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INSTEAD OF A BOOK. THE INDIVIDUAL, SOCIETY, AND THE STATE.
 

THE MORAL OF MR. DONISTHORPE'S WOES.

[Liberty, January 25, 1890.]

The reader of Mr. Donisthorpe's article in this issue on "The Woes of an Anarchist" may rise from its perusal with a feeling of confusion equal to that manifested by the author, but at least he will say to himself that for genuine humor he has seldom read anything that equals it. For myself I have read it twice in manuscript and twice in proof, and still wish that I might prolong my life by the laughter that four more readings would be sure to excite. Mr. Donisthorpe ought to write a novel. But when he asks Liberty to comment on his woes and dissipate the fog he condenses around himself, I am at a loss to know how to answer him. For what is the moral of this article, in which a day's events are made to tell with equal vigor, now against State Socialism, now against capitalism, now against Anarchism, and now against Individualism? Simply this,—that in the mess in which we find ourselves, and perhaps in any state of things, all social theories involve their difficulties and disadvantages, and that there are some troubles from which mankind can never escape. Well, the Anarchists, despite the fact that Henry George calls them optimists, are pessimistic enough to accept this moral fully. They never have claimed that liberty will bring perfection; they simply say that its results are vastly preferable to those that follow authority. Under liberty Mr. Donisthorpe may have to listen for some minutes every day to the barrel-organ (though I really think that it will never lodge him in the mad-house), but at least he will have the privilege of going to the music-hall in the evening; whereas, under authority, even in its most honest and consistent form, he will get rid of the barrel-organ only at the expense of being deprived of the music-hall, and, in its less honest, less consistent, and more probable form, he may lose the music-hall at the same time that the is forced to endure the barrel-organ. As a choice of blessings, liberty is the greater; as a choice of evils, liberty is the smaller. Then liberty always, say the Anarchists. No use of force, except against the invader; and in those cases where it is difficult to tell whether the alleged offender is an invader or not, still no use of force except where the necessity of immediate solution is so imperative that we must use it to save ourselves. And in these few cases where we must use it, let us do so frankly

and squarely, acknowledging it as a matter of necessity, without