Miscellaneous Articles from the Pages of Liberty
No particular topic, no particular order.
Tucker's comments on the Irish Situation in 1881, from the October 29, 1881 issue of Liberty.
Dr. Gertrude Kelly's speech on the topic of State Aid to Science.
Clara Dixon Davidson's essay on the Relations Between Parents and Children.
A symposium on the Age of Consent Laws by Lillian Harman.
David A. Andrade's lecture What is Anarchy?
Index for Benjamin R. Tucker http://www.dis.org/daver/anarchism/tucker/index.html
- Anarchist Library http://www.dis.org/daver/anarchism/index.html
THE IRISH SITUATION IN 1881
[Liberty, October 29, 1881]
Ireland's chief danger: the liability of her people – besotted with superstition; trampled on by tyranny; ground into the dust beneath the weight of two despotisms, one religious, the other political; victims, on the one hand, of as cruel a Church and, on the other, of as heartless a State as have ever blackened with ignorance or reddened with blood the records of civilized nations – to forget the wise advice of their cooler leaders, give full vent to the passions which their oppressors are aiming to foment, and rush headlong and blindly into riotous and ruinous revolution.
Ireland's true order: the wonderful Land League, the nearest approach, on a large scale, to perfect Anarchistic organization that the world has yet seen. An immense number of local groups, scattered over large sections of two continents separated by three thousand miles of ocean; each group autonomous, each free; each composed of varying numbers of individuals of all ages, sexes, races, equally autonomous and free; each inspired by a common, central purpose; each supported entirely by voluntary contributions; each obeying its own judgment; each guided in the formation of its judgment and the choice of its conduct by the advice of a central council of picked men, having no power to enforce its orders except that inherent in the convincing logic of the reasons on which the orders are based; coördinated and federated, with a minimum of machinery and without sacrifice of spontaneity, into a vast working unit, whose unparalleled power makes tyrants tremble and armies of no avail.
Ireland's shortest road to success: no payment of rent now or hereafter; no payment of compulsory taxes now or hereafter; utter disregard of the British parliament and its so-called laws; entire abstention from the polls henceforth; rigorous but non-invasive "boycotting" of deserters, cowards, traitors and oppressors; vigorous, intelligent, fearless prosecution of the land agitation by voice and pen; passive but stubborn resistance to every offensive act of police or military; and, above all, universal readiness to go to prison, and promptness in filling the places made vacant by those who may be sent to prison. Open revolution, terrorism, and the policy outlined above, which is Liberty, are the three courses from which Ireland now must choose one. Open revolution on the battle-field means sure defeat and another century of misery and oppression; terrorism, though preferable to revolution, means years of demoralizing intrigue, bloody plot, base passion, and terrible revenges, – in short, all the horrors of a long-continued national vendetta, with a doubtful issue at the end; Liberty means certain, unhalting, and comparatively bloodless victory, the dawn of the sun of justice, and perpetual peace and justice for a hitherto blighted land.
XXIII. State Aid to Science
by Gertrude Kelly
As a medical doctor in the late 1800s, Gertrude Kelly saw her profession become gradually locked into the state through licensing laws, state aid, and regulation of medical schools. As an individualist anarchist contributing to Benjamin Tucker's Liberty (1881-1908), she expressed her opposition to this trend by arguing that the state smothers the very essence of science - the love of knowledge and innovation. Kelly was equally aware of the role state involvement played in restricting the options of the worker, particularly of the immigrant. Perhaps her own experiences as an Irish immigrant had made her sensitive to the prejudice and suspicion with which aliens were viewed by many native Americans. Her articles in Liberty are united by the common themes of opposition to the state, concern for the laborer, and a demand for women's rights. The following essay, originally read before the Alumnae Association of the Woman's Medical College of the New York Infirmary, June 1, 1887, is indicative of the high quality of content and the clarity of style Gertrude Kelly achieved in her work.
If what I say to you today should seem to you out of place, you must blame the chairman of your executive committee and not me; for, when she asked me to contribute something for this meeting, she assured me that anything which affected the relation of medical women to society, anything which related to the advancement of science, was a proper subject of discussion at the annual meeting of the Alumnae Association.
Herbert Spencer closes the second volume of his "Principles of Sociology" with these words:
The acceptance which guides conduct will always be of such theories, no matter how logically indefensible, as are consistent with the average modes of action, public and private. All that can be done, by diffusing a doctrine much in advance of the time, is to facilitate the action of forces tending to cause advance. The forces themselves can be but in small degrees increased, but something may be done by preventing misdirection of them. Of the sentiment at any time enlisted on behalf of a higher social state there is always some (and at the present time a great deal) which, having the broad, vague form of sympathy with the masses, spends itself in efforts for their relief by multiplication of political agencies of one or other kind. Led by the hope of immediate beneficial results, those swayed by this sympathy are unconscious that they are helping further to elaborate a social organization at variance with that required for a higher form of social life, and are by so doing increasing the obstacles to attainment of that higher form. On a portion of such the foregoing chapters may have some effect by leading them to consider whether the arrangements they are advocating involve increase of that public regulation characterizing the militant type, or whether they tend to produce that greater individuality and more extended voluntary cooperation characterizing the industrial type. To deter here and there one from doing mischief by imprudent zeal is the chief proximate effect to be hoped for.
In these times of ours, when all classes in society, from the Bowery Socialists to the highest professors of science, seem to vie with one another in demanding State interference, State protection, and State regulation, when the ideal State to the workingman is that proposed by the authoritarian Marx, or the scarcely less authoritarian George, and the ideal State to the scientist is the Germany of today, where the scientists are under the govemment's special protection, it would seem idle to hope that the voices of those who prize liberty above an things, who would fain call attention to the false direction in which it is desired to make the world move, should be other than "voices crying in the wilderness." But, nevertheless, it is not by accident that we who hold the ideas that what is necessary to progress is not the increase, but the decrease, of governmental interference have come to be possessed of these ideas. We, too, are "heirs of all the ages," and it is our duty to that society of which we form a part to give our reasons for the "faith that is in us."
My endeavor today will be to prove to you two propositions: first, that progress in medical or any other science is lessened, and ultimately destroyed, by State interference; and, secondly, that even if, through State aid, progress in science could be promoted, the promotion would be at too great an expense, at the expense of the best interests of the race. That I shall succeed in convincing you of the truth of these propositions is too much to hope for, but at least I shall cause you to re-examine the grounds for the contrary opinions that you entertain, and for this you should thank me, as it is always important that the position of devil's advocate should be well filled.
It seems strange that it should become necessary to urge upon Americans, with their country's traditions, that the first condition necessary to mental and moral growth is freedom. It seems strange in these times, - when all the unconscious movements of society are towards the diminution of restraint, whether it be that of men over women, of parents and teachers over children, of keepers over criminals and the insane; when it is being unconsciously felt and acted upon, on all sides, that responsibility is the parent of morality, - that all the conscious efforts of individuals and groups should be towards the increase of restraint.
A knowledge of the fact that all the ideas prevalent at a given time in a given society must have a certain congruity should make us very careful in accepting ideas, especially as regards politics, from such a despotic country as Germany, instead of receiving them with open arms as containing all the wisdom in the world, which now seems to be the fashion. As Spencer pointed out some time since, the reformers of Germany, while seeking a destruction of the old order, are really but rebuilding the old machine under a new name. They are so accustomed to seeing every thing done by the State that they can form no conception of its being done in any other way. All they propose is a State in which the people (that is, a majority of the people) shall hold the places now held by the usurping few. That English-speaking workmen should seek to wholly replace themselves under the yoke of a tyranny from which they have taken ages to partially escape, is only to be explained by the vagueness of the forms in which this paradise is usually pictured, and by that lack of power of bringing before the mind's eye word-painted pictures.
Again, in Germany - and it is that with which we are more nearly concerned today - it is said that scientific men under the protection of the government do better work than other men who are not under the protection of their governments. That this apparently flourishing condition of science under the patronage of the German government is no more real than was the condition of literature under Louis XIV., and that it cannot continue, I think a little examination will enable us to see. As Leslie Stephen has demonstrated, to suppress one truth is to suppress alltruth, for truth is a coherent whole. You may by force suppress a falsehood, and prevent its ever again rising to the surface; but, when you attempt to suppress a truth, you can only do so by suppressing all truth, for, with investigation untrammelled, some one else is bound in time to come to the same point again. Do you think that a country, one of whose most distinguished professors, Virchow, is afraid of giving voice to the doctrine of evolution, because he sees that it inevitably leads to Socialism (and Socialism the government has decided is wrong, and must be crushed out), is in the way of long maintaining its supremacy as a scientific light, when the question which its scientific men are called upon to decide is not what is true, but what the government will allow to be said? I say nothing for or against the doctrine of evolution; I say nothing for or against its leading to Socialism; but I do say that the society whose scientific men owe devotion, not to truth, but to the Hohenzollerns, is not in a progressive state. As Buckle has shown, the patronage of Louis XIV. killed French literature. Not a single man rose to European fame under his patronage, and those whose fame was the cause of their obtaining the monarch's favor sank under its baneful influence to mere mediocrity.
It seems to be generally forgotten by those who favor State aid to science that aid so given is not and cannot be aid to science, but to particular doctrines or dogmas, and that, where this aid is given, it requires almost a revolution to introduce a new idea. With the ordinary conservatism of mankind, every new idea which comes forward meets with sufficient questioning as to its truth, utility, etc.; but, when we have added to this natural conservatism, which is sufficient to protect society against the introduction of new error, the whole force of an army of paid officials whose interest it is to resist any idea which would deprive, or tend to deprive, them of their salaries, you will readily see that, of the two forces which tend to keep society in equilibrium, the conservative and the progressive, the conservative will be very much strengthened at the expense of the progressive, and that the society is doomed to decay. Of the tendency which State-aided institutions have shown up to the present to resist progress, excellent evidence is fur- nished by one, at least, of those very men, Huxley, who now clamors so loudly for State aid to science. When we consider that we have now reached but the very outposts of science; that all our energies are required for storming its citadel; that human nature, if placed in the same conditions, is apt to be very much the same; that those persons who have the power and the positions will endeavor to maintain them,- do you think it wise to put into the hands of any set of men the power of staying our onward movements? That which we feel pretty sure of being true today may contain, and in all probability does contain, a great deal of error, and it is our duty to truth to cultivate the spirit which questions all things, which spirit would be destroyed by our having high-priests of science. Hear Huxley in testimony thereof in his article on the "Scientific Aspects of Positivism":
All the great steps in the advancement of science have been made just by those men who have not hesitated to doubt the "principles established in the science by competent persons," and the great teaching of science, the great use of it as an instrument of mental discipline, is its constant inculcation of the maxim that the sole ground on which any statement has a right to be believed is the impossibility of refuting it.
