Page:Instead of a Book, Tucker.djvu/162

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

importance of the child's physical integrity as compared with that of the parent who mutilates himself, but because the child is potentially an individual sovereign. The man who mutilates himself does not impair equal freedom in the slightest, but the parent who mutilates his child assaults a being which, though still limited in its freedom by its dependence, is daily growing into an independence which will establish its freedom on an equality with that of others. In this doubtful stage the advisability of interference is to be decided by necessity, since, so far as we can see at present, it cannot be decided by principle. It is necessary to stop the parent from cutting off his child's finger, because the danger is immediate and the evil certain and irremediable. It is not necessary to prescribe the conditions of virtue with which a parent shall surround his child, because the danger is remote (it being possible perhaps in time to induce the parent to change his course), the evil is uncertain (the child often proving sufficiently strong in character to rise above its conditions), and the results are not necessarily permanent (as later conditions may largely, if not entirely, counteract them). In the former case, physical force must be met with physical force. In the latter case, it is safer and better to meet moral (or immoral) force with moral force. I am afraid that my friend is not yet a sufficiently good Anarchist to appreciate the full significance of Proudhon's declaration that Liberty is the Mother of Order, and the importance of securing education through liberty wherever practicable instead of through compulsion.

I do not think that my friend's formulas are capable of scientific treatment. When he tells me that "every individual has a right to and must expect the results of his own nature," he lays down a proposition too vague for the purposes of science. I do not know what the words mean, and in any case I deny the alleged right. An individual has a right to the results of his own nature if he can get them; otherwise, not. Apart from this right of might, no individual has a right to anything, except as he creates his right by contract with his neighbor.




[Liberty, April 28, 1888.]

Have I made a mistake in my Anarchism, or has the editor of Liberty

himself tripped? At any rate, I must challenge the Anarchism of one