"TO-DAY'S" VIEW OF INTEREST.
[Liberty, July 26, 1890.]
When I saw the word "Interest" at the top of an article in a recent issue of To-day, I said to myself: This looks promising; either the editor of To-day is about to remove the basis (so far as his paper is concerned) of Mr. Yarros's vigorous criticism upon journals of its class that they fail of influence because they neglect to show that individualism will redress economic grievances, or else he has discovered some vital flaw in the Anarchist economics and is about to save us further waste of energy by showing that economic liberty will not produce the results we predict from it. Fancy my disappointment when, on reading the article, I found it made up, seven eighths, of facts and historical remarks which would be more-interesting if less venerable, but which, though pertinent as throwing light upon the conditions under which interest arose, prevailed, and fluctuated, have not the remotest bearing upon the arguments of those who dispute the viability of interest to-day; one-sixteenth, of the assertion of an economic truism, equally without significance in connection with those arguments; and, one-sixteenth, of the assertion of an economic error, which assertion betrays no familiarity with those arguments (although it is within my knowledge that the editor of To-day possesses such familiarity in a considerable degree), and which error can be sufficiently refuted by stating it in a slightly different form.
The irrelevant facts I ignore. I do not care a copper whether interest was twelve per cent, in Aristotle's time or eighteen in Solon's; whether Catholicism and Mohammedanism were united in their aversion to it; whether Jew or Christian has been the greater usurer. The modern opponents of interest are perfectly willing to consider facts tending to refute their position, but no facts can have such a tendency unless they belong to one of two classes: first, facts showing that interest has generally (not sporadically) existed in a community in whose economy money was as important a factor as it is with us to-day and in whose laws there was no restriction upon its issue; or, second, facts showing that interest is sustained by causes that would still be effectively, invincibly operative after the abolition of the banking monopoly. I do not find any such facts among those cited by To-day. The
array is formidable in appearance only. Possession of encyclo-