Instead of a Book/Communism
GENERAL WALKER AND THE ANARCHISTS.
[Liberty, November 19, 1887.]
Ladies and Gentlemen:—Some four years ago I had occasion to write a criticism of a work then new,—Professor Ely's "French and German Socialism in Modern Times,"—and I began it with these paragraphs:
It is becoming the fashion in these days for the parsons who are hired, either directly or indirectly, consciously or unconsciously, to whitewash the sins of the plutocrats, and for the professors who are hired, either directly or indirectly, consciously or unconsciously, to educate the sons of the plutocrats to continue in the transgressions of their fathers,—it is becoming the fashion for these to preach sermons, deliver lectures, or write books on Socialism, Communism, Anarchism, and the various other phases of the modern labor movement. So general, indeed, has become the practice that any one of them who has not done something in this line begins to feel a vague sense of delinquency in the discharge of his obligations to his employer, and consequently scarce a week passes that does not inflict upon a suffering public from these gentlemen some fresh clerical or professorial analysis, classification, interpretation, and explanation of the ominous overhanging social clouds which conceal the thunderbolt that, unless the light of Liberty and Equity dissipates them in time, is to destroy their masters' houses.
The attitudes assumed are as various as the authors are numerous. Some are as lowering as the clouds themselves; others as beaming as the noonday sun. One would annihilate with the violence of his fulminations; another would melt with the warmth of his flattery and the persuasiveness of conciliation. These foolishly betray their spirit of hatred by threats and denunciation; those shrewdly conceal it behind fine words and hon eyed phrases. The latest manifestation coming to our notice is of the professedly disinterested order. Richard T. Ely, associate professor of political economy in the Johns Hopkins University at Baltimore and lecturer on political economy in Cornell University, Ithaca, N. Y., comes to the front with a small volume on "French and German Socialism in Modern Times," the chapters of which, now somewhat rewritten, were originally so many lectures to the students under his charge, and substantially (not literally) announces himself as follows: "Attention! Behold! I am come to do a service to the friends of law and order by expounding the plans and purposes of the honest but mistaken enemies of law and order. But, whereas nearly all my predecessors in this field have been unfair and partial, I intend to be fair and impartial." And we are bound to say that this pretence has been maintained so successfully throughout the book that it can hardly fail to mislead every reader who has not in advance the good fortune to know more than the author about his subject.
I quote these paragraphs at the beginning of this paper, because I was forcibly reminded of them on reading the other day in the Boston Post a long and very interesting report of an address on "Anarchism and Socialism," delivered the previous evening before the Trinity Club of this city by General Francis A. Walker, president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The tone of the address, like that of Professor Ely's book, was seemingly so fair; there was such an apparent effort to carefully discriminate between the different schools of Socialism, and to bestow words of praise wherever, in the speaker's judgment, such were deserved; and a disposition was so frankly exhibited to find important elements of truth in Socialistic teachings,—that I myself, usually so wary and so doubtful of the possibility of any good issuing from the Nazareth of orthodox political economy, was misled, not indeed into acquiescence in the speaker's errors, which were many and egregious, but into a belief in his honesty of purpose and his genuine desire to understand his opponents and represent them accurately. This man, said I to myself, is ready to be set right.
So I wrote him a letter, asking the privilege of an hour's interview. The request was phrased as politely as my knowledge of English and of the requirements of courtesy would permit. I congratulated General Walker on his evident disposition to be fair, but hinted as delicately as I could that certain things had escaped him and certain others had misled him. I assured him that I had no expectation of converting him to my views, but was confident that I could give him a better understanding of Anarchism. I told him that, if necessary, I would give him references among the foremost Socialists of America as to my competency to accurately represent Anarchism, and added that for three years I was a regular student in the educational institution of which he is now at the head.
A day or two later I received this reply:
Massachusetts Institute of Technology,
Boston, October 27, 1887.
Dear Sir:—Your letter of the 25th inst. is received.
I regret that I have not time to go into the subject of Anarchism, as you propose. The report of my speech before the Trinity Club, on the 24th, was altogether unauthorized. I was assured that I was addressing a private club, informally; and, at the last, only assented to the title of the lecture being mentioned.
I dare say the report was also incorrect. Such reports generally are. I have not read it.
Francis A. Walker.
This letter completely dissolved my illusion. It showed me at once that General Walker's fairness, like that of his brother economist, Professor Ely, lay entirely on the surface,—the only difference between them, perhaps, being that, while Professor Ely falsified deliberately and with knowledge of the truth. General Walker spoke in ignorance, though posing as a teacher, and became a hypocrite only after the fact, by refusing to know the truth or have it pointed out to him. Here is a man, famous as an economist, with a reputation to sustain, who has time to prepare and deliver, or else to deliver without preparation, before a private club, on the uppermost and most important question of the day, an address so long that even an inadequate report of it filled a column and a half in the Boston Post, but has not one hour in which to listen to proof offered in substantiation of a charge of gross error preferred against him by one who for fifteen years has made this question a subject of special study.
It will not do for him to plead in excuse that the Post's report, which he has not read, may be incorrect, and that therefore the charge of error may be based on statements unwarrantably attributed to him. It so happens that it falls to my lot as a daily journalist to revise and prepare for publication reports of all descriptions to the number of several hundred a week, and in consequence I know an intelligent report when I see one as infallibly as a painter knows a good picture when he sees one. In the report in question there maybe minor inaccuracies; as to that I cannot say: but as a whole it is a report of uncommon excellence and intelligence. Given a report containing a mass of errors, if these errors are the reporter's, they will be a jumble; if, on the other hand, they bear a definite relation to each other and proceed from a common and fundamental error, it is sure that they are not the reporter's errors, but the lecturer's. In this case the error fallen into at the start is so consistently held to and so frequently repeated that it would be contrary to the law of chances to hold the reporter responsible for it; General Walker must answer for it himself. And as he will not listen to a private demonstration offered in a friendly spirit, I am compelled to submit him to a public demonstration offered in a somewhat antagonistic spirit.
What, then, is the fundamental error into which General Walker falls? It is this,—that, in trying, as he claims, to set Anarchism before his hearers as it is seen by its most intelligent advocates, he discriminates between men of whom he instances Prince Kropotkine as typical, as intelligent exponents of scientific Anarchy on the one hand, and, on the other hand, men like the seven under sentence at Chicago as unintelligent, ignorant, ruffianly scoundrels, who call themselves Anarchists, but are not Anarchists.
