value exists, all schemes for the amelioration of the laboring classes must necessarily prove futile. They are merely attempts to remove the effect, while leaving the cause untouched. It is impossible to show here the manner in which each of them works. One or two examples must suffice.

A scheme that is gaining much favor in certain circles, is the organization of gigantic co-operative companies. The object of these concerns is to abolish the profit of at least one middleman, and so reduce the price of goods to the consumer. In order to do this successfully, it is necessary to conduct the company on strict business principles. This involves buying goods and labor at the best possible figure. It is upon this principle that the Rochdale companies have been conducted – at least so Carroll D. Wright tells us in his report on Industrial Depressions, – and it is more than probable, that it is to this strict adherence to business principles that they owe their success. Consequently it is futile to expect such enterprises to increase the wages of the laboring classes, except as they do so indirectly by enabling them to purchase what they need at a lower figure.

The fact that a co-operative company is selling goods below the market price, at once affects that market price. Other dealers immediately cut their prices so as to retain as much of the trade as possible. This in turn necessitates a reduction of expenses, which is effected by a cut in wages. Prices having been reduced on many staple articles, living is much cheaper than before. So men will live on, and will accept, lower wages than formerly. As the co-operative company is forced by competition to buy at the most advantageous terms, it will be unable to do anything to maintain the old rate of wages. While these concerns may reduce the cost of goods to the consumer, they limit the purchasing power of the producer. The saving in profit ultimately involves a corresponding reduction in wages, leaving the position of the wage-earners much as it was before. If any saving is effected, the landlord and moneylender inevitably reap the benefit. The cheapening of living at any place is liable to attract people to that place – usually people with small but permanent incomes – and so increases the rent in that locality.

Co-operation may be a good thing when viewed from the standpoint of domestic economy, but it is, under existing conditions, a failure from the social economist’s point of view. On a small scale, it may benefit a few individuals. But as it becomes more general, it at once begets evils that counteract the good it does.

All other schemes to cheapen the cost of living operate in the same manner. Attempts to increase the wages of workers by artificial restrictions can be shown, by similar reasoning, to inevitably result in an increase in the price of commodities. If one trade succeeds in gaining higher wages, the price of goods manufactured by the trade increases and the consumers of these goods have to pay the increase of wages. As the wage-earners are the principal consumers, such attempts result in the benefit of one trade at the expense of all others. If the same policy is pursued by all, the increased cost of living counteracts the rise of wages. Until the cost principle is established, it is futile for labor to waste its energies in such useless struggles.

To expect men to be satisfied with the cost of an article, when they can get more for it, is absurd. So the cost principle will only be established, when the conditions of commerce are such that no one will be able to get any more.

In the Fourth Chapter it was shown, that the laws restricting the people from issuing money and from using vacant land were incompatible with Equal Freedom. As these laws are the cause of rent and interest (as will be shown in the following chapters) they stand equally condemned by the cost principle. Nor is this strange. For the cost principle is but the economic statement of the same fundamental principle of equity, which is stated ethically by the principle of Equal Freedom.

Men cannot be equally free when one is able to live off the toil of another. Every product of labor is created only with the expenditure of a certain amount of vital force. So he who robs me of the product of my labor, robs me of a portion of my life.

“When throughout a society, the normal relation between work and benefit is habitually broken, not only are the lives of many directly undermined, but the lives of all are indirectly undermined by destruction of the motive for work, and the consequent poverty. Thus to demand that there shall be no breach of the natural sequence between labor and the rewards obtained by labor, is to demand that the law of life shall be respected.” (Spencer, Essays, v. 3, p. 165.)

These two principles, then – or rather, these two statements of the same principle – are the rules by which we must be governed in our search for better conditions. Sometimes the way will be seen more clearly when examined from one point of view, sometimes when looked at from the other. If either of these principles is permanently violated, the other is set at defiance, and panics, commercial stagnation, political corruption and social disasters are bound to result.

VII. Money and Interest

The statements made in regard to rent and interest in the preceding chapters, were necessarily brief and unsatisfactory. It is now time to analyze these matters more fully, in order that is may be shown how surplus value can be eliminated without denying equal freedom. In order to do this, it is necessary, first of all, to obtain a clear idea of the nature and function of money.

Primitive man made everything he used himself. As he became civilized labor was more and more divided, and exchange became necessary. At first this exchange was effected by pure barter, but as the system grew more complex, a medium of exchange became necessary. Hence, money is “any medium of exchange devised to overcome the difficulties attending a pure system of barter.” (H. Bilgram, Study of the Money Question, p. 17.)

At first, of course, men picked upon a certain commodity to perform this function. In different parts of the world, at different times, many different things have been used, but of all others gold and silver seem to have been most universally employed. The fact that so many other things have been used, is proof that gold and silver are not the only things capable of performing this duty. What then are the qualities which money must possess?

In order that anything can be satisfactorily used as a medium of exchange, it must be capable of negotiating all kinds of exchanges. In proportion as it does this, it is good money, and in proportion as it fails in this respect, it is bad money. The power of money to negotiate exchange, must necessarily be limited by the willingness of all people to accept it in exchange for the products of their labor. That is the best money, therefore, which will be most widely accepted.

No one will accept money which does not either possess intrinsic value in itself, or else represent intrinsic value which can be obtained for it. The former kind, that is, money which possesses intrinsic value in itself to its full face value, we will call for convenience “commodity money.” The other kind, that is, money which merely represents intrinsic value that can be obtained for it, we will call “credit money.”

No piece of money can circulate forever. It must ultimately be redeemed in something, or the person who last holds it must lose that which he gave in exchange for it. Commodity money, of course, can be redeemed at any moment, as, possessing a commodity value equal to its value as money, it can always be used as a commodity by its possessor without loss. But credit money is different. It must ultimately return for redemption to the person, or corporation, which issued it. If he does not redeem it, he will have received something for nothing, while the last holder of the money will get nothing in exchange for the goods he sold for it. Consequently, no one will accept credit money unless it can be redeemed by its issuer, and unless they also know that it can be so redeemed. For if not, how can anyone tell that he will not be the one to lose? Thus money will not be accepted unless it is known to be based upon value, and unless it is accepted, it cannot be used as a medium of exchange.

One other thing is still necessary. A man must not only know that he can get goods for the credit money he accepts, he must also know how much of these goods he can get. But as a certain amount of a given commodity may be worth more one day than it is the next, he will want to know, not how much wheat, for instance, he can get for his money, but what value in wheat he can get. Now this value must be measured in something. As all commodities fluctuate in value more or less, it is impossible to obtain a perfectly equitable standard of value.

From these remarks it will be seen that a standard of value and a basis of value are two entirely different things. With commodity money, of course, these two separate functions are performed by the commodity of which the money is made. But this is not so of credit money. A Greenback is based upon Government credit, that is, the willingness of the Government to accept it in payment of all debts due to it, but it is measured in gold. A silver dollar is based partly upon the value of the silver and partly upon Government credit, but it is also measured in gold.

There is no reason why any or all commodities may not be used as a basis of value. But it would be inconvenient, though by no means impossible, to have several standards. People get accustomed to measuring values by a certain standard, and it would occasion a small amount of annoyance to reckon in accordance with any other. An Englishman, who is accustomed to reckoning values in pounds, shillings and pence, finds it a little inconvenient to reckon in rupees until he gets used to it. But the difficulty of measuring different money by different standards is not very great, when it is known by what standard each piece is measured. This is practically done every day in all business houses that have transactions with foreign countries.

This explanation of the nature and function of money in no way explains why interest is paid. Many theories are advanced to explain this phenomenon. To attempt to combat any of them would be out of place in a brief sketch of this kind. If the explanation which I shall give proves satisfactory, all conflicting explanations are thereby disproved. So I will rest my case with that explanation. Nor is it worth while to devote space to ethical considerations. Every moral philosopher from the time of Aristotle to the present day has condemned usury in every form. Even the defenders of interest have never dared to justify their theories on ethical grounds, but on the plea that it is unavoidable.{20} If this proposition can be disproved, ethical considerations will hardly be sufficient to cause men to pay interest when they can get along without it.

When a man borrows money, he pays a premium to the lender. This is interest. In other words, interest is “the premium paid for the loan of money. ... This must, however, be qualified in order to eliminate the insurance on the risk which the lender must assume. This is the only definition of interest that does not already attempt to explain the cause, thereby prejudicing the impartiality of the argument.” Why is it men are willing to pay this premium?

The great function of money is to mediate exchanges. In our present complex state of society, with its minute subdivision of labor, the necessity of some such medium of exchange is very great. It is seldom that a finished article is made entirely in one factory, even after the raw material is taken from its natural source. Usually all that is done in most factories is to advance, by one small stage, the process of production. When this is done, the articles are sold to another manufacturer, who advances the production another step. Even after articles are finished, they must be distributed to those who use them before they can finally be consumed. The greater the division of labor in this manner, the more complex do exchanges become, and the greater is the necessity for money. But the division of labor in the production of all commodities is not the same. With some it is greater and with others, less. Consequently, all exchanges are not equally complex, and the necessity for money in some branches of commerce is greater than it is in others. That is to say, when money is employed in certain exchanges, the labor saved is greater than when the same amount of money is used to negotiate other exchanges.

Let us suppose an ideal community of a thousand men engaged in different occupations, but without any medium of exchange. Let us suppose that each of these men produces value equal to that of 100 bushels of wheat per month. Owing to the lack of money, labor is but little divided. If it could be divided more minutely, some occupations would be benefited in a greater degree than would others. Let us suppose that the greatest benefit to be derived is equal to 200 bushels of wheat per month per man. That is to say, certain of these thousand men can, with the aid of money, create value equal to that of 300 bushels of wheat per month, and without it the value of their product is only that of 100 bushels. It will certainly pay them to give any amount less than 200 bushels of wheat per month for money to enable them to subdivide their labor. They would gain the difference between the amount they paid and the 200 bushels. But if there is enough money in the community to supply all those whose power of production is increased to the extent of 150 bushels, these last would rather do without the money than pay more than 150 bushels per month for its use. For if not, their net wages would be less than before. The owners of this extra supply of money must consequently be content with a premium of a little less than 150 bushels. But the owners of the first sum were getting nearly 200 bushels per month. They will now have to be content with the same amount as the owners of the fresh supply of money, otherwise these latter will underbid them and take their customers from them. Any further increase in the supply of money will produce a like result. Thus we see that money, like everything else, is applied first to the needs which are most imperative and afterwards to those which are less so, and that the price paid for its use is determined by the least productive use to which it is put.

With an increase in the supply of money, it will be put to a still less productive use, until the point of non-production is reached. So, other things being equal, “the premium paid for the loan of money” decreases as the supply increases, until the point is reached where that premium is just sufficient to cover the cost of issuance and the insurance against risk. It cannot permanently fall much below that point. If it should, those engaged in issuing money would seek more lucrative employment. This would restrict the supply, and the rate of interest would increase.

The fact that after a financial panic the rate of interest is low, is in apparent contradiction with this theory. The cause of this is that, during the panic, large sums of money are withdrawn from circulation, and business is brought almost to a standstill. When the panic is over, these large sums again seek investment. But, owing to the stagnation of business, there are fewer exchanges to be conducted. Hence the amount of money is greater, in proportion to the demand, than at normal times. So this fact, far from being a contradiction, is a confirmation of the theory here advanced.

One serious objection offered to this analysis of interest is the theory that the exchange value of money, like that of all other commodities, decreases as its supply increases and vice versa; that the exchange value of money is its purchasing power; and, consequently, the purchasing power decreases as the supply increases. For example, suppose that when there is $20 per capita in circulation, a pair of shoes cost $4, and a coat costs $4. When the money in circulation is doubled, that is, when there is $40 per capita in circulation, the shoes will cost $8, and the coat will cost $8. So, though the amount of money in circulation is doubled, its purchasing power decreases 50 per cent., and the number of exchanges the increased volume of money is capable of mediating, is exactly the same as the number that could be negotiated by the smaller amount.

Sometimes it is even asserted that, if there was only one dollar in the world it would be as capable of mediating all exchanges as is all the money in circulation to-day, provided it was equally capable of division.

The only conception we now have of a dollar is 25.8 grains of gold 9-10 fine. If there were only 25.8 grains of gold (one dollar) in the world for use as money, the value of that gold must be either greater or less than, or equal to, that of the same amount of gold to-day. That is to say, it must be capable of purchasing, or be exchangeable for, a greater, or less, or equal amount of commodity.

If it be assumed that, under the given conditions, the purchasing power of the gold is equal to that of the same amount to-day, how can it be capable of mediating all exchanges which now require so much more gold? If the purchasing power of the gold remains constant, how can the money based upon, measured in, and made of, that gold have an increased purchasing power? The absurdity of such a proposition is evident.

If it were possible that the price of gold could depreciate under such conditions, the same absurdity would be manifest in a greater degree. So the only meaning that can be attached to the saying that one dollar would be capable of mediating all exchanges presupposes an increase in the purchasing power of gold, owing to the decrease in the supply. It is only when looked at from this point of view that the proposition means anything. If the price of gold increases as the supply decreases, the total value of all the gold in the world remains unchanged, regardless of the supply. For example, let us say there are at a certain time 25,000 grains in the world. This gold is capable of purchasing, say, 10,000 bushels of wheat. Suddenly the supply of gold shrinks until only 25 grains are left. These 25 grains are now 1,000 times as valuable as they were before, other things being equal, and consequently capable of purchasing as much as the original 25,000 grains. If this is so, the 25 grains are as good a basis of value as were the original 25,000 grains, and consequently money with an equal purchasing power can be based upon them. That is to say, the amount of money in circulation remains unchanged. It is not the increase, or decrease, of the amount of money in circulation that determines its purchasing power, but the increase, or decrease, of the standard of value.

Practically a dollar is capable of infinite division. Instead of issuing notes and subsidiary coin for fractions and multiples of 25.8 grains of gold, it is just as easy to issue them for fractions and multiples of a portion of grain. A corner lot in San Francisco cannot be moved to New York. Yet a New Yorker can purchase a lot in San Francisco without leaving his office. All that needs to be transferred is a title of ownership. So, while it might be difficult to transfer one-millionth part of a grain of gold, it is quite easy to transfer a title to the ownership of that amount. And this is all that is necessary, if the title be good.

Money may be said to be a title to the ownership of a certain specified amount of commodity. If that specified amount changes, – that is, if the standard and basis of value vary, – of course the purchasing power of the money is affected. If the title is impaired, – that is, if the amount specified cannot ultimately be realized for the money, – of course it depreciates. But, if the standard of value remains constant and the basis of value is sufficient, I fail to see how the volume of money can affect its purchasing power. Of course, if more money is issued on a given basis than that basis will justify, depreciation must result.

With gold coin the gold is both the basis and the standard of value, and the commodity is transferred, instead of a title to that commodity. From the long-continued use of gold, which embodies these various functions, much confusion of thought has arisen. Men are perpetually confusing the title of ownership (that is, the money), the commodity which that title represents (that is, the basis of value), and the terms in which it is expressed (that is, the standard of value). These are three distinct things. The fact that they are sometimes embodied in one article in no wise alters the case.

Suppose all the gold in the United States was deposited in banks and all exchanges were made by means of checks. Suppose that the aggregate deposits amounted to $100,000,000, and the total amount of checks issued was only $40,000,000. Now, suppose the amount of checks is suddenly doubled, while the amount of the deposits and the value of the gold remain unchanged. Will those checks depreciate in value? If so, why? This is a condition in which the basis of value is always ample, the standard of value remains unchanged, but the amount of money in circulation is doubled. Unless it can be shown that under these conditions the notes will depreciate, this criticism must be abandoned, and we are justified in maintaining, that rate of interest proper will be reduced to zero, if there is sufficient money in circulation to negotiate all exchanges.

The great question now is, how can the volume of money be increased? Whatever solution is offered to this question must recognize the fact shown above, that the money must be known to represent a definite amount of actual value or it will be no good.

The great cure-all usually prescribed for all social evils, no matter what their nature may be, is “Pass-a-law!” In finance this generally means a legal tender law. The very object of such a law is to compel people to accept a certain form of money in payment of all debts due to them. We have seen in a previous chapter, that a direct act of aggression is the only thing which warrants any interference with the acts of any individual. I challenge anyone to show how I can commit an act of aggression by refusing to accept a certain form of money for my merchandise or my labor. If I know that the money is good, I will need no legal-tender act to make me accept it. If I do not know that it is good, it is the most flagrant act of injustice to compel me to take it. Edward Atkinson – and surely he is conservative enough! – in a recent pamphlet, defines legal tender as “an act by which bad money may be forced into use so as to drive good money out of circulation.” He quotes numerous legal-tender acts in support of his definition.

These laws had their origin in the Middle Ages. “Kings of all countries were habitually extravagant and always hard up. A favorite method of raising funds with them was to abstract from coins a part of the metal of which they were composed, and replace the amount with some base metal. This was carried to such an extent that some of the coins contained but a sixtieth part of their original value. People refused to accept debased coin; so the king declared that it was a legal tender, and the people were obliged to accept it. This was the beginning of mandates of legal tender, and it is an absolute truth that no such legislation was ever required except where money had been debased or had come to be looked upon by the people with distrust. Legal-tender acts are necessary only when there is a lack of confidence. So long as quality is unimpaired, no artificial aid is required. Truth is always able to commend itself without using physical force. It is also true that but for the interference of kings in the first place, and afterwards of other governmental agencies, with the quality of money no legal-tender act would ever have been heard of.” (A. W. Wright, Banking and the State, a paper read before the Single Tax Club of Chicago in the Spring of 1894.)

To make any form of money legal tender is to give it an advantage over other money, and so to deny free competition. Thus do all legal-tender acts stand condemned as violations of Equal Freedom.

Any law which prohibits, or places any restriction upon, the issuance of money is manifestly a restriction upon all who would issue or accept such money. If A wishes to issue money a and B wishes to accept it in exchange for his labor, it is gross injustice to both to prevent the exchange. Interference, even on the grounds that such an exchange would be detrimental to both, is unjustifiable. So any law, which either creates a legal tender, or restricts the issuance of money, is inconsistent with Equal Freedom and must be abandoned.

The only excuse that any person has for interfering with other people, who wish to use any kind of money they see fit, is when any one of those people violates the contract entered into when that money was issued. Then, and not till then, is aggression committed and interference becomes justifiable. Not only must the “Pass-a-law” idea be abandoned, but those laws which now exist must be repealed, if the greatest possible freedom is to be maintained.

VIII. Mutual Banks of Issue

It is all very well to prove that all laws in relation to the issuance of many{21} are ethically unjustified, but how are we going to get along without them? Let us examine the various methods of exchange in vogue to-day, and see if we cannot again from them a hint of the direction we must take, in order to provide a safe currency without recourse to law.

In mining camps, and other places where the employers of labor operate a “truck store,” an account is commonly opened with each employe. He is permitted to purchase goods at the store and have them charged to him, provided, of course, the value of his purchases does not exceed the wages due him. Here is a simple system of account fulfilling the function of money. It often becomes a little more complex than this. Frequently debts owed by one employe to another are paid by transferring the amount from one account to the other in the truck store. In these cases the exchanges are of a very simple nature and this system of account works splendidly.[5]

There is only one reason why such a system as this might not be elaborated so as to include all the people in the world. But that objection is insurmountable. It is the tremendous complexity that would be involved in debiting one person, crediting another and seeing that no one overdrew his account. So great is this difficulty that, in order to avoid it, even where exchanges are quite simple, an expedient is resorted to.

During the panic of 1893 the Kuner Pickle Company, of Denver, paid its employes, and the farmers of whom it brought its produce, in scrip; that is, pieces of paper which stated that the Pickle Company would receive them in payment of all debts due it. As this company was doing a large business with grocery stores, the holders of the scrip were able to purchase groceries with it, and the grocers used it to pay their debts to the Pickle Company.

This is really the way in which most of the business of the country is conducted. For example, on Saturday, Smith, a bookkeeper, receives a check form his employer for his week’s wages. He takes this to the bank and deposits it to his credit. When his grocer presents his bill, Smith writes him a check. The grocer endorses this and pays it to the commission merchant, who, in turn, deposits it in the bank. So the transaction proceeds. At the end of the week the money may be placed to the credit of Smith’s employer, by means of a check from a man who owed him money. Here is the whole circle of exchange and the actual coin has never been taken from the bank. Even if the checks are deposited in different banks the result is practically the same. In this case the checks go to the clearing house, and only the balances at the end of each day are paid in cash. These balances are so small in proportion to the business done as to scarcely affect the argument.

Surely the checks which have circulated like this are as much money as greenbacks, or any other paper currency. They circulate because the people who accept them have confidence, first, that that they can be redeemed in legal money, and second, that that legal money can be redeemed in goods which they need. Since 95 per cent. of the business of the country is transacted in some such manner as this, and only 5 per cent. by means of legal money – only a portion of which is coin – it is absurd to suppose that checks can be redeemed in coin, for there is less than $1 in coin for every $20 in checks. So the only reasonable basis of public confidence is the ability of the drawer of the check to redeem it in labor or in goods which are the embodiment of labor.

