Instead of a Book/Miscellaneous


MISCELLANEOUS.



 

THE LESSON OF HOMESTEAD.

[Liberty, July 23, 1892.]

Regarding methods, one of the truths that has been most steadily inculcated by this journal has been that social questions cannot be settled by force. Recent events have only confirmed this view. But when force comes, it sometimes leads incidentally to the teaching of other lessons than that of its own uselessness and becomes thereby to that extent useful. The appeal to force at Homestead affords a signal example of such incidental beneficence; for it has forced the capitalistic papers of the country, and notably the New York Sun, to take up a bold defence of liberty in order to protect property. Now, all that Anarchism asks is liberty; and when the enemies of liberty can find no way of saving their own interests except by an appeal to liberty, Liberty means to make a note of it and hold them to it.

Listen, therefore, to the New York Sun preaching the gospel of liberty. The passages here quoted are fair samples of its editorial columns for the last fortnight:

If a man has labor to sell, he must find some one with money to buy it, or it is of no more use to him than unused capital is to Mr. Carnegie. If the man does not like the price offered, he can reject it. If the buyer does not like the price asked, he has the same liberty. Neither is obliged to accept the bargain, though both are under the same law which forces men to take what they can get. If the laborer does not want the work longer than he contracted to give it, he can throw it up, and the employer has the same right to dispense with the laborer. The workman can choose his employer, and the employer can choose his workmen. No law can take away that right from either. The workman can refuse to work and the employer to hire. Such is liberty.

· · · · · · · · · · · · · ·

There are a good many fools and there are not a few scoundrels in the United States; but, even if the scoundrels could persuade the fools that violence is a friend of the workmen, the great majority of the American people, heartily despising the scoundrels and pitying the fools, would stand up … for the right of every citizen to enjoy his own property and select his own employees; for the right of every citizen to work for whom he chooses, and to belong or not to belong to a labor organization, as he chooses. By whatever folly or violence these rights are attacked, they are invincible while the present idea of civilization lasts.

Truth, every word! Golden truth! Anarchistic truth!

But the bearing of this truth, as Cap'n Cuttle would say, lies in the application of it. Applied to the conduct of the Homestead strikers, this principle of equal liberty, of which the Sun's words are an expression, instead of condemning it as the Sun pretends, palliates and even excuses it; for, before these strikers violated the equal liberty of others, their own right to equality of liberty had been wantonly and continuously violated. But, applied to the conduct of capitalists generally, it condemns it utterly, for the original violation of liberty in this matter is traceable directly to them.

This is no wild assertion, but a sober statement of fact, as I will explain. It is not enough, however true, to say that, "if a man has labor to sell, he must find some one with money to buy it"; it is necessary to add the much more important truth that, if a man has labor to sell, he has a right to a free market in which to sell it,—a market in which no one shall be prevented by restrictive laws from honestly obtaining the money to buy it. If the man with labor to sell has not this free market, then his liberty is violated and his property virtually taken from him. Now, such a market has constantly been denied, not only to the laborers at Homestead, but to the laborers of the entire civilized world. And the men who have denied it are the Andrew Carnegies. Capitalists of whom this Pittsburg forge-master is a typical representative have placed and kept upon the statute-books all sorts of prohibitions and taxes (of which the customs tariff is among the least harmful) designed to limit and effective in limiting the number of bidders for the labor of those who have labor to sell. If there were no tariffs on imported goods; if titles to unoccupied land were not recognized by the State; above all, if the right to issue money were not vested in a monopoly,—bidders for the labor of Carnegie's employees would become so numerous that the offer would soon equal the laborer's product. Now, to solemnly tell these men who are thus prevented by law from getting the wages which their labor would command in a free market that they have a right to reject any price that may be offered for their labor is undoubtedly to speak a formal truth, but it is also to utter a rotten commonplace and a cruel impertinence. Rather tell the capitalists that the laborer is entitled to a free market, and that they, in denying it to him, are guilty of criminal invasion. This would be not only a formal truth, but an opportune application of a vital principle. Perhaps it will be claimed in answer to this that the laborers, being voters, are responsible for any monopolies that exist, and are thereby debarred from pleading them as an excuse for violating the liberty of their employers. This is only true to the extent to which we may consider these laborers as the "fools" persuaded by the capitalists who are the "scoundrels" that "violence (in the form of enforced monopoly) is a friend of the workmen"; which does not make it less unbecoming in the scoundrels to rebuke and punish the fools for any disastrous consequences that may arise out of this appalling combination of scoundrelism and folly.

Conspicuous among the scoundrels who have upheld these monopolies is the editor of the New York Sun. If he tells truth to-day, he tells it as the devil quotes scripture,—to suit his purpose. He will never consent to an application of equal liberty in the interest of labor, for he belongs to the brotherhood of thieves who prey upon labor. If he only would, we Anarchists would meet him with cheerful acquiescence in its fullest application in the interest of capital. Let Carnegie, Dana & Co. first see to it that every law in violation of equal liberty is removed from the statute-books. If, after that, any laborers shall interfere with the rights of their employers, or shall use force upon inoffensive "scabs," or shall attack their employers' watchmen, whether these be Pinkerton detectives, sheriff's deputies, or the State militia, I pledge myself that, as an Anarchist and in consequence of my Anarchistic faith, I will be among the first to volunteer as a member of a force to repress these disturbers of order and, if necessary, sweep them from the earth. But while these invasive laws remain, I must view every forcible conflict that arises as the consequence of an original violation of liberty on the part of the employing classes, and, if any sweeping is done, may the laborers hold the broom! Still, while my sympathies thus go with the under dog, I shall never cease to proclaim my conviction that the annihilation of neither party can secure justice, and that the only effective sweeping will be that which clears from the statute-book every restriction of the freedom of the market.

 

 

SAVE LABOR FROM ITS FRIENDS.

[Liberty, July 30, 1892.]

During the conflict now on between capital and labor, seldom a day passes without the shedding of blood. One of the most recent victims is a prominent leader of the forces of capital. The disaster that has befallen him has called out a display of grief on his behalf which, so far as it comes from the camp of labor, seems to me theatrical, and in which I certainly cannot share. Henry C. Frick, like Charles A. Dana, the godfather of his two weeks-old son, is a conspicuous member of the brotherhood of thieves. In joining this nefarious band he took his life in his hands, and he knew it. It is but just to say that he has accepted his fate in the spirit of a bold bandit, without a cry or flinch. His pluck excites my admiration, but his suffering moves me to less pity than I would feel for the most ordinary cur. Why should I pity this man? What have he and I in common? Does he aspire, as I do, to live in a society of mutually helpful equals? On the contrary, it is his determination to live in luxury produced by the toil and suffering of men whose necks are under his heel. He has deliberately chosen to live on terms of hostility with the greater part of the human race. When such a man falls, my tears refuse to flow. I am scarcely sorry that he is suffering; I shall be still less sorry if he dies.

And yet I am very, very sorry that he has been shot. Who is his assailant? I do not know Alexander Berkman, but I believe that he is a man with whom I have much in common,—much more, at any rate, than with such a man as Frick. It is altogether likely, despite the slanders in the newspapers, as insincere in their abuse as in their grief, that he would like to live on terms of equality with his fellows, doing his share of work for not more than his share of pay. There is little reason to doubt that his attitude toward the human race is one, not of hostility, but of intended helpfulness. And yet, as one member of the human race, I freely confess that I am more desirous of being saved from friends like Berkman, to whom my heart goes out, than from enemies like Frick, from whom my heart withdraws. The worst enemy of the human race is folly, and men like Berkman are its incarnation. It would be comparatively easy to dispose of the Fricks if it were not for the Berkmans. The latter are the hope of the former. The strength of the Fricks rests on vio- lence ; now it is to violence that the Berkmans appeal. The peril of the Fricks lies in the spreading of the light; violence is the power of darkness. If the revolution comes by violence and in advance of light, the old struggle will have to be begun anew. The hope of humanity lies in the avoidance of that revolution by force which the Berkmans are trying to precipitate.

No pity for Frick, no praise for Berkman,—such is the attitude of Liberty in the present crisis.

 

IS FRICK A SOLDIER OF LIBERTY?

[Liberty, August 20, 1892.]

To the Editor of Liberty:

In vain have I waited to hear from you a word of approval of the efforts of a man who lately has even risked his life in a fierce struggle for liberty. For even though Frick is one of the "Brotherhood of Thieves," he is now on the side of Liberty. Nor can I see that he is any more responsible for the existence of that "Brotherhood" than those that lead the contention against him. His only crime is that he is successful under present conditions. Of course, being an employer myself, my opinion may possibly be warped; but if Frick, in this particular case at least, has instituted a war against the oppressive monopoly of labor unions, defending liberty and independence, I do not see why Anarchists should condemn him therefor. Let the other side do the same,—i.e., combat the iniquities of the present system by removing obstructions instead of increasing their number. I am sure, if the workmen should insist upon the proper remedy, the inequitable power of capital would soon be gone. If, however, these men do not understand the source of this power, is it fair to assume that the Fricks do? Is it true that all the workmen are fools, while all the Fricks are knaves? And, on that assumption, how is it possible to help those who resist the only measure that can help them,—i.e., Liberty?

Hugo Bilgram.

Philadelphia, August 12, 1892.

When that most brilliant of Catholic journalists, Louis Veuillot, was once taunted by the Freethinkers in power because he, a Catholic and an unbeliever in liberty, had complained that the liberties of Catholics were denied, he thus made answer to his critics: "When I am not in power, I demand of you who are in power all possible liberties, because you believe in liberty; when I get into power, you shall have no liberties at all, because I do not believe in liberty." Veuillot was in religion what Frick is in political economy,—a believer in liberty for himself and his immediate allies, and in slavery for everybody else. Neither the Veuillots nor the Fricks have any use whatever for a society based throughout on equal liberty. Now when a man goes into a struggle in this Napoleonic style and in the course of it gets a knock-down blow, it is going too far to ask an Anarchist, a believer in equal liberty, to sympathize with or approve this would-be despot simply because at a particular moment in his struggle for unequal liberty he happens to defend a liberty which equal liberty recognizes.

But, Mr. Bilgram tells me, these union laborers are also struggling for unequal liberty; why then sympathize with them? True enough; and their claim to sympathy is greatly lessened by their abominable authoritarianism. If it will comfort Mr. Bilgram, I take pleasure in assuring him that, if the time ever comes when these trade-union employees are thoroughly on top with their hands fastened upon their employers' throats, and when in consequence the employees begin to wax fat and the employers to grow wan and thin, much of my sympathy will be transferred from the employees to the employers. When both parties to a fight are wrong, whatever sympathy is felt goes naturally to the one that suffers most. Apart from this friendly feeling for the under dog, however, there is an- other consideration which mitigates the offence of the labor authoritarians as compared with that of the capitalist authoritarians. The latter, for the most part in knavery, set up authority as a weapon of aggression; the former, for the most part in ignorance and following the latter's example, resort to authority originally as a weapon of defence. The difference is considerable.

