Instead of a Book/Socialism


SOCIALISM.



 

SOCIALISM: WHAT IT IS.

[Liberty, May 17, 1884.]

"Do you like the word Socialism?" said a lady to me the other day; "I fear I do not; somehow I shrink when I hear it. It is associated with so much that is bad! Ought we to keep it?"

The lady who asked this question is an earnest Anarchist, a firm friend of Liberty, and—it is almost superfluous to add—highly intelligent. Her words voice the feeling of many. But after all it is only a feeling, and will not stand the test of thought. "Yes," I answered, "it is a glorious word, much abused, violently distorted, stupidly misunderstood, but expressing better than any other the purpose of political and economic progress, the aim of the Revolution in this century, the recognition of the great truth that Liberty and Equality, through the law of Solidarity, will cause the welfare of each to contribute to the welfare of all. So good a word cannot be spared, must not be sacrified, shall not be stolen."

How can it be saved? Only by lifting it out of the confusion which obscures it, so that all may see it clearly and definitely, and what it fundamentally means. Some writers make Socialism inclusive of all efforts to ameliorate social conditions. Proudhon is reputed to have said something of the kind. However that may be, the definition seems too broad. Etymologically it is not unwarrantable, but derivatively the word has a more technical and definite meaning.

To-day (pardon the paradox!) society is fundamentally anti-social. The whole so-called social fabric rests on privilege and power, and is disordered and strained in every direction by the inequalities that necessarily result therefrom. The welfare of each, instead of contributing to that of all, as it naturally should and would, almost invariably detracts from that of all. Wealth is made by legal privilege a hook with which to filch from labor's pockets. Every man who gets rich thereby makes his neighbor poor. The better off one is, the worse off the rest are. As Ruskin says, "every grain of calculated Increment to the rich is balanced by its mathematical equivalent of Decrement to the poor." The Laborer's Deficit is precisely equal to the Capitalist's Efficit.

Now, Socialism wants to change all this. Socialism says that what's one man's meat must no longer be another's poison; that no man shall be able to add to his riches except by labor; that in adding to his riches by labor alone no man makes another man poorer; that on the contrary every man thus adding to his riches makes every other man richer; that increase and concentration of wealth through labor tend to increase, cheapen, and vary production; that every increase of capital in the hands of the laborer tends, in the absence of legal monopoly, to put more products, better products, cheaper products, and a greater variety of products within the reach of every man who works; and that this fact means the physical, mental, and moral perfecting of mankind, and the realization of human fraternity. Is not that glorious? Shall a word that means all that be cast aside simply because some have tried to wed it with authority? By no means. The man who subscribes to that, whatever he may think himself, whatever he may call himself, however bitterly he may attack the thing which he mistakes for Socialism, is himself a Socialist; and the man who subscribes to its opposite and acts upon its opposite, however benevolent he may be, however wealthy he may be, however pious he may be, whatever his station in society, whatever his standing in the Church, whatever his position in the State, is not a Socialist, but a Thief. For there are at bottom but two classes,—the Socialists and the Thieves. Socialism, practically, is war upon usury in all its forms, the great Anti-Theft Movement of the nineteenth century; and Socialists are the only people to whom the preachers of morality have no right or occasion to cite the eighth commandment, "Thou shalt not steal!" That commandment is Socialism's flag. Only not as a commandment, but as a law of nature. Socialism does not order; it prophesies. It does not say: "Thou shalt not steal!" It says: "When all men have Liberty, thou wilt not steal."

Why, then, does my lady questioner shrink when she hears the word Socialism? I will tell her. Because a large number of people, who see the evils of usury and are desirous of destroying them, foolishly imagine they can do so by authority, and accordingly are trying to abolish privilege by centring all production and activity in the State to the destruction of competition and its blessings, to the degradation of the individual, and to the putrefaction of Society. They are well-meaning but misguided people, and their efforts are bound to prove abortive. Their influence is mischievous principally in this: that a large number of other people, who have not yet seen the evils of usury and do not know that Liberty will destroy them, but nevertheless earnestly believe in Liberty for Liberty's sake, are led to mistake this effort to make the State the be-all and end-all of society for the whole of Socialism and the only Socialism, and, rightly horrified at it, to hold it up as such to the deserved scorn of mankind. But the very reasonable and just criticisms of the individualists of this stripe upon State Socialism, when analyzed, are found to be directed, not against the Socialism, but against the State. So far Liberty is with them. But Liberty insists on Socialism, nevertheless,—on true Socialism, Anarchistic Socialism: the prevalence on earth of Liberty, Equality, and Solidarity. From that my lady questioner will never shrink.