Now, I perfectly agree with General Walker that the Chicago men call themselves Anarchists, but are not Anarchists. And inasmuch as my subject compels me to say something in criticism of these men's opinions and inasmuch also as five days hence they are to die upon the gallows, victims of a tyranny as cruel, as heartless, as horrible, as blind as any that ever bloodied history's pages, you will excuse me, I am sure, if I interrupt my argument, almost before beginning it, long enough to qualify my criticism in advance by a word of tribute and a declaration of fellowship. Instead of ruffianly scoundrels, these men are noble-hearted heroes deeply in love with order, peace, and harmony,—loving these so deeply, in fact, that they have not remained contented with any platonic affection worshipping them as ideals ever distant, but have given their lives to a determined effort to win and enjoy them to the full- est. I differ with them vitally in opinion; I disapprove utterly their methods; I dispute emphatically their Anarchism: but as brothers, as dear comrades, animated by the same love, and working, in the broad sense, in a common cause than which there never was a grander, I give them both my hands and my heart in them. Far be it from me to shirk in the slightest the solidarity that unites us. Were I to do so, for trivial ends or from ignoble fears, I should despise myself as a coward. For these brave men I have no apologies to make; I am proud of their courage, I glory in their devotion. If they shall be murdered on Friday next, I fear that the vile deed will prove fraught with consequences from which, if its perpetrators could foresee them, even they, brutes as they are, would recoil in horror and dismay.
I say, however, with General Walker, that these men are not Anarchists, though they call themselves so. But if I prove that Prince Kropotkine agrees with them exactly, both as to the form of social organization to be striven for and as to the methods by which to strive for and sustain it, I show thereby that, as they are not Anarchists, he is not one, that General Walker's discrimination is therefore a false one, and that, in making it, he showed utter ignorance of the nature of Anarchism proper. Now, precisely that I propose to prove.
To this end the first question to be asked is: What is the Socialistic creed of the Chicago men? It is a very simple one, consisting of two articles: 1, that all natural wealth and products of labor should be held in common, produced by each according to his powers and distributed to each according to his needs, through the administrative mechanism and under the administrative control of workingmen's societies organized by trades; 2, that every individual should have perfect liberty in all things except the liberty to produce for himself and to exchange with his neighbors outside the channels of the prescribed mechanism. Not stopping to consider here how much any liberties would be worth without the liberty to produce and exchange, I proceed to the second question: How do the Chicago men propose that their creed shall be realized? The answer to this is simpler still, consisting of but one article: that the working people should arm themselves, rise in revolution, forcibly expropriate every proprietor, and then I form the necessary workingmen's societies, whose first duty should be to feed, clothe, and shelter the masses out of the common stock, whose second duty should be to organize production for the renewal of the stock, and whose third duty should be to suppress by whatever heroic measures all rebellious individuals who should at any time practically assert their right to produce and exchange for themselves. The literature circulated by this school is now so well known that I do not need to make quotations from it to show that its teachings are as I have stated. I assume that this will not be disputed. It remains to consider whether Kropotkine's teachings materially differ from them. I claim that they do not, and, as Kropotkine's writings are less familiar to Americans, it is necessary to prove this claim by quotations. His chief work is written in French, a volume of some 350 pages entitled "Paroles d'un Révolté" ("Words of a Rebel"). The title of the closing chapter is "Expropriation." From that chapter now translate and quote as follows:
We have to put an end to the iniquities, the vices, the crimes which result from the idle existence of some and the economic, intellectual, and moral servitude of others. The problem is an immense one. But, since past centuries have left this problem to our generation; since we find ourselves under the historical necessity of working for its complete solution,—we must accept the task. Moreover, we are no longer obliged to grope in the dark for the solution. It has been imposed upon us by history, simultaneously with the problem; it has been and is being stated boldly in all European countries, and it sums up the economic and intellectual development of our century. It is Expropriation; it is Anarchy.
If social wealth remains in the hands of the few who possess it to-day; if the workshop, the dockyard, and the factory remain the property of the employer; if the railways, the means of transportation, continue in the hands of the companies and the individuals who have monopolized them; if the houses of the cities as well as the country-seats of the lords remain in possession of their actual proprietors, instead of being placed, from the beginning of the revolution, at the gratuitous disposition of all laborers; if all accumulated treasure, whether in the banks or in the houses of the wealthy, does not immediately go back to the collectivity—since all have contributed to produce it; if the insurgent people do not take possession of all the goods and provisions amassed in the great cities and do not organize to put them within the reach of all who need them; if the land, finally, remains the property of the bankers and usurers,—to whom it belongs to-day, in fact, if not in law,—and if the great tracts of real estate are not taken away from the great proprietors, to be put within the reach of all who wish to labor on the soil; if, further, there is established a governing class to dictate to a governed class,—the insurrection will not be a revolution, and everything will have to be begun over again.…
Expropriation,—that, then, is the watchword which is imposed upon the next revolution, under penalty of failing in its historic mission. The complete expropriation of all who have the means of exploiting human beings. The return to common ownership by the nation of all that can serve in the hands of any one for the exploitation of others.
This extract covers all the doctrines of the Chicago men, does it not? That it covers common property and distribution according to needs no one can question. That it covers the denial of the right of individual production and exchange is equally clear. Kropotkine says, it is true, that he would allow the individual access to the land; but as he proposes to strip him of capital entirely, and as he declares a few pages further on that without capital agriculture is impossible, it follows that such access is an empty privilege not at all equivalent to the liberty of individual production. But one point remains,—that of the method of expropriation by force; and if any one still feels any doubt of Kropotkine's belief in that, let me remove it by one more quotation:
We must see clearly in private property what it really is, a conscious or unconscious robbery of the substance of all, and seize it joyfully for the common benefit when the hour of revendication shall strike. In all former revolutions, when it was a question of replacing a king of the elder branch by a king of the younger branch or of substituting lawyers for lawyers in the "best of republics," proprietors succeeded proprietors and the social regime had not to change. Accordingly the placards, "Death to robbers!" which were placed at the entrance of every palace were in perfect harmony with the current morality, and many a poor devil caught touching a coin of the king, or perhaps even the bread of the baker, was shot an example of the justice administered by the people.
The worthy national guard, incarnating in himself all the infamous solemnity of the laws which the monopolists had framed for the defence of their property, pointed with pride to the body stretched across the steps of the palace, and his comrades hailed him as an avenger of the law. Those placards of 1830 and 1848 will not be seen again upon the walls of insurgent cities. No robbery is possible where all belongs to all. "Take and do not waste, for it is all yours, and you will need it." But destroy without delay all that should be overthrown, the bastilles and the prisons, the forts turned against the cities and the unhealthy quarters in which you have so long breathed an atmosphere charged with poison. Install yourselves in the palaces and mansions, and make a bonfire of the piles of bricks and rotten wood of which the sinks in which you have lived were constructed. The instinct of destruction, so natural and so just because it is at the same time the instinct of renovation, will find ample room for satisfaction.