Mr. Bilgram and I agree almost to a dot as to what constitutes the true solution of the difficulties at Homestead and of nearly all other labor difficulties whatsoever. I agree with him too that, if the workmen knew the remedy, they could apply it very quickly and effectively. But I do not think that the ignorance of the workmen implies a similar and equal ignorance on the part of the employers. For one thing, the employers, as a rule, are men of superior education and intellect. And for another thing, the creators of a scheme of aggression are much less likely to be innocent of evil intent than the victims. To be sure, there are many exceptions, and I have said nothing to the contrary. I am just as certain, for instance, that the employer, Hugo Bilgram, is not a knave as I am that Dana and Frick are knaves. If there were no such exceptions, then, as Mr. Bilgram says, the situation would be hopeless. It is on these exceptions that my hope rests. All the employers are not knaves, and all the workmen are not such fools that they cannot acquire wisdom; and because of these two facts I see Light and-Liberty ahead.

 

SHALL STRIKERS BE COURT-MARTIALLED?

[Liberty, August 25, 1883.]

Of the multitude of novel and absurd and monstrous suggestions called forth from the newspapers by the telegraphers' strike, none have equalled in novelty and absurdity and monstrosity the sober proposal of the editor of the New York Nation, that unsentimental being who prides himself on his hard head, that hereafter any and all employees of telegraph companies, railroad companies, and the post-office department who may see fit to strike work without first getting the consent of their employers be treated as are soldiers who desert or decline to obey the commands of their superior officers; in other words (we suppose, though the Nation does not use these other words), that they may be summarily court-martialled and shot. The readers of Liberty not being noted for their credulity, some of them may refuse to believe that a civilized journal, especially one which claims to be of "the highest order" and to represent "the best thought of the country and time," has been guilty of uttering such a proposition; therefore we print below an extract from a leader which appeared in the Nation of July 19, and defy any one to gather any other practical meaning from it than that which we have stated.

The truth is that a society like ours, and like that of all commercial nations, has become so dependent on the post-office, the railroads, and the telegraph, that they may be said to stand to it in the relation of the nerves to the human body. The loss even for a week of any one of them means partial paralysis. The loss of all three would mean a total deprivation, for a longer or shorter period, of nearly everything which the community most values. It would mean a suspension of business and social relations equal to that caused by a hostile.invasion, barring the terror and bloodshed. It is consequently something to which no country will long allow itself to remain exposed. It cannot allow strikes of employees in these great public services, any more than it can allow the corporations themselves to refuse to carry on their business as a means of extracting what they think fair rates of transportation. No Legislature would permit this, and one or two more experiences like the railroad strike will cause every Legislature to take measures against the other. Telegraphers, railroad men, post-office clerks, and policemen fill places in modern society very like that of soldiers. In fact, they together do for society what soldiers used to do. They enable every man to come and go freely on his lawful occasions, and transact his lawful business without let or hinderance.

 
During the rebellion, when all of us, except the much-abused

"copperheads," temporarily lost control of our reasoning faculties (we dare say that even the editor of the Nation at that time forgot himself and became sentimental for once), we got very angry with Carlyle for patly putting the American Iliad in a nutshell and epigrammatically establishing the substantial similarity between the condition of slave labor at the South and that of so-called "free" labor at the North. England's blunt old sham-hater was answered with much boisterous declamation about "freedom of contract," and his attention was proudly called to the fact that the laborer of the North could follow his own sweet will, leaving his employer when he saw fit, attaching himself to any other willing to hire him, or, if he preferred, setting up in business for himself and employing others. He was at liberty, it was loudly proclaimed by our abolitionists and free-traders, to work when he pleased, where he pleased, how he pleased, and on what terms he pleased, and no man could say him nay. What are we to think, then, when the chief newspaper exponent of the "freedom of contract" philosophy deliberately sacrifices the only answer that it could make to Carlyle's indictment by proposing the introduction of a military discipline into industry, which, in assimilating the laborer to the soldier, would make him—what the soldier is—a slave? Think? Simply this,—that the hypocritical thieves and tyrants who for years have been endeavoring to make their victims believe themselves freemen see that the game is nearly up, and that the time is fast approaching when they must take by the horns the bull of outraged industry, which, maddened by the discovery of its hitherto invisible chains, is making frantic efforts to burst them it knows not how. It is a point gained. An enemy in the open field is less formidable than one in ambush. When the capitalists shall be forced to show their true colors, the laborers will then know against whom they are fighting.

Fighting, did we say ? Yes. For the laborer in these days is a soldier, though not in the sense which the Nation meant. His employer is not, as the Nation would have it, his superior officer, but simply a member of an opposing army. The whole industrial and commercial world is in a state of internecine war, in which the proletaires are massed on one side and the proprietors on the other. This is the fact that justifies strikers in subjecting society to what the Nationcalls a "partial paralysis." It is a war measure. The laborer sees that he does not get his due. He knows that the capitalists have been intrusted by society, through its external representative, the State, with privileges which enable them to control production and distribution; and that, in abuse of these privileges, they have seen to it that the demand for labor should fall far below the supply, and have then taken advantage of the necessities of the laborer and reduced his wages. The laborer and his fellows, therefore, resort to the policy of uniting in such numbers in a refusal to work at the reduced rate that the demand for labor becomes very much greater than the supply, and then they take advantage of the necessities of the capitalists and society to secure a restoration of the old rate of wages, and perhaps an increase upon it. Be the game fair or foul, two can play at it; and those who begin it should not complain when they get the worst of it. If society objects to being "paralyzed," it can very easily avoid it. All it needs to do is to adopt the advice which Liberty has long been offering it, and withdraw from the monopolists the privileges which it has granted them. Then, as Colonel William B. Greene has shown in his "Mutual Banking," as Lysander Spooner has shown in his works on finance, and as Proudhon has shown in his "Organization of Credit," capital will no longer be tied up by syndicates, but will become readily available for investment on easy terms; productive enterprise, taking new impetus, will soon assume enormous proportions; the work to be done will always surpass the number of laborers to do it; and, instead of the employers being able to say to the laborers, as the unsentimental Nation would like to have them, "Take what we offer you, or the troops shall be called out to shoot you down," the laborers will be able to say to their employers, "If you desire our services, you must give us in return an equivalent of their product,"—terms which the employers will be only too glad to accept. Such is the only solution of the problem of strikes, such the only way to turn the edge of Carlyle's biting satire.

 

 

CENSUS-TAKING FATAL TO MONOPOLY.

[Liberty, July 21, 1888.]

The makers of party platforms, the writers of newspaper editorials, the pounders of pulpit-cushions, and the orators of the stump, who are just now blending their voices in frantic chorus to proclaim the foreign origin of evil and to advocate therefore the exclusion of the foreign element from American soil, should study the figures compiled by Rev. Frederick Howard Wines from the tenth census reports and presented by him to the congress of the National Prison Association lately held in Boston. Such of these shriekers as are provided with thinkers may find in these statistics food for thought. From them it appears that, though the ratio of crime among our foreign-born population is still very much higher than the ratio among our native population, the former ratio, which in 1850 was more than five times as high as the latter, in 1880 was less than twice as high. And it further appears that, if crimes against person and property are alone considered, the two ratios stand almost exactly on a level, and that the ratio of foreign-born criminals tends to exceed that of native criminals in proportion as the catalogue of "crimes" is extended to cover so-called offences against public morals, public policy, and society. In other words, the percentage of natives who steal, damage, burn, assault, kidnap, rape, and kill is about as large as the percentage of foreigners of similarly invasive tendencies, and the percentage of foreign-born law-breakers exceeds that of native law-breakers only because the foreign-born are less disposed than the natives to obey those laws which say that people shall not drink this or eat that or smoke the other; that they shall not love except under prescribed forms and conditions; that they shall not dispose or expose their persons except as their rulers provide; that they shall not work or play on Sunday or blaspheme the name of the Lord; that they shall not gamble or swear; that they shall not sell certain articles at all, or buy certain others without paying a tax for the privilege; and that they shall not mail, own, or read any obscene literature except the Bible. That is to say, again, people who happen to have been born in Europe are no more determined to invade their fellow-men than are people who happen to have been born in America, but that the latter are much more willing to be invaded and trampled upon than any other people on earth. Which speaks very well, in Liberty's opinion, for the foreigners, and makes it important for our own liberty and welfare to do everything possible to encourage immigration.

But, say the shriekers, these foreigners are Anarchists and Socialists. Well, there's some truth in that; as a general rule, the better people are, the more Anarchists and Socialists will be found among them. This, too, is a fact which the tenth census proves. The ratio of native criminals to native population is as 1 to 949. How about other nationalities? Listen to Rev. Mr. Wines:

From the West Indies, the number of prisoners is 1 in 117 of our West Indian population; from Spain, 1 in 165 of the Spaniards in this country; of the South Americans, 1 in 197; of the Chinese, 1 in 199; of the Italians, 1 in 260; of the Australians, 1 in 306; of the Irish, 1 in 350; of the Scotch, 1 in 411; of the French, 1 in 433; of the English, 1 in 456; of the British Americans, 1 in 590; of the Russians, 1 in 916; of the Germans, 1 in 949; of the Poles, 1 in 1033; of the Welsh, 1 in 1173; of the Belgians, 1 in 1195; of the Swiss, 1 in 1231; of the Hollanders, 1 in 1383; of the Scandinavians, 1 in 1539; and of the Austrians (including the Hungarians and Bohemians), 1 in 1936. The Hungarians and Bohemians make the best showing, in respect of crime, of any nationality; this is probably contrary to the popular opinion, which seems to have no better foundation than an unjust prejudice, founded in ignorance.

Now, in what class of foreigners in this country do the Anarchists and Socialists figure most largely. Certainly not among the Chinese or the Irish or the Cubans or the Spaniards or the Italians or the Australians or the Scotch or the French or the English or the Canadians. But these are the only foreigners except the Russians who make a poorer showing in point of criminality than the native Americans. To find in this country any considerable number of Anarchists and Socialists of foreign birth, we must go to the Russians, the Germans, the Poles, the Hungarians, and the Bohemians. The statistics show, however, that the Russians are almost as orderly as Americans, the Germans exactly as orderly, the Poles more orderly, and the Hungarians and Bohemians more than twice as orderly.

Moral: If the defenders of privilege desire to exclude from this country the opponents of privilege, they should see to it that Congress omits the taking of the eleventh census. For the eleventh census, if taken, will undoubtedly emphasize these two lessons of the tenth: first, that foreign immigration does not increase dishonesty and violence among us, but does increase the love of liberty; second, that the population of the world is gradually dividing into two classes,—Anarchists and criminals.

 

 

ANARCHY NECESSARILY ATHEISTIC.

[Liberty, January 9, 1886.]

To the Editor of Liberty:

If Anarchy, as you advocate it, is the abolition of all law and authority except the laws of self-government and self-restraint, and you believe that with these laws of self no man would injure his neighbor, how would such a condition of things, realizing the highest ideals of Socialism and negating all authority, differ from a society governed by the laws "thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and thy neighbor as thyself, " and affirming the authority of Christ? (1) If there is no real difference, what use in any negation?