The idea that all money must be redeemed in gold or silver is one of the worst of superstitions. As long as we adhere to this idea panics are inevitable. As soon as a demand is made for the redemption of a large amount of checks, at any one time, it is found that the supply of coin is utterly inadequate. As people believe that checks can be redeemed in no other manner, public confidence is destroyed. This results in forcing a large number of checks, etc., out of circulation, and causes a greater stringency in financial circles than the largest exports of gold. That credit money must be redeemed, if it is to be of any value whatsoever, has been already demonstrated, but why it should always be necessary to redeem it in one of two commodities, is something for which all the sophistry of modern political economists is incapable of offering even a reasonable explanation. When a man wishes to use money he purchases something with it, that is, he redeems it in merchandise. Coin is sometimes melted, in which case it ceases to be coin. It has been converted into merchandise by a different method, for gold and silver are always merchandise though not always money. If people realized that credit money would be good if directly redeemable in merchandise, that is, if it had the power of purchasing the goods they require without the intervention of coin, the solution of the financial question would be near at hand.

When any person goes to a banker to borrow money, the banker examines the security offered. If it is adequate the loan is made. As the borrower usually obtains his loan from the banker with whom he deposits his money, he often has the amount placed to his credit at the bank subject to check. Then the circle of exchange goes on revolving, often not a cent of the money is ever taken from the banker’s vaults. But even if the borrower receives the amount of the loan in cash, the banker gives him bank notes, greenbacks and other forms of credit money for the greater part of it, and only a very small amount in coin. In other words, as Mr. Hepburn says, “the banker merely swaps credit.” Furthermore, the borrower probably pays away this money in a few days and it is again deposited in the bank. So in reality the banker lends the “borrower” absolutely nothing. He simply lets him use the bank’s credit in exchange for his own, the soundness of which the banker has previously examined. He examines his customer’s credit, and finding it good, he proclaims this fact to the world, a transaction very similar to that of certifying a depositor’s check.

If the borrower’s credit is good enough for the banker, why is it not good enough for the people? It is. All that is necessary is to put into operation machinery by which they can be assured that the idiudal’s credit is good. This is the keynote to the solution of the money question.

“Now, the whole problem of the circulation consists in generalizing the bill of exchange; that is to say, in making the bill an anonymous title exchangeable forever, and redeemable at sight, but only in merchandise and services.

“Or, to speak a language more comprehensible to financial adepts, the problem of the circulation consists in basing bank-paper, not upon specie, nor bullion, nor immovable property, which can never produce anything but a miserable oscillation between usury and bankruptcy, between the five-franc piece and the assignat; but by basing it upon products.

“I conceive this generalization of the bill of exchange as follows:

“A hundred thousand manufacturers, miners, merchants, commissioners, public carriers, agriculturalists, etc., throughout France, unite with each other in obedience to the summons of the government, and by simple authentic declaration, inserted in the “Moniteur” newspaper, bind themselves respectively and reciprocally to adhere to the statutes of the Bank of Exchange; which shall be no other than the Bank of France itself, with its constitution and attributes modified on the following basis:

“1st. The Bank of France, become the Bank of Exchange, is an institution of public interest. It is placed under the guardianship of the State, and it is directed by delegates from all branches of industry.

“2d. Every subscriber shall have an account open at the Bank of Exchange, for the discount of his business paper; and he shall be served to the same extent as he would have been under the conditions of discounting specie; that is, in the known measure of his faculties, the business he does, the positive guaranties, the real credit he might reasonably have enjoyed under the old system.

“3d. The discount of ordinary commercial paper, whether of drafts, orders, bills of exchange, notes of demand, will be made in bills of the Bank of Exchange, of denominations of twenty-five, fifty, one hundred, and one thousand francs.

“Specie will be used in making exchange only.

“4th. The rate of discount will be fixed at ....... per cent., commission included, no matter how long the paper has to run. With the Bank of Exchange, all business will be finished on the spot.


“6th. Provisionally, and by way of transition, gold and silver coin will be received in exchange for the paper of the bank, and at their nominal value.

“Is this a paper currency?

“I answer unhesitatingly, No; it is neither paper money, nor money of paper; it is neither government checks, nor even bank bills; it is not in the nature of anything that has hitherto been invented to make up for the scarcity of specie. It is the bill of exchange generalized.

“The essence of the bill of exchange is constituted, first, By its being drawn from one place on another; second, By its representing a real value equal to the sum it expresses; third, By the promise or obligation on the part of the drawee to pay it when it falls due.

“In three words, that which constitutes a bill of exchange is exchange, provision, acceptance.

“As to the date of issue, or falling due; as to the designation of the places, persons, object – these are particular circumstances which do not relate to the essence of the title, but which serve merely to give it a determinate, personal, and local actuality.

“Now, what is the bank paper which I propose to create?

“It is the bill of exchange stripped of the circumstantial qualities of date, place, person, object, term of maturity, an reduced to its essential qualities, – exchange, acceptance, provision.

“It is, to explain myself still more clearly, the bill of exchange, payable at sight and forever, drawn from every place in France upon every other place in France, made by one hundred thousand drawers, guaranteed by one hundred thousand indorsers, accepted by one hundred thousand subscribers drawn upon; having provision made for its payment in one hundred thousand workshops, manufactories, stores, etc., of the same one hundred thousand subscribers.

“I say, therefore, that such a title unites every condition of solidity and security, and that it is susceptible of no depreciation.

“It is eminently solid; since, on one side, it represents the ordinary, local, personal, actual paper of exchange, determined in its object, and representing a real value, a service rendered, merchandise delivered, or guaranteed by the contract, in solido, of one hundred thousand exchangers, who, by their mass, their independence, and at the same time by the unity and connection of their operations, offer millions of millions of probability of payment against one of non-payment. Gold is a thousand times less sure.

“In fact, if, in the ordinary conditions of commerce, we may say that a bill of exchange made by a known merchant offers two chances of payment against one of non-payment, the same bill of exchange, if it is indorsed by three, four, or a greater number of merchants equally well known, there will be eight, sixteen, thirty-two, etc., to wager against one that three, four, five, etc., know merchants will not fail at the same time, since the favorable chances increase in geometrical proportion with the number of indorsers. What, then, ought to be the certainty of a bill of exchange made by one hundred thousand well-known subscribers, who are all of them interested to promote its circulation?

“I add that this title is susceptible of no depreciation. The reason for this is found, first, in the perfect solidity of the mass of one hundred thousand signers. But there exists another reason, more direct, and, if possible, more reassuring: it is that the issues of the new paper can never be exaggerated like those of ordinary bank bills, treasury notes, paper money, assignats, etc.; for the issues take place against good commercial paper only, and on the regular, necessarily limited, measured, and proportionate process of discounting.

“In the combination I propose, the paper (at once sign of credit and instrument of circulation) grows out of the best business paper, which itself represents products delivered, and by no means merchandise unsold. This paper, I affirm, can never be refused in payment, since it is subscribed beforehand by the mass of producers.

“This paper offers so much the more security and convenience, inasmuch as it may be tried on a small scale, and with as few persons as you see fit, and that without the least violence, without the least peril.

“Suppose the Bank of Exchange to start at first on a basis of 1,000 subscribers instead of 100,000: the amount of paper it would issue would be in proportion to the business of these 1,000 subscribers, and negotiable only among themselves. Afterwards, according as other persons should adhere to the bank, the proportion of bills would be as 5,000, 10,000, 50,000, etc.; and their circulation would grow with the number of subscribers, as a money peculiar to them. Then, when the whole of France should have adhered to the statutes of the new bank, the issue of paper would be equal, at every instant, to the totality of circulating values.

“I do not conceive it necessary to insist longer. Men acquainted with banking will understand me without difficulty and will supply from their own minds the details of execution.

“As for the vulgar, who judge of all things by the material aspect, nothing for them is so similar to an assignat as a bill of the Bank of Exchange. For the economist, who searches the ides to the bottom, nothing is so different. They are two titles, which, under the same manner, the same form, the same denomination, are diametrically opposed to each other.” (P. J. Proudhon, Banque d’Exchange,{22} p. 23.)

This scheme is not unlike the Sub-Treasury scheme of the Farmers’ Alliance. While I consider it to be economically correct, it possesses on feature to which I strongly object. That feature, while considered by many to be a source of strength, is really the rock upon which it would surely sink, as have many similar schemes. It is the proposal to place the whole business under the control of the State.[6]

The Rhode Island land bank, the Argentine Republic land bank, John Law’s French land bank, the Michigan wild cat banks, all are evidences of the corrupting influence of State interference with finance. The founders of all these banks proposed – with various minor differences of detail – that the State should issue legal tender notes to the extent of 50 per cent. of the value of land, and receive a mortgage on the land in return. But the valuation of the land was left to men who held their offices on the strength of a political pull – not very good evidence either of integrity or common intelligence, to say nothing of financial ability – men who were under political obligations to some, and laboring under a load of enmity to others. The decision of these men was final. Their welfare never depended upon the soundness of their business methods, nor did the customers of the bank realize that they were individually responsible for the affairs of the enterprise. The officers held their positions for stated periods and the people were helpless till next election. The result was what might have been expected. Large sums were lent on land which possessed almost no value. The money at once depreciated in value. This depreciation was met by stricter legal tender laws. Men were made liable to imprisonment for refusing to accept these notes at their face value. Rather than submit to such tyranny, merchants closed their stores and business was entirely suspended.

The scheme suggested by Col. Wm. B. Greene removes this objectionable feature. While he here makes land the sole basis of value, this is only done as a beginning. He proposed ultimately to extend the same privilege to all forms of good security – machinery, buildings, grain, etc. His idea is tabulated in a petition to the Legislature of Massachusetts, asking for a law embracing the following provisions:

“1. The inhabitants, or any portion of the inhabitants, of any town or city in the Commonwealth, may organize themselves into a Mutual Banking Company.

“2. Any person may become a member of the Mutual Banking Company of any particular town, by pledging real estate situated in that town, or in its immediate neighborhood, to the Mutual Bank of that town.

“3. The Mutual Bank of any town may issue paper money to circulate as currency among persons willing to employ it as such.

“4. Every member of a Mutual Banking Company shall himself, and be bound, in due legal form, on admission, to receive in payment of debts, at par, and from all persons, the bills issued, and to be issued, by the particular Mutual Bank to which he may beling; but no member shall be obliged to receive, or have in possession, bills of said Mutual Bank to an amount exceeding the whole value of the property pledged by him.

“5. Any member may borrow the paper money of the bank to which he belongs, on his own note running to maturity (without indorsement), to an amount not to exceed one-half of the value of the property pledged by him.

“6. The rate of interest at which said money shall be loaned by the bank shall be determined by, and shall, if possible, just meet and cover the bare expenses of the institution.

“7. No money shall be loaned by the bank to persons who do not become members of the company by pledging real estate to the bank.

“8. Any member, by paying his debts to the Mutual Bank to which he belongs, may have his property released from pledge, and be himself released from all obligations to said Mutual Bank, and to holders of the Mutual Bank money, as such.

“9. No Mutual Bank shall receive other than Mutual bank paper money in payment of debts due to it except at a discount of one-half of one per cent.

“10. The Mutual Banks of the several counties in the Commonwealth shall be authorized to enter into such arrangements with each other as shall enable them to receive each others’ bills in payment of debts; so that, for example, a Fitchburg man may pay his debts to the Barre Bank in Oxford money, or in such other Worcester-County money as may suit his convenience.” (W. B. Greene, Mutual Banking, pp. 44-45.)

This money would be as nearly perfect as it is possible to make it. Every member of the bank, being pledged to accept the notes at par, would practically be an indorser of those notes and, as Proudhon has shown, this would make the bank absolutely secure. Every borrower would have a personal interest in seeing that no loans were made except upon the best security. Should any customer find that risky loans were being made, he would hasten to pay off his mortgage and release himself from all further responsibility. He would then go to the opposition bank across the street and get what money he needed from it. A bank whose currency showed signs of depreciation would not be able to carry on business five minutes, in which case, who would be the losers? The holders of the bills would demand their redemption by the members of the bank, either in goods or in the bills of more substantial banks. Failing this, they would seize all the securities and sell them to the highest bidder, and so redeem the notes. The only losers would be those who were endeavoring to cheat the public by dishonest methods of banking.

It will be observed that Mutual Bank money need not necessarily be redeemed in the property mortgaged to the bank. When any customer of a bank receives the money for goods, he redeems the money in those goods. When he takes this money to the bank to release his property from the mortgage, eh cancels both the money and his obligation to the bank. The security he gives will only be called into requisition if his other means of redeeming the notes fail.

In order that the notes of the various banks might gain a wider circulation, clearing-houses would be established. These clearing-houses would stand in the same relation to the bank as the banks would to the individuals. Each bank belonging to a clearing-house would pledge itself to accept all notes bearing the clearing-house indorsement. So every bank would have the same interest in stopping any lax methods in the clearing-house, as the individual member would have in seeing that his bank was doing business in a legitimate manner. The clearing-house would in this manner be a source of extra security to the public, as well as a means of extending the circulation of the notes.

Every attempt to issue money on poor security would be checked at once by the selfish business interests of the members of the banks. By working through the idea of individual responsibility, we make selfishness of the greatest use.

If one of these banks were to charge interest, there being nothing to stop other banks from opening, it would gain no patronage. When men can use their own credit for the mere cost of bookkeeping and insurance, they are not going to pay a banker 6 per cent. per annum to let them use his. Thus competition, relentless and universal, may abolish interest by giving us a sound currency, in sufficient volume to meet all requirements.

When the present financial system broke down in 1893, recourse was had all over the country to various modifications of this system. In nearly every large city clearing-house certificates were issued to meet the emergencies of the times. These certificates were based upon security far poorer than that proposed in connection with the Mutual Banks. Yet they performed, to a large extent, the functions of money at one of the most critical periods of our financial history. Scrip, similar to that mentioned as having been issued by the Kuner Pickle Co., was circulated in many parts of the United States, and that in spite of the fact that it was absolutely illegal for anyone to issue it. In ma[n]y cases it was suppressed by the government, but still a large amount was in circulation for a time, and that time, though short, was when confidence was very much shaken and the chances of failure were a hundred times greater than under normal conditions. Surely a system which can stand such a test is at any rate worthy of a fair trial.

The orthodox argument against such a system, that an increase in the volume of money necessarily necessarily causes a depreciation of its purchasing power, has already been answered. There are only two reasons why money depreciates in value. One is that the security on which it is based is less than its face value. The other, a fluctuation of the value by which the money is measured. One is a depreciation of the basis, the other of the standard, of value.

This plan surely provides for an ample basis, as it demands that notes shall only be issued to half the value of the property pledged. But so far nothing has been said about the standard of value by which Mutual Bank notes are to be measured. There is no reason why Mutual Bank notes may not be measured by any standard whatsoever. The notes may read, “This note will be received by the members of the First Mutual Bank in payment of all debts due to them, to the value of 100 grains of gold,” or “to the extent of ten pounds of steel,” or to the extend [sic] of any certain amount of any given commodity.

The advisability of having a standard as nearly stable as possible has already been pointed out. Under free competition there would be more prospect of discovering what that standard is, than under our present system, in which gold is rigidly adhered to. That gold fluctuates in value is not denied by none. Whether it fluctuates less than any other commodity can best be determined by a little experimenting. Such experiments are impossible to-day, but would be easy under free conditions.

There is nothing inconsistent between a gold standard and Mutual Banks. If gold can hold its own, when subject to competition, it will certainly continue to be used as a standard, but if it is unable to stand this test, it will be immediately abandoned for something better. The possible fluctuation from this cause could be no greater than it is to-day, but might be far less.

Free competition having proved gold, let us say, to be the most stable of all commodities, and so caused it to be adopted as the standard of value, any person will accept a note, of the face value of 100 grains of gold, at par, as long as he knows that it will be redeemed in commodities to that extent, by the issuers of the note.

It has been shown that notes which were not based upon good and well recognized security would be driven out of circulation at once by competition. So the only notes which could be issued would be those which were incapable of depreciation or fluctuation, save such as is caused by the fluctuation in the value of the commodity in which they are measured. Even this fluctuation would be probably less than it is to-day. So we may say, Mutual Bank notes are practically incapable of depreciation, no matter what their volume, because they must always be based upon good security. Being incapable of depreciation, and the possible supply being limited only by the total amount of wealth in the community, these notes would form the most perfect currency the world has ever known. Yet they are practically prohibited by the law which says, “Every person, firm, association other than National Bank Associations, and every corporation, State Bank, or State Banking Association, shall pay a tax of ten per centum on the amount of their own notes used for circulation and paid out by them.” (United States, Act of 8th Feb., 1875, Sec. 19. See also Sec. 3412 and 3413, Revised Statutes of the United States, 1878.) In addition to this nearly every State has a law like the following:

“SECTION 866, GENERAL STATUTES OF COLORADO. If any person, number of persons, or corporation in this State, without special leave form the legislative assembly, shall emit or utter any bill of credit, make, sign, draw, or endorse any bond, promissory note or writing, bill of exchange or order, to be used as a general circulating medium and in, lieu of money or other currency, every such person or persons, or members of such corporation assenting to such proceedings, being thereof duly convicted, shall pay a fine not exceeding five hundred dollars, or be imprisoned not exceeding one year. Provided, however, That the provisions of this section shall not apply to the issuance or circulation of any certificate or order for the delivery of silver bullion, signed or accepted by any reliable depositary in this State actually having under is control the silver bullion called for in any such certificate or order.” (Session Laws of Colorado, 1893, pp. 124-125.)

“But how will the supply of Mutual Bank notes be regulated?” asks the captious critic. In the same manner, my dear sir, as the supply of any other commodity. We have seen in Chapter 6, that the supply of all commodities has a tendency under free conditions to equal the demand. This is as true of money as of anything else. Establish free conditions and the supply will regulate itself.

“But,” the critic again objects, “you have denied that the value of money varies as the supply varies. It is the variation of the value in relation to the supply that causes this equilibrium between supply and demand.” I have said nothing of the kind. I said that the purchasing power of money is not necessarily affected by the supply. But the supply does directly affect the rate of interest, and the interest is the source from which the banker – the dealer in money – derives his income.

When an extra demand for money is felt, it is manifest in an increase in the rate of interest. This will cause the banker to put more money upon the market, and so the arte of interest will be reduced. Similarly, when the demand is supplied, the rate of interest will fall. As soon as it falls below the labor cost, some bankers will seek more remunerative occupations, the issue of money will decrease and the rate of interest will rise. Thus the rate of interest will ever have a tendency – under free conditions – to remain at the point which just pays the banker for his services, and the supply of money will adapt itself to the demand.

IX. Free Land

The questions of land and rent have received so much attention lately, that much of this chapter will appear to be very trite to anyone familiar with recent economic literature. For example, even college professors admit – and they seldom admit any truth until it is old enough to become a lie, as Ibsen says{24} – even they admit that land differs from wealth in three essential particulars:

1. All wealth is the product of labor, while land existed before wealth was possible, and may continue to exist long after all forms of life are extinct.

2. Land is absolutely essential to our existence, for without it we could have no place to live nor any opportunity to produce anything to sustain life. But wealth, being the product of labor, cannot be essential to our existence, since life must have existed previous to its production.

3. Land is absolutely stationary, while all forms of wealth are movable.

It is necessary to restate these facts in order to make what follows more intelligible. Since wealth and land are so essentially different, it is to be expected that property in the one is entirely different from property in the other. All wealth equitably belongs to the person who creates it. It is his to use or not to use, to consume in any manner he sees fit, to exchange for other property, to give away if he so desire, or to waste absolutely if the fancy strikes him. He has created it by his labor. He has embodied in it a certain portion of his time and energy, in short, his life. It is his because it is actually of him. But with land this is entirely different. No one has made any portion of it. No one has expended any vitality upon its creation. So no one is entitled to any property right to it, For if one portion of the earth’s surface may justly become the absolute possession of an individual, and may be owned by him for his sole use and benefit, as a thing to which he has an absolute and exclusive right, then other portions of the earth’s surface may be so owned; and eventually the whole of the earth’s surface may be so owned; and our planet may thus lapse altogether into private hands. Observe now the dilemma to which this leads. Supposing the entire habitable globe to be so inclosed, it follows that if the landowners have a valid right to its surface, all who are not landowners have no right at all to its surface. Hence, such can exist on the earth by sufferance only. They are all trespassers. Save by permission of the lords of the soil, they can have no room for the soles of their feet. Nay, should the others think fit to deny them a resting place, these landless men might equitably be expelled from the earth altogether. If, then, the assumption that land can be held as property, involves that the whole globe may become the private domain of a part of its inhabitants; and if, by consequence, the rest of its inhabitants can then exercise their faculties – can then exist even – only consent of the landowners; it is manifest that an absolute ownership of the soil necessitates an infringement of the law of equal freedom. For men who cannot “live and move and have their being”{25} without the leave of others, cannot be equally free with those others.[7]

A good example of the tyranny that may be exercised by landed proprietors is found in Greeley, Colo. By a clause in the titles to all the land on which this town is situated, it reverts to the heirs of the original owners if any intoxicating liquor is sold upon it. By the fact of his proprietary right to the soil, the landowner is able to force his will – whether it be good or bad is immaterial – upon all who shall live upon it for all time. Once grant a man a title to the absolute ownership of land, and you deprive everyone else the right to object to any condition he may make before permitting others to use it.

