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anarchist conclusions, but for the present, I prefer to adhere to the consideration of the premises. I confess that I was surprised to find the anarchist premise so consistent with the anarchist conclusions, and I was pleased, because I like consistency as well as any one. But the consistency I most admire in opinions is consistency with facts. Of course, there are the files of Liberty, and other literature, not so good, most of it. But I thought you might be willing to sift the matter out a little for my special benefit.
II. The toilers will not and ought not to submit to such an economic condition as the present, with its starvation wages, involuntary idleness for thousands, insecurity, and general wretchedness. They see no way out of this save that indicated by the State socialists; they flock around that standard, not because they thoroughly admire it but because they see no other entitled to preference. To talk to them of liberty, independence, dignity is to waste energy. Can they be expected to be impressed with the moral and philosophical argumentation of To-DAY or of the Free Life, when even Mill, who certainly understood and felt the value of personal liberty, and well knew all there is to be advanced on that side, declared that the communistic system was preferable to the present, which unjustly condemns masses of honest and industrious laborers to misery and degrading want?- Liberty, No. 162.
Of course, if constant exhortation to let their minds dwell on the advantages of liberty and independence is wasted energy, the implied criticism of To-DAY is justified. I am not so sure but what you are right. I fear that the performances of To-DAY lack grace, involving, as they do, an amount of energy and effort altogether out of proportion to any result that may be reasonably anticipated. Many have told me so, and I fear they are right. It requires talent to succeed, and that To-Day should not succeed is a trivial matter. But the worst of it is that there is reason to believe that even if the task of To-DAY were performed with ideal excellence, the effect would still be small, and the "talk of liberty, independence, and dignity" would still be futile. In view of your own persistence, I may congratulate us both that we are controlled in this matter by our desires rather than by our expectations. I am surprised, however, to have this confirmation of my opinion that men are slaves by nature, working-men certainly no less, and probably more, than others, because to them we have especially addressed ourselves, and their self-interest is more plainly and directly involved.
III. All these journals (Free Life, Personal Rights, TO-DAY) ably advocate individualism and vigorously combat State socialism. In the main, they coincide with the teaching of the anarchists. Yet I firmly believe that they will exert very little influence, and gain next to no importance in the circle of agencies that shall arrest the present tendency of the people to look and walk backward and determine a healthy change in their dispositions and ideas. I believe that theirs will remain a voice crying in the wilderness, and that the promoters of the socialistic plans have no cause to fear them.
I am glad to find that you are more sanguine of your own success than you are hopeful of ours; but I am at a loss to understand what this has to do with the question, which of us is right. State socialism has, perhaps, the best chance of being tried next, - that is, the communistic feature of socialism; as to the rest of the programme, I cannot see but what it is being enacted pretty well already. The reaction from this error may very likely carry us to anarchy. Then, if we survive both these errors, individualism - that is, political individualism (I know nothing of any other) — may have its turn. None of these things may happen, the last being, perhaps, the most unlikely to happen. A thousand systems may rise and fall; Spenceriau individualism in the end will be, as it was to begin with, and continued throughout the catastrophes, the right system. The rightness of it does not establish much presumption that it will prevail. That is a question of conduct, and the whole world might see the rightness of the "Man versus the State," and still not put it into practice; because men are slaves and tyrants by nature; and right thinking is not so great an aid to conduct as right feeling is.
IV. It is to be hoped that the journals mentioned will investigate the matter and form a decided opinion as to the real causes of the present beggary and slavery of the toiling masses. If the opinion turns out to be similar to ours, well and good; if antagonistic, we stand ready to defend our ground; but let there be an end to the vague and futile talk of ifs and perhapses: it is tiresome.
Speaking for TO-DAY: the file of this paper is not very long, to be sure, but, even as it is, it shows plain evidence of the investigation of this very matter, and, short as the file is, it contains some of the very evidence Liberty needs in order to make good its premise. As to forming a "decided opinion as to the real causes" of anything whatever, this seems to us a much more serious under
taking than it does to the anarchists. fact that indecision is "tiresome" to some persons will not prevent us from preferring truth to any particular conclusion. But on this special point To-DAY is not very undecided. There is a good deal to be said in favor of the extreme anarchist view of the causes of poverty; but there is more to be said in favor of some other view. Vast and complex as the subject is, with customary American recklessness, we have, to use Liberty's expression, "tackled" it. The result of the wrestling has been to decide many points against Liberty, and to leave many things in the air which Liberty regards as founded on rock. We are admonished as to these to come to some "decided opinion" ; but, on the whole, we shall continue rather to give ear to the Greek philosopher when he says:
"Know, so far as is permitted thee, that Nature in all things is like unto herself.
"That thou mayst not hope that of which there is no hope, nor be ignorant of that which may be
"Know thou also that the woes of men are the work of their own hands.
"Miserable are they, because they see not and hear not the good that is very nigh them; and the way of escape from evil, few there be that understand it."