Nothing more incendiary than that was ever uttered in the Haymarket or on the lake front at Chicago by the most rabid agitator of that volcanic city. And if further proof were needed, it could readily be found in the columns of Kropotkine's paper, Le Révolté, in which he lately lauded to the skies as a legitmate act of propagandism the conduct of a member of his party named Duval, who, after a fashion externally indistinguishable from that of a burglar, broke into a house in Paris and plundered it, and who afterwards vindicated his course in court as deliberately entered upon in pursuance of his principles.
In view of these things, I submit that General Walker has no warrant whatever for referring to such men as Kropotkine as true Anarchists and "among the best men in the world," while in the same breath he declares (I use his words as reported in the Post) that "the mobs at the Haymarket were composed of pickpockets, housebreakers, and hoodlums," and that "the ruffians who are called Anarchists who formed the mob in the Haymarket in Chicago were not Anarchists." If Kropotkine is an Anarchist, then the Chicago men are Anarchists; if the Chicago men are not Anarchists, then Kropotkine is not an Anarchist. If the Chicago men are pickpockets and housebreakers, then Kropotkine is a pickpocket and housebreaker; if Kropotkine is not a pickpocket and housebreaker, then the Chicago men are not pickpockets and housebreakers. The truth is that neither of them are housebreakers in the ordinary sense of the term, but that both of them, in advocating and executing the measures that they do, however unjustifiable these may be from the standpoint of justice and reason, are actuated by the highest and most humane motives. And as to their Anarchism, neither of them are Anarchists. For Anarchism means absolute liberty, nothing more, nothing less. Both Kropotkine and the Chicago men deny liberty in production and exchange, the most important of all liberties,—without which, in fact, all other liberties are of no value or next to none. Both should be called, instead of Anarchists, Revolutionary Communists.
In making this discrimination which does not discriminate, General Walker showed that he does not know what Anarchism is. Had he known, he would have drawn his line of discrimination in a very different direction,—between real Anarchists like P. J. Proudhon, Josiah Warren, Lysander Spooner, and their followers, who believe in the liberty of production and exchange, and miscalled Anarchists like Kropotkine and the Chicago men, who deny that liberty. But of the true Anarchism he seems never to have heard. For he says:
All Anarchistic philosophy presumes the Communistic reorganization of society. No Anarchist claims that the principles of Anarchy can be applied to the present or capitalistic state of society. Prince Kropotkine, in common with other Anarchistic writers, claims that the next move of society will be free Communism. We must understand that Anarchism means Communism.
So far is this from true, that Communism was rejected and despised by the original Anarchist, Proudhon, as it has been by his followers to this day. Anarchism would to-day be utterly separate from Communism if the Jurassian Federation in Switzerland, a Communistic branch of the International, had not broken from the main body in 1873 and usurped the name of Anarchism for its own propaganda, which propaganda, having been carried on with great energy from that day to this, has given General Walker and many others an erroneous idea of Anarchism. To correct this idea we must go to the fountain-head.
In 1840 Proudhon published his first important work, "What is Property? or An Inquiry into the Principle of Right and of Government." In it the following passage may be found:
What is to be the form of government in the future? I hear some of my younger readers reply: "Why, how can you ask such a question? You are a republican."—"A republican! Yes; but that word specifies nothing. Res publica; that is, the public thing. Now, whoever is interested in public affairs—no matter under what form of government—may call himself a republican. Even kings are republicans."—"Well, you are a democrat?"—"No."—"What! you would have a monarchy?"—"No."—"A constitutionalist?"—"God forbid!"—"You are then an aristocrat?"—"Not at all."—"You want a mixed government?"—"Still less."—"What are you, then?"—"I am an Anarchist."
"Oh! I understand you; you speak satirically. This is a hit at the government."—"By no means. I have just given you my serious and well-considered profession of faith. Although a firm friend of order, I am (in the full force of the term) an Anarchist. Listen to me."
He then traces in a few pages the decline of the principle of authority, and arrives at the conclusion that, "in a given society, the authority of man over man is inversely proportional to the stage of intellectual development which that society has reached"; that, "just as the right of force and the right of artifice retreat before the steady advance of justice, and must finally be extinguished in equality, so the sovereignty of the will yields to the sovereignty of the reason, and must at last be lost in scientific Socialism"; and that, "as man seeks" justice in equality, so society seeks order in Anarchy."
This is the first instance on record, so far as I have been able to discover, of the use of the word Anarchy to denote, not political chaos, but the ideal form of society to which evolution tends. These words made Proudhon the father of the Anarchistic school of Socialism. His use of the word and its adoption by his followers gave it its true standing in political and scientific terminology. Proudhon, then, being the Anarchist par excellence, let us examine his attitude towards Communism in order to test thereby General Walker's assertion that "all Anarchistic philosophy presumes the Communistic reorganization of society " and that "Anarchism means Communism."
It probably will surprise many who know nothing of Proudhon save his declaration that "property is robbery" to learn that he was perhaps the most vigorous hater of Communism that ever lived on this planet. But the apparent inconsistency vanishes when you read his book and find that by property he means simply legally privileged wealth or the power of usury, and not at all the possession by the laborer of his products. Of such possession he was a stanch defender. Bearing this in mind, listen now to the few paragraphs which I shall read from "What is Property?" and which are separated only by a dozen pages from what I have already quoted from the same work:
I ought not to conceal the fact that property and communism have been considered always the only possible forms of society. This deplorable error has been the life of property. The disadvantages of communism are so obvious that its critics never have needed to employ much eloquence to thoroughly disgust men with it. The irreparability of the injustice which it causes, the violence which it does to attractions and repulsions, the yoke of iron which it fastens upon the will, the moral torture to which it subjects the conscience, the debilitating effect which it has upon society; and, to sum it all up, the pious and stupid uniformity which it enforces upon the free, active, reasoning, unsubmissive personality of man have shoclced common sense, and condemned communism by an irrevocable decree.
The authorities and examples cited in its favor disprove it. The communistic republic of Plato involved slavery; that of Lycurgus employed Helots, whose duty it was to produce for their masters, thus enabling the latter to devote themselves exclusively to athletic sports and to war. Even J. J. Rousseau—confounding communism and equality—has said somewhere that, without slavery, he did not think equality of conditions possible. The communities of the early Church did not last the first century out, and soon degenerated into monasteries. In those of the Jesuits of Paraguay, the condition of the blacks is said by all travellers to be as miserable as that of slaves; and it is a fact that the good Fathers were obliged to surround themselves with ditches and walls to prevent their new converts from escaping. The followers of Baboeuf—guided by a lofty horror of property rather than by any definite belief—were ruined by exaggeration of their principles; the St, Simonians, lumping communism and inequality, passed away like a masquerade. The greatest danger to which society is exposed to-day is that of another shipwreck on this rock.
