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The Brooklyn aldermen were to have met yesterday (Sept. 4th) to take up the long-delayed franchise of the Brooklyn Electric Light and Power Company, but once more no quorum was present. Coffey, Leech, and Thomas were the only members to answer the roll-call. Thomas said that as it was evident that his colleagues would not work in warm weather, he moved that the board adjourn until the first Monday in October, and this motion was adopted. New York Times.
It would be difficult to match the superficiality of the statements made by Mr. Yarros in reply to Miss Gardener's letter on Women, published in the "Twentieth Century." Of the letter itself I cannot speak, but this reply to it is simply absurd:
"Neither the Socialists nor the Anarchists have neglected the Woman question.' . . . Socialists and Anarchists have abundantly discussed the question. . . . The sources of information are open, the knowledge is easily acquired," etc.
What stuff is this! I almost thought that I was reading in the "Nationalist," one of whose correspondents asked to be supplied with a hand-book containing the "facts and statistics bearing on the various sociological topics." Only Mr. Yarros is worse, for he seems to think that the hand-book has been compiled already. Socialists and Anarchists may have discussed the question abundantly, and, some will say, having regard for the equipment of the disputants, over-abundantly, with a net result of nothing to show for their pains. It is astonishing what feats of ratiocination philosophers have accomplished by simply passing over facts and spinning a world out of their own bowels. What do Socialists and Anarchists know about biology? Well, let it be confessed, they know almost, if not quite, as much about biology as biologists do about sex.
Leaving the Socialists out of the question, as persons not worthy of consideration in a scientific discussion of society, I suppose that I am right in assuming that Mr. Yarros regards Evolution as the factor (or fact) to which we must look for guidance in this matter. Very well: let us look there for guidance: so far so good. What do we find? Let Evolution be our guide: agreed; but the region through which we are to be guided is one of facts, is it not? Now what are the
facts? I do not ask for Socialist facts nor for Anarchist facts, but just plain, ordinary facts. For instance, by way of illustrating the kind of facts to which I refer, as distinguished from that abounding mass of Socialist and Anarchist facts, -just by way of example, of plain facts, what is Sex? I do not, of course, aspire to admission to those inner sanctuaries, where Socialism or Anarchism, as the case may be, stands guard over vast treasures of knowledge. I apply merely as a foot-sore wayfarer, asking humbly for alms, and ready to pour forth from an inexhaustible fountain the blessings of gratitude. Alas! how unkindly fortune has used me! While Anarchists and Socialists have been laying up great stores of knowledge, 66 easily acquired," a cruel fate has left me naked and starving. What is Sex?
Socially, industrially, politically, poetically, historically even, something may be known of sex. But I beg leave to call attention to the incident that sex is also a biological fact. And it is quite within the range of tenable hypothesis that the physiological fact must be learned before any of these others will be If I had a few of the rightly understood. priesthood of Socialism or of Anarchism here ready to hand I am not so sure but what, if muscle were able, the spirit would be willing to ram a few copies of the "Origin of Species" and the "Principles of Biology" down their throats, to see what effect their stomachs could produce on what their minds have been unable to digest.
DEMOCRACY VERSUS FREEDOM.
In his biography of Andrew Jackson, Prof. Sumner draws the distinction between democracy and freedom. Democracy means, practically, the rule of the majority; perfect civil freedom would mean that there should be no rule whatever. The distinction is sufficiently obvious as soon as one considers the subject. The majority are to rule rule what? the country, evidently. But in so far as an individual man, or a country is ruled, he, or it is not free. The ideas of rule and freedom, as the things themselves, are incompatible. A man, or body of men, is not governed, if he is permitted to do everything
which his desires prompt; and if he is not permitted to do anything he may wish he is. certainly not free.
Nevertheless, in this country, the rule of the majority has been taken as the highest conception of freedom. The mistake seems to have deepened during the century of our national existence; it is very doubtful whether the founders of the Republic would have assented to the proposition that majority-rule and freedom are identical in the unqualified form in which it is put forward to-day. The mistake is at least as old as Plato; the passage in which he describes its prevalence in his day is sufficiently curious to be quoted.