While there is considerable land in the world which is not yet owned by anyone, all the best land is certainly monopolized, as is also nearly all that is capable of affording a comfortable living. This being the case, the holders of land are able to collect rent from all the non-landowning classes. This rent is only limited by the difference between the value of the product of the land each individual occupies, and the value of that which could be produced with the same amount of labor on the best land not yet held by anyone. For example, A can, with a certain amount of labor, produce 100 bushels of wheat per acre upon a certain piece of land. But that piece of land is owned by B. All land capable of yielding over 10 bushels per acre is held by someone else. The only alternative that A has is, to either take up land capable of yielding but 10 bushels per acre, or else pay B, or some other landlord, whatever he demands for the use of his land. If B asks more than 90 bushels per acre, A will pursue the former course, if less, the latter. As B will wish to get all he can, he will not rent his land for much less than 90 bushels, so that will be approximately the rent of the land.

It must not be inferred that the agricultural product of land is the only factor to be considered in in estimating the productivity of the soil. In reality it is but a very small factor. The possibility of a mineral or other output has to be taken into consideration. But probably the greatest factor of all is location. It is easy to see, that if A’s land is capable of producing 100 bushels of wheat per acre, and B’s land is only capable of producing 90 bushels, A’s land is ten per cent. more valuable than B’s. But if it cost B the value of 10 bushels to haul his 90 bushels of wheat to market, and it cost A 28 bushels to haul his 100 bushels, the net productivity of A’s land is only 72 bushels, while that of B’s is 80. In other words, while A’s land is ten per cent. more fertile than B’s, yet B’s land, owing to location, is ten per cent. more valuable than A’s.

So likewise in other forms of industry. A few acres of land, so situated as to be suitable for a manufactory, may be 100 times as valuable as other land which Is only suitable for agriculture, though this latter tract may be extremely fertile, while the former Is little more than a barren rock. Other land, again, may be so situated as to be suitable for a large business block, filled with offices, and so afford space for the application of the labor of several hundred men. It will necessarily be more valuable than the same area of agricultural land, which would scarce suffice for the support of one.

Owing partly to the spirit of adventure, partly to a desire for possession, and partly to the damands [sic] of landlords for higher rent, poorer and poorer land is being pressed into service. It is difficult to appreciate the full extent to which this is carried; until we consider the vast areas of the most productive land which is held out of use. Owing to its location, the land in large cities is infinitely more productive than any farming land, yet see how much of it is held out of use, even in densely settled cities. Thus, while the landlord cannot actually dictate his own terms to those who own no land, he can, owing to the comparatively small margin of unmonopolized land, demand the greater part of the product of the toil of those who use it, and impose many onerous conditions upon them. So the present system of land tenure is inconsistent with the cost principle. The means by which the present owners obtained possession is immaterial. The system is inequitable and inimical to progress, and must be abolished. What care we for the howl about the rights of property, unless it can be shown that the proprietary right has been granted by the producer of the property? When the holders of land can produce such a title I will respect it, but not till then. It may not be out of place, however, to review briefly the history of property in land.

Very many different systems of land tenure seem to have been in vogue among primitive peoples. Where hunting was the means of support of the tribe, the land was held in common. In pastoral tribes the same system was probably in vogue. With the development of agriculture, a tenancy in usufruct seems to have been most widely adopted. And so on. Nowhere among uncivilized tribes do we find any trace of the payment of rent. That is one of the proofs that they were uncivilized!

Most primitive tribes were extremely warlike, and those who were not were soon exterminated by their more bellicose neighbors. In these times it was usual for the victors to kill all their prisoners and eat them. As a more advanced stage was reached and agriculture became of some importance, it was discovered that a live man was worth more than a dead one. The body of an enemy was capable of affording his conqueror one or two good orgies, but his labor would help to provide food as long as he a lived. The savage found it to his advantage to spare the life of his enemy in order to make him a slave.

With the primitive means of production at the disposal of man in those days, a point was soon reached, at which the further application of labor to land did not produce sufficient to support the laborers; in other words, the land soon became overpopulated. Then our early ancestors found it inadvisable to own more slaves. Now it became more advantageous to the conquerors, to let the conquered retain possession of their land, on condition that they paid tribute. But this necessitated excursions at regular intervals to collect this tribute by force of arms, and so a system of dividing the soil of a conquered country among the conquerors became more economical. This gradually developed into the Feudal System, and it was not till that system decayed that rent and taxes became differentiated. Up to that point both were the same. The owners of the soil were merely collectors of taxes, who set an example to modern politicians, to hand over to the public treasury as little as possible.

It is no exaggeration to say that rent is a form of slavery. It is even a form of cannibalism. An improvement on cannibalism, to be sure, but an improvement primarily from the standpoint of the cannibal. (And the same may be said of taxes.) Whether the present system of land tenure is regarded from the standpoint of ethics, economics or history, it stands unqualifiedly condemned.

While all idea of property (that is, absolute ownership) in land is unjustifiable, some system of land tenure must he adopted. To say that no man shall use land, is to say that no man shall live. So we are forced to accept the opposite proposition, namely, all men may use land. But no man should possess an absolute property right in land. Consequently, men should be protected in the possession of land only so long as they are occupying and using it. In other words, bona fide occupancy and use should be the sole title to land. That such a system is in accord with the teachings of history is shown by Letourneau{26}, who says: “The ancient system of holding property has died because of its tyrannical character, and the general civilization has progressed because of the degree of liberty granted to each individual. But individual liberty cannot degenerate into an inherited privilege. A reaction is therefore probable. In fully maintaining individual liberty this reaction will probably bring us back, slowly and by means of a series of graduated measures, to a life interest usufruct of land, thus rewarding intelligence and useful work, and also the labor given.” (Sociology, p. 439.)

Some gentlemen with tender consciences defend the present land system, because, they allege, any change would necessitate injustice. It is argued that all improvements on land belong to the present owners, and it would be wrong to rob them of their property; that it is impossible to dispossess them of the land and leave the improvements, therefore, we must leave them both. But what care we about these fine shades of justice? The admission that exclusive ownership to land is unjust, places the landlords among the robber class. Why need we be so punctilious about their feelings? If progress demands the abolition of the present land system, is not that sufficient? Must the development of the whole human race be retarded for fear of doing a little injustice to a class of robbers? But we are governed, as the Editor of “Egoism” says, by “a majority that rules without voting – The silent majority of the graveyard. The dead past rules us with an rron hand. Its creeds, laws, monopolies, customs, tastes, conceptions and prejudices are the tyrants of our time. ... We are the slaves of the ghosts of dry bones and dust.” (Egoism, Vol. 1, No. 4.){27} So perhaps it is worth while to consider this objection more fully.

Spencer states the case as follows: “We must admit that all which can be claimed for the community is the surface of the country in its original unsubdued state. To all that value given to it by clearing, breaking up, prolonged culture, fencing, draining, making roads, farm buildings, etc., constituting nearly all its value, the community has no claim. This value has been given either by personal labor, or by labor paid for, or by ancestral labor; or else the value given to it in such ways has been purchased by legitimately earned money. All this value artificially given vests in existing owners, and cannot without a gigantic robbery be taken from them.” (Justice, pp. 91-92.) In an appendix to the same work (p. 269), he goes on to show, that since A. D. 1601, the landlords of England and Wales have paid out in poor rates, etc., about £500,000,000 or $2,400,000,000. From this, he argues, “it is manifest that against the claim of the landless may be set off a large claim of the landed – perhaps a larger claim.”

These landlords have had control of the land all these centuries. During that time they have impoverished the soil. They have lived off the product of other men’s labor. They have done but little to benefit the human race. And they have, in most cases, ground their tenants and laborers into poverty. Are not these factors to be considered also? Every cent that has been invested in improvements, every cent that has been paid in rates and taxes, and nearly every cent that the landlords have spent upon themselves has been taken by means of rent from the producers of wealth, except that which has been derived from the same source by means of interest. Do you wish to go back to the past, gentlemen? If so we will submit a bill for back rent, and, since you believe in interest, we will compute compound interest on the money. You will find that it would be cheaper to submit to our demands in the first place and “let the dead past bury its dead.”{28}

While these arguments deal principally with landholding in England, they apply with equal force to America. Here the improvements have been largely bought with interest instead of with rent – that is all the difference. A few cases of men saving their wages and investing in and improving real estate are to be found. In most of such cases, however, the investors have simply built homes for themselves. As they occupy and use this land, they would remain in unmolested possession of it under the system here advocated. For the few others, who have invested their hard earned saving with a view to getting back a portion of the plunder, I am heartily sorry. But they have placed themselves among the robber class and they must expect to share their fate. But even so, they would not be badly off. The increase in wages, which would result from throwing open the land, would go far to repay them for the loss of rent.

No doubt the abolition of slavery was very hard on a number of slave owners, but that was as nothing when compared with the misery the slaves had endured. So with the modern form of slavery, it must be abolished, even if it prove inconsistent{29} to those who are accustomed to live off the toil of others. Every change involves hardship on some class. We are fortunate indeed if that hardship falls solely upon those who have reaped the benefit of the previous injustice.

The most serious objection to the occupancy and use system is that it does not produce equality of opportunity. Land being of different value, those who occupy the most valuable will be able to obtain a greater reward for their labor than will those who occupy poorer land. This criticism is very just indeed. If any other system can be devised, which will remove this difficulty without rushing into greater evils, I for one will most heartily advocate it.

The only way by which it is proposed to remedy this defect is by same form of State ownership, either by actual State control of the land, or by the method known as the Single Tax. The former method involves the direct use of the land by the State, and, consequently, a complete system of State Socialism and compulsory co-operation. It is unnecessary to combat this idea here. This whole book is, by implication, directly opposed to such a system. If its arguments have made no such impression on the reader’s mind, it has been written in vain and nothing I could say in a short space here would help matters.

The Single Tax is the theory that the State should collect the full rental value of all land, and should spend it, or rather such portion of it as may be left after paying current expenses, for the benefit of the people. The method of assessment suggested is that that the land shall be rented to the highest bidder, and if, after he has occupied it awhile, another is willing to pay more than the original tenant, he shall be entitled to rent the land at the advanced rate. This is the fairest way of determining the value of the land, as it throws the whole matter open to competition. I will go even further; it is the only possible way of determining the value of the land under such conditions. If the State collects the full rental value, no one will have any object in buying or selling land. In the absence of sales there would be nothing to guide a board of assessors in determining the value of the land. Any assessments they might make, with absolutely nothing to guide them in their endeavors, would be more absurdly grotesque than anything the State has ever yet attempted.{30}

This theory plunges us into evils far greater than those involved in the occupancy and use system. It leaves the collection and disbursement of all this vast sum of money to our corrupt State officials. The Single Taxer will deny this. He argues that under correct economic conditions, all men will be honest. But he proposes to make the change now, and it is absurd to suppose that men will become honest in anticipation of equitable economic conditions. The most he can claim is, that after equitable economic conditions are established, men will become honest. Meanwhile the politicians will have collected at least the first installment of rent. Their friends will fill all the offices created to spend the surplus for the benefit of the people – in operating railways, telegraphs, waterworks, electric plants, street car lines, etc. They will have intrenched themselves behind this army of officeholders, so that it will be impossible to dislodge them. They will then find it no hard task to devise means, whereby they may lire at the public expense without performing any adequate service in return. Men will not become too honest to live off the toil of others, until it becomes more difficult to do so than to work for a living for themselves. These remarks are applicable to any method of spending the surplus that may be devised. But I doubt if my serious difficulty would arise on this account. After the funds had once passed into the hands of the politicians, there would be mighty little surplus left for any purpose whatsoever.

But supposing the politicians are honest, we are still no nearer the solution of our difficulties. The Single Tax is based upon the idea that no man has any right to hold property in land. From thls premise, the conclusion is deduced that all men (i. e., Society) have a property right to land. The new form of syllogism which warrants such reasoning will, no doubt, be propounded in a forthcoming criticism of Mill by Henry George, entitled “A Perplexed Logician.”{31} So we will submit for the present to his conclusion that all men have a right to property in land. From this it follows that each man has a right to an equal share of the rent of all the land of the world, and to spend one penny of any one man’s share without his free consent, even though he be in a minority of one, is a violation of the first condition of liberty.

Insurmountable as these difficulties appear, they are insignificant when compared with the next. A has rented a piece of land, let us my, for $200 per year. He has made improvements on it to the value of $1,000. Now B comes along and offers $250 per year for the same land. The Single Taxer would say that if A was not willing to pay $250 per year, he must vacate the land, but that B must pay him for the improvements. B says, “They are not the kind of improvements I want. I need the land, not the improvements.” All these difficulties the Single Taxer would submit to a board of assessors. Now mark the result. If this board places the price high enough to be fair to A, they compel B either to purchase that which he does not want, or to relinquish his claim to the land. If they fix the price so as to be fair to B, A is cheated out of part of the value of his property. In any event A will be compelled to sell his property, whether he wishes to do so or not, and B will be compelled to buy the same, regardless of whether it will be of any use to him. If he does not wish to do this, he will have to relinquish his equal right to the land A is occupying, and the community will lose $50 rent per annum. No one can expatiate more eloquently than Single Taxers upon the difficulty of assessing the value of personal property, when the assessment is made in order to levy a tax. And no one places more implicit confidence in the infallibility of such an assessment, when the owner of the property is to be compelled to sell his belongings at the assessed valuation. The very possibility of such uncertainty in regard to the permanency of the tenure is sufficient to deter any man from improving his land to any great extent. “Give a man the secure possession of a bleak rock,” said Arthur Young, “and he will turn it into a garden.”{32} The converse is equally true. Deprive a man of that security of possession, and he will let a garden become as barren as a rock. These arguments are valid, no matter what system of assessing the value of the land and improvements may be adopted. Schemes may be devised to avoid them, but the same difficulties will recur in one form or another, for they take their root in the essential nature of the Single Tax.

This theory, then, is radically inconsistent with Equal Freedom. It enables the politicians to live off the toil of others. It is absurdly illogical. It denies a man an absolute title to the product of his toil in the form of improvements on land. And, providing no security of tenure, it offers no incentive to economy or thrift in the use of the land. Surely this is too high a price to pay for absolute equality of opportunity.

The inequality of opportunity, so much feared by the opponents of the occupancy and use system, would not be nearly as great as would appear at first sight. Under free conditions economic rent, that is, the rent which would attach to land in the absence of monopoly, is all that would remain. And this economic rent would not be a tax upon the wealth produced by another. It would merely be the advantage which one man would have over another, owing to the greater productive power of the land he occupied. Just as one man is able to perform certain kinds of labor with greater ease than other men, some men would be so situated on land, that they could produce more with lees exertion than could their less fortunate brethren. In one case the advantage is due to the economic rent on land, in the other, to the economic rent on intellect, if I may use the expression.

The economic rent on land is but a small portion of that paid to-day. If occupancy and use were the sole titles to land, the large tracts of valuable land now held out of use would immediately be occupied and the poorer land would be abandoned. We have seen that the rent on any piece of land depends upon the difference between the productivity of that land and the productivity of the best land not yet taken up. Consequently as better and better land is abandoned, rent is reduced. To quote the example given above; if the best available land is only capable of producing 10 bushels of wheat per acre, and the land B has for rent is capable of yielding 100 bushels per acre, the rent on B’s land will be approximately 90 bushels. But if, owing to the relinquishment of all unoccupied land, no land is held which is incapable of yielding more than 60 bushels, B’s land will only be worth 40 bushels. When the quality, as well as the quantity, of land now held out of use is considered, we begin to realize how small a fraction of rent, economic rent really forms.

Under free conditions, even this economic rent would have a perpetual tendency to grow “smaller by degrees and beautifully less.”{33} Owing to the inequalities of the present social system, there is a tendency for population to concentrate in large cities. This naturally increases the rent of the city property and decreases that of agricultural soil, etc. With the establishment of the cost principle, the farmer, the miner and all engaged in rural occupations will be able to earn as much as those who work in cities. So a more even distribution of population is to be expected. Similar force will be at work in other directions. Free competition will insure each piece of land being put to its most productive use. Freedom of exchange will cause greater facilities for working the poorer land. The means of transportation not being monopolized but extended beyond their present territory, the distant land will be more accessible. These are some of the forces which will be at work to equalize the value of different tracts of land, and so reduce economic rent to a minimum. In fact, so small would it ultimately become, that it need hardly be considered in our calculations at all.

The only other objection to the occupancy and use system that is worthy of consideration, is the difficulty of determining whether a piece of land is in use or not. Is a man using a corner lot in a city when he has lumber piled upon it? Is he using it when he has some old tomato cans piled in a corner? Questions like these are asked on all sides. The only answer to them is that they cannot well be settled beforehand, as we have not sufficient data on which to base a conclusion. All such difficulties and disputes will have to be settled as all other disputes are, amicably if possible, if not by an appeal to the courts. Under our present absurd judiciary system, some rigid rule might be necessary. For instance, the court might rule that a residence can occupy a tract of land 100x150 feet, a store the same area, a factory 300x150 feet, and so on. As we get enlightened and an equitable jury system is established, the matter will present even fewer difficulties. Twelve men, familiar with the land under dispute and with a full knowledge of the facts of the case, would seldom find it difficult to settle such difficulties.

This difficulty is greatly overestimated. To-day nearly all occupied land is fenced in, and the boundaries are well marked and recorded. It is no very difficult task to tell how much land a man’s house is occupying. Why such difficulties should suddenly increase under an occupancy and use system, is not apparent. This objection, like its predecessors, is seen to be almost infinitesimal when it is carefully examined.

Until some other system can be devised, which is free from all these objections, occupancy and use must be considered the only equitable and legitimate title to land.

X. Special Privilege

While surplus value depends for its existence . principally upon the monopolies of land and money, it is also increased by special privileges. The abolition of these minor forms of monopoly, to be sure, would be of but little avail while the all-embracing monopolies of land and money still exist, yet they must ultimately be removed before the cost principle can be established.

The most important forms of special privilege in vogue to-day are the protection from competition afforded to manufacturers by the protective tariff, the special charters granted to railroads and similar corporations, licenses, copyrights and patents.

The various questions involved in the operation of railroads, etc., are treated in a subsequent chapter and so they need no elaboration here. And so much has been written in regard to the tariff, magnifying its importance out of all proportion to other questions, that it seems hardly worth while to give it more than passing mention. The advocates of “tariff for revenue only” must find their answer in the chapter dealing with Equal Freedom, in which I endeavor to prove that all forms of compulsory taxation are unjust. But the Protectionist thinks he has an economic principle to justify his position. He claims indulgence for his interference with the freedom of exchange, on the grounds of social expediency. His ideal is a tax which is sufficiently high to prohibit the importation of goods of foreign manufacture. From such a tax no revenue could be derived. It may be called a “tariff for protection only.” The object of such a tariff is simply to protect the domestic manufacturer from competition with foreign rivals, and so to enable him to charge a higher price for his goods than he could otherwise obtain. It will be observed that the extra price which is charged on account of such a tariff is not a tax but simple profit. If the tariff is so successful as to prevent all importations no tax is paid at all. The manufacturer would still reap this extra profit if, instead of levying a tax on imports, the government were to punish all importers as criminals. So while this form of profit is, under existing conditions, due to a tax, it is not itself a tax. For the arguments in favor of, or against, the removal of this special privilege, I must refer the reader to works which treat of it in detail.

Licenses of all kinds are of a similar nature. They are especially designed to restrict the number of persons engaged in certain occupations. Such restrictions, by limiting the competition, must always enable those engaged in the licensed industry to charge prices than they otherwise could. The excuse offered for their existence is that those engaged in the licensed industries need special watching, either because the nature of those industries offers extra opportunities for fraud, or because those engaged in such industries are more than ordinarily depraved and liable to impose upon the ignorance of their fellow mortals – an insult at once to the intelligence of the general public, and to the honesty of large numbers of men engaged in various professions and callings.

The protection of ignorance is not justified by Equal Freedom and must ever result disastrously. Experience alone can prove which is the ignorant and which is the wise man. An attempt to protect the former almost always results in restraining the activities of the latter. If a man is ignorant, nothing will teach him quicker than experience. If that experience kills him, there will be one fool less in the world, and the human race will be purer, better and nobler for his demise.

Special privileges of this nature prevent men from engaging in certain occupations where they might earn an honest living, and where they might discover new methods and improvements to the benefit of the whole human race. They prevent free competition and, by so doing, they enable the favored few to collect larger fees from the rest of the community. The only reason they exist is to protect and foster ignorance and stupidity.

The question of patents and copyrights requires longer notice. It is claimed by many that these rights are not special privileges but forms of the right of property. Herbert Spencer says, “That a man’s right to the produce of his brain is equally valid with his right to the produce of his hands, is a fact which has as yet obtained but a very imperfect recognition.” (Social Statics, Revd. Ed., p. 68.) He devotes the rest of the chapter to endeavoring to prove that a property right in ideas is justified, nay even demanded, by the principle of Equal Freedom.