Is the State, then, to reward all those who oppose a statement as well as all those who support it, or is it only to reward certain of the questioners, and, if so, which, and who is to decidee what statements have not been refuted? Are some persons to be aided in bringing their opinions, with their reasons for holding them, before the world, and others to be denied this priviliege? Are the scientific men to be placed in power so different in nature from all those who have preceded them that they will be willing to cede the places and the salaries to those who show more reason than they? Here is Huxley's testimony in regard to the manner in which the State-aided classical schools promoted the introduction of physical science into those schools:
From the time that the first suggestion to introduce physical science was timidly whispered until now, the advocates of scientific education have met with opposition of two kinds. On the one hand they have been pooh-poohed by the men of business, who pride themselves on being the representatives of practicality; while on the other hand they have been excommunicated by the classical scholars, in their capacity of Levites in charge of the arts of culture and monopolists of liberal education, - Science and Culture.
And again, the State, or the State-aided institutions have never been able, even with the most Chinese system of civil-service examinations, to sift the worthy from the unworthy with half the efficiency which private individuals or corporations have done. But let us hear Huxley upon this subject:
Great schemes for the endowment of research have been proposed. It has been suggested that laboratories for all branches of physical science, provided with every apparatus needed by the investigator, shall be established by the State; and shall be accessible under due conditions and regulations to all properly qualified persons. I see no objection to the principle of such a proposal. If it be legitimate to spend great sums of money upon public collections of painting and sculpture, in aid of the man of letters, or the artist, or for the mere sake of affording pleasure to the general public, I apprehend that it cannot be illegitimate to do as much for the promotion of scientific investigation. To take the lowest ground as a mere investment of money the latter is likely to be much more immediately profitable. To my mind the difficulty in the way of such a scheme is not theoretical, but practical. Given the laboratories, how are the investigators to be maintained? What career is open to those who have been encouraged to leave bread-winning pursuits? If they are to be provided for by endowment, we come back to the College Fellowship System, the results of which for literature have not been so brilliant that one would wish to see it extended to science, unless some much better securities than at present exist can be taken that it will foster real work. You know that among the bees it depends upon the kind of a cell in which the egg is deposited, and the quantity and quality of food which is supplied to the grub, whether it shall turn out a busy little worker or a big idle queen. And in the human hive the cells of the endowed larvae are always tending to enlarge, and their food to improve, until we get queens beautiful to behold, but which gather no honey and build no court, - Universities, Actual and Ideal.
One of my chief objections to State-aid to anything is that it tends to develop a great many big idle queens at the expense of the workers. There is no longer any direct responsibility on the part of those employed to those who employ them, as there is where private contract enters into play. In fact, the agents determine how and for what the principals shall spend their money, and they usually decide in favor of their own pockets. I cannot furnish you with a better illustration than that supplied by my own experience. Before I studied medicine I taught school for a couple of years in an almshouse. The waste there was perfectly enormous. The officials, when remonstrated with, made answer: "It was all on the county." The freeholders came once a week, and ate sumptuous dinners - at the expense of the county. At the close of my college course it was my good fortune to enter the Infirmary, where I saw everything ordered with the economy of a private household. No waste there! Those who furnished the funds were directly interested in seeing that they were used as economically as possible. I never heard of the trustees of the Infirmary proposing to have a dinner at the expense of the Infirmary.
Even were the government perfectly honest, which it is practically impossible for it ever to be (being divorced from all the conditions which promote honesty), not bearing the cost, it is always inclined to make experiments on too large a scale, even when those experiments are in the right direction. When we bear the expenses ourselves, we are apt to make our experiments slowly and cautiously, to invest very little until we see some hope of return (by return I do not mean necessarily a material return), but when we can draw upon an inexhaustible treasury - farewell to prudence!
Of course, I do not mean to deny that under any state of society, until men and women are perfect, there always will be persons who are inclined to become big idle queens, but what I do object to is that we ourselves should voluntarily make the conditions which favor the development of these queens "who gather no honey and build no court. "
Of the tendency of governments to crystallize and fossilize any institutions or ideas upon which they lay their protecting hands no better example can be furnished than that of the effect of the English government on the village communities of India, as reported by Maine ("Village Communities"). Where the institutions were undergoing a natural decay, the English government stepped in and, by its official recognition of them in some quarters, gave them, says Maine, a fixedness which they never before possessed.
There is another point to which I wish to draw the attention of those of our brethren who clamor for State aid. Who is to decide what ideas are to be aided? The majority of the people? or a select few? The majority of the people have never in any age been the party of progress; and, if it were put to a popular vote tomorrow as to which should be aided, - Anna Kingsford in her anti-vivisection crusade, or Mary Putnam Jacobi in her physiological investigational am perfectly sure that the populace would decide in favor of Anna Kingsford. Carlyle says:
If, of ten men, nine are fools, which is a common calculation, how in the name of wonder will you ever get a ballot-box to grind you out a wisdom from the votes of these ten men?....I tell you a million blockheads looking authoritatively into one man of what you call genius, or noble sense, will make nothing but nonsense out of him and his qualities, and his virtues and defects, if they look till the end of time.
If, of ten men, nine are believers in the old, I say, how can you in the name of wonder get a ballot-box to grind you out support of the new from the votes of these ten men? They will support the old and established, and the outcome of your aid to science is that you or I, who may be in favor of the new, and willing to contribute our mite towards its propagation, are forced by majority rule to give up that mite to support that which already has only too many supporters. But perhaps you will say that not the populace, but the select few, are to decide what scientific investigations are to be rewarded. Which select few, and how are they to be selected? Of all the minorities which separate themselves from the current of public opinion, who is to decide which minority has the truth? And, allowing that it is possible to determine which minority has the truth on a special occasion, have you any means by which to prove that this minority will be in favor of the next new truth? Is there not danger that, having accomplished its ends, it in turn will become conservative, and wish to prevent further advance? A priesthood of science would differ in no manner from any other priesthood the world has yet seen, and the evil effect which such a priesthood would have upon science no one has more clearly seen or more clearly demonstrated than Huxley in his "Scientific Aspects of Positivism." Again, admitting that great men endowed with supreme power could remain impartial, we still have no evidence on record to prove that great men are endowed with more than the ordinary share of common sense, which is so necessary in conducting the ordinary affairs of life. Indeed, if the gossip of history is to be in any way trusted, great men have usually obtained less than the ordinary share of this commodity. Frederick the Great is reported to have said that, if he wished to ruin one of his provinces, he would hand its government over to the philosophers. Is it into the hands of a Bacon, who had no more sense than to expose himself (for the sake of a little experiment which could have been made just as well without the exposure), a Newton who ordered the grate to be removed when the fire became too hot for him, a Clifford, who worked himself to death, that the direction of the affairs of a people is to be given, with the assurance that they will be carried on better than now?
Without multiplying evidence further, I think I have given sufficient to prove to you that there is no means by which State aid can be given to science, without causing the death of science, that we can make no patent machine for selecting the worthiest and the wisest; and I now desire to show you that, even if it were possible to select the worthiest and the wisest, and to aid none but the deserving, still aid so given would be immoral, and opposed to the best interests of society at large.
Of course I take it for granted that I am appealing to a civilized people, who recognize that there are certain rights which we are bound to respect, and certain duties which we in society owe to one another. We have passed that stage, or, at least, we do not often wish to acknowledge to ourselves that we have not passed it, in which "he may take who has the power, and he may keep who can." Next to the right to life (and indeed as part of that same right) the most sacred right is the right to property, the right of each to hold inviolable all that he earns. Now, to tax a man to support something that he does not wish for is to invade his right to property, and to that extent to curtail his life, is to take away from him his power of obtaining what he desires, in order to supply him with something which he does not desire. If we once admit that the State, the majority, the minority (be it ever so wise), has a right to do this in the smallest degree, no limit can be set to its interference, and we may have every action, aye, every thought, of a man's arranged for him from on high. Where shall we draw the line as to how much the State is to spend for him, and how much he is to spend for himself? Are grown men to be again put into swaddling clothes? You may say that you desire to increase his happiness, his knowledge, etc., but I maintain that you have no right to decide what is happiness or knowledge for him, any more than you have to decide what religion he must give adherence to. You have no right to take away a single cent's worth of his property without his consent. Woe to the nation that would strive to increase knowledge or happiness at the expense of justice. It will end by not having morality, or happiness, or knowledge. Do you think that the citizens of a State, who constantly see their rights violated by that State, who constantly see their property confiscated without their ever being consulted, are very likely to entertain a very high respect for their neighbors' rights of property or of person, do you think that they are very likely to be very moral in any way, any more than children, whose rights are constantly invaded by their parents, are likely to show an appreciation of one another's rights? To suppose that public life may be conducted in one way, and private life in another, is to ignore all the teaching of history, which shows that these lives are always interlaced.
The first step in immorality taken, the State having confiscated the property of its citizens, preventing them from expending it in the way they desire, to spend it for them in a way they do not desire, ends by starving their bodies and cramping their minds. Witness the case of modern Germany. Again the testimony is not mine. I always wish the advocates of Statism to furnish the evidence that kills them. Some little time since, - probably our new alumnae will remember the circumstance, - one of our professors who never wearies of telling us of the glories of German science, while speaking of the sebaceous horns which appear on the faces of German peasants, and describing a case which once came to his clinic, incidentally remarked of this case: "You understand he had never seen the growth himself, as these peasants have no looking-glasses." The thought at once occurred to me: "Is this what Germany gives to its people, to the vast majority of its population, on whom it lays its enormous burden of taxation?" Is not the advance of science of great importance to the German peasant who never sees a looking-glass? Would it be any wonder that in wild rage he should sometimes seek to destroy this whole German science and culture which end only by crushing him still farther into the earth? Of what use is science unless it increase the happiness and the comfort of the people? Is it a new fetich upon whose altar millions must be sacrificed? No, the science which would seek to entrench itself upon class-domi- nation is a false one, and inevitably doomed to perish. Have we, the outcome of English civilization, determined to lower the standard raised by Bacon, that the object of the "new philosophy is to increase human happiness and diminish human suffering"? Are we willing to assist in dividing the people of this country into two classes, one of which is to have all the luxuries which science and art can afford, and the other to have no looking-glasses? Now is the time for us to decide.
How then is science to be advanced, you may inquire, if the majority cannot decide that which is true, and the select few also cannot decide? In the way in which up to the present it has been advanced, - by individuals contributing their small shares; and with ever increasing force will it advance, as the general culture becomes greater and broader. It will advance by having no opinion protected from discussion and agitation, by having the greatest possible freedom of thought, of speech, and of the press. That the unaided efforts of a people are capable of causing advance belongs fortunately no longer to the domain of opinion, but of fact. They have already caused all the progress that has been made, not only without the aid of the State, but in opposition to the State and the Church, and all the other conservative and retrogressive forces in society. They have already, as Spencer says, evolved a language greater in complexity and beauty than could be conceived of in any other way. They have, as Whately says, succeeded in supplying large cities with food with scarcely any apparent waste or friction, while no government in the world, with all the machinery at its command, has ever yet succeeded in properly supplying an army.