Singularly enough, systematic communism—the deliberate negation of property—is conceived under the direct influence of the proprietary prejudice; and property is the basis of all communistic theories.
The members of a community, it is true, have no private property; but the community is proprietor, and proprietor not only of the goods, but of the persons and wills. In consequence of this principle of absolute property, labor, which should be only a condition imposed upon man by Nature, becomes in all communities a human commandment, and therefore odious. Passive obedience, irreconcilable with a reflecting will, is strictly enforced. Fidelity to regulations, which are always defective, however wise they may be thought, allows of no complaint. Life, talent, and all the human faculties are the property of the State, which has the right to use them as it pleases for the common good. Private associations are sternly prohibited, in spite of the likes and dislikes of different natures, because to tolerate them would be to introduce small communities within the large one, and consequently private property; the strong work for the weak, although this ought to be left to benevolence, and not enforced, advised, or enjoined; the industrious work for the lazy, although this, is unjust; the clever work for the foolish, although this is absurd; and, finally, man—casting aside his personality, his spontaneity, his genius, and his affections—humbly annihilates himself at the feet of the majestic and inflexible Commune!
Communism is inequality, but not as property is. Property is the exploitation of the weak by the strong. Communism is the exploitation of the strong by the weak. In property, inequality of conditions is the result of force, under whatever name it be disguised: physical and mental force; force of events, chance, fortune; force of accumulated property, etc. In communism, inequality springs from placing mediocrity on a level with excellence. This damaging equation is repellent to the conscience, and causes merit to complain; for, although it may be the duty of the strong to aid the weak, they prefer to do it out of generosity,—they never will endure a comparison. Give them equal opportunities of labor, and equal wages, but never allow their jealousy to be awakened by mutual suspicion of unfaithfulness in the performance of the common task.
Communism is oppression and slavery. Man is very willing to obey the law of duty, serve his country, and oblige his friends; but he wishes to labor when he pleases, where he pleases, and as much as he pleases. He wishes to dispose of his own time, to be governed only by necessity, to choose his friendships, his recreation, and his discipline; to act from judgment, not by command; to sacrifice himself through selfishness, not through servile obligation. Communism is essentially opposed to the free exercise of our faculties, to our noblest desires, to our deepest feelings. Any plan which could be devised for reconciling it with the demands of the individual reason and will would end only in changing the thing while preserving the name. Now, if we are honest truth-seekers, we shall avoid disputes about words.
Thus, communism violates the sovereignty of the conscience, and equality: the first, by restricting spontaneity of mind and heart, and freedom of thought and action; the second, by placing labor and laziness, skill and stupidity, and even vice and virtue on an equality in point of comfort. For the rest, if property is impossible on account of the desire to accumulate, communism would soon become so through the desire to shirk.
This extract sufficiently disposes of General Walker's claim. He probably has never read it. In fact, I should judge from his address to the Trinity Club that his sole knowledge of Anarchism was derived from one very mild article written by Prince Kropotkine for the Nineteenth Century. I think I have proven what I started to prove,—that his discriminations between Anarchists have no existence outside of his own imagination, and that he knows next to nothing of this subject, upon which he professes to teach others. His address contained a number of other errors which I might as easily expose, had not this paper already extended beyond the limits originally set for it. Time also forbids me to explain the true idea of Anarchism. That I must leave for some future occasion. The lesson that I have endeavored to teach to-day I find stated by General Walker. He says: "Even our public speakers themselves exhibit a gross ignorance of the principles of Anarchism and Socialism as they are held by large bodies of intelligent men." Of all his remarks to the Trinity Club, that was nearly the only one the truth of which he succeeded in establishing; and that one he established, not by argument, but by the object-teacher's method of personal illustration and example.
HERR MOST ON "LIBERTAS."
[Liberty, April 14, 1888.]
It is due to John Most to say that, in his paper Freiheit, he has greeted the appearance of Libertas in a spirit of entire fairness and liberality, at the same time that he has not hesitated to point out those of its features to which he cannot award approval. Besides giving liberal extracts from the first number, duly credited, he devotes nearly a column and a half to a review of its merits and demerits, which is hearty in its commendation and frank in its criticism. Barring the use in one sentence of the word "hypocritical," his article is free from those abusive epithets of which he has heretofore made me a target. With this preface of thanks for both his praise and his censure, I propose to briefly examine the latter in the same spirit in which it is offered.
Herr Host's opinion of Libertas may be thus summed up,—that it is thoroughly sound in its antagonism to the State and utterly unsound in its championship of private property. Whether Libertas champions private property depends entirely on the definition given to that term. Defining it with Proudhon as the sum total of legal privileges bestowed upon the holders of wealth, Libertas agrees with Proudhon that property is robbery. But using the word in the commoner acceptation, as denoting the laborer's individual possession of his product or of his proportional share of the joint product of himself and others, Libertas holds that property is liberty. And whenever Proudhon, for the time being, uses the word in the latter sense, he too upholds property. But it is precisely in this sense of individual as opposed to communistic possession that Herr Most opposes property. Hence, when he prints as a motto (as he often does) Proudhon's phrase "Property is robbery," he virtually misrepresents that author by using his words as if they were intended to mean diametrically the opposite of what the author himself declared them to mean. If property, in the sense of individual possession, is liberty, then he who opposes property necessarily upholds authority—that is, the State—in some form or other, and he who would deny both the State and property at once becomes thereby inconsistent and guilty of attempting the impossible.
The principal argument used by Herr Most against Libertas is that it ignores the necessity of production on the large scale now and hereafter,—a necessity which, in Herr Host's view, involves the exploitation of labor by capital wherever private property prevails. There is no foundation for this statement. Libertas does not for a moment deny or ignore the necessity of production on the large scale. It does, however, seriously question the claim that such production must always involve large concentration of capital, and emphatically denies that it necessarily involves labor's exploitation unless private property is abolished. As I have already said in these columns, "the main strength of the argument for State Socialism and Communism has always resided in the claim, till lately undisputed, that the permanent tendency of progress in the production and distribution of wealth is in the direction of more and more complicated and costly processes, requiring greater and greater concentration of capital and labor. But the idea is beginning to dawn upon minds—there are scientists who even profess to demonstrate it by facts—that the tendency referred to is but a phase of progress, and one which will not endure. On the contrary, a reversal of it is confidently looked for. Processes are expected to become cheaper, more compact, and more easily manageable, until they shall come again within the capacity of individuals and small combinations. Such a reversal has already been experienced in the course taken by improvements in implements and materials of destruction. Military progress was for a long time toward the complex, requiring immense armies and vast outlays. But the tendency of more recent discoveries and devices has been toward placing individuals on a par with armies by enabling them to wield powers which no aggregation of troops can withstand. Already, it is believed. Lieutenant Zalinski with his dynamite gun could shield any seaport against the entire British navy. With the supplanting of steam by electricity and other advances of which we know not, it seems more than likely that the constructive capacity of the individual will keep pace with his destructive. In that case what will become of State Socialism and Communism?" It behooves their advocates not to be so cock-sure as they have been heretofore of the correctness of this major premise of all their arguments.
