A New Development of Principles, As Substitutes For Laws And Governments, For The Harmonious Adjustment and Regulation Of The Pecuniary, Intellectual, And Moral Intercourse Of Mankind. Proposed As Elements Of New Society.
I GLADLY accept the pleasing task which my friend, JOSIAH WARREN, has consented that I shall assume, of editing and presenting to the world, in my own way, his works on “Equitable Commerce,” which is but another name for what I have denominated, in my books upon the same subject, “The Science of Society.” The present work is the text and basis of all that I have written on the subject, and of more that I propose to write.
The main body of this book was published as far back as 1846. It has now under-gone at my request, a revisal by the author, and several important additions have been made, which may give the appearance of anachronism to some of its statements. To remedy this, I have surrounded some of the larger insertions of new matter with brackets, to advertise the reader of the fact, that these last are of a later date than the other parts. The work itself is one of the most remarkable ever printed. It is a condensed presentation of the most fundamental principles of social science ever yet discovered. I do not hesitate to affirm that there is more scientific truth, positively new to the world, and immensely important in its bearings upon the destiny of mankind, contained in it, than was ever before consigned to the same number of pages. I am conscious that I am guilty of no extravagance in predicting that such will be the estimate placed by posterity upon the discoveries of Mr. Warren.
In saying this, I have no desire or intention to disparage the labors of other great social philosophers. Owen, Fourier, St. Simon, and more, have worthily sought to solve the problem of a harmonious human society; and although they have all tailed to discover the true methods of reform, they have done, in the effort to do so, other and most valuable work. They have laid bare the vices of the old règime with a terrific fidelity. They have, like Carlyle, disgusted mankind with their own portraiture. At the same time they have sketched with a potent hand an enchanting picture of the “golden age of the future,” which contrasts in all men’s minds forcibly, at this day, with the antagonism, the wasteful expenditure of means, the ignorance, and crime, and sickness, and squalor, and filth, and wretchedness, and the broad and painful but ludicrous diversities of poverty and wealth, and the mercenary degradation of all classes, which disgrace the existing state of our social organization. Fourier has done even far more than this. His masterly analysis of the human passions is an invaluable contribution to man’s knowledge of himself. His daring but shadowy outline of a science of universal analogy, which would be entitled, if once put fairly upon the firm basis of a known science, to the denomination of “The Science of Sciences,” is eminently worthy of estimation, if regarded as merely suggestive, and stimulating to more sedate and systematic investigations in the same direction, and equally dangerous if accepted for what it claims to be an ascertained basis from which to reason in practical science.
This is not, however, the place to give a general estimate of any of these men. What concerns them here relates to their success or failure in discovering the methods of successfully placing human society upon a basis of equity, security, and peace—of internal harmony and predominant abundance of all the means of happiness. That they have proposed all this, as their end, is gratefully recognized as true. That they have deeply imbued a large portion of the heart of humanity with eager aspiration after such a consummation, is gladly acknowledged. Their influence is by no means limited to the number of those who are their professed followers. They have aroused the Christian Church, and in some measure brought back the religion of humanity, instead of theological dogma, while to them is fairly due the birth of the idea, that the constitution of human society is, like every other department of nature, a fitting realm for scientific investigation. Beyond this they have either not gone, or have gone in a wrong direction. They have all stumbled upon the fatal error of combined interests as the supposed sole method of neutralizing antagonism. They have failed totally to arrive at the simple definition of Equity, They have veered either to the right or the left of the exact truth upon nearly every question of practical procedure. They have attacked the legitimate idea of individual property, or they have erroneously attributed to property the human right to participate in the results of human toil. They have begun by attempting to regulate men by legislation, instead of trusting to men to regulate themselves and their relations to each other by a knowledge of principles. They have resorted to contrivances, instead of discovering laws. They have overlaid and smothered the Individual in the multiplicity or the complexity of Institutions.
Some social reformers have sinned more in one and some in another of these respects. None have avoided this catalogue of errors altogether. Protests will be uttered against this criticism from various quarters. I am aware it is said, for example, on behalf of Fourier, that he recognized most explicitly the individualities of men, as also their sovereign right of each to be the arbiter of his own destiny. It is said, that if his scheme were carried fully out, it was expressly intended to end by achieving the entire individual freedom of every member of community. These statements embody simply the truth; and yet there is a fallacy in reasoning from them that the scheme involves either the doctrine of Individuality, or the Sovereignty of the Individual, as practical facts. Individualities have to be crushed, and sovereignty has to be abdicated, in order that the scheme may begin to be carried out; and hence its essential self-defeating impracticability. The fallacy in question is so subtle, and has so strong a hold upon the minds of many of the devotees of Fourier, that it needs to be forcibly and aptly illustrated. There is an old legend about the devil’s attempting to build a chimney by beginning at the top. The scheme was plausible, but the practice never worked up to the theory. It was demonstrated that the chimney, if built, would end at the same thing as another chimney; and hence was it not clear that this was just as good a plan of chimney-building as any other? The project failed, nevertheless, for want of success in fastening the first brick; and so,
“The best laid schemes of mice and men
Oft gang awry.”
The relation which all of the predecessors to the discoverer of the Cost Principle, in this field of inquiry, bear to him and his labors, is similar, in my estimate, to that which the numerous experimenters in the discovery of a mechanical perpetual motion, and those who have speculated on the wonderful benefits to result to mankind from such an event, would bear to him who should actually detect the existence of some new law of physical movement, in accordance with which that mechanical miracle should become simply and demonstrably practicable. It is, in fine, the difference between laudable endeavor and complete success.
There is, however, nothing flashy nor superficially attractive in the principles propounded by Mr. Warren, nor in the mode of their exhibit—the farthest from it in the world. They are hard, unpretending, but fundamental truths. They are the rocky foundation facts, upon which the whole of what is to be the secure, the admirable, the transcendentally beautiful superstructure of regenerate human society must rest, if it is to have any foundation at all. Those facts will address themselves less favorably, in the early stages of the reform, to the tasteful, the imaginative, and the artistic, than to the philosophic and the so-called common-sense mind—less favorably to the amateurs than to the connoisseurs in social architecture. Others must await patiently the results, with which they will he amply contented in time. Those whose mental constitution enables them to pass rapidly and almost unaided from the statement of a principle to its manifold applications, will be delighted with this little manual of principles by Mr. Warren. The simple, rugged presentation of grand revolutionary truths which abound in every succeeding page of this hook, will be for them an ample storehouse of rich treasure. Men of mere scholastic predilections, and those who require or prefer to be facilitated in their appreciation of profound philosophical ideas, may find themselves better suited in my own more elaborate exposition of the same doctrine, in “The True Constitution of Government,” and “Cost the Limit of Price.”
It seems to be essential, however, that a work like this, in which new thought is so concentrated as to be almost oppressive to all but the most hardy intellects, should be heralded by a strong statement of its worth, by some one who has thoroughly explored its depths, and who can speak of its announcements with more freedom than its author. The experiments by which Mr. Warren has been, for a quarter of a century, fortifying his discoveries, have not been kept secret. The principles themselves have been, from time to time, more or less freely explained to the public. Even this work, which contains a sufficient statement of the whole circle of doctrines, has been, as before stated, several years published; and yet the experiments, the principles, and the book have been, it may be almost said, entirely overlooked and disappreciated, if we compare the slight estimation they have received with their real value and importance. If I have been among the first to grasp the full significance of these principles, and if, by a somewhat more boisterous proclamation of their value, I have begun to attract a broader circle of appreciators and lovers of their simplicity and their grandeur, I may, perhaps, claim as much merit as the obscure Mormon laborer, whose keener vision was directed by chance to the mineral treasures of California, after its gold-bearing soil had been for centuries trodden under foot, or carelessly turned up by the plow of succeeding generations. If, like his, my name shall be forgotten in the aftergrowth of a movement to which I may have been instrumental In giving a favorable inception, I shall gladly consent to that oblivion which comes from the overshadowing of the individual by the greatness of the movement itself.
Intimately persuaded that in this little book the reflective reader will find the elements of a world-wide social revolution—elements imbued with a potency competent to insure the rapid progress and final prevalence of universal Justice and Freedom on earth, I commend it to his careful perusal.
STEPHEN PEARL ANDREWS.
NEW YORK, May 1852.
THE public are here presented with the results of about twenty-five years of investigations and experiments, with a view to a great and radical, yet peaceful change in the character of society, by one who felt A deep and absorbing interest, and took an active part in the experiments of Communities at New Harmony, during the two years of 1825 and 1826, and who, after the total defeat of every modification of those plans, which the purest philanthropy find the greatest stretch of ingenuity could devise, was on the point of abandoning all such enterprises, when a new train of thought seemed to throw a sudden flash of light upon our past errors, and to show plainly the path to be pursued. But this led directly in the opposite direction to that which we had just traveled. It led to new principles! to new views, and new modes of action. So new and so startling were these principles, and the natural conclusion from them, that the discoverer (if we must so call him) dare not attempt to communicate them to his most intimate friends, for fear of being accounted “insane;” nor would he trust his own reasonings for their accuracy, but resolved to work them practically out, step by step, silently watching and studying their operations, and trust to results for making an impression upon the public mind, thinking that one successful example, at any one point, might extend itself to the circumference of society. But a new impulse is given to the public mind. Goaded on by the irresistible necessity of some change in our social condition, men are becoming more tolerant toward new things—more disposed to listen to proposals for alleviation; but short conversations, or public meetings, do not afford the required opportunities for the study of a subject involving all the interests of mankind; and I have come to the resolution to endeavor to place it (as far as practicable) upon paper, in a manner that it may be studied in detail, in times of undisturbed leisure, where the attention can be fixed upon that alone, individually; for nothing short of this can do it justice.
I have many times sat down to perform the task now before me; but when I 1 contemplated the overwhelming magnitude of the subject—the bewildering complication of its different parts—the liability to err, to make wrong impressions through the inherent ambiguity of language, and the impossibility of conveying new ideas by old words, I have shrunk with fear and trembling from the task, have laid down my pen in despair, and returned to the silent, but sale, though tardy, language of experimental action. This speaks unequivocally to those who see and study it; but this mode of introduction has its limits, depending on the locality of the experiments, and the intellectual capacities and pecuniary resources of those who are within its immediate sphere, neither of which may prove sufficient for the establishing of one complete example. And, although nineteen years ago a work of this kind would have obtained no readers, nor scarcely have been noticed, every class of persons are now alive to the subject—are aware that something must be done, and are disposed more than at any former period to give a work of this kind a candid perusal. Society is everywhere waking to the realities of its condition, and plunging into enterprises which are sure to end in defeat and disappointment, and to result only in the comparative martyrdom of the very best of men and women, who are nobly devoting themselves to the holy cause of suffering humanity. With these views, it would be inexcusable—criminal, in my own estimation, to shrink from the necessary responsibility, and remain silent, while I am convinced that our whole objects can be easily attained by a process unknown to them, which may possibly be communicated. Not that I can hope to reach the understandings of many by any effusion of words; but, that there are a few isolated individuals scattered through the dreary waste of mind, who perhaps can be assembled together by verbal inter-communication, and who may set a PRACTICAL EXAMPLE, that will speak a language which all can comprehend.
I deem it unnecessary to add any thing to what has been so well said of late, to show the imperious necessity of a total change in society’s institutions. Almost every one now admits—what the few far-seeing and deep-thinking individuals have perceived in all ages of human institutions—that something is radically wrong somewhere; there has always been a striving after a purer state of existence—a panting utter an atmosphere never yet breathed in the social state—a clashing between the theories and the practices of men—a yearning after practical justice and humanity—promised, though never realized in the operations of social institutions. Society has been in a state of violence, of revolution and suffering, ever since its first formation; and at this moment the greatest number are about to array themselves against the smaller, who have, by some subtle and hidden means, lived luxuriously upon their labor without rendering an equivalent. Governments have lost their power of governing. Laws have become powerless from their inherent defectiveness and their iniquitous perversion; the grinding power of capital is everywhere felt to be irresistible by ordinary means; the right of the strongest begins to be openly admitted to a rightful extent, and many of the best minds look forward to all age of confusion and violence, with the confidence of despair. The cry of misery and the call for remedy are heard from all quarters. We have contemplated suffering in different forms till the heart is sick; and, unless a speedy and effectual remedy be applied, would fly from the scenes or shut our eyes upon them forever. We are not alone in this feeling—the same spirit is abroad, calling for aid, for sympathy, for REMEDY; and in response to this call, I come at once to our subject—SOCIAL REFORMATION.
This appears naturally to divide itself into three parts.
First. A statement of what we wish to accomplish.
Second. The means to be employed.
Third. The manner of applying those means.
Plan of This Work.
I HAVE endeavored to reduce the great object of this work to the form of a definite problem, and to suggest the means of its solution in their most simple, practical form, and have associated each proposition with an initial or number, by which the reader can refer to their different illustrations or applications throughout the work. Thus, whenever I is placed either at the head of a chapter or in the margin of any page, there will be found some practical working out of the legitimate reward of labor, II refers to the security of person and property. I Points out the illustration of individuality, etc. There are many important subjects immediately connected with, though not constituting the social problem or its solution, which are referred to under the third class of figures 1, 2, 3, etc. Thus, suppose that the reader feels particular interest in the subject of competition. Let him turn to the contents, where he will find this marked 4. Now let him refer to any of the margins having the figure 4, and immediately opposite the figure he will find some illustration of the workings of competition.
If he wishes to see illustrations of the sovereignty of the individual, he will look in the margins for the letter S; and in a similar manner he will find the illustrations of any point of the subject, by referring to its corresponding figure or letter.
Problem to be Solved.
I. The proper, legitimate, and just reward of labor.
II. Security of person and property.
III. The greatest practicable amount of freedom to each individual.
IV. Economy in the production and uses of wealth.
V. To open the way for each individual to the possession of land, and all other natural wealth.
VI. To make the interests of all to co-operate with and assist each other, instead of clashing with and counteracting each other.
VII. To withdraw the elements of discord, of war, of distrust and repulsion, and to establish a prevailing spirit of peace, order, and social sympathy.
Means of the Solution
S. SOVEREIGNTY OF EVERY INDIVIDUAL.
C. COST THE LIMIT OP PRICE,
M. CIRCULATING MEDIUM FOUNDED ON THE COST OF LABOR.
A. ADAPTATION OF THE SUPPLY TO THE DEMAND.
Important Points Illustrated.
1. Disconnection, division, individuality the principle of order, harmony, and progress.
2. Different interpretations of the same language neutralize all institutions founded on words.
3. It is not each other, but our commerce or intercourse with each other, that we have to regulate.
4. Competition rendered harmless, and becomes a great adjusting and regulating power.
5. Use of capital on the equitable principle.
6. VALUE being made the basis of price, becomes the principal element of civilized cannibalism.
7. Power of circumstances over persona illustrated.
8. Sources of insecurity of person and property.
9. Illustrations of the origin or necessity for governments.
10. Division of labor the greatest source of gain to society,
11. Whatever operates against the division of labor, and exchange or commerce, makes against civilization.
12. Benefits of individual responsibilities illustrated.
13. Machinery, by the cost, or the equitable principle, made a benefit to all, an Injury to none.
16. Report of demand or wants, the first step of practical operations.
17. To those who want employment.
18. Victims of the present social state—simple justice would do more for them than the highest stretch of benevolence ever contemplated.
19. CO-OPERATION WITHOUT COMBINATION produced by simple JUSTICE.
22. Subordination which does not violate the natural liberty of man.
25. Combinations, or “UNITY OF INTERESTS,” the wrong movement.
27. Reasons for organizing society without government.
30. Natural government of consequences, in the place of man-made government!
31. Where the consequences fall, there should rest the deciding power.
33. Simple justice, or Equitable Commerce, would naturally effect all the great objects aimed at by the best friends of the human race.
37. Value being made the limit of price, stagnates commerce, and retards the progress of civilization.
Education conducted upon equitable principles. (See Appendix.)
The customary apprenticeships an unnecessary cause of poverty, and a great obstacle to any improved state of society. (See Appendix.)
Part I. What Do We Wish to Accomplish? Or What Constitutes The Social Problem.
THERE are now various proposed solutions of this problem before the public, which I differ more or less from each other; but there are certain points, in which many of them, at least, resemble each other, and which now seem to be pressed upon us by our very necessities. Following the demand, therefore, of these necessities or wants, rather than any authority, but with all reverence for the freedom of others to differ, I venture to state S the problem thus—Society wants:
I. The proper, legitimate, and just reward of labor.
II. Security of person and property.
III. The greatest practicable amount of freedom to each individual.
IV. Economy in the production and uses of wealth.
V. To open the way for each individual to the possession of land, and all other natural wealth.
VI. To make the interests of all to co-operate with and assist each other, instead of clashing with and counteracting each other.
VII. To withdraw the elements of discord, of war, of distrust, and repulsion, and to establish a prevailing spirit of peace, order, and social sympathy.
Part II. Means For The Attainment of Our Proposed Ends.
THE steam-engine is an element of society which has an increasing tendency to modify it—Arkwright’s spinning machinery, and all other mechanical discoveries of great magnitude, constitute other elements of new society—they have materially changed the condition of the working classes, and compelled them, for self-preservation, to call for a radical change in the whole fabric of society. Printing was another element, indispensable to reasonable and peaceful changes in the condition of man.
Another great element of peace and universal brotherhood, has “been of late infused into society by the direction of men’s minds to the influence of surrounding circumstances upon human motives, manners, conduct, character, and customs.
Neurology, and other kindred discoveries of immense magnitude for the emancipation and elevation of the race, are doing this noble work with a certainty of effect that is not to be mistaken nor counteracted.
I do not, therefore, profess to develop here all the elements that are or may be at work to produce a new and superior condition. Society is a complicated machine, which will not work rightly in the absence of some of its necessary parts. I propose to supply only such as appear to be wanting; if, indeed, a man can be said to supply that which man never made, but which are as old as the creation. The first element of Equitable Commerce, or rather the foundation of the whole subject, is:
THE STUDY OF INDIVIDUALITY, or the Practice of Mentally Discriminating, Dividing, Separating, Disconnecting Persons, Things, and Events, according to their Individual Peculiarities.
Do not be alarmed at the word study, or at the dry and abstract form of the heading of this chapter. I shall deal as little as possible in the abstract, but subjects of illimitable magnitude admit of no other form. The American Declaration of Independence is an abstraction, and those who are incapable of examining subjects of this character may as well lay down the book here and save themselves further trouble; while I invite the few more fortunately constituted to an exercise of mind upon which the success of our whole object depends, but which constitutes no part of our education, nor scarcely of surrounding example.
The Individualities of which I speak are so deep-seated, so subtle, and hidden, that they pass undetected by common observation; and almost defy scrutiny itself; and yet, as electricity seems to be the life-principle of the Individual, so this Individuality seems equally to pervade every thing, and to be the life-principle of society.
The word Individuality furnishes an illustration of itself. It assumes different significations in different cases. We sometimes use it as a substantive, sometimes as an adjective, sometimes as a verb. Different persons understand it differently in either form; and the same person will understand and appreciate it differently at different times, according to different degrees of development and different states of mind, under different circumstances. Such is the indefinite diversity that will spring up out of the peculiarities or Individualities of persons, times, and circumstances, when the word is used; and this diversity is inevitable. We can scarcely write a phrase that will not be subject to similar diversity of interpretation, growing out of the subtle individualities of different minds and different stales of the same mind.
This is illustrated or indicated in every one’s experience in every day life, in all our social intercourse, but particularly where the subjects or the words used are indefinite. So continually is this demonstrated, that I almost feel that an apology is due for stating it; but I will apologise by following out this individuality farther than common observation reaches.
“If a sonnet, for example, which has been addressed to some idol of the heart, falls into the hands of one under the influence of the tender passion, it is sure to be fully appreciated and pronounced ‘beautiful.’ To such a one nothing is too sentimental; any thing which tells of the ‘trials of the heart’—of ‘true love’—a ‘broken heart,’ is doubly welcome. But place the same production before a merchant in the bustle of business, and the exclamation would be, ‘What stuff! What nonsense!’ Yet the same man, under different circumstances, would exclaim, ‘How beautiful! How true!’”
The most thoughtful and dignified production may be the recipient of censure for want of a kindredness (co-incidence) of sentimentality, or the absence of it, on the part of the reader. The mind, from various causes, may be totally unfitted for the thoughts before it.
And then again, the mind of the most sentimental order, by nature, may be placed under circumstances unfavorable to the appreciation of the writer’s thought; so much so, that the most beautiful creations of the most fanciful author may be as “sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal,” though clothed in the most harmonious numbers. How, for instance, can we expect any one wearied with the toils of the day to peruse a poem, however short, with the same pleasure and favorable reception as the man of leisure? But even the man of taste and leisure may fail (nay, often does) to enter into the feelings of the writer; and without feeling, the penning and appreciation of poetry are alike out of the question. The shades of meaning which it is intended to express are so nice and peculiar, that words alone will not communicate them—much depends upon the peculiar cast of thought and mood of feeling of the reader at the particular time of perusal. A poet may describe parts and personages separately— such as the wood, the stream, the flocks, and the pastoral bowers; but how difficult to describe these so as to be appreciated by those who have never beheld, never admired rural scenery—never known the feeling of love! He will be appreciated only by those who have experienced the necessary conditions for appreciation. A reader who had “never viewed a river, or a waterfall, or a gloomy ravine, amid rock-ribbed mountains, could get no understanding from a verbal description of them; while those to whom such scenes and feelings were familiar would derive pleasure equal or superior to that arising from the contemplation of the reality.”
