INSTEAD OF A BOOK.
after, perhaps never, comes the possibility of rational justification of the sentiment.
Now, it is a matter of observation that liberty interpreted to include non-resistance meets with quick welcome in many minds that are looking for better things, while liberty interpreted to mean our own liberty to compel others is to the same minds an unintelligible formula.
And the reason of it would seem to be this,—that while the right to defence, and, if you will, to offence too, is equal to the power and the desire to defend or to offend, it has no more to do with the actions proper to man in a social state than the right of cannibalism, which undoubtedly also exists, when, having no other food, a man must feed on his companion or die himself. Saving that in this case, with the exercise of this right to eat him, a social condition with him no longer exists; it is a revulsion to a state of warfare.
Who is to judge of where the right to equal liberty is infringed? If each one is judge, why may not the pickpocket say, "You have right to imprison me for picking your pocket, I claim that as my natural liberty and I willingly grant you the liberty of picking mine in return—if you can. The right to pick pockets is co-extensive with the power to pick pockets, and you are committing an aggression in imprisoning me, rather than I in picking your packet."
There is a difference between resistance and retaliation, and between resistance and anticipatory violence. Resistance may consist in barring a door, or raising a wall against an armed attack, or on behalf of others we may resist by interposing our own person to receive the attack. But when the attack is done and past, when the violence is over, when the murder perhaps is committed, by what right of resistance do we assume to retaliate in cold blood?
Do we assume that a man who has killed once will kill again? Such an assumption is wholly unjustifiable.
Or, if it be admitted that such an one is more likely to kill a second time, do we kill him on a possibility that lies wholly in the future?
Shall we say that he places himself outside of society, declares war upon it, and society in return makes warfare upon him and exterminates him? Who then is to judge of all the rest of us whether we are sufficiently socialized to be permitted to exist? If each is to retaliate where he conceives himself attacked, we remain in our present state of warfare.
Furthermore, if I see one coming in a threatening attitude, with drawn revolver, shall I shoot first and kill him if I can?
Doubtless I may, and take the chances of his killing me; but, in doing so, I cease to admit that he is an associate; I join battle with him; I accept the fortune of war.
Briefly, the argument may be expressed thus: In a social state no individual can be regarded as outside the pale of society for any cause. Society must embrace all.
He that takes pleasure in aggression is either undeveloped or a reversion to a former type, or his apparent aggression is really an attempt to resist what he conceives to be an injury to himself.
In any of these cases counter-violence is wrong,—namely, it does not accomplish its purpose.
If the aggressor thinks he is injured, the reasonable course is to explain and apologize, even though no injury was meant.
If the aggression be prompted by the mere pleasure of aggression, the delight in violence of a past type, the reasonable course is to regardthe aggressor as a diseased man, on a par with a lunatic, or delirium tre-