 

 

ARMIES THAT OVERLAP.

[Liberty, March 8, 1890.]

Of late the Twentieth Century has been doing a good deal in the way of definition. Now, definition is very particular business, and it seems to me that it is not always performed with due care in the Twentieth Century office.

Take this, for instance : A Socialist is " one who believes that each industry should be co-ordinated for the mutual benefit of all concerned under a government by physical force."

It is true that writers of reputation have given definitions of Socialism not differing in any essential from the foregoing,—among others, General Walker. But it has been elaborately proven in these columns that General Walker is utterly at sea when he talks about either Socialism or Anarchism. As a matter of fact this definition is fundamentally faulty, and correctly defines only State Socialism.

An analogous definition in another sphere would be this: Religion is belief in the Messiahship of Jesus. Supposing this to be a correct definition of the Christian religion, none the less it is manifestly incorrect as a definition of religion itself. The fact that Christianity has overshadowed all other forms of religion in this part of the world gives it no right to a monopoly of the religious idea. Similarly, the fact that State Socialism during the last decade or two has overshadowed Other forms of Socialism gives it no right to a monopoly of the Socialistic idea.

Socialism, as such, implies neither liberty nor authority. The word itself implies 'nothing more than harmonious relationship. In fact, it is so broad a term that it is difficult of definition. I certainly lay claim to no special authority or competence in the matter. I simply maintain that the word Socialism having been applied for years, by common usage and consent, as a generic term to various schools of thought and opinion, those who try to define it are bound to seek the common element of all these schools and make it stand for that, and have no business to make it represent the specific nature of any one of them. The Twentieth Century definition will not stand this test at all.

Perhaps here is one that satisfies it : Socialism is the belief that progress is mainly to be effected by acting upon man through his environment rather than through man upon his environment.

I fancy that this will be criticised as too general, and I am inclined to accept the criticism. It manifestly includes all who have any title to be called Socialists, but possibly it does not exclude all who have no such title.

Let us narrow it a little: Socialism is the belief that the next important step in progress is a change in man's environment of an economic character that shall include the abolition of every privilege whereby the holder of wealth acquires an anti-social power to compel tribute.

I doubt not that this definition can be much improved, and suggestions looking to that end will be interesting; but it is at least an attempt to cover all the forms of protest against the existing usurious economic system. I have always considered myself a member of the great body of Socialists, and I object to being read out of it or defined out of it by General Walker, Mr. Pentecost, or anybody else, simply because I am not a follower of Karl Marx.

Take now another Twentieth Century definition,—that of Anarchism. I have not the number of the paper in which it was given, and cannot quote it exactly. But it certainly made belief in co-operation an essential of Anarchism. This is as erroneous as the definition of Socialism. Co-operation is no more an essential of Anarchism than force is of Socialism. The fact that the majority of Anarchists believe in co-operation is not what makes them Anarchists, just as the fact that the majority of Socialists believe in force is not what makes them Socialists. Socialism is neither for nor against liberty; Anarchism is for liberty, and neither for nor against anything else. Anarchy is the mother of co-operation,—yes, just as liberty is the mother of order; but, as a matter of definition, liberty is not order nor is Anarchism co-operation.

I define Anarchism as the belief in the greatest amount of liberty compatible with equality of liberty; or, in other words, as the belief in every liberty except the liberty to invade.

It will be observed that, according to the Twentieth Century definitions, Socialism excludes Anarchists, while, according to Liberty's definitions, a Socialist may or may not be an Anarchist, and an Anarchist may or may not be a Socialist. Relaxing scientific exactness, it may be said, briefly and broadly, that Socialism is a battle with usury and that Anarchism is a battle with authority. The two armies—Socialism and Anarchism—are neither coextensive nor exclusive; but they overlap. The right wing of one is the left wing of the other. The virtue and superiority of the Anarchistic Socialist—or Socialistic Anarchist, as he may prefer to call himself—lies in the fact that he fights in the wing that is common to both. Of course there is a sense in which every Anarchist may be said to be a Socialist virtually, inasmuch as usury rests on authority, and to destroy the latter is to destroy the former. But it scarcely seems proper to give the name Socialist to one who is such unconsciously, neither desiring, intending, nor knowing it.

 

 

SOCIALISM AND THE LEXICOGRAPHERS.

[Liberty, January 30, 1892.]