Yes, freedom, hampered as it has been, has done and is doing all these things, and all that it is capable of doing in the future none but the prophets may see.
We have the morning star,
0 foolish people! 0 kings!
With us the day-springs are,
Even all the fresh day-springs.
For us, and with us, all the multitudes of things.
Relations Between Parents and Children
by Clara Dixon Davidson
from Liberty #235, pp.3-4.
The wisdom of acts is measured by their consequences.
The individual's measure of consequences is proportionate to the circle of his outlook. His horizons may lie so near that he can only measure at short range. But, whether they be near or far, he can only judge of consequences as proximately or remotely touching himself. His judgment may err; his motive remains always the same, whether he be conscious of it or not.
That motive is necessarily egoistic, since no one deliberately chooses misery when happiness is open to him. Acts always resulting [sic] either indifferently or in furtherance of happiness or increase of misery, one who has power to decide and intelligence to determine probably consequences will certainly give preference to the course which will ultimately advance his own happiness.
The law of equal freedom, "Every one is free to do whatsoever he wills", appears to me to be the primary condition to happiness. If I fail to add the remainder of Herbert Spencer's celebrated law of equal freedom, I shall only risk being misinterpreted by persons who cannot understand that the opening affirmation includes what follows, since, if any one did infringe upon the freedom of another, all would not be equally free.
Liberty without intelligence rushes toward its own extinction continually, and continually rescues itself by the knowledge born of its pain.
Intelligence without liberty is a mere potentiality, a nest-full of unhatched eggs.
Progress, therefore, presupposes the union of intelligence and liberty: Freedom to act, wisdom to guide the action.
Equal freedom is the primary condition to happiness.
Intelligence is the primary condition to equality in freedom.
Liberty and intelligence action and re-acting upon each other produce growth.
Thus growth and happiness are seen to be, if not actually synonymous, almost inseparable companions.
Where equal freedom is rendered impossible by disproportion in degrees of development, the hope of the higher units lies in the education of the lower.
Children, because of their ignorance, are elements of inharmony, hindrances to equal freedom. To quicken the progress of their growth is toward the equilibrization of social force.
Then, liberty being essential to growth, they must be left as free as is compatible with their own safety and the freedom of others.
Just here arises my difficulty, which I freely admit. For the enunciation of this principle is the opening of a Pandora's box, from which all things fly out excepting adult judgment.
Who shall decide upon the permissible degree of freedom? Who shall adjust the child's freedom its safety so that the two shall be delicately, flawlessly balanced?
The fecundity of these questions is without limit. Of them are born controversies that plague all the unregenerate alike, whether they be philosophers or the humblest truth-seekers.
Christians escape this toilsome investigation. Their faith in rulership simplifies all the relationships of life. Their conduct need not be consistent with equal freedom, since obedience, not liberty, is the basis of their ideal society.
Reluctantly I admit that during infancy and to some extent in childhood others must decide what is for a child's welfare.
The human babe is a pitiably helpless and lamentably ignorant animal. It does not even know when it is hungry, but seeks the maternal breast as a cure-all for every variety of physical uneasiness; therefore the mother or nurse must inevitably decide for it even the quantity of nourishment it may safely receive and the length of time that may intervene between tenders of supplies. That these judgment are far from infallible is well know. One mother of five living children confessed to me that she had lost one child, starved it in the process of learning that her lactation furnished a substance little more nutritious than water.
Grown older, the babe does not know the danger of touching a red-hot stove. How should it know? It is without experience. The mother's impulse is to rescue the tender, white baby-hand. Is she wise in interposing this restraint? I think she is not. If the child is to have bayoneted sentries always on guard between it and experience, it can only grow surreptitiously. I say "bayoneted" advisedly, since the hand interposed between the baby and the stove not infrequently emphasizes its power with a blow which gives more pain than the burn would have given, while its value as experience may be represented by the minus sign.
The theory that it is the duty of parents to provide for the needs of their young children, and of children to obey their parents and, in their age, to support them, is so generally accepted that I shall rouse a storm of indignation by asserting that there are no duties.
While a cursory glance at the subject may seem to show a denial of equal freedom in the refusal of a parent to support his child, a more careful study will reveal the truth that, so long as he does not hinder the activities of any one nor compel any other person or persons to undertake the task which he has relinquished, he cannot be said to violate the law of equal freedom. Therefore his associates may not compel him to provide for his child, though they may forcibly prevent him from aggressing upon it. They may prevent acts; they may not compel the performance of actions.
It will, perhaps, be well to anticipate at this point a question sure to be asked during the discussion.
Is it not aggression on the part of the parents to usher into existence a child for which [sic] they are either unable or unwilling to provide?
Much may be said in reply.
First: In any association differences of opinion would arise as to whether it was aggression or not; these differences would imply doubt, and the doubt would make forcible prevention, even if practicable, unjustifiable.
Second: This doubt would be strengthened by consideration of the fact that no one could be able to predict with certainty nine months previous to the birth of a child that at the time of its birth its parent would be unable to provide sustenance for it.
Third: It would be further strengthened by the knowledge that death is always open to those who find life intolerable, and, so long as persons seek to prolong existence, they cannot properly complain of those who thrust it upon them. A young babe does not question whether the milk it feeds upon flows from its mother's breast or from the udder of a cow, and should it, with dawning intelligence, feel disturbed in mind or distressed in body by reason of its relationships toward its environments, it will, by then, have learned the art of dying.
And now, having opened a gulf which swallows up duty, shall I be able to allay the consternation of those who have substituted the worship of this for their repudiated worship of another unsubstantial God?
It has seemed to me, that generally speaking, people's love for their children is in inverse proportion to their love of God and duty. However this may be, - and I will admit that, although parallel and pertinent, it is not directly in the line of inquiry I am pursuing, - there is left to us the certainty that increasing intelligence will more and more incline individuals to face the consequences of their own acts; not for duty's sake, but in order to help establish and preserve that social harmony which will be necessary to their happiness.
Even in the present semi-barbarous condition of parental relations it is exceptional, unusual, for parents to abandon their children, and the two distinct incentives to such abandonment will be removed by social evolution, leaving the discussion of the obligation of parents to care for their children purely abstract and rather unprofitable, since no one will refuse to do so.
The two motives to which I refer are poverty and fear of social obloquy. Married parents sometimes desert their children because they lack abundant means of sustenance; unmarried parents occasionally not only desert their offspring, but deny them, in order to escape the malice of the unintelligent who believe that vice is susceptible of transmutation into virtue by the blessing of a priest, and virtue into vice by the absence of the miracle-working words.
Recognition of the law of equal freedom would nearly remove the first, render the second more endurable, and finally obliterate both, leaving parents without motive for the abandonment of offspring.
That parents usually find happiness in provision for the welfare of their young is well known. Even the habits of the lower animals afford evidence sufficient to establish this position, and, for convenience, postulating it as a principle, I shall proceed to examine how far parents defeat their own aims by unintelligent pursuit of it.
Food is the first, because the indispensable, requisite to welfare, but unintelligent and indiscriminate feeding results in thousands of deaths annually and sows seeds of chronic invalidism in millions of young stomachs.
Clothing is also considered indispensable, and is so in rigorous climates, but the primary object of covering the body, which is surely to make it comfortable, is usually almost wholly forgotten in the effort to conform to accepted ideals of beauty, - ideals often involving peculiar departures from natural forms.
Shelter is a necessity which is often accompanied by such over-zealous inhospitality to fresh air as places choice [sic] between in-door and out-door life in uncertain balance.
But the sturdiest pursuits and the dreariest defeats and failures are found in educational endeavors.
The child comes into an unknown world. His blinking eyes cannot decide which is nearer, the lighted taper on the table or the moon seen through the window. He does not know that a Riverside orange is larger than the palm of his tiny hand until he has learned the truth by repeated efforts to grasp it. He has all things to learn: ideas of dimension, weight, heat, moisture, density, resistance, gravitation, - all things in their inter-relations and their relations to himself. And what bungling assistance he receives in the bewildering path through this tangle of truth!
He learns that God sends the rain, the hail, and the snow down from the sky; that his little sister was brought from heaven by an angel and deposited in a doctor's pill-bags. The tie of relationship between her and himself remains a mystery. Anthropomorphism lurks everywhere. The unseen hands moves all things. He asks many questions which his teachers cannot answer, and, unwilling to confess their ignorance, they constantly reiterate: "God did it," as it that were an answer.
Turning from unsuccessful inquiries concerning natural phenomena, perhaps the child perceives, in a dim way, his relations with the State, and, as God posed before him in the realm of philosophy and science, so do all relies to his questions now end in omnipotent government.
"Why does no one prevent the man with a star from clubbing the other man?"
"Because he is a policeman."
"Who said that a policeman might strike people?"
"What is the government?"
"The government is, - my son, you will learn when you are older."
"Who pays the policeman for clubbing the other man?"
"Where does the government get the money?"
"You will learn when you are older."
Usually at the age of six years old, or even earlier, a child's education is practically abandoned by its inefficient parents and entrusted to the church and the State.
The state uses money robbed from the parents to perpetuate its powers of robbery by instructing their children in its own interest.
The church, also, uses its power to perpetuate its power. And to those twin leeches, as "Ouida" has aptly designated them, to these self-interested robbers and murders, are the tender minds of babies entrusted for education.
Herbert Spencer has shown that the status of women and children improves in proportion to the decline of militarism and the advance of industrialism.
The military spirit is encouraged in multifold way by both church and State, and little children and women, in their pitiable ignorance, assist in weaving nets that shall trip their own unwary feet and those of other women and children to follow them.
A spirit of subordination is inculcated by both church and State, which contemplate without rebuke the brutalities of authority, excepting in some cases of extraordinary cruelty, and teach the helpless victims that it is their duty to submit.
The most commonplace tenets of these powers would seem absurd and outrageous if expounded to an unprepared adult mind and stripped of all those devices of language by which the various promptings of shame, good nature, ignorance, or deceit impel us to soften the truth.
Say to such an [sic] one:
"Murder by the State is laudable; murder by an individual is criminal.
"Robbery by the State is permissible; robbery by an individual is a serious offence against the person robbed and also against public welfare.
"Assault of the parent upon his child is justifiable; assault of the child upon the parent in intolerable."
He would not look upon you with the simple confidence of a puzzled child, attributing the apparent incompatibilities to the feebleness of his own understanding.
But to the child these bewildering social sophistries, flowing into his mind from sources that appeal to his trust, and presenting with ambiguities of language that serve to increase its difficulties, must appear hopeless labyrinths of mystery.