But again: If Anarchy, as you advocate it, be the very highest ideal of Socialism, do you think it possible to make so great a transition as from the present condition of things to that ideal state, except by steps accomplished with more or less celerity? (2)

If not, why cannot all men who desire to change the present condition of things for a better one form parts of one great army, and advance as rapidly as possible towards the end? If part of the army halt when certain changes are effected, you are advanced with it so far, and part of your work is accomplished any vvay, and you have less to do. (3)

The practical question is: what shall we attack first with that amount and kind of force necessary to effect our purposes? The present system must be destroyed in detail, and a new one be supplied in detail. The job is too large to accomplish suddenly and at once.

Yours respectfully,

O. P. Lewis.

Bridgeport, Conn., December 3, 1885.

(1) A society negating all authority would differ from a society affirming the authority of Christ very much as white differs from black. Self-government is incompatible with government by the law, "thou shalt love the Lord thy God," for the reason that this law implies the existence of God, and God and Man are enemies. God, to be God, must be a governing power. His government cannot be administered directly by the individual, for the individual, and through the individual: if it could, it would at once obliterate individuality altogether. Hence the government of God, if administered at all, must be administered through his professed vicegerents on earth, the dignitaries of Church and State. How this hierarchy differs from Anarchy it is needless to point out.

(2) No.

(3) Because the great majority of "the men whose hearts are filled with the "desire to change the present condition of things for a better one" are afflicted with an obscurity of mental vision which renders them incapable of distinguishing between advance and retrogression. Professing an aspiration for entire individual freedom, they aim to effect it by enlarging the sphere of government and restricting and restraining the individual through all sorts of new oppressions. No clear-sighted Anarchist can march with such an army. The farther he should go with it, the farther would he be from his goal, and, instead of having "less to do," he would have more to do and more to undo. Whenever Liberty hears of any demand for a real increase of freedom, it is prompt to encourage and sustain it, no matter what its source. It marches with any wing of the army of freedom as far as that wing will go. But it sternly refuses to right about face. Liberty hates Catholicism and loves Free Thought; but, when it finds Catholicism advocating and Free Thought opposing the principle of voluntaryism in education, it sustains Catholicism against Free Thought. Likewise, when it finds Liberals and Socialists of all varieties favoring eight-hour laws, government monopoly of money, land nationalization, protection, prohibition, race proscription. State administration of railways, telegraphs, mines, and factories, woman suffrage, man suffrage, common schools, marriage laws, and compulsory taxation, it brands them one and all as false to the principle of freedom, refuses to follow them in their retrogressive course, and keeps its own eyes and steps carefully towards the front. It knows that the only way to achieve freedom is to begin to take it. It is an important question, as Mr. Lewis says, what we shall attack first. On this point Liberty has its opinion also. It believes that the first point of attack should be the power of legally privileged capital to increase without work. And as the monopoly of the issue of money is the chief bulwark of this power, it turns its heaviest guns upon that. But it is impossible to successfully attack the money monopoly or any other monopoly or privilege, unless the general principle of freedom be first established. That is the reason why Liberty makes this principle its own guide and its test of the course of others.

 

 

A FABLE FOR MALTHUSIANS.

[Liberty, July 31, 1886.]

Of all the astonishing arguments developed by the interest- ing Malthusian discussion now in progress in Lucifer and Liberty the most singular, surprising, and short-sighted is that advanced by E. C. Walker in maintaining the identity of political and domestic economy so fair as the problem of population is concerned.

"The prosperity of the whole," he tells Miss Kelly, "exists only because of the prosperity of the parts."

"To speak of domestic economy," he tells Mr. J. F. Kelly, "as though it were something that could be considered apart from so-called national economy, is confusing and unautonomistic. There can be no 'public good' which is secured at the expense of the individual, at the sacrifice of the private good. The 'population question' is nothing but a question of the wisdom or unwisdom and the consequent happiness or unhappiness of individuals and of families,—primarily, of course, of individuals. Were Mr. Kelly and his confreres not standing upon State Socialistic ground, they would never think of advancing such a collectivist argument. Should any governmentalist say to Mr. Kelly that the 'public good' required so and so, and that the individual must 'waive his rights when confronted with the greater right of the majority, that gentleman would proceed to show his opponent that there was no such thing as the 'public good,' save as it was the aggregation of the individual goods, and what was required to augment the 'public good' was to jealously preserve the rights and liberties of the individual."

This indicates the most blissful ignorance on Mr. Walker's part of the real bearing of the point originally made against him;—a point as indisputable as the sunlight, and which he had only to admit frankly and unreservedly in order to stop the "leak in the dykes that confined the waters of anti-Malthusian eloquence," and thereby save himself the necessity of counter-acting this leak by opening his own flood-gates. The point referred to is this: that, in consequence of the "iron law of wages" which prevails wherever monopoly prevails, a reduction of population cannot benefit the masses of laborers, and hence, while monopoly lives, can be of little or no value in political economy, although, if confined to a few families, it may benefit the families in question, and therefore be good domestic economy; the explanation of this being that small families means a reduction in the cost of living for those families, and a reduction in the cost of living for even one family means, under a monopolistic system, a reduction in the rate of wages paid to all laborers. If Mr. Walker had understood this, he never would have attempted to meet it with the specious statement (which to all Anarchists is the merest truism) that the public good is only the aggregation of the individual goods. Can he suppose that the Kellys and myself are so stupid that, if we believed that Malthusianism would make all individuals comfortable and happy, or would largely contribute to that end, we would not be as ardent Malthusians as himself? Mr. Walker begs the question. He bases his argument on an unproven assumption of the very point which we dispute and believe we disprove. The Kellys have expressly denied that Malthusianism can benefit the aggregation of individuals, and therefore the public. They have nowhere admitted that it would benefit "the individual;" they have only admitted that it might benefit "a few individuals; "and between these admissions there is a vast and vital difference.

Concerning the rights of the individual and the majority, neither Mr. Kelly nor Mr. Walker would say that "what was required to augment the 'public good' was to jealously preserve the rights and liberties of "a few individuals at the expense of others. So, in the matter of population, Mr. Kelly does not say that the public welfare is to be enhanced by reducing the size of a few families and thus making the individuals belonging to them comfortable at the expense of others. But Mr. Walker virtually does say so, and precisely there is his mistake. Thus Mr. Walker's own analogy convicts him of his error.

If he can be made to really see that under the present system small families must benefit at the expense of others if at all, I think he will be obliged in honesty to abandon his position that Malthusianism is good political economy. Will he excuse me, then, if I try to make this plain in a rather simple way?

I will suppose A, B, C, etc., to and including Y, to be day laborers, each having five children and each employed at wages barely sufficient to sustain such life as they are willing to endure rather than resort to forcible revolution and expropriation. Z is out of employment. He has four children, and sees the possibility of a fifth. Suddenly a happy thought strikes him. "As long as I have only four children, I can get work, for I can afford to work for less than Y with his five children. I will become a Malthusian,—no, a Neo-Malthusian,—and apply the preventive check." Counting the few dollars and cents still left in his pocket, he finds that he can keep his family in bread for two days longer and still have enough left to buy a copy of Dr. Foote's "Radical Remedy in Social Science" and a syringe of the most improved pattern. He makes these prudential purchases, and presents them to his good wife. Mrs. Z's eyes fairly dance with delight at the new vistas of joy that open before her, and I, for one, am sincerely glad for her. That night witnesses a renewal of the Zs' honeymoon. The next day, buoyant and hopeful, Z presents himself at the office of Mr. Gradgrind, Y's employer. "Y," says he, "works for you at a dollar and seventy-five cents a day; I will do the same work at a dollar and a half." "You're the very man I'm after," says Gradgrind, rubbing his hands; "come to work to-morrow." When Y puts on his coat to go home, he is handed his envelope containing his pay and his discharge.

Y, who has never been out of work long enough to read Malthus, and to whom that famous parson's gospel would now come all too late, lies awake all night discussing the dismal prospect with Mrs. Y. Far from experiencing a second honeymoon, they begin to wish they had never known a first. "But we must live somehow," finally concludes Y; "half a loaf is better than no bread; to-morrow I will go to Mr. Gradgrind and offer to work for a dollar and a half." He carries out his resolve. This time Gradgrind's glee knows no bounds; he takes Y back into his employ, and resolves thereafter to worship at the shrine of Parson Malthus. That night X finds himself in Y's predicament of the night before. Time goes on. Y's five children, not getting enough to eat, grow paler md thinner, and finally the youngest and frailest is carried off to the cemetery. The preventive check in the Z family has resulted in a positive check in the Y family.

Meanwhile there has been no interruption of the movement started by Z. A fate similar to Y's has overtaken X, W, V, and all their alphabetical predecessors, till now A, most unfortunate of all, finds himself thrown on a cold world with five starving children. What happens then? Driven from half loaf to quarter loaf, A tries to underbid Z, and that prudent individual, who has enjoyed a temporary prosperity at the expense of his fellows, is at last forced down again to the general level in order to hold his place. The net result of his Malthusian experiment is that A is out of employment instead of himself, one child has not been born, twenty-four have died from hunger, wages have fallen to a dollar and a half, and Gradgrind, richer than ever, begins to think that cranks amount to something, and is shaking hands with Walker over the approaching millennium.

Ah! a bloody millennium it will be, Mr. Gradgrind, if you and Mr. Walker keep on. Do you see what A is about? Too proud to go to the poor-house, too honest to steal, he has wandered in despair over to the Haymarket (I forgot to say that Chicago is the scene of my tragedy), and there has learned from one Parsons that all wealth belongs to everybody, that each should seize what he can, and that he, A, and his hungry children, with twenty-five cents' worth of dynamite, may live and loaf like princes and Gradgrinds forever. Straightway some one hands him a bomb, and he flings it into a squad of police. "What then? The earth is but shivered into impalpable smoke by that Doom's-thunderpeal; the sun misses one of his planets in space, and thenceforth there are no eclipses of the moon."

To what stern, ay ! to what singular realities has my allegory brought us! A bloody revolution, and Malthusianism to blame! Walker, the Malthusian, sharing with Gradgrind, the robber, the responsibility for Parsons, the dynamiter! Loud as Mr. Walker may declaim against forcible revolution (and he can do so none too loud for me), his voice is sounding deeper tones, which will push the people to it. I call the attention of the authorities to his incendiary Malthusian utterances.

Is it to be inferred, then, that I discountenance small families? By no means. I highly approve them. Z's conduct was right and wise. He acted within his right. And his act was perfectly innocent in itself. It was not his fault that it injured others; it was the fault of the monopolistic system which shrewdly manages to keep the demand for labor below the supply. Z could not be expected to damage himself in order to refrain from damaging others, as long as his conduct was of such a character that it would not have damaged others except for the existence of an economic system for which he was in no special sense to blame. Nevertheless it will not do to wink out of sight the fact that he did damage others, or to fail to learn from it the folly of supposing that any reform is fundamental in politicial economy except the achievement of Liberty in our industrial and commercial life.