Liberty is informed that the Collectivists expect to prove their claim to a monopoly of the name Socialism by reference to the Century Dictionary as an indisputable authority. They will find that the Anarchistic Socialists are not to be stripped of one half of their title by the mere dictum of the last lexicographer. If the dictionary-makers were in substantial agreement in making Socialism exclusive of Anarchism, the demand that Anarchists should cease to call themselves Socialists might be made with some grace. But that there is no approach to unanimity among them on this point will be seen from the following definitions of Socialism taken from various cyclopædias and dictionaries, for the compilation of which Liberty is largely indebted to the industry of Comrade Trinkaus.

Stormonth's Dictionary of the English Language:

That system which has for its object the reconstruction of society on the basis of a community of property, and association instead of competition in every branch of human industry; communion.

Worcester:

The science of reconstructing society on entirely new bases, by substituting the principle of association for that of competition in every branch of human industry.

In the various forms under which society has existed, private property, individual industry and enterprise, and the right of marriage and the family have been recognized. Of late years several schemes of social arrangement have been proposed, in which one or all of these principles have been abandoned or modified. These schemes may be comprehended under the general term Socialism.

Allgemeine deutsche Real-Encyklopädie:

The body of teachings developed into a system which aim at removing the evils of existing society by the establishment of a social order based on a new distribution of wealth, labor, and industry, and thereby creating the lasting welfare of all, but especially of the classes without capital, within a general grand development of humanity.

Globe Encyclopedia:

A term which is practically synonymous with Communism, though, strictly speaking, there is distinction between the two words, which is explained in the article "Communism."

Communism means the negation of private property; it describes a society in which the land and instruments of production would be held as joint property and used for the common account, industry being regulated by a magistrate, and the produce being publicly divided in equal shares, or according to wants, or on some other principle of distributive justice.

Socialism does not necessarily involve the abolition of private property; it merely insists … that the land and instruments of production should be the property of the association or government.

Webster:

A theory or system of social reform which contemplates a complete reconstruction of society, with a more just and equitable distribution of labor.

Encyclopcædia Americana:

Socialism, in general, may be described as that movement which seeks by economic changes to destroy the existing inequalities of the world's social conditions.… Into all Socialistic schemes the idea of governmental change enters, with this radical difference, however: some Socialists rely upon the final abolition of existing forms of government and seek the establishment of a pure democracy, while others insist upon giving to government a paternal form, thus increasing its function instead of diminishing it.

Encyciopædia Britannica:

A new form of social organization, based on a fundamental change in the economic order of society. Socialists believe that the present economic order, in which industry is carried on by private competitive capital, must and ought to pass away, and that the normal economic order of the future will be one with collective means of production and associated labor working for the general good. [The "Britannica," in the same article, cataloguing the varieties of Socialism, includes in the list Anarchism, of which it calls Proudhon the acknowledged father.]

Meyer's Konversations-Lexicon:

Literally a system of social organization, commonly a designation for all those teachings and aspirations which contemplate a radical change of the existing social and economical order, in favor of a new order more in harmony with the requirements of the general welfare and the sense of justice than the existing order.

Sanders's Wörterbuch der deutscher Sprache:

A system according to which civil society is to be founded on the community of labor and the proportional distribution of the product.

Johnson's Universal Cyclopædia:

Socialism holds an intermediate position between pure Communism and simple co-operation. Unlike Communism, it does not advocate the absolute abolition of property, but aims simply at a more just and equitable distribution of it. Every man according to his capacity, and every capacity according to its work, is the great maxim laid down by Saint Simon, and to carry out this maxim is the great goal of all Socialistic movements.

Chambers's Encyclopædia:

The name given to a class of opinions opposed to the present organization of society, and which seeks to introduce a new distribution of property and labor, in which organized co-operation rather than competition should be the dominating principle.

American Cyclopædia:

The doctrine that society ought to be organized on more harmonious and equitable principles. Communism and co-operation are its principal divisions or varieties. Communism and Socialism are sometimes used as synonymous; but generally the former term refers to the plans of social reform based on or embracing the doctrine of a complete community of goods. Co-operation is understood to be that branch of Socialism which is engaged exclusively with theories of labor and methods of distributing profits, and which advocates a combination of many to gain advantages not to be realized by individuals. Viewed as a whole, Socialistic doctrines have dealt with everything that enters into the life of the individual, the family, the Church, or the State, whether industrially, morally, or spiritually.

Universal Cyclopædia:

A system which, in opposition to the competitive system at present prevailing, seeks to reorganize society on the basis, in the main, of a certain secularism in religion, of community of interest, and in co-operation in labor for the common good.

Blackie's Modern Cyclopædia:

The name applied to various theories of social organization, having for their common aim the abolition of that individual action on which modern societies depend, and the substitution of a regulated system of co-operative action. The word Socialism, which originated among the English Communists, and was assumed by them to designate their own doctrines, is now employed in a larger sense, not necessarily implying communism, or the entire abolition of private property, but applied to any system which requires that the land and the instruments of production shall be the property not of individuals, but of communities, or associations, with the view to an equitable distribution of the products.