If ideas belong to whoever discovers them, it is unjust to limit that property right in any way. My property right to a box I have made involves my right to that box under all circumstances. It is mine. No considerations of time or place can alter the fact. No one has any business to interfere with it. I can do with it as I choose as long as I live and when I die, it belongs to my heirs forever. It is mine to use or not to use, to destroy or to preserve, just as I see fit. So, if it be asserted that a man has a property right to ideas, the proposition involves the same degree of proprietorship. It is absurd to say that I have a property right in something to-day, and that to-morrow that property right expires; or to say that something is mine on one side of an imaginary line but not on the other. Nor is it any less absurd to argue that I may not do as I will with my own. As soon as this is asserted, property right is denied. If, as Alphonse Karr{34} says, “Literary property is a property,” it is a property under all circumstances, in every country and at all times. It is the absolute property of its owner and his heirs forever, to do with as they please, to use or not to use, or even to destroy. And no one may use any idea to his advantage, without the consent of the discoverer of that idea.

Christopher Columbus had an idea one day. As a result of that idea he discovered America. All ideas are the property of their discoverers and their heirs for all time, and no one may take advantage of such ideas without the consent of their owners. Therefore, no one may live in America without the consent of the heirs of Christopher Columbus. Caxton invented printing. Therefore, no one shall become a printer without the consent of Caxton’s heirs. Thousands of similar cases might be quoted.

To maintain the right of an inventor or author to absolute property in his ideas, is to give him power to say how they shall be used. A copyright based upon this principle would not only prevent any unauthorized person from reprinting the author’s works. it would also prevent any purchaser of the works from lending them to anyone without the author’s consent This may seem a little exaggerated to some people. If so I commend to their notice the following paragraph, which was originally printed in the Boston Advertiser some years ago: “One of the oldest publishers in the city (Boston) is decidedly of the opinion that public libraries are a real disadvantage to the author. While Congress is devising means to protect authors, he contends, it would do them great service to pass a law that no public library shall place a book upon its shelves without the consent of the author.” (Library Journal, May, 1892.) If such a course is justifiable in regard to public libraries, why not prohibit private individuals lending books without the consent of the authors? Here is another case. It is not unusual for advertising concerns to purchase copies of illustrated papers, take them apart, interleave them with advertisements, rebind them and distribute them gratuitously. In consequence of this, “Judge” carries the following warning at the head of its editorial column: “The publishers of ... Judge notify the public that the use of Judge in local advertising schemes, by printing and inserting advertising pages between its leaves, is a direct violation of the publishers’ right under the copyright law. All copies of Judge are sold upon the express condition that they will not be used for such purposes. ... Notice is hereby given that the United States circuit court has recently granted an injunction restraining the use of Judge in this way.” Here is a direct recognition by the law of the property right of the publisher in every copy of his paper, even after that paper has been bought and paid for. These are but logical deductions of the right to property in ideas.

Again, the absolute property right involves the right of destruction. Suppose now the heirs of Prof. Huxley were to become bigoted Christians, they would be entirely within their right if they suppressed all his works, and prevented everyone from reprinting them for all time. They could even compel all people who owned copies of his book to sell them to them for this purpose. Such a course would not be improbable. Lady Burton destroyed the manuscript which had cost her husband fifteen years’ labor, because she considered it immoral.{35} Why should not any other bigot attempt to suppress works he thought unfit for publication, if he had the power? The natural history of the animal teaches us that this is his overruling passion. But why continue this any longer? The absurdity of perpetual and unlimited patents and copyrights must be clear to everyone. Yet, since this absurdity is involved in the hypothesis of property in ideas, that hypothesis must be declared absurd and untenable.

But waiving all these difficulties for the present, what are ideas, to which a property right is claimed? Did Stevenson invent the locomotive engine unaided? Did Newton evolve the law of gravitation out of his inner consciousness? No. Every discovery in science, every invention in mechanical arts, every philosophical system, is but one more link in the chain of human knowledge. We build upon the past, . and the future will in turn take up the task where we have left off. Herbert Spencer would have been as impossible in the eighteenth century, as would Edison have been without Franklin. Shakspere merely rewrote a lot of ancient plays, and Copernicus gained his idea of the revolution of the planets from a sentence in the works of some obscure and long forgotten Greek astronomer.{36} It is impossible to say, “This is original and that is not.” Everything is original, or nothing is original, just which way you choose to look at it. Certain conditions create certain needs. If those needs are not filled in one way, they will be in another. If not by one man, then by some one else. Darwin and Wallace both discovered the theory of natural selection almost simultaneously. Proudhon, Marx and Josiah Warren all worked out the cost principle, entirely independently of each other, at very nearly the same time. Hundreds of such cases might be quoted. “Mark Twain,” a firm believer in copyright, is authority for the following:[8]

“The following statement, which I have clipped from a newspaper, is true. I had the facts from Mr. Howells’ lips when the episode was new:

“‘A lady of Rochester, New York, contributed to the magazine (Atlantic) after “Dr. Breen’s Practice” was in type, a short story which so much resembled Mr. Howells’ that he felt it necessary to call upon her and explain the situation of affairs in order that no charge of plagiarism might be preferred against him.’ ...

“Here is another case. I clip it from a newspaper. ... ‘Miss Anna M. Crane, of Baltimore, published Emily Chester, a novel which was pronounced a very striking and strong story. A comparison of this book with Moods showed that the two writers, though entire strangers to each other, and living hundreds of miles apart, had both chosen the same subject for their novels, had followed almost the same line of treatment up to a certain point, where the parallel ceased, and the denouements were entirely opposite. And even more curious, the leading characters in both books had identically the same names, so that the names in Miss Alcott’s novel had to be changed.’ ...

“Four or five times within my recollection there has been a lively newspaper war in this country over poems whose authorship was claimed by two or three different people at the same time. There was a war of this kind over ‘Nothing to Wear,’ ‘Beautiful Snow,’ ‘Rock Me to Sleep, Mother,’ and also over one of Mr. Will Carleton’s early ballads, I think." (S. L. Clemens, Mental Telegraphy, in £1,000,000 Bank Note and Other New Stories, pp. 56-57.)

Are we to give a man a property right in ideas he discovers to-day, and deny it to the man who discovers the same ideas to-morrow? Both are children of the same social system. Roth are living in a society which has attained a certain intellectual growth. Why should we say to one man, “These ideas are yours for a certain length of time, to do with as you please,” and to that man, “You are too late. Your ideas have already been monopolized.” That it is impossible, without destroying the law, to so adjust it that both may reap an equal benefit, must be apparent to anyone who considers the facts of the case. For example, A has a patent right. B infringes it, either in good faith or by wilful copying. Under the present law, A has to prove that B is manufacturing and selling goods very similar to those protected by his patent That is all. If that can be proved, B must be restrained. If the law were amended in any way so as to give B the advantage of independent discovery, A would find it impossible to protect his patent right. If independent discovery were ever admitted, it would either have to be disproved by A or proved by B, both of which would be impossible in nearly every case, and would involve both parties in almost endless litigation. So it would be practically impossible to adequately protect A without doing injustice to B.

Spencer admits the difficulty of dealing with simultaneous, independent discovery. He says, “In consequence of the probability, or perhaps we may say the certainty, that causes leading to the evolution of a new idea in our mind, will eventually produce a like result in some other mind, the claim above set forth (for property in ideas) must not be admitted without limitation. Many have remarked the tendency which exists for an invention or discovery to be made by independent investigators nearly at the same time. There is nothing really mysterious in this. A certain state of knowledge, a recent advancement in science, the occurrence of some new social want – these form the conditions under which minds of similar characters are stimulated to like trains of thought, ending, as they are prone to do, in kindred results. Such being the fact, there arises a qualification to the right of property in ideas; which it seems difficult and even impossible to specify definitely. The laws of patent and copyright express this qualification by confining the inventor’s or author’s privilege within a certain term of years. But in what way the length of that term may be found with correctness there is no saying.” (Social Statics, Revd. Ed., p. 72.)

This kind of reasoning is more picturesque than logical. Spencer here shows us clearly that the granting of a patent to A is an infringement of B’s liberty. But in order to even things up a little he proposes to deprive A of the property, to which he has supposedly established A’s claim, in order, not that B may be remunerated in particular, but that the rest of the community may plunder the property as much as they like after A has saved what he could during certain years. If granting a patent to A prevents B from making similar discoveries, either simultaneously with A or subsequently, the granting of that patent is clearly an invasion of B’s liberty. If it is not an invasion, why limit A’s right to his property? And if it is an invasion, what good does it do B to limit the period of the invasion to twenty years?

It is urged by some that, while no property can equitably be held in ideas, it is only just that people be allowed a property right in the expression of those Ideas. But that very expression is itself an idea. In the case of Miss Crane and Miss Alcott, above quoted, the two authors followed the same plot and even gave their characters the same names, without previous knowledge of each other. In this case, which is the idea and which the expression of that idea? The two things are inseparable, and the arguments which apply against one are valid when directed against the other.

The hypothesis of property in ideas is absurd, so copyright and patents are nothing but special privileges. In fact they were never designed as anything else. A great English authority on jurisprudence tells us, “In modern times the inventor of a new process obtains from the State, by way of recompense for the benefit he has conferred upon society, and in order to encourage others to follow his example, not only an exclusive privilege of using the new process for a fixed term of years, but also the right of letting or selling his privilege to another.” (Holland, Jurisprudence, Ed .5, p. 179.) Many defend the existence of such monopolies on these grounds. They claim that “they are necessary to encourage literary industry and to foster inventive genius.” The same old argument. Change the word “literary” to “infant” and “inventive genius” to “domestic manufactures” and everyone will recognize the sole intellectual stock in trade of the Protectionist. In order to protect a certain class of men, we are to enable them to tax all the rest of the community! But I deny this necessity. Monopoly is not necessary to secure fair pay to authors and inventors, and to more than this they are not entitled. Mr. Benj. R. Tucker tells us, “I deny that, in the absence of copyright and in the presence of competition, authors will have no earthly chance of being financially remunerated. In what I shall say under this head, I shall speak as a book publisher and an expert, and I claim for my statements as much authority as may rightfully be awarded expert testimony. It is a rule, to which exceptions are very rare, that, even in the absence of copyright, competing editions are not published except of books the demand for which has already been large enough to more than reasonably reward both author and publisher for their labor. Take, for instance, a paper novel that retails at 50 cents. We will suppose that for this book there is a demand of 10,000 copies. These copies cost the publisher, to make and market, say 17 cents each. He pays the author 5 cents for each copy sold – that is the customary royalty of ten per cent. of the retail price. The total cost to the publisher, then, is 22 cents per copy. He sells these books to the jobbers at 25 cents each, leaving himself a profit of 3 cents a copy. He probably has orders from the book trade for three to six thousand copies before publication. If the final demand is not to exceed the edition of 10,000 copies, the sale of the balance will drag along slowly and more slowly through several years. During this time the author will receive as his royalty $500 in payment for a book which he was probably leas than sixty days in writing. I maintain that he is more than reasonably paid. No rival edition of his book has sprung up (we are supposing an absence of copyright) for the reason that the demand did not prove large enough to induce a second publisher to risk the expense of making a set of plates. But now let us suppose that on publication so brisk a demand had immediately arisen as to show that the sale would be 20,000 instead of 10,000. The publisher, as before, would have sold three to six thousand in advance, and the balance of the first 10,000 would have disappeared before any rival publisher could have made plates and put an edition on the market. As before, then, both author and publisher would have been more than adequately paid. But at this point steps in a rival. Having to pay no author and to do no advertising, he can produce the book at say 14 cents a copy, and perhaps will sell it to the trade at 20 cents. It now becomes optional with the author and first publisher to maintain the old price and sell perhaps one thousand of the second 10,000 or to reduce the one his royalty and the other his profit, sell the book to the trade almost as low as the rival, and control nearly half the subsequent market. In either case, both author and publisher are sure to get still further pay for services that have already been more than reasonably rewarded, and the public meanwhile benefits by the reduction in price. Why has no competing edition of ‘The Rag Picker of Paris’{38} been published during the six months it has been on the market? Simply because, though a more than ordinarily successful novel, it did not develop a sufficient demand to tempt another publisher. Yet it has paid me more than equitably. Why, on the other hand, did two competing editions of ‘The Kreutzer Sonata’{39} appear on the market before mine had had the field two months? Simply because the money was pouring into my pockets with a rapidity that nearly took my breath away. And after my rivals took the field, it poured in faster than ever, until I was paid nearly 60 times over for my work.”[9] (Liberty, 10th January, 1891.){40}

Exactly the same forces are at work in the case of inventions and often in an intensified form, as new inventions usually require special machinery for their manufacture. I will eyen go further than this. A patent is often a direct disadvantage to an inventor. “When a patent has been granted,” says Chamber’s Encyclopaedia, “if it is of such a nature as to lead to competition, infringements are almost matters of course, and the only mode of discovering and checking the infringement is so tedious, costly and ineffective that inventors generally pass their lives in constant litigation, fighting in detail a succession of imitators who often have nothing to lose by defeat, and therefore entail all the greater burden on the legitimate manufacturers.” Mr. Edison seems to agree with this, and surely no one will deny that he is an authority upon the subject. In an interview he is reported as saying: “Our patent system puts a premium on rascality. I have taken out 700 patents for my inventions, but I have never had one minute’s protection. ... I have never made one cent out of my inventions; all I have made has been out of manufacturing. ... I believe I would be $600,000 better off if I had never taken out a patent What I have made has been because I have understood the inventions better, and have been able to manipulate the manufacturing of them better than the pirates.” (See an article by A. L. Ballou, in “The Electrical Worker,” June, 1896.){41}

The concerns which do reap the benefit of patents, etc., are large corporations like the Bell Telephone Company. These concerns are often able to carry on litigation until the owner of the patent is only too willing to sell at their figure. It is common for these companies to buy up all improvements on their patents. They withhold these from use until the original monopoly expires, and then use them to prevent competition. It is truly wise of us to foster inventions in such a manner that large corporations can prevent us from using them as long as it suits their convenience.

So the only excuse for these special privileges disappears as soon as it is carefully examined. A copyright does not enable the literary men whose labor is most intense to reap any extra reward for their labor. Spencer himself admits that he lost about £3,250 (over $16,000) on the compilation and publication of his Descriptive Sociology. (See prefatory note to Descriptive Sociology, Part 8.) Yet that must have cost an immense amount of the most severe literary labor. What copyright does is to enable popular writers to reap a monopoly price for what is often little better than literary garbage. It creates a spirit of commercialism in literature, very much to the disadvantage of the literature. One of the most common manifestations of this degrading influence, is the way in which writers grind out sequel after sequel to any novel that meets with popular favor. The success of the first book is the best advertisement of its sequel, so a large sale can always be reckoned on. In the absence of copyright, the author would know that a competing edition would be placed upon the market at once, and so make a sequel if anything less remunerative to him than an entirely new work. This would cause him to stop when he had said all he had to say on any given subject, instead of hashing and rehashing it until the public was fairly nauseated with his inane repetitions. This is only one of many instances which might be quoted. Whatever it may be to the author and publisher, copyright is really a curse to literature instead of a blessing. So as Spencer says in his plea for the other side, “in this, as in other cases, disobedience to the moral law is ultimately detrimental to all.” (Social Statics, Revd. Ed., p. 71.)

XI. Profit

If a merchant is doing business with borrowed money, he has to pay interest on that money out of the difference between the price at which he buys, and the price at which he sells his goods. And if the money invested in his business is his own, he will expect to receive that interest himself. For if he could not get interest in this manner, but could do so by lending it to another, he would most assuredly follow the latter course.

With rent the situation is exactly similar. Whether the ground on which the business is conducted be owned by the business man himself or by someone else, rent has to be paid out of the margin on the sales. And again, if the proprietor of the business cannot make as much, after paying all the expenses of his business, as he could working on salary as manager of a similar concern, he would rather rent his land, lend his money on interest, and work for someone else.

Therefore, the margin between the price at which goods are bought, and that at which they are sold, must be sufficient to cover Rent, Interest, Wages of of superintendence, Wages of employes, Insurance and all the incidental expenses of business. If it falls below that point, a number of traders will go out of business, or else seek some more remunerative occupation. This will reduce the competition among the rest so they will be able to buy and sell to better advantage than before and the margin will increase until it is sufficient to cover these charges.

While this margin can never permanently fall much below the point here indicated, it can, and often does, exceed it, so making what is technically known arc profit. For example, a man has $10,000 invested in his business. If this was lent at 6 per cent. interest it would bring in $600 a year. He also owns the ground on which his store is situated. This we will say could be rented for $500. As manager of a similar business he could command a salary of, say, $1,500. If his business is to be profitable, it must yield not less than $600 interest, $500 rent, $1,500 wages of superintendence, making a total of $2,600. This sum must remain after all current expenses, such as wages of help, insurance, allowance for bad debts, wear and tear on the property has been paid. Instead of $2,600 the business man finds he has cleared, say, $3,000. The difference between these sums – $400 – is clear profit.

Since the wages of the proprietor have been deducted before, and these wages were determined by his ability to conduct such a business satisfactorily, ample allowance had already been made for superior executive ability. It is absurd, therefore, to claim that the profit is the result of the way in which the business is managed, and as such, rightfully belongs to the manager. If profit is not produced by the labor of the proprietor (in which case it would not be profit but wages) it must have been obtained from the labor of someone else, and so is inconsistent with the Cost Principle.

It is easy to see how profit arises in some forms of business. Special legislation restricting the freest competition in any branch of industry, enables those who are engaged in that business to charge higher prices for their goods than they otherwise could. Such things as these are easy to deal with. Repeal the specia1 privileges and the profit accruing from them will cease to exist. But while this would reduce profit in certain lines. it would not abolish it altogether. Other causes would still tend to perpetuate its existence.

When we examine the extent of profit in various lines of business, we find that those institutions which involve the greatest amount of land and money return the greatest profit. Large iron works, and other institutions which need a big capital, return much higher profits than a book bindery or a printing office. The wholesale grocer quickly amasses a fortune, while the keeper of the little corner store finds it difficult to keep out of the hands of the sheriff.

The rate of interest on $100,000 is no greater, in fact it is quite often less, than the rate of interest on $100. But the number of men who own $100,000 is very much less than the number who own $100, and certainly hundreds could borrow the latter sum where one could borrow the former. Consequently, the number of men who could engage in any business, becomes more and more limited as the amount of money and land necessary to its existence increases. In this manner the competition in large business undertakings is very much limited, while in those in which small capital is required it is intensified.

Once establish an equitable system of land tenure, and remove the restriction on the use of credit and the issuance of money and all this is immediately changed. When occupancy and use are the sole title to land, it will not be necessary to spend vast sums of money purchasing ground on which to start large business undertakings. The land will be free to all, and all will be able to avail themselves of the opportunities it offers.

When Mutual Banks are established, few people will have no credit which they can use. Large numbers, who to-day are deterred from negotiating loans upon the security they possess by the interest charged, will be able to use their credit. So that, while the credit of each individual will not be equal, there will be sufficient money in circulation to insure the freest possible competition in all branches of production and distribution.

The inherent selfishness, not to say laziness, of the human race prompts a man to get all he can with as little exertion as possible. Consequently, all men desire to exchange the product of their labor for the greatest amount of commodities that they can get for it. If a man finds, that by working at a certain occupation he can make more with the same amount of exertion than he can when otherwise engaged, he will follow that occupation. Once land and money are free, there will be nothing to prevent most men from engaging in any occupation they see fit.

Many men to-day have no capital, and under free conditions even, would have nothing at first to offer as security to the mutual banks. But all wage earners are not in this unfortunate condition. Those whose credit is good, would be attracted to manufacturing and mercantile pursuits, because they promise greater remuneration for the amount of labor expended. This would at once reduce the competition among the wage earners and increase it among the employers of labor. For every wage earner who becomes an employer, not only decreases the number of applicants for work, but also creates a demand for others.

Furthermore, the competition among the manufacturers and merchants would force the price of goods down to the lowest possible point, which, since rent, interest and taxes are abolished, would be the bare cost of running the business, including insurance against risk and wages of superintendence. As soon as it fell below that point the change would be in the opposite direction. A good example of this is seen in the building trades, especially in the Western States. Bricklayers generally earn good wages. The amount of capital required to start as a contractor is small, so it is not unusual to see journeymen bricklayers become contractors. Wherever the conditions are free, it is seldom that an ordinary contractor is able to make more than one of his journeymen. I have often noticed in times of great activity in this trade, that quite a considerable number of men are alternately employers and employes. The result of such a state of affairs, is to maintain a condition of equality between the journeymen and contractors. If this works this way in one trade, it will do so in every trade under similar conditions.

Free competition will increase the competition among the employers and decrease it among the wage earners. The dream of the old time labor reformers will be realized. The job will search for the laborer, not the laborer for the job. When this takes place wages must necessarily go up rapidly. But the increase of competition among the manufacturers and merchants will also reduce prices. So not only will the wages of the workers be increased as measured in money, but the purchasing power of that money will be increased owing to the cheapening of commodities.