Now all these subtle peculiarities are entirely beyond the control of the writer and the reader. They are nature’s constant production—a part of the great law of Individuality, which sets at defiance all rules for writing and for reading. It rises-above all rules, eludes the most careful phraseology, and stands the only thing unmoved, unchanged, and unconquerable.
Again in matters of dress. “People appear differently according both to the lookers-on and their own states of feeling. Those who once seemed the impersonation of all that could charm and captivate, may again appear nothing more than ordinary mortals; and people appear better under some circumstances than under others, though not seen with charmed eyes. Some moods of thought shed a glory not its own on the plainest face, while others disfigure the finest features; and in the right shade and light, and form and color of the dress, many a merely good-looking woman appears really beautiful. Some know this, and make it their study to follow it out, while others have an innate perception of the becoming, and appear well, whatever the quality of the dress, when in its form and I quality they follow their own tastes, leaving fashion to dictate to those who have no idea of their own of ‘the fitness of things.’
I know not who are the writers of the two preceding quotations, but they are singularly useful in illustrating the point under consideration; while the first shows that individuality rises above all rules for writing or interpreting language, the latter shows that it sets aside all vulgar authority and rules for dress, and sets up the Individual taste and judgment in their place.
The subject of Equitable Commerce has drawn forth many remarks and comments very different from each other. One says, “he sees nothing in particular in it;” another said he “perceived that it had all the features that a great redeeming revolution ought to possess.” P. “could see nothing in it but indications of insanity.” The Rev. Mr. C. pronounced it “the result of more wisdom than commonly falls to the lot of man.” F. saw in it “a design to make a little money;” while C, G, and E, censure its author for spending his time and wasting his resources in attempts to introduce principles which require “more virtue and intelligence to carry them out than mankind possess.”
Such is the diversity of conclusions drawn from some of the most simple statements of facts, which, to some minds, are illustrated in almost every conversation, and in all our daily intercourse with each other! But to contend against this diversity, is to contend against our nature’s constant production. Such is the subtle and inherent nature of this individuality, that it accompanies every one in every thing he does, and any attempt to conquer it is like undertaking to walk away from his mode of walking, or to run away from his breath—the very effort calls it more decidedly into play.
Out of the indestructibility or inalienability of this Individuality grows the ABSOLUTE RIGHT of its exercise, or the absolute SOVEREIGNTY OF EVERY INDIVIDUAL.
We now come to an important and serious application of the facts evolved.
Words are the principal means of our intellectual intercourse, and they form the basis of all our institutions; but here again this subtle Individuality sets at nought the profoundest thoughts and the most careful phraseology. There is no certainty of any written laws, or rules, or institutions, or verbal precepts being understood in the same manner by any number of persons. This Individuality is unconquerable, and therefore RISES ABOVE ALL INSTITUTIONS. To require conformity in the appreciation of sentiments, or in the interpretation of language, or uniformity of thought, feeling, or action where there is no natural coincidence, is a fundamental error in human legislation—a madness that would be only equalled by requiring all to possess the same countenance or the same stature.
Individuality thus rising above all prescriptions, all authority, every one, by the very necessities of nature, IS RAISED ABOVE, instead of being under institutions based on language. Institutions thus become subordinate to our judgment and subject to our convenience; and the hitherto inverted pyramid of human affairs thus assumes its true position! Are you alarmed at this sudden plunge into an unknown, an uncultivated region? You are alarmed at your own redemption! After many years of patient watchfulness of the world’s movements and of laborious experiments, we see in this Individuality the germ of a future so magnificent, so bright and dazzling, that the eye can scarcely look upon it. We see that, as it is both inexpedient and impossible to overcome this Individuality, we must conform our institutions TO IT! Man-made laws thus become suggestive—not tyrannical masters, but useful co-operators. Institutions will be “made for man, not man for institutions!” Their introduction will be peaceful, and their progress proportioned to the benefits they confer! We see by it the violence of all disputes and controversies, whether religious, political, or domestic, or pecuniary, suddenly neutralised by a power as soft and genial as the gentle breath of a beneficent spirit! We see a remedy for the antagonisms of Individuals and of Nations!—a conservative against the decay of Empires!—a check to desolating ambition, and the whole field of human enterprise opened for beneficence! We discover a reasonable explanation of the antagonisms between ruled and rulers, between despotism and liberty! and we have found the deep seated, unseen causes of the political, religious, and pecuniary confusion and sufferings of the race, and of the disastrous defeats of Revolutions and reformatory movements. We behold in INDIVIDUALITY the long-sought principle of order, harmony, and progress!
We will endeavor to justify the apparent extravagance of our announcements by a few familiar illustrations, although the complete elucidation of Individuality must be the work of time and much more extended opportunities.
INDIVIDUALITY, Division, Disconnection, Disunion, is the Principle of Order, Harmony, and Progress.
When one finds his different papers, bills, receipts, orders, letters, etc., all in one confused heap, and wishes to restore them to order, what does he do but separate, disconnect, divide, and disunite them—putting each Individual kind in an Individual place, until all are Individualized? If a mechanic goes to his tool-chest, and finds all in confusion, what does he do to restore them to order, but disconnect, divide, separate, individualize them?
It is within every one’s experience, that when many things of any kind are heterogeneously mixed together, separation, disconnection, division, Individuality restores them to order, but no other process will do it.
If a multitude of ideas crowd at once upon the mind of a speaker or a writer, what can he do to prevent confusion, but divide his subject, disconnect, DISUNITE its parts, giving to each an Individual time and place.
It is this which constitutes the principal element of the very highest grade of criticism, as is shown by the foregoing quotations relative to the various appreciations of language, and sentiment, and dress.
When two persons are talking at once, there is not sufficient Individuality in either voice to separate it from the other. Both UNITING together, they make nothing but confusion. The efforts of both them and their auditors are thrown away. The remedy is obviously to disconnect, to Individualize them.
The more the letters of an alphabet differ from each other, i.e., the more Individuality each possesses, the more efficient and perfect are they for the purposes intended. The same is true with regard to arithmetical figures, and every thing of this kind.
When we mark a number of things for the purpose of distinguishing one from another, we use different marks; but to mark all alike, would only increase the confusion.
PHONOGRAPHY, a gigantic improvement in letters, which is probably to work a total revolution in literature and book education, consists in Individualizing the elements of speech and the signs which represent them—giving to every Individual element an Individual sign or representative.
The same is the case with a Mathematical Notation of Music (published, though unknown to the public). The elements of musical sounds are divided, separated, DISUNITED; each one having its peculiar Individual representative on paper; and this alone constitutes the foundation of an improvement for the general diffusion of musical knowledge, and in effective performance, which will probably at some future day make the world wonder at the crudeness and barbarism which, for upward of four hundred years, have been allowed to obscure and conceal the beauties and powers of this most heavenly element of social intercourse, from the mass of mankind. Musical harmony is produced by those sounds only which DIFFER from each other. A continuous reiteration of one note, in all respects the same, has no charms for any one. The beats of a drum, although the same as to “tune” are not so as to stress or accent; in this respect they differ, and this difference occurring at regular intervals, the strong contrasted with the weak, enables the attention to dwell upon them, with more or less satisfaction; but the unremitted repetition of one dull, unvarying sound would either not command attention or make us run mad.
It is when the voice or an instrument sounds DIFFERENT notes, one after the other, that we obtain melody; and it is only when DIFFERENT notes are sounded together that we produce HARMONY. The key-note, its fifth, its octave, and its tenth, when sounded together, produce a delightful chord; but these are all DIFFERENT from each other, and they retain their separate Individualities, even while thus associated in the closest possible manner; so that, while all are sounding together, the practiced ear can distinguish either from the others. They never become combined. They never UNITE into one sound, even in the most complicated, nor in the most enchanting, harmonious associations! If such were the result—if they were to loose their individualities in association, and to UNITE into one sound, all musical harmony would be unknown, or be suddenly swept from the earth, as social harmony has been by violations of the individualities of man. It is to the indestructible Individuality of each note in music that we are indebted for all that we enjoy from this most humanizing art; and it is through a watchful regard to the equally indestructible individualities of man, that he is to be indebted for the harmony of society.
INDIVIDUALITY, Definiteness, Disconnection, Division, Disunion is the great Principle of Social Harmony, Order, and Progress.
The commencement of constitutional governments was the first step of progress in politics, and it was disconnecting, dividing, disuniting the subjects of legislative action from those which were reserved sacred to the people.
The disconnection of Church and State was a master-stroke for freedom and harmony. The great moving power—the very soul of the Protestant Reformation was, that it left every one free to interpret the Scriptures according to his own Individual views.
[Responsibility must be Individual, or there is no responsibility at all.]
The directing power, or the lead of every movement must be individual, or there is no lead, no order, nothing but confusion. The lead may be a person or a thing—an idea or a principle; but it must be an Individuality, or it cannot lead; and those who are led must have an individual or similar impulse, and both that and the lead must coincide or harmonize, to insure order and progress.
The masses in a city, when meeting each other upon the side-walk, without any thing to lead to one Individual understanding, may turn out in divers ways to avoid collision. One turns to the right, the other to the left, and they both counteract each other; and both stop, both change again, with the same result—no progress—nothing can result but uncertainty and confusion, until there is some definite understanding between them, which both co-operate to carry out. (Definite-ness is attained only by an Individuality of meaning in the proposition advanced). Some one Individual suggests through the papers that every one turn to the right on meeting another. As it is for the interest, and is the wish of every one to avoid collision and delay, their inclinations and interests coincide with the idea thus thrown out, and the confusion is at an end. Here is individuality of purpose, individuality of understanding, individuality in the regulating or governing power, or lead, and yet the governing power is not a person, but an idea. Therefore, although the lead or governing power must be an individuality, it need not necessarily be a person. It is sufficient that it is an individuality; that is, notwithstanding that thousands accept the suggestion, it has but one meaning to any, and to all; and hence its success as a regulator. But if two suggestions were thrown out at the same time, the one proposing to turn to the right, and the other to the left, and no one individual understanding were arrived at, and if each one had not an interest in avoiding collision, they would neutralize each other, and confusion must be the result. Can we not see (Democrats as we are) that here may be an explanation of the defense of absolutism in governments, for the suppression of diversities of opinion, suppression of the freedom of the press, etc.? Here is in miniature the grand issue between despotism and liberty! What is the solution? I answer, the right of supreme Individuality must be accorded to every one; and though it is entirely impracticable to exercise this right in the present close connections and combinations of society, the true business of us all is to invent, modes by which all these connections and amalgamated interests can be Individualized, so that each can exercise his right of individuality at his own cost, without involving or counteracting others; then, that his co-operation must not be required in any thing wherein his own inclinations do not concur or harmonize with the object in view. I admit that this makes it necessary that the interests of the individual should harmonize with the public interests! This is entirely impossible upon any principles now known to the public, and this explains the motive for the introduction of these new Elements of society.
We propose to throw out such ideas or discoveries as, when they come to be examined, may, like any other definite or scientific truths, become like the suggestions relative to the side-walk, the regulators of the movements of each individual, by the coincidence between these suggestions and his interests, or self-preservation.
Blackstone, and other theorists, are fatally mistaken when they think they get “one general will” by a concurrence of vote. Many influences may decide a vote contrary to the feelings and views of the voters; and, more than this, perhaps no two in twenty will understand or appreciate a measure, or foresee its consequences alike, even while they are voting for it. There may be ten thousand hidden unconscious diversities among the voters which cannot be made manifest till the measure comes to be put in practice; when, perhaps, nine out of ten of the voters will be more or less disappointed, because the result does not coincide with their particular, individual expectations.
These inventions are all too short-sighted and too defective to be allowed to govern the great interests of mankind! I admit, that when we have once committed the mistake of getting into too close connections, it is impossible for each to exercise his right of Individuality; that then, perhaps, to be governed by the wishes of the greatest number (if we could ascertain them!) might be the best expedient; but it is only an expedient, a very imperfect one—dangerous when great interests are involved, and positively destructive to the security of person and property, from the uncertainty of the turning of the vote, or of the permanence of the institution resulting from it. One man may turn the whole vote, and often for want of definiteness (Individuality) in the meaning of the terms of the laws, their interpretation and administration are, of necessity, left to an individual; and this is despotism! The whole process is like traveling in a circle too large to be taken in at a glance, but yet, without being aware of it, we travel toward the point whence we set out, although we take the first steps in the opposite direction! Disconnecting all interests, and allowing each to be absolute despot or sovereign over his own, at his own cost, is the only solution that is worthy of thought. Good thinkers never committed a more fatal mistake than in expecting harmony from an attempt to overcome individuality, and in trying to make a state or a nation an “Individual! ” The individuality of each person is perfectly indestructible! A state or a nation is a multitude of indestructible individualities, and cannot, by any possibility, be converted into any thing else! The horrid consequences of these monstrous and abortive attempts to overcome simple truth and nature, are displayed on every page of the world’s melancholy history. A few instances will illustrate.
Lamartine, in his admirable history of the first French Revolution, says:
“Among the posthumous notes of Robespierre, were found the following: ‘There must be one will; and this will must be either Republican or Royalist, ...... all diplomacy is impossible as long as we have not unity of power.”
We here see the very root of his policy and the explanation of his sanguinary career. It was precisely the same root from which have sprung all the ancient as well as modern political and social fallacies. It was a demand for “unity!” “one-ness of mind,” “one-ness of action,” where coincidence was impossible. The demand disregarded all nature’s Individualities, demanded the annihilation of all diversity, and made dissent a crime! Therefore, all were criminal by necessity, for no two had the power to be alike! The true basis for society is exactly the opposite of all this. It is FREEDOM to differ in all things, or the SOVEREIGNTY OF EVERY INDIVIDUAL.
Having the Liberty to differ does not make us differ, but, on the contrary, it is a common ground upon, which all can meet, a particular in which the feelings of all coincide, and is the first true step in social harmony. Giving full latitude to every experiment (at the cost of the experimenters), brings every thing to a test, and insures a harmonious conclusion. Among a multitude of untried routes, only one of which is right, the more Liberty there is to differ and take different routes, the sooner will all come to a harmonious conclusion as to the right one; and this is the only possible mode by which the harmonious result aimed at can be attained. Compulsion, even upon the right road, will never be harmonious. The SOVEREIGNTY or THE INDIVIDUAL will be found on trial to be indispensible to harmony in every step of social reorganization, and when this is violated or infringed, then that harmony will be sure, to be disturbed.
Robespierre may have carried the old idea a little farther than some Republicans, but he carried it no farther than the Grecians, the Venetians, and even the ancient and modern advocates of Community of property. In all of them, as well as in all forms of organized society, the first and great leading idea was and is, to sink the Individual in the state or body politic when nothing short of the very opposite of this, which is, RAISING EVERY INDIVIDUAL ABOVE THE STATE, ABOVE INSTITUTIONS, ABOVE SYSTEMS, ABOVE MAN-MADE LAWS, will enable society to take the first successful step toward its harmonious adjustment.
Lamartine, page 337:
“Couthon said, ‘Citizens, Capet is accused of great crimes, and in my opinion he is guilty. Accused, he must be judged, for eternal justice demands that every guilty man shall be condemned. By whom shall he be condemned? By you, whom the Nation has constituted the great tribunal of the state.'”
Hero, by a jumble of sounding words, “great crimes,” “eternal justice,” “great tribunal of the state,” all of which mean nothing whatever but the barbarian imagination of the speaker, a phantom got up called the state, which is made to absolve the murderers from the responsibility of the murder. If this responsibility had rested individually upon Couthon, where, in truth, the whole of all that he was talking about existed, he would have shrunk back from taking the first step. But throwing all the responsibility upon the soulless phantom called the state, there was no longer any check to crime! This is raising institutions or the state above the Individual!
“The family of Louis XVI. being in prison, the municipal guard were always present at all their meals and other meetings, and prevented all confidential conversations; even their private feelings were suppressed (by order of authority). They were ordered not to speak in a low voice, but to talk aloud, and in French—any other language was forbidden. Madame Elizabeth, having once forgotten this order, spoke a few words in a low tone to her brother (the King), when the municipal in authority scolded her violently, and said, ‘The secrets of tyrants are conspiracies against the people, Speak out!’ said he ‘or be silent—the Nation should hear every thing,’”
Here again, the Nation, the state was every thing, the Individual nothing! The king, his wife, his amiable sister, and their children had no rights left! The Nation, authority, the institution, had annihilated all, and a dying sister must not speak to a dying brother, but their bleeding hearts must be laid bare by heartless authority, and trampled under the feet of the horrid monster of the imagination called “the Nation!” This is raising the Nation above the individual! Human institutions above Humanity! The true order is frightfully inverted! The individual should be THE ALL, and the Nation should be a multitude of sovereign Individuals, or be nothing.
Again, page 289. Speaking of Louis XVI, in prison, Lamartine says:
“The uniformity of this life began to change to custom and peace of mind. The daily presence of beings mutually beloved (his family was with him), their mutual tenderness, more felt since the etiquette of a court no longer opposed the effusion of the sentiments of nature.”
The free play of the natural family feelings, even to a king in prison, was preferable to the constraint of a court etiquette, which is imposed professedly for the “dignity of the state!” This again, is sacrificing the Individual to the state.
“Robespierre was repudiating the wholesale murders that had disgraced the Revolution, Marat felt sore under the responsibility that rested on him, and jumping up, shouted aloud, ‘they were a National Vengeance.’”
What would he have done for a scape-goat if the people had not been trained in the dogma of the state every thing, the individual nothing!
An elderly lady in the country, hearing that her daughter had been thrust into prison the day before, on suspicion of being opposed to the revolution, hastened in dreadful alarm to the city, alighted at a hotel, and in her phrensy of grief, gave vent to some expressions that were immediately interpreted into disapprobation of the Revolution. She and her daughter both met at ten o’clock the next day, for the last time in the world, at the guillotine!
The Revolution had become the all-in-all—Humanity was blotted out. The laws, rules, and edicts of the Revolution were above all else—the revolution was the great Juggernaut, to which it was thought a virtue to procure victims. This is raising Institutions above the Individual!
“Robespierre himself, in returning in the evening to Duplay’s house, and conversing on the sentence just passed upon the king, seemed to protest against the vote of the Duke of Orleans. ‘The miserable man.’ said he, he was only required to listen to his own heart and make himself an exception. He would not or dare not do so’”
And why dared not the Duke of Orleans to listen to his own individual heart and make himself an exception? Because the public would not sanction it—they knew nothing of the right of Individuality. The institution of the Revolution had become every thing, the Individual nothing.
Robespierre said to the National Convention of France:
“Besides, do you not perceive that by giving up the citizens to the Individuality of religion, you kindle the signal of discord in every town and village? Some would have a religion, others would wish for none, and they would thus become mutual objects of contempt and hatred.”
Why would they have become mutual objects of contempt and hatred? Simply because this Individuality was not recognized as the absolute right of every person, and was not known as the great principle of order and harmony. Diversity could only beget enmity where conformity was demanded! Robespierre himself lost his own life in an attempt to enforce conformity!
“As the king was conducted to the guillotine, no insult, no imprecation arose from the multitude. If it had been asked of each of these two hundred thousand citizens, actors or spectators in this funeral of a living man, ‘Must this man, one against all, die?’ not one would have replied, ‘Yes.’ But circumstances were so combined, by the misfortunes and pressure of the times, that all accomplished, unhesitatingly, what, isolated, no one would have consented to.”
What plainer evidence do we require to prove that isolated, or individual responsibilities and actions would constitute the true corrective for the enormities that have always been committed under the barbarian notion, that something called the state, or the law, was superior to humanity, or that institutions should rise above the individual, instead of being subordinate and useful to the individual.
“Any other man than Robespierre would have felt the influences of these reminiscences, and a feeling of generous pity would have stolen over his mind .... but Calculation had superseded all natural feelings in his mind, and the more he stifled every sentiment of humanity, the nearer did he, in his own imagination, approach to superhuman greatness; and the more he endured from the struggle, the ‘more persuaded was he of its justice.”
Robespierre was all this time only consistently sacrificing every thing and every body to the phantom in his imagination called the republic, the Revolution, or the state!
“Danton, cruel on the whole, but capable of pity in detail, yielded to the solicitations of friendship and the dictates of his own heart, and released (on the previous evening) several persons in whose fate he had felt an interest. Ordering crimes to be committed through the ferocity of system, and not the ferocity of nature, he seemed happy to rescue victims from himself.”
How evidently the system had risen ABOVE the man! The idea of the absolute inviolability of every person must lead and predominate in any movement, or it will proceed in confusion and end in despair.
“Cazotte was imprisoned separately from his daughter. The judges did what assassins shrank from, and Cazotte perished.”
It was the ferocity of system that made the judges worse than assassins. The “ferocity of system” commences at the point where it begins to rise above man!
“‘Louis XVI. will lose his head on the scaffold,’ wrote Fonfrede to his Brothers of Bordeaux. ‘The Majority desire it, and Liberty and Equality demand it as much as universal justice, The sacrifice is great. Condemn a man to death! My heart revolts at the idea, but duty speaks, and I bid my heart be still.’”
The “ferocity of system” had deluded Fronfrede with regard to “duty.” The “right of majorities” and of “justice!” I understand the first step in justice to be the inviolability of person, whether it be King or Beggar. This is also the true foundation of Liberty and “equality.” Political systems, to the contrary, only prove their fallacy and their wickedness.
Vol. iii., page 288:
“The republic was no longer a society, but a massacre of conquered men upon a battle-field. The fury of ideas is more implacable than the fury of men; for men have heart, and opinion has none. Systems are brutal forces, which bewail not even that which they crush. As the bullets on a battle-field, they strike without choice, without justice, and frustrate the end which was assigned to them. The Revolution had belied its doctrine by its tyranny. It stained its right by its violence. It dishonored its struggles by its executions.”