But Herr Most may claim that in this reasoning the element of speculation and uncertainty is too large to warrant the placing of any weight upon it. Very well, then; simply reaffirming my own confidence in it, I will let it go for what it is worth, and consider at once the question whether large concentration of capital for production on the large scale confronts us with the disagreeable alternative of either abolishing private property or continuing to hold labor under the capitalistic yoke. Herr Most promises that, if I will show him that the private property régime is compatible with production on the large scale without the exploitation of labor, he will stand by the side of Libertas in its favor. This promise contains a most significant admission. If Communism is really, as Herr Most generally claims, no infringement of liberty, and if in itself it is such a good and perfect thing, why abandon it for private property simply because the possibility of the latter's existence without the exploitation of labor has been demonstrated? To declare one's willingness to do so is plainly to affirm that, exploitation aside, private property is superior to Communism, and that, exploitation admitted. Communism is chosen only as the lesser evil. I take note of this admission, and pass on.
Right here, however, Herr Most qualifies his promise by placing another condition upon its fulfilment. I must not only demonstrate the proposition stipulated, but I must do so otherwise than by pointing to Proudhon's banking system. This complicates the problem. Show me that A is equal to B, says Herr Most, and I will uphold A ; only you must not show it by establishing that both A and B are equal to C. But perhaps the equality of both A and B to C is the only proof I have of the equality of A to B. Am I to be debarred, then, from making the demonstration simply because this form of logic is not agreeable to Herr Most? Not at all; he is bound to show the flaw in the logic, or else accept its conclusion. His stipulation, then, that I must not point to Proudhon's banking system is ridiculous, inasmuch as this banking system, or at least its central principle, is essential to the demonstration of my position. I offer him this principle as conclusive proof; he must show its error, or admit the claim. It cannot be brushed aside with a contemptuous wave of the hand.
Now, what is this principle? Simply the freedom of credit and the resultant organization thereof in such a way as to eliminate the element of the reward of capital from the production and distribution of wealth. Herr Most will not dispute, I think, that freedom of credit leaves private property intact and even increases the practicability of production on the large scale. The only question, then, is whether it will abolish usury; for, if it will abolish usury, my position is established, usury being but another name for the exploitation of labor. The argument that it will effect such abolition, and the argument therefore which Herr Most is bound to destroy, he will find set forth in the latter half of my paper on "State Socialism and Anarchism," printed in the first issue of Libertas. If he makes no answer, the private property plank in the platform of Libertas remains unimpaired by his criticism; if, on the other hand, he attempts an answer, then we shall see what there is further to be said.
But Herr Most's criticism is not aimed at the platform alone; he is especially severe upon the tactics of Libertas. It is here that he crosses the line of courteous criticism, and becomes abusive by characterizing as "hypocritical" the declaration of Libertas that, as long as freedom of speech and of the press is not struck down, there should be no resort to physical force in the struggle against oppression. That Libertas is hypocritical in this position he infers from the fact that it now discountenances physical force, although five men have been murdered, others are in prison, and still others are in danger of imprisonment, for having exercised the right of free speech. Herr Most apparently forgets that Freiheit is still published in New York, the Alarm in Chicago, and Liberty and Libertas in Boston, and that all these papers, if not allowed to say everything they would like to, are able to say all that it is absolutely necessary to say in order to finally achieve their end, the triumph of liberty. It must not be inferred that, because Libertas thinks it may become advisable to use force to secure free speech, it would therefore sanction a bloody deluge as soon as free speech had been struck down in one, a dozen, or a hundred instances. Not until the gag had become completely efficacious would Libertas advise that last resort, the use of force. And this, far from showing hypocrisy, is the best evidence of the sincerity of this journal's utter disbelief in force as a solution of economic evils. If there is hypocrisy anywhere, it is on the side of those who, affecting to think force a deplorable thing only to be resorted to for purposes of defence, are eagerly watching for the commission of offences in the hope of finding a pretext for the inauguration of an era of terror and slaughter hitherto unparalleled in history.
STILL AVOIDING THE ISSUE.
[Liberty, May 12, 1888.]
As I expected, Herr Most, in his controversy with me upon private property, Communism, and the State, is as reluctant as ever to come to close quarters in an attempt to destroy my main position, and, for sole response to my challenge to do so, crouches behind the name of Marx, not daring even to attempt upon his own account the use of the weapons with which Marx has assailed it. Herr Most had promised to accept private property if I would show, him that it is compatible with production on the large scale without the exploitation of labor. He warned me, to be sure, against showing this by Proudhon's banking system. But I answered that he is bound to accept my proposition on the strength of whatever proof I offer, or else demonstrate that the proof offered is no proof at all,—in other words, that he cannot reject my evidence without first refuting it. My proof, I then told him, consists precisely in that principle of freedom and organization of credit which is embodied in Proudhon's banking system and other systems of a similar nature, and I referred him to a recent essay in which I have explained the process whereby freely organized credit would abolish usury—that is, the exploitation of labor—and make production on the large scale easier than ever without interfering with the institution of private property.
Now it would naturally be assumed that, in answer to this, some examination would be made of the process referred to and the flaw in it be pointed out. But did Herr Most do anything of the kind? Not he. His only answer is that Marx disposed of Proudhon's banking system long ago, that it is fifty years behind the times, and that it is not at all clear that there is any foundation for the claim that, with the prevailing inequalities of property, all could obtain credit. No, Herr Most, nor is it clear that any such claim was ever made by any sane champion of the organization of credit. The real claim is, not that all could straightway get credit if credit were not monopolized, but that, if all or a half or a quarter of such credit as could be at once obtained under a free system should be utilized, a tremendous impetus would thereby be given to production and enterprise which would gradually increase the demand for labor and therefore the rate of wages and there- fore the number of people able to get credit, until at last every laborer would be able to say to his employer: "Here, boss, you are a good business manager, and I am willing to continue to work under your superintendence on a strictly equitable basis; but, unless you are willing to content yourself with a share of our joint product proportional to your share of the labor and give me the balance for my share of the labor, I will work for you no longer, but will set up in business for myself on the capital which I can now obtain on my credit." Herr Most's misstatement of the claim made by the friends of free banking shows that he has no knowledge of their arguments or system, which probably explains his reluctance to discuss them otherwise than by reiteration of the magic name of Marx. Proudhon's banking system may be fifty years behind the times, but it is evidently far in advance of the point which Herr Most has reached in the path of economic investigation.