How would this affect such men as farmers? In order to make the matter plain, we must take the case of a farmer who is working on a rented farm and with borrowed capital. For, just as in the case of the merchant cited in the beginning of this chapter, if he owns his own farm and capital he pays rent and interest to himself. This farmer, then, raises sheep among other things. Out of the sale of the wool he has to pay a certain amount of rent and interest. (If he raises nothing but wool he has to pay all his rent and interest from this source.) So that only a portion of the price he gets for it goes to him. The man to whom he sells the wool pays for transporting it to the factory. Out of the sum paid for transportation, the railroad company makes rent, interest and profit. The dealer also adds his share of these three items to the cost before selling the wool to the spinner. The spinner next and then the weaver, next the wholesale merchant and then the retailer, and lastly the boss tailor all collect rent, interest and profit before the wool gets back to the farmer, in the shape of a suit of clothes. This is rather understating the case than exaggerating, as, with our minute divisions of labor, the material often passes through other hands than those above mentioned. When we consider that goods are often transported five or six times before they reach the customer, instead of only once, we see how great a proportion of the total cost to the customer is paid in the shape of usury. The reduction of the prices will be effected by the elimination of this usury, and the same cause will raise the original price of the raw material when sold by the farmer. The farmer, as such, is a wage earner in spite of the fact that he is not employed by another. His wages come out of the price of the goods he sells. As a wage earner the same forces will be at work to increase his wages as those mentioned above.

The extent of usury is shown in a small degree by the following example: “A man who weaves cloth for which he receives less than four cents a yard as a producer, may have to pay seventy-five cents a yard as a consumer, the profit to the retailer in such case being at least twenty-five cents a yard; that is, the retailer, for handling one yard of goods receives twenty-five cents compensation, where the weaver, for weaving the same yard of cloth received less than four cents compensation. This single illustration is sufficient to show how far distribution is at fault in matters of depression and as an obstacle to the best interests of wage earners.” (First Annual Report of the U. S. Commissioner of Labor – Industrial Depressions – p. 278.) It must be recollected, however, that a certain amount of labor was embodied in the wool before it reached the hands of the weaver. After he has woven it it had to be distributed, which again necessitated labor. The work of distribution may be considered a part of production, as goods are not fully produced until they reach the consumer. The middleman is usually as necessary to production as is the railway, and his labor must be paid for. But, even admitting all these facts, it is absurd to say that the retailer adds more than six times as much value to the goods by distributing them as does the weaver by making the cloth. Under free conditions, of course, all that the middleman would be able to obtain would be just the market value of his labor. If he obtained more, other men would go into that line of business and, by cutting prices, would lower the price to the consumer and curtail their own profits. Here, as in every other case, free competition is all that is required to establish the cost principle.

Many writers still cling to the idea that “co-operation” will be essential, even under free conditions. In a sense this is true. Co-operation is always necessary in any except the most primitive state of society. But, as Prof. F. A. Walker says, one of the greatest difficulties which political economy encounters “arises from the use of terms derived from the vocabulary of every-day life ... with some of which are associated in the popular mind conceptions inconsistent with, or, at times, perhaps, antagonistic to, those which are in the view of the writer on economics.”{42} A striking example of this is found in the use of the word co-operation. This word has come to be popularly understood as implying some form of copartnership. Strictly speaking, of course, it means only “working-together;” and, when Spencer speaks of voluntary co-operation being a characteristic of industrialism, I take it that he uses the word in this, its broadest sense. The wool-grower, the spinner, the weaver, the tailor, all work together to produce a suit of clothes,– that is, they co-operate, though there may be no kind of communistic arrangement between them. Perhaps “the somewhat unsatisfactory term, division of labor,” expresses the idea more clearly in many respects. It is in this sense that Anarchists often use the word, but, owing to the popular conception of its meaning, our position on may [sic] important questions is misunderstood.

Under free conditions there would, in most cases, be no necessity for co-operation as usually understood. In fact, such an arrangement would often prove to be more of a curse than a blessing. To make this clear, let us take an example. Suppose several men, realizing that goods can be bought cheaper in large quantities, agree to buy their groceries together and divide them among themselves. They will find that they effect a saving by this arrangement But they have really performed so much extra labor, and the pay for that labor is all they have saved. They have performed the services of one middleman, and so save his profit. As they go into the business more extensively, this becomes more apparent. They will soon find that a great amount of time and labor is requisite, if they would keep informed of the state of the market, – the price and the quality of the various commodities. So great will this soon become that it will more than counterbalance any saving they may effect. It is absurd to suppose that several men, engaged in other callings, can perform the functions of the retailer in any line as well as men who devote their whole time to that business. To obviate this difficulty, the co-operators must either give up their scheme, or else employ a competent manager to take care of the business. That it will pay them to employ the most efficient manager they can obtain is obvious. But such a man will demand the highest wages he can get. In the absence of rent and interest, his wages will necessarily be just what he could get by conducting such a business for himself. So, after paying the salary of the manager, the goods will cost the consumers as much as if they had bought from a retailer in the first place. In addition to this, they will have all the trouble of looking after the manager for nothing. The ordinary retailer’s wages depend upon the success with which he conducts his business, but the salary of the manager of a co-operative concern is not dependent upon the results of his efforts in anything like the same degree.

These two conceptions of the term co-operation are antagonistic to a very great extent, for the popular conception is really a denial of the division of labor. When a man does a little carpenter-work for himself, he thinks he saves the amount he would otherwise have paid a carpenter. In reality he has merely earned the carpenter’s wages. But, as he is probably a poor carpenter, it will take him longer to do the work than it would a good mechanic. So he will be earning lower wages. It would be better for him to devote the same amount of time and labor to his ordinary occupation and, out of the money so earned, pay a carpenter to do the work for him. The same is true in regard to the retailer.

These considerations, however, may be modified by circumstances. It may be a pleasure, for example, for a bookkeeper to do a little wood-work in the evening. Or it may be that the conditions of a man’s business are such that the time spent in this kind of work could not be profitably employed at his usual occupation. But these factors in no way invalidate the tenor of my argument. They apply only in isolated cases, and disappear as soon as the co-operative associations are organized.

In the present day, of course, the retailer collects rent and interest in addition to his wages. So there is a direct saving in such co-operation when conducted on a small scale. But as soon as a regular business is established, the rent and interest have to be paid in one form or another, and so the benefits are neutralized as soon as they promise to become of any importance.

To conduct such enterprises, it is necessary that all the co-operators form an agreement. Such an agreement will often prove a hindrance to the individual members, if they should wish to act at variance with the policy of the association. No matter how liberal the contract might be, it would necessarily curtail the liberty of the members more than if no such organization existed, and each were free to purchase his goods when, where, and how he liked, without reference to the wishes of any of the rest of the community.. We have already seen that there would be no economic advantages to offset this restriction of liberty; so such associations would be a positive detriment to those concerned.

These remarks apply with just as much force to productive as to distributive “co-operative associations.” The management of a large factory is just as much a trade as the shoeing of horses. It will be to the advantage of everyone concerned to attend to the business to which he has been trained, than to attempt to meddle with that of which he knows little or nothing.

Some few instances might be found where, from the nature of some special business, it could be conducted more economically upon such a co-operative plan.

But such instances are very few. I apprehend that even Mutual Banks and Protective Associations will, in the end, be conducted by individuals, who will cater to the wants of their customers and make what wages they can out of the business, rather than by communistic associations of the customers.

It must not be inferred that the conditions herein set forth would produce an absolute equality among all kinds of laborers (I use this word laborers in its very widest sense). Such a result would be unjust and inharmonious with the cost principle. In the Sixth Chapter the difference in the intensity of different forms of labor was pointed out. This same factor must be taken into consideration here. A man will not perform more intense labor for the same wages that he will perform that which is less intense, if there is nothing to prevent him from changing his occupation. He will always demand sufficient to pay him for the extra intensity of his labor. If he does not get it he will immediately change his occupation and apply himself to the easier work. Once the axiom, that men seek to gratify their desires with the least exertion, is admitted, all these propositions follow as logical deductions. It is thus that the Cost Principle can be established and the wages of each occupation be adapted to the intensity of the labor involved, without the necessity of elaborate statistics and interminable and intricate mathematical calculations necessitated by a State Socialistic regime. Liberty works automatically. Tyranny ever has to bolster itself up with elaborate machinery, which is always getting out of order and producing the most unlooked for and grotesque results.

It may be objected to this, that all men cannot change their occupation at a moment’s notice. A man who has been brought up as a bricklayer cannot suddenly become a shoemaker. This is greatly true. Such radical changes are rare and are not necessary to the theory. If 10 per cent. or even 5 per cent. of the men in any given occupation, were to engage in other kinds of work, it would very materially increase the wages in that occupation. When we consider that many of the changes involved,, merely mean changes from employe to employer in the same line of business, the position does not seem at all strained. The equality of wages in the different trades, will be maintained principally by the number of recruits to the rank of workers. Boys choosing an occupation are governed largely by their special tastes and by the wages paid in various callings. Any occupation which offered special inducements would soon be crowded with new workmen and so competition would reduce their pay. On the other hand, any occupation promising but a poor opening would gain few new recruits and, consequently, those engaged in it would be able to obtain higher pay for their services.

But the difficulty of people changing their occupations is much overestimated. Under the present system, those occupations which require special training, are subject to much less competition than those which require no such training. This is simply due to the fact, that thousands of persons cannot spare the time and money necessary to special training, and so are forced to do the commonest kind of manual labor regardless of their adaptability to such a life. This is merely usury in another form. Labor unions also have a decided tendency to prevent a man from changing the occupation he has once chosen. I have no wish to decry labor unions. They have often been labor’s only weapon of defence against encroachments of capital. In their way they are very good examples of voluntaryism as it exists to-day. But they must not be regarded as anything more than mere weapons of defence, to be cast aside as the conditions which called them into being are outgrown.

Ideas of social caste also tend to prevent the free choice of an occupation, and many other forces are at work in a similar manner. Yet in spite of all the rigidity of our present system, it is marvelous how many men do change their occupation. This is especially true in the Western States, where these forces are less felt. But even in the East it is not unusual for a man to enter one of the professions after devoting many years to other callings. How much more may we not expect in this direction when these artificial barriers are removed.

One other factor still remains; that of which I have spoken in the Chapter on Land as the “economic rent of intellect.” A man who has special ability in any direction, will, under free competition, be able to obtain more wages with less exertion than others engaged in the same occupation. This is not strictly in harmony with the cost principle. But this could not be prevented by any system other than Communism, which, being a denial of competition, and consequently of Equal Freedom, stands more fundamentally condemned than does this slight deviation from our guiding principle. But even this inequality, like the economic rent on land, would tend to decrease.

Of all the thousands of men forced by circumstances to perform the commonest labor, many are far better equipped mentally and physically for the professions, and would have made good doctors and lawyers instead of inferior laborors. On the other hand, many men of a mechanical turn of mind go into business and become unsuccessful merchants instead of competent artizans for fear of losing social caste. Suppose Herbert Spencer’s father had lost what money he had during this great philosopher's infancy, where would the Synthetic Philosophy be to-day? Mr. Spencer would have made a mighty poor hewer of wood and drawer of water, and probably such a life would have killed him long before he reached manhood. May it not do the same with thousands of others? The fact that nearly all the great men have been children of parents in comfortable circumstances seems to be in harmony with such a conclusion. And the exceptions to this general rule form almost conclusive evidence of the truth of such as assumption. I think I may say, that in every case where the child of really poor parents has become famous, he has received material assistance from those in better circumstances. This shows that in some cases at any rate, there is much genius among the poorer classes if conditions are favorable to its development. The fact that at every crisis in the world’s history, men seem to spring up who are especially fitted for such times, can only be rationally explained on the hypothesis, that there is always a large supply of such men awaiting such an opportunity. Thousands of them die in obscurity where one finds himself amid the conditions which develop his ability. From these and similar facts we may reasonably expect the crop of men of great ability to be quite large as soon as opportunities are favorable for each to develop his best characteristics.

Under free conditions there would be nothing to prevent every man from engaging in the occupation for which he was best fitted. So that, guided by self interest, nearly everyone would sooner or later find himself engaged in the moot congenial occupation. This would inevitably result in a great increase in the standard of ability in every occupation. Men who are to-day considered as possessing extraordinary ability, would find themselves but little in advance of the rank and file of men in their vocations. The eminent success achieved by some men to-day is largely due to the fact that they are the right men in the right place When all artificial restrictions are removed, selfishness will impel every man to find the right place for himself. So, while free competition may not produce absolute equality of ability, it will tend to reduce to a minimum the inequalities of the wages received by men of different kinds of ability. Thus the economic rent of intellect, like the economic rent of land, would have a perpetual tendency to decrease under freedom, and for the same reason, namely, each individual would be put to his highest use, thus reducing the inequality between them.

All these forces, or rather, all the manifestations of the same force – self interest – would be just the same regardless of the productive power of the community. Once establish free conditions, and the laborer must inevitably reap the full product of his toil. The greater that product is, the greater will be labor’s reward. The development of labor-saving machinery, improved methods of production and everything that tends to increase the total product of the community would benefit the laborer, either by increasing his wages, decreasing his hours of labor, or by a combination of the two.

What the average wages would be under the cost principle, I should be afraid to say. When we consider that, at every step in its production and distribution, every article has to pay rent, interest and taxes, we get an idea of how enormous the sum of surplus value must be. When we add to this the fact that those, who to-day live off the toil of others, would have to produce for themselves, we see that the total product would be greatly increased. And when we also take into consideration, that the productive power of those who now labor would be tremendously increased, as each would perform the labor best adapted to his ability, and as the occasion for strikes being removed, men would not waste their energies in that way, some idea of the stupendous possibilities of such a system begins to dawn upon our intellects.

XII. Transporation, Etc.

It is claimed by many that certain industries cannot be made subject to competition, that they are in their very nature monopolies, and consequently, the arguments introduced in the last chapter can in no manner apply to them. It is claimed that, in spite of the abolition of rent and interest, these industries will yield a profit which cannot be abolished except by collective control. Railroads, telegraphs, telephones, water-works, express companies and other similar industries constitute this class of alleged “natural monopolies.”

With brazen effrontery, those who advocate State ownership of these industries point to the present postal system as an example of the beneficence of State interference. So reconciled is the average man to the existing way of doing things, that he does not realize the evil of it, unless he has special reason to Investigate it. This explains why such impudent assertions about the post office pass almost unchallenged in our midst, and also constitutes my excuse for attacking that much praised institution before proceeding further.

We need not expect to find either good business management or common honesty in an institution, when the head of that institution obtains his position by pure and simple purchase. The appointment of John Wanamaker as postmaster general should have. been enough to arouse the most unsuspicious. The Star Route rascalities seem to be altogether forgotten.{43} The short-comings of the system are transformed into virtues in the eyes of its worshipers. In order to exist at all it has to tax all competitors out of the market. But this tax, though especially designed to prevent competition, is not always sufficient to save it, so poor is its service in comparison to that given by private corporations. Mr. Tucker tells us: “Some half dozen years ago,[10] when letter postage was still three cents, Wells, Fargo & Co. were doing a large business in carrying letters I throughout the Pacific States and Territories. Their rate was five cents, more than three cents of which they expended, as the legal monopoly required, in purchasing of the United States a stamped envelope in which to carry the letter intrusted to their care. That is to say, on every letter which they carried they had to pay a tax of more than three cents. Exclusive of this tax, Wells, Fargo & Co. got less than two cents for each letter which they carried, while the government got three cents for each letter which it carried itself, and more than three cents for each letter which Wells, Fargo & Co. carried. On the other hand, it cost every individual five cents to send by Wells, Fargo & Co. and only three to send by the government. Moreover the area covered was one in which immensity of distance, sparseness of population, and irregularities of surface made out-of-the-way points unusually difficult of access. Still, in spite of all the advantages on the side of the government, its patronage steadily dwindled, while that of Wells, Fargo & Co. as steadily grew. ... The postmaster general sent a special commissioner to investigate the matter. He fulfilled his duty and reported to his superior that Wells, Fargo & Co. were complying with law in every particular, and were taking away the business of the government by furnishing a prompter and securer mail service, not alone to the principal points, but to more points and remoter points that{44} were included in the government list of post offices.” (Instead of a Book, p. 121.){45}

In Wichita, Kansas, during the boom in 1886, the postal accommodation was very inadequate. The post office was situated in the rear of a store. There was no free delivery and the number of boxes was very limited. The line of people waiting for their mail often used to reach out onto the sidewalk, and sometimes, half a block along the street. Petition after petition was forwarded to Washington but without avail. Finally, however, the requests were heeded. Better arrangements were made and a free delivery system was established – three months before the boom collapsed. The express companies, meanwhile, had enlarged their offices and staffs of clerks as the business required it. When the conditions changed, they transferred their employes to places where their services were needed. The same conditions exist now in Cripple Creek, Colorado. Owing to the mining boom, the business of this postoffice has rapidly increased, but the facilities are so inadequate that it is impossible to transact the business. One enterprising man has started a delivery system on his own account and is making big money at it. He is now hiring others to help him. How long could this last in a business that is subject to competition? These are characteristic cases. Private institutions are run for profit. If not conducted on business principles, competition will force them to the wall. With a governmental institution this is different. It is not subject to competition. It is operated at the people’s expense, and due care must be exercised to prevent extravagance in the use of the people’s money! But while that care is being exercised, conditions change and the machinery of the institution is too slow to adapt itself to them. This is no little detail, it is a vital flaw in the system. If due care is not exercised, the robbery will be infinitely worse than at present; if it is exercised, the institution lacks the necessary flexibility and is unable to readily adapt itself to changed conditions.

The express companies will deliver a package of prepaid printed matter weighing 1 1-2 lbs. for 10 cents, in any part of the United States. The post office charges 12 cents for the same service. Furthermore, the express companies will give a receipt for the package and pay damages if it is lost, which the government will not do even if the package is registered. The manuscript of this book will weigh between 3 1-2 and 4 lbs. when it is finished – say 3 1-2 lbs. To send this by mail would cost me two cents per ounce, that is $1.12, with 8 cents extra for registration makes a total of $1.20. I can send this package by express if it weighs less than 4 lbs., including full insurance against loss, for 60 cents. Wells, Fargo & Co. have offered to carry letters for one cent per ounce if the government will remove the tax. Yet, in spite of the fact that the government charges twice as much as the express companies would, it lost in 1894 over $9,200,000, which sum the working men had to pay in taxes. How is this accounted for? Simply by the fact that all governmental undertakings are run for boodle and not on business principles.

One of the most glaring examples of the bribery of this institution is seen in the regulations in regard to second class matter. Why does the government charge me two cents per ounce for my private correspondence? Yes, more than this, for if I write ten letters, the total weight of which is but 4 ounces, and even if I mail them all at once, I have to pay twenty cents for them. But a newspaper corporation can send its payers at one cent per pound and have them all weighed in bulk. Why is this? Because the government is afraid of the press of the country and gives it this bribe, for which we all have to pay indirectly by taxes. Even this is not the worst, as it does not accord this privilege to all publications indiscriminately, but by offering it to one journal and denying it to another, the party in power is often able to crush what it considers objectionable sheets.

The powers of the postmaster general are greater even than this. Not only can he exclude papers from transmission under the second class rates, he can even exclude them from the mails alt6gether. If the matter treated of in papers is antagonistic to popular prejudice in regard to sexual affairs, he can even cause the person mailing the papers to be tried on a criminal charge. By these means a regular censorship of the press is instituted, for all other institutions, which would be willing to carry the mails without asking any questions, are taxed out of the field. This is the way the post office is “collectively owned by the people!” It is run by a set of disreputable politicians in the interest of big newspaper corporations, and labor has to foot the bill.

But, it is argued, civil service reform will mend all this. I deny this emphatically. In England civil service reform principles are in operation in the post office, and yet the rates there are about the same as here. The service to the public is no better, but condition of the employes is worse. About a year ago “The New York Sun” published the following: “The regulations of the British post office require that every unsound tooth shall be taken out of a man’s head before he can be employed. An unfortunate girl, who was recently examined for promotion, had fourteen teeth taken out at one sitting by order of the official dentist, who explained that ‘we can’t have girls laid up with toothache.’” What if the Western Union Telegraph Co. treated its employes in the same way? Oh, yes! Civil service reform is a great thing, I assure you. Its whole basis is a system of competitive examinations, one of the greatest absurdities of modern times, well worthy of the Chinese bureaucracy in which it originated. A knowledge of geometry is no criterion of executive ability, nor is a smattering of natural science, diluted with Christianity, essential to a good letter carrier. Who ever heard of civil service reform in a private enterprise? There is no need of it. The managers know that it is to their interests to promote their most competent employes, and they act accordingly. But this is not so with any governmental undertaking. There, either political influence or ability to pass some absurd examination, are the tests of merit. Our experience with the post office is not such as to warrant us in experimenting any more in this line.

Apart from the post office, nearly all the administrative departments of the government are vested in municipal corporations. In fact, municipal governments are almost purely administrative. It would be through their agency that most of these industries would be operated were they placed under State control. Yet Bryce{46} tells us: “There is no denying that the government of cities is the one conspicuous failure of the United States.” (American Commonwealth, v. 1, p. 608.) Are we to entrust to these monumental failures more than they already mismanage? The present condition of affairs is bad enough. To increase the powers of the State will only make it worse. The remedy must be sought in the opposite direction. Much of the evil resulting from these industries is due to the action of municipal and State governments, in granting a franchise to one company and denying it to all competitors.