 

 

AUBERON HERBERT AND HIS WORK.

[Liberty, May 23, 1885.]

Auberon Herbert, whose essay, "A Politician in Sight of Haven," creates such an enthusiasm for Liberty in the minds of all thinking people who read it, has recently published still another book of similar purport and purpose. He calls it "The Right and Wrong of Compulsion by the State: A Statement of the Moral Principles of the Party of Individual Liberty, and the Political Measures Founded Upon Them." It consists of a series of papers written for Joseph Cowen's paper, the Newcastle Chronicle, supplemented by a letter to the London Times on the English factory acts. Dedicated to Mr. Cowen's constituents, "The Workmen of Tyneside," it appeals with equal force to workmen the world over, and their welfare and their children's will depend upon the readiness with which they accept and the bravery with which they adhere to its all-important counsel. The book is a magnificent assault on the majority idea, a searching exposure of the inherent evil of State systems, and a glorious assertion of the inestimable benefits of voluntary action and free competition, reaching its climax in the emphatic declaration that "this question of power exercised by some men over other men is the greatest of all questions, the one that concerns the very foundations of society," upon the answer to which "must ultimately depend all ideas of right and wrong." This is a bold and, at first sight, an astonishing claim; but it is a true one, nevertheless, and the fact that Mr. Herbert makes it so confidently shows that he is inspired by the same idea that gave birth to this journal, caused it to be christened Liberty, and determined it to labor first and foremost for Anarchy, or the Abolition of the State.

This is no fitful outburst on Mr. Herbert's part. He evidently has enlisted for a campaign which will end only with victory. The book in question seems to be the second in a series of "Anti-Force Papers," which promises to include special papers dealing more elaborately, but in the light of the same general principle, with the matters of compulsory taxation, compulsory education, land ownership, professional monopolies, prohibitory liquor laws, legislation against vice. State regulation of love regulations, etc., etc. I know no more, inspiring spectacle in England than that of this man of exceptionally high social position doing battle almost single-handed with the giant monster, government, and showing in it a mental rigor and vigor and a wealth of moral fervor rarely equalled in any cause. Its only parallel at the present day is to be found in the splendid attitude of Mr. Ruskin, whose earnest eloquence in behalf of economic equity rivals Mr. Herbert's in behalf of individual liberty.

This thought leads to the other, that each of these men lacks the truth that the other possesses. Mr. Ruskin sees very clearly the economic principle which makes all forms of usury unrighteous and wages for work the only true method of sustaining life, but he never perceives for a moment that individual human beings have sovereign rights over themselves. Mr. Herbert proves beyond question that the government of man by man is utterly without justification, but is quite ignorant of the fact that interest, rent, and profits will find no place in the perfect economic order. Mr. Ruskin's error is by far the more serious of the two, because the realization of Mr. Herbert's ideas would inevitably result in the equity that Mr. Ruskin sees, whereas this equity can never be achieved for any length of time without an at least partial fulfilment of individual liberty. Nevertheless it cannot be gainsaid that Mr. Herbert's failure to see the economic results of his ideas considerably impairs his power of carrying them home to men's hearts. Unfortunately, there are many people whom the most perfect deductive reasoning fails to convince. The beauty of a great principle and its harmonizing influence wherever it touches they are unable to appreciate. They can only see certain great and manifest wrongs, and they demand that these shall be righted. Unless they are clearly shown the connection between these wrongs and their real causes, they are almost sure to associate them with imaginary causes and to try the most futile and sometimes disastrous remedies. Now, the one great wrong that these people see to-day is the fact that industry and poverty commonly go hand in hand and are associated in the same persons, and the one thing that they are determined upon, regardless of everything else whatsoever, is that hereafter those who do the work of this world shall enjoy the wealth of this world. It is a righteous determination, and in it is to be found the true significance of the State-Socialistic movement which Mr. Herbert very properly condemns and yet only half understands. To meet it is the first- necessity incumbent upon the friends of Liberty. It is sure that the workers can never permanently secure themselves in the control of their products except through the method of Liberty; but it is almost equally sure that, unless they are shown what Liberty will do for them in this respect, they will try every other method before they try Liberty. The necessity of showing them this Mr. Herbert, to be sure, dimly sees, but, the light not having dawned on himself, he cannot show it to others. He has to content himself, therefore, with such inadequate, unscientific, and partially charitable proposals as the formation of voluntary associations to furnish work to the unemployed. The working people will never thus be satisfied, and they ought not to be.

But Mr. Herbert can satisfy them if he can convince them of all that is implied in his advocacy of "complete free trade in all things." To many special phases of this free trade he does call marked attention, but never, I believe, to the most important of all, free trade in banking. If he would only dwell upon the evils of the money-issuing monopoly and emphasize with his great power the fact that competition, in this as in other matters, would give us all that is needed of the best possible article at the lowest possible price, thereby steadily reducing interest and rent to zero, putting capital within the comfortable reach of all deserving and enterprising people, and causing the greatest liberation on record of heretofore restricted energies, the laborers might then begin to see that here lies their only hope; that Liberty, after all, and not Government, is to be their saviour; that their first duty is to abolish the credit monopoly and let credit organize itself; that then they will have to ask nobody for work, but everybody will be asking work of them; and that then, instead of having to take whatever pittance they can get, they will be in a position to exact wages equivalent to their product, under which condition of things the reign of justice will be upon us and labor will have its own. Then Mr. Herbert's work for Liberty will no longer be a struggle, but an unmixed pleasure. He will no longer have to breast the current by urging workmen to self-denial; he can successfully appeal to their self-interest, the tide will turn, and he will be borne onward with it to the ends that he desires.

 

 

SOLUTIONS OF THE LABOR PROBLEM.

[Liberty, September 12, 1891.]

Apropos of Labor Day, the Boston Herald printed in its issue of September 6 a collection of proposed solutions of the labor problem, received in response to a question which it had invited certain students and labor leaders to answer. The question was this: "How is a just distribution of the products of labor to be obtained?" The answers were from two hundred to five hundred words in length; below I give the essence of each:

George E. McNeill, general organizer of the Federation of Labor:—By a reduction of the hours of labor.

Edward Atkinson, political economist:—If laborers think themselves inadequately rewarded, they should work for themselves. The "scabs" should have unions of their own.

Edward S. Huntington, secretary of the First Nationalist Club:—By the organization of an all-inclusive trust by the laborers.

Albert Ross (Lynn Boyd Porter), novelist:—No individuals can justly distribute the products of other men's labor. Hence the State must do it.

Charles E. Bowers, Nationalist:—By national control and management of industries.

H. R. Legate, leader of the Third Party:—By public ownership of the means of production and distribution.

Henry Abrahams, secretary of the Boston Central Labor Union:—Organization of trades; reduction of the hours of labor; co-operation.

William H. Sayward, secretary of the National Association of Builders:—Absolute justice in distribution is unattainable. Improvement can be made by joint consideration and united action of laborers and employers.

M. J. Bishop, State worthy foreman, K. of L.:—By organizing and educating the people to demand control of the natural monopolies and the transportation of intelligence, passengers, and freight.

P. C. Kelly, secretary-treasurer of the State Assembly and D. A. 30, K. of L.:—By the nationalization of mines, railroads, telegraphs, telephones, and the levying of income taxes.

W. J. Shields, ex-president of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners: — The producers should free themselves from private control of all natural monopolies, and substitute government control and management.

George D. Moulton, Socialist:—By Socialism, to be reached through reduction of the hours of labor and a gradual increase of wages.

Harry Lloyd, president of the Carpenters' District Council:—By reduction of the hours of labor, destruction of the wage system, co-operation, profit-sharing, and government ownership of land, mines, and patents.

Some of the solutions proposed in the foregoing answers are as inadequate as Mrs. Partington's broom, others were buried by their authors in a flow of sentimentalism, and still others were presented so unsystematically and unscientifically that they could not influence reasoning minds.

Besides these, however, there were two answers that were analytical, that showed a true conception of the requirements of the problem, and that made a systematic attempt to meet them. I have no bump of modesty, and so am able to say unblushingly that one of these was written by Edward Bellamy and the other by myself. I give them in full:

Edward Bellamy, author of "Looking Backward" and founder of Nationalism:—Workmen will not receive a just proportion of the product of their labor until they receive the whole product. In order to receive the whole product, they must receive the profits which now go to the employers, in addition to their wages. In order to receive the profits which now go to the employers, they must become their own employers. The only way by which they can become their own employers is to assume through their salaried agents the conduct of industry as they have already {in this country) assumed the conduct of political affairs. The president, governor, and mayor do not make a profit on the business of the nation, State, or city, as employers do upon the industries which they manage. These and all other public officials receive salaries only, as agents, the business being conducted for the benefit of the people as the principals. There is no more sense in permitting the industrial affairs of this country to be run for private profit than there would be in permitting their political affairs to be so exploited. Our industries are just as properly public business as our politics, and a great deal more important to us all. As soon as the people wake up to the realization of this fact, there will be no labor question left. There will be no ground left for a dispute between workmen and capitalists, for every one will be at one and the same time employer and employee.

Benjamin R. Tucker, Anarchist:—A just distribution of the products of labor is to be obtained by destroying all sources of income except labor. These sources may be summed up in one word,—usury; and the three principal forms of usury are interest, rent, and profit. These all rest upon legal privilege and monopoly, and the way to destroy them is to destroy legal privilege and monopoly. The worst monopoly of all is that of the power to issue money, which power is now restricted to the holders of a certain kind of property,—government bonds and gold and silver. If the holders of all kinds of property were equally privileged to issue money, not as legal tender, but acceptable only on its merits, competition would reduce the rate of discount, and therefore of interest on capital, to the mere cost of banking, which is much less than one per cent. And even this percentage would not be interest, properly speaking, but simply payment for the labor and expense of banking. When money could be had at such a rate and capital bought with it, of course no one would borrow capital at a higher rate. Free competition in banking would thus abolish interest, all rent except ground rent, and all profit on merchandise not enjoying the benefit of some special monopoly.

In the absence of monopoly of any kind, whatever the merchant "makes" out of his business is not strictly profit, but the wages of mercantile labor, determined by competition. This wage is what will remain after the abolition of the money monopoly, of all tariffs and taxes on industry and trade, and of all patents and copyrights.

That form of usury known as ground rent rests on land monopoly; that is, on government protection of land titles not based on personal occupancy and use. If this protection were withdrawn, landlordism would disappear, and ground rent would thereafter exist no longer in its monopolistic form, but only in its economic form; in other words, the only existing rent would be the advantage accruing to the owner and occupier from superiority of soil or site.

The growing diversity of industry, coupled with the greater mobility that will be enjoyed by labor as soon as greater mobility is given to capital by the abolition of the monopolies, will have a strong and constant tendency to neutralize the existing inequalities of soil and site, and thus economic rent will gradually approach its vanishing point. Thus the whole ground is covered, and all forms of usury are abolished. All the drains upon labor being stopped, labor will be left in possession of its product, which is the solution of the problem. This solution is that which Anarchism offers.