Even more careful is the wary editor of Freiheit to avoid the following question, which I asked him á propos of his promise: "If Communism is really, as Herr Most generally claims, no infringement of liberty, and if in itself it is such a good and perfect thing, why abandon it for private property simply because the possibility of the latter's existence without the exploitation of labor has been demonstrated? To declare one's willingness to do so is plainly to affirm that, exploitation aside, private property is superior to Communism, and that, exploitation admitted. Communism is chosen only as the lesser evil." Herr Most knew that it would never do to admit that Communism curtails liberty. Yet he could not answer this question without admitting it. So he prudently let it alone.
But what, then, does he say in his three-column article?
Well, for one thing, he tries to make his readers think that I offered my incidental remarks, rather suggestive than conclusive, regarding the likelihood that the Communists' position being based on a supposed necessity of great combinations in order to produce on the large scale, might soon be undermined by the tendency, of which symptoms are beginning to appear, towards a simplification and cheapening of machinery,—he tries to make his readers think, I say, that I offered these remarks as a necessary link in my argument. "On such grounds," he says, "we are expected to believe," etc., giving no hint of my express declaration that I offered this idea for what it was worth and not as essential to my position.
Nevertheless it is not easy to see why he should regard this thought as so utterly chimerical, when he finds it so easy, in order to show Communism to be practicable, to assume that the time is not far distant when wealth will be so abundant that individuals will not think of quarrelling over its possession, but will live as birds do in their hemp-seed. Of the two hypotheses the latter seems to me the more visionary. Certainly great strides are yet to be taken in labor-saving, and I do not doubt at all that a state of society will be attained in which every sound individual will be able to secure a comfortable existence by a very few hours of toil daily. But that there will ever be any such proportion between human labor and the objects of human consumption as now exists between bird labor and hemp-seed, or that land and other capital will ever be superabundant in the same sense that water, light, and air are superabundant, is inadmissible. If, however, the means of life shall ever become so utterly divorced from human toil that all men look on all wealth as air is now looked upon, I will then admit that, so far as material enjoyment is concerned, Communism will be practicable (I do not say advisable) without violation of liberty. Until then, I must insist that a State will be necessary to its realization and maintenance.
But, Herr Most asks me, if respect for private property is conceivable without a State, why is not Communism so conceivable? Simply because the only force ever necessary to secure respect for private property is the force of defence,—the force which protects the laborer in the possession of his product or in the free exchange thereof,—while the force required to secure Communism is the force of offence,—the force which compels the laborer to pool his product with the products of all and forbids him to sell his labor or his product. Now, force of offence is the principle of the State, while force of defence is one aspect of the principle of liberty. This is the reason why private property does not imply a State, while Communism does. Herr Most seems to be as ignorant of the real nature of the State as he is of Proudhon's banking system. In opposing it he acts, not as an intelligent foe of Authority, but simply as a rebel against the powers that be.
What is the use, in fact, of discussing with him at all? Does he not confess at the very outset of the article I am now examining that, although he has racked his brains, they refuse to perceive my distinction between the laborer's individual possession of his product and the sum total of legal privileges bestowed upon the holders of wealth? Is there any hope that such a mind will ever grasp an economic law? The reason he gives for his inability to recognize this distinction is his conviction that private possession and privilege are inseparable. The more one calls his own, he says, the less others will be able to possess. This is not true where all property rests on a labor title, and no other property do I favor. It is only true of the increase of property through usury. But usury, as has already been shown, rests on privilege. When the property of one increases through an advance in the productivity of his labor, the property of others, far from decreasing on that account, increases to an almost equal extent. This year A produces 100 in hats and B 100 in shoes. Each consumes 50 in his own product, and exchanges the remaining 50 for the other's remaining 50. Suppose that next year A's production remains the same, but that B's, with no extra labor, rises to 200. In that case A's remaining 50, instead of exchanging for B's remaining 50 as this year, will exchange for 100 in B's product. Under private possession, unaccompanied by usury, more for one man means, not less for another man, but more for all men. Where, then, is the privilege?
But, after all, it makes very little difference to Herr Most what a man believes in economics. The test of fellowship with him lies in acceptance of dynamite as a cure-all. Though I should prove that my economic views, if realized, would turn our social system inside out, he would not therefore regard me as a revolutionist. He declares outright that I am no revolutionist, because the thought of the coming revolution (by dynamite, he means) makes my flesh creep. Well, I frankly confess that I take no pleasure in the thought of bloodshed and mutilation and death. At these things my feelings revolt. And if delight in them is a requisite of a revolutionist, then indeed! am no revolutionist. When revolutionist and cannibal become synonyms, count me out, if you please. But, though my feelings revolt, I am not mastered by them or made a coward by them. More than from dynamite and blood do I shrink from the thought of a permanent system of society involving the slow starvation of the most industrious and deserving of its members. If I should ever become convinced that the policy of bloodshed is necessary to end our social system, the loudest of to-day's shriekers for blood would not surpass me in the stoicism with which I would face the inevitable. Indeed, a plumb-liner to the last, I am confident that under such circumstances many who now think me chicken-hearted would condemn the stony-heartedness with which I should favor the utter sacrifice of every feeling of pity to the necessities of the terroristic policy. Neither fear nor sentimentalism, then, dictates my opposition to forcible methods. Such being the case, how stupid, how unfair, in Herr Most, to picture me as crossing myself at the mention of the word revolution simply because I steadfastly act on my well-known belief that force cannot substitute truth for a lie in political economy!
HERR MOST DISTILLED AND CONSUMED.
[Liberty, June 9, 1888.]
After proclaiming, in Freiheit of May 19, his intention of proceeding to my final demolition, Herr Most, in Freiheit of May 26, closes his side of the controversy with me with such a homœopathic dilution of his preceding articles that it is scarcely worth attention. Summarized, his positions are that! the controversy is unequal, because he quotes and then criticises, while I criticise without quotation; that I am the dodger, not he, because the essential question is the private property question, while I insist on discussing Proudhon's banking system; that he has read Liberty for six years, and has found no plausible defence of that system in its pages, and that the statement in my last reply probably covers that system; that the system has been put into operation in Germany and elsewhere with no farther effect than to enable the smaller bourgeois to hold out a little longer against the larger; that I only half understand Proudhon's works; that, if I would read the whole of Freiheit instead of only such portions as relate directly to me, I might know something about the economics of Socialism; that Proudhon's banking system has no longer a single champion in Europe; and that "if we are once through with the political tyrants, then the economic ones will no longer be dangerous to us, for the latter will surely have had their necks broken with the former, especially since both kinds are essentially one and the same persons."