Nothing can be more true than these comments on the Revolution; but what is the root of all this ferocity of system? and what is the remedy? The root is the erecting of systems above Men! The state above the Individual! Human laws above Humanity! The Remedy must be the SOVEREIGNTY OP THE INDIVIDUAL, at his own cost, preserved through all the ramifications of the social state.
“The horror of living had conquered the horror of death. Young girls and children begged to fall beside their fathers and kinsfolk thus shot down; and daily the judges had to refuse the supplications of despair, imploring the penalty of death, less fearful than that of living. Every day they granted or refused these requests. The barbarity of these proconsuls did not await crime, but prejudged it in name, education, or rank. They struck in anticipation of the future. They anticipated years—they immolated infancy for its opinions to come, old age for its past opinions, women for the crimes of tenderness and tears. Mourning was forbidden as under Tiberius. Many were punished for having had a sorrowful countenance or a mourning garb. Nature was distorted into an accusation; and to be pure, it had become necessary to repudiate nature. All virtues were reversed in the human heart. The Jacobinism of the proconsuls of Lyons had overthrown the instincts of men; false patriotism had overthrown humanity.”
In other and shorter terms, ‘the INSTITUTIONS HAD OVERTHROWN THE INDIVIDUAL!! Vol. iii., page 166:
“The Girondists were removed during the night to their last place of detention, the Conciergerie, where the Queen was still confined. Thus the same roof covered the fallen queen and the men who hurled her from her throne on the 10th of August! The victim of royalty and the victims of the Republic.”
Both parties brought to the same end from the same cause! A striking, a melancholy, and impressive lesson to all builders of political or social institutions! It matters not what form a government assumes on paper—Absolute Despotisms, qualified Monarchies, Republics, or Reform combinations, all raise the institutions, or an external power, above the individual, and, consequently, all have their victims in their turn, or, rather, in one form or another, ALL ARE VICTIMS! The sovereignty of every Individual, or raising the Individual above all institutions, and all external power or authority, is the only remedy.
“‘The number and barbarity of the executions, the innocence of the victims, the distribution of the spoil, the derision of judgment, the streams of blood, and the heaps of corpses, had transformed the nation into an executioner and the government into a machine of murder.”
Whoever studies this era in the world’s sad history, as a lesson to Mankind, will see that no other result could possibly have been attained after having once annihilated all respect to the RIGHT OF INDIVIDUALITY, and made the state policy the all in all. From this one great grand error have all organized societies of men and women been victimized, in one form or another. All social calculations have been frustrated, and, up to this moment, anarchy, confusion, and suffering pervades the earth. By this first false step men’s minds have become inverted, and all men’s political and social relations are correspondingly deranged.
The state, the society, the institutions, the body politic, the nation, the system, or customs we live in, must not be permitted to become primary, but must be secondary! Neither man, nor man-made laws or systems, must rise above man; but laws, rules, and institutions, must be subject to man’s purposes! Human institutions must not rise above Humanity! Man must not be distorted to fit institutions, but institutions must be made to fit man! The state, or body politic, must RESULT FROM INDIVIDUALITY, instead of crushing it. If we would have a prosperous state, it must result from the prosperity of the individuals who compose the state. Where every individual is rich, the state will be rich. Where every individual is secure in his person and property, the nation, or state, is secure. Where every individual thrives, there will be a thriving state or nation. Where every individual should do justice, there justice would reign in the state or Nation. Where every Individual should be free, there would be a free state or a free nation. The liberty, freedom, or sovereignty of a state or Nation, must consist of the sovereignty of the individuals who compose the state or Nation. But there never was a prosperous nation where every individual languished!
No rich nation, where the property of all its members was consumed in building up national glory! A state or Nation, cannot be secure in person and property, where the person and property of every Individual is under institutions which are liable to unforeseen changes! There can be no just state or Nation, where every individual is ignorant or indifferent to what constitutes justice! There can be no FREE state or Nation, where every Individual lives UNDER, instead of ABOVE, the customs, laws, and institutions of the state or Nation!!
An illustration of Individuality, as the great principle of order, is seen in any movement of much magnitude, which must, of necessity, embrace a great number of parts. A large post-office is divided into different departments, each Department having an individual place. There is a place for Delivery, a place for Deposit, a place for Females, a place for Males, a place for newspapers, a place for unadvertised letters, and a place for letters that have been advertised. Some of these departments are again subdivided (or Individualized). The advertised letters are placed under different Alphabetical heads, and different places of delivery are established for one kind of letters, to avoid the confusion of too much mixture. One place for the delivery of letters ranging from A to D, another for those ranging from D to H, etc., and the ultimatum would be to have an individual place for the delivery of all letters ranging under any one Individual letter of the Alphabet. The perfection would be dividing the parts until they were indivisible; in other words, the perfection of order would consist of perfect Individuality. Another illustration is seen in an army. The commander-in-chief is the Individual leader of the whole. Other officers under him, each have the lead of a particular individualized portion of the body. Each of these portions is again divided, and an individual has the particular lead of each of these most minute subdivisions. All these different leads coincide with each other. All this is a beautiful development of order, without which nothing could be accomplished! Only one more step is in the same direction wanting! And this is, that the lead which each individual subordinate or soldier has by nature within him, should COINCIDE or harmonize with all the other leads, as in the post- office, or else, that he should ***not be required to act! If this would present a check to action, it would check only vicious action, and furnish the only corrective for that vulgar and criminal ambition that has so uniformly desolated and cursed the world. The word “commander” would then be changed into the word leader.
Lamartine, in his History of .the French Revolution, vol. ii., page 370, says that Lilienhorn, one of the conspiring assassins of Gustavus, King of Sweden, confessed that he was seduced into the crime by the ambition of commanding the National Guard during the tumult that would be likely to follow the king’s death.
The eclat attached to commanders, Heroes, etc., is the result of ignorance relative to their merits. A whole army of commanders-in-chief could do nothing if there were more than one commander-in-chief. It makes not so much difference who is leader! Great results are attained not so much because this or that person is leader, but because there is Individuality in the lead. Every person is an individual, and therefore possesses the essential qualification for a leader! It is Individuality, therefore, that is entitled to the eclat, rather than the person who happens to become the agent to act it out. Now, if this had been generally known, Lilienhorn would not have conspired against the life of Gustavus, for the prospect of the eclat of commanding the National Guard—Gustavus, a peaceful and philosophical friend of justice, might not have been assassinated, His influence might have modified the conduct of the surrounding powers, and the frightful catastrophe of the revolution might have been averted! Such are the magnificent tendencies of a knowledge of Individuality; and nature, true to her great purpose, the elevation and perfection of the race, is, and always has been, silently, though irresistibly at work, counteracting the blunders of her children, dividing and subdividing political parties, religious sects, and all National, state, and social combinations, and dragging them through with their faces stubbornly averted, toward the true harmonious, peaceful, prosperous, happy condition of ultimate Individuality.
Nothing is more common than the remark that “no two persons are alike,” that “circumstances alter cases,” that “we must agree to disagree,” etc., and yet we are constantly forming institutions that require us to be alike, which make no allowance for the Individuality of persons or circumstances, and which render it necessary for us to agree, and leave us no liberty to differ from each other, nor to modify our conduct according to circumstances.
“To every thing there is a season, and time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born and a time to die; a time to plant and a time to “pluck up that which is planted; a time to kill and a time to heal; a time to break down and a time to build up; a time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance; a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to get and a time to. lose; a time to keep and a time to cast away; a time to rend and a time to sew; a time to keep silence and a time to speak; a time to love and a time to hate; a time of war and a time of peace.”
Such is the Individuality of times.
There is an Individuality of countenance, stature, gait, voice, which characterize every one, and each of these peculiarities is inseparable from the person; he has no power to divest himself of them—they constitute parts of his physical Individuality; and were it not so, the most inconceivable confusion would derange all our social intercourse! Every one would be liable to the same name! One man would be mistaken for another! Our relations and friends would be strangers to us! “No security of person, of possessions! No justice between men! No distinction between friends or foes. All would be mere guess-work ‘or chance, and universal confusion would reign triumphant. How much, then, are we indebted to Individuality, even in these four particulars of physical conformation! The fact, that these peculiarities of each are inseparable from each—not to be conquered—not to be divided or separated from each, is apparently the only part of social order that man, in his had career of “policy” and expediency, has not overthrown or smothered. I have spoken of only four of the peculiarities of human character, and if these confer such benefits upon society, what may we not expect on a full development of all the capacities, physical, mental, and moral, with which every one is, to a greater or less extent, invested! but no two alike; and if the little intellectual development now extant results in an individuality that makes men and women restive and ungovernable under the existing institutions, what are we to expect for the future! Not only are no two minds alike now, but no one remains the same from one hour to another! Old impressions are becoming obliterated, new ones being made—new combinations of old thoughts constantly being formed, and old combinations exploded. The surrounding atmosphere, the contact of various persons and circumstances, all contribute to make us more the mirrors of passing things than the possessors of any fixed character, and we have no power to be otherwise; therefore, to require us to be stationary blocks, all of one size, hewn out by laws, institutions, or customs, is a monstrous piece of injustice, and it is impossible in the very nature of things.
I have seen a youth, who, from habitual inclination, rejected meat as an article of food, in one minute converted into, as it were, a ravenous wolf. He jumped at, and seized a raw chicken, tore a piece from its leg with his teeth, and chewed it with a voracity truly frightful; but while in the very act, in less than a second, he suddenly stopped, and sickened at what he had done! All this was effected by the direction of electro-nervous currents upon different parts of the brain by artificial means; but we are apparently surrounded with this fluid at all times, and we cannot say beforehand what effects it shall produce upon us! Where, now, is the right in pledging ourselves to be consistently of this or that character! and where the right in others to demand of us to conform to their modes of thought or action? and where is the authority for human institutions to rise above humanity, and say, with the tone of command, “be ye this,” or, “be ye that!” “thus far shalt thou go, and no farther?”
I saw a youth in a company of twenty-three persons (selected for his known scrupulous regard to the rights of property), in one minute and a half converted into a daring thief. He stole money purposely laid in his way before the eyes of the whole company, hid the money, and then denied it with the boldness and assurance of a hardened professor. In a second he was made extremely conscientious, and sunk down with grief, shame, remorse, as if he would have gladly hidden himself from himself and all the world in the very depths of the grave; and our most soothing efforts were necessary for his relief, assuring him that it was all our work. The scene was extremely affecting. There was scarcely a dry eye in the company, and the exclamation was made, “O God! that lawmakers could only get the lesson that we have had to-night.”
To what purpose, O legislators, do ye say, “thou shalt not steal?” To what end are all your horrid inventions for punishment! Stealing still goes on, and ye only repeat “thou shalt not steal,” and still punish, even though you said at first that punishment was a remedy! Ye have no remedy! but only inflict tenfold more evils by your abortive attempts to over come effects without consulting causes, or opening your eyes and ears to explanations! Our security against fire and gunpowder is in our knowledge of their natures and their incalculable modes of action, which knowledge raises us above their dangers, and renders them useful and comparatively harmless. Our remedies and securities against social evils are in our knowledge of our own natures, our inevitable modes of action, our true positions with regard to each other, and to our institutions. Even man-made laws, rules, precepts, dogmas, counsel, advice, may all be rendered comparatively harmless and useful by not allowing them to rise above the higher law, the highest utility, the SOVEREIGNTY of the INDIVIDUAL. We are liable to be deceived and disappointed in ourselves, as well as in others, until we are aware of this liability, which raises us above the danger; and we are subject, not only to constant changes, but to actions and temporary reactions, over which (at the time) we have no control whatever. The intrinsic philosophy of reactions may be beyond our reach, but the facts are notorious, that the reaction of fatigue of mind or body is rest; that the reaction of intense friendship is intense enmity; the reaction of intense love is indifference, a temporary or intense hatred; the reaction of great benevolence is temporary malevolence; the reaction of philanthropy is misanthropy; the reaction of great hope or expectations is temporary or great despair; the reaction of great popularity is sudden unpopularity; and it is well known that the greatest benefactors of the race, from high popularity, have often suddenly fallen victims to an unaccountable public hatred.
It is also notorious, that all of us are liable to strange inconsistencies of character, and that no effort on our part can prevent it; that the most reasonable are sometimes very unreasonable; the most accurate observers are very often under mistake; the most consistent are sometimes inconsistent; the most wise are sometimes foolish; the most rational sometimes insane! How unreasonable, then, how inconsistent, how unwise, how absurd, to promise for ourselves, or to demand of others, always to be reasonable, correct, consistent, and wise! under all these changes, and actions, and reactions, and inconsistencies of character, over which (at the time) we have no control whatever. How difficult to regulate our-selves! How impossible to govern others!
Add to all these unavoidable idiosyncrasies of character, the nice and peculiar influences of the conditions of the vital organs, the circulation of the blood, the influence of intangible agents, all combining and acting differently, perhaps, on every different constitution, and like the changes of the kaleidoscope, seldom or never twice alike, even upon the same individual! Add these again to what has been said in the foregoing pages, and to all that passes in our daily experience, bearing directly upon the point under consideration, and we shall then get only a glimpse of Individuality; then consider on what foundation rest all customs laws, and institutions which demand conformity! They are all directly opposed to this inevitable individuality, and are therefore FALSE!!! and the great problem must be solved with the broadest admission of the ABSOLUTE RIGHT OF SUPREME INDIVIDUALITY. The exercise of this right being impracticable in combined or amalgamated interests and responsibilities, universal harmony demands that those be universally disintegrated, INDIVIDUALIZED.
(I). The Proper, Legitimate, Just Reward of Labor.
With regard to the first proposition (marked I), the reward of labor, it is. perhaps, scarcely necessary to add any thing to what has been said within the last twenty years on this subject. It is now evident to all eyes, that labor does not obtain its legitimate reward; but on the contrary, that those who work the hardest, fare the worst. The most elegant and costly houses, coaches, clothing, food, and luxuries of all kinds are in the hands of those who never made either of them, nor ever did any useful thing for themselves or for society; while those who made all, and maintained themselves at the same time, are shivering in miserable homes, or pining in prisons or poor-houses, or starving in the streets.
Machinery has thrown workmen out of their tenth-paid employment, and this machinery is also owned by those who never made it, nor gave any equivalent in their own labor for it. These starving workmen have no resource but upon the soil; but they find that this also is under the control of those who never made it, nor ever did any thing as an equivalent for it. At this point of starvation, we must have remedy, or confusion.
At this point, society must attend to the rights of labor, and settle, once for all, the great problem of its just reward. This appears to demand a discrimination, a disconnection, a DISUNION between COST and Value.
If a traveler, in a hot day, stop at a farm-house, and ask for a drink of water, he generally gets it without any thought of price. Why? Because it costs nothing, or its cost is immaterial. If the traveler was so thirsty that he would give a dollar for the water, rather than not have it, this would be the value of the water to him; and if the farmer were to charge this price, he would be acting upon the principle that “The price of a thing should be what it will bring” which is the motto and spirit of all the principal commerce of the world; and if he were to stop up all the neighboring springs, and cut of all supplies of water from other sources, and compel travelers to depend solely on him for water, and then should charge them a hundred dollars for a drink, he would be acting precisely upon the principle on which all the main business of the world has been conducted from time immemorial. It is pricing a thing according to “what it will bring,” or according to its value to the receiver, instead of its cost to the producer. For an illustration in the mercantile line, consult any report of “prices current,” or “state of the markets,” with comments by the publisher. The following is a sample, copied from a paper, the nearest at hand:
“No new arrivals of flour—demand increasing, prices rose since yesterday, at twelve o’clock, 25 cts. per barrel.
“No change in coffee since our last.
“Sugar raised on Thursday, half ct. per pound, -in consequence of a report received of short crops; but later arrivals contradicted the report, and prices fell again. Molasses, in demand, and holders not anxious to sell. Pork, little in market, and prices rising. Bacon, plenty and dull, fell since our last, from 15 to 13 cents. Cotton, all in few hands, bought up on speculation.”
It will here be seen, that prices are raised in consequence of increased want, and are lowered with its decrease. The most successful speculator is he who can create the most want in the community, and extort the most from it. This is civilized cannibalism.
The value of a loaf of bread to a starving man, is equivalent to the value of his life, and if the “price of a thing” should be “what it will bring,” then one might properly demand of the starving man, his whole future life in servitude as the price of the loaf! But, any one who should make such a demand, would be looked upon as insane, a cannibal, and one simultaneous voice would denounce the outrageous injustice, and cry aloud for retribution! Why? What is it that constitutes the cannibalism in this case? Is it not setting a price upon the bread according to its VALUE instead of its COST? If the producers and venders of the bread had bestowed one hour’s labor upon its production and in passing it to the starving man, then some other articles which cost its producer and vender an hour’s equivalent labor, would be a natural and just compensation for the loaf. I have placed emphasis on the idea of equivalent labor, because it appears that we must discriminate between different kinds of labor, some being more disagreeable, more repugnant, requiring a more COSTLY draft upon our ease or health than others. The idea of cost extends to and embraces this difference. The most repugnant labor being considered the most COSTLY. The idea of cost is also extended to all contingent expenses in production or vending.
A watch has a cost and a value. The COST consists of the amount of labor bestowed on the mineral or natural wealth, in converting it into metal, the labor bestowed by the workmen in constructing the watch, the wear of tools, the rent, firewood, insurance, taxes, clerkship, and various other contingent expenses of its manufacturer, together with the labor expended in its transmission from him to its vender; and the labor and contingent expenses of the vender in passing it to the one who uses it. In some of these departments the labor is more disagreeable, or more deleterious to health than in others, but all these items, or more, constitute the COSTS of the watch. The value of a well-made watch, depends upon the natural qualities of the metals or minerals employed, upon the natural qualities or principles of its mechanism, upon the uses to which it is applied, and upon the fancy or wants of the purchaser. It would be different with every different watch, with every purchaser, and would change every day in the hands of the same purchaser, and with every different use to which he applied it.
Now, among this multitude of values, which one should be selected to set a price upon? or, should the price be made to vary and fluctuate according to these fluctuating values! and never be completely sold, but only from hour to hour? Common sense answers NEITHER, but, that these values, like those of sunshine and air, are of right, the equal property of all; no one having a right to set any price whatever upon them. COST, then, is the only rational ground of price, even in the most complicated transactions; yet, value is made almost entirely the governing principle in almost all the commerce of what is called civilized society!
One may inform another that his house is on fire. The in formation may be of great value to him and his family, but as it costs nothing, there is no ground of price. Conversation, and all other intercourse of mind with mind, by which each may be infinitely benefited, may prove of inconceivable value to all; where the cost is nothing, or too trifling to notice, it constitutes what is here distinguished as purely intellectual commerce.
The performance of a piece of music for the gratification of oneself and others, in which the performer feels pleasure but no pain, and which is attended with no contingent cost, may be said to cost nothing; there is, therefore, no ground of price. It may, however, be of great value to all within hearing.
This intercourse of the feelings, which is not addressed to the intellect, and has no pecuniary feature, is here distinguished as our moral commerce.
A word of sympathy to the distressed may be of great value to them; and to make this value the ground and limit of a price, would be but to follow out the principle that a “thing should bring its value!” Mercenary as we are, even now, this is no where done except by the priesthood.
A man has a lawsuit pending, upon which hangs his property, his security, his personal liberty, or his life. The lawyer who undertakes his case may ask ten, twenty, fifty, five hundred, or five thousand dollars, for a few hours attendance or labor in the case. This charge would be based chiefly on the value of his services to his client. Now, there is nothing in this statement that sounds wrong, but it is because our ears are familiarized with wrong. The case is similar to that of the starving man. The cost to the lawyer might be, say twenty hours’ labor, and allowing a portion for his apprenticeship, say twenty-one hours in all, with all contingent expenses, would constitute a legitimate, a just ground of price; but the very next step beyond this rests upon value, and is the first step in cannibalism. The laborer, when he comes to dig the lawyer’s cellar, never thinks of setting a price upon its future value to the owner; he only considers how long it will take him, how hard the ground is, what will be the weather to which he will be exposed, what will be the wear and tear of teams, tools, clothes, etc.; and in all these items, he considers nothing but the different items of COST to himself.
The doctor demands of the wood-cutter the proceeds of five, ten, or twenty days’ labor for a visit of an hour, and asks, in excuse, if the sick man would not prefer this rather than continuous disease or death. This, again, is basing a price or an assumed value of his attendance instead of its cost. It is common to plead the difference of talents required: without waiting to prove this plea false, it is, perhaps, sufficient to show that the talents required, either in cutting wood, or in cutting off a. leg or an arm, so far as they cost the possessor, are a legitimate ground of estimate and of price; but talents which cost nothing, are natural wealth, and like the water, land, and sunshine, should be accessible to all without price.
If a priest is required to get a soul out of purgatory, he sets his price according to the value which the relatives set upon his prayers, instead of their cost to the priest. This, again, is cannibalism. The same amount of labor equally disagreeable, with equal wear and tear, performed by his customers, would be a just remuneration.
All patents give to the inventor or discoverer the power to command a price based upon the value of the thing patented; instead of which, his legitimate compensation would be an equivalent for the cost of his physical ‘and mental labor, added to that of his materials, and the contingent expenses of experiments.
A speculator buys a piece, (inland of government, for $1.25 per acre, and holds it till surrounding improvements, made by others, increase its value, and it is then sold accordingly, for five, ten, twenty, a hundred, or ten thousand dollars per acre. From this operation of civilized cannibalism whole families live from generation to generation, in idleness and luxury, upon the surrounding population, who must have the land at any price. Instead of this, the prime cost of land, the taxes, and other contingent expenses of surveying, etc., added to the labor of making contracts, would constitute the equitable price of land purchased for sale.