Thus at every step from infancy to adult life the progress of the child is checked by the incapacity of those who desire to advance its welfare.
Inherited tendencies and the training which they themselves received incline parents to become inexorable masters and to commend most the conduct of that child which is easiest enslaves.
Parents beat their children, elder children beat younger brothers and sisters, and the wee ones avenge their wrongs vicariously by beating their dolls or their wooden horses.
Through individual revolts against the general barbarity, revolts of increasing frequency and power, humanity gradually evolves above actual application of its savage principles. But these revolts against savagery, when led by emotion, often result nearly as disastrously as savagery itself.
Reason must be the basis of all enduring social growth.
When reason shall have learned to rebel against inequalities in liberties, and when this mental rebellion shall have become quite general, then will people have passed beyond danger of relapse into savagery.
Then parent and child shall not be master and slave, a relation distasteful to reasoning people, but they shall be friend and friend. There will be no restraints imposed except such as are absolutely necessary, and there will not take the form of blows and will be removed as early as possible.
Examples of such restraints as I mean are:
Detention from the brink of a precipice or an open well or the track of a coming locomotive, or of one child from striking another.
Parents who recognize the fundamental principle of happiness through freedom and intelligence will, generally speaking, achieve results proportionate to the degree of their success in harmonizing their lives with this principle. The greater their intelligence the higher perfection will they reach in the interpretation and application of the law of equal freedom, and in preparing their children to attain harmonious relations with their environment.
SUPPLEMENTAL: HOW TO MAKE LIARS OF CHILDREN:
I have said that infants have all things to learn. It would seem, and would be, superfluous to repeat a fact so well known, were it not true that most people credit little people with so much more knowledge than they could possibly have acquired in the given time. I have heard, not once but many times, mothers accuse young children of falsehood when I fully believed that the apparent mis-statements were due in part to the little ones' weak grasp on the language which they attempted to speak and partly to misinterpretation of facts. Even grown-up people do not look upon the simplest incident from exactly the same point of view; yet they expect from mere babes perfection of accuracy, and, being disappointed in this unreasonable expectation, accuse them of falsehood, and not infrequently worry them into admitting fault which have, in reality, no meaning to their dim understandings. But after lying has come to have meaning, the little mind becomes indifferent to truthfulness, finding that punishment falls the same, whether it inspire truth or falsehood.
Thus the child is made a liar by its parents' ignorant endeavor to teach it regard for the truth.
But worse mistakes are made by those parents whose daily conversation with their children furnishes examples of untruthfulness. Who has not been frightened into obedience by tales of a bogie-man, a Chinaman, a black man, or a Santa Claus with his rattan, - stories which do triple injury by fostering cowardice, class-hatred, and lying?
To teach a child to steal:
Carefully lock away from him all fruits and sweets. Allow him no money for personal expenses. If you miss anything, accuse him of having taken it. If you send him out to make purchases, count the change with suspicious care when he returns. If he has lost a few pennies, accuse him of having spent them for candy. If you never buy candy for him, this will teach him a means of supplying himself, and probably you next accusation will be true.
Strike children and they will learn to strike each other; scold them and they learn to quarrel; give them drums and flags and uniforms and toy guns and they desire to become professional murderers. Open their letters, listen to their conversations with their young friends, pry into their little secrets, invade their private rooms without knocking, and you make them meddlers and disagreeable companions.
I have said that it is not the duty of children to obey their parents or to care for them in old age.
The following facts bear on this position:
The life of a child is usually merely incident to the pleasure of its parents, and is often an accident deeply deplored by both. Even when conception is desired, it is still for the pleasure of the parents. If it were possible, which it is not, to conceive of a life given solely for its own happiness, its parents taking no please either in the sexual relation or in the hope of offspring, the child could incur no responsibility by the opinions or the acts of its parents.
After its birth, the child does not say:
"Give me food, clothes, and shelter now in exchange for food, clothes, and shelter which I will give you in your old age," and could he make such a contract, it would be void. A man cannot be bound by promises he made during his infancy.
The question of obedience I pass, since high-evolved parents cannot be obeyed, because they will not command.
On careful thought the removal of the idea of duty will be seen to be less startling than it must at first appear to those who have accepted without question the dogmas of authority. Mr. Cowell has called my attention to the fact that the love which most people have for their parents or foster-parents is evidence that few wholly lack lovable attributes. During the long years of familiar companionship between parents and child ties are usually formed which cannot be broken while life lasts, not ties of duty but of affection; these render mutual helpfulness a source of pleasure. If they be lacking, a self-respecting parent would choose the shelter of an almshouse rather than the grudging charity bestowed by his child under the spur of a belief in duty.
VI. An Age of Consent Symposium
by Lillian Harman
from Liberty #235, pp.3-4.
As the daughter of Moses Harman, editor of the free-love periodical Lucifer the Light Bearer, Lillian Harman was born into the feminist crusade. At the age of 16, she was imprisoned in the Oskaloosa County Jail in Kansas for her non-state, non-church marriage to E. C. Walker. Her articles in Lucifer, Liberty and other individualist-anarchist periodicals were clear calls for a woman's right to self-ownership.
Harman's concern with age-of-consent laws must be understood in the social context of the late 1800s. Feminist and social purity reformers were intimately linked by various common goals. Ironically, because of the purity reformers' emphasis on eugenics, their efforts promoted birth control in America. Since their goal was purity and not sexual freedom, however, they also cried out for censorship, the prosecution of those who frequented prostitutes, and raising the age of consent. In contrast, individualist feminists such as Lillian Harman pursued sexual freedom rather than "purity" and were often victimized by laws supported by the mainstream of feminists. The following article, which demonstrates this schism, is reprinted from cite>Liberty.
It may confidently be asserted that all friends of Liberty are agreed as regards these three general propositions:
1. The existing system of sexual relations is very imperfect.
2. What is right or is wrong for a member of one sex under given conditions is right or is wrong for a member of the other sex under analogous conditions.
3. All persons, regardless of sex, should be protected from violence, extra-legal or legal.
Touching the first proposition, libertarians find themselves in agreement with authoritarians so far as the fact of imperfection is concerned, but they disagree widely, often fundamentally, as to the constituent elements of that imperfection. Likewise libertarians and authoritarians - at least, the more progressive contingent of the latter - are at one concerning the desirability and justice of the "single standard" in sex ethics, but here again the two schools are often vitally at variance when it comes to the consideration of what is right or wrong in the relations of the sexes. Finally, while authoritarians agree with libertarians that the individual should be protected from extra-legal violence, there are frequently irreconcilable differences of opinion when it is attempted to frame a definition which shall properly describe such violence, and, in addition to this difficulty in the way of reaching an agreement, there is the failure of the average authoritarian to recognize that under the present marriage system violence is legally sheltered, and his ineradicable propensity to commit legal violence in his blundering endeavors to prevent or punish extra-legal violence, or what he considers such.
The Arena Crusade
For some time now the Arena has been trying to arouse a wider public interest in the age-of-consent laws of the various States, and in the January issue there is a symposium participated in by Aaron M. Powell, Helen H. Gardener, Frances E. Willard, A. H. Lewis, D. D.; 0. Edward Janney, M. D.; Will Allen Dromgoole, and Emily Blackwell, M. D. The editor also continues his article on "Wellsprings and Feeders of Immorality," this being the second paper and dealing with "Lust Fostered by Legislation." The age of consent varies from ten years to eighteen, being the latter only in Kansas and Wyoming. In all the States association with a girl before she has reached the age prescribed in the statutes of the State in which she lives is rape, regardless of her consent to the association. The limit is ten years in three States, twelve years in four, thirteen years in three, fourteen years in nineteen, fifteen years in one, sixteen years in twelve, seventeen years in one, and eighteen years in two. Included in this enumeration are the territories and the District of Columbia. The demand of the reformers who are represented in this symposium, and of those for whom they speak, is that the limit shall be raised to at least eighteen years. There are some who make themselves heard through the press who wish to make it twenty-one years, and a few would put it still higher. But for the purposes of the present examination I will confine myself to the demand of the Arena writers.
The problem is a difficult one to deal with in the existing condition of society, where the most outrageous wrongs are possible because the people are economically enthralled and are the slaves of the grossest religious and moral superstitions. It is at once manifest that the ignorance fostered by the dominant powers in church, society, and the State is responsible for at least nine-tenths of the suffering resulting from the association of the sexes, both in and out of marriage. This is easily demonstrated, but the limits of this paper forbid the introduction of the evidence here. Suffice it to say that it is impossible to do justice by establishing a hard and fast line in this matter of age-of-consent laws. To say that the right of choice and determination should be withheld from all young women until they are eighteen is to utter an absurdity. Some are more developed, physically and mentally, at fifteen than others are at eighteen or twenty, or even when older. There are many exceptionally bright girls who know more at fifteen or sixteen than the mass of womankind do at fifty. Why such as these should have their lives wrecked by punishing their lovers for rape it will be exceedingly difficult for the Arena crusaders to show. The favorite argument of the advocates of the eighteen-year limit is that those who cannot be trusted with the management of their property until they are eighteen should not be trusted with the guardianship of their own bodies. But does the establishment of one arbitrary rule justify the establishment of another? Is individual capacity not to be considered at all? That one man never knows enough to take care of his business is not a valid reason why another who has been a good business man since he was a youth should be held in a lifelong minority. It is a well-known fact that thousands of parents permit their minor sons and daughters to attend to their own business affairs, and there is no doubt that the vast majority of the young people so trusted are better for their early introduction to the responsibilities of life, and it is equally certain that multitudes more would have been likewise benefited by similar opportunities to hew out their own fortunes had their parents been wise enough to open the way for them. But it is not true that girls and boys under eighteen never have had and have not now any control over their property. By the Code Napoleon a person of either sex may become an executor or executrix at seventeen, and at sixteen the minor may devise one-half his property. In some of our States the minor may choose a guardian at twelve and in others at fourteen. In New York a girl of sixteen may will and bequeath her personal estate, as may a boy of eighteen, and they may consent to marriage at the same age. Recurring to the question of majority rights often given by parents to their sons, it should be noted that in some States - possibly in all - a father may give notice by publication that he will appear in court at a given time to ask that his son, naming him, may be legally invested with the rights of a man, so far as independence from parental control is concerned, before he has reached the age of twenty-one. Only a few days ago I read such a notice in a Kansas paper.