The contrast between the robust uprightness and straight-forwardness of these two answers and the flaccid incoherence of most of the others emphasizes my constant contention that the labor problem is to be settled between extreme State Socialism and extreme Anarchism, and that the struggle will become clear and direct in proportion as all compromises disappear and leave an open field. When this struggle comes, the weak point in Mr. Bellamy's position will be located. I point it out in advance. It lies in his enormous assumptions that laborers, in order to receive the profits which now go to the employers, must become their own employers, and that the only way by which they can do this is to assume through their salaried agents the conduct of industry. The Anarchistic solution shows that there is no such must and no such only. When interest, rent, and profit disappear under the influence of free money, free land, and free trade, it will make no difference whether men work for themselves, or are employed, or employ others. In any case they can get nothing but that wage for their labor which free competition determines. Therefore they need not become their own employers. Perhaps, however, they will prefer to do so. But in that case they need not assume the conduct of industry through their salaried agents. There is another way. Any of them that choose will be enabled through mutual banking to secure means of production whereby to conduct whatever industry they desire. This other way, being the way of liberty, is the better way, and is destined to triumph over Mr. Bellamy's way, which is the way of authority and coercion.

I have reserved to the last the only remaining answer among those printed in the Herald, that of Frank K. Foster, editor of the Labor Leader. This, too, I give in full, because of its significance.

The prime factors making toward the unjust distribution of the products of labor are profits, rent, and interest. In his direct relation to the employer, or buyer of labor,—not necessarily a capitalist,—the laborer has a remedy in every agency that gives him greater equality of bargaining power. The scope of this remedy is limited by the margin of profit on the joint product of the laborer and the "captains of industry." In this class of agencies are to be reckoned the trades unions, and their influences of agitation and education. Incidentally, the problems of immigration, of mobility of labor, and of the unwise and selfish competition (between the laborers themselves) for employment, are allied to this branch of the subject. Broadly speaking, in the field of adult labor, the principle of free association may be trusted to supply a remedy that shall adjust the supply of labor to meet the demand, and, by raising wages and regulating conditions, obtain for the laborer his just share of the profits of production. As wage earners, it is with this economic side of the question we have mainly to do.

The problems of rent and interest are not, m the same sense, class questions, for they affect the man who buys and the man who sells the commodity of labor. The wage earner, as a unit in the productive social system, is concerned, however, in the promotion of those reforms which will lessen the power of monopoly in land and money, and thus make a larger margin of profit upon production to be divided between himself and employer.

The taxation of land held for speculative purposes to its full market value, the abolition of special privileges granted by the State to bankers, and the repeal of tariff laws taxing the many for the enrichment of the few, are among the more important remedies of this class.

Absolutely just distribution of the products of labor and absolute freedom from oppression by the possessors of power and pelf is only to be looked for in an ideal social state made up of creatures vastly different from the race in whose veins circulates the blood of old Adam.

It is surely a reasonable hope that justice and liberty may develop with the increasing years, and to my mind this development will come, not by legislative enactment, but through the broader avenue of the education and upbuilding of the individuals composing our complex civilization.

This remarkable utterance, in everything except its sentimental remark about "unwise and selfish competition" and its inconsistent adherence to the single-tax fallacy, is thoroughly Anarchistic, and shows that its author, not long ago a stanch State Socialist, has already accepted the "better way" of liberty.

 

 

KARL MARX AS FRIEND AND FOE.

[Liberty, April 14, 1883.]

By the death of Karl Marx the cause of labor has lost one of the most faithful friends it ever had. Liberty says thus much in hearty tribute to the sincerity and hearty steadfastness of the man who, perhaps to a greater extent than any other, represented, by nature and by doctrine, the principle of authority which we live to combat. Anarchism knew in him its bitterest enemy, and yet every Anarchist must hold his memory in respect. Strangely mingled feelings of admiration and abhorrence are simultaneously inspired in us by contemplation of this great man's career. Toward the two fundamental principles of the revolution of to-day he occupied an exactly contradictory attitude. Intense as was his love of equality, no less so was his hatred of liberty. The former found expression in one of the most masterly expositions of the infamous nature and office of capital ever put into print; the latter in a sweeping scheme of State supremacy and absorption, involving a practical annihilation of the individual. The enormous service done by the one was well-nigh neutralized by the injurious effects resulting from his advocacy of the other. For Karl Marx, the égalitaire, we feel the profoundest respect; as for Karl Marx, the autoritaire, we must consider him an enemy. Liberty said as much in its first issue, and sees no reason to change its mind. He was an honest man, a strong man, a humanitarian, and the promulgator of much vitally important truth, but on the most vital question of politics and economy he was persistently and irretrievably mistaken.

We cannot, then, join in the thoughtless, indiscreet, and in- discriminate laudation of his memory indulged in so generally by the labor press and on the labor platform. Perhaps, how- ever, we might pass it by without protest, did it not involve injustice and ingratitude to other and greater men. The extravagant claim of precedence as a radical political economist put forward for Karl Marx by his friends must not be allowed to overshadow the work of his superiors. We give an instance of this claim, taken from the resolutions passed unanimously by the great Cooper Union meeting held in honor of Marx: "In the field of economic social science he was the first to prove by statistical facts and by reasoning based upon universally recognized principles of political economy that capitalistic production must necessarily lead to the monopolizing and concentrating of all industry into the hands of a few, and thus, by robbing the working class of the fruits of their toil, reduce them to absolute slavery and degradation." These words were read to the audience in English by Philip Van Patten and in German by our worthy comrade, Justus Schwab. Is it possible that these men are so utterly unacquainted with the literature of Socialism that they do not know this statement to be false, and that the tendency and consequence of capitalistic production referred to were demonstrated to the world time and again during the twenty years preceding the publication of "Das Kapital," with a wealth of learning, a cogency and subtlety of reasoning, and an ardor of style to which Karl Marx could not so much as pretend? In the numerous works of P. J. Proudhon, published between 1840 and 1860, this notable truth was turned over and over and inside out until well-nigh every phase of it had been presented to the light.

What was the economic theory developed by Karl Marx? That we may not be accused of stating it unfairly, we give below an admirable outline of it drawn by Benoit Malon, a prominent French Socialist, in sympathy with Marx's thought. Aside from the special purpose which we have in quoting it, it is in itself well worth the space which it requires, being in the main a succinct and concise statement of the true principles of political economy:

All societies that have existed thus far in history have one common characteristic,—the struggle of classes. Revolutions have changed the conditions of this struggle, but have not suppressed it. Though the bourgeoisie has taken the place of feudalism, which was itself the successor of the old patrician order, and though slavery and serfdom have been succeeded by ihe proletariat, the situation has retained these two distinctive characteristics,—"the merciless oppression and exploitation of the inferior class by the dominant class, and the struggle, either open or concealed, but deadly and constant, of the classes thus confronting each other."

The bourgeoisie, to obtain power, had to invoke political and economic liberty. In the name of the latter, which it has falsified, and aided by scientific and industrial progress, it has revolutionized production and inaugurated the system of capitalistic production under which all wealth appears as an immense accumulation of merchandise formed elementarily upon an isolated quantity of that wealth.

Everything destined for the satisfaction of a human need has a value of utility; as merchandise it has a value of exchange. Value of exchange is the quantitative relation governing the equivalence and exchangeability of useful objects.

As the most eminent economists have shown, notably Ricardo, this quantitative relation, this measure of value, is time spent in labor. This, of course, can refer only to the amount of labor necessary upon an average and performed with average skill, mechanical facilities, and industry under the normal industrial conditions of the day.

It seems, therefore, that every one should be able to buy, in return for his labor, an amount of utilities and exchangeable values equivalent to those produced by him.

Nevertheless, such is not the case. "The accumulation of wealth at one of the poles of society keeps pace with the accumulation, at the other pole, of the misery, subjection, and moral degradation of the class from whose product capital is born."

How happens this? Because, by a series of robberies which, though sometimes legal, are none the less real, the productive forces, as fast as they have come into play, have been appropriated by privileged persons who, thanks to this instrumentum regni, control labor and exploit laborers.

To-day he who is destined to become a capitalist goes into the market furnished with money. He first buys tools and raw materials, and then, in order to operate them, buys the workingman's power of labor, the sole source of value. He sets them to work. The total product goes into the capitalist's hands, who sells it for more than it cost him. Of the plus-value capital is born; it increases in proportion to the quantity of plus-value or labor not paid for. All capital, then, is an accumulation of the surplus labor of another, or labor not paid for in wages.

For this singular state of things individuals are not to be held responsible; it is the result of our capitalistic society, for all events, all individual acts are but the processes Of inevitable forces slowly modifiable, since, 'when a society has succeeded in discovering the path of the natural law which governs its movement, it can neither clear it at a leap nor abolish by decree the phases of its natural development. But it can shorten the period of gestation and lessen the pains of delivery."

We cannot, then, go against the tendencies of a society, but only direct them toward the general good. So capitalistic society goes on irresistibly concentrating capital.

To attempt to stop this movement would be puerile; the necessary step is to pass from the inevitable monopolization of the forces of production and circulation to their nationalization, and that by a series of legal measures resulting from the capture of political power by the working classes.

In the meantime the evil will grow. By virtue of the law of wages the increase in the productivity of labor by the perfecting of machinery increases the frequency of dull seasons and makes poverty more general by diminishing the demand for and augmenting the supply of laborers. That is easily understood.

For the natural production of values of utility determined and regulated by real or fancied needs, which was in vogue until the eighteenth century, is substituted the mercantile production of values of exchange,—a production without rule or measure, which runs after the buyer and stops in its headlong course only when the markets of the world are gorged to overflowing. Then millions out of the hundreds of millions of prolétaires who have been engaged in this production are thrown out of work and their ranks are thinned by hunger, all in consequence of the superabundance created by an unregulated production.

The new economic forces which the bourgeoisie has appropriated have not completed their development, and even now the bourgeois envelope of capitalistic production can no longer contain them. Just as industry on a small scale was violently broken down because it obstructed production, so capitalistic privileges, beginning to obstruct the production which they developed, will be broken down in their turn: for the concentration of the means of production and the socialization of labor are reaching a point which renders them incompatible with their capitalistic envelope.

At this point the prolétariat , like the bourgeoisie, will seize political power for the purpose of abolishing classes and socializing the forces of production and circulation in the same order that they have been monopolized by capitalistic feudalism.