The history of the water works of Denver contains a very good lesson. When the Denver Water Company started in business, it charged $7.00 per season of six months for supplying water to a seven or eight room-house (without bath). The water was taken out of the Platte river, just above the city, and was of very poor quality. The machinery used was not equal to the demand made upon it, and, in short, the whole system was unsatisfactory. Fortunately the city is so situated that excellent water can be struck in any locality at a depth of less than one hundred feet. Taking advantage of this fact, the owners of large buildings sank artesian wells. Owing to lack of patronage, the Denver Water Company failed, and the business was purchased by the American Water Company. This new company immediately cut prices twenty per cent., put in new filters and better machinery, and commenced work to take water from Cherry creek, where a better quality could be obtained. (This last enterprise was abandoned, however, owing to litigation.) In about 1890, after a long fight with the city, during which that protector of monopolies tried to tear up its pipes, a new company managed to secure a franchise and started a lively competition. It took its water from the foot hills, conducted it to the city through pipes, and secured sufficient force from gravitation to render pumping engines unnecessary. They relied upon the superior quality of their water to defeat the American Company. This resulted in the latter company reducing their rates to fifty per cent. of the old schedule, instead of eighty per cent. The cut was met by the new concern, which afterwards gave their water free to whoever would connect with their main. The American Water Company then cut their last rate fifty per cent. (making it only twenty-five per cent. of the original rate). This was the condition for over a year; one company giving water free, the other charging only twenty-five per cent. of their original rate. The American Company subsequently failed and went into the hands of a receiver. Then the two companies consolidated and the rates were soon increased. One safeguard still remains – the possibility of digging wells. But even this is in danger of being removed by the monopoly-protecting State, for a city ordinance is on the records which empowers the Health Department to close up wells within the city limits. While the outcome of this is what might be expected under the present financial system, yet the whole business shows us what may be done with “natural monopolies” when a little competition is permitted, even under the present system.

In this same city of Denver, two distinct street car companies are competing with each other. While this competition has not resulted in any reduction of fares, it has given the public better accommodation.

If such competition is possible, even in rare instances, under present financial conditions, it cannot be said that these industries are natural monopolies. When credit is freed from the throttling grasp of Government, when land is open to the producers of wealth, when the protective tariff is abolished, and patents and copyrights are things of the past, then may we look up and lift up our heads, for our redemption draweth nigh, even from the oppression of “natural monopolies.”{47}

Given free land and free money, and how long do you suppose the inhabitants of any town would pay exorbitant rates for transportation? If the railroads did not reduce their prices to cost, the inhabitants of that town would soon organize a competing company and run the “monopolist” out of the business. Nor would it be necessary, in most cases, to build a competing road, the very threat of doing so would usually be enough.

Difficulties will no doubt arise from time to time. But under free conditions we will ever be gaining experience, which will enable us to meet them. This experience would be impossible under our present restricted conditions. Many failures may be made, but even they can hardly be worse than our present system. There being no rigid system of State control to prevent the immediate application of a remedy to those failures, they will but prove stepping-stones to success. For success can only be achieved by the survival of the fittest.

The objections above set forth to State control, do not, of course, apply to the voluntary association of any number of individuals. This voluntary cooperation will probably play an important part in the solution of these problems. In Denver in 1893 – and no doubt similar conditions have been experienced in other places at various times – the City government had squandered all the money it had collected and had nothing left to pay for street cleaning. What was the result? The business men living in each block subscribed to have the streets cleaned. If the men they employed did not perform the work to their satisfaction, they got others who did. Here is another instance of individual initiative stepping to the front and performing “the functions of the State” after the decrepit machinery of that institution had broken down. To be sure, in some cases, a man would not co-operate with others, and they had to bear his share between them, or let the street go dirty. Naturally they chose the former course. This may appear to be a little unfair, and so it was. But not half as unfair as it was for the City to tax them all to clean the streets, and then not do it. Besides, in the former case they were not compelled to pay unless they wished to do so, but in the latter case they had no choice in the matter whatsoever.

There is still another factor which must not be overlooked; that is the development of machinery. Owing to the difficulty of conducting steam any great distance, this power must be used where it is generated or great loss results. And, as small quantities cannot be generated economically, the introduction of steam necessitated large factories. But electricity is of a different character. Though, like steam, it can be generated more economically in large quantities, yet, unlike steam, it can easily be transmitted over comparatively long distances with but little loss of power. This enables many small manufacturers to gain the advantage of a motive power to be used in their business, and makes it possible for them to compete with larger institutions. While steam has had a tendency to concentrate wealth, electricity may tend to decentralize it. This same tendency may be found in a large number of modern inventions. For example, the bicycle is already seriously affecting the profit of street car companies. When the tariff on them is removed, and the monopolies of land and money are abolished, the price of bicycles will probably be but a small portion of that demanded to-day. This will result in a very great increase in their use. Several different motor-cycles, or horseless carriages, propelled by oil, compressed air, electricity, etc., and capable of traveling at the rate of 20 or 30 miles per hour, are now on the market. These will still further affect the street cars, when they can be made cheaply enough to be within the reach of men in ordinary circumstances. Recent experiments with flying machines have also met with much success, and it is no longer doubted that aerial navigation will be an accomplished fact early in the next century. If this is so, it will materially increase the possibility of competition in transportation. Many large buildings are now supplied with electrical plants, which they use for lighting and other purposes. In some instances, as above mentioned, such buildings even supply themselves with water. It is by no means impossible, that before State ownership of railroads, street cars, gas and water works, etc., becomes possible, there will be no railroads, street cars, etc., for the State to own.

A large number of men demand State ownership of these industries, as a means of immediate relief from some of the social evils which beset us, and as a stepping-stone to something better. These men are, as a rule, fully convinced of the truth of the Socialistic theory of surplus value. They realize that as long as rent and interest remain unmolested, nothing can be of any but the most trifling importance. They know also that, to-day at any rate, no matter what they may hope for in the future, politicians are strictly dishonest, mere hirelings of capital and “master workmen” of the brotherhood of thieves. What can they expect from handing over “natural Monopolies” to the mercy of such an outfit? The business will assuredly be mismanaged, and the loss made up by taxes which must in the ultimate be paid by labor, while any advantage that may possibly be derived will just as surely be reaped by the landlord and money-lender. Even supposing that the postal system is all that the State Socialists claim for it. they cannot show that it has affected surplus value in the slightest, except as affording an opportunity for fat contracts to railroad corporations. For what more may we hope from similar “reforms?”

Spencer shows us what the result of such extension of State functions must be. He sums up his case in these words: “The extent to which an organization resists re-organization, we shall not fully appreciate until we observe that resistance increases in a compound progression. For while each new part is an additional obstacle to change, the formation of it involves a deduction from the forces causing change. ... So that, inevitably, each further growth of the instrumentalities which control, or administer, or inspect, or in any way direct social forces, increases the impediment to future modifications, both positively by strengthening that which has to be modified, and negatively by weakening the remainder; until at length the rigidity becomes so great that change is impossible and the type becomes fixed.” (Principles of Sociology, v. 2, pp. 255-256.)

Let it further be noted that that which is thus strengthened is not the ideal of the State Socialist, but the head centre of the present iniquitous system. Thus the Opportunist and all his ilk are not only hindering the Anarchists from the attainment of their ends, but are handicapping State Socialists and other reformers in a similar manner.

These “steps forward” can do no possible good to labor, and only result in strengthening the present State, the arch enemy of all reform. and so we fight them to the last.

Others, again, urge State ownership as a means of preventing strikes. But these gentlemen seem to be ignorant of the fact that in July, 1890, the postmen of London went on strike. It was not for any paltry raise of wages, either, but for the right to organize. The secretary of the Postmen’s Union gives his side of the story in “The Nineteenth Century” for July, 1890. He says: “In the opinion of Mr. Raikes (then postmaster general) the postmen may have a union on condition that its secretary is appointed by the department, that it holds no meetings, that it makes no appeal to the public, and that it makes no attempt to better the condition of its members.” The attitude assumed by Col. Waring, who at present has control of the street cleaning department in New York, seems to be modeled on the same plan, if the current reports of his utterances are correct. What would our labor union friends say if Pullman or Carnegie wanted to appoint the secretaries of their employes’ unions?

During the same month (July, 1890,) the policemen at the Bow Street police station and the Grenadier Guards, in London, and the teamsters in the street cleaning department, in New York, also went on strike; but in each case, the “disturbance” was quelled in a few days, and any organization of the men nipped in the bud. Oh, yes, State ownership will certainly prevent strikes! The workers then won’t have even that chance, poor as it is, of bettering their conditions. See how the State ownership of the postoffice offered an excuse for calling out the Federal troops to suppress the A. R. U. strike in 1894. Will the wage earners never learn anything from experience? Surely the spoils system is elaborate enough already, without any further extension of its tyranny!

Once settle the land and money questions, and all these minor problems will adjust themselves, Until these two monopolies are abolished, all tinkering I these minor problems will adjust themselves. Until with these questions can be of little avail and may result in grievous and permanent harm.

XIII. Methods

Many and various as are the different ideas in regard to what are the best social conditions, the opinions held concerning the best methods of attaining the desired end, are no less so. That different conditions may be brought about by different means is to be expected, but that so many entirely different methods are proposed as likely to produce the same results, is indicative of the loose thinking that is prevalent upon all subjects.

A correct idea of what we wish to attain is essential before we are capable of discussing how we can best attain it. Usually a thorough understanding of the first problem is a sure guide to the solution of the second. Having seen that the abolition of the State is necessary to progress, and that private enterprise is perfectly capable of performing the duties for which the State is said to be necessary, it is now in order to discuss how this end can be achieved. One thing should be borne in mind from the start. It has been shown that the State is essentially an invasive institution. Since the person of the invader is not sacred, there is no ethical reason why we may not use any means in our power to achieve the result we desire. The State is founded in force. Therefore, there is no good reason why it should not be abolished by force if necessary. The whole field is open to us. All we are bound to consider is, which method will be most likely to meet with success.

Where is the State? What is it? How are we to attack it? We see its agents around us every day. They are not the State and do not pretend to be. Where is the State from which these agents derive their authority? It only exists in men’s minds. Karl Marx says: “One man is king only because other men stand in the relation of subjects to him. They, on the contrary, imagine that they are subjects because he is king."{48} The officers of the State derive their authority simply and solely from the submission of its citizens. When it is said that the State is the main cause of our social evils, it must not be forgotten that the State is but a crude expression of the average intelligence of the community. Every law is practically inoperative that is very different from the general consensus of opinion in the community. The position of the State seldom exactly coincides with public opinion in regard to new measures, because it moves much slower than individuals. But it follows slowly in the wake of new ideas, and when it lags much behind its power is weakened. These facts are seen very plainly in prohibition States. They would be apparent to everyone, were it not for the superstition that we must obey the law because it is the law. It is said that our representatives are our servants. These servants make laws which we consider bad, yet, because they are our servants, we must obey the laws they make! The State is king only because we are fools enough to stand in the relation of subjects to it. When we cease to stand in the relation of subjects to it, it will cease to be king. So that, in order to abolish the State, it is necessary to change people’s ideas in regard to it. This means a long campaign of education.

These means are too slow to suit many who want to inaugurate a new social system at once. They cannot hasten matters a bit too much to suit me. The sooner the “new order” comes, the better I shall like it. But often “the shortest cut home is the longest way round.” Ill-advised haste is disastrous. By all means let us hasten the progress of the race, but let us also use care lest our zeal upset our reason and cause us to hinder, instead of help, the re-adjustment of social forces.

A favorite method of reform, with those whose impatience with the present system is very great, is a violent revolution. If the State is purely an idea, how can we attack it with force? True, its agents use force to compel us to support it, and we might oppose them with force, but unfortunately we are not yet strong enough. As far as morality is concerned, it is, of course, justifiable to meet force by force. But, as an Egoist, the only morality I recognize is the highest expediency. So it would be highly immoral to attempt a revolution which would be foredoomed to failure. When a large minority have a clear idea of the nature of the State and an earnest desire to abolish it, such a revolution might be successful. But then it would be unnecessary, for people having refused to stand in the relation of subjects to it, the State would be no longer king. Till then it must inevitably be a fearful failure, no matter which side was actually successful in the battles.

Under the existing state of affairs, when even those who are considered leaders in the reform movement have but a very indefinite idea of what they really want, such an outbreak can bring no good. At best it would be a fight between ignorance and cupidity, on the one hand, and stupidity and rage on the other. What good can we expect from a conflict between such forces?

Spencer has pointed out how any increase in military activities invariably produces an increase in the powers of the governing classes, supported as they are by the blind patriotism of those who fought and bled for their country. With the example of the G. A. R.{49} as a result of the late civil war before our eyes, it seems hardly necessary to emphasize this point. If such an uprising were successful, it would mean the creation of a new race of revolutionary fathers, whose power would dominate all the interest of the community. A system of State Socialism would be inaugurated under the leadership of these quondam military officers – men accustomed to implicit obedience and who expect their words to be obeyed as law. They would ever be ready to enforce their commands at the point of the bayonet and to check all murmurs of discontent with powder and shot.

If, on the other hand, the plutocrats came out victorious, it would establish the system of modern capitalism more firmly than ever. It would give the powers that be an excuse for extreme vigilance in the suppression of discontent, and add to their present arrogance the consciousness of having successfully conquered all opposition.

In any event such an appeal to force must prove detrimental. It would stir up class hatred to an enormous extent and so hinder, if not altogether prevent, all rational consideration of social problems. It would hand the government over to the military classes, as no man who could not show a good “war record” would have any chance of election. Add to all this an increase of sickening patriotism and glorification of “the men who saved the Union,” and we get some idea of the national degradation which would result from such a civil war.

Acts of terrorism, such as bomb-throwing, etc., stand condemned by the same line of reasoning. Every such manifestation causes a reaction in favor of more stringent police regulation. This effect was very noticeable after the dynamite explosions in Europe during 1893-’94. They resulted in stricter laws the world over. Reactionary “anti-Anarchist bills,” limiting freedom of speech and giving more absolute powers to the upholders of the present condition of affairs, were passed in almost every country in the world.{50}

These methods can only be justified in extremely exceptional cases. A revolution may be of advantage if the people demand an extension of their liberties and really know what they want, while the governing classes insist upon restraining their activities. But under such conditions, force is used as a defensive weapon only. Even then it would be well to postpone the actual conflict till success was assured. So with terrorism. It is only when all other means of expression are denied that bomb-throwers can hope to do any good. If public meetings are prohibited, if all freedom of speech is restrained and the conditions can hardly be made worse, then terrorism may become useful as the only means of propaganda that is possible.

Political methods must be condemned without even these qualifications. The ballot is only a bullet in another form. An appeal to the majority is an appeal to brute force. It is assumed that, since all men are on the average equally able to carry a musket, the side which has the largest number of adherents would probably conquer in case of war. So, instead of actually fighting over questions, it is more economical to count noses and see which side would probably win. The political method is a form of revolution, and most of the arguments directed against the latter are valid when applied to the former. The result shown at the polls indicates a certain stage of mental development in the community. As that mental development is changed, the political manifestations of it change also. So we are brought back to the original starting point. If we wish to effect the abolition of the State through politics, we must first teach people how we can get along without it. When that is done, no political action will be necessary. The people will have outgrown the State and will no longer submit to its tyranny. It may still exist and pass laws, but people will no longer obey them, for its power over them will be broken. Political action can never be successful until it is unnecessary.

But let us look at the more practical side of the question. It sometimes seems that some small advantage might be gained by political action. Some of “the very elect” were deceived{51} by the promise of the Democratic party in 1892 to repeal the ten per cent. tax on the issue of bank notes. How badly they were duped became apparent when the repeal bill was introduced. It was hardly discussed at all, and was practically killed in committee. Its defeat was largely due to the action of Tom L. Johnson{52} – a man, by the way, who claims to be a Single Taxer, and is thereby pledged to the repeal of all taxes except that on land values – a Free Trader who believes in removing the tariff restrictions of trade between individuals of different counntries, while supporting a far greater restriction of trade between all individuals, whether of the same or of different countries.

Does the history of politics teach us nothing? What have we ever gained by such means? The Republican party has robbed us by taxes. It has robbed us still worse by its financial legislation, its national bank laws and its depreciated greenbacks. It has given our lands to its servants and sold our birthright to corporations. Yet this was the reform party of half a century ago. As soon as it gained power, it kicked the men – and deservedly, too – who were fools enough to support it. Nor is the record of the Democratic party – which but a few years since claimed to be the only true reform party in the country – one whit better. For two years it had full control of every branch of the Federal government, and what did it do? It violated every pledge made before gaining power. It turned its back on those it promised to help. It originated a new weapon of tyranny – government by injunction. And it crushed the demands of labor beneath the heels of the –Communism of Pelf.–{53} In despair we turn to the People’s Party, and what do we find? Not quite so much corruption, to be sure, because it has not yet had the chance, but from the samples it has already given it has proved itself a very apt pupil. Should it ever gain control of Federal affairs, there is every indication that it will follow the examples of its predecessors.

As soon as a new party springs up and begins to show signs of success, a lot of political tramps are immediately attracted to its ranks. These men possess a certain amount of influence. They are trained politicians, well versed in the art of packing conventions and proficient at counting the ballots. When they come to the new party with crocodile tears of repentance coursing down their cheeks, it is too weak to refuse their aid. It opens its arms and kissing away their repentant tears, places them in the front rank where glory awaits them. The result of this is a large gain in votes and sometimes success at the polls. But this victory is only gained at the expense of principle, and the last state of that party is worse than the first.{54}

In order to show how far this is true of the People’s Party, I quote the following from a Populist organ of national reputation: “We all know that shameful bribery was practiced by the sugar trust last year – Senator Hunton declared that he had $75,000 offered for his vote, and others &36;15,000. Even Populist members are accused of standing in with the rest. On the sugar duty question it is well known that Kyle, of South Dakota, Allen, of Nebraska, and Peffer, all voted to continue the Sugar Trust’s license to rob the people who use sugar. Senator Peffer, who is looked up to as one of the leaders of the Populist party, is accused by the ‘Star and Kansan’ of having accepted a good position for his son from the Sugar Trust last winter.” And in a footnote the author adds: “No man was more trusted among Californian Populists than Marion Cannon, President of the Farmers’ Alliance, and yet as soon as he got to Washington he earned the execrations of his supporters by voting to reduce the people’s money supply – the Sherman repeal bill.” (F. A. Binney, Abolish Money, in Twentieth Century, 4th April, 1895.) Defeat, crushing defeat, is all that can purge a party of such political parasites.

This is ever the result of political action. As long as the movement is unsuccessful, the energy expended is wasted, and success can only be purchased at the expense of principle and reform.

Any one who has had any experience in practical politics must know how hopeless it is to attempt to effect any reform – especially any reform in the direction of freedom – by that means. Platforms are adopted to get elected on, not to be carried out in legislation. The real position of a party depends, not upon the justness or unjustness of measures, but upon the probabilities of reelection. Scheming and “diplomacy” are the methods of the candidates for public office. Reasoning and honest conviction do not concern them in the least.

The whole political machine is a very complex affair. Wheels within wheels have to be kept in motion, secret orders have to be manipulated, committees have to be worked and a thousand and one details looked after if any measure of success is to be gained. At present there are the A. P. A., the Women’s A. P. A., the P. O. S. of A.,{55} the Junior Order of American Mechanics, the Loyal Legion, the Veteran Legion, the Sons of Veterans, the G. A. R. and other “patriotic” orders, besides a host of others, which have to be controlled by the politician. All political parties have to truckle to these orders or fail. How can we expect any progress towards freedom from such a source.

These facts give us a glimpse of the intricacies of politics. How can the reformer or business man who has to earn his living hope to cope with the professional politician while this is the case? The politician is in possession of the field. He is able to devote his whole time to studying the situation and to heading off any move to oust him. What can you do about it? You can give the matter a little attention after business hours and think you grasp the situation. You can vote once a year or so for a different set of thieves. If you are very enterprising you can go to the primaries and think you are spoiling the politician’s little game. What do you think the politician has been doing since last election? Instead of going to the primaries you might as well go to – another place which politics more nearly resembles than anything on this earth. Perhaps better, for a spook devil would probably be an easier task-master than a politician in flesh and blood. You can do what you please, the politician is dealing from a stacked deck and has the best of the bunco game all the time.

At its very best, an election is merely an attempt to obtain the opinion of the majority upon a given subject, with the intention of making the minority submit to that opinion. This is in itself a radical wrong. The majority has no more right, under Equal Freedom, to compel the minority, than has the minority to compel the majority. When a man votes he submits to the whole business. By the act of casting his ballot, he shows that he wishes to coerce the other side, if he is in the majority. He has, consequently, no cause for complaint if he is coerced himself. He has submitted in advance to the tribunal, he must not protest If the verdict is given against him. If every individual is a sovereign, when he votes he abdicates. Since I deny the right of the majority to interfere in my affairs, it would be absurd for me to vote and thereby submit myself to the will of the majority.

