no more,—no thieving at all, neither by landlords, usurers, lawyers, tax-collectors, nor even by pick-pockets and burglars when the present contrasts of wealth vanish.
Your property laws are just as stupid as any other laws. They defeat their own ends.
In Mr. Herbert's rejoinder the case against Anarchism is exceptionally well put, and for this reason among others I give it in full:
It is not enough for our correspondent, Mr. Tarn, to say that Anarchy does away with scramble; we want to know "the how" and "the why." Our contention is that under the law of the free market everybody knows, first, who owns a particular piece of property, and, secondly, the conditions under which property can be acquired. All is clear and definite, and that clearness and definiteness are worth far more to the human race in the long run than any temporary advantage to be gained by forcible interferings with distribution. On the other hand, we say that under Anarchy nobody would know to whom a piece of property belonged, and nobody would understand how it was to be transferred from A to B. Take any instance you like. Anarchists generally define property by use and possession; that is, whoever uses and possesses is to be considered owner. John Robins possesses a plot of three acres, and manages to feed two cows on it. John Smith possesses neither land nor cow. He comes to John Robins and says: "You are not really using and possessing these three acres; I shall take half of them." Who on earth is to judge between these men? Who is to say whether John Robins is really possessing or not? Who is going to say to John Smith that he shall not get a bit of land by "scramble" from John Robins, seeing that under the Anarchist system that was the very way in which John Robins himself got these three acres from the big landowner, who, as he said at the time, was not truly owning, because he was not possessing.
Mr. Tarn finds fault with us for saying that Anarchy, or no fixed standard of acquiring or owning, must lead either to rigid crystalline custom or to scramble. But is that not almost absolutely certain? At first it must be scramble. Everybody who could would take or keep on the plea of possession. We presume even a weekly tenant could claim under the same plea. But even when the first great scramble was over, the smaller scrambles would continue,—the innumerable adjustments between John Robins and John Smith having to be perpetually made. But after a certain time the race would tire of scramble, as it always has done, and then what would happen? Why, necessarily, that a community would silently frame for itself some law or custom that would decide all these disputed cases. They would say that no man should hold more than two acres; or that no man should be disturbed after so many years' possession; or they would fix some other standard, which would tend to become rigid and crystalline, and be very difficult to alter, just because there was no machinery for altering it.
We say that our friends the Anarchists—with whom, when they are not on the side of violence, we have much in common—must make their position clear and definite about property. They are as much opposed as we are to State-regulated property; they are as much in favor of individualistic property as we are; but they will not pay the price that has to be paidfor individualistic property, and which alone can make it possible. When