If A purchases a lot for his own use, and B wants it more than A, then A may properly consider what his labor upon it has cost him, and what would compensate him for the inconvenience or cost of parting with it; but this is a very different thing from purchasing it on purpose to part with it, which costs A no inconvenience. We here discriminate between these two cases, but in neither do we go beyond cost as the limit of price.
A loans to B ten thousand dollars at six per cent, interest, for one year, and at the end of the year receives back the whole amount loaned and six hundred dollars more! For what? For the use of the money. Why? Because it was of that valve to the borrower. For the same reason, why not demand of the starving man ten thousand dollars for a loaf of bread because it saves his life? The legitimate, the equitable compensation for the loan of money, is the COST of labor in lending it and receiving it back again.
Rents of land, buildings, etc., especially in cities, are based chiefly on their value to the occupants, and this depends on the degree of want or distress felt by the landless and houseless; the greater the distress, the higher the value and the price. The equitable rent of either would be the wear, insurance, etc., and the labor of making contracts and receiving the rents, all of which are different items of COST.
The products of machinery are now sold for what they will “bring,” and therefore its advantages go exclusively into the pockets of its owners. If these products were priced at the cost of the machinery, its wear, attendance, etc., then capitalists would not be INTERESTED in its INTRODUCTION any more’ than those who attended it; they would not be interested in reducing the wages of its attendants; and in proportion as it threw workmen out of employment it would work for them.
One of the most common, most disgusting features of this iniquitous spirit of the present pecuniary commerce, is seen and felt by every one, in all the operations of buying and selling. The cheating, higgling, huckstering, and falsehoods, so degrading to both purchaser and vender, and the injustice done to one party or the other, in almost every transaction in trade, all originate in the chaotic union of cost, value, and the reward of labor of the vender all into one price. To bring order out of this confusion, to put a stop to the discord and DEGRADATION of trade, and to reward the distributor of goods without invading the property of the purchaser, there is probably no other way than to discriminate between the cost and the value of the goods, and between the cost of the goods and the cost of the labor of buying and selling them—keeping these DISCONNECTED, INDIVIDUALIZED. A store-keeper selling a needle, cannot get paid for his labor within the price of the needle; to do this he must disconnect the two, and make the needle one item of the charge, and his labor another. If he sell the needle for its prime cost, and its portion of contingent expenses, and charge an equal amount of labor for that which he bestows in purchasing and vending, he is equitably remunerated for his labor, and his customer’s equal right is not invaded. Again, he cannot connect his remuneration with a larger article with any more certainty of doing justice to himself or his customer. If he add three cents upon each yard of calico, as his compensation, his customers may take one yard, and he does not get an equivalent for his labor. If the customer take thirty yards, he becomes overpaid, and his customer is wronged. Disconnection of the two elements of price, and making cost the limit of each, works vii equitably for both parties in all cases, and at once puts an end to the higgling, the deception, frauds, and every other disgusting and degrading feature of our pecuniary commerce.
An importer of foreign goods writes a letter to a foreign correspondent for goods to the amount of twenty thousand dollars. On their arrival, if he sell them for what they will “bring,” perhaps he gets forty thousand for them, which may be about eighteen thousand over and above the prime cost and contingent expenses, Which he obtains for, perhaps, eight or ten hours’ labor in merchandising; which is about thirty-six thousand times as much as the hardest working man obtains for the same time. With this sum he could obtain one hundred and forty-four thousand times an equivalent from females at 12 1/2 cents a day, or that of two hundred and eighty-eight thousand children at 61 cents a day! In Equitable Commerce the expenses of importation, insurance, etc., etc., and those of vending, would be added to prime cost, all of which would constitute ultimate cost, which would also constitute their price. The labor of importing and vending would be paid in an equal amount of labor; so that if the importer employed ten hours in corresponding with the foreign merchant and receiving the goods, then he would get, upon equitable principles, ten hours of some other labor, which was equally costly to the performer of it. If scraping the streets we’re doubly as costly to comfort, clothing, tools, etc., the importer of foreign goods would get five hours of this labor for ten of his own! This would constitute the equitable reward of labor to both parties. COST being made the limit of price, thus works out the first proposition of our problem, the equitable reward of labor! Legislators! Framers of social institutions! Behold your most fatal error! You have sanctioned VALUE instead of COST as the basis of your institutions! Behold, also, the origin of rich and poor! the fatal pitfall of the working classes! the great political blunder! the deep-seated, unseen germ of the confusion, insecurity, and iniquity of the world! the mildew, the all-pervading poison of the social condition!
(II.) Security of Person And Property.
THEORISTS have told us that laws and governments are made for the security of person and property; but it must be evident to most minds, that they never have, never will accomplish this professed object; although they have had all the world at their control for thousands of years, they have brought it to a worse condition than that in which they found it, in spite of the immense improvements in mechanism, division of labor, and other elements of civilization to aid them. On the contrary, under the plausible pretext of securing person and property, they have spread wholesale destruction, famine, and wretchedness, in every frightful form over all parts of the earth, where peace and security might otherwise have prevailed. They have shed more blood, committed more murders, tortures, and other frightful crimes in the struggles against each other for the privilege of governing, than society ever would or could have suffered in the total absence of all governments whatever! It is impossible for any one who can read the history of governments, and the operations of laws, to feel secure in person and property under any form of government, or any code of laws whatever. They invade the private household, they impertinently meddle with, and in their blind and besotted wantonness, presume to regulate the most sacred individual feelings. No feelings of security, no happiness can exist in the governed under such circumstances. They set up rules or laws to which they require conformity, while conformity is impossible, and while neither rulers nor ruled can tell how the laws will be interpreted or administered! Under such circumstances, no security for the governed can exist.
A citizen may be suddenly hurried away from his home and despairing family, shut up in a horrid prison, charged with a crime of which he is totally innocent; he may die in prison or on the gallows, and his family may die of mortification and broken hearts. No security can exist where this can happen; yet, all these are the operations of laws and governments, which are professedly instituted for the “security of person and property.”
A young girl is knocked down and violated in the country where law “secures person and property.” She applies to law for redress, and is put in prison and kept there for six months as a witness, to appear against her violator, who is running at large, forfeits his bonds, and disappears before his victim is restored to liberty and laws and governments are “instituted for securing the rights of person and property!”
A woman is abandoned by a worthless husband, and reduced to the necessity of permitting a villain to board with her a year without any remuneration. He has consumed her last loaf; she appeals to the law for redress; the villain brings the drunken husband into court. The law (for the protection of person and property) forbids the woman to apply for redress while her husband is living (though drunk). Her appeal is suppressed— she is nonsuited and put in prison to pay the cost of her protection! “Laws and governments are instituted for the protection of person and property!”
Rulers claim a right to rise above and control the individual, his labor, his trade, his time, and his property, against his own judgment and inclination, while security of person and property CANNOT CONSIST IN ANY THING, LESS. THAN HAVING THE SUPREME GOVERNMENT OF HIMSELF AND ALL HIS OWN INTERESTS; therefore, security cannot exist under any government whatever.
Governments involve the citizen in national and state responsibilities from which he would choose to be exempt; under these circumstances he can feel no security for person or property. They compel him to desert his family, and risk or lay down his life in wars in which he feels no wish to engage; they leave him no choice, no freedom of action upon those very points where his most vital interests, his deepest sympathies are at stake. He can feel no security under governments.
Great crimes are committed by the government of one nation against another, to gratify the ambition or lust of rulers; the people of both nations are thus set to destroy the persons and property of each other, and would be martyred as traitors if they refused. This is the “security of person and property” afforded by governments.
The accomplished, the intelligent, the beautiful and amiable Ann Askew, could be seized in her bed by the ruffian emissaries of the law, and dragged in the dead of the night to torture—her delicate limbs torn asunder, her slender bones broken, and she rendered unable to walk, but carried to the place of execution, and burned alive, for not believing a point of religion prescribed by law! Say not that these things have passed away with the reign of Henry VIII. of England. The spirit is here at work now in our midst, in Democratic America, in the year 1846. Some of our best citizens are torn from their families and friends and thrust into loathsome prisons, for not believing in a point of religion prescribed by law; another, for working in the field on a day set apart by law for idleness. One case of this kind is sufficient to show that no security exists for the governed; but the greatest chance for it is with those who can get possession of the governing power; hence arises the universal scramble for the possession of power, as the preferable of the two conditions. These struggles and intrigues for power increase a thousand fold the insecurity of all parties. Rulers kill the members of society as punishment for offenses, instead of tracing these offenses to their own operations; and their pernicious example and prescriptions becoming authority for the uniformed, prompt them to kill their neighbors for an offense—to become their brother’s judge or their neighbor’s keeper; and crimination and recrimination, and slander, wrangling, discord, and murder, are the natural fruits of these laws for the “security of person and property.” No security for peace, harmony, or reputation, for person or property, can exist in such society.
If B has done what law forbids (although it be the preservation of a fellow-creature), he is insecure while there are witnesses who may appear against him; and all these are insecure as long as B feels insecure. A large portion of all the murders committed since the invention of laws have been perpetrated to silence witnesses. The murderers are, in their turn, murdered by law, and thus crimes increase and continue, originating in the insecurity produced by laws for “securing person and property!”
Again, WORDS are the tenure by which every thing is held by law, and words are subject to different interpretations, according to the views, wills, or interests of the judges, lawyers, juries, and other functionaries appointed to execute these laws. In this uncertainty of interpretation lies the great fundamental element of insecurity which is inseparable from any system of laws, any constitution, articles of compact, and every thing of this description. No language is fit for any such purposes that admits of more than one Individual interpretation, and none can be made to possess this necessary individuality; therefore no language is fit for the basis of positive institutions. To possess the interpreting power of verbal institutions, is to possess UNLIMITED POWER!
It is not generally known, or practically admitted, that each individual is liable, and, therefore, has a right, to interpret language according to his peculiar individuality. That a creed, a constitution, laws, articles of association, are all liable to as many different interpretations as there are parties to it, that each one reads it through his own particular mental spectacles, and that which is blue to one is yellow to another, and green to a third; that although all give their assent to the words, each one gives his assent to his peculiar interpretation of them, which is only known to himself, so that the difference between them can be made to appear only in action; which, as soon as it commenced, explodes the discordant elements in every direction, always disappointing the expectations of all who had calculated on uniformity or conformity. Every attempt at amendment only produces new disappointments, and increases the necessity for other amendments and additions without end, all to end in disappointment and the greater insecurity of every one engaged in or trusting to them. To be harmonious and successful we must begin anew; we must Disconnect, disunite ourselves from all institutions based on language or rise above them. Every one must feel that he is the supreme arbiter of his own; that no power on earth shall rise above him; that he is, and always shall be, SOVEREIGN OF HIMSELF, and all that constitutes or is necessarily connected with his individuality. Let every one feel this, and they will feel that which man has always yearned and panted for, but has never realized in society—SECURITY OF PERSON AND PROPERTY.
But how, you ask, can this be, where each is a member of the body politic—where obedience to some law or government is indispensable to the working of the political machine? If every one was “the law unto himself,” all would be perfect anarchy and confusion. No doubt of this! The error lies farther back than you have contemplated; it lies in EACH ONE BEING A MEMBER OF A BODY POLITIC. WE SHOULD BE NO SUCH THING AS A BODY POLITIC! EACH MAN AND WOMAN MUST BE AN INDIVIDUAL——NO MEMBER OF ANY BODY BUT THAT OF THE HUMAN FAMILY! What is the use or origin of a body politic! Blackstone, the father of English and American law, says, “It is the wants and the fears of individuals which make them congregate together,” and form society; in other words, it is for the interchange of mutual assistance, and for security of person and property, that society is originally formed. Now, if neither of these objects has ever been attained in society, and if we can show the means of attaining them, otherwise we have no reason for keeping up a body politic. With regard to economy in the supply of our wants, this will be treated of in its proper place. With regard to security, we see that in the wide range of the world’s bloody history, these is not any one horrid feature so frightful, so appalling, as the recklessness, the cold-blooded indifference with which laws and governments have sacrificed person and property in their wanton, their criminal, or ignorant pursuit of some blind passion, or unsubstantial phantom of the imagination. We have not the space, nor is it necessary, to enter into details; let the reader refer, to any page of history, let him remember that laws and governments are professedly instituted for the security of person, and property, and let him consider each page an illustration of their success, then he will be able to appreciate a proposal to secure them by some other means. The following is only an illustration. Lamartine in his history of the first French Revolution, says:
“The bombardment (of Mayence) commenced with three hundred pieces of cannon. The mills which furnished flour were set on fire; meat, as well as bread, was wanting; horses, dogs, oats, and mice were favoured by the inhabitants. Pitiless famine, compelled the generals to send from the town all useless mouths. Old men, women, and children were driven from its bosom, to the number of two or three thousand, who were equally repulsed by the Prussians, and expired between the two armies, under the cannon of the batteries or in the agonies of hunger!”
Is it not time to seek security by some other means than by the workings of government!!
Theorists say, that governments are established for the “security of person and property,” but there is another reason for their existence of a more tangible character: it is
the transaction of the business of any combination. In order to dispense with governments, then, we have to withdraw all business out of combinations! to individualize, to disunite all interests, all responsibilities then, and not till then, can we dispense with governments; then, and not till then, will person and property be secure, and society be harmonious. While one’s person, his time, his labor, his clothing, his lodging, the education and destinies of his children, are all locked up in national, state, county, township, or reform combinations, and all subject to be controlled by others who may differ from him, it is impossible for him to know security of person or property.
The security of person and property requires exemption from the fear of encroachments from any quarter; and, although governments have always been the greatest depredators upon the rights of persons and property, yet, there are other sources of insecurity, which call for remedy, and which demand, the operation of the COST principle supplies. It will be seen, upon reflection, that value being iniquitiously made the basis of price produces all the ruinous fluctuations in trade, the uncertainty of business, the uncertainty of the reward of industry, and the inadequacy of its reward; it produces poverty, and the fear of poverty, avarice, and the all-absorbing pursuit of property, without regard to the rights or sympathy for the sufferings of others, and trains us, in the absence of all knowledge or rule of right, mutually to encroach upon and invade each other; all of which, including the encroachments of governments, give rise to the INSECURITY OF PERSON AND PROPERTY. COST being made the limit of price, would put a stop to all fluctuations in prices and in trade, would enable each one to know, from year to year, the price of every thing, would put a stop to every species of speculation, compel every one to produce as much as he consumed, would distribute the burthen of labor among all, and reduce the amount of labor of each, to one, two, or three hours per day, would raise every one ABOVE THE TEMPTATION TO INVADE ANOTHER, and every one would, consequently, feel secure from any encroachments—governments and laws would not then be thought necessary, in order to restrain men from encroaching on each other, and this excuse for their existence would be swept away. Then if all business, all interests were withdrawn out of national, state, church, and all other combinations, and made the care and business of individuals, the demand for public agents or officers would be done away, and no excuse for governments or laws would remain. The power now delegated to them would thus be restored back to each individual, who would possess his natural liberty or sovereignty; which principle, together with the rights of labor and property, being clearly defined and admitted by public opinion, would be habitually respected by all, each being raised above any temptation to violate the admitted rights of person or property. When every one shall have an interest in the preservation of each, then the troubled waters will, have become calmed; downtrodden humanity will stand erect upon ground as level as nature makes it; every one can then “sit under his own vine and fig tree, and there will be none to make them afraid;” and man
will realize what man has never seen, and that which man shall never otherwise know— SECURITY OF PERSON AND PROPERTY.
(III.) The Greatest Practicable Amount of Liberty to Each Individual.
LIBERTY! Freedom! Right! The vital principle of happiness! The one perfect law! The soul of every thing that exalts and refines us! The one sacred sound that touches a sympathetic cord in every living breast! The watchword of every revolution in the holy cause of suffering humanity! Freedom! The last lingering word whispered from the dying martyr’s quivering lips! The one precious boon—the atmosphere of heaven. The “one mighty breath, which shall, like a whirlwind, scatter in its breeze the whole dark pile of human mockeries.” When is LIBERTY to take up its abode on earth?
What is liberty? WHO WILL ALLOW ME TO DEFINE IT FOR HIM, AND AGREE BEFOREHAND TO SQUARE HIS LIFE BY MY DEFINITION? Who does not wish to see it first, and sit in judgment on it, and decide for himself as to its propriety? and who does not see that it is his own individual interpretation of the word that he adopts? And who will agree to square his whole life by any rule, which, although good at present, may not prove applicable to all cases? Who does not wish to preserve his liberty to act according to the peculiarities or INDIVIDUALITIES of future cases, and to sit in judgment on the merits of each, and to change or vary from time to time with new developments and increasing knowledge? Each individual being thus at liberty at all times, would be SOVEREIGN OF HIMSELF. NO GREATER AMOUNT OF LIBERTY CAN BE CONCEIVED—ANY LESS WOULD NOT BE LIBERTY! Liberty defined and limited by others is slavery! LIBERTY, then, is the SOVEREIGNTY OF THE INDIVIDUAL; and never shall man know liberty until each and every individual is acknowledged to be the only legitimate sovereign of his or her person, time, and property, each living and acting at his own cost; and not until we live in society where each can exercise this inalienable right of sovereignty at all times without clashing with, or violating that of others. This is impracticable just in proportion, as we or our interests are UNITED or combined with others. The only ground upon which man can know liberty, is that of DISCONNECTION, DISUNION, INDIVIDUALITY.
You and I may associate together as the best of friends, as long as our interests are not too closely connected; but let our domestic arrangements be too closely connected; let me become responsible for your debts, or let me, by joining a society of which you are a member, become responsible for your sentiments, and the discordant effects of too close connection will immediately appear. Harmonious society can be erected on no other ground than the strictest INDIVIDUALITY of interests and responsibilities, nor can the liberty of mankind be restored upon any other principle or mode of action. How can it be otherwise? If my interest is united with yours, and we differ at any point in its management, as this difference is inevitable, one must yield, the other must decide, or, we must leave the decision to a third party. This third party is government, and thus, in UNITED INTERESTS, government originates. The more business there is thus committed to governmental management, the more must each of the governed surrender his liberty or his control over his own, and the greater must be the amount of power delegated to the government. When this becomes unlimited or indefinite, the government is absolute, and the liberty and security of the governed are annihilated; when limited or definite, some liberty remains to the governed. Experience has proved, that power cannot be delegated to rulers of states and nations, in sufficient quantities for the management of business, without its becoming an indefinite quantity, and in this indefiniteness have mankind been cheated out of their legitimate liberty.
Let twenty persons combine their means to build a bridge each contributing twenty dollars—at the first meeting for business it is found that the business of such combinations can be conducted only by electing some one individual deciding and acting power, before any practical steps can be taken. Here each subscriber must trust his twenty dollars to the management of some one, perhaps not of his own choice, yet, as the sum is definite and not serious, its loss may not disturb his SECURITY, and he prefers to risk it for the prospective advantages to himself and his neighborhood. In entering his twenty dollars into this combination he submits it to the control of others, but he submits nothing more; and if he is aware beforehand, that the business of all combinations must be conducted by delegated power; and if he is not compelled to submit to any conditions not contemplated beforehand; and if he can withdraw his investment at pleasure, then there is no violation of his natural liberty or sovereignty over his own; or, if he choose to make a permanent investment, and lay down all future control over it, for the sake of a prospective advantage, it is a surrender of so much of his property (not his liberty) to the control of others; but, it being a definite quantity, and the risks and conditions all being made known and voluntarily consented to beforehand, the consequences may not be serious to him; and, although he may discover, in the course of the business, that the principle is wrong, yet, he may derive ultimate advantage, under some circumstances, from so much combination—some may be willing to invest more and others less. If each one is himself the supreme judge at all times of the individual case in hand, and is free to act from his own individual estimate of the advantages to be derived to himself or others, as in the above instance, then the natural liberty of the individual is not invaded; but it is when the decision or will of others is made his rule of action, CONTRARY TO HIS VIEWS OR INCLINATION, that his legitimate liberty is violated.
We eat prussic acid in a peach—another quantity of prussic acid is certain and sudden death. Let us learn to discriminate, to individualize our ideas, even of different quantities of the same thing. The above amount of combination may be harmless; indeed, it may give us a healthful proof that it is wrong in principle, and admonish us not to pursue it farther. But now let us contemplate another degree of combination— combination as the basis of society, involving all the great interests of man; his liberty, his person, his mind, his time, his labor, his food, the soil-he rests upon, his property, his responsibilities to an indefinite extent, his security, the education and destinies of his children, the indefinite interests of his race! In such combinations, whether political or social, the different members can never be found always possessing the same views and feelings on all these subjects. Not even two persons can perform a piece of music together in order, unless one of them commences or leads individually, or, unless both agree to be governed by some third movement, which is an individuality. Two leaders cannot lead—the lead must be individual, or confusion and discord will be the result. The same is true with regard to any combined movement. In political and social combinations, men have sought to mitigate the horrid abuses of despotism by diffusing the delegated power, but they have always purchased the relief at the expense of confusion. The experience of all the world has shown, that the business of such combinations cannot be conducted by the whole of its members, but that one or a few must be set apart to lead and manage the business of the combination; to thee, power must be delegated JUST IN PROPORTION TO THE AMOUNT OF BUSINESS COMMITTED TO THEIR CHARGE. These constitute the government of the combination, and to this government all must yield their INDIVIDUAL SOVEREIGNTY, or the combination cannot move one step. If their persons, their responsibilities, and all their interests are involved in the combination, as in communities of common property, all these must be entirely under the control of the government, whose judgment or will is the rule for all the governed, and the natural liberty or sovereignty of every member is entirely annihilated, and the government is as strong, as absolute as a government can be made, while the members are rendered as weak and as dependent on the governing few as they can be rendered, and consequently, their LIBERTY and SECURITY are reduced to the lowest practicable degree. If only half of the interests of the individual are invested in the combination, then only half the quantity of government is required, and only half of the natural liberty of the members need to be surrendered; but as this definite quantity cannot be measured and set apart from the other half, and as government once erected, either through the indefiniteness of the language in which the power is delegated or by other means, will steal the other half; there is no security, no liberty for mankind, but through the ABANDONMENT of COMBINATIONS as the basis of society.
