[Liberty, July 16, 1887.]
From the raw recruit in the Salvation Army up to the Theoretical Anarchist, none are lacking in "methods" whereby man may be saved. The religious recruit who, perhaps, has just heard of Jesus is filled with sublime faith. In his exuberant optimism earth and heaven seem about to unite, peace is to reign everywhere, and happiness fill every soul. But one thing is lacking,—faith. So he sets out, like Bunyan's Christian, steadfast in purpose to convince the world that the vade mecum of temporal and eternal success is but this one thing: Think as I do, and you will be saved! But, alas! men have listened to the old song for centuries, and heaven has not descended nor earth ascended to supernal bliss. Here, as elsewhere, difference of views is a constant factor. What Proudhon calls "the force of events " has led to wider and wider differentiation of character, and consequently of methods. We will leave the religionist to his theoretical method, and sadly smile as we pass by.
The statesman—from the public minister to the itinerant demagogue—also has a method, a "Morrison's Pill" for all social ills. Having outgrown the delusion of the Fifth Monarchy men, who sought to intersect the parallel lines of religion and politics, keeping one eye on earth and the other wildly staring at the hollow vault that but re-echoed back their loud appeals, the statesman sees but one method,—the ballot! Eureka! let workmen adopt political methods for economic ills, put We, Us & Co. in office, and the problem is solved! But again the constant factor appears; in spite of harangues, preaching, and able editors, men will not think alike. Here and there are those who assert that this mingling of political and economic methods is but a repetition of the former folly.
The Prohibitionists see the world redeemed when all men abjure rum or are unable to obtain it. If they perversely refuse to be virtuous, it is proposed to inject virtue into them. The Socialists of the "orthodox" stripe have been persistent, in season and out of season, in demonstrating to the world that, when their "propaganda" has brought all men to one way of thinking, incompetency will be able to select competency, or capacity, to run the social machine. The Co-operator also turns his little "crank," and, in haste to realize results, gathers himself together and starts a society in the South or West, where he proposes to socialize "Millerism" within the State. But, again, to all these schemes the constant factor remains that the Apostle is only an apostle to the few.
And last, though not least, appears the Theoretical Anarchist, who, while abjuring "systems," still as vociferously asserts the validity of his unpatented "method," whereby the Millennium is to be inaugurated. True, it has failed hitherto,—in Ireland, for instance; but there the "method," not "system," when it came to the test, found that existing political methods had far greater attractions. Strange! but "'twas ever thus," and so it will be again while the State remains. Let us listen and see if we do not catch the old, time-worn cadence, so long familiar to our ears:
"Had the people realized the power they were exercising, and understood the economic situation, they would not have resumed the payment of rent at Parnell's bidding, and to-day they might have been free."