The foregoing is an admirable argument, and Liberty endorses the whole of it, excepting a few phrases concerning the nationalization of industry and the assumption of political power by the working people; but it contains literally nothing in substantiation of the claim made for Marx in the Cooper Institute resolutions. Proudhon was years before Marx with nearly every link in this logical chain. We stand ready to give volume, chapter, and page of his writings for the historical persistence of class struggles in successive manifestations, for the bourgeoisie's appeal to liberty and its infidelity thereto, for the theory that labor is the source and measure of value, for the laborer's inability to repurchase his product in consequence of the privileged capitalist's practice of keeping back a part of it from his wages, and for the process of the monopolistic concentration of capital and its disastrous results. The vital difference between Proudhon and Marx is to be found in the respective remedies which they proposed. Marx would nationalize the productive and distributive forces; Proudhon would individualize and associate them. Marx would make the laborers political masters; Proudhon would abolish political mastership entirely. Marx would abolish usury by having the State lay violent hands on all industry and business and conduct it on the cost principle; Proudhon would abolish usury by disconnecting the State entirely from industry and business and forming a system of free banks which would furnish credit at cost to every industrious and deserving person, and thus place the means of production within the reach of all. Marx believed in compulsory majority rule; Proudhon believed in the voluntary principle. In short, Marx was an autoritaire; Proudhon was a champion of Liberty.

Call Marx, then, the father of State Socialism, if you will; but we dispute his paternity of the general principles of economy on which all schools of Socialism agree. To be sure, it is not of the greatest consequence who was first with these doctrines. As Proudhon himself asks: "Do we eulogize the man who first perceives the dawn?" But if any discrimination is to be made, let it be a just one. There is. much, very much that can be truly said in honor of Karl Marx. Let us be satisfied with that, then, and not attempt to magnify his grandeur by denying, belittling, or ignoring the services of men greater than he.

 

 

DO THE KNIGHTS OF LABOR LOVE LIBERTY?

[Liberty, February 20, 1886.]

To the Editor of Liberty:

In Liberty of January 9 I see, in your notice of our friend, Henry Appleton, having become the editor of the Newsman, this precautionary language, or mild censure, from you to him; "Will he pardon me if I add that I look with grave doubts upon his advice to newsdealers to join the Knights of Labor? His own powerful pen has often clearly pointed out in these columns the evils of that organization and of all others similar to it." And further on you say: "A significant hint of what may be expected from the Knights of Labor is to be found in the address of Grand Master Powderly, the head and front of that body, before its latest national convention. He said in most emphatic terms that it would not do for the organization to simply frown upon the use of dynamite, but that any member hereafter advocating the use of dynamite must be summarily expelled."

Now, I do not know how much you know about the Knights of Labor, nor do I know how much our friend, Henry Appleton, knows about the Knights of Labor. But this much I am impelled to say after reading your reproving strictures,—that it is neither safe, prudent, or wise to condemn or censure any body of liberty-loving and earnestly truth-seeking people who are associated together to enlighten themselves as to what real Liberty is as well as to what are their most important and highest natural rights, duties, or privileges without a full knowledge of their objects, aims, and their methods to promote and achieve them. I can further confidently say that I have for more than forty years been an earnest seeker for these all-important natural scientific principles as taught or set forth by the most advanced individual thinkers or defenders of Liberty,—real Anarchists, if you please,—and I have found more persons holding said views and seeking the knowledge of these natural, inalienable laws or principles of scientific government among the members of this condemned association or school than I ever found outside of it. And I am confident that I can find more friends and earnest defenders of Liberty in its ranks than I can find outside of it. In fact, this school was founded to place Labor on a scientific basis and teach individual self-government at the expense of the individual without invading or infringing on the rights of others. Therefore, notwithstanding the opinions you have formed or the conclusions you may have arrived at in regard to this association or school, I fully indorse Friend Appleton's advice to the newsmen as well as all other useful workers who are in pursuit of Liberty, truth, justice, and a knowledge of their natural rights and highest duties. And although this association or school may be composed of a large majority of members who are laboring under the disadvantages of previous superstition, education, or training by the bossism of Church and State, nevertheless 1 esteem it the best opportunity, opening, or school in which to free them from said superstitions that I have ever met with, and for which the best minds in said school are constantly and earnestly laboring. And pardon me. Friend Tucker, for the suggestion that perhaps, if you knew more about their objects, aims, and methods, you might think better of them than you now do.

Fair Play.

Criticism from a man like "Fair Play," whom I know to be a real knight of labor, whether nominally one or not, is always welcome in these columns, and will always deserve and secure my attention. In attending to it in this special case my first business is to repeat what I have said already,—that I misquoted Henry Appleton, that he has never advised newsdealers to join the Knights of Labor, and that he is as much opposed to the principles and purposes of that order as I am.

I don't pretend to know very much about the Knights of Labor, but I know enough to make it needless to know more. I know, for instance, their "Declaration of Principles," and my fatal objections to these principles, or most of them, no additional knowledge of the order could possibly obviate or in any way invalidate or weaken. Of them the preamble itself says: "Most of the objects herein set forth can only be obtained through legislation, and it is the duty of all to assist in nominating and supporting with their votes only such candidates as will pledge their support to those measures, regardless of party." Does "Fair Play" mean to tell me that he knows of any "real Anarchist" who consents to stultify himself by belonging to a society founded on that proposition? If he does, I answer that that man either does not know what Anarchy means, or else is as false to his principles as would be an Infidel who should subscribe to the creed of John Calvin. Anarchy and this position are utterly irreconcilable; and no man who understands both of them (with the possible exception of Stephen Pearl Andrews) would ever attempt to reconcile them.

But what are these objects which these "liberty-loving" people expect to realize by that eminently Anarchistic weapon, the ballot? The "Declaration" goes on to state them. "We demand at the hands of the State" (think of an Anarchist demanding anything of the State except its death!):

"That all lands now held for speculative purposes be taxed to their full value." . How long since taxation became an Anarchistic measure ? It is my impression that Anarchists look upon taxation as the bottom tyranny of all.

"The enactment of laws to compel corporations to pay their employees weekly in lawful money." Anarchism practically rests upon freedom of contract. Does not this impair it? What party, outside of the makers of a contract, has any right to decide its conditions?

"The enactment of laws providing for arbitration between employers and employed, and to enforce the decision of the arbitrators." That is, the State must fix the rate of wages and the conditions of the performance of labor. The Anarchist who would indorse that must be a curiosity.

"The prohibition by law of the employment of children under fifteen years of age in workshops, mines, and factories." In other words, a boy of fourteen shall not be allowed to choose his occupation. What Anarchist takes this position?

"That a graduated income tax be levied." How this would lessen the sphere of government!

"The establishment of a national monetary system, in which a circulating medium in necessary quantity shall issue direct to the people without the intervention of banks; that all the national issue shall be full legal tender in payment of all debts, public and private; and that the government shall not guarantee or recognize private banks, or create any banking corporations." If "Fair Play" knows of any Anarchists who have subscribed to this, I wish he would furnish their addresses. I should like to send them Colonel Greene's Mutual Banking" and the keen and powerful chapter of Lysander Spooner's "Letter to Grover Cleveland " which treats of the congressional crime of altering contracts by legal-tender laws. Perhaps they might thus be brought to their senses.

But need I, as I easily might, extend this list of tyrannical measures to convince Friend "Fair Play" that, however much I might know about the Knights of Labor, I could not think better of them than I now do?

The trouble is that "Fair Play" and reformers generally do not yet know what to make of such a phenomenon in journalism as a radical reform paper which, instead of offering the right hand of fellowship to everything calling itself radical and reformatory, adopts a principle for its compass and steers a straight course by it. They all like it first-rate until its course conflicts with theirs. Then they exclaim in horror. I am sorry to thus shock them, but I cannot help it; I must keep straight on. When I launched this little newspaper craft, I hoisted the flag of Liberty. I hoisted it not as a name merely, but as a vital principle, by which I mean to live and die. With the valued aid of "Fair Play" and others, added to my own efforts, it has been kept flying steadily at the masthead. It has not been lowered an inch, and, while I have strength to defend it, it never will be. And if any man attempts to pull it down, I care not who he may be, Knight of Capital or Knight of Labor, I propose, at least with mental and moral ammunition, to "shoot him on the spot."

 

 

PLAY-HOUSE PHILANTHROPY.

[Liberty, November 26, 1881.]

Among the ablest and most interesting contributions to the columns of the Irish World are the sketches of one of its staff correspondents, "Honorius," in which that writer, week after week, with all the skill and strategy of a born general, marshals anecdote, illustration, history, biography, fact, logic, and the experiences of every-day life in impregnable line of battle, and precipitates them upon the cohorts of organized tyranny and theft, making irreparable breaches in their fortifications, and spreading havoc throughout their ranks. The ingenuity which he displays in utilizing his material and turning everything to the account of his cause is marvellous. Out of each new fact that falls under his notice, out of each new character with whom he comes in contact, he develops some fresh argument against the system of theft that underlies our so-called " civilization," some novel application of the principles that must underlie the coming true society.

Unless we are greatly mistaken, the latest of his assaults will not prove the least effective, since in it he has improved an excellent opportunity to turn his guns upon enemies nearer home, enemies in the guise of friends. He briefly tells the story of the career of a Yorkshire factory-lord, one Sir Titus Salt, who, through his fortunate discovery of the process of manufacturing alpaca cloth, accumulated an enormous fortune, which he expended in the establishment of institutions for the benefit of his employees and in deeds of general philanthropy. To this man he pays a tribute of praise for various virtues, which, for aught we know, is well deserved. But he supplements it by forcible insistance on the fact that Sir Titus was but a thief after all; that, however great his generosity of heart, it was exercised in the distribution of other people's earnings; and that his title to exemption from the condemnation of honest men was no better than that of the more merciful of the Southern slave-owners. The importance of this lesson it is impossible to overestimate. Gains are no less ill-gotten because well-given. Philanthropy cannot palliate plunder. Robbery, though it be not born of rapacity, is robbery still. This Sir Titus Salt but serves as a type of a large class of individuals who are ever winning the applause and admiration of a world too prone to accept benevolence and charity in the stead of justice and righteousness.

Perhaps the most conspicuous example of the class referred to now posing before the world is the man referred to by "Honorius" in connection and comparison with Sir Titus,—Godin of Guise, the famous founder of the Familisterre. "The great Godin of Guise," "Honorius" styles him; and it is precisely because this clear-headed writer, misinformed as to the real facts, makes him the object of exaggerated and misplaced adulation that the present article is written. Of Sir Titus Salt we could not speak, but of the Familisterre and its founder we can say somewhat that may interest and enlighten their admirers. But first the words of "Honorius":

Sir Titus Salt was the companion, as a noble-souled employer, to that fellow-philanthropist, the great Godin of Guise, who founded the famous social palace known as the Familisterre, although not so grand a character as the renowned Frenchman. Titus Salt was a sectarian. His $80,000 church was for the "accommodation" of his own sect, and those who held to other creeds found no place of worship from his money. Godin was a grand, liberal soul. Though educated a Catholic, he made the most liberal provision for every shade of belief among his working people, and he despised every form of narrowness and bigotry. Godin, too, was too noble a soul to descend to the arts of the politician, and would have despised himself had he solicited a vote from any of his people. So wonderful was the success of his industrial experiment at Guise that Louis Napoleon became jealous of the possibilities for labor which he had demonstrated, and that despicable fraud and royal scoundrel, "Louis the Little," repeatedly went out of his way to hamper his business, and even sought to disfranchise him.