I answer, with like brevity and succinctness, that I have accurately represented Herr Most by restatements, while he has misrepresented me by garbled quotations; that the essential question is not the private property question, since Herr Most promised to abandon Communism for private property on being shown that the latter is compatible with production on the large scale without the exploitation of labor, which immediately made the arguments on which the claim of such compatibility rests the essential question; that the principle of Proudhon's banking system has been expounded repeatedly in Liberty, and far more fully and adequately than in the present controversy; that neither his system nor any similar system was ever put into unmolested operation, so far as I know, and that, if my knowledge on this point is deficient, it is Herr Host's business to supply the deficiency by distinct specification of facts; that, other things being equal, those countries and those periods have been the most prosperous in which financial institutions have most nearly approached Proudhon's idea; that to understand half of Proudhon's works is better than to understand none of them; that a number of intelligent persons whom I know, and who read Freiheit thoroughly, tell me that they have failed to derive any such benefit from it as Herr Most promises me ; that within a very few years a book of several hundred pages has been published in Paris, ably stating and defending Proudhon's banking theories, —"La Question Sociale," by Emile Chevalet; that many ideas of transcendent importance have been launched into the world, only to lie dormant under the pressure of reaction for long years before being revived and realized; and that it is quite true that economic privilege must disappear as a result of the abolition of political tyranny,—a fact which the Individualistic Anarchists have always relied on against the "Communistic Anarchists," whose claim has steadily been that to abolish the State is not enough, and that a separate campaign against economic privilege is necessary. In this last sentence of Herr Most's article he gives away his whole case.
SHOULD LABOR BE PAID OR NOT?
[Liberty, April 28, 1888.]
In No. 121 of Liberty, criticising an attempt of Kropotkine to identify Communism and Individualism, I charged him, with ignoring " the real question whether Communism will permit the individual to labor independently, own tools, sell his labor or his products, and buy the labor or products of others." In Herr Most's eyes this is so outrageous that, in reprinting it, he puts the words "the labor of others in large black type. Most being a Communist, he must, to be consistent, object to the purchase and sale of anything whatever; but why he should particularly object to the purchase and sale of labor is more than I can understand. Really, in the last analysis, labor is the only thing that has any title to be bought or sold. Is there any just basis of price except cost? And is there anything that costs except labor or suffering (another name for labor)? Labor should be paid! Horrible, isn't it? Why, I thought that the fact that it is not paid was the whole grievance. "Unpaid labor" has been the chief complaint of all Socialists, and that labor should get its reward has been their chief contention. Suppose I had said to Kropotkine that the real question is whether Communism will permit individuals to exchange their labor or products on their own terms. Would Herr Most have been so shocked? Would he have printed that in black type? Yet in another form I said precisely that.
If the men who oppose wages—that is, the purchase and sale of labor—were capable of analyzing their thought and feelings, they would see that what really excites their anger is not the fact that labor is bought and sold, but the fact that one class of men are dependent for their living upon the sale of their labor, while another class of men are relieved of the necessity of labor by being legally privileged to sell something that is not labor, and that, but for the privilege, would be enjoyed by all gratuitously. And to such a state of things I am as much opposed as any one. But the minute you remove privilege, the class that now enjoy it will be forced to sell their labor, and then, when there will be nothing but labor with which to buy labor, the distinction between wage-payers and wage-receivers will be wiped out, and every man will be a laborer exchanging with fellow-laborers. Not to abolish wages, but to make every man dependent upon wages and secure to every man his whole wages is the aim of Anarchistic Socialism. What Anarchistic Socialism aims to abolish is usury. It does not want to deprive labor of its reward; it wants to deprive capital of its reward. It does not hold that labor should not be sold; it holds that capital should not be hired at usury.
But, says Herr Most, this idea of a free labor market from which privilege is eliminated is nothing but "consistent Manchesterism." Well, what better can a man who professes Anarchism want than that? For the principle of Manchesterism is liberty, and consistent Manchesterism is consistent adherence to liberty. The only inconsistency of the Manchester men lies in their infidelity to liberty in some of its phases. And this infidelity to liberty in some of its phases is precisely the fatal inconsistency of the Freiheit school,—the only difference between its adherents and the Manchester men being that in many of the phases in which the latter are infidel the former are faithful, while in many of those in which the latter are faithful the former are infidel. Yes, genuine Anarchism is consistent Manchesterism, and Communistic or pseudo-Anarchism is inconsistent Manchesterism. "I thank thee, Jew, for teaching me that word."
DOES COMPETITION MEAN WAR?
[Liberty, August 4, 1888.]
To the Editor of Liberty:
Your thought-provoking controversy with Herr Most suggests this question: Whether is Individualism or Communism more consistent with a society resting upon credit and mutual confidence, or, to put it another way, whether is competition or co-operation the truest expression of that mutual trust and fraternal good-will which alone can replace present forms of authority, usages and customs as the social bond of union?
The answer seems obvious enough. Competition, if it means anything at all, means war, and, so far from tending to enhance the growth of mutual confidence, must generate division and hostility among men. If egoistic liberty demands competition as its necessary corollary, every man becomes a social Ishmael. The state of veiled warfare thus implied where underhand cunning takes the place of open force is doubtless not without its attractions to many minds, but to propose mutual confidence as its regulative principle has all the appearance of making a declaration of war in terms of peace. No, surely credit and mutual confidence, with everything thereby implied, rightly belong to an order of things where unity and good-fellowship characterize all human relations, and wouldflourish best where co-operation finds its complete expression,—viz., in Communism.
W. T. Horn.
The supposition that competition means war rests upon old notions and false phrases that have been long current, but are rapidly passing into the limbo of exploded fallacies. Competition means war only when it is in some way restricted, either in scope or intensity,—that is, when it is not perfectly free competition; for then its benefits are won by one class at the expense of another, instead of by all at the expense of nature's forces. When universal and unrestricted, competition means the most perfect peace and the truest co-operation; for then it becomes simply a test of forces resulting in their most advantageous utilization. As soon as the demand for labor begins to exceed the supply, making it an easy matter for every one to get work at wages equal to his product, it is for the interest of all (including his immediate competitors) that the best man should win; which is another way of saying that, where freedom prevails, competition and co-operation are identical. For further proof and elaboration of this proposition I refer Mr. Horn to Andrews's "Science of Society" and Fowler's pamphlets on "Co-operation." The real problem, then, is to make the demand for labor greater than the supply, and this can only be done through competition in the supply of money or use of credit. This is abundantly shown in Greene's "Mutual Banking" and the financial writings of Proudhon and Spooner. My correspondent seems filled with the sentiment of good-fellowship, but ignorant of the science thereof, and even of the fact that there is such a science. He will find this science expounded in the works already named. If, after studying and mastering these, he still should have any doubts, Liberty will then try to set them at rest.