Lalor's Cyclopædia of Political Science:

An analysis of this word may be reduced to this: In every human society, whether it advances or retrogrades, modifications more or less profound are always going on,—modifications which are more or less perceptible, and which, with or without the knowledge of such society, act upon its economy. Apparently such a society remains the same; but in reality it is daily affected by changes of which it becomes entirely conscious only after time has fixed them in the habits and customs of the people, and marked them by its sanction. This is the course of civilizations which are being perfected, or which are declining. The honor of a generation is to add something to the inheritance it has received, and to transmit it improved to the generation which comes after it. To employ what has been acquired as an instrument of new acquisition, to advance from the verified to the unknown,—such is the idea of progress as it presents itself to well-ordered minds. But such is not the idea of the Socialists. In their eyes the situation given is a false one, and the process too simple. Reforms in detail do not seem to them worthy of attention. They have plans of their own, the first condition of which is to make a tabula rasa of everything that exists, to cast aside existing laws, manners, customs, and all the guarantees of personal property. It seems to them that we have lived thus far under the empire of a misconception, which it is urgent should cease; our globe, according to them, is an anticipated hell, and our civilization a coarse outline only. What is the remedy? There is only one,—to try the treatment of which the Socialists hold the secret. That treatment varies according to the sect. There are Socialists with mild remedies and Socialists with violent remedies ; the only difficulty is in the choice. But, with all their differences, there is one point on which they agree,—the formal condemnation of human societies as they are at present constituted, and the necessity of erecting on the ruins an order of things more conformable to the instincts of man and to his destiny here below.

Century Dictionary:

Any theory or system of. social organization which would abolish, entirely or in great part, the individual effort and competition on which modern society rests, and substitute for it co-operative action, would introduce a more perfect and equal distribution of the products of labor, and would make land and capital, as the instruments and means of production, the joint possession of the members of the community.

Littre's Dictionary of the French Language:

A system which, subordinating political reforms, offers a plan of social reforms. Communism, Mutualism, Saint-Simonism, Fourierism, are Socialisms.

Poitevin:

A political doctrine tending to establish égalitaire association as the basis of government.

Dictionary of the French Academy:

The doctrine of those who desire to change the condition of society and reconstruct it on an entirely new plan.

Cassell & Co.'s Encyclopædic Dictionary (1887):

Scientific Socialism embraces :

(1) Collectivism: An ideal Socialistic state of society, in which the functions of the government will include the organization of all the industries of the country. In a Collectivist State every person would be a State official, and the State would be coextensive with the whole people.

(2) Anarchism (meaning mistrust of government and not abandonment of social order) would secure individual liberty against encroachment on the part of the State in the Socialistic commonwealth. They are divided into Mutualists, who hope to attain their ends by banks of exchange and free currency, and Communists, whose motto is, "From every man according to his capacity, to every man according to his needs."

From this interesting assortment of broad-gauge and narrow-gauge definitions the Anarchists can glean as much encouragement as the Collectivists. None of them are authoritative. The makers of dictionaries are dependent upon specialists for their definitions. A specialist's definition may be true or it may be erroneous. But its truth cannot be increased or its error diminished by its acceptance by the lexicographer. Each definition must stand on its own merits. With this remark as a preface, I offer once more the definition of Socialism which I printed in these columns nearly two years ago, and am willing to leave it to the reader whether it meets the requirements of a scientific definition more or less satisfactorily than the definitions in the dictionaries:

"Socialism is the belief that the next important step in progress is a change in man's environment of an economic character that shall include the abolition of every privilege whereby the holder of wealth acquires an anti-social power to compel tribute."

 

THE SIN OF HERBERT SPENCER.

[Liberty, May 17, 1884.]

Liberty welcomes and criticises in the same breath the series of papers by Herbert Spencer on "The New Toryism," "The Coming Slavery," "The Sins of Legislators," etc., now running in the Popular Science Monthly and the English Contemporary Review. They are very true; very important, and very misleading. They are true for the most part in what they say, and false and misleading in what they fail to say. Mr. Spencer convicts legislators of undeniable and enormous sins in meddling with and curtailing, and destroying the people's rights. Their sins are sins of commission. But Mr. Spencer's sin of omission is quite as grave. He is one of those persons who are making a wholesale onslaught on Socialism as the incarnation of the doctrine of State omnipotence carried to its highest power. And I am not sure that he is quite honest in this. I begin to be a little suspicious of him. It seems as if he had forgotten the teachings of his earlier writings, and had become a champion of the capitalistic class. It will be noticed that in these later articles, amid his multitudinous illustrations (of which he is as prodigal as ever) of the evils of legislation, he in every instance cites some law passed, ostensibly at least, to protect labor, alleviate suffering, or promote the people's welfare. He demonstrates beyond dispute the lamentable failure in this direction. But never once does he call attention to the far more deadly and deep-seated evils growing out of the innumerable laws creating privilege and sustaining monopoly. You must not protect the weak against the strong, he seems to say, but freely supply all the weapons needed by the strong to oppress the weak. He is greatly shocked that the rich should be directly taxed to support the poor, but that the poor should be indirectly taxed and bled to make the rich richer does not outrage his delicate sensibilities in the least. Poverty is increased by the poor laws, says Mr. Spencer. Granted; but what about the rich laws that caused and still cause the poverty to which the poor laws add? That is by far the more important question; yet Mr. Spencer tries to blink it out of sight.

A very acute criticism of Mr. Spencer's position has been made recently before the Manhattan Liberal Club by Stephen Pearl Andrews. He shows that Mr. Spencer is not the radical laissez faire philosopher which he pretends to be; that the only true believers in laissez faire are the Anarchists; that individualism must be supplemented by the doctrines of equity and courtesy; and that, while State Socialism is just as dangerous and tyrannical as Mr. Spencer pictures it, "there is a higher and nobler form of Socialism which is not only not slavery, but which is our only means of rescue from all sorts and degrees of slavery." All this is straight to the mark,—telling thrusts, which Mr. Spencer can never parry.

But the English philosopher is doing good, after all. His disciples are men of independent mind, more numerous every day, who accept his fundamental truths and carry them to their logical conclusions. A notable instance is Auberon Herbert, formerly a member of the House of Commons, but now retired from political life. While an enthusiastic adherent of the Spencerian philosophy, he is fast outstripping his master. In a recent essay entitled "A Politician in Sight of Haven," written, as the London Spectator says, with an unsurpassable charm of style, Mr. Herbert explodes the majority lie, ridicules physical force as a solution of social problems, strips government of every function except the police, and recognizes even that only as an evil of brief necessity, and in conclusion proposes the adoption of voluntary taxation with a calmness and confidence which must have taken Mr. Spencer's breath away. To be sure, Mr. Herbert is as violent as his master against Socialism, but in his case only because he honestly supposes that compulsory Socialism is the only Socialism,, and not at all from any sympathy with legal monopoly or capitalistic privilege in any form.

 

 

WILL PROFESSOR SUMNER CHOOSE?

[Liberty, November 14, 1885.]

Professor Sumner, who occupies the chair of political economy at Yale, addressed last Sunday the New Haven Equal Rights Debating Club. He told the State Socialists and Communists of that city much wholesome truth. But, as far as I can learn from the newspaper reports, which may of course have left out, as usual, the most important things that the speaker said, he made no discrimination in his criticisms. He appears to have entirely ignored the fact that the Anarchistic Socialists are the most unflinching champions in existence of his own pet principle of laissez faire. He branded Socialism as the summit of absurdity, utterly failing to note that one great school of Socialism says "Amen" whenever he scolds government for invading the individual, and only regrets that he doesn't scold it oftener and more uniformly.

Referring to Karl Marx's position that the employee is forced to give up a part of his product to the employer (which, by the way, was Proudhon's position before it was Marx's, and Josiah Warren's before it was Proudhon's), Professor Sumner asked why the employee does not, then, go to work for himself, and answered the question very truthfully by saying that it is because he has no capital. But he did not proceed to tell why he has no capital and how he can get some. Yet this is the vital point in dispute between Anarchism and privilege, between Socialism and so-called political economy. He did indeed recommend the time-dishonored virtues of industry and economy as a means of getting capital, but every observing person knows that the most industrious and economical persons are precisely the ones who have no capital and can get none. Industry and economy will begin to accumulate capital when idleness and extravagance lose their power to steal it, and not before.

Professor Sumner also told Herr Most and his followers that their proposition to have the employee get capital by forcible seizure is the most short-sighted economic measure possible to conceive of. Here again he is entirely wise and sound. Not that there may not be circumstances when such seizure would be advisable as a political, war, or terroristic measure calculated to induce political changes that will give freedom to natural economic processes; but as a directly economic measure it must always and inevitably be, not only futile, but reactionary. In opposition to all arbitrary distribution I stand with Professor Sumner with all my heart and mind. And so does every logical Anarchist.