The principal cause of poverty is reckless reproduction; next, voluntary idleness; next, war; next, stupidity; next, vice; and, after a while, it may be that we come to involuntary idleness as a cause of poverty. Now, when all the appearances are in favor of taking the of poverty in this order, I am not going to take them in any other order without a good deal of evidence. Of course, when a man is already hungry and naked, it is very involuntary with him to remain so; but there is nothing to show that the abolition of government will make men consider future in preference to present gratifications; and until they do prefer future to present gratifications to a greater extent than many do now, there will be poverty. But the socialists
the industrial reform
want to regard the other causes of poverty as natural and necessary, while involuntary idleness becomes, in their opinion, the cause which may be prevented from acting. Now, what I want to ask Liberty in this connection is, when does the involuntary idleness
begin? Does it begin just before supper? I am not joking. I have been pricked into inquiring for the "real causes of povertyextreme poverty; I am in search of a "decided opinion." So I turn to Liberty, and ask about this involuntary idleness of which many persons of the same mind as Liberty, on the main issue, speak so glibly. When does it begin? When does the idleness begin, and when does the involuntariness begin? As far as poverty is concerned, I suspect that there will be no difficulty in agreeing that unremunerative work, however laborious, must be classed with idleness. For instance, a man might go out into his back yard, or into some other man's, if land has not yet been equitably distributed, and dig a hole in the ground, and work very hard at it too, yet be without his supper when night comes. I suppose this must be regarded as an extreme case of unremunerative labor; the other extreme is when a man is paid a very large sum of money - thousands of dollars for idling around the State House and talking to legislators about the weather and street franchises. That is very remunerative labor in Massachusetts just now. One man is idle and well paid, for I assume that the recent investigation showed that whatever influence lobbyists may have is not due to industry - while the other man is industrious and illpaid, or not paid at all. In one case, we have unremunerative labor, in the other case remunerative idleness. In the former case, the man might as well have been idle, as far as the effect on his poverty is concerned. Now, why does the man do unremunerative work? Because he cannot find remunerative work, say the socialists; and I think this answer must be accepted in the case of the industri
Now the socialists propose to us to abolish remunerative idleness and unremunerative labor; and to accomplish this they have two methods, one the governmental, the other, the anarchist. They all seem to agree that if you can abolish remunerative idleness, unremunerative labor will cease to exist. As far as I can see, however, the extension of government, or the abolition of government, would only succeed in establishing different conditions under which remunerative idleness or unremunerative labor would flourish. As a matter of fact, men are foolish enough to perform unremunerative labor now, and I fail
to see how changing the external conditions will make them any wiser. If we persist in publishing To-DAY although people will not pay us for doing so, the result of this unremunerative labor may very well be involuntary idleness, and unremunerative idleness, too. And when that time shall have come, I am at a loss to see how the State shall have been to blame, directly or remotely.
Now, the belief of the socialists and of the anarchists seems to be that a set of conditions may be brought about under which a man can always find remunerative employment. I can only say that this belief seems to me to touch the very bottom of credulity. Some men, I insist, will indulge voluntarily for a longer or shorter time, from whatever motives, in idleness, or in unremunerative labor. No power in the heavens above nor in the earth below will prevent these men from being brought to the point of involuntary idleness, or, what amounts to the same thing, unremunerative labor involuntarily performed; in other words, to the point of poverty.
But the true view of governmental interference and the way this works harm to the poor is that maintained in TO-DAY, in almost every number.
V. Not long since To-DAY professed to believe that " scientifically the conclusion that anarchy is the ideal is valuable.". . . . But in its issue of June 26 it expresses itself as follows: "As for anarchy's being the ideal political state, this is a very barren conclusion . . Most all sensible people agree that, if we were perfect, we should need no government." Unless it is no contradiction in terms to say that a valuable thing is very barren, or a very barren thing valuable, TO-DAY has undergone an important change of opinion within the last few months.
Not at all. This is simply a question of words corresponding to temporary states of mind. With reference to State socialism, as plainly indicated by the context, the conclusion that anarchy is the ideal is valuable. With reference to the views expressed in ToDAY, the conclusion is quite barren. It is unproductive of any tendency in us to agree with you further. But anarchy is the ideal social state, and the facts which lead one to that conclusion are very effective - valuable - against State socialism. As you properly suggest, the conclusion itself is not so valuable as the facts which lead to it; for State socialists may readily admit the conclusion.
The thing is to understand the admission when it is made; and in order to understand, one must know the facts which lead to the conclusion; and of these the socialists are absolutely ignorant. Of course I excluded the State socialists from the group of sensible people. This is only a manière de parler; it Liberty and TO-DAY are sensible journals, the State socialists are not sensible people, and vice versa. Or another way of looking at the expression is to supply after sensible the phrase who know anything about the matter. Of all isoperimetric plane figures, the circle is the maximum,- as all sensible people know who know anything about the matter. No less certain is it that of all political states anarchy is the most perfect. Both of these propositions require amplification in order to make them realized in thought, even by sensible people. But some persons have n't sense enough to realize the truth of the propositions with the utmost amplification. But I have said in effect, and I say again now, that, just as the former proposition will not show me how to survey the United States, or how to grade an acre of ground for irrigation, neither will the latter show us much about what the Congress of United States should do here and now. It does not show that there should be no government now; it shows that there can be no government in the perfect social state.
VI. If you would take the trouble to realize the significance of the last proposition, you would not write as you have done about the justice or injustice of majority rule. The rule of the majority is not intrinsically just within any sphere. Anarchy, in your own sense, is the ideal state. Then how can the rule of any one be intrinsically just? Leaving Spencer aside, I will say myself, that the rule of the majority is ethically defensible, not "within a certain sphere," but within all spheres. In the imperfect state in which we exist, the question presented is not whether any one should rule, but simply, who shall rule. It is immoral for those who have the power to do what they think right to submit to being made to do what others think right.
History abundantly shows that some are tyrannical enough to rule if they can, and the question for a majority to determine is, whether they will do their way, or be made to do some other way. Between making
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