If governments originate in combined interests, and if government and liberty cannot exist together, then the solution of our problem demands that there be NO COMBINED INTERESTS TO MANAGE. All interests must be individualized—all responsibilities must be individual, before men can enjoy complete liberty or security, and before society can be completely harmonious. We can dispense with government only in proportion as we can reduce the amount of public business to be managed. This, then, is the movement for the restoration of the liberty of mankind; it is to disconnect, to individualize, rather than to combine or “UNITE” our interests!
When one’s person, his labor, his responsibilities, the soil he rests on, his food, his property, and all his interests are so disconnected, disunited from others, that he can control or dispose of these at all times, according to his own views and feelings, without controlling or disturbing others; and when his premises are sacred to himself, and his person is not approached, nor his time and attention taken up, against his inclination, then the individual may be said to be practically SOVEREIGN OF HIMSELF, and all that constitutes or pertains to his individuality. No greater scope of liberty for every individual can be conceived—any less is not the “greatest practicable amount of liberty,” and will not supply the demand of our third proposition, (III.)
(IV.) Economy in The Production And Uses of Wealth.
THE first and greatest source of economy, the richest mine of wealth ever worked by man, is, the DIVISION AND EXCHANGE OF LABOR. Where a man is so isolated from society as to be deprived of the advantages of division and exchange of labor, and has to supply all his own wants, like Robinson Crusoe, there is nothing to distinguish him from the savage. It is only in proportion as he can apply himself to one or a few pursuits, and exchange his products for the supply of all his wants, that he begins to emerge from the crudest state of existence, to surround himself with conveniences and luxuries, and to reduce the burthen of his own labor. Were it not for the division and exchange of labor, every one who used a needle would be obliged to make it. He or she must dig the ore, erect a furnace, convert the ore into iron, then into steel, and construct all the machinery and tools necessary to make the needles, and make all the tools required in those operations! As this would be impossible, we should be obliged to resort to such clothing as could be made without them; and were it not for the division and exchange of labor in the production of the single article of needles, it is probable, that civilized society would still be clothed like the uncivilized.
Division and exchange are naturally carried to a greater extent in cities than in the open country. This, probably, in part, explains the enigma of so many being sustained luxuriously in cities apparently almost without labor, while men in the country are always hard at work, but rarely have things comfortable around them. Being so remote from division and exchange, they are obliged to supply many of their own wants without the ordinary means of doing it—without tools—without instruction—without practice, they must mend a gate, repair their harness, make their own shoes, and expend, perhaps, three times the labor that a workman would require in the same operations, and it is badly done at last. They must also have as many kinds of tools as the different operations demand, which it requires care to preserve and keep in order, and between all, their time and capital are frittered away to little purpose. Five hundred men thus scattered too remote from each other, or, from other causes being unable to procure the advantages of division and exchange, must have five hundred pairs of bench planes, and other tools for working wood—five hundred sets of shoe-making tools—five hundred places and fixtures for working iron, and five hundred equipments in every other branch of business in which they are obliged to dabble. Now, if these five hundred men or families were within reach of each other, and each one were to apply himself to only one branch of business, and all should exchange with each other, each one would require only one set of tools, and one trade, instead of thirty or forty—his work would be well done instead of ill done—and if exchanges were equal, the wants of each would be well supplied, at perhaps, the cost of one fourth the labor that is now required to supply one half their wants in an inferior manner.
If such are the enormous advantages of division and exchange, how can we account for the fact, that so large portions of all countries being deprived of them, and that even in cities division if not carried out, excepting in a very few branches of manufacture? I attribute this barbarous condition of the economies chiefly to two causes. First, the practice of making value the standard of price—asking for a thing just what it will bring, just balances the motives of the purchaser, so, that a man wanting a pair of shoes, being asked as much as he would give for them, rather than go without them, makes him form the habit of going without whenever he can, or of making them himself even at a disadvantage. Whereas, on the contrary, if he could always get them for that amount of his own labor which they cost an expert workman, he could have no motive to do without them, nor to spend three times as much labor in making them himself. The same cause and the same reasons ramify into all our supplies.
A wants a barrel of flour, and goes to the “holder,” but he is “not anxious to sell;” a report of short crops induces him to think that there will not be a supply for the demand— it will be wanted more by-and-by, and he can get more as want or suffering increases; so A does not get the flour—no exchange of flour takes place yet; he waits—goes again—he is told that flour has “risen since yesterday at 12 o’clock,” he must pay more than usual, and the price is set at what the holder thinks “it will bring;” but A, knowing that one fluctuation follows another, thinks he will wait till the price falls; so no exchange of flour takes place yet. A has still no flour—and thus it is with every thing else; the same elements ramify into all our exchanges, and derange all our efforts to obtain supplies. Making value, or “what a thing will bring,” the limit of its price, stagnates exchange, and prevents our wants from being supplied.
Now, if it were not a part of the present system to get a price according to the degree of want or suffering of the community, there would long since have been some arrangement made to ADAPT THE SUPPLY TO THE DEMAND. This, even in the present wretched jumble of accidents, would, to a great extent, soften some of the most hideous features of our cannibal commerce.
In society where even the first element of order had made its way, to the intellects of men, there would be some point at which all would continually make known their wants, as far as they could anticipate them, and put them in a position to be supplied—and all who wanted employment would know where to look for it, and the supply would be adapted to the demand. We should not then have all the flour carried out of the country where it was raised, so that none could be had (as at this moment while I am writing), and carried a thousand miles in anticipation of higher prices. This rush of flour has “exceeded the demand”— “prices have fallen”—twelve hundred barrels have spoiled in one man’s hands, and two thousand barrels are on their way back to the place of production! where, after having been stored and booked, and draped and shipped to New Orleans, and there unshipped and drayed, and stored and booked, and waiting for a demand, it is again drayed and shipped, and brought back to be unshipped, drayed, and stored and booked, and sold, half spoiled, to its original producers, for all its first cost, with all these expenses added, and as much more as the holders “can get.” This is the economy of our present profit-making commerce!
The adaptation of the supply to the demand, although it is continually governing the bodies of men, seems never to have made its way into their intellects, or they would have made it the governing principle of their arrangements. It is this which prompts almost every action of life, not only of men, but other animals—insects—all animated nature. All man’s pursuits originate in his efforts to supply some of his wants, either physical, mental, or moral; even our intellectual commerce is unconsciously governed by this great principle, whenever it is harmonious and beneficial; and it is discordant and depreciating where it is not so regulated. An answer to a question is but a supply to a demand. Advice, when wanted, is acceptable, but never otherwise—COMMANDS are never in this order, and produce nothing but disorder. The sovereignty of the individual must correct this.
Almost every movement of every animal is from nature’s promptings toward the supply of some of its wants. Nay, more, if it is wounded, there is naturally an action toward the formation of new skin, or new parts to supply the deficiency created. The same principle runs even into the vegetable creation. The bark of a tree being torn away, nature goes to work to supply the demand thus produced, with new bark, which otherwise never would have occupied that place. Even a pumkin-vine having run too far to draw nourishment from its original starting point, strikes down new roots, to draw a supply of nourishment necessary to its progress. Had “the combined wisdom” of any country ever equaled that of a pumkin-vine, that country would have had some arrangement for adapting the supply to the demand. But this will never be, while speculations are made by throwing the demand and supply out of their natural proportions, or while value, instead of cost, is made the limit of price. This false principle of price, in addition to all its direct iniquity, stagnates exchanges, interrupts or stops supplies, and involves every thing in uncertainty and confusion, discourages arrangement and order, and prevents division and exchange.
Another great obstacle to division and exchange is the lack of some principle by which to settle the prices, or which would itself settle them harmoniously, instead of the disgusting process of bargaining in every little transaction, which is so repugnant to good sense and good feeling that the best citizens are often induced to do without conveniences, or undertake to supply themselves to great disadvantage rather than enter into the degrading warfare which generally attends our pecuniary commerce. They will also afford to others little accommodations gratuitously for the same reason—these lay the receiver under indefinite obligations, one of the worst forms of slavery. Gratuitous labor must necessarily be limited, and thousands of exchanges of great value, but little cost, would immensely increase the comforts of all parties, where COST, as a principle, measured and settled the price in every transaction, without words—without disturbing our social feelings and self-respect. Another great obstacle to the development of this branch of economy, is the uncertainty, the insecurity of every business. Men dare not make investments for carrying on business to the best advantage while the markets for their products are unsteady—where prices “rise at eight o’clock” and “fall at twelve.” If prices were equitably adjusted by the COST principle, we should know, from year to year, from age to age very nearly, the prices of every thing—All labor being equally rewarded according to its cost, there would be no destructive competition—Markets would be steady—then we might subdivide the different parts of manufactures to any extent that the demand would justify at any time, and be safe, secure, and society would know the immense wealth to be derived from the division of labor.
Another great obstacle to extensive division of labor, and rapid and easy exchanges, seems to be the want of the means of effecting exchanges. We cannot carry our property about us for the purpose of exchanging. If we could do this, and give one thing for another at once, and thus settle every transaction, such a thing as money, or a circulating medium, never would have been known; but, as we cannot carry flour, shoes, carpentering, brick-work, store-keeping, etc., about us to exchange for what we want, we require something which represents these; which representative we can always carry with us. This Representative of property should be our circulating medium. Theorists have said that money was this representative, but it is NOT. A dollar represents nothing whatever but itself nor can it be made to. At no time is it any demand on any one for any quantity of any kind of property or labor whatever. At one time a dollar will procure two bushels of potatoes, at another time three bushels, at another four, and different quantities of different persons at the same time. It has no definite value at any time, nor if it had, would its value qualify it for a circulating medium; but, on the contrary, its value and its cost being inseparably united with its use as a representative, disqualifies all money for acting the part of a circulating medium: it should have but one quality, one individual, definite purpose, that of standing in the place of the thing represented, as a miniature represents a person. Money represents robbery, banking, gambling, swindling, counterfeiting, etc., as much as it represents property; it has a value that varies with every individual that uses it, and changes as often as it is used—a picture that would represent at one time a man, at another a monkey, and then a gourd, would be just as legitimate and fit for a portrait, as common money is fit for a circulating medium.
We want a circulating medium that is a definite representative of a definite quantity of property, and nothing but a representative; so that when we cannot make direct equivalent exchanges of property, we can supply the deficiency with its definite representative, which will stand in its place. And this should not have any reference to the value of property, but only to its COST, so that if I get a bushel of wheat of you, I give you the representative of shoe-making, with which you should be able to obtain from the shoemaker as much labor as you bestowed on the wheat—cost for cost in equivalent quantities; and to effect these exchanges with facility, each one must always have a plenty of this representative on hand, or be able to make it on the occasion, and so adapt the supply of the circulating medium to the demand for it—a problem that never has yet been solved by any financiers in the world, nor ever will be while value is taken into account of price. The remark is common, that “if money was plenty we would purchase many things that we cannot for want of it.” Here, no exchange takes place that otherwise would, and division will always be in proportion to exchange or sales. Where there is no circulating medium, there cannot be much exchange or division. On the other hand, where every one has a plenty of the circulating medium always at hand, exchanges and division of labor would not be limited for want of money. A note given by each individual for his own labor, estimated by its cost, is perfectly legitimate and competent for all the purposes of a circulating medium. It is based upon the bone and muscle, the manual powers, the talents, and resources, the property, and property-producing powers of the whole people—the soundest of all foundations, and is a circulating medium of the only kind that ever ought to have been issued. The only objection to it is, that it would immediately abolish all the great money transactions of the world—all banks and banking operations—all stock- jobbing, money corporations, and money movements—all systems of finance, all systems of national policy and commercial corruption—abolish all distinctions of rich and poor— compel every one to live and enjoy at his own cost, and would contribute largely to restore the world to order, peace, and harmony.
Boarding-houses, hotels, etc., having no principle for the government of prices but whatever they can get, in the cannibal competition of society, get whatever they can, and their inmates are only those who have no other homes. If COST were made the limit of price, as economy is in favor of one set of preparations for great numbers, the cost being less in proportion to numbers, it would immediately become the interest of every one wanting board to co-operate with all others, to afford every facility in their power to get the greatest practicable number of boarders for such an establishment, and to afford every convenience, every facility for reducing the labor and trouble of conducting it, and each one doing this through self-interest, to reduce the cost of his own fare, would be promoting equally the interest of every other boarder—here would be CO- OPERATION, but no COMBINATION. They need have no compact with each other. The individual who conducted the house, would be the only person with whom any contract need be made. Five hundred persons thus accommodated with five times better fare than common boarding-houses can now afford, would employ but one kitchen, instead of a hundred kitchens—perhaps five cooks, instead of a hundred, and the cost of board to each would, probably, not exceed one fifth of that of keeping a private kitchen for five persons! Families seeing this, would probably prefer such quarters, at least at meal-times, and thus relieve the females of the family, from the dull, mill-horse drudgery to which they otherwise are irretrievably doomed.
One person to keep a dairy in good order (instead of fifty cows being scattered among fifty families, with fifty boys or men to hunt and drive them, badly housed, badly fed, and badly treated in the hurry of other domestic duties), is an arrangement that would naturally result from the economy that each would derive from the cost principle.
A washing establishment conducted on the COST principle, would exhibit one of the most necessary divisions of labor, and relieve the house-keepers from the most irksome and repugnant of all their duties. The same principle and motives being brought to bear upon schools, the different branches of mechanism, and all social arrangements, would work in a similar manner—each in the pursuit of his own interest promoting the interests of all others.
Machinery being made and worked on the COST principle, every one would be equally benefited by its construction and use—the more there was at work, the more would the burthen of labor be reduced to all. If it threw a certain set out of employment, they would turn immediately to other employments, and thus reduce the labor still to be performed by hand. Land being bought and sold on the COST principle, would be open to them at almost a nominal price. Board and clothing being obtained at COST—all arts, trades, and mysteries being communicated for an equivalent of the labor of communicating them, and the rewards of all labor being equal according to its cost—a report of the demand being always accessible, so that they could know what to turn to, and where to find instruction in any art, trade, or science, and a market for their products at a full, equivalent price, machinery might then be introduced without any limits but their wants, with benefits to all—with injury to none! and who shall measure the yet untold economies which might then result from machinery! I have said without any limits but our wants, because an immense number of inventions are now brought out which are no improvements at all upon existing modes, and the country is overrun, and inventions disgraced by a surfeit of the productions of over-stimulated stupidity, for no other purpose than to escape from unpaid labor and the punishments of poverty.
The want or demand for a machine would furnish the only reasonable motive for its construction, and an equivalent in labor and cost of materials would be the legitimate compensation to its inventor. This would afford no more inducements to invent machinery than to pursue any thing else that might be in demand—all things being equally paid, there would be no temptation to invent machinery that was not wanted, but the supply would be harmoniously adapted to the demand or wants of society.
It is no uncommon occurrence, that food, clothing, etc., for which thousands are suffering, are destroyed to prevent prices from falling too low for the interests of speculators! To save these from this kind of destruction, is the particular province of the cost principle; which, while it destroys speculators themselves, delights in passing supplies from producer to consumer at the cheapest equivalent rates. Physicians who can get fifty dollars per day, while the most useful labor is paid only fifty cents, cannot be expected to get us well while it would stop their income and drive them to an unpaid labor; but fifty dollars a day will maintain them by working one day in fifty, or maintain fifty times as many doctors as the demand requires. The cost principle will adapt the supply to the demand, and destroy the temptation to keep us sick for the sake of the profit of it.
Swarms of lawyers, office-holders, and office-seekers crowd the ranks of useless consumers, whose chief business it is to contrive means of keeping up the state of things by which they are exempt from unpaid labor, and enjoy a few of the privileges of freemen. Individualizing all business—committing none to the management of government, and conducting all our business equitably with our fellow-men, on the cost principle, will sweep away all demand for them—will compel them to assist in reducing rather than increasing the burthen of labor, and paying all labor by equivalents will change even their condition for a better.
Hordes of robbers, pirates, bankers, speculators, thieves, gamblers, pickpockets, swindlers, etc., who are driven into any thing to live, and to escape abused labor at starvation prices, may suddenly become useful citizens, when labor is properly paid, and assist in reducing rather than increasing the burthen of labor. When the door to all trades and occupations is thrown open—when the demands or wants of society are made known—when any one can turn at any time to a choice of employment which will find a market at equivalent prices, and when any one may live on two or three hours’ labor per day, where can any one find a motive to be a fungus upon society?
When we contemplate the immense piles of materials and mechanism in church paraphernalia—the armies of preachers and theological imposters, their type-setters, printers, their emissaries in every nook and corner of the world, all unproductive, and only professing to counteract the vices of the present system, we see in these reasons enough for its total “demolition. A direct and equitable exchange between the present producers, would entirely cut them off from the means of existence. If it be true that the demand for these grow out of the vices of the present social state, these being cured, their occupation will be at an end; and their transition to the productive and self-supporting class will not only put a stop to their excessive, wasteful consumption, but will immensely reduce the still remaining burthen of labor.
Controversialists, and all who are employed by them, whether moral, religious, or political, are all engaged in propping up, in pulling down, in repairing or counteracting the natural action of existing social elements. Their equitable and harmonious adjustment would relieve us of all these taxes upon our time and labor, which would be no small item of economy.
Every thing being bought and sold for the greatest profit the holder “can get” it becomes his interest to purchase every thing as cheap as possible; the cheaper he purchases the more profit he makes. This is the origin of the present horrid system of grinding and destructive COMPETITION among all producers, who are thus prompted to under-work each other. Thus, too, it is, that there is scarcely any article of food, clothing, tools, or medicines, that is fit for use—that we are always purchasing to throw away, to be cheated out of our money and time, and be disappointed in our supplies. Responsibility rests nowhere. The vender does not make them, but imports them from those beyond the reach of responsibility. Why is every thing imported, even shoes, tools, woolen and cotton cloths? For profit. It is because things are not sold for their cost, but for whatever the holder can get. Were COST made the limit of price, the vender of goods would have no particular motive to purchase them at the very lowest prices that he could grind out from manufacturers; and they would, therefore, have no motive to under-work and destroy each other. There would be no more of each than enough to supply the demand—no motive to import what could be made with equal advantage at home, and the manufacturer would be obliged to assume the individual responsibility of his work; because where profit-making did not stand in the way, the merchant would not otherwise purchase of him; and where land was bought and sold at COST, every man of business would own the premises where the work was done, and could not easily run away from the character of it; and this must be kept good, or another would immediately take his place. Here, then, in the cost principle, is the means of rendering competition not only harmless, but a great regulating and adjusting power, and under its mighty influence, should we not only escape national ruin from the excessive importation of worthless articles, but should have good ones always insured, by their manufacturers being within reach of tangible responsibility. The scramble for unlimited profits in trade being annihilated by equitable exchanges between nations, the imports and exports would be naturally self-regulating, and limited to such as were mutually beneficial, and each would have a co-operating interest in the prosperity of the other. When this takes place, the armies and navies now employed in consuming and destroying, will be compelled to turn to producing, at least whatever they consume, and thus take off another crushing load from down-trodden labor.
COST being made the limit of price, no bargaining, higgling, and chaffering (so disgusting to every one), will stand in the way of a direct purchase at once of whatever any one wants. The price will be known from year to year, and will be paid without asking it, and the time now consumed in higgling and bargain-making will be harmlessly or usefully employed.
Wars are, probably, the greatest of all destroyers of property, and they originate chiefly in two roots. First, for direct or indirect plunder; secondly, for the privileges of governing. Direct plunder will cease when men can create property with less trouble than they can invade their fellow-creature’s. Indirect plunder will cease with making cost the limit of price, thus cutting off all “profits of trade.” The privileges of governing will cease when men take all their business out of national or other combinations—manage it individually, deal equitably with each other, and leave no governing to be done.
Every one having full pay for his labor, can afford the luxuries of mechanism, commerce, and science. Each exchanging with the other for an equivalent as a settled principle, there could remain no inducement for a man, or a country, or a nation, to attempt to supply all their own wants to disadvantage; but, as under co-operative interests, every one would gain in proportion to the division of labor, this great element of economy would be carried to the very highest state of perfection.
These are a few of the items of economy that appear as necessary consequences of equity among men; others will suggest themselves to each mind as the subject is studied.
(V.) To Open The Way to Each Individual to Land And All Other Natural Wealth.
BY natural wealth is here meant all wealth; so far as it is not the result of human labor.
The COST principle being made the limit of price, opens all this wealth to every one at once.
Land being bought and sold on this principle, passes from owner to owner with no farther additions to prime cost than the labor of buying and selling it. If improvements C have been made upon it, their cost only being paid, makes the natural wealth free and accessible to all without price. In this manner simple equity would free, not only public, but private lauds, from the trammels of profit-making. If it could not be sold for profit, it would not be bought for speculation; and, it cannot be sold for profit in competition with those who will buy and sell it for an equivalent. Therefore, here is a power in simple equity which is perfectly irresistible to free all lands, and to keep them free—a power by which one person alone can open the land for miles around him, and make it accessible to all who require it. No power on earth can prevent him, and he can do it without sacrifice to himself.
Metals in the earth are natural wealth, and the cost principle would pass them to consumers at the cost of labor in digging, preparing, and delivering them.