But, if the employee cannot at present get capital by industry and economy, and if it will do him no good to get it by force, how is he to get it with benefit to himself and injury to no other? Why don't you tell us that, Professor Sumner? You did, to be sure, send a stray shot somewhere near the mark when, in answer to a question why shoemakers have no shoes, you said that, where such a condition of things prevailed, it was due to some evil work of the government,—said evil work being manifest at present in the currency and taxation. But what is the precise nature of the evils thus manifest? Tell me that definitely, and then I will tell you whether you are a consistent man.

I fancy that, if I should ask you what the great evil in our taxation is, you would answer that it is the protective tariff. Now, the protective tariff is an evil certainly, and an outrage; but, so far as it affects the power of the laborer to accumulate capital, it is a comparatively small one. In fact, its abolition, unaccompanied by the abolition of the banking monopoly, would take away from very large classes of laborers not only what little chance they now have of getting capital, but also their power of sustaining the lives of themselves and their families. The amount abstracted from labor's pockets by the protective tariff and by all other methods of getting govern- mental revenue is simply one of the smaller drains on industry. The amount of capital which it is thus prevented from getting will hardly be worth considering until the larger drains are stopped. As far as taxation goes, the great evils involved in it are to be found, not in the material damage done to labor by a loss of earnings, but in the assumption of the right to take men's property without their consent, and in the use of this property to pay the salaries of the officials through whom, and the expenses of the machine through which, labor is oppressed and ground down. Are you heroic enough, Professor Sumner, to adopt this application of laissez faire? I summon you to it under penalty of conviction of an infidelity to logic which ought to oust you from your position as a teacher of youth.

If taxation, then (leaving out the enormous mischief that it does as an instrument of tyranny), is only one of the minor methods of keeping capital from labor, what evil is there in the currency that constitutes the major method? Your answer to this question. Professor Sumner, will again test your consistency. But I am not so sure what it will be in this case as I was in the other. If you answer it as most of your fellow-professors would, you will say that the great evil in the currency is the robbery of labor through a dishonest silver dollar. But this is a greater bugbear than the protective tariff. The silver dollar is just as honest and just as dishonest as the gold dollar, and neither of them is dishonest or a robber of labor except so far as it is a monopoly dollar. Both, however being monopoly dollars, and all our other dollars being monopoly dollars, labor is being robbed by them all to an extent perfectly appalling. And right here is to be found the real reason why labor cannot get capital. It is because its wages are kept low and its credit rendered next to valueless by a financial system that makes the issue of currency a monopoly and a privilege, the result of which is the maintenance of interest, rent, and profits at rates ruinous to labor and destructive to business. And the only way that labor can ever get capital is by striking down this monopoly and making the issue of money as free as the manufacture of shoes. To demonetize silver or gold will not help labor; what labor needs is the monetization of all marketable wealth. Or, at least, the opportunity of such monetization. This can only be secured by absolutely free competition in banking. Again I ask you, Professor Sumner, does your anxiety lest the individual be interfered with cover the field of finance? Are you willing that the individual shall be "let alone" in the exercise of his right to make his own money and offer it in open market to be taken by those who choose? To this test I send you a second summons under the same penalty that I have already hung over your head in case you fail to respond to the first. The columns of Liberty are open for your answer.

Before you make it, let me urge you to consistency. The battle between free trade and protection is simply one phase of the battle between Anarchism and State Socialism. To be a consistent free trader is to be an Anarchist; to be a consistent protectionist is to be a State Socialist. You are assailing that form of State Socialism known as protection with a vigor equalled by no other man, but you are rendering your blows of little effect by maintaining, or encouraging the belief that you maintain, those forms of State Socialism known as compulsory taxation and the banking monopoly. You assail Marx and Most mercilessly, but fail to protest against the most dangerous manifestations of their philosophy. Why pursue this confusing course? In reason's name, be one thing or the other! Cease your indiscriminate railing at Socialism, for to be consistent you must be Socialist yourself, either of the Anarchistic or the governmental sort: either be a State Socialist and denounce liberty everywhere and always, or be an Anarchist and denounce authority everywhere and always; else you must consent to be taken for what you will appear to be,—an impotent hybrid.

 

AFTER "FREIHEIT," "DER SOZIALIST."

[Liberty, April 28, 1888.]