Some people tell us, “If you don’t like this country, why don’t you go off and leave us?” Actually a number of reformers take them at their word, and go off into the wilderness and start colonies. They think that the object lesson of a colony will have a great effect. So it does, but it has taught a moral far different from that intended by the founders of such concerns. The Mormons followed this foolish advice. They didn’t like this country. They went off into the wilderness. They worked hard and transformed the desert into a garden. And then? Well, then this country discovered that the Mormons were very wicked, and that the Lord never intended such wicked men to possess so much wealth. So dear old Uncle Sam, being a humble servant of the Lord, determined to repair his Master’s oversight and deprive those wicked men of their power and money. Uncle Sam is a religious old man withal, especially if he can pocket a few dollars by his piety!

Others again assure us that the only way to get a bad law repealed is to enforce it. But as long as a bad law is not enforced it does no harm. To be sure, as long as it is on the statute books it may be enforced at any time, and so do mischief. But it is the enforcing of it that does the harm, not the fact that it exists. The protective tariff is a bad law, and if enforcing it would repeal it, it would have been dead years ago. The same may be said of nearly all the laws. They are nearly every one of them bad, and most of them are enforced, but they seem to thrive on that method of repeal. Our salvation must be sought in other directions.

Must we then sit still and let our enemies do as they please? By no means. Three alternatives offer themselves, active resistance, passive resistance and non-resistance. The folly of the first has already been demonstrated. Non-resistance is just as bad. Unless we resist tyranny, we encourage it and become tyrants by tacitly consenting to it. But passive resistance still remains. The most perfect passive resistance has often been practiced by the Quakers. During the Civil War the Quakers all absolutely refused to serve in the army. In European countries they have resisted conscription in the same manner. What could be done about it? A few were imprisoned, but they stood firm, and finally, by passive resistance, they have gained immunity from this particular form of tyranny.

The history of the Irish agitation is another example. As all familiar with the situation know, the Irish question is essentially an agrarian question. The howl for Home Rule is purely incidental and secondary. For some time passive resistance was the leading feature of the movement. The no-rent agitation was essentially of this nature. Tenants refused to pay any rent. They refused to have any dealings with landlords, or with those who helped them in any way or who paid any rent. They were evicted, but they went back onto the land again. The British government was nonplussed. The boycott was a force that it could not crush with an army, because it was passive, not active resistance. The authorities resembled men who were attempting to chop their way through a river with an axe. Every time they hit the water, they got splashed until they were drenched, but the river was unaffected. But while this was going on the leaders were urging political action. Some of the more hot-headed resorted to active resistance, which culminated in the murder of Cavendish and Burke.{56} This demoralized the Land League and the leaders gained their point. Passive resistance was abandoned and politics was adopted in its stead. From an energetic and vigorous fight for a well defined object, the Irish movement began to fizzle out as a decrepit political issue. The recent elections in England, resulting as they did in the overwhelming defeat of the Home Rule party, may be the means of opening the eyes of the Irish people to the folly of attempting to gain anything by politics, and it is possible that the Land League may once more become a power in the question.

Some claim that the boycott is invasive and cannot be consistently used as a weapon of passive resistance. What care I whether it is invasive or not, so long as it accomplishes my purpose? The upholders of the present invasive system must not tell me not to use invasive weapons to overthrow it. Let them abandon invasion first, and then I will not need to use such weapons against it. If the boycott is invasive, it is active instead of passive resistance and its power is in no wise weakened. But for the sake of consistency let us see to which category it belongs.

The boycott is an agreement entered into by several individuals to leave some other person or persons severely alone – to refuse to have any connection with them in a social, business or any other manner. It is a conspiracy to do nothing. In Chapter IV. it was shown that a passive condition can never be invasive. If it is non-invasive for one individual to refuse to have anything to do with another, how does it become invasive when several men refuse to have anything to do with him? Surely I am within my right under Equal Freedom if I refuse to patronize a certain grocer. I am also within my right if I persuade others to pursue the same line of conduct. To deny this is to say that I must patronize the grocer in question, or if I do not patronize him I must not persuade others to leave him alone, in short, I must not criticize his actions in the slightest. How can it be invasive for me to persuade another to pursue a non-invasive course of action? Such a proposition is absurd. An action that is noninvasive when performed by one person, cannot become invasive by being performed by more than one. The invasiveness of a conspiracy[11] depends, not upon the number of the conspirators, but upon the invasiveness of the act which they agree to perform.

A boycott may necessitate a man removing from a certain place, but it does not in any way deprive him of his liberty of action. He can go elsewhere if he sees fit. His person is unmolested and his property is still at his disposal. Where, then, is invasion committed? It is often asserted that by means of the boycott a man may be compelled to act in a way he does not like. True. But that is not the question. It is the means, not the end, that are under discussion. Some people can see no difference between killing a man and refusing to prevent him from committing suicide. To such as these the distinction between invasion and non-invasion does not exist. They are morally color blind. But to well-balanced minds the difference between doing something and remaining passive must be apparent.

To gain anything by political methods, it is first necessary to gain a majority of the votes cast, and even then you have to trust to the integrity of the men elected to office. But with passive resistance this is unnecessary. A good strong minority is all that is needed. It has been shown that the attitude of the State is merely a crude expression of the general consensus of the opinion of its subjects. In determining this consensus, quality must be taken into consideration as well as quantity. The opinion of one determined and intelligent man may far outweigh that of twenty lukewarm followers of the opposition. “To apply this consideration to practical politics, it may be true that the majority in this country are favorable, say, to universal vaccination. It does not follow that a compulsory law embodies the will of the people; because every man who is opposed to that law is at least ten times more anxious to gain his end than his adversaries are to gain theirs. He is ready to make far greater sacrifices to attain it. One man rather wishes for what he regards as a slight sanitary safeguard; the other is determined not to submit to a gross violation of his liberty. How differently the two are actuated! One man is willing to pay a farthing in the pound for a desirable object; the other is ready to risk property and perhaps life, to defeat that object. In such cases as this it is sheer folly to pretend that counting heads is a fair indication of the forces behind.[”] (Donisthorpe, Law in a Free State, pp. 123-124.) A strong, determined and intelligent minority, employing methods of passive resistance, would be able to carry all before it. But the same men, being in a numerical minority, would be powerless to elect a single man to office.

Another thing must be remembered. Passive resistance can never pass a law. It can only nullify laws. Consequently it can never be used as a means of coercion and is particularly adapted to the attainment of Anarchy. All other schools of reform propose to compel people to do something. For this they must resort to force, usually by passing laws. These laws depend upon political action for their inauguration and physical violence for their enforcement. Anarchists are the only reformers who do not advocate physical violence. Tyranny must ever depend upon the weapon of tyranny, but Freedom can be inaugurated only by means of Freedom.

The first thing that is necessary, to institute the changes outlined in this book, is to convince people of the benefit to be derived from them. This means simply a campaign of education. As converts are gradually gained, passive resistance will grow stronger. At first it must be very slight, but still it has its effect. Even the refusal to vote does more than is often supposed. In some States the number of persons who, from lethargy or from principle, refuse to vote is large enough to alarm the politicians. They actually talk at times of compulsory voting. This shows how much even such a small amount of passive resistance is feared. As the cause gains converts and strength, this passive resistance can assume a wider field. The more it is practiced greater attention will be drawn to underlying principles. Thus education and passive resistance go hand in hand and help each other, step by step, towards the goal of human Freedom.

XIV. The Prospect

State Socialists are always claiming that the system they advocate will soon be adopted in all the leading countries in the world, and so seldom has anyone protested, that it is beginning to be received as an indisputable fact. Laurence Gronlund even goes so far as to maintain, “Collectivism is coming. It is coming whether you like it or not. Do what you will it is coming, because it is the will of God.” When Mr. Gronlund became the confidential adviser of that inscrutable power he does not tell us. It may be well, therefore, to enquire into the general trend of modern thought and see if this claim is well grounded, for coming reforms always cast their shadows before them. By gaining a clear idea of the principal forces at work in the reconstruction of society, we may be able to form some estimate of the probability of the reforms I advocate.

To the superficial observer the claims of the State Socialist seem to be warranted. He sees a strong tendency in this direction and thinks that State Socialism is about to be adopted. But life is full of tendencies which are never completed. The tendency of the incoming tide is to submerge the earth. The tendency of the growing tree is to reach the sky. The tendency of nearly everything is to do something it never does, and the tendency towards State Socialism is no stronger than many of these, and may result in a similar manner.

Not many years ago there were but a few State Socialists in America. Now they are numbered by thousands. But the more recent converts are of far different material from the older exponents of this system. The latter were men who braved public opinion, sacrificed the much prized bauble – respectability, and often endangered their chances of making a living, in order to have the satisfaction of expressing their Socialistic ideas. But they were so enthusiastic that they were willing to hail everyone as converts. Let a man express sympathy with some strikers, deplore the greed of capitalists or lament the existence of slums in our large cities, and the first State Socialist he met would fall on his neck and call him “Comrade."{57} assisted this kind of propaganda and it progressed rapidly. Thus, by degrees, the State Socialistic agitation degenerated from definite movement for the collective ownership of surplus value, to a sentimental Sunday-school gospel of free rides, free novels and free lunches. It was A, alive and aggressive, it has become respectable. It is no exaggeration to say, that at least fifty per cent. of those who to-day call themselves State Socialists, have no clear idea of what surplus value is or how it is created, and most of the other half have but little better mental equipment.

Let some event happen to bring State Socialism into disrepute and the truth of these statements would be demonstrated. The bomb which exploded in Chicago on the 4th of May, 1886, reduced the number of professed Communists from thousands to a few scattered groups. A large multitude escorted the Nazarene reformer into Jerusalem, with shouts of honor and rejoicing. Where were they three days afterwards? This is ever the result of such a form of propaganda. Numbers are not always strength, as our State Socialistic friends will some day discover. The mental calibre of the Neo State Socialists may be judged from their demands. Their energies are bent on gaining governmental control of “natural monopolies,” free coinage of silver and other “reforms” which even consistent State Socialists must consider reactionary. These men may be considered as State Socialists with the Socialism left out. Fortunately their ignorance is likely to prove a serious bar to the extent of their mischief. It is liable to disgust the more intelligent members of their school, and to show them the danger of putting full State Socialistic powers into such hands. They may effect a few minor changes, such as those above mentioned, but the adoption of those very measures will block the way to further developments. They will result in placing a very great number of new offices in the gift of the State, which will inevitably lead, as shown above, to a strengthening of the powers that be and to perpetuating the statu quo.

With the exception of a few revolutionists, nearly all State Socialists rely upon political methods to inaugurate their system. This is almost essential. They have a system to force upon people, and they cannot institute it without force. I have already pointed out the inadequacy of political methods and, since those are the means by which State Socialism is to be adopted, I think we are fairly safe for a number of years.

The existing discontent with present social conditions is very great. This must find an outlet in some direction. If not in a move towards Socialism, then in a move Libertywards. When men find they cannot adopt their own pet hobby they often take a substitute. Many of the substitutes for State Socialism are entirely voluntary, and the be-clouded State Socialists cannot see the difference. A little pamphlet entitled “Universal Prosperity,” by Edward Wenning, is a good example of this. In the beginning of his book the author points out the hopelessness of expecting anything from the government. Then he proposes a gigantic co-operative company. This company would be a purely voluntary concern, and, though it could never accomplish the results for which the author proposes to organize it, it shows a tendency to resort to voluntaryism when compulsion fails. But this is not all. Mr. Wenning actually proposes to issue a currency based upon, and redeemable in, the goods of the company. Several companies are being started by other State Socialists upon similar plans, and many of them are adopting Mr. Wenning’s currency idea. When State Socialists are engaged in this kind of work, we need not be very much afraid of them. They have so poor a conception of the logic of their position, that they find themselves fighting in behalf of Liberty instead of for an extension of the powers of the State.

The free silver craze has drawn especial attention to the money question. The governmental plans of the Populists have gained a number of supporters in the Western States. But these very men are most active in starting the co-operative money schemes just mentioned. The bitterness with which they have been fighting has caused the orthodox economists to assume a marvelously individualistic position. Political economists are saying that a legal tender law is a relic of barbarism. College professors are now teaching that over 90 per cent. of the business of the country is done without the use of government money. Bankers are advocating a removal of restrictions on the issue of money. The Democratic party thinks it can catch votes by proposing to repeal the 10 per cent. banknote tax. And Cleveland advocates “the absolute divorcement of the government from the circulation of the currency of the country.” (See Message, 3d Dec., ’94.)

I think these facts show that there is a strong feeling in the community that Liberty is the one thing needful. The tendency on the surface may appear to be towards State Socialism, but there undoubtedly is a very strong undercurrent in the direction of Freedom and it probably will, if given time, entirely change the direction of legislation.

One very good indication of the tendency of the times is found in the recent action of the American Federation of Labor. For several years the State Socialists have been endeavoring to capture that organization. At Chicago, in 1893, they succeeded in getting it to tabulate the following platform, to be submitted for a referendum vote to all the affiliated organizations:

Whereas, The Trade Unionists of Great Britain have by the light of experience and logic of progress, adopted the principle of independent labor politics as an auxiliary to their economic action, and

Whereas, such action has resulted in the most gratifying success, and

Whereas, such independent labor politics are based upon the following programme, to-wit:

1. Compulsory education.

2. Direct legislation.

3. A legal eight hour work-day.

4. Sanitary inspection of workshops, mine and home.

5. Liability of employers for injury to health, body or life.

6. The abolition of contract system.

7. The abolition of the sweating system.

8. Municipal ownership of street cars, and gas and electric plants for public distribution of light, heat and power.

9. The nationalization of telegraphs, telephones, railroads and mines.

10. The collective ownership by the people of all means of production and distribution.

11. The principle of referendum in all legislation.


Resolved, that the convention hereby indorse this political action of our British comrades, and

Resolved, that this program and basis of a political labor movement be and is hereby submitted for the consideration of the labor organizations of America, with the request that the delegates to the next annual convention of the American Federation of Labor, be instructed on this most important subject.

A full year’s time was allowed for the various unions to consider this question. Most of the delegates who attended the convention held at Denver in 1894, had received instructions from their unions, so we must consider that their act was taken with deliberation. The political platform was considered plank by plank, and was amended to read as follows:

“1. Compulsory education.

“2. Direct legislation, through the initiative and the referendum.

“3. A legal work-day of not more than eight hours.

“4. Sanitary inspection of workshop, mine and home.

”5. Liability of employers for injury to health, body or life.

“6. The abolition of contract system in all public work.

“7. The abolition of the sweating system.

”8. The municipal ownership of street cars, water works and gas and electric plants for public distribution of light, heat and power.

“9. The nationalization of telegraphs, telephones, railroads and mines.

“10. The abolition of the monopoly system of land holding, and substituting therefor a title of occupancy and use only.

“11. Repeal all conspiracy and penal laws, affecting seamen and other workmen, incorporated in the federal and State laws of the United States.

“12. The abolition of the monopoly privilege of issuing money, and substituting therefor a system of direct issuance to and by the people.”

With the very slight exception of the demand for municipal ownership of water works, every change in this platform is indicative of an increased desire for Liberty. The preamble was defeated bodily. The first nine planks were adopted substantially as they stood, except the addition of “water works” to No. 8 and the consolidation of No. 11 with No. 2. Perhaps all these nine planks would not have been passed so easily, had it not been for the sweeping nature of plank 10. That was the point around which the whole fight raged. It seemed to be recognized by both sides as the final test of their relative strength. Resolutions in favor of free land had come in from all over the country. Many delegates had received instructions to vote against the original plank. So, when the substitute demanding free land came to a vote, it was carried by 1217 to 913.

The new eleventh plank is clearly a demand for more freedom from State interference. And while plank 12 is rather ambiguous it is conspicuous for the demand for an issuance by the people instead of by the government. This point assumes greater importance when it is considered that the plank in question was submitted by Delegate McCraith, an acknowledged Individualist, and the one who led the fight for the substitute to plank 10.{58} I am also informed that this money plank was originally drawn up by one, who is a recognized leader among free-money advocates, and whose name is known and respected by Anarchists the wide world over.{59}

Another plank, demanding “The national and State destruction of the liquor traffic,” was introduced. It was killed almost before it was born, so great was the opposition to it.

When the motion to adopt the planks as a whole was put to the vote, it was defeated by 1,173 to 735. Thus ended the attempt of the State Socialists to capture the American Federation of Labor, and to use it as a political machine for the furtherance of their own ends. No, not ended, for the action of the convention has brought up the whole question of Free Land and Free Money for discussions before the Labor Unions of the United States. Hardly an issue of any of the leading labor papers of the country is now to be found which does not contain at least one article on one of these topics. Yes, Mr. Gronlund, “Collectivism is coming, because it is the will of God!!” At least, that seems to be about the only argument left to those who believe in the inevitableness of State Socialism. The facts of the case seem to point in another direction.

Several of the leaders in the Woman Suffrage movement are adopting far more libertarian views than was ever expected from this source. At the last triennial meeting of the National Council of Women Mrs. Ellen B. Dietrick championed the principle of Equal Freedom in unmistakable terms. Mrs. Elizabeth Cady Stanton declared for Free Land, and others present manifested a feeling in the same direction.

Even the conservative law courts seem to be infected in a slight degree, with the spirit of modern progress. My legal friends inform me, that it is more and more becoming the custom to plead the equity of a case at the same time that the legal points are under discussion. As courts are at present constituted this places very great, and possibly dangerous, powers in the hands of the judge, but it also curtails to the same degree the power of the legislature. The main gain from this, is that it allows greater flexibility in the administration of the laws. If the power to decide the law and equity, as well as the facts, was vested in a properly constituted jury, the gain to Liberty would be very important. But failing this, it is better to have a flexible system that can be adapted to the especial needs of each case, rather than a rigid law to which all cases must be made to conform. Probably the most notable example of this tendency that has recently occurred is the income tax decision of the United States Supreme Court. Neither side attempted to make their case good on constitutional grounds. They did not take any clause in the constitution, and by a process of deductive reasoning, show wherein the income tax law was, or was not, consistent with that clause. The whole fight turned upon the question of the justice or injustice of the law. As long as all questions of natural science have to be squared with the Bible, true progress in thought is impossible. Science can only be based upon observed phenomena if it is to be worth anything. So in Sociology, as long as every proposition has to be in harmony with a document that was written over a century ago, when nearly all the truths of science were unknown, true progress in society is impossible. It is only when each question can be referred to the highest social expediency, that social growth is possible. In proportion as we attain correct ideas of what that highest social expediency is, and its application to each question, in that degree do we really develop.

It must not be inferred from these remarks, that I look for any immediate adoption of the views set forth in this book. I merely mention these facts to show that the tendency of the times is far stronger in the direction of Liberty than is usually supposed. One great danger, however, threatens to overthrow much of our labor for Freedom. Whether that can be averted or not, facts alone can show. I allude to the prospect of a violent revolution. Agitation is often necessary to stir up discontent. But agitation must be followed by education in order to make it intelligent and serviceable. The agitation that is now being carried on by the State Socialists is so extensive, and is reaching such ignorant classes, that the necessary education is left a long way behind. Thus a class of people, who daily see the power of physical force in all their occupations and surroundings, and who are too often incapable of appreciating the power of intellect, is awakening to the social injustice which crushes it to earth. The great question is, can these people be induced to remain peaceful until they can be educated to know what will relieve their distress.

The most unfavorable sign is the attitude of the bourgeoisie. It seems to be impossible for them to realize that the time has gone by, when platitudes, on the one hand, and bayonets, on the other, will check the growing discontent. They are unconsciously doing all in their power to precipitate an outbreak, when they might, by conceding a little to public opinion, manage to avert a crisis: The imprisonment of Debs has done more to precipitate a revolution, than would inflammatory speeches by all the Socialists in the United States. What the result of such a revolution must inevitably be was shown in the last chapter.

It is often asserted, that such a social system as I advocate is ideal but eminently impractical. No social system is practicable until people are convinced of its merits. A constitutional monarchy is impracticable in Russia to-day. Is that any reason why those who believe in it should not do all in their power to make it an accomplished fact? The ideal must be made practicable. This can only be done by convincing people that it is the ideal. Everyone who really believes that a certain system is the highest ideal, and who is anxious to better the existing conditions, will keep that ideal constantly in mind. Everything that is in the direction of that ideal will be helped. Everything that is opposed to it will be fought bitterly. As the number of those who believe in the ideal increases, the practicability of the system increases also, and the attainment of the end becomes more sure. We are willing to go step by step if needs be, provided that each step be on the road to Freedom. But not one step will we move in the opposite direction, for we believe with John Morley that “a small and temporary improvement may really be the worst enemy of a great and permanent improvement. ... The small reform, if it be not made with reference to some large progressive principle, and with a view to further extension of its scope, makes it all the more difficult to return to the right line and direction when improvement is again demanded.” (On Compromise, p. 230.)

Then let every proposed reform be judged by this one principle, is it an extension of individual liberty? On the answer to this should its fate depend. And gradually will Freedom be attained. How long the adoption of such a system will take it is impossible to say. But we know that progress advances with ever increasing rapidity, so perhaps we may hope for a relatively speedy betterment of our condition.

A Few Books For Subsequent Reading

In the lists of books here given, I have endeavored to select some of the best and most elementary works upon each subject. I have confined myself to works in the English language. With the exception of “Social Statics,” I have omitted all books which are out of print. It is hardly necessary to add that, though I recommend these books, I do not thereby indorse every statement made in any one of them.