The inventor of a machine may put wheels, weights, and levers together in a certain relation to each other, which may produce great and valuable results to the public, but this value is no measure for its compensation. The cost to him of putting them together, is his legitimate ground of price, while the qualities of a circle, the power of a lever, and the gravitating tendency of a weight are natural wealth, and are lightly the property of all; and cost being made the limit of price, makes them accessible to all without price.
Certain articles of medicine compounded together may save life, and their value in this case would equal that of the life saved—upon this principle a dose of pills would be worth, perhaps, ten thousand dollars, but this is no reason for such a price. The only rational price is an equivalent for the labor of procuring the articles, putting them together, and the contingent expenses of vending them. The rest depends on the inherent natural qualities of the ingredients, which are natural wealth, and should be freely accessible to all without price; and this results from cost being made the limit of their price.
A teacher of music may communicate the principles of composition, which may be of great value to the receiver, but this value is derived chiefly from the inherent qualities and relations of sounds to each other, upon which they depend for their effect, and which are not of man’s creating, nor has man any right to make them the ground of price in communicating them to others. If the teacher of music be paid for his labor in an equivalent only, then the natural wealth inherent in musical elements, becomes accessible to all without price. The same may be said of all sciences, arts, trades, mysteries, and all other subjects of our commerce, whether pecuniary, intellectual, or moral. One may devote his time and labor upon an intellectual production, but who can measure its value? this depends chiefly upon the new truths developed or communicated. It is its cost only that can be equitably made the ground of price, and when this is refunded by an equal amount of labor, equally repugnant or disagreeable, and equally costly in its contingencies, the writer is legitimately compensated—the rest is natural wealth. The cost principle draws a distinct line of discrimination between this and the wealth produced by labor, awarding to every one equivalents for cost, but for cost only; while all natural wealth is thus rendered free and accessible to all without price; which solves the fifth proposition of our social problem.
(VI.) To Make The Interests of All to Co-Operate With Each Other, Instead of Clashing With And Destroying Each Other.
IF cost is made the limit of price, every one becomes interested in reducing COST, by bringing in all the economies, all the facilities to their aid. But, on the contrary, if cost does not govern the price, but every thing is priced at what it will bring, there are no such co-operating interests. This will be self-evident to many, but to some minds a few illustrations may be necessary, in addition to what has already been said relative to boarding-houses, etc.
If I am to have my supply of flour at cost, then, any facility I can afford to the wheat grower, reduces the cost to me, and as it does the same for all who have any portion of the wheat, I am promoting all their interests while pursuing my own. If I know that planting in drills produces more with less labor, it is my interest to communicate it, and have experiments instituted. If I can construct a machine to save labor in planting, cultivating, harvesting, or grinding, it is for my interest, and that of all others, to co-operate in getting it into operation. If I see the fences down, exposing the wheat to the depredations of cattle, it is my interest, and that of all others, to have the breach repaired as soon as possible, because all contingent losses become part of the cost. Now, if the wheat were NOT TO BE SOLD TO us AT COST, but at “whatever it would bring” according to our necessities, then none of us would have any interest in affording facilities, repairing breaches, nor in any other way co-operating with the producer of it. The same, motive would act in the production, preservation, and use of every thing.
One or a few individuals may desire instruction in music. If the teacher set his price at whatever he thinks he can make the students give, he may prevent them from making the attempt, and keep himself out of business—but if the cost of his labor be divided among the class, it immediately becomes the interest of each to get as many as possible, thereby reducing the cost to each; and the same would be seen in every operation of this description—and the same with nations as with individuals.
If the products of machinery were sold at COST, it would then be for the interest of every one to afford any facilities in his power toward its construction and its operation, and in thus reducing cost for his own advantage, he would be equally promoting the interest of every one who used the products of the machine. Thus, then, upon the principle of COST being made the limit of price, is the interest of all made to CO-OPERATE (but not to COMBINE with) the interest of each. Thus is solved the great problem of the individual good harmonized with the public good! Thus does simple EQUITY outstrip the sagacity and the genius of man, and work out for him the great problem of SOCIETY, WITHOUT THE DESTRUCTION OF LIBERTY!
In the preceding pages I have treated of the first six propositions of our problem, and endeavored to show that the first (the just reward of labor), must be worked out by making cost the limit of price. That the security of person and property demands the operation of this principle, together with the admission of the right of SOVEREIGNTY IN EVERY INDIVIDUAL. That LIBERTY demands the sovereignty of the individual. That the economies would naturally result from the operations of cost being made the limit of price. That, by the same means, land, and all other natural wealth, would be legitimately accessible to all. That by making cost the limit of price, the interests of all mankind would co-operate for mutual benefit; but I have deferred the consideration of the seventh and last proposition (withdrawal of the elements of discord, and the establishment of general harmony) to the following division, as this is rather the result of the working of all these elements together.
I have treated each principal division of our subject separately and abstractedly, in order that the mind of the reader might be the more concentrated upon one individual element at a time, and not have his attention confused and weakened by a too close connection of different parts at first. But now that these may have become so familiar as not to require exclusive attention to either, I propose to associate these elements of new society together, in their natural and practical order, and illustrate more fully their adaptation to their proposed ends. These elements are, first, INDIVIDUALITY; second, the SOVEREIGNTY OF EACH INDIVIDUAL; third, COST THE LIMIT OF PRICE; fourth, A CIRCULATING MEDIUM WHICH SHALL BE A DEFINITE REPRESENTATIVE OF LABOR; fifth, THE ADAPTATION OF THE SUPPLY TO THE DEMAND OR WANTS.
I would suggest to the reader to refer continually to the marginal references, and to study and familiarize himself with each proposition that may be there marked—to compare these means with the ends to be attained, and to exercise his Individual judgment with regard to their adaptation to the solution of the great questions which involve the deepest interests of every one, and which can no longer be deferred with safety to any.
Part III. The Application. Elements of New Society.
THE first step to be taken by any number of persons in these practical movements appears to be, that each individual or head of a family, should consider his or her present wants, and what he can give in exchange, with a view to have them recorded in a book kept for that purpose. As soon as a movement is made by any one to this effect, a book will be wanted as a record of this report of wants, and supplies. At this point, when this is evidently wanted enough to justify it in the estimation of any individual, he or she can furnish and keep such a book upon his or her individual responsibility. If the cost of this is sufficient to justify a demand for remuneration, the keeper of the book can make this demand, according to the labor bestowed in each case, or otherwise, as he or she shall decide—the voice of the majority having nothing to do with it.
We will now suppose that the wants of twenty individuals are recorded in one column of a book, and what they can supply in another column; and in another, the price per hour which each demands for his or her labor. These become the fundamental data for operations.
Every one wishing to take some part in practical operations, now has before him in this report of wants, the business to be done. It will immediately be seen that land is indispensable, and must be had before any other step can be taken to advantage. Some one seeing this want, after consulting the wishes or demands of the co-operators, proceeds on his individual estimate of this demand, at his own risk, and at his own cost, to purchase or otherwise procure land to commence upon, lays it out in lots to suit the demand, and sells them to the co-operators at the ultimate cost (including contingent expenses of money and labor in buying and selling). The difference in the price of a house lot thus bought and sold, compared with its price when sold for its value, will be found sufficient to make the difference between every one having a home upon the earth, instead of one half of men and women being homeless.
We will now suppose the lots purchased and paid for by each one who is to occupy them. They will want to consult continually together, in order to co-operate with each other’s movements; this will require or demand a place for meetings. As soon as this want is apparent, then is the time for some one to estimate this want, and take it on himself individually to provide a room, and see himself remunerated according to cost, which cannot fail to be satisfactory to all in proportion as they are convinced that cost is the limit of his demands; which he can always prove by keeping an account of expenses and receipts, open at all times to the most public inspection.—(See note A, in Appendix.)
At this public room, provided each one is properly preserved from the ordinary fetters of organization, all can confer with each other relative to their intended movements. If one has a suggestion to make to the whole body, he can find listeners in proportion to the interest that each one feels in his proposition, and a decent respect to the right of every one to listen if he chooses, will prevent disturbances from the indifferent, just in proportion as the right of sovereignty in each individual is made a familiar element of surrounding opinion. If one wished to propose a movement upon the land on a certain day, after having made his proposals, every one should consider himself or herself the supreme law for himself or herself, and not to permit any vote of the whole body to rise above his or her individual estimate of their own convenience and advantage, nor to decide how far he or she should disregard either for the interest of others; but having listened to the wants and sentiments of others, as long as to him or her seems good, let each be the supreme deciding power for himself, but not for others.
When business commences, the estimates of prices must commence, and the circulating medium will be wanted. For instance, if the keeper of the room for meetings has expended a hundred hours of his labor in keeping it in order, etc., and if there are twenty who have regularly or substantially received the benefits of it, then five hours’ equivalent labor is due from each.
This calls for the circulating medium, and he may receive from the carpenter, the blacksmith, the shoemaker, the tailoress, the washerwoman, etc., their labor notes, promising a certain number of hours of their definite kinds of labor. The keeper of the room is now equipped with a circulating medium with which he can procure the services of either of the persons at a price which is agreed and settled on beforehand, which will obviate all disturbance in relation to prices—he holds a currency whose product to him will not be less at the “report of scarcity,” nor “rise at 12 o’clock.” From year to year, he can get a certain DEFINITE QUANTITY OF LABOR FOR THE LABOR HE PERFORMED, which cannot be said, nor made to be true, with regard to any money the world has ever known.
An extraordinary feature presents itself in this stage of the operations of Equitable Commerce. When the washerwoman comes to set her price according to the cost or hardness of the labor compared with others, it is found that its price EXCEEDS that of the ordinary labor of men! Of course, the washerwoman must have more per hour than the vender of house-lots or the inventor of pills! To deny this, is to deny the very foundation of the whole superstructure! We must admit the claims of the hardest labor to the highest reward, or we deny our own rights, extinguish the little light we have obtained, and throw every thing back into confusion. What is the obstacle to the honest admission and free action of this principle? What would be the ultimate result of carrying it thoroughly out, and giving to every one what equity demands? It would result in surrounding every one with an abundance, with peace, liberty, harmony, and security, and reduce the labor of each to two or three hours per day.—(See note B, in Appendix.)
In a movement upon a new location, it would be well for every one to be guarded against being swept along by the mere current of other’s movements, without seeing how he is to be sustained in his new position.
The larger the purchases of lumber, provisions, etc., at once, the cheaper will the prices be to each receiver upon the cost principle, and these economics, together with the social sympathies, will offer the natural inducements for an associated movement. But there is great danger that oven these inducements will urge many into such movements prematurely—we cannot be too cautious NOT TO RUN BEFORE THE DEMAND. Let no one move to an Equity Village, till he has thoroughly consulted the demand for his labor at that place, and satisfied himself individually, that he can sustain himself individually.—(See Caution, Appendix.)
Previously to any movement upon a new locality, it will probably be perceived, that a boarding-house would be necessary to accommodate the few pioneers until they could build for themselves. Instead of making this the business of the whole association, some one Individual perceiving this want, can make it his business to provide one adapted to the demand, by ascertaining how many persons are likely to require it, and what style of living they prefer. If these persons are satisfied that cost will be honestly made the limit of the price of their accommodations, then every one will be interested in reducing this cost, by lending such articles of furniture as he can spare, by communicating any thing that will enable the keeper to purchase to advantage, and to transport provisions and materials, and to get up the establishment with as little cost as possible; but during all these operations every one’s interest will be distinctly individual. The future keeper of the house has the deciding power individually in every thing relative to it, and each border makes his contract with the keeper; but as no combination takes place, no vote of any majority is called upon until the boarders become so closely connected that each individual cannot exercise his individual taste—when all cannot be gratified, then it is, and not till then, that the will of the majority is the best practicable resort of the keeper; but he must not surrender his individual prerogative of management, even in this case, or all will be confusion.
When this calls for too great a sacrifice from any one, the remedy will be found only in disconnection from that boarding-house, and a resort to another more congenial to his taste, or to private accommodations. In such case, there being no combination to consult, none but the one person is put to inconvenience; no other persons are disturbed. In this boarding-house, if the keeper of it keeps an account of all his expenditures of money and labor, open at all times to the inspection of his boarders, and divides the cost among them, he cannot be charged with penurious management for his own profit, nor can any of the ordinary dissatisfaction from this cause disturb the general harmony. This arrangement is imperfect, inasmuch as there is more or less of united interests involved in it. The perfect form (excepting in the principle of fixing prices), is found in the eating- houses in the cities where any Individual can go at any time, and get any particular fare that suits his individual demands. He gratifies his own tastes at his own individual cost, and is not involved in expenses for others, and therefore there is no collision between any parties.
This perfect arrangement is practicable only in circles large enough to sustain it.
In all business where money is used, it has been found necessary to keep it entirely separate from labor, receiving money, in the exchanges, for that which costs money, and labor for that which costs labor. The union of money with labor has .been the great fundamental error. We now divorce, disconnect, individualize them, and in all running accounts have one column for money, and another for labor—two distinct accounts, and two distinct currencies, until a rational circulating medium can supplant money altogether.
It will now be found necessary to ascertain the amount of labor required in the production of all those things which we expect to exchange. This naturally suggests itself to each one in his own business, and if all bring in their estimates, either at public meetings, or have them hung up in the public room, they become the necessary data for each individual to act upon. It is this open, daylight, free comparison of prices, which naturally regulates them; while land, and all trades, arts, and sciences, will be thrown open to every one, so that he or she can immediately abandon an unpaid labor, which will preserve them from being ground by competition below equivalents.
If A sets his estimate of the making of a certain kind of coat at 50 hours, and B sets his at 30 hours, the price per hour, and the known qualities of workmanship being the same in both, it is evident that A could get no business while B could supply the demand. It is evident that A has not given an honest estimate, or, that he is in the wrong position for the general economy; but he can immediately consult the report of the demand, and select some other business for which he may be better adapted. If he concludes to make shoes, his next step is to get instruction in this branch—he refers to the column of supplies, and ascertains the name and price per hour of the shoemakers—he goes to one of them, makes his arrangement for instruction, then provides himself with a room and tools, sends for his instructor, pays him according to the time employed, and becomes a shoemaker. Is this thought impracticable?—(See note on Apprenticeships, in Appendix.)
The new shoemaker, having paid his instructor for his labor, has the proceeds of it, together with his own, at his own disposal, and if these be sold for equivalents, he will find his new apprenticeship quite self-sustaining.
The same course will have to be pursued with regard to all trades and professions—the supply must be adapted to the demand; which demand should be continually made known at a particular place, by each one who wants any thing, while those who want employment will know where to apply for it, and what they can get in exchange; and if one is not already qualified to supply some portion of the demand, he will be obliged to qualify himself, or fall back upon the land, and supply all his own wants, and be deprived of the advantages of division and exchange, or he must manufacture some article that will sell abroad.
We have now progressed far into practical operations without any combination or unity of interests. Every interest and every responsibility being kept strictly individual, no legislation has been necessary. There has been no demand for artificial organization. There being no public business to manage, no government has been necessary, and therefore NO SURRENDER OF THE NATURAL LIBERTY HAS BEEN REQUIRED.
Now, let us imagine one small item of united interests, and trace its consequences. We will suppose that A and B get a horse in partnership, to transport their baggage to the new location. The horse is taken sick—A proposes a medicine, which B thinks would be fatal; neither party has the power to lay down his own opinion and take up that of the other. These are parts of the individualities of each, which are perfectly natural, and, therefore, uncontrollable. A brings arguments and facts to sustain his opinion; B does the same, still they differ, and the horse is growing worse. What is to be done? One dislikes to proceed contrary to the views of the other, and both remain inactive for the same reason. There is no deciding power, and the horse is growing worse; what can they do but call a third party to act in behalf of both? To this third party both commit the management of the horse, and surrender their right of decision—this third party is government. This government cannot possibly decide both ways, and either A or B, or both, remain fearful and dissatisfied. The disturbance now extends itself to the third party, producing a social disease in addition to that of the horse. This is in the wrong direction. We must take another course—retrace our steps—look into causes, and we shall find the wrong in the UNITY of interests, DISUNITE these—let A own the horse individually; then, if he is sick, A has the deciding power, listens to such council as he judges useful, and then proceeds to treat the horse. If the horse dies, A takes on himself the cost of his own decisions and acts, and the social harmony remains undisturbed. TO BE PERFECTLY HARMONIOUS, ALL INTERESTS MUST BE PERFECTLY INDIVIDUAL.
Those who are most averse to collision with others, will find this an invaluable truth. Natural individualities admonish us not to be dogmatical on this or any other subject, but to be careful not to construct any institutions which require rigid adherence to any man- made rule, system, or dogma of any kind; to leave every one free to make any application, or no application, of any and all principles proposed, and to make any qualification or exception to them which he or she may incline to make, always deciding and acting at his or her own cost, but not at the cost of others. If the horse, in the above instance, should die under A’s decision and treatment, while B held an interest in him, then A decides and acts partly at the cost of B, which is wrong and discordant. Let us now examine the motive for this partnership interest. Is it for economy? We have that secured in the operation of the cost principle, and, therefore, united interest is unnecessary. Under the partnership interest, A and B would each have half the labor of the horse, and would bear half of his expenses. If cost were made the limit of price, and A owned him individually, and should let him work for B half of the time, the price would be half of his expenses—exactly the same result aimed at by the united interests. The difference is only, that the one mode paralizes action, is embarrassing and discordant, and, therefore, wrong; while the other admits the freest action—works equitably toward both parties, is perfectly harmonious, and, therefore, right.
Again; let any laws, rules, regulations, constitutions, or any other articles of association be drawn out by the most acute minds, and be adopted by the whole. As soon as action commences, it will be found that the compact entered into becomes differently interpreted. We have no power to interpret language alike, but we have agreed to agree. New circumstances now occur, different from those contemplated in the compact. New expedients are to be resorted to—language is the only medium of communication, and this is variously interpreted—two or more interpretations of the same language neutralize each other—an opinion expressed, is misunderstood, and requires correction—the correction contains words subject to a greater or less extent of meaning than the speaker intended—these require qualification. The qualification is variously understood, and requires explanation—the explanations require qualifications to infinity. Different opinions and expedients are now offered—all of which partake of the same elements of confusion—counter opinions rise up on all sides—new expedients are proposed, all subject to various interpretations and appreciations, all requiring explanations and qualifications, and these, in their turn, demand qualifications and explanations. Different estimates are formed of the best expedients, but there is no liberty to differ; all must conform to the articles of compact or organization, the meaning of which can never be determined. Opinions, arguments, expedients, interests, hopes, fears, persons,, and personalities, all mingle in one astounding confusion. All order is destroyed—all harmony has changed to discord. What is the origin of all this? It is the different interpretations of the same language, and the difference in the occasions of its applications, where there is not liberty to differ. A deep- seated, unseen, indestructible, inalienable individuality, ever active, unconquered, and unconquerable, is always directly at war with every demand for uniformity or conformity of thoughts and feelings. We ask again, what is to be done? As we cannot divest ourselves or events of natural individualities, there is but one remedy—this is, to AVOID ALL NECESSITY FOR ARTIFICIAL ORGANIZATIONS; which necessity is founded in UNITED INTERESTS.
One person becoming security for another, produces a unity of interest that infringes the liberty of one, and often destroys the harmony of both. If C becomes security for D, then C has an interest and a right to a voice in all D’s movements and expenditures until this connected interest is at an end. As natural individualities will probably compel them to differ in opinions of business, and matters of convenience and taste, the ease and security of C, and the harmony of both, are at least in danger, while C is involved in D’s movements or expenditures. Dissolve this united interest—let D act upon his own individual responsibility, at his own cost, and he can then, and not till then, “be the law unto himself.”
Exactly the same reasons apply against one person being in debt to another; and it is only By settling every transaction in the time of it, either by equivalents or their representative (such as the labor note), that the liberty, peace, and security of all parties can be preserved. Running accounts between any two persons are liable to be erroneous, from omissions and mistakes which are entirely beyond the control of the best intentions; but “errors from these causes cannot be distinguished from those of design; all these are elements of uncomfortableness and discord, which those who value social harmony will avoid, by making every transaction an individual one—settling each in the time of it, when all its peculiarities are fresh in the minds of both parties. Once being settled to the satisfaction of both, nothing is left to the memory or the indefinite guess- work of the future, which is almost sure to produce dissatisfaction to one or both parties.
A still more subtle, and more serious invasion of the rights of property, the natural liberty, and social harmony, is constantly at work in the form of indefinite obligations. If A lend B a hammer, it may be of great value to B, but no price is set upon it; this is considered a neighborly accommodation, and common morality says, “neighbors should accommodate each other.” The next day A applies to B for the loan of his favorite horse. B wishes to train his horse in a particular manner, and knows that he cannot do this, if different people use him—besides, he wants to use him, or he wants him to rest, and no compensation is offered by A as an inducement. He evidently makes the request on the ground that “neighbors should accommodate each other;” and on this ground B loses all proper control over his horse; and, on the same principle, over every thing that he possesses which is not for sale; so that, by this means, his proper control over his own becomes almost annihilated. The cause is indefiniteness in our obligations. The remedy is definiteness in our obligations. Let every transaction be an individual one, resting on its own merits, and not mixed up or united with another. If A lends B a hammer, and he thinks the cost of doing so is worthy of notice, let B pay it at once, or give a representative of an equivalent; if it is unworthy of notice, it should be entirely disregarded, and never be mixed up with its value, nor referred to in future transactions.