Those acquainted with our school system are aware that many teachers are under eighteen years of age. Is it possible that these young women whom the State accepts as competent to teach and train her children are not competent to control their own persons? And then look at the thousands of girls under the age named who are earning their own livelihood in industry, business, and journalism. Why insult these by the gratuitous assumption that they are not competent to guard their persons from invasion when not assailed by physical violence? Dr. Janney thinks that the inequality in mental capacity of girls is a good reason why those who are in advance should wait until they are eighteen for their sex-liberty. This, he intimates, will give time for the others to catch up, and thus he would avoid the possibility of a wrong being done to a few of the immature ones by inflicting a certain wrong on all the more advanced who choose to live their own lives in their own way. If it be said that a similar wrong is inflicted on the man or woman who is capable of managing his or her own property interests before majority is reached, but who is denied that opportunity because all young people are not sufficiently intelligent, it is answered that the alleged parallel is far from perfect. As before said, many parents nullify the evil effects of that arbitrary law by giving their children an opportunity to help themselves early in life. Many of our youth do not feel the operation of the majority law at all except when they desire to vote before the age of twenty-one is reached. But in the case of the age-of-consent law such individual relief would not be easy to obtain, no matter how intelligent and humane the parents or the girl might be. With our numerous Societies for Meddling with Everybody's Business, the lover would probably be hanged or at least imprisoned for rape, and this in spite of the fact that the girl, her parents, and all others immediately interested were perfectly satisfied with their own arrangements.
I clearly recognize the fact that the child is not capable of judging for herself, but it is preposterous to hold that girls of fifteen and upwards are all children in thought, or such even in a majority of instances. This is an age of rapid development, and there are large numbers of young women in their teens who know much more about themselves and are far better qualified to be their own protectors than were their mothers when five or ten years older. Were it not for our State-enforced ignorance of sexual matters and the anti-natural teachings of a reactionary church, there would be precious few of our young women who would need the protection of the government to the extent of guarding them against themselves. Probably, all things considered, including the dense misinformation of the masses, the most reasonable present settlement of this age-of-consent question would be to fix the "age" at puberty.
A Peculiar Omission
Before proceeding to notice in detail some of the arguments of the contributors to the symposium, it will be well to call the attention of the fair-minded reader to a remarkable omission made by all who have written in the Arena on this subject. Everyone has tacitly assumed or explicitly stated that there is no legal protection or relief for the girl after she has reached the age of consent. If before that she consorts with a man, either through the compulsion of force or fear or in virtue of such "consent" as her mind may be able to give, she is outraged in the eye of the law, and her assailant is guilty of rape. But, if the "age" has been reached, she is no longer subject to outrage, and her assailant is not guilty of rape, if she consents. This is true, but the reformers should not have left the impression that her associate has committed no offence under the law, for such an impression is misleading. In many of the States association under promise of marriage is a misdemeanor, and in some it is a felony. In some States association with an unmarried, previously "chaste" woman involves the offence of seduction even without promise of marriage. In New York abduction consists in taking a girl under sixteen for purposes of marriage, prostitution, or intercourse, or inveigling and enticing an unmarried woman under twenty-five into a house of ill-fame or elsewhere for prostitution or intercourse. Seduction of an unmarried woman under promise of marriage involves imprisonment, or punishment by fine, or both. In most of the States, if not all, the father or other near relative of the woman seduced may bring action, and in some the woman may do so herself. We should all have had more faith in the desire and intention of the symposiasts to be fair if they had stated these facts with the particularity that they have shown in laying before the people the age-of-consent laws of the States. Not to say anything about it at all was still worse.
The Defenceless Position of The Wife
Opposite the first page of the symposium there is a group of portraits of the contributors, and under it Mr. Flower has put the label, "Some Defenders of the Home." I have read all the articles very carefully, and have failed to find a single word which would reveal to the uninitiated reader the startling fact that there is not a law on the statute-books of a single State of this Union which recognizes the possibility that the husband can commit a rape upon the wife. Looking in the law-books, I find it often and expressly stated that the prostitute can be raped, but that the wife cannot. So far as the husband is concerned, the wife is without defence. He can go to the brothel and commit a crime which will, if he is prosecuted, send him to the penitentiary; but, if he comes home the same night and commits the same crime on his wife, he will not be troubled by the law. Is it not strange that these "defenders of the home" forgot to say anything about so important a matter as this?
Miss Willard alone speaks of the necessity of making a wife the arbiter of her own destiny, but even she does not venture to tell the world what the law has put in the way of the accomplishment of that result.
Helen Gardener "Dares" The Opposition
I will pass over Mr. Powell's contribution, as it is chiefly a statement of the present status of the consent laws, and stop for a moment at Helen H. Gardener's, not because the latter contains any argument requiring an answer, but merely to show the readers of Liberty, by means of a quotation or two, the weightiness of some of the pleas for the surrender of the self-hood of the young women of America. This will do for a beginning:
When I am asked to present an argument against lowering the age of consent, or when I am requested to write the reasons why that age should be raised to at least eighteen years, it impresses me very much as if some one were to ask me gravely if I would be so kind as to think up some fairly plausible grounds upon which one might base an objection to the practice of cutting the throats of his neighbor's children whenever that neighbor happened not to be at home to protect them; or to furnish a demurrer to the act of inoculating the community with small-pox as a matter of ordinary amusement.
That is a curiosity of argument which may well be left to answer itself. Miss Gardener wants to know if there is a legislator who believes that he has a right to assist in keeping the age of consent below eighteen years who will set forth his reasons, be they of a scientific, religious, social, or legal nature. I am not a legislator, but I have ventured to give some of my reasons for believing that the age of consent should not be raised to eighteen years, and I will now advance a few more. I do not believe that the State has a right to step between the young woman under eighteen and her lover, whether she does or does not choose to enter into legal marriage with him. Understand me, I say young woman; I am not speaking of children who have not reached puberty. Such interference is antagonistic to healthful social growth. It deranges the orderly process of development. Girls trained by intelligent mothers will be immensely more benefited than injured by relations that they desire, and the more liberty coupled with responsibility that we have the less there will be of sexual relations that are not desired. As for the girls whose mothers are not intelligent, their fate cannot be worse than it is now, and there is the reasonable chance that it will be greatly improved. The example of responsible freedom is almost immeasurably powerful. Regarding the scientific objections to the prohibition of sexual association until the age of eighteen is reached, they are numerous, but may be condensed into the single affirmation that there are very many young women whose nervous and physical systems are greatly injured, if not ruined, before their eighteenth birthday is reached by enforced abstinence from love associations. Others, again, do not feel the need of such relations before twenty or twenty-five, and some never. Let there be no cast-iron rule for all. We want no social procrustean beds. The world has been dosed nigh unto death by quacks who have thought that the race was damned unless everybody did just as they, the quacks, told them to do. We need liberty in domestic affairs just as much as in religion or politics, as Miss Gardener should know.
"The Sanctity of Motherhood"
Miss Willard observes that, "unless women had been at some time objects of barter, no such law could have been made." It seems to me that laws of this kind are evidences of the growing respect for woman which is a characteristic of this age. Faulty though they are, they show that the law-maker has desired to protect helpless infancy, while not interfering with the right of choice of young womanhood. The effect of those laws, whatever the intention of those who enacted them, has been to help place woman on her feet as an independent being, capable of acting for herself. That is, let it always be understood, when the limit has not been placed too high. The efforts of Miss Willard and her associates will, if crowned with success, necessarily weaken the sense of responsibility of womankind, and thus defeat the very purpose they have in view, - the protection of women from invasion. Another very important fact is persistently ignored by the age-of-consent agitators, and that is that the laws against rape remain to protect woman, and to avenge her if she is outraged - unless her husband is the criminal. When the age-of-consent laws are raised above fourteen or fifteen, the armies of "reform" have faced to the rear instead of to the front. The Roman law did not distinguish between rape and seduction or adultery, and the accused was not allowed to show that the association was with the consent of the woman, no matter what her age. The advocates of this pseudo reform are trying to force us back toward that savagely cruel code, and at least one of these "reformers," Rev. Mr. Lewis, would go every step of the way. He says: "It is not enough that the age of consent be 'raised.' It must be erased." The italics are his. By this he means that the hour can never come in the life of any woman when she will be free to love outside of marriage and to express her love. It means that, no matter how old the woman may be and how capable of choosing for herself her mode of life, her lover will be punished for rape. I thank Rev. Mr. Lewis for letting use see the end of the road upon which he and his fellow-coercionists invite us to enter. I am glad, for the honor of humanity, that it is a Christian minister who makes this atrocious proposition.
When Miss Willard italicized the declaration that "the sanctity of motherhood must be respected to such degree as shall make a wife the unquestioned arbiter of her own destiny," was she thinking of the shameful fact that a wife is the only woman who can be outraged with impunity, and that no wife in the land is free from the danger of such outrage if her husband is not too much of a man to take advantage of the power with which the law has invested him? If she was thinking of this, why did she not say what she meant? And does she think that the wife is the unquestioned arbiter of her own destiny when she cannot legally free herself from her husband if he has not happened to commit some offence which the law recognizes as a valid cause for divorce? How can she be the arbiter of her own destiny when the law and the public opinion that Miss Willard shares deny to her the right to express her love for other than the man who legally holds her as the instrument of his desires? Has it never occurred to the head of the W.C.T.U. that an unmarried woman should also have an unquestioned right to the control of herself? And that among these unmarried women are the ones to whom she, by raising the age of consent to eighteen years, wishes to deny the right of choice, which is the heart and essence of self-government?
The Christian Minister's Special Pleading
Rev. Mr. Lewis represents in this symposium the intolerance of religion as well as the intolerance of morality. He is satisfied that the age-of-consent laws and all other evil things connected with sex and its expression (that is, evil in his eyes if not so in fact) had their origin in the phallic worship of the ancients. I have not here the space at my command to dispose of his misrepresentations of that venerable cult, nor is it necessary to the purpose of this article, but I must let him see in what a fragile glass house he dwells, if, indeed, he does not already realize the fact. Referring to the double standard of sexual morality, Mr. Lewis says:
Too much cannot be said against this double standard. The Hebrew religion, and Christianity, which is its spiritual efflorescence, condemn such unjust distinction.
Let us see. By the Mosaic law, if a man had outraged a betrothed woman, he was put to death; but, if she was not betrothed, he must marry her and pay her father a fine of fifty shekels. In other words, in the first instance he had offended against the rights of the other man and must die, but in the second instance he must pay her father for his interference with his patriarchal rights, and the victim is compelled to spend her life with the man who has invaded her. Would Mr. Lewis say that there was no "distinction" in this method of dealing with the ravisher, and is he prepared to advocate a law compelling American women to marry their assailants? But this is only the beginning. Both the Jewish and Christian scriptures know nothing of the equality of woman with man; both place her in a position of inferiority and subjection to him. "Thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee." According to the Levitical law, motherhood was a sin that must be expiated by a birth offering at the advent of each child, and, if the child was a girl, the sinfulness was supposed to be twice as great as when the child was a boy, and she was "unclean" and must continue her "purifying" for twice as long a time. Wholesale kidnapping and rape are commanded by God's priests in the Old Testament, while in the matter of divorce the husband is given a free hand by both the Old and the New, but the wife has no remedy whatever. "When a man that taken a wife, and marries her, and it come to pass that she find no favor in his eyes, ... then let him write her out a bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house." See also Deut. xxi., 10-14, where the man is given authority to send away in the same unceremonious manner the "wife" he has captured in war. Jesus modified this only to the extent of confining the husband to one cause for dismissing the wife. But in neither dispensation was the wife authorized to put away her husband. Can Mr. Lewis see no "unjust distinction" in this discrimination?