ANDREWS, STEPHEN PEARL, Science of society; Part I. True constitution of government in the sovereignty of the individual. Part 2. Cost the limit of price. Bost., 1888. 165p., 8vo. S. E. Holmes. Cloth, $1.00; paper, 50c.

”This work is an elaborate exposition of the teachings of Josiah Warren by one of his foremost disciples.”

MACKAY, JOHN HENRY, The anarchists; a picture of civilization at the close of the 19th century. Trans. from the German by George Schumm. Bost., 1891. 315p., 12mo. Tucker. Cloth, $1.00; paper, 50c.

While cast in the form of a story, this book contains many excellent economic arguments, directed principally against the communists.

PROUDHON, PIERRE JOSEPH, System of economical contradictions; or, Philosophy of misery. Trans from the French by Benj. R. Tucker. v. I. N. Y., 469p., 8vo. Humboldt. Cloth, $2.00; paper, $1.20.

“It discusses in a style as novel as profound, the problems of Value, Division of Labor, Machinery, Competition, Monopoly, Taxation and Providence, showing that economic progress is achieved by the appearance of a succession of economic forces, each of which counteracts the evils developed by its predecessor, and then, by developing evils of its own, necessitates its successor, the process to continue until a final force, corrective of the whole, shall establish a stable economic equilibrium.”

PROUDHON, PIERRE JOSEPH, What is property? an enquiry into the principles of right and government; prefaced by a sketch of Proudhon’s life and works. Trans. from the French by Benj. R. Tucker. N. Y., 498p , 8vo. Humboldt. Cloth, $2.00; paper, $1.20. (Humboldt Library Nos. 172-175.)

“A systematic, thorough and radical discussion of the institution of property – its basis, its history, its present status and its destiny – together with a detailed and startling expose of the crimes which it commits, and the evils which it engenders.”

TUCKER, BENJAMIN R., Instead of a book; by a man too busy to write one. A fragmentary exposition of Philosophical Anarchism. N. Y., 1893. 522 p., 8vo. Tucker. Cloth, $1.00; paper, 50c.

Principally composed of discussions reprinted from the file of “Liberty.” In this way the objections of all classes of opponents are met and answered and many obscure points are made clear. The best book for anyone who wishes to gain a clear idea of the principles of Anarchism.

In addition to these works the following papers are very valuable:

“LIBERTY.” A fortnightly journal of Philosophical Anarchism. Edited by Benj. R. Tucker. 8 pages. $2.00 per year. P. O. Box 1312, New York.

The pioneer of Anarchism in America. Commands articles from the pens of the best writers upon the subject and contains interesting discussions upon the various applications of its philosophy.

EGOISM. A fortnightly Anarchistic paper. 4 pages. 50c per year. P. O. Box 366, Oakland, Cala.

A lighter and more humorous paper than “Liberty,” but advocating the same general principles.


CLODD, EDWARD, Story of creation; a plain account of evolution. N. Y., 129p., 8vo. Humboldt. Paper, 15c. (Humboldt Library, No. 110. )

The best short account of evolution for popular reading yet published.

CLODD, EDWARD, Story of primitive man. N. Y., 1895. 190p., il. 16mo. Appleton. Cloth, 40c. (Library of Useful Stories, No. I .)

An excellent outline of the subject.

HUXLEY, THOMAS HENRY, Evidences as to man’s place in nature. N. Y., 62p., 8vo. Humboldt Paper, 15c. (Humboldt Library, No. 4.)

HUXLEY, THOMAS HENRY, On the origin of Species; or Causes of the phenomena of organic nature. N. Y., 49p., 8vo. Humboldt. Paper, 15c. (Humboldt Library, No. 16.)

Prof. Huxley’s works need no recommendation from any source.

ROMANES, GEORGE JOHN, Scientific evidence of organic evolution. N. Y., 55p. 8vo. Humboldt. Paper. 15c. (Humboldt Library No. 40.)

An excellent plea for evolution as opposed to special creation.


BADCOCK, JOHN, Jr. Slaves to duty; a lecture delivered before the South Place Junior Ethical Society, 29th Jan., 1894. Lond., 1894. 33p., 12mo. Reeves. Paper, 6d.

“A unique addition to the pamphlet literature of Anarchism in that it assails the morality superstition as the foundation of the various schemes for the exploitation of mankind. Max Stirner himself does not expound the doctrine of Egoism in bolder fashion.”

MILL, JOHN STUART. Utilitarianism. Lond. 1891. 96p., 8vo. Longman. Cloth, 5s.

SHAW, GEORGE BERNARD, Quintessence of Ibsenism. Bost., 18gr. 170p., 12mo. Tucker. Paper, 25c.

Pronounced by the London Saturday Review a “most diverting Book” and by the author, “the most complete assertion of the validity of the human will as against all laws, institutions, isms, and the like, now procurable for a quarter.”

“TAK KAK,” Philosophy of Egoism. A series of fifteen articles which appeared in “Egoism,” from May, 1890, to Dec. 1891.

These form the most complete exposition of Egoism that has ever been published in English.

Macmillan & Co adverti-e [sic] “The Works of Friedrich Nietzsche” in 11 vols. to appear in the spring of 1896. These will be invaluable to the deep student of Egoism.


BAKOUNINE, MICHAEL, God and the State. Trans. from the French by Benj. R. Tucker. Ed. 7. Bost., 1890. 52p, 8vo. Tucker. Paper, 15c.

“One of the most eloquent pleas for liberty ever written. Paine’s “Age of Reason” and “Rights of Man” consolidated and improved. It stirs the pulse like a trumpet call.”

LETOURNEAU, CHARLES, Sociology; based upon ethnography. Trans. from the French by H. M. Trollope. New ed. Lond., 1893. 634p., 8vo. Chapman, Hall. Cloth. 3s, 6d.

In many respects the best outline of the development of human society. It is a perfect mine of information, and is written in a very readable manner.

SPENCER, HERBERT, Principles of Sociology. N. Y., 1888. 2 vols., 8vo. Appleton. Cloth, $4.00.

Mr. Spencer stands unequalled as a writer upon such subjects. The depth of his research is marvelous. His philosophic conception of the relation of one fact to another has placed him in the front rank among philosophers of all ages. Important though all his works are, perhaps the Principles of Sociology transcends all the others in usefulness. Part of the third volume is now appearing serially in “The Popular Science Monthly.”


FOWLER, C. T., Prohibition, or Relation of government to temperance. Kansas City. 1885. 28p. 12 mo. Fowler. Paper, 6c.

This pamphlet shows “that prohibition cannot prohibit and would be unnecessary if it could.”

HERBERT, AUBERON, Politician in sight of haven; being a protest against government of man by man. N. Y. Tucker. Paper, 10c.

SPENCER, HERBERT, Social statics; or, Conditions essential to human happiness specified, and the first of them developed. With a notice of the author. N. Y., 1862. 533p., 8vo. Appleton. Cloth, $2.00.

One of Spencer’s earliest works. The principle of equal freedom is deduced and explained. This edition is now out of print, but several pirate editions are on the market. The Revised edition is very much abridged and greatly inferior to this.

SPENCER, HERBERT, Prison ethics; in, Essays, scientific, political and speculative, v. 3, p 152-191. (Also in, British Quarterly Review, July, 1860.)

A plea for the application of the principle of equal freedom to the treatment of criminals.

SPOONER, LYSANDER, Free political institutions; their nature, essence and maintenance. An abridgement and rearrangement of “Trial by Jury.” by Victor Yarros. Bost, 1890. 47p., 8vo. Tucker. Paper, 25c.

An historical review of the jury system. It claims for the jury the right to judge the law as well as the prisoner. A strong protest against the tyranny of the State, of particular value in these days of “government by injunction.”

SPOONER, LYSANDER, Illegality of the trial of John W. Webster. Bost., 1850. 16p., 8vo. Tucker. Paper, 10c.

A legal protest against packing juries by selecting jurors and rejecting all who are opposed to the law involved.


BOEHM-BAWERK, EUGENE VON, Positive theory of capital. Trans. with a preface by Wm. Smart. Lond., 1891. 468p., 8vo. Macmillan. Cloth, $4.00.

A profound analysis of value. The original exposition of the “Marginal utility theory.”

FOWLER, C. T., Co-operation; its laws and principles. Kansas City, 1885. 28p., 12mo. Fowler. Paper, 6c.

“An essay showing Liberty and Equity as the only conditions of true co-operation, and exposing the violations of these conditions by Rent, Interest, Profit, and Majority Rule.”

FOWLER, C. T., Reorganization of business. Kansas City, 1885. 28p., 12mo. Fowler. Paper, 6c.

“An essay showing how the principles of co-operation may be realized in the store, bank and factory.”

The Chapter on Value in Proudhon’s System of economical Contradictions, and Part 2 of Andrew’s [sic] Science of Society are very valuable in this connection.


BILGRAM, Hugo, Involuntary idleness; an exposition of the cause of the discrepancy existing between the supply of, and the demand for, labor and its products. Philadelphia, 1889. 119., 16mo. Lippincott. Cloth, 50c.

A remarkably fine analysis of interest showing that it is due to the scarcity of money. It also shows the evil results of usury.

GREENE, WILLIAM B., Mutual banking; showing the radical deficiency of the present circulating medium and the advantages of a free currency. New ed. with a preface by Henry Cohen. Denver, 1896. 78p., 12 mo. Cohen. Paper, 10c.

A wonderfully clear exposition of the theory of Mutual Banks by its originator, showing how interest can be abolished.


FOWLER, C. T., Land tenure. Kansas City, 1885. 26p., 12mo. Fowler. Paper, 6c.

“An essay showing the governmental basis of land monopoly, the futility of governmental remedies and a natural and peaceful way of starving out the landlords.”

INGALLS, J. K., Work and wealth. Bost., 1881. 13p., 8vo. Tucker. Paper, 15c.

A demand for free land as a basis for industrial prosperity.


GEORGE, HENRY, Protection and free trade. N. Y., 1891. 216p., 12mo. George. Paper, 25c.

This has also been printed as part of the “Congressional Record.” A good plea for free trade.

TUCKER, BENJAMIN R., et al., Discussion of the question of copyright. Appeared in “Liberty” and was continued for several months, commencing 13th Dec., 1890.


FOWLER, C. T., Corporations. Kansas City, 1885. 28p., 12mo. Fowler. Paper, 6c.

“An essay showing how the monopoly of railroads, telegraphs, etc., may be abolished without the intervention of the state.”


DONISTHORPE, WORDSWORTH, Law in a free State. Lond., 1895. 324p., 8vo. Macmillan. Cloth, $2.50.

“Is offered to the public as the best ‘nut-crackers” the Author is able to turn out of the workshop,” wherewith to “crack” the “nuts” that many find so hard.

MORLEY, JOHN, On compromise. Lond., 1891. 296p, 12mo. Macmillan. Cloth, $1.50.

Devoted to considering “some of the limits that are set by sound reason to the practice of the various arts of accommodation, economy, management, conformity or compromise.”

[1] The old idea of the existence of a distinct “vital force” has long been abandoned by the scientific world. Now, however, there seems to be a tendency to recognize what may be termed “a theory of neo-vitalism.”

[2] The first part of this quotation is possibly open to criticism. The followers of Weismann{6}, who are now carrying on such an animated controversy with Spencer, assert that no forms of life except the very lowest can “remain constant.” If they do not progress they must degenerate. But as Spencer’s position is the more conservative, it is safe to use this quotation in this connection.

[3] It should be borne in kind that, except where the context manifestly implies a different use, I use the word State in its widest sense – “the body politic,” as Webster defines it. This definition is given provisionally until its nature is further investigated.

[4] It should not be forgotten that Sociology is not an exact science, and consequently any generalizations that may be made for the guidance of society, cannot be absolutely perfect. Human happiness is the aim of all social reform. Such generalizations as may be made to guide us on the road to happiness, are valuable only insofar as they contribute to that end. This is true of the principle of Equal Freedom. Exceptional cases may arise, when a strict adherence to this principle would result in greater misery than would a violation of it. For example, it may be necessary to violate the right of property by blowing up houses to prevent the spread of a conflagration, as was done at the Chicago fire, or it may be advisable to violate the personal liberty of infected persons to prevent the spread of cholera. But these cases are very exceptional, and, under such circumstances, a violation of Equal Freedom is fully justified. Yet so trustworthy a guide is this principle, that unless the wisdom of violating it is almost absolutely certain, it would be better to follow it wherever it may lead us. As a general working principle it cannot be too strongly insisted on. In spite of such exceptions as those above cited, I believe that an unflinching adherence to the principle in all cases, no matter who might suffer, would, in the long run, be less harmful than a very lax application of it. If we start in to follow it blindly, the few exceptions that are necessary will become apparent as they arise, and as there is nothing sacred about any such generalization, we should soon learn how to adapt it to such emergencies. But to say that it is an absolute law, which all individuals and associations of individuals are bound to observe, whatever may befall, is to deny that self-preservation is the first law of nature.

[5] I trust no one will misunderstand me by supposing that I defend the “truck-system.” I am merely using it as an example, in order to point out some economic truths.

[6] I am informed by those who have studied Proudhon’s untranslated works, that he was not really in favor of placing the Bank of Exchange under State control. He merely tabulated the scheme given above for educational purposes during a political campaign. He afterwards started a similar bank without State aid, but this was stopped, almost before it was organized, by the imprisonment of its founder.{23}

[7] To avoid a possible charge of plagiarism, it is necessary to state that much of this paragraph has been copied, with a few alterations, from Chapter IX. of Social Statics (First Ed.), which Mr. Spencer has lately repudiated. It is not printed in quotation marks, because of the alterations which I have made.

[8] In a prefatory note to the article quoted, the author states that it was written in all seriousness and not as a satire. So it must be accepted as a true statement. I quote these cases merely to illustrate my point, and do not in any way bind myself to accept Mark Twain’s explanation of them.{37}

[9] It should be remembered that Mr. Tucker here refers to his work as translator, as well as that of publisher.

[10] This was written in 1887.

[11] I use the word conspiracy advisedly. It originally meant any agreement, and not till recently has its meaning been restricted to agreements to invade.

{1} American philosopher and historian John Fiske (1842-1901); in Outlines of Cosmic Philosophy (1874) and other works he sought to reconcile Spencerian evolutionism with neo-Augustinian theology.

{2} English biologist Thomas Henry Huxley (1825-1895), in “Biogenesis and Abiogenesis” (1870).

{3} Edward Clodd (1840-1930), English populariser of Darwinism; The Story of Creation: A Plain Account of Evolution (1888).

{4} "monera,” a term roughly though not precisely synonymous with “prokaryotes,” refers to a class of mostly unicellular microorganisms lacking a cell nucleus.

{5} German biologist Ernst (Heinrich Philipp August von) Haeckel, 1834-1919.

{6} German biologist August Weismann (1834-1914), leading critic of the Larmackian doctrine of the inheritance of acquired characteristics (and thereby a critic of those like Spencer – and to some extent Darwin himself – who sought a Darwinian-Lamarckian synthesis).

{7} English zoologist Sir Edwin Ray Lankester (1847-1929), a leading Darwinian, in Degeneration: A Chapter in Darwinism (1880).

{8} Hungarian Zionist Maximilian Simon Südfeld Nordau (1849-1923), in Degeneration (1892).

{9} William Platt Ball (1844-1917); Are the Effects of Use and Disuse Inherited? (1890).

{10} sic.

{11} Matthew 5:39; cf. Luke 6:29.

{12} French Fourierite anthropologist Charles Letourneau (1831-1902), in Sociology Based Upon Ethnography (1880).

{13} A reference to the infamous 1856 Dred Scott decision, ruling that blacks were “beings of an inferior order” with “no rights which the white man was bound to respect.”

{14} This is actually the official legal designation of what is more usually called the U.S. Civil War or the War Between the States, 1861-65.

{15} “Grand Army of the Republic” and “Sons of Veterans,” popular Union veteran groups.

{16} “The voice of the people [is] the voice of God.”

{17} Actually the right to resist or overthrow unjust monarchs was well-established in pre-Reformation political theory.

{18} The preceding seven paragraphs are heavily dependent on Lysander Spooner’s 1852 Essay on the Trial by Jury.

{19} a reference to Herbert Spencer’s article “Prison-Ethics” (British Quarterly Review, July 1860).

{20} This is a puzzling claim. Bastiat, to name just one of many, defends interest on ethical as well as economic grounds.

{21} Sic, presumably for “money.”

{22} Sic, for “Échange.”

{23} Proudhon was imprisoned in 1849 for criticising Louis Bonaparte.

{24} Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen (1828-1906), in his 1882 play Enemy of the People, Act IV; Ibsen was a favourite of the Liberty circle.

{25} St. Paul in Acts 17:28, in turn paraphrasing the hymn to Zeus in Epimenides’ Cretica.

{26} French sociologist Charles-Jean Letourneau (1831-1902), author of Sociology Based Upon Ethnography (1892).

{27} Perhaps American egoist-anarchist and sometime contributor to Liberty James L. Walker (1845-1904), who wrote under the pseudonym “Tak Kak” (a Russian conjunction meaning “because” or “since”), and who published his Philosophy of Egoism serially in Egoism, though the publishers were Georgia and Henry Replogle and so Tandy may be referring to one of them.

{28} A reference to a line in “A Psalm of Life” (1838) by American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882), in turn paraphrasing Matthew 8:22 and Luke 9:60.

{29} Does Tandy mean “inconvenient”?

{30} Tandy here seems to anticipate the central idea of Mises’s calculation argument.

{31} George’s critique of Spencer was titled A Perplexed Philosopher; Mill, as the author of A System of Logic, is here a stand-in for logicians in general.

{32} English agricultural economist Arthur Young (1741-1820), in Travels in France (1794).

{33} An expression in frequent use in the late 19th century, but I have not yet discovered its source.

{34} French journalist Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr (1808-1890), editor of Le Figaro.

{35} English writer Isabel Arundell Burton (1831-1896), wife of explorer Richard Francis Burton (1821-1890); after her husband’s death she burned the manuscript of his second, fuller translation of the 15th-century Arabic sex manual The Perfumed Garden. Since he appears to have conceived the project only after the publication of his first translation (1886), and since he died in 1890, Tandy’s “fifteen years” is an exaggeration.

{36} Tandy presumably means either Philolaus or Aristarchus (though these names are hardly “obscure and long forgotten” to classical scholars or to historians of science); he also presumably means the revolution of the Earth.

{37} Twain’s suggested explanation was parapsychological.

{38} An 1890 novel by French playwright and political activist Felix Pyat (1810-1889), translated and published by Tucker himself.

{39} An 1889 novella by Tolstoj, likewise translated and published by Tucker.

{40} This passage appears not to be in the issue that Tandy cites; if you find the correct issue, please drop me a line.

{41} Presumably not Christian anarchist Adin Ballou (1803-1890), who was dead by 1896, but perhaps a relative. I know that an A. L. Ballou was a contributor to Liberty but haven’s investigated thoroughly.

{42} American economist Francis Amasa Walker (1840-1897), in his 1883 Political Economy.

{43} Wealthy businessman and union-buster John Wanamaker (1838-1922); during his term as Postmaster General (1889-1893) he protected the public from receiving lottery tickets or Tolstoj’s Kreutzer Sonata in the mail. The Star Routes scandal involved the awarding of government contracts in exchange for bribes.

{44} Tandy’s error for “than.”

{45} It’s surprising that Tandy makes no mention of Spooner and the American Letter Mail Company.

{46} British jurist and historian James Bryce (1838-1922).

{47} Paraphrase of Luke 21:28.

{48} Capital, I.1.3.A.3, n. 22; for the same idea see La Boétie, Hume, Godwin, Gandhi, Traven, Rand, and Russell.

{49} Grand Army of the Republic, an organisation of Union Army veterans, formed in 1866.

{50} This was also an accurate prediction of what would indeed happen in the U.S. five years later in the wake of the McKinley assassination.

{51} A reference to Matthew 24:24.

{52} Tom Loftin Johnson (1854-1911), Democratic Congressman (1891-1895).

{53} Grover Cleveland’s expression for pro-business interventionist legislation.

{54} A reference to Luke 11:26.

{55} The American Protective Association and the Patriotic Order Sons of America (both founded as anti-Catholic, anti-immigrant organisations).

{56} Irish politician Thomas Henry Burke (1829-1882), Permanent Under Secretary at the Irish Office, was assassinated by a Fenian splinter group for being, in their eyes, a British collaborator; English politician Frederick Charles Cavendish (1836-1882), Chief Secretary for Ireland, had the bad fortune to be standing next to him.

{57} American state-socialist Edward Bellamy (1850-1898), author of the utopian novel Looking Backward (1888).

{58} An August McCraith, a sometime contributor to Liberty, was active in the AFL. An Augustine McCraith was active in the AFL. An Augustine McCraith was born in Prince Edward Island in 1864 and died in New York City some time before 1920. An Augustine McCraith, this one a publisher and a member of the Typographical Union, was born in Ireland, and died in Brooklyn in 1909. These are quite possibly all the same person (with ’Ireland” perhaps a mistake for “the Island,” as Prince Edward Island’s inhabitants call it). Or perhaps not.

{59} I wonder whether this might be Dyer Lum?