It is only by thus individualizing of our transactions and their elements, that each citizen can enjoy the legitimate control over his own person, time, or property. It is only by this means that we can distinguish a disinterested present, or act of benevolence and sympathy, from one prompted by a mercenary design. If we present a rose to a friend, it is understood to be an expression of sympathy—a simple act of moral commerce, and the receiver feels free from any obligation to make any other return than an expression of the natural feeling which immediately results therefrom; but if one should give half of his property to another, the receiver could not feel equally free from future indefinite obligations. Why? Perhaps, not that the property was any more valuable to the receiver than the rose, but, that it cost more.
A delicate regard to the rightful liberty of every one, and the necessity of self- preservation, would seem to admonish us to make cost the limit of gratuitous favors, while those of immense value, which cost nothing, can be given and received without hesitation or reluctance, and will purify our moral commerce from any mixture with the mercenary or selfish taint, and carry it to the very highest state of perfection.
We will suppose our practical operations so far progressed upon our new premises, as to require the establishment of a store. No one has money enough to stock one, and the sovereignty of each over his own at all times, seems to forbid borrowing of each other, or one becoming security for another. The most harmonious mode will be found to be for the store-keeper to borrow money outside of these operations until borrowing is unnecessary. The next best resort, though not perfectly harmonious, but which may not be seriously disturbing, is for the store-keeper to borrow very small sums from the co- operators, giving them notes for the same, payable on demand, so that if any one, for any cause, wishes to withdraw his investment, he can do so, at any time, without words. The store-keeper then proceeds, like ordinary store-keepers, to purchase on his own responsibility and risk, whatever he thinks is in demand, but he observes the time that he employs in purchasing, and on his return opens an account against the store for his labor and contingent expenses—placing the labor in one column and the money in another. He then considers what per centage will probably pay these and all in other contingencies of the business, decides on this, and lets it be as publicly known as possible; preserving, however, his liberty to change it when he thinks necessary. We will suppose this to be six per cent, in money and fifteen minutes labor on each dollar’s worth of goods, for expenses of traveling, purchasing, insurance, losses, drayage, etc., and all the labor of keeping the store, except that of dealing out the goods. When he places them upon the shelves for sale, he marks them with these additions to prime cost, and places them in such a manner that customers can examine them, and know at once, their prices, without taking up the time and attention of the keeper; but when the keeper deals out the goods he charges this item of his labor in each individual case, according to the time employed, which is measured by a clock. This arrangement sweeps away at once all the higgling and chaffering about prices, so disgusting in the present system, but which is inseparably connected with it. Perhaps when the habits engendered by it shall have been cured, the time of the keeper may be made up by regular installments of each dealer; but, as things are, while one will purchase his supplies in large quantities another will purchase in small, while one will detain him an hour in higgling another knows better, and it seems necessary that the one should have the natural advantage of his better practice, and the other exercise his bad habits at his own cost.
When the keeper receives pay for his goods and his labor, he records those receipts, by a short and easy method, before the eyes of his customers, and this record shows the amount received—say six per cent, in money, and a certain per cent, in labor. Say ten pounds of wheat on every dollar’s worth of goods go to pay expenses, and an account of these expenses being balanced against these receipts, shows whether the keeper receives more or less than an equivalent for his labor—if more, perhaps he will reduce it—if less, he must increase his per centage. He can do this perfectly harmoniously, if the customers are allowed to know the necessity of it, which they can do, if the documents with the bills of purchase are habitually exposed upon the table at the public meetings, or in any other manner made public.—See note, Equitable Stores, Appendix.)
In all these operations the store-keeper acts entirely as an individual; if he wishes for counsel, he will seek it of those whom he thinks most capable of counseling. If he wishes to know the views of the whole on any point, he can obtain them at the public meetings, but having done so, he does not allow the public voice to rise above his individual prerogative; but paying as much deference to their opinions and wishes as he judges best, he proceeds upon his own individual decision, always at his own risk, and all is harmonious.
In a similar manner can manufactures and all other business be conducted. If each individual is FREE to make any investment or to decline it—to invest one sum or another, according to his or her inclination in each case; and if the amount be so small as that the risk do not disturb the peace of its owner, and he is at liberty to withdraw it without words or conditions whenever he may choose, one may use the property of another for the general interest, without much disturbance of the general harmony, provided it be made evident to all, that the means are used for the purposes intended, and on the cost principle. So much of connected interests may not be perfectly harmonious; but the occasional discords may admonish us that the principle is wrong; and like those of music, if not too frequent and out of proportion, may serve to set off the general harmony to more advantage.
Working of Machinery.
If one person have not sufficient surplus means to procure machinery for a certain business, all will have an equal interest in assisting in establishing it, provided that each is satisfied that he will have its products at cost; but if there is no limit to their price, then they can have no such co-operating interest: The wear of the machinery and all contingent expenses, together with the labor of attendance, would constitute this cost. The owner of the machinery would receive nothing from the mere ownership of it; but as it wore away, he would receive in proportion, till at last, when it was worn out, he would have received back the whole of his original investment, and an equivalent for his labor in lending his capital and receiving it back again. Upon this principle, the benefits of the labor-saving powers of the machinery are equally dispersed through the whole community. No one portion is benefited at the cost of another. If one portion is thrown out of employment by it, the land, and all arts and trades, and professions being open to them, so that they are easily and comfortably sustained during a new apprenticeship, they are not only not injured, but benefited by new inventions of which they receive their share of the advantages, while they turn and assist in reducing the labor still to be performed by hand; but (cost being made the limit of price) NOT THEREBY REDUCING ITS REWARD. Those engaged in these pursuits will now have less employment, but having their share of the natural wealth of the machinery, they have, in the same proportion, less demand for employment; in other words, THE BURTHEN OF THEIR LABOR IS REDUCED IN PROPORTION TO THE INTRODUCTION OF MACHINERY. Thus, cost being made the limit of price, solves the great problem of machinery against labor.
Rents of houses, lands, etc., being limited and determined by the same principle, those who have surplus time or means to invest for accumulation, by adapting the supply to the demand, can not only make safe investments for themselves, but at the same time be providing houses and homes for the homeless, with the exercise of nothing but simple equity, which does not lay the receiver under indefinite obligations (the worst of slavery), nor does it diminish one particle the rightful accumulations of the first party; but, on the contrary, having laid up ten thousand hours’ labor in houses or machinery, and receiving the amount of its depreciation as it wears out, he receives, at last, ten thousand hours which he originally invested. He lives then only upon his own accumulations—lives at his own cost—not at the cost of others who are immensely benefited by the value of his investments, while he is, perhaps, equally benefited by the division and exchange of labor, and all other social commerce with them.
A proper regard to the Individualities of person’s tastes, etc., would suggest that hotels be occupied by such persons as are most agreeable to each other; therefore, children generally, as well as their parents, would be much more comfortable not to be so closely mixed up as they would be in a boarding-house with their parents. The connection is already, even in private families, too close for the comfort of either. Disconnection will be found the real movement for the happiness of both; and hotels for children, according to the peculiarities of their wants and pursuits, would follow of course. I have seen Infant Schools, in which one woman attended twenty children not above two years old, and where the children entertained each other; taking most of their burthens on themselves, to infinitely more advantage to themselves than the best mothers could have conferred, and, perhaps, fifteen mothers were thus relieved from the most enslaving portion of their domestic labors. And if such institutions were opened and conducted by individuals upon individual responsibilities (instead of combination), and upon the cost principle, every mother and father, and every member of every family, would be deeply interested in promoting the convenience and reducing the cost of such establishments, and in taking advantage of them. Instead of the offensive process of legislating upon the fitness of this or that person for those situations, which is rendered necessary in a combination, any individual who thought that he or she could supply the demand, might make proposals, and the patronage received would decide. This would be an entirely individual movement, there would be no use for laws, governments, or legislation, but there would be co-operating interests. Every mother would be free to send her child or not, according to her individual estimate of the proposed keeper, the arrangements, and the conditions; and it would, therefore, be a peaceful process; whereas, if every mother should be required by a government, or laws, or public opinion, to send her children, without the consent of her own individual approbation, we might expect what we always experience in combination—resistance, discord, and defeat. The Individual “is by nature a law unto himself” or herself, and if we ever attain our objects, this is not to be overlooked or disregarded.
What is education? What is the power that educates? With whom will we trust the fearful power of forming the character and determining the destinies of the future race?
Every thing we come in contact with educates us. The educating power is in whatever surrounds us. If we would have education to qualify children for future life, then must education embrace those practices and principles which will be demanded in adult age. If we would have them practice equity toward each other in adult age, we must surround them with equitable practices, and treat them equitably. If we would have children respect the rights of property in others, we must respect their rights of property. If we would have them respect the individual peculiarities and the proper liberty of others, then we must respect their individual peculiarities and their personal liberty. If we would have them know and claim for themselves, and award to others the proper reward of labor in adult age, we must give them the proper reward of their labor in childhood. If we would qualify them to sustain and preserve themselves in after life, they must be permitted to sustain and preserve themselves in childhood and in youth. If we would have them capable of self-government in adult age, they should practice the right of self-government in childhood. If we would have them learn to govern themselves rationally, with a view to the consequences of their acts, they must be allowed to govern themselves by those consequences in childhood. Children are principally the creatures of example—whatever surrounding adults do, they will do. If we strike them, they will strike each other. If they see us attempting to govern each other, they will imitate the same barbarism. If we habitually admit the light of sovereignty in each other, and in them, then they will become equally respectful of our rights and of each other’s. All these propositions are probably self-evident, yet not one of them is practicable under the present mixture of the interests and responsibilities between adults, and between parents and children. To solve the problem of education, children must be surrounded with equity, and must be equitably treated, and each and every one, parent or child, must be understood to be an individual, and must have his or her individual rights equitably respected.—(See Appendix, article Education.)
Amusements and Instruction.
These, of course, would keep pace with the demand for them. Any one who perceives that balls, concerts, reading-rooms, etc., can be sustained, can open rooms for one or more of these purposes, charging for admission sufficient to pay for his labor and contingent expenses, and by taking in payment the circulating medium, of which every one may have an abundance, these institutions can be sustained at an early stage of the progress. Lectures on any subject can be obtained at little cost to each one of a class, when cost is made the limit of price for the room, lecture, attendants, etc.
Natural Organization of Society.
It would, probably, not be advisable for less than thirty families to commence these operations; because, less than about this number could scarcely commence the exchanges, so as to derive much economy from them. For instance, two families could not sustain a shoemaker, nor a carpenter, an iron worker, nor any other indispensable profession. Thirty families might sustain some of them, by which means each could have the benefits of all. Six families could not sustain a storekeeper—probably not less than thirty could. If fifty families commenced together, the economies would be greater; a hundred families greater still, and they would be great in proportion to the size of the circle, until it became too large for interchange and correspondence!
We have supposed a few pioneers to have advanced upon our new premises, and these probably would embrace one or two carpenters, perhaps a shoemaker, an iron-worker, housekeeper, etc. When they have commenced their operations, they will probably see what is wanted there or in the surrounding neighborhood. If the location is sufficiently near a city to afford a market for surplus labor, the co-operators can divide their time between the two places; otherwise the greatest caution is necessary in the coming together, and the growth must be slow in proportion to the want of a sustaining demand. If some branches of business, such as stereotyping, publishing, etc., were commenced, the product of which will sell abroad, then any number, within the demand, can safely assemble at once after having provided their first accommodations. When they have arrived with their families, perhaps another carpenter can be sustained—when he and his family arrive, perhaps another mason can find sufficient employment. If each of these continually record their wants in the report of demands and supply, then any one wishing to know whether he can be sustained has only to get some one on the premises to consult this record, from which he can judge for himself. In this manner, one after another can be added to the circle, till those lining in its circumference are too remote from the boarding- house, the schools, and the public business of different kinds; then another commencement has to be made, another nucleus has to be formed, and thus in a safe and natural manner may the new elements extend themselves toward the circumference of society. Commerce, on these principles, will be proposed with individuals in foreign countries, which may give rise to similar beginnings in different parts of the world, each nucleus extending its growth outward till the circles meet--obliterating all national lines, national prejudices, and national interests, and in a safe, natural, and rapidly progressive manner reorganize society—and harmonize the interests and feelings of all mankind.
I HAVE stated the problem to be solved, I have suggested the means of its solution, and endeavored to exhibit their applications in a manner to reach the plainest understanding. I have carefully withheld comments of my own, that the mind of the reader might sit in free and unbiased judgment in each case, and on every point of our subject; and I now respectfully,- but earnestly, invite him or her to study the adaptation of these means to their proposed ends, and to decide whether or not the problem is fully and correctly stated—whether or not the means proposed are adequate to the solution of that problem—whether or not I am correct in the following conclusions:
That cost is an equitable, and the only equitable principle for the government of prices in the pecuniary commerce of mankind.
That this being reduced to practice, would give to labor its legitimate reward, and its necessary and natural stimulus.
That it would convert the present clashing interests of mankind into co-operating interests, and thereby sweep away the principal cause of national prejudices and national wars—would destroy all motive in the masses to invade each other—all necessity for armies, navies, and other paraphernalia for in national defense, and thereby neutralize the principal excuse for government—that by infusing into the public mind, correct and practical principles which will give a clear knowledge of the rights of each other, and at the same time raise every in one above the temptation to violate them, we can put an end to the other excuse for governmental “protection.”
That by dispensing with government we shake off the greatest invader of human rights, the nightmare of society.
That cost being made the limit of price, would give to a washerwoman a greater income than the importer of foreign goods—that this would entirely upset the whole of the present system of national trade—stop all wars arising out of the scramble for the profits of trade, and demolish all tariffs, duties, and all systems of policy that give rise to them—would abolish all distinctions of rich and poor—would enable every one to consume as much as he produced, and, consequently, prevent any one from living at the cost of another, without his or her consent.
That it would prevent the ruinous fluctuations in prices, and in business, which are the chief elements of insecurity, and which give rise to the unprincipled scramble, for property so prevalent in all civilized countries, in which, in the very midst of the most clamorous professions of righteousness, the rights of persons, of property, and the great interests of the whole race are practicably forgotten or disregarded.
That upon this principle the great problem of machinery against labor is mathematically and harmoniously solved—and that no other principles or modes of action can thus solve it. That upon this principle the disgusting and degrading features of our pecuniary commerce would be changed, and men could exchange their products with each other without degrading their own characters and destroying their self-respect in the operation.
That this principle is indispensable to the security of person and property—that it would put an end to the scramble for property, which gives rise to encroachments on each other, to restrain which, government is invented and invoked—that these governments, instead of securing the rights of person and property, prove in their operations the greatest violators of all rights, and that we must work out the security of person and property without governments.
That cost being made the limit of price, would necessarily produce all the co- operation, and all the economies aimed at by the most intelligent and devoted friends of humanity; and, by reducing the burthen of labor to a mere pastime or necessary exercise, would probably annihilate its cost; when, like water or amateur music, no price would be set upon it; and the highest aspirations of the best of our race would be naturally realized.
That the security of person and property demands that every one shall feel secure from any external power rising above him, and controlling his person, time, or property, or involving him in responsibilities, contrary to his own individual inclination—that he must feel that he has, and always shall have, his own destiny in his own hands—that he shall always be sovereign of himself and all his own interests— that this sovereignty of the individual is directly opposed to all external or artificial government. That this sovereignty of the individual is impracticable in national, State, Church, or reform combinations; and that combination is, therefore, exactly the wrong condition for the security, peace, and, liberty of mankind. That the true movement for the attainment of these ends, is for each individual to commence immediately to disconnect his person and all his interests from combinations of every description, and to assume the entire control of them as fast as they can be sufficiently separated from others, so that he can control his own, WITHOUT CONTROLLING THEM.
That a rational circulating medium, a definite representative of property on equitable principles, has never -been known to mankind—that all the great money transactions of the world, all banks and banking operations, all stock-jobbing, all money corporations and money movements, all systems of finance, and all the money business of the world, have been based upon shells, metals, and pictures; things which are no better qualified for a circulating medium, than a floating log is fit for a boundary of a piece of land. That all the legislative action on this subject has been conducted in the most profound ignorance of what a circulating medium should be, or legislators have abused their trust, and sold the people to their enemies. That a rational and equitable circulating medium, together with cost as the limit of price, would strike at the root of all political, commercial; and financial corruption, and contribute largely to establish equity, security, liberty, equality, peace, and abundance, wherever it shall be introduced.
That all INTERESTS AND RESPONSIBILITIES MUST BE ENTIRELY INDIVIDUALIZED, before the legitimate liberty of mankind can be restored—before each one can be sovereign of his own without violating the sovereignty of others. That the sovereignty of every individual is not only indispensable to security, but constitutes the natural liberty of mankind, and must be restored back to each, before society can be harmonious. That the sovereignty of the individual becoming a new element in public opinion, and thereby constituting each the supreme deciding power for himself at all times, would put an end to all discordant controversies on ALL SUBJECTS—disarm all laws and governments of their desolating power; and, that with an habitual regard to this right in every one, no one’s time or attention would be taken up, nor their thoughts or feelings disturbed, against his or her inclination, and that our social intercourse would thus become purified, refined, and exalted, to the very highest conceivable state of perfection.
That the natural tendency of these new elements of society is to abolish all the cause of crimes, and all the horrid inventions for punishment, and to take away the last excuse of men for their insane cruelty to each other. That the sovereignty of the individual constitutes the largest liberty to each individual—that liberty defined and limited by others is slavery. That every one has an inalienable right to define this and all other words for himself or herself, and, therefore, that no one has any right to define them for others; and, therefore, that all verbal institutions which demand conformity in their interpretations are as false in principle as they have proved pernicious in practice.
That the great problem of education has never been practically solved, nor can it be solved upon any of the principles upon which society is now acting; but, that the study of natural individualities, with these natural deductions from thorn, point out a solution at once simple, truthful, beautiful, and sublime.
Finally, that the five elements of new society herein set forth, together with other modern discoveries and inventions, are capable, if reduced to practice, of “ADJUSTING, HARMONIZING, AND REGULATING THE PECUNIARY, INTELLECTUAL, AND MORAL INTERCOURSE OF MANKIND,” and of elevating the condition and character of our race to the fulfillment of the highest aspirations and purest hopes of the most devoted friends of humanity.
WITH regard to the practicability of our propositions, every one will form his own individual estimate of this. A few have practical proofs which others have not. Different estimates will be formed on internal evidences, and this part, at least, of our subject (individuality), is practically at work, and demonstrates itself. If every one is free to differ, and no attempt is made to change any one’s views or action against his inclination, another practical step is gained; but with regard to the movement as a whole, it is addressed, first of all, to the noble few whose intellects and hearts have not been destroyed by the prevailing cannibalism of the world, and whose last hope has not become entirely extinguished by the repeated failures of enterprises having similar objects in view.
It is confidently believed that a few such persons can be found, who, by making a commencement, will immediately start a power into existence which is perfectly irresistible by the strongest opposers of reformation—a power, to which all their opposition, all their deep-laid plans, their wordy warfare, their bitterest hostility, must become as chaff before the wind—this power is COMPETITION. The competition of Equitable Commerce invades no one’s right of person or property— it reduces no one’s labor below equivalents, but it will bring every one to this position in defiance of any resistance that may be offered.
No one can sell house lots for five thousand dollars, while any one will sell them of equal value for five dollars; and one person can buy and sell all the lots required by thousands. No one can sell coffee at sixteen cents a pound, where any one will sell it equally good for ten cents; and one person can sell coffee and sugar to thousands. No one can get five dollars per hour for visiting the sick, when another, whose services are equally valuable, can be obtained for an equivalent. No lawyer can get a hundred dollars per hour, when another will do the business as well for an equal amount of labor.
If it be objected that the first beginnings cannot be made, we meet this with the fact, that there is no branch of necessary knowledge that is not now accessible immediately to those who want employment; and that in the professions mentioned, the durations of the customary apprenticeships, do not generally equal those of the cabinet-maker, the iron-worker, or the carpenter; and that where profit is not made by concealment and mystery, any demand can be very readily supplied; and that any number of any profession (which is likely to be wanted) can be qualified in from two to three years.
Competition is an element of society so well known and understood, that no illustration is necessary to show that where one person will deal more for the interest of the public than another, he will get all the business, or others must come to his prices, and that in this position one person can wield an immeasurable power. The competition of Equitable Commerce exerts this power upon all professions that are paid above equivalents; and the natural propensity for self-preservation, raises those below up to equivalents. The power of money itself, which wields all other powers, must sink into imbecility in competition with a rational circulating medium, and those who possess the most money, may suddenly find themselves the most powerless and most dependent of men.
It is folly for any parties to hope any longer to delay the general emancipation and natural equality of the race. The ostrich, who hides his head in the sand, while his body is exposed to the huntsman, does not exhibit a more fatal self-conceit than those who expect that rank, name, money, political power, or Jesuitical craft can any longer exempt them from the great, the harmonious destiny of humanity.
It has now become a very common sentiment, that there is some deep and radical wrong somewhere, and that legislators have proved themselves incapable of discovering or remedying it.
With all due deference to other judgments, I have undertaken to point out what seems to constitute this wrong, and its natural, legitimate, and efficient remedies; and shall continue to do so wherever and whenever the subject receives that attention and respect to which its unspeakable importance appears to entitle it; and it is hoped that some who are capable of correct reasoning will undertake to investigate, and (if they can find a motive) to oppose Equitable Commerce, and thereby discover and expose the utter imbecility—the surprising weakness of any opposition that can be brought against it. Opposition, in order to be noticed, must be confined to this subject, and its natural tendencies, DISCONNECTED from all others, and all merely personal considerations.
To those who have neither eyes to see nor hearts to feel, I quote the words of Rouvray, announced in St. Domingo only a few months before the streets were choaked with conflict and corpses, and running with human gore: “Learn,” said he, “that indecent clamor may force to silence, but will never refute true reasoning, founded upon the authority of existing facts or true history. One day, perhaps, the cries of scorn with which you repay the announcement of important truths will be changed to tears of blood.”