In the Decalogue the wife is put in the same category with cattle and slaves as a chattel. To perceive the "distinction" which the New Testament makes between men and women, read Colossians iii, Ephesians v, 1 Corinthians xiv, 1 Peter ii, 1 Timothy ii, and 1 Corinthians vii. Of course this is a slight digression from the discussion of the age-of-consent problem, but, as one of the champions of increased restriction of woman's initiative has seen fit to try to make capital for his pet religious superstition out of the question at issue, it was deemed expedient to follow him in his wandering and expose the hollowness of his claims.
Some Definitions That Do Not Define
Dr. Janney attempts definition; for instance, he says that "an immoral act becomes criminal when done in violation of a law which defines the crime." It becomes illegal under those circumstances, but the law cannot make an act criminal which is not so per se. To be criminal it must be an act of invasion without the consent of the invaded. The doctor continues: "Thus unchastity is criminal up to the 'age of consent'; after that, it is immoral, but not criminal." What confusion! It is not the unchastity that is criminal, but the invasion of the person of the child. Neither is "unchastity" necessarily immoral after that time; it depends entirely upon conditions, for we know that by "unchastity" Dr. Janney means intimate relations outside of marriage. In the next paragraph the doctor, advocating the extension of the "age" limit, says: "Several more years will be provided, during which the unchaste act is not merely immoral, but criminal." Here we are again met with the insulting assumption that free association is necessarily unchaste association, while the error of definition in the matter of criminality is repeated. If the legislature can make that a crime which is not so in itself, then all that would be necessary to make the writing and printing of Dr. Janney's article crimes would be the enacted opinion of the majority of the members of the legislatures of Maryland and Massachusetts that said writing and printing were crimes.
Why Women Are Ignorant of Their Peril
Describing the nature and deadly effects of certain diseases, Dr. Janney says: "It is safe to say that a girl of fourteen or sixteen years knows nothing of the existence of such diseases in men. It is something that does not enter into her thoughts." How much more will she know at eighteen, if she is handicapped with a mother and father who have failed to instruct her before she has reached her sixteenth year? A system of miscalled education that leaves girls thus defenceless at that age or an earlier or a later one is condemned by that fact, and the religious and moral instructors who sanction the prohibition of the circulation of physiological and medical works that would, if put into the hands of the young, prevent very much of this lamentable ignorance have no call to denounce those friends of liberty and growth who hold that light, and not law, is the only efficient protector of the young as well as of the more advanced in years. But what will Dr. Janney do to protect the young wife of the diseased man? Does the girl of sixteen or twenty who marries know anything more about these diseases than does the girl who is not married? The chances are that she knows less, if anything, and this will possibly explain somewhat of her haste to enter into a legal relation where she cannot refuse to consort with the man she has chosen, even if she finds him a mass of corruption. Assuredly the free woman is in a better position to protect herself from such dangers than is the wife who cannot make effective defence against outrage save through a costly suit for divorce, and not then if her licensed assailant has committed no offence which the law does not sanction, as it does this. By the way, Miss Gardener had something to say about "licensed lechery," in connection with the age-of-consent laws; but this is the only "licensed" crime of the kind of which I have heard, - this legal subjection of the wife to the husband, in the spirit of the good old Bible injunction, "as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything," regardless of the state of his or their health. Dr. Janney should do a good deal of hard thinking before he writes again.
A Protest Against Gratuitous Insults
In conclusion, I wish to protest against the phraseology of most, if not all, of these conventional moralists. Miss Willard, to illustrate, speaks of the girl of ten being "held responsible equally with her strong, relentless, and doughty assailant for the sale of herself in a crime of which two only are capable." But, if two persons are capable of contracting for this relation, if cannot be a crime; you may call it unchaste, or immoral, or vicious, but a crime it cannot be. In the case of the child and the man, however, one of them not being able to contract, it can be neither a crime nor an immoral act on her part, for she does not invade him, and, as she presumably does not understand the nature of the act, it is not possible to conceive of it as an immoral action, so far as she is concerned. She may be severely injured physically and in her nervous system, but that does not imply moral obliquity. There is but one criminal in the case, and that is the invader, the man. Why, then, look upon her in any different light from that in which you would view the victim of a highway robber or burglar? She is simply a sufferer from assault, not a participant in immorality or crime.
Since the above was written, the Woman Suffrage Association has been in convention in Atlanta, and it had a jubilee over the news that the bill raising the age of consent to twenty-one years, introduced by the Hon. Mrs. Holly in the Colorado assembly, had been passed by that body of wiseacres. The suffragist telegraphed their congratulations to Mrs. Holly. Why did the legislature not raise the "age" to sixty years and be done with it? Why stop at trifles, or be influenced in the least by considerations of good sense and justice?
If Rev. Mr. Lewis and Dr. Janney are to be believed, woman is nothing but an incarnation of chastity; and, when she is smirched or becomes unorthodox in her sex nature and its manifestations, she is forever done for, - she has no other virtues or merits to redeem her or recommend her to our mercy. Man has many good qualifies as well as bad ones, and so, even if he has been or is irregular or vicious in his sex associations, he is not lost; he can do much to win the toleration, the praise, or perhaps the enthusiastic laudation of his fellows, including even the women who have not "sinned," or been known to sin, which is the same thing to Mr. Grundy and his wife. Dr. Lewis refers to woman's conventional chastity as her "one badge of womanhood." Think of what that implies! A woman's service in the cause of humanity is nothing; her arduous labors for the support of herself and her parents and children are nothing; her devotion to her country in the hospital is nothing; her literary or artistic productions are nothing; her brains are valueless, - nothing about her is worth a moment's consideration but her conformity to a sexual code which may or may not be better than any other which man has invented. Her supposed faithfulness to this code is the "only badge of her womanhood"! Heavens! what would be left to the world of the achievements of men, if their sexual unorthodoxy had cancelled all their intellectual and ethical services? Where would be our inventions, our letters, our art, our science? Dr. Lewis insults the self-respecting women of the world, and they should sting him into shame and repentance with their unanimous and indignant affirmation that a true woman is something besides a bundle of sex nerves; they should tell him that they value themselves too highly to be thrown into a paroxysm of despair by a mistaken - if it is a mistaken - use of one function of their natures. Mr. Layton W. Crippen, fellow of the Society of Arts and member of the Japan Society, in a lecture at the Hotel Waldorf, New York, said that it was quite impossible to reconcile art and morality in the manner so often attempted. The real solution of the difficulty is in recognizing that goodness consists in more than mere "virtue"; in the words of the Kabbalah, it is composed of virtue and truth and beauty. So of the character of woman; her goodness consists in more than a mere fashionable adherence to a code of sex ethics, and she is not "ruined" by even real imprudence, if she have the strength of character to profit by her mistakes.
Dr. Janney calls sex association outside of the conventional limits "degradation." It may or may not be degradation, just as association within marriage may or may not be degradation. All depends on other factors than the license granted or withheld by the State, or the formula repeated or not repeated by priest or magistrate. The essential verifies do not depend for their validity on any such ephemeral things as States and churches. There is no reason why liberty should degrade love, and no reason why a political or religious machine should legifimatize or sanctify prostitution and invasion; but there are many reasons why liberty should make sane and responsible the relations of the sexes, and why legal and ecclesiastical tyranny should do the very opposite. These are not a priori assumptions; they are valid generalizafions from millions of facts recorded in the history of mankind.
The "Double Standard" of "Honor"
Once more Dr. Janney. He tells us that "no possession is so precious to a woman as her honor"; "it is infinitely more valuable to her than gold, houses, lands, or jewels; more valuable to her than even life itself." "Rather should the age of consent be placed above eighteen years than under it. Let chastity be valued above money." No fault can be found with the last sentence, but what does the doctor think of the women who marry for money and position and homes? But let that pass; he will not fail to see the pertinency of the question, I think. Nothing could well be more insulting to womanhood than this writer's cool assumption that woman's honor contains but one constituent element, - her chastity, as he calls it, which, after all, may be nothing more than her cowardice, or her superstitious reverence for traditions, or her coldness, or her ill-health, or her worldly prudence, or her happy family life leaving nothing at present to be desired. A man's honor is not entirely dissociated from the capacity and wish to tell the truth, from the desire to be honest in his business engagements, from his capacity to respect the rights of others and to be a gentleman in the broadest and best meaning of the word. Why should a woman's "honor" be held by the self-vaunted moralists to be less inclusive than that of her brother? Is it not as honorable to tell the truth, to be financially honest, to respect the rights of one's neighbors, to be womanly in the noblest sense, as it is to conform to a sexual code imposed by others? Why should a young woman be denied her right of choice merely because it is feared that she may possibly make a mistake in her love relations and so lose her "honor," when, in fact, she may be sexually unconventional, and yet be in all respects honorable to a degree? Let us be done with this nauseating cant which ignores every factor but one that contributes to complete womanhood, that one factor being sexual "purity," which is so often counterfeited by mere conventional conformity that the rational thinker places no value on the verbal counters with which is is attempted to give it universal currency.
Give us liberty, and chastity, purity, and morality will take care of themselves, because all will then have an opportunity to be healthfully chaste, pure, and moral instead of traditionally, customarily, or legally conventional - in the gaze of the world.
"What is Anarchy?"
David A. Andrade of Melbourne, Australia
from a lecture
Printed in Liberty #100, pp 6-8, May 28, 1887.
"What is Anarchy? Admirers of the writings of that master poet, Percy Bysshe Shelley, will probably remember the definition he gives in his celebrated poem, "The Masque of Anarchy":
Last came Anarchy; he rode
On a white horse, splashed with blood.
He was pale even to the lips,
Like Death in the Apocalypse.
And he wore a kingly crown;
And in his grasp a sceptre shone;
And on his brow this mark I saw –
"I am God, and King, and Law!"