Let us see how much of this is true,—if this man is really great, or only a pretender and a sham. It was once our privilege to visit the Familisterre. The visit extended through the better part of a week, and occurred at a very favorable time, including one of the two annual fête days (celebrating Education and Labor) peculiar to the institution. But the impression left on our mind was by no means favorable. The establishment seemed pervaded throughout by an atmosphere of supervision and routine, tempered here and there by awkward attempts at the picturesque. The air of buoyant contentment which the glowing accounts given of the Social Palace would lead one to expect did not characterize the members of the large household to any great extent. The workmen seemed to feel themselves and their class still the victims of oppression. A very slight acquaintance with them was sufficient to reveal the fact that their "boss" and "benefactor" does not appear as godlike in their eyes as in those that view him at a distance. In the presence of the inquiring observer their faces assumed an expression that seemed to say: "Oh, you think it's all very pretty, no doubt: no rags here, no dirt; everything clean and orderly, and a moderate degree of external comfort among us all. But all this has to be paid for by somebody, and it is the outside world that foots the bills. Our master has the reputation of being very kind and generous, but he is our master. We enjoy this material welfare at the expense of something of our independence. Besides, he's got a soft thing of it,—rolling up his millions year by year and excusing himself by distributing a certain proportion of his stealings among us; but he and the rest of us are living very largely on our fellow-laborers elsewhere, out of whose pockets these immense profits come."

And actual questioning proved that their faces told the truth. Inability to converse fluently in French prevented us from inquiring closely into details; but from an intelligent young Russian visiting the place at the same time and on much the same mission as ourselves, whose knowledge of French and English was excellent, we elicited information quite sufficient. The more intelligent of the workmen had told him confidentially just what we had read in their faces as stated above, not a few of them confessing that M. Godin, who at that time was a member of the National Chamber of Deputies, held his seat by a method strikingly similar to that which in Massachusetts the Boston Herald is wont to apologize for as "civilized bulldozing,"—that is, prior to election day he contrived to have it understood among his employees that a convenient opportunity would be found for the discharge of such of them as should fail to vote for him, no matter what their previous political affiliations or present political beliefs. And yet "Honorius" says (or seems to hint) that he is not ambitious, and "Honorius" is an honorable man. Hundreds and thousands of honorable men share the same delusion,—for a delusion it certainly is.

A strange sort of "philanthropist," this! A singular "nobility of soul" is M. Godin's! His religious liberality referred to by "Honorius" evidently does not extend into his business and politics. Here is a man, ingenious, shrewd, calculating, with large executive capacity and something of a taste for philosophy, who discovers an industrial process which, through a monopoly guaranteed by the patent laws, he is enabled to carry on at an enormous profit; he employs hundreds of operatives; for them and their families he builds a gigantic home, which he dignifies by the name of a palace, though it needs but a few bolts and bars to make it seem more like a prison, so cheerless, formal, and forbidding is its gloomy aspect; he distributes among them a portion of the profits, perhaps to quiet his conscience, perhaps to become noted for fair; dealing and philanthropy; the balance—more than sufficient to satisfy the ordinary manufacturer subject to competition—he complacently pockets, putting forth, meanwhile, the ridiculous pretence that he holds this fund as a trustee; finally, knowing nothing of Liberty and Equity and sneering at their defenders, he professes to think that he can regenerate the world by the fanciful and unsound schemes of education that he spends his leisure hours in devising and realizing, supporting them with wealth gained by theft, power gained by indirect bribery and bulldozing, and popularity gained by pretence and humbuggery. Nevertheless, for doing this the whole humanitarian world and not a few hard-headed reformers bow down and worship him. Even clear-sighted "Honorius" heaps honors on his head. But "Honorius" knows, and does not fail to emphasize, the true lesson of the man's life, which is that the impending social revolution has certain fixed principles behind it; that one of these principles is, "Thou shalt not steal"; that any scheme by which a single individual becomes inordinately rich, whether as proprietor or trustee (unless the trust be purely voluntary), is necessarily carried on in violation of that principle; and that whoever prosecutes it as in accordance with that principle thereby proves himself either too ignorant or too insincere to be allowed to serve, much less to lead, in the revolutionary movement. Such a man is of the plunderers, and should be with them. Idol-smashing is no enviable task; but to unmask the pretensions of play-house philanthropists whose highest conception of distributive justice seems to be the sharing with a fortunate few of goods stolen from the many is a service that, however disagreeable, is of prime necessity in the realization of that Equity which distributes to each the product of his labor and that Liberty which renders it impossible for one to reap the profit of another's toil.

 

 

BEWARE OF BATTERSON!

[Liberty, March 6, 1886.]

Gertrude B. Kelly, who, by her articles in Liberty, has placed herself at a single bound among the foremost radical writers of this or any other country, exposes elsewhere in a masterful manner the unique scheme of one Batterson, an employer of labor in Westerly, R. I., which he calls co-operation. But there is one feature of this scheme, the most iniquitous of all, which needs still further emphasis. It is to be found in the provision which stipulates that no workman discharged for good cause or leaving the employ of the company without the written consent of the superintendent shall be allowed even that part of the annual dividend to labor to which he is entitled by such labor as he has already performed that year. In this lies cunningly hidden the whole motive of the plot. By promising to give labor at the end of the year the paltry sum of one third of such profits as are left after the stockholders have gobbled six per cent, on their investment, and adding that not even a proportional part of this dividend shall be given to labor if it quits work before the end of the year, this Batterson deprives the laborers of the only weapon of self-defence now within their reach,—the strike,—and leaves them utterly defenceless until they shall become intelligent enough to know the value and learn the use of Anarchistic methods and weapons.

Having got his laborers thus thoroughly in his power, and after waiting long enough to establish their confidence in him and his scheme, Batterson's next step will probably be to gradually screw down the wages. The laborers will have to submit to each reduction as it comes, or lose their dividend; and for the average laborer there is such a charm in the word "dividend" that he will go to the verge of starvation before giving it up. Now, of every dollar which Batterson thus manages to squeeze out of labor, only forty cents or less will come back to labor in the shape of dividend, the balance going into capital's pockets. Hence it is obvious that the reducing process will have to be kept up but a short time before capital's income will be larger and labor's income less than before the adoption of this philanthropic scheme of "co-operation." And, moreover, capital will thereby secure the additional advantage of feeling entirely independent of labor and will not have to lie awake nights in anticipation of a strike, knowing that, however rigorously it may apply the lash, its slaves will still be dumb.

Additional evidence that this is Batterson's plan is to be found in the further stipulation that no dividend will be allowed to superintendents, overseers, bookkeepers, clerks, or any employees except the manual laborers. Why? Because these never strike. As it is not within their power to temporarily cripple his business, Batterson has no motive to offer them even a phantom dividend.

Altogether, this is one of the wiliest and foulest plots against industry ever hatched in the brain of a member of the robber class. But, though capital, by some such method as this, may succeed in suppressing strikes for a time, it will thereby only close the safety-valve; the great and final strike will be the more violent when it breaks out. If the laborers do not beware of Batterson now, the day will come when it will behoove Batterson to beware of them.

 

A GRATIFYING DISCOVERY.

[Liberty, May 31, 1884.]

Liberty made its first appearance in August, 1881. Of that issue a great many sample copies were mailed to selected addresses all over the world. Not one of these, however, was sent from this office directly to Nantucket, for I had never heard of a radical on that island. But, through some channel or other, a copy found its way thither; for, before the second number had been issued, an envelope bearing the Nantucket postmark came to me containing a greeting for Liberty, than which the paper has had none since more warm, more hearty, more sympathetic, more intelligent, more appreciative.

But the letter was anonymous. Its style and language, however, showed its writer to be a very superior person, which fact, of course, added value to the substance of its contents. The writer expressed his unqualified approval of the political and social doctrines enunciated in the first number of Liberty (and certainly in no number since have those doctrines been stated more boldly and nakedly than in that one), saying that these views had been held by him for years, and that the advent of an organ for their dissemination was what he had long been waiting for. He gently chided Liberty, nevertheless, for its anti-religious attitude, not so much apparently from any counter-attitude of his own or from any personal sensitiveness in that direction, as from a feeling that religious beliefs are essentially private in their nature and so peculiar to the individuals holding them as to exempt them from public consideration and criticism. After admonishing Liberty to abandon this objectionable feature of its policy, the letter closed by saying that I did not need to know the writer's name, but, for the dollar enclosed, I might send the paper regularly to "Post Office Box No. 22, Nantucket, Mass."

Only the substance of the letter is given above, the manuscript having been inadvertently destroyed with an accumulation of others some time ago. To the given address Liberty has regularly gone, and I never failed to wonder, when mailing-day came, as to the identity of the mysterious Nantucketer.

Lately came the revelation. It will be remembered that a death occurred in Nantucket a few weeks ago which attracted the attention of the whole country and occasioned columns of newspaper tribute and comment. In reading the various obituaries of the deceased, I learned that he was a man who had thought much and written radically on political subjects with a most decided trend toward complete individual liberty, that, nevertheless, he had been brought up in the Roman Catholic church, and to the end of his life was outwardly connected with it, though refusing on his death-bed to admit the priests to his presence for the administration of the sacrament; and that, though a member of a profession which necessarily made him a public man, he had always shunned publicity and notoriety in every way possible.

As these facts simultaneously presented themselves, the thought suddenly flashed upon my mind that I had found the holder of Box No. 22. Through a relative visiting Nantucket I instituted inquiries at the post-office on that island, and was promptly, notified that the box in question had been rented for the past few years by the late Charles O'Conor. It was as I expected. The text of his letter, alas! is gone, but not its substance from my memory. The extracts from his published writings soon to appear in these columns will show how extreme a radical he was in his attitude towards governments, although in them he never expressed the fundamental thought acknowledged in his letter to me. Perhaps he regarded that as too strong meat for babes.

I am no hero-worshipper in the usual sense of that term, and among the friends of Liberty there are a number of humbler men than Charles O'Conor, whose approval I value even more highly than his; but none the less is it with extreme gratification that I now authoritatively record the fact that the great lawyer whose wonderful eloquence and searching intellectual power kept him for two decades the acknowledged head of the American bar, far from being the Bourbon which an ignorant and dishonest press has pictured him, was a thorough-going Anarchist.

 

 

CASES OF LAMENTABLE LONGEVITY.

[Liberty, March, 31, 1888.]