My most anxious hope is that this prophecy may not prove applicable to all civilized countries,
I decline all noisy, wordy, confused, and personal controversies. This subject is presented for calm study, and honest inquiry; and, after having placed it fairly before the public, I shall leave it to be estimated by each individual according to the peculiar measure of his understanding, and shall offer no violence to his individuality, by any attempt to restrain or to urge him beyond it.
NEW HARMONY, INDIANA, U. S., 1846
(a.) THE circulating medium used in Equitable Commerce has been a simple note for a certain number of hours’ labor of a definite kind; one form is as follows: DUE TO BEARER ON DEMAND, TEN HOURS’ LABOR IN CARPENTER WORK—signed by the individual who is responsible for its redemption As it is necessary to measure and compare the price of this with other labor, we use, as before mentioned, one common idea as a rule of comparison. Having ascertained that corn costs, in a certain location, on an average, two minutes’ labor for each pound, then, if the carpenter considers his labor equally costly with that of raising corn, he signifies it by attaching the number of pounds of corn which would be the product of ten hours—thus: Due to the bearer, ten hours’ labor in carpenter work, or three hundred pounds of corn. This addition to the note enables us not only to compare one labor with another, but it gives the signer of it an alternative in case it is not convenient for him to give his labor on demand, and there can be as many of these alternatives (all being equivalent to each other) as the responsible person may choose to attach to his note.
If a shoemaker thinks his labor not so costly as the raising of corn (as he can work all weathers, and with less wear of clothing and tools), by one quarter, then he can give his note for ten hours’ labor in shoe-making, or two hundred and twenty-five pounds of corn, which is one quarter less for the same time.
In dealing out goods in a store, only about one half of the time of the keeper can be actually counted, even while he is the most busily employed; so that, if he considers this labor equivalent to the raising of corn, he must charge as much for one hour actually employed, as will compensate for two hours—thus: Due to the bearer on demand ONE hour in merchandizing, or SIXTY pounds of corn. Thus, the unavoidable loss which constitutes one half of the cost of this part of his business, is made up by each customer in proportion to the business he transacts.
In this manner any degree of comparison can be carried out, each individual being the only deciding power for the estimate of his own labor, and competition being the regulator of all, The reasons we give, why competition does not work any one below equivalents, are—first, that the idea of comparative cost is admitted by public opinion to be a correct and the only correct standard for the limit of price, and it becomes a new element of society, furnishes new data for judgments, and then each one is naturally influenced by it; and, secondly, because every thing being bought and sold for cost, the merchant has no motive to purchase at a price below equivalents; and, thirdly, because all business being thrown open by the cost principle to those who want employment, any one can abandon an unpaid labor, and resort to any other, until all are equalized. (Apprenticeships.)—When any persons are thrown out of employment by the introduction of machinery, or when, from any other cause, there is no demand for their labor, it becomes necessary for their self-preservation that they turn to some other employment. At this point, the apprenticeships established by custom, stand directly in the way, and constitute the principal obstacle to this necessary change. During the nineteen years of the study and experiments of Equitable Commerce, it has been one principal object to test practically the necessity of these apprenticeships; the result of these tests are on record for publication, if necessary; but, perhaps, it is sufficient to DENY, in general terms, their necessity, and to refer every one to his own experience, or to that of his acquaintance, when proof will start up on all sides, that they are a relic of ancient barbarism, totally unworthy a free and self-sustaining people. No new proposition of equal importance is more susceptible of proof than this. And at least one half of all the pursuits now monopolized by men, can be quite as successfully performed by women, who are now confined by custom and craft to one or two pursuits, in which competition has ground them to beggary and starvation. If a new sense of equity, of humanity, does not immediately render to them an equivalent for their labor, the competition of Equitable Commerce will do it. Let women and all others whose labor is unpaid, abandon their pursuits and turn to others that will command an equivalent, which they can do when all kinds of instruction can be obtained on the cost principle, and where the prices of board, clothing, and every thing else are limited in the same manner. Under these circumstances, a few hours or days instruction substitutes years of the customary apprentice slavery, and, be it more or less, the learner, besides paying his or her instructor equitably for his labor, can sustain himself or herself from the beginning to the end of it, provided the products are sold for equivalents.
Any one wishing to learn a new business, consults the reports of demand and supply, and looking under the head of supply, sees who advertises to teach that business; then, having provided his or her place for business, calls on the instructor, gets his advice relative to tools and materials, and when all is ready, the instructor comes and gives the necessary instruction; the learner or employer pays him for his labor, and has all the products of it.
This is an extremely interesting and a fundamental branch of reformation, and nothing short of practice can disclose the immense wealth that lies buried under the barbarous rubbish of the seven years’ apprenticeships.
(A.) It is the evidence that each one has, that cost is and will be made the limit of price, that establishes harmonious relations and ensures co-operation. Pledges are no evidence to this effect, but they violate the legitimate liberty of those who make them, and are liable to become elements of discord. In the experiments of the Equitable stores, boarding-house, and other operations of Equitable Commerce, the conductors of them made all the bills of purchase public by hanging them up to view, exposing them at public meetings, and on all occasions attracting attention to the cost of every thing; so, that common knowledge soon became a sufficient guard against even the suspicion of deviation from the principle; and this was done, not in obedience to any vote of any combination, but as the only known means of accomplishing the object in view. (Caution.)—It is, perhaps, impossible for any one without experience to know the conveniencies and necessaries that they leave behind them when they abandon a city life and go beyond the reach of them. Experience on this subject has taught a lesson at once too costly and too valuable to be forgotten or withheld. It is, not on any account to make new beginnings too remote from cities or large towns, but to keep within, say an hour’s travel of some one, as a mart for little supplies that never can be anticipated, and as a market for surplus labor, which must be exchanged for that which cannot be produced in the commencement of new operations.
I have already given a word of caution against being hurried on by the current of others’ movements into a new position, in which we might not find a sustaining demand for our labor, and I would here add, that we may commit as great an error by yielding to the influence of surrounding customs, or to the fears and prejudices of friends; but having ascertained what we want, and that this movement promises the supply in a manner to be depended on, I know of no better course than to sit in judgment, as an individual, on all counsels, and then to act, each on his own individual estimate, on his own responsibility, and at his own cost.
Treatment of Children upon Equitable Principles.—My little daughter was between seven and eight years old when I commenced the application of these principles to her education, thus:
I asked her to come into a room by ourselves, where we might be FREE from interruption. After seating ourselves, I said to her: “M., you may not be old enough to understand all that I should like you to know upon what I am going to speak to you of, but, perhaps, you can understand enough for the present purpose.
“You know that you eat and drink every day, that you have clothes, that you live in a house, that you sit by the fire, have books, playthings, attendance when you are sick, etc.; and yet, you cannot make any kind of food, you cannot make any part of your clothing— no part of the house you live in, nor the fire-wood; these must be made for you by others, and how do you get them? Do you know how you get them?” “I get them from you and mother,” said she. “Yes, and how do you think we get them? for we do not make either of them,” “I do not know,” she said. “Now this,” said I, “is what I want to tell you. I do one thing—I keep store, and the makers of all these things want my labor in store-keeping, and so we exchange with each other, and I get all these things by doing one thing. This doing only one business is called the division of labor, and the exchanging with each other is called pecuniary commerce; pecuniary means relating to property. There are other kinds of commerce; for when one talks with another, they exchange ideas with each other, and this might be called intellectual commerce, or the commerce of minds, such as we are carrying on at this moment, Then, there is another kind of commerce, not so easy to explain ; it is the interchange of the feelings—for instance, if a person plays a piece of music for the gratification of another, he conveys a feeling to that other, and this may be called the commerce of the feelings, or moral commerce; these different kinds of commerce are often called the intercourse of society. This intercourse of society is at present conducted in the most confused, disorderly, unprincipled manner, which produces all the sufferings of the poor, the anxieties of the rich, and misery in all conditions beyond any thing I can make you understand; but you will see more as you grow older and come to read history. I am making it my only object in life, to try principles which I think can regulate this intercourse in such a manner as to prevent all this suffering; but my particular object with you now is, to begin to apply these principles here in our house between ourselves, and you will see yourself benefited by them.
“As it is now, you have seen that you are subject to be called on by me or your mother to do this or that at any and all times, however you may be engaged or interested, and that sometimes you do not come, or do not do what we require directly; you do not feel the same interest in doing a thing for us, that you are not interested in, as you do in your own playthings; but there is a necessity for performing a certain quantity of labor, in order that we may have playthings, and food to eat, clothes to wear, a house to live in, etc., because you know these things are all produced by labor, and if it were not that this labor is performed by somebody, we could not have them. I get them from those who make them, as I said, by buying and selling goods to them. You get them from me and your mother, and you do these little things we require of you, for the supplies you receive of us, although you did not know this was the case. It is so from necessity; because if you did not do some things for us, we should not even have time to get these things for you. Now, here is the great question: How much should you properly do for us for what you receive? Should we require all your time night and day? Would this be too much, or not enough? Is there any limit, any bounds that we can set, in so that you may understand when your obligations to us are discharged, and you can feel yourself free to pursue your own objects without being interrupted by our unlimited claims and calls, and that we may feel free to require, knowing that you see and acknowledge its necessity? Can you suggest any way to do this?” “No, sir,” said she, “I cannot, but I should like it very much.” “Well, then, I will tell you what I have thought; that I would as soon buy and sell goods an hour as to wash dishes an hour; so if you will wash as many dishes as I or your mother would wash in an hour, I should consider that you had paid us for an hour of our labor; this would take you more than hour, but no matter. Each of us, in our family, consume, under our present circumstances, about three hours of men’s labor per day. You consume about so much of mine and your mother’s labor or time. Now, how much of your time do you think you ought to work for us, to do as much for us as we should do for ourselves in three hours?” “I do not know,” she replied, “but I am willing to do whatever you think I ought.” “But,” said I, “I want your own understanding and feelings to act in this; I want the decision to come from yourself, from the clear perception that you are governed by the necessity of things, and not by me or your mother personally, and then all will go smoothly. But, as it is impossible for you to judge, suppose we say that six hours of your labor at present shall be considered an equivalent for what you receive of us (“yes, sir’), and then, you know, we can change from time to time, and in order to show you that I take no advantage of your dependence on us, or your confidence in me, if you can do better for yourself at any time, you have a right to do it; I lay no claim to your person or time, but the return for labor, which you see we must all have in order to live. And whenever you do not do your part of this necessary labor, it is but reasonable to conclude that you cannot have the benefit of it, and your income or supplies must necessarily stop. And, remember, that this would not be done in anger, or for punishment, but, because if no labor was performed, there would be nothing to live upon, and they who do not do their share, must not expect to live on the labor of others.”
Even at this age she comprehended me, and seemed to feel the justice of her position. It then only remained to disconnect that portion of her time from the remainder, so that both parties might be free to act up to just limits, and not overstep them. We agreed that from between seven and nine, from twelve to two, and from five till seven, should be the six hours of each day to be devoted to our work, and that all the rest of her time was to be entirely her own; and if we required her services during any of this time, we would make a contract with her as with any stranger, and pay her by the time employed, and the pay was to be absolutely her own, of which she was to be supreme sovereign disposer. If she chose to ask our advice, of course we would give it; but we should exercise no authority, nor even give advice unasked, and if she spent it inconsiderately, the consequences would show her the necessity of asking the advice of older friends.
This arrangement was immediately carried into practice, and the beautifully harmonious efficacy of the practice can only be conceived by trial. No other arrangement was necessary, and this was continued, with but little variations, from that time forth.
It will be seen, on a little trial, that children thus thrown upon themselves, begin to exercise all the self-preserving faculties; they are interested in looking into consequences before they act, and will ask the advice of parents, and listen with interest to their injunctions, which, before, they would have shunned as unmeaning, tedious inflictions.
Under these circumstances, if we call children in the morning, it is for them, and not for us, we do it, as their supplies would stop if the contract was not fulfilled. If we advise them not to spend their money or time foolishly, it is for them, and not for us; it is not our money or time they spend, and they can see that our advice is DISINTERESTED. Then, they listen and thank us for that which otherwise they would have considered an interested, selfish exercise of authority. If there is ever to be undisturbed harmony between parents and children, it will be found where their interests and responsibilities are entirely individualized, disconnected from each other, where one exercises no power or authority over the persons, property, time, or responsibilities of the other. I speak from seventeen years’ experiments, of which more will be said in the proper place, but will add here, that these principles can be only partially applied under the present mixture of the interests and responsibilities of parents and children—that where parents are obliged to bear the consequences of the child’s acts, the parent must have the deciding power; but in things in which the child can alone assume the cost of its acts, he may safely be intrusted to the natural government of consequences.
A company who were conducting a school at Spring Hill, Ohio, let one of the boys try his own self-management with me; and here commenced one distinction—he was not under my authority, although he was guided by me; I did not take him, any more than I took the Mayor of New York, when I went to do business with him. I made him understand this at the beginning. I told him that I should never exercise any authority whatever, but that there were certain things which he wanted to learn, to prepare himself for future life, and that I had a particular way of teaching these; that the company were willing he should try this mode if he was inclined to do so, but that he was free at any moment to place himself again under the direction and control of the company. My object was, among other things, to teach him to need no control from any one; that he was to have all the proceeds of his own labor, pay his board to the company, exercise his own judgment or taste with regard to his clothing, pay for it himself, and do whatever he chose with his surplus time or property. He was between eleven and twelve years old. “Well, James, how do you like such a proposal?” “I do not know,” he said, “how to pay my board or earn my clothes.” “Well, would you not like to learn how these things are done, so as to get experience against time of need?” “Oh! yes, sir,” said he, and his eyes brightened up “Well, now, what do you think should rationally be your first step?” He did not know. “Would it not be to do first, that which you want first? You will want dinner directly, and if you pay the company your board, you want to know what they want, don’t you? and then you have your pursuit marked out for you. This is what is called the demand.” “Oh! yes,” said he, “I see.” “Well, now, in talking with the company, I perceived that they were more in want of shoes than any other thing; now if you could supply this demand”—” Oh! sir,” said he in amazement, “it takes men to make shoes, I don’t know how; I—I—I”—”My dear boy, you do not understand your own capacities; I am going to show you what you can do; wouldn’t you like to have me?” “Oh! yes, sir,” said he, “if you think I could.” “I think you can,” said I, “and now let us see what is the first step: there must be tools, leather, a place to work in, and a teacher; now which of these is wanted first?” He thought a moment, and then replied, “Why, the shop, I should think, if I had the things to put in it.” “I have got tools that I will lend you,” I said, “by your being responsible to me for their safe return, and the company will find you leather. Now you want the shop, and there is that little building up there that is just fit for it; you bad better go to the company and make some contract with them for the use of it.” “I do not know,” he said, “how to make a contract.” “To learn to do every thing of the kind, constitutes your education, my dear child. You have only to go and ask them what rent they will ask you for the use of it; they will not think it strange, I have talked with them, and they expect it.” He went to one of the company, who told him that the wear of the building was not worth setting a price upon. The next thing was the leather, and this he must get of the company, and as he had no money to pay for it, he must keep an account of it. When he came to this, he said, with a deep blush, “I do not know how to keep accounts.” “Don’t blush, my dear boy, you have never been taught; none of us know until we are taught, and it is not until we come to want these things that we know their value, and this is the reason why I am proceeding with you in this manner. Now, as you do not know how to keep books, I will set a few examples, and after them, if you observe closely, you will be able to do it yourself.” “But,” said he, “I cannot write well enough.” “Then, you see what you want; and if you learn one thing after another, in the order in which you want it, you will get on with your education in the best possible manner, for you see that even now you want a knowledge of book-keeping, of writing, and arithmetic, all at once.” “Yes, sir,” said he, “and I will ask, who do you think I had better ask to teach me to write?” “Mr. E., or Mr. F., either would do it very well,” I said. “I will try to learn right away,” said he,” in the evenings, when I am not at work.” He now wanted the tools, and I told him that I should look to him for their safe return, and in order to know when they were all returned, it would be necessary for him to give me a receipt for them. He did not know the form of receipts, and when I wrote one, it was a new item in his education. He bashfully took the pen to sign it, when I said, “you need not feel mortified, my boy, for not knowing what you have never been in a situation to learn; but, now you are in a situation, you will learn, I know. If you never before had to give a receipt, how could you give one? It is by placing you in this situation, that you will learn those things and form those habits that will be necessary to you when you grow up, and you cannot begin too soon.”
Now, throughout all this process, he was as much sovereign of himself, and of all his interests as the Emperor of China. The ordinary relation of teacher and pupil was reversed—he was master, I was servant—and he paid me for my services according to the time employed; and yet he would not take the least step either in business or amusement without my advice and approbation. Within two days from the first commencement, he had a pair of shoes on his feet, of his own make, that no one would have noticed as differing from ordinary work. He continued in this business till the demand of the company for shoes was fully supplied, and then turned to another pursuit.
My son, who is now about nineteen years of age, has been more particularly and continuously the subject of these experiments, which were commenced with him at the age of seven. The natural government of consequences has been uniformly substituted for the barbarous government of force—he has never in all his life been struck by either of his parents; and, making a just allowance for all the counteracting examples and influences which have surrounded him on all sides, I am willing to have him considered one of the practical results of these principles applied to education.
I give these facts in detail, in this undisguised manner, because facts in detail, given upon responsibility, are the only material that will now supply the demand of society. The public, having been so often misled by theories, now, very reasonably, call for practical results, I know that in giving these in this form, I subject myself to the charge of egotism from those who regard manner more than matter; but, to hesitate, or remain silent on this account, would be less justifiable in my own eyes, than the most ridiculous egotism.
(B.) An accurate account of all the expenses of the family for ninety-five days, during the operation of the experimental store in Cincinnati, including clothing, wear of house and furniture, all reduced to their labor cost, resulted in the average of one hour and forty minutes labor per day for each individual of the family. This estimate does not include housework, as this is so various under different arrangements. In this estimate, flour was set at twenty hours’ labor per bbl.; chickens, an hour’s labor each; coffee, one hour per pound; butter, one hour per pound; milk, fifteen minutes’ labor per quart; beef, ten minutes’ labor per pound; six cords of wood and sawing, ninety-six hours; sugar, forty minutes per pound. This estimate includes the ascertained labor cost of seventeen yards sheeting (forty-three hours), five pair of shoes, forty nine hours; wear of house with four rooms, twenty hours—probably wear of clothing not specified, thirty hours. For expenses not enumerated, thirty hours.
Explanation of the Labor Note.
“Not transferable.” This condition is made a prominent feature in the labor note for various reasons: first, we do not propose, as a general practice, to deal on these new principles with those who do not understand or appreciate them, and it is necessary to inform such persons that the notes are not intended for them. Second, in the incipient, progressive stage, there will be those who would gladly get hold of the notes for no other purpose than to make trouble and embarrass the operations, instead of assisting them, and it is necessary for the giver of the note to have the means of protecting himself or herself against all such designs, which they can effectually do, by exercising their right of “sovereignty,” and refusing to redeem the note in such hands; while, at the same time, the same right of “sovereignty” would be equally exercised and vindicated by RISING ABOVE and disregarding the condition, when the reasons which gave rise to it did not exist. To carry out this design it becomes necessary to leave the name of the receiver blank in the printed form, to be filled up at the time of the issue of the note. “One hour’s labor in carpenter work, or twelve pounds of corn.”
The twelve pounds of corn serves two purposes; it shows the price which the giver of the note sets upon his labor, as compared with others, who may rate their labor at eight, ten, fifteen, or twenty pounds, according to the “cost” of it. Secondly, it gives the signer of the note an alternative. In case it is not convenient for him to pay his note in carpenter work at the time required, he can pay it in an article which contains an equivalent of labor. An article that, being almost imperishable from year to year, he can keep on hand, and one that is likely to be always acceptable to the holder of the note; because it would not be an easy matter to over supply the demand, as it can be converted into milk, butter, cheese, beef, pork, poultry, eggs, and even exported in most of these forms to almost any part of the world to an indefinite extent. On these accounts, corn is an article peculiarly adapted to become the basis of a circulating medium; whereas many other articles, even gold and silver, are liable to over or under supply the demand, and consequently work sudden and ruinous revolutions. The note is issued by each individual, in his individual capacity, because combined interests include the elements of defeat, and destroy all responsibility.
Do Not Expect Too Much.
THE picture of the future, to which these principles point, is so full of beauty and magnificence, that in our anxiety to realize such a life we are apt to overlook the distance between that and us, which must be traveled over step by step, through very rough and unforeseen obstacles. Among the greatest of these are the forces of habit and fashion. Habit is said to be “a second nature,” and fashion is stronger than law. Many years might pass away before an American, placed among Frenchmen, could so far overcome the habit of his own native tongue as not to be distinguished by it, with all his best efforts to aid him. Such being the force of one particular habit, what allowance must we not make for all the habits of previous life!
Fashion—more tyrannical than tyranny itself! How much intellectual effort, moral courage, time, and self-devotion are required to effect even a small revolution, in a power which controls all other controllable powers! Therefore, in the outset, let us not overlook unavoidable obstacles, and thereby lay the foundation of disappointment and reaction by expecting too much.
 See forthcoming works on practical details.
 To common eyes this will appear strange or impracticable—on this point see “Practical Details.”
 See Practical Details of Equitable Commerce.
 See Dr. Joseph Burhanan’s discoveries in Neurology
 Ridiculous as this appears, it is actually carried out in limited leases on land, which is never completely sold, but subject to have a new price set upon it at the expiration of each lease, according to its fluctuating values!
 This may be worked into the semblance of a bank note, or any other form that fancy may dictate.