We shall presently see that Shelley's words hold good today, except that the name has been transferred to the opposite party, and is not now used to define "God and Kind and Law," but to define the principles of that party which Shelley so ably champions. But there is another definition of Anarchy;it is a similar picture to the foregoing, except that he is the symbol of lawlessness allied to disorder and violence. Who is not familiar with the terrible picture of Anarchy, the horrible spectre, mounted on his "horse of death," riding furiously over every man, woman, and child that come in his way, and ruthlessly trampling them to death in his wild career, in the name of lawlessness? This is the popular conception of Anarchy. It is the Anarchy described by newspaper scribes and lexicographers, - the big black bogie of the politician, - the synonym for war, murder, tumult, and general social discord. Such is Anarchy as defined by its foes, - those foes who willfully misrepresent it to guard their own vested interest by so doing, and another class of foes, more numerous and influential, who take up the cry of the former, utterly unconscious of its true character and of the bearing which it has upon their own individual welfare. News constantly flashes through the wires, or is carried through the post, telling the public of some diabolical plot of the Russian Nihilists, or some terrible insurrection among the Anarchists and the Dynamiters of Europe. Nobody troubles to ascertain the nature of the channels through which the news has filtered; nor do they trouble to ascertain the source from, or the conditions under, which it emanated. They are quite satisfied in taking the prescription just as their typographical physicians have prepared it, and never trouble to ask themselves if they are imbibing mental poison, instead of legitimate news as they imagine. Even those who pride themselves upon their scepticism in matters of theology are frequently among the first to condemn the actions and principles of the great heroes of the antipodes, simply on the bare statements of a contaminated and deceptive press. It is not, however, their action so much as their principles which I intend to lay before you, although they are so intimately connected - their principles being principles of action - that it is impossible to speak of the one without occasionally alluding to the other. Neither do I propose to merely state the principles of the Anarchists, but to defend them also.
I have given the commonly-accepted definition of Anarchy, - that is, the definition as given by non-Anarchists: now let me give the definition of Anarchy as understood by the Anarchists themselves. Anarchy is Individualism consistently carried out and put into practice. It is the doctrine of autonomy, laissez faire, independence, and liberty. It is the doctrine which accepts all the social principles of that most advanced school of thinkers of which Herbert Spencer is at the head, and does not fear to carry them to their logical conclu- sions, even though the greatest expounders of those principles may fail to do so themselves. Anarchy, in short, is to politics what atheism is to theology. Atheism says: defy the priest, who robs you under the authority of a god; Anarchy says: defy the ruler who robs you under the authority of a State, as well. Atheism says: be free in your thoughts; Anarchy says: be free in your thoughts and actions too. Atheism says: face the gods like a man; Anarchy says: face all existence like a man. Atheism says: from the gods be free; Anarchy simply says: BE FREE!
As Atheism means "without God," so Anarchy means "without Government." It rejects all authority, whether emanating from gods, goddesses, kings, queens, popes, priests, presidents, or parliaments. It refuses to be crushed out by the rule of majorities or minorities, by monarchies or republics, by aristocracies or democracies, and by law-makers and law- executioners of all kinds whatsoever. The only truth it recognizes is the law of equal freedom. The only right it recognizes it the right to live, - the right of self- preservation, - the right to live as best the intelligence dictates, exercising every function of one's nature to one's best ability, and taking upon one's self the necessary responsibility of every action so performed. Its watchword is: "The equal liberty of each, limited by the equal liberty of all." And all the tyrannies which have so cursed the world in the course of its painful development is wages war with to the death. No matter what sacred halo may enshrine a deed; no matter what air of sanctity may pervade an institution, - if it fails to recognize that principle of equal liberty of all, Anarchy set its brand upon it, Anarchy is at war with it. If a papacy claim a divine appointment to govern mankind, Anarchy repudiates it. Your authority is false, says Anarchy, and, if it were not, we should still oppose it, because it is a tyranny and an enemy of liberty. Should the monarch claim the same right, he would receive the same answer. Should the president, the prime minister, the governor, or the chief secretary say: "We have been appointed by a majority of the citizens to dictate methods of action to each individual," Anarchy tells them they stand self-condemned, - for any act of a majority to coerce a minority is a direct infringement of the law of equal liberty, and as great a tyranny as the others. Should a legislative body, without a president, without a chief secretary, without a head of any kind, attempt to control the actions of the community, acting under the sanction of a majority who had elected them to office, Anarchy would still deny their right to infringe the liberty of the minority: aye, although that minority be a minority of but one individual; for Anarchy knows no mathematical line of demarkation between a just tyranny and an unjust tyranny, no mystic property in figures which decides the morality of an act. Anarchy does not say that, because one individual out of a thousand has no right to coerce the rest, therefore somewhere further down in the scale a number can be found which has that right. It used to be thought that, in a society of a thousand members, one out of the number had a right to rule the rest: that was a despotic monarchy. Then it was thought that he had the right to do so, if he had five hundred to back him up: that was a limited monarchy. Then it was thought that the five hundred had the right to do so, if they picked another out of the remainder in place of the one who originally rules: that was a republic, with a president at its head. Then it was thought that the five hundred and one had the right to rule the other four hundred and ninety-nine, so long as they, or their representatives, voted in a body (that is, by dispensing with the office of a president, and not being split into two sections as they were formerly); that is the modern ideal democracy.
This constant changing of the forms of government is all very amusing to those who have not to pay for it. But what about those who have to suffer all these experiments? Where is the minority all the time? Where are th four hundred and ninety-nine or any lower figure that it may be, - perhaps one? Where are they? Forgotten! Every individual composing the minority is "The Forgotten Man," to use Sumner's excellent expression. All this foolish game of political chess has been played, and what for? Why is the limited monarch moved to the square lately occupied by the despotic monarch, and he subsequently removed off the board by the president? Why has this costly and fruitless game been played? Why, simply that the pawns should be enabled to see sufficient of its surface as silent spectators, and should lose sight, in the excitement of the game, of the part they themselves were playing in it. The rulers, the politicians, the tricksters, said to the people: "Here, we will give you a lolly to suck in the form of a vote, and it will keep you quiet; you will vainly hope by that means to checkmate us, but it will not give you the power; and you will continue to help us in carrying on the game, under the impression that you stand as good a chance of winning it as we do; you are too foolish at present to know that political chess is a game of 'heads I win, and tails you love.'" But Anarchy come along, and says to the stupid voters: "Wake up! open your eyes, and see what you are about; you are not feeling yourselves with your votes; you are killing yourselves; you have got a State tape-worm inside of you, and you are feeding that instead; take an emetic in the form of a healthy mental revolution; if it doesn't act after a time, try a stronger does,- -mix a little dynamite with it; that will help you to remove one of the worm, and you will have very little difficulty in passing the rest, for they will only too willingly fall in with your ideas when they find your medicine too strong for them." And that is the method by which Anarchy proposes and has already commenced to cure humanity of the social diseases which have hindered its progress for so many untold generations. "We did not succeed, because we were mere talkers, incapable of real work", said the Nihilists reproachfully of themselves; and the cry, "Let us act," soon became a bye-word with them. And one needs not to be told that they put their resolutions into practice; even the falsifying press has told us that much.
But whence comes Anarchy? What are the circumstances which have brought it into existence? It is simply the revolt of intel- lectual man against the degrading principle of authority, which his ignorant and brutish ancestors have handled down to him. In the earlier stages of human existence, men, in order to avert the constant depredations of their kind, elected one of their number chief, or leader, of the general body, and, while acting under his leadership, acknowledged the supremacy of his dictates and voluntarily appealed to him to arbitrate between them in their little disputes one with another. This appears to have answered its purpose very well in the early stages of man's career, but, as society become more complicated and knowledge became diffused among the members, this chieftainship began to assume the nature of a tyranny rather than a blessing. The greatest wisdom had hitherto bee the distinctive characteristic of the chief, but now it had become the general characteristic of the people as a whole, and in many instances the subject showed more wisdom than his ruler. In other words, the chieftainship of primitive ages had developed into that form of monarchy seen in modern times, where the king or queen, though blessed with all the luxuries and attractions which modern ingenuity can bring, - the costly trappings, the gaudy shows, the immense displays of wealth and mock charity, - is no longer received with that reverential and unquestioning devotion which characterized his or her less gaudy but more potent prototype. The lot of the modern monarch is one of extreme danger to himself, to say the least of it. The divine right which used to hedge a king has been swept away by the keen logic of modern scepticism, and the humblest laborer does not fear to proclaim himself a republican. He no longer admires the monarch's wealth, because he has realized the fact that he has to pay for it. He no longer looks upon his ruler as a majestic hero, when he proclaim war with another nation; but he looks upon him as a robber and a mercenary self-seeker, who sends his subjects to be butchered like so many rats in order that he may still further drain the pockets of the poor fools who so liberally support him in his grand system of spoilation and stolen luxury. The modern monarch durst not leave his palace, lest some brave Nihilist or Dynamiter shall seek revenge for the thousands of missing and brothers whom he has consigned to exile or to death. The time has passed for monarchy, for the people have learned that with power they are tyrants, and without it they are useless expenses. An absolute monarch is the simplest and most perfect form of government possible, and consequently it is the worst possible system for the governed. And as the kings have had to disclaim any divine appointment and to practically admit that the only right they have to their position is the right of might, the people have said to them: "Be it so! if might is right, we shall put our respective strengths to the test and see on whose side the might lies." When a community has settled matters with its king, instead of dispensing with the office, it hands it over to the parliament or government, and when it finds its new master as treacherous as the old one, it sets about trying to hold the "reins of government" itself. It is here that the voting swindle comes more fully into play, and the wily politician proposes "universal suffrage" as a panacea. The tyranny of one man had been shown by experience to be detrimental to human welfare, so it was proposed to make every man a tyrant as far as possible by letting every adult individual have a vote in the election of representative rulers. But this does not materially change matters, for one half of the community are still without representatives, - that is, the half who voted for unsuccessful candidates. And even the successful voters who did return their representatives are not much better off than the unsuccessful ones. They are really no more "represented" than the others. Could a greater mockery exist than that involved in the word "representative"? Can any man be represented by any one else? Are there any two men alike in the world? Of course not. Then how ridiculous to say that one politician represents a few hundred individuals, not one of whom he resembles, and who, furthermore, differ from each other!The majority have no more returned representatives than the minority have done. What they have returned are men with ideas and crotchets of their own, or men with no ideas at all, as is oftner the case, - men who in their hearts can say with the pious editor:
I do believe hard coin the stuff
For Electioneers to spout on;
The people's ollers soft enough
To make hard money out on;
Dear Uncle Sam pervides fer his,
And gives a good-sized junk to all;
I don't care how hard money is,
Ez long ez mine's paid punctooal.
Some of the "representatives" are superior to that type, but even they are in most instances little better than the others. They are all tarred with the same brush; and the despicable tyranny of the common-place politician is carried on in an equally effective, though not so open a manner, by the wealthy idler who represents "respectability." One and all are office-seekers, trying to get cheap honors and well-filled pockets by following up the contemptible trade of minding other people's business, under the hollow pretense that they are their "representatives." No wealthy legislator can represent the hard-working, poorly-fed mass of the population; neither can a "poor" man, returned on the "payment of members" system, represent them, for the individual is transformed in the operation. He is now a paid servant in an easy government billet, and no longer the hard-working and poorly-paid man that he was before his election; and he is no longer a representative of the class which returned him when his circumstances resembled their own. And the probability is that, if he went in a honest man (as occasionally happens), he will come out a rogue.