The Emperor William is dead at the age of ninety-one. His was a long life, and that is the worst of it. Much may be forgiven to a tyrant who has the decency to die young. But to the memory of one who thus prolongs and piles up the agony no mercy can be shown. As Brick Pomeroy says, there is such a thing as enough. In ninety-one years of such a man as William, Germany and the world had altogether too much. However, it is not kings alone that live too long. That awful fate sometimes befalls poets. Among others it has overtaken Walt Whitman. That he should live long enough to so far civilize his "barbaric yawp" as to sound it over the roofs of the world to bewail Germany's loss of her "faithful shepherd," and should do it too by the unseemly aid of the electric telegraph at the bidding of a capitalistic newspaper and presumably for hire, thus presenting the revolting spectacle of a once manly purity lapsing into prostitution in its old age, is indeed a woful example of superfluity of years. The propensity of poets of the people, once past their singing days, to lift their cracked voices in laudation of the oppressors of the people, burning what they once worshipped and worshipping what they once burned, tends to reconcile one to the otherwise unendurable thought that Shelley and Byron were scarcely suffered to outlive their boyhood. The fall of Russell Lowell was a terrible disappointment to those who never tire of reading the "Big'low Papers" and know "The Present Crisis" by heart, but the bitterness of their cup is honey beside the wormwood which all lovers of "Leaves of Grass" must have tasted when they read the lament of the Bard of Democracy over the death of the tyrant William. As one of his most enthusiastic admirers, I beseech Walt Whitman to let the rest be silence, and not again force upon us the haunting vision of what he once described, in the days when he still could write, as a "sad, hasty, unwaked somnambule, walking the dusk."


SPOONER MEMORIAL RESOLUTIONS.[1]

[Liberty, May 28, 1887.]

Resolved: That Lysander Spooner, to celebrate whose life and to lament whose death we meet to-day, built for himself, by his half century's study and promulgation of the science of justice, a monument which no words of ours, however eloquent, can make more lasting or more lofty; that each of his fifty years and more of manhood work and warfare added so massive a stone to the column of his high endeavor that now it towers beyond our reach; but that nevertheless it is meet, for our own satisfaction and the world's welfare, that we who knew him best should place on record and proclaim as publicly as we may our admiration, honor, and reverence for his exceptional character and career, our gratitude for the wisdom which he has imparted to us, and our determination so to spread the light for which we are thus indebted that others may share with us the burden and the blessing of this inextinguishable debt.

Resolved: That we recognize in Lysander Spooner a man of intellect, a man of heart, and a man of will; that as a man of intellect his thought was keen, clear, penetrating, incisive, logical, orderly, careful, convincing, and crushing, and set forth withal in a style of singular strength, purity, and individuality which needed to employ none of the devices of rhetoric to charm the intelligent reader; that as a man of heart he was a good hater and a good lover,—hating suffering, woe, want, injustice, cruelty, oppression, slavery, hypocrisy, and falsehood, and loving happiness, joy, prosperity, justice, kindness, equality, liberty, sincerity, and truth; that as a man of will he was firm, pertinacious, tireless, obdurate, sanguine, scornful, and sure; and that all these virtues of intellect, heart, and will lay hidden beneath a modesty of demeanor, a simplicity of life, and a beaming majesty of countenance which, combined with the venerable aspect of his later years, gave him the appearance, as he walked our busy streets, of some patriarch or philosopher of old, and made him a personage delightful to meet and beautiful to look upon.

Resolved: That, whether in his assaults upon religious superstition, or in his battle with chattel slavery, or in his challenge of the government postal monopoly, or in his many onslaughts upon the banking monopoly, or in his vehement appeal to the Irish peasantry to throw off the dominion of privileged lords over themselves and their lands, or in his denunciation of prohibitory laws, or in his dissection of the protective tariff, or in his exposure of the ballot as an instrument of tyranny, or in his denial of the right to levy compulsory taxes, or in his demonstration that Constitutions and statutes are binding upon nobody, or in the final concentration of all his energies for the overthrow of the State itself, the cause and sustenance of nearly all the evils against which he had previously struggled, he ever showed himself the faithful soldier of Absolute Individual Liberty.

Resolved: That, while he fought this good fight and kept the faith, he did not finish his course, for his goal was in the eternities; that, starting in his youth in pursuit of truth, he kept it up through a vigorous manhood, undeterred by poverty, neglect, or scorn, and in his later life relaxed his energies not one jot; that his mental vigor seemed to grow as his physical powers declined; that, although, counting his age by years, he was an octogenarian, we chiefly mourn his death, not as that of an old man who had completed his task, but as that of the youngest man among us,—youngest because, after all that he had done, he still had so much more laid out to do than any of us, and still was competent to do it; that the best service that we can do his memory is to take up his work where he was forced to drop it, carry it on with all that we can summon of his energy and indomitable will, and, as old age creeps upon us, not lay the harness off, but, following his example and Emerson's advice, "obey the voice at eve obeyed at prime."


ON PICKET DUTY.

"Every man's labor," says the New York Nation, "is worth what some other man will do it equally well for, and no more." That is to say, if one man demands for his labor the whole product thereof, he cannot have it because some other man is satisfied to perform the same labor for half of the product. But in that case what becomes of the other half of the product? Who is entitled to it, and what has he done to entitle him to it? Every man's labor is worth what it produces, and would command that, if all men were free. "There is no natural rate for telegraphers any more than for bookkeepers or teamsters," continues the Nation. No more, truly; but just as much. The natural rate of wages for ten hours of telegraphing or bookkeeping or teaming is as much money as will buy goods in the market for the production of which ten hours of equally tiresome and disagreeable labor were required. And this natural rate would be the actual rate if unlimited competition were allowed in everything. That competition is a potent factor in the regulation of wages we admit, but what we further assert is that, if competition were universal and applied to capitalists as well as laborers, it would regulate wages in accordance with equity. All that we ask is absolutely free play for the economists' boasted law of supply and demand. Why are the capitalists so afraid of the logical extension of their own doctrines?—Liberty, August 25, 1883.

 

Taking generals as they go, I have always held Robert E. Lee in moderately high esteem, but, if Jubal Early tells the truth, this opinion must be revised and perhaps reversed. Trying to relieve Lee from that horrible aspersion on his character which attributes to Grant's magnanimity at Appomattox Lee's retention of his sword. Early declares that Lee and all his officers were allowed by the express terms of the capitulation to retain their side-arms, and further (citing Dr. Jones's "Personal Reminiscences of General R. E. Lee ") that Lee once said to Jones and other friends, and in 1869 to Early himself, that, before going to meet Grant, he left orders with Longstreet and Gordon to hold their commands in readiness, as he was determined to cut his way through or perish in the attempt, if such terms were not granted as he thought his army entitled to demand." That is to say, General Lee, having determined that it would be folly to make his men fight longer for his cause, made up his mind to surrender, but decided at the same time that he would cause his men to die by the thousands rather than submit himself and his officers to a slight personal humiliation. He was willing to swallow the camel, but, rather than stomach the gnat, he would murder his fellow-men without compunction. All considerations fall before superstition, be the superstition religious, political, or military. The art of war, on which government finally rests, has, like government itself, its laws and regulations and customs, which, in the eyes of the military devotee, must be observed at all hazards. Beside them human life is a mere bagatelle. Man himself may be violated with impunity, but man-made laws and customs are inviolably enshrined in the Holy of Holies.—Liberty, April 11, 1885.

 

An idea for a cartoon, which Puck probably will not utilize: Grover Cleveland in the White House with his new and legal wife; to the right, in a companion picture, George Q. Cannon in a prison cell; to the left of the White House, Maria Halpin, Cleveland's illegal wife, and their illegitimate son, dwelling as social outcasts in an abode of wretchedness and want because wilfully abandoned by the husband and father; to the right of the prison, Cannon's illegal wives and illegitimate children, dwelling in an abode of wretchedness and want because the law has imprisoned the husband and father instead of allowing him to live with and protect them; on the walls of the White House, illuminated texts concerning the purity of the home and exclusiveness of love, taken from the president's message to congress on the Mormon question; on the walls of the prison cell, the constitutional amendment forbidding the passage of laws abridging religious freedom. Title for the cartoon: "Mormonism in Cleveland's eyes, like the tariff in Hancock's, a purely local question."—Liberty, June 19, 1886.

 

Work and Wages sneers at the paradise of cheapness of which Edward Atkinson and other economists boast, but which is achieved by the reduction of wages to a very low point, as a fools' paradise. It is right. But its own paradise of dearness, to be achieved by the determination of individuals to pay more than the market value for products and thereby rob themselves, is equally a fools' paradise, if not more so. For, while it is true, as Work and Wages claims, that cheapness is achieved at the cost of injury to health and mind and morals and therefore to productive power, it is also true, as the economists claim, that the payment of higher than market prices causes a loss of capital, stifles enterprise, and makes wages even lower than before. The wise men's paradise is that in which the market value of products is equal to the wages paid to the labor (of all sorts) expended in their creation, and it can be achieved only by the total abolition of those checks upon the supply of capital which States have imposed and economists have justified for the purpose of keeping wages at a point low enough to sustain capitalists in luxury and yet not quite low enough to immediately "kill the goose that lays the golden egg." In that paradise there will be no sentimental endeavor to pay high prices, but all will buy as cheaply as they can, the difference between that state and this being the vital one that then the unimpeded circulation of capital will enable labor to buy its wages for much less than it now pays for them. The tendency to cheapness of product being thus balanced by a tendency to dearness of labor, the displacement of monopoly and charity, those parents of pauperism, by competition and equity will give birth to an entirely new economic condition in which industry and comfort will be inseparable.—Liberty, May 28, 1887.

 

Jus, the London organ of semi-individualism, combats the doctrine that surplus value—oftener called profits—belongs to the laborer because he creates it, by arguing that the horse, by a parity of reasoning, is rightfully entitled to the surplus value which he creates for his owner. So he will be when he has the sense to claim and the power to take it; for then the horse will be an individual, an ego. This sense and power the laborer is rapidly developing, with what results the world will presently see. The argument of Jus is based upon the assumption that certain men are born to be owned by other men, just as horses are. Thus its reductio ad absurdum turns upon itself; it is hoist with its own petard.—Liberty, July 2, 1887.

 

In the silly speech which Colonel Ingersoll made at an informal session of the Republican convention at Chicago he declared that he favored protection of American industries because the Americans are the most ingenious people on the face of the earth. By the ordinary mind this will naturally be regarded as a reason why other people should be protected rather than the American. It requires the wit of an Ingersoll to see that it is either necessary or advisable to protect the ingenious against the dull-witted, the strong against the weak.—Liberty, July 7, 1888.

 

To Edward Atkinson's perfectly sound argument that the present accumulation of money in the United States treasury does not constitute a surplus revenue, inasmuch as there are $250,000,000 of demand notes outstanding against the United States for the payment of which no provision has been made, Henry George's Standard makes answer by asking if any private corporation would "ever acknowledge that it had any surplus revenue if it possessed an unlimited power of levying taxes on sixty odd millions of people." If Mr. Atkinson were not as blind as Mr. George himself to the wickedness of this power of taxation, he would doubtless retort with the question: "Would any highwayman ever acknowledge that he had any surplus revenue if he possessed an unlimited power of robbing travellers with impunity?"—Liberty, July 7, 1888.

 

"There are two things needed in these days," says sagacious Edward Atkinson: "first, for rich men to find out how poor men live; and, second, for poor men to know how rich men work." You are right, Mr. Atkinson; and when the poor men once know this, the rich men will very speedily find themselves out of a job. It will be the greatest lock-out on record.—Liberty, August 4, 1888.


  1. Offered by the author of this volume at the Lysander Spooner Memorial Services held in Wells Memorial Hall, Boston, on Sunday, May 29, 1887.