The first criticism upon Libertas[1] came from the Communists by the pen of Herr Most. That I have answered, and Herr Most promises a rejoinder in Freiheit. Meanwhile there comes an attack from another quarter,—from the camp of the State Socialists. In their official organ, Der Sozialist, one of its regular writers, J. G., devotes two columns to comments upon my paper, "State Socialism and Anarchism." Under the heading "Consistent Anarchists" he first institutes a contrast between the Anarchists and the Communists who call themselves Anarchists, which is complimentary to the former's consistency, logic, and frankness, and then proceeds to demolish the logical Anarchists by charges of absurdity, nonsense, and ignorance, ringing about all the changes on these substantives and their kindred adjectives that the rich German vocabulary will allow. Now, I submit that, if the Anarchists are such ignoramuses, they do not deserve two columns of attention in Der Sozialist; on the other hand, if they merit a two-column examination, they merit it in the form of argument instead of contemptuous assertions coupled with a reference to Marx's works which reminds one very much of the way in which Henry George refers his State Socialistic critics to "Progress and Poverty." To tell the Anarchists that they do not know the meaning of the terms value, price, product, and capital, that economic conceptions find no lodgment in their brains, and that their statements of the position of the State Socialists are misrepresentations, is not to answer them. An answer involves analysis and comparison. To answer an argument is to separate it into its parts, to show the inconsistency between them, and the inconsistency between some or all of them and already established truths. But in J. G.'s article there is nothing of this, or next to nothing.

The nearest approach to a tangible criticism that I can find is the statement that I attribute to Marx a conception of the State entirely foreign to the sense in which he used the term; that he did not believe in the old patriarchal and absolute State, but looked upon State and society as one. Yes, he regarded them as one in the sense that the lamb and the lion are one after the lion has eaten the lamb. Marx's unity of State and society resembles the unity of husband and wife in the eyes of the law. Husband and wife are one, and that one is the husband; so, in Marx's view. State and society are one, but that one is the State. If Marx had made the State and society one and that one society, the Anarchists would have little or no quarrel with him. For to the Anarchists society simply means the sum total of those relations between individuals which grow up through natural processes unimpeded by external, constituted, authoritative power. That this is not what Marx meant by the State is evident from the fact that his plan involved the establishment and maintenance of Socialism—that is, the seizure of capital and its public administration—by authoritative power, no less authoritative because democratic instead of patriarchal. It is this dependence of Marx's system upon authority that I, insist upon in my paper, and if I misrepresent him in this I do so in common with all the State Socialistic journals and all the State Socialistic platforms. But it is no misrepresentation; otherwise, what is the significance of the sneers at individual sovereignty which J. G., a follower of Marx, indulges in near the end of his article? Has individual sovereignty any alternative but authority? If it has, what is it? If it has not, and if Marx and his followers are opposed to it, then they are necessarily champions of authority.

But we will glance atone more of J. G.'s "answers." This individual sovereignty that you claim, he says, is what we already have, and is the cause of all our woe. Again assertion, without analysis or comparison, and put forward in total neglect of my argument. I started out with the proposition that what we already have is a mixture of individual sovereignty and authority, the former prevailing in some directions, the latter in others; and I argued that the cause of all our woe was not the individual sovereignty, but the authority. This I showed by specifying the most important barriers which authority had erected to prevent the free play of natural economic processes, and describing how these processes would abolish all forms of usury—that is, substantially all our woe—if these barriers should be removed. Is this argument met by argument? Not a bit of it. Humph! says J. G., that is nothing but "Proudhonism chewed over," and Marx disposed of that long ago. To which I might reply that the contents of Der Sozialist are nothing but "Marxism chewed over," and Proudhon disposed of that long ago. When I can see that this style of reply is effective in settling controversy, I will resort to it, Till then I prefer to see it monopolized by the State Socialists. This form of monopoly Anarchists would sooner permit than destroy.

 

 

STATE SOCIALISM AND LIBERTY.

[Liberty, February 21, 1891.]

To the Editor of Liberty:

An Anarchist paper defines an Individualist to be "one who believes in the principle of recognizing the right of every non-aggressive individual to the full control of his person and property." Is this the meaning of the word as you understand it? If so, and if it is correct. Individualism and Socialism are reconcilable, since the aim of the latter is the obtainment of the condition sought by the former. Though the methods of Socialists may conflict in effect with the principle of Individualism, they accord with it fundamentally, do they not? From all the works I can find on modern Socialism, or Nationalism, I understand its object to be the protection of each individual in the privilege of enjoying his rights,—i.e., to form a condition whereby equal freedom may be enjoyed, by forbidding the invasion, and all acts of men, which affect to a disadvantage, directly or indirectly, the person or property of any non-aggressive individual. The means proposed by Socialists may fail in effect to form such a condition, but still a Socialist may be an Individualist. I understand how the nationalization of industries may stop the invasion of the greedy monopolists of interest, unfair profits, and rents, but I have never learned from Liberty or any other champion of Anarchism how the same could invade the liberty of any individual but the aggressive and the tyrannical. The protection of the weak and innocent against the strong and avaricious necessarily involves compulsion, whether by the will of the people as typified by a system of democratic government or by their will as idealized by Anarchists. A defence of a crime involves compulsion of some sort, whether the force of a superstitious law or the power of popular Anarchy. How, then, does Anarchism conflict with Socialism or Individualism as above defined? Yours,

Willis Hudspeth.