In the face of all this bamboozling, what is to be done? dignity and your individualist to the few professional politicians, who are deserving of nothing from you beyond contempt for their mischievous meddlesomeness. Do not countenance this pernicious system, which ignores the rights of every minority and every individual who is leading the progress of society. When next you go to register your vote, - that sugar-coated pill, - remember what the politician says of it:
This hath my faithful shepherd been,
In pastures sweet hath led me;
And this will keep the people green,
To feed, as they have fed me.
And let the voter bear in mind that every time he gives his vote he is assisting to perpetuate a system which has been continually waging war with the best interests of mankind. No matter what class may be in the ascendancy, the results to the ruled are disastrous nevertheless. If an aristocracy of wealth be represented, it means the enactment of more arbitrary and cruel laws to wring more securely from the laborers the necessaries and luxuries of which they are the sole producers. If the "poor" are represented, it means the enactment of laws to supply the requirements of the thriftless, the stupid, and the good-for-nothing at the expense of the industrious, the careful, and the hard-working, - robbing the successful Peter to pay the unsuccessful Paul. No party, no individual, is clever enough to legislate for others with good results. It takes a clever man to run a large business; but it wants an omniscient one to run a government. Every class government is an unqualified tyranny, whether it be a conservative House of Lords, or a House of Commons which refuses to allow Charles Bradlaugh to do what it does itself, or a government like that of Liberal (U.S.A.) [a town], which refuses to allow its inhabitants to erect and attend churches and public-houses; it is still a tyranny of the once class in power, arbitrarily dictating to all the other classes what they shall do and what they shall not do, irrespective of what the others are anxious to do in the matter. All governments are tyrannies; and that is why revolutions have generally resulted in the substitution of one tyrant for another, and why the general elections always produce a similar result, and "parliamentary reform" always turns out to be a sham. Reform comes from without, and it is useless to expect a government to reform itself when its own self-interest warns it against taking such a fatal step. Reformers in the past, and many in the present, who ignore the face that "history repeats itself," have continued to formulate schemes for the improvement of society, by means of the tyrannical institutions of which I have been speaking. All those people who are known under the generic name of State Socialists have aimed at modeling society on a totally different basis from that on which it rests at present, and hope to achieve their reforms by means of those demoralizing institutions founded on compulsion...All institutions which seek to force mankind to perform certain actions are based on the principle of slavery, and cannot fail to do harm to human welfare.
The natural function of government is to perpetuate slavery; for the more reverence three is in the people, the more they are law-abiding and cowardly, the more humility and loyalty they show, the easier it is for the few adventurers called "the State" to rule over. them. No State can make much progress where the individual members of the community are brave, independent, and self-reliant. It is only the humble and the meek who submit to such a body. The idea of a State setting about to make people moral and prevent crime! Could absurdity go much further. Fancy a mixed body of novices and charlatans setting up as judges of crime, and passing acts to prevent it, without knowing what crime is, what produces it, or what will remove it. One of the most potent causes of crime is the want of self-reliance. And yet this is the very quality which all governments tend to destroy in the individual, directly they set about government him. Government have tried to suppress drunkenness and only succeeded in intensifying it, and turning honest people into sly grog-sellers. Governments try to make people moral by passing laws upon laws and torturing and imprisoning their victims. No one can fully define morality, and yet every ignorant government acts as though it actually knew more about it than other people. Heresy is immoral, says a government, and forthwith it persecutes a Columbus and a Galileo, burns a Bruno, and imprisons a Bennett or a Foote. A priestly government creates an inquisition, and a political government builds gallows and prisons, and makes laws to fill them. A government tries to keep the press pure, and inaugurates a vigilance which soon develops into a rigid censorship, which it requires a Nihilist to overthrow, or it enacts the most iniquitous laws, which it takes a Wilkes, a Bradlaugh, or a Symers to break. In the defense of the nation or the individual the State again fails to do as much good as evil. It makes legal expenses so extravagant that many a man has been ruined in trying to right a wrong by its assistance. It sets guard over us a body of policeman who in many instances are not better than itself, on the principle of "setting a thief to catch a thief." Its courts of justice are but a mockery of the name, frequently as unjust as they are uncertain; for they are always dependent on bad laws, the interpretation of which is often dependent on the humor of a judge or the state of his stomach. So little are the judges to be relied on for meting out justice that nine people out of ten have more faith in an ordinary body of jurymen, picked haphazard from every Tom, Dick, and Harry who passes by. That individual is best protected by the law who manages to keep out of is meshes. Long ago Bacon said that every man should know sufficient of the law to make him keep out of it, and his axiom holds as good as ever, and will continue to do so as long as men are slaves, and until each is a law unto himself. As to the State's protection of the nation, history has plentifully supplied the record of wars and international intrigues which it has developed in that direction; and the cost and inutility of standing armies has been pretty well estimated People are already beginning to learn that to be a soldier is to be a slave, and to pay taxes to support the army is to be a worse slave still. The British taxpayer is finding that, while was pays his rulers, it does not pay him. The State has defended (?) [sic] the English nation during the last two centuries by involving them in an expense of something like sixteen hundred million pounds, all of which has come out of the wealth - not the money - produced by the laboring classes.
The governments sometimes try "the 'prentice hand'" on the management of the railways, the shipping, or the building operations of the country, and everywhere they leave a trail of devastation behind them. Even in the post-office, that cheaply-conducted, extensively-patronized institution, they conduct the business with less efficiency and at greater expense than private companies, whom they cannot compete with, and consequently have to drive out of the market by making their competition criminal, or carrying on their own system at a still greater loss, which has to be borne by the taypaying public. Bungling and dishonesty characterize nearly every government undertaking. They superintend the management of the public libraries, art galleries, and museums, and close them on the very day in which the great bulk of those who are taxes to support them can only find time to visit them. The celebrated Sunday question, the laws regarding oaths, and the whole question of Church and State, show what little justice is to be expected from governments, and how they always take tyrannies under their wings and work together for a common object. The States have made such moral cowards of the people that they actually tolerate laws against libel; and the stupid and vexatious laws to regulate the sale of poisons they bear almost without a murmur. Even laws against vice are allowed to pass unquestioned, - laws "to save the individual from himself," to prevent him gambling and getting drunk, to make him insure his life, to prevent him from committing suicide when they have made his life unbearable.
Then the State becomes quack physician and decides that some shall practice the healing art and some shall not: a certain "diploma" shall be necessary to allow a man to practice as one of the "profession," - one of the monopoly which has grown out of that great monopoly, "the State." Nor content with going so far, they step between the parent and the offspring, and under threats of fine and imprisonment compel the unhappy parents to submit their children to that abominable and filthy practice, - vaccination, - it being to the interests of "the profession" to have it perpetuated. With the same kindly interest, the ignorant handful called "the State" next tells the parent what he shall do for his offspring in the way of education; how he shall be compelled to send his child to a State school to be formed by second-rate teachers into a common-place individual; and how, if he has no child, he shall pay taxes with which other people's children shall be "educated." And by the time it has so crammed the child with "education" that its little brain has been turned, it bundles it off to a lunatic asylum to drag out its miserable little life in the company of other lunatics consisting of madmen and madwomen, people slightly "touched" and others quite sane, - all in fact, except the very class whose presence there would be the most advantageous to society, - the legislators themselves. After a while, the little creature dies, and is buried in a State cemetery,t here to rot and emit poisonous gases with which to destroy the health and shorten the lives of those whose turn has not yet come to return to their maker, the earth, The parents dare not subject the dead body to cremation instead, in order to ward off these evils because it is "unlawful" and "sinful,' as it is called respectively by the twin life-destroyers, the Church and the State, in their omniscient wisdom.
And what says Anarchy in all this roguery? It says: Mind your own business. Anarchy says a man shall choose what physician he likes, and take the risk of a bad choice without being dictated to by the ignorant "State." It tells the parent to refrain from having his child vaccinated if he believes it to be injurious, or to have it vaccinated and take the consequences if he believes it to be beneficial. It tells the parent to educate his child in what he thinks necessary, and to choose the teachers and the place of education himself. And Anarchy tells the parent to dispose of the body of his dead child in whatever manner his judgment and good sense commend.
There is not corner free from the machinations of the State clique. They find their way into the factory and the store. But Anarchy with eagle eye is ever on their track, and well it need be, for "the price of liberty is eternal vigilance." Anarchy says that manufacturers, like all other people, should be left to manage their own affairs in their own way; and that no mischievous Factory Acts nor Eight Hours Bills should undertake to manage it for them. Neither should a government exist to dictate who shall work and who shall not whether he be an Englishman or a Chinaman, of whether he belong to any other nationality. Anarchy says no government shall interfere in the commercial affairs of individuals and nations, but each shall be free to deal with whom he likes, and to exchange what commodities he chooses to. He shall divide his labor as he finds convenient, and shall have his industries conducted simultaneously over the whole world if he finds it in his interest to do so. In this department, as in all others, Anarchy is satisfied with nothing short of absolute Free Trade. Every laborer shall do what he likes with the products of his own labor; and no "State" shall rob him of a large portion of it, as they now do, by means of compulsory taxation. Unfettered natural selection shall then operate upon the distribution of products to the advantage of our food and food-supplies, as it now operates upon other necessities which the State has not yet got it "protective" grip upon. The enormous waste of wealth by the State, its outlays upon wars, monarchies, aristocracies, government, civil services, pensions, and the thousand and one other natural jobberies that government is heir to, shall thereby be cut off by having their supply stopped at the source. Capital shall then represent wealth and not currency, and the Issues of money shall be responsible for the repayment of it in the necessaries of life. Individuals shall be free to adopt what form of currency they desire and find most convenient, whether it be metallic money or paper money, private money or national money. There shall be no laws to imprison a man for issuing "unlawful" money, but each will be a liberty to adopt his own system, and the fittest system will survive. Plutocracy, shorn of its monopoly, shall no longer be the toiler's master, but shall be reduced to the useful function of acting as his servant.
Poverty will probably exist as long as humanity does, but without a State to foster it with its robberies and its poor-laws it will be transferred from the shoulders of the taxpayer to that of the idler. And who shall bring about the change? The legislators, whose interests are directly opposed to the legislated, are not the ones to look to for liberty in this direction. Their interests are as wide apart as the poles asunder. Law-making is the natural function of the legislator, not law-repealing. It is only the outside influence - the Anarchical influence - which can do it.
This is a transcription in progress...