COMPETITION AND MONOPOLY CONFOUNDED.
[Liberty, September 1, 1888.]
To the Editor of Liberty:
Does compelition mean war? you ask, and then go on to answer:
"The supposition that competition means war rests upon old notions and false phrases that have been long current, but are rapidly passing into the limbo of exploded fallacies."
Pardon me, Mr. Tucker, but are you quite sure that the supposition in question rests upon nothing more than "old notions and false phrases"? Go out into the highways and byeways of the work-a-day world, look around you, and then tell us candidly if what you see there is likely to inspire any lover of his kind with a wish to foster competition.
Ah! but you reply: "This is not free competition; this is monopoly and privilege."
Exactly so, but what is monopoly but the very soul of competition? I venture to submit that it is not for wealth per se men strive, but for the mastership it confers; hence, if you deny the spoils of victory to the victor, you sheathe the sword forever. Monopolies and privileges of every kind are nothing more than resultants of a competition as free as nature could make it, for even the grand old Sphinx herself has not been able to evolve "equal liberty" from the free competition of unequal forces.
When the benefits of competition cease to "be won by one class at the expense of another," and when they are shared "by all at the expense of nature's forces," competition loses its raison d'être and dies.
When lower and semi-barbarous economic forms are subjected to the strong solvent action of higher ethical concepts, they disappear; that is to say, when mutual confidence and good-fellowship prevail over hostility and love of mastership, competition must give place to co-operation; hence, to my mind there is no escape from the conclusion that competition means war so long as it is the economic expression of hostility and mastership, and after that it will mean—nothing. "Equal liberty," however, would still remain, for what is it at bottom but community of interest?
W. T. Horn.
What the person who goes out into the work-a-day world will see there depends very much upon the power of his mental vision. If that is strong enough to enable him to see that the evils around him are caused by a prohibition of competition in certain directions, it is not unlikely that he will be filled with a "wish to foster competition." Such, however, will not be the case with a man who so misapprehends competition as to suppose that monopoly is its soul. Instead of its soul, it is its antithesis.
Whatever the reason for which men strive for wealth, as a general thing they get it, not by competition, but by the application of force to the suppression of certain kinds of competition,—in other words, by governmental institution and protection of monopoly.
Inasmuch as the monopolist is the victor, it is true that to deny him the spoils of victory is to sheathe the sword of monopoly. But you do not thereby sheathe the sword of competition (if you insist on calling it a sword), because competition yields no spoils to the victor, but only wages to the laborer.
When my correspondent says that all monopolies are "resultants of a competition as free as nature could make it," he makes competition inclusive of the struggle between invasive forces, whereas he ought to know that free competition, in the economic sense of the phrase, implies the suppression of invasive forces, leaving a free field for the exercise of those that are non-invasive.
If a man were to declare that, when the benefits of labor cease to be won by one class at the expense of another and when they are shared by all at the expense of nature's forces, labor loses its raison d'être and dies, his sanity would not long remain unquestioned; but the folly of such an utterance is not lessened an iota by the substitution of the word competition for the word labor. As long as the gastric juice continues to insist upon its rights, I fancy that neither labor nor competition will lack a raison d'être, even though the laborer and competitor should find himself under the necessity of wresting his "spoils" from the bosom of his mother earth instead of from the pocket of his brother man.
In Mrs. Glass's recipe for cooking a hare, the first thing was to catch the hare. So in Mr. Horn's recipe for the solution of economic forms in ethical concepts, the first thing is to get the concepts. Now, the concepts of mutual confidence and good-fellowship are not to be obtained by preaching,—otherwise the church militant would long ago have become the church triumphant; or by force,—otherwise progress would have gone hand in hand with authority instead of with liberty; but only by unrestricted freedom,—that is, by competition, the necessary condition of confidence, fellowship, and co-operation, which can never come as long as monopoly, "the economic expression of hostility and mastership," continues to exist.
ON PICKET DUTY.
In a speech recently delivered in Paris, Kropotkine said: "As the idea of the inviolability of the individual's home life has developed during the second half of our century, so the idea of collective right to everything that serves in the production of wealth has developed in the masses. This is a fact; and whoever wants to live, as we do, with the life of the people and follow its development will admit that this affirmation is but an accurate summary of popular aspirations."
Then Kropotkinian Anarchism means the liberty to eat, but not to cook; to drink, but not to brew; to wear, but not to spin; to dwell, but not to build; to give, but not to sell or buy; to think, but not to print; to speak, but not to hire a hall; to dance, but not to pay the fiddler. O Absurdity! is there any length to which thou wilt not go?—Liberty, July 3, 1886.
The Socialistic municipality of St. Etienne, France, has abolished the common grave to which heretofore have been consigned all bodies buried at the public expense. Why those whose dearest wish is to institute Communism in everything this side the grave should object to it in the grave itself is incomprehensible to an Anarchist. One would suppose that, if Communism must be accepted at all, it would be found less intolerable than anywhere else in the common dust of earth, to which we all return. But it seems to be the aim of the Communists and State Socialists to destroy all individuality that exists and make a pretence of it after it has gone,—to murder men and worship their ghosts.—Liberty, July 7, 1888.
Kropotkine, arguing in favor of Communism, says that he has "always observed that workers with difficulty understand the possibility of a wage-system of labor-checks and like artificial inventions of Socialists," but has been "struck on the contrary by the easiness with which they always accept Communist principles." Was Kropotkine ever struck by the easiness with which simple-minded people accept the creation theory and the difficulty with which they understand the possibility of evolution? If so, did he ever use this fact as an argument in favor of the creation hypothesis? Just as it is easier to rest satisfied with the statement, "Male and female created he them," than to trace in the geological strata the intricacies in the evolution of species, so it is easier to say that every man shall have whatever he wants than to find the economic law by which every man may get the equivalent of his product. The ways of Faith are direct and easy to follow, but their goal is a quagmire; whereas the ways of Science, however devious and difficult to tread, lead to solid ground at last. Communism belongs to the Age of Faith, Anarchistic Socialism to the Age of Science.—Liberty, September 15, 1888.
- An address delivered before the Boston Anarchists' Club on November 6, 1887.