Atlantic, Iowa, February 11, 1891.

The definition offered of Individualism might not be accepted by all Individualists, but it will do very well as a definition of Anarchism. When my correspondent speaks of Socialism I understand him to mean State Socialism and Nationalism, and not that Anarchistic Socialism which Liberty represents. I shall answer him on this supposition. He wishes to know, then, how State Socialism and Nationalism would restrict the non-aggressive individual in the full control of his person and property. In a thousand and one ways. I will tell him one, nd leave him to find but the thousand. The principal plank in the platform of State Socialism and Nationalism is the confiscation of all capital by the State. What becomes, in that case, of the property of any individual, whether he be aggressive or non-aggressive? What becomes also of private industry? Evidently it is totally destroyed. What becomes then of the personal liberty of those non-aggressive individuals who are thus prevented from carrying on business for themselves or from assuming relations between themselves as employer and employee if they prefer, and who are obliged to become employees of the State against their will ? State Socialism and Nationalism mean the utter destruction of human liberty and private property.

 

 

ON PICKET DUTY.

In a series of articles in the London Commonweal, Dr. Edward Aveling, newly-fledged disciple of Karl Marx, discusses economic questions. He concludes each article with what he calls "a concise definition of each of the terms mentioned." These two definitions stand side by side. "Natural object—that on which human labor has not been expended; Product—a natural object on which human labor has been expended." A product, then, is something on which human labor has not been expended on which human labor has been expended. Curious animal, a product! No wonder the laborer is unable to hold on to it. More slippery than a greased pig, I should imagine. But this is a "scientific" definition, and I suppose it must be true. For its author, Dr. Aveling, is a scientist, and the subject of his articles is "Scientific Socialism," which he champions against us loose-thinking Anarchists.—Liberty, July 18, 1885.

 

At his Faneuil Hall meeting Dr. Aveling said: "With the abolition of private property in land, with the abolition of private property in raw material, with the abolition of private property in machinery, will come the abolition of private property in human lives." Never was truer word spoken. For with State property in land, with State property in raw material, with State property in machinery, would come State property in human lives. Such is the object of Dr. Aveling's State Socialism,—the obliteration of the individual life. Property in human lives ought to be as "private" as possible; each individual (forgive the tautology) should own his own. But under State Socialism the ownership of each individual's life would be virtually vested in the body politic. Those who hold the property in the means of living will inevitably hold the property in life itself.—Liberty, October 30, 1886.

 

In a late number of Liberty H. M. Hyndman was rebuked for confounding the teachings of Liberty with those of Most. Now his paper, the London Justice, in commenting upon a recent article in Liberty, says: "Evidently the Liberty and Property Defence League, the Manchester school of economists, and the Anarchists are one and the same." This indicates advancing intelligence. Most is much nearer to Hyndman than to Liberty, and Anarchism is much nearer to the Manchester men than to Most. In principle, that is. Liberty's aim—universal happiness—is that of all Socialists, in contrast with that of the Manchester men—luxury fed by misery. But its principle—individual sovereignty—is that of the Manchester men, in contrast with that of the Socialists—individual subordination. But individual sovereignty, when logically carried out, leads, not to luxury fed by misery, but to comfort for all industrious persons and death for all idle ones.—Liberty, November 20, 1886.

 

Every day I meet some new man who tells me that Anarchy is the ultimate, but that it is to be reached through State Socialism. The State Socialists are shrewd enough to encourage this folly, though they laugh in their sleeve as they do so. It is astonishing, therefore, that the usually cunning Powderly should be so honest and imprudent as to permit the utterance of the real truth about this matter in the editorial columns of the Journal of the Knights of Labor. "Oscar Wilde declares that Socialism will simply lead to individualism. That is like saying that the way from St. Louis to New York is through San Francisco, or that the sure way to whitewash a wall is to paint it black. The man who says that Socialism will fail and then the people will try individualism—i.e., Anarchy—may be mistaken; the man who thinks they are one and the same thing is simply a fool."—Liberty, May 16, 1891.


  1. A German edition of Liberty that was published for a time under the Latin title, Libertas.