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INSTEAD OF A BOOK.

The undoubted tendency of an adoption of Anarchy would be, however, to minimize the possibility of unsocial conduct of the character under discussion, if not to abolish it altogether. Fraternally yours,

William Bailie.

 

 

CHILDREN UNDER ANARCHY.

[Liberty, September 3, 1892.]

Nearly the whole of this issue of Liberty is devoted to the important question of the status of the child under Anarchy. The long article by Clara Dixon Davidson has been in my desk, unopened, for several months. On examining it the other day, I was surprised and delighted to find that a woman had written such a bold, unprejudiced, unsentimental, and altogether rational essay on a subject which women are especially prone to treat emotionally. I am even shamed a little by the unhesitating way in which she eliminates from the problem the fancied right of the child to life. My own difficulties, I fear, have been largely due to a lingering trace of this superstition. The fact is that the child, like the adult, has no right to life at all. Under equal freedom, as it develops individuality and independence, it is entitled to immunity from assault or invasion, and that is all. If the parent neglects to support it, he does not thereby oblige any one else to support it. If others give it support, they do so voluntarily, as they might give support to a neglected animal; there is no more obligation in the one case than in the other.

I also welcome as important Comrade Bailie's contribution to the discussion. In one view the question of the status of the child under Anarchy is a trivial one,—trivial because the bugbears that surround it are hypothetical monsters, and because such ugly realities as do actually confront it are put to rout by the new social conditions which Anarchy induces. Even at present comparatively few parents are disposed to abuse or neglect their children, and in the absence of poverty and false notions of virtue their number will be infinitesimal and may be safely neglected. The question is one that vanishes as we approach it.

The chief value of its discussion is found in the light which it throws on the matter of equal freedom. Hence I am glad that it was brought forward by my friend the school-teacher, whose questions I answered in No. 232, and who now rejoins with the following letter: