instance of a considerable country in which poverty and want can be fairly attributed to the pressure of an increasing population." You will notice how he qualifies "country" by the word "considerable." And in a foot-note he explains the meaning of the words "considerable country," by stating that there may be small, such as Pitcairn's, which may seem to offer examples in point. Now, if the "fundamental truth to be grasped and never let go" is, that laws applicable to a small and crude society hold equally "in its most highly developed forms," why is not the law of the pressure of population against subsistence which reigns in Pitcairn's and other small islands applicable likewise to societies everywhere? And if not, why propound such a theory?
This same style of argument occurs likewise among socialistic and anarchistic writers, and is one of the props necessary to sustain their conclusions. For example, the socialist witnessing that, with the formation of trusts, the cheapening and facilitating of production goes on wherever the combination and co-operation of capital takes place, argues that production will reach its limit of perfection by the appropriation of all capital and of all the means of production by the state—an error disproved every day by the inability of the people collectively, through their representatives, to even pave their own streets, manufacture an average quality of gas, or supply themselves with decent water.
The anarchists, observing that many laws work injustice and wrong to thousands, and that great advantages have been brought about by the repeal of them, reason that the summit of human happiness will be attained by the repeal of all laws and the abolition of all government, strangely forgetting that mankind have found both government and law essential to the organization and stability of society, forgetting also that well-merited punishment is very generally meted out to criminals by law. It does not follow that, because within certain limits the benefits of a given system are found to vary in a direct ratio with its extent of application, this same ratio will be continued ad infinitum. "Trees do not grow up to the skies."
The man who gradually reduced his donkey's daily rations in hopes of eventually accustoming him to do without food, succeeded in accomplishing his purpose. But the donkey died. May I ask my anarchist friends if they have contemplated under their scheme the possibility of the death of their donkey-society?
State socialism and philosophical anarchism are generally supposed to be antipodal to each other, the one achieving its results by the welding of men into a rigid whole, the other dividing society into its units.
- Ruskin, Government and Co-operation, p. 64.