Democracy, like obigarchy, is destroyed by its insatiable craving for the object which it defines to be supremely good.
And what, according to you, is that object?
Freedom, I replied; for I imagine that in a democratical city you will be told that ti has, in freedom, the most beautiful of possesions, and that therefore such a city is the only fit abode for the man who is a free man by nature.
Why certainly such language is very much in fashion.
Yes, that is what is done.
And likewise it insults those who are obedient to the rulers, with the titles of willing slaves and worthless fellows; while the rulers, who carry themselves like subjects, and the subjects, who carry themselves like rulers, it does, both privately and publicly, commend and honor. Must it not follow that in such a city freedom goes all lengths? Of course it must.
Yes, my friend; and does not the prevailing anarchy steal into private houses, and spread on every side, till at last it takes root even among the brute creation?
But the extreme limit to which the freedom of the populace grows in such a commonwealth is only attained when the purchased slaves of both sexes are just as free as the purchasers. Also, I had almost forgotten to mention to what extent this liberty and equality is carried in the mutual relations subsisting between men and women.
Then, in the words of Eschylus, shall we not give utterance to that which is already on our lips?
By all means. I, for one, am doing so when I tell you that no one could believe, without positive experience, how much more free the domestic animals are under this government than any other. For verily the hound, according to the proverb, is like the mistress of the house; and truly even horses and asses adopt a gait expressive of remarkable freedom and dignity, and run at anybody who meets them in the streets if he does not get out of their way; and all other animals become in the same way gorged with freedom.
It is my own dream that you are repeating to me. This often happens to me when I walk into the country.
Now, putting all these things together, do you perceive that they amount to this: that the soul of the citizen is rendered so sensitive as to be indignant and impatient at the smallest symptom of slavery. For surely you are aware that they end by making light of the laws themselves, whether statute or customary, in order that, as they say, they may not have the shadow of a master. Republic, Book VIII., Davies and Vaughn's translations.
Plato was no admirer of majority-rule, or of freedom either. He had observed the evils of democracy very extensively, but he had not given so much attention to the evils which follow the supremacy of other classes in a state. With two thousand years more of the world's experience to guide us than Plato had, we are firmly persuaded of the excellence of democracy, — of the relative excellence, at all events, and we are great lovers of freedom, as we understand it, though it must be confessed that our understanding has not, as yet, penetrated much beyond the word and the forms to the substance. The number of people among us who are really convinced that it is better to permit wrong than to interfere with personal liberty is extremely small. Yet this is the essential requirement: unless men are willing, in many cases, to permit that to be done which seems to them to be wrong, we can never have perfect freedom. To many, perfect freedom will not seem desirable if it involves such forbearance upon their part. Sir James Stephen puts the case very strongly when he says:
"As to legislation intended to discourage vice, I do not believe that any one would succeed in getting himself listened to if he were to say plainly, ‘I admit that this measure will greatly discourage and diminish drunkenness and licentiousness. I also admit that it will involve no cruelty, no interfer
ence with privacy-nothing that can in itself be described as an inadequate price to pay for the promotion of sobriety and chastity. I oppose it on the broad, plain ground that if people like to get drunk and to lead dissolute lives, no one else ought to interfere. I advocate liberty.""
Certainly no one would deserve a hearing who should admit that all these good results, and no evil, would follow from the measure, and should still oppose it out of devotion to an abstract principle. But the advocate of liberty could not admit all this without being self-contradictory. For why does he advocate liberty? Because he is convinced that the experience of the world proves that liberty is a good thing, and that any interference with it is a bad thing. The case supposed is like representing a man as saying, "I admit that this action which is proposed to me is good, and will be productive of nothing but good, but I will not take it because it would be wrong." would be absurd to pay any attention to a man who stultified himself in this way. Liberty certainly means the liberty to do wrong as well as right, but to suppose that men will commonly do wrong simply because they are free to is at least as wide an assumption as that liberty is invariably a good thing. Still that some men will do wrong if it is in their power is proved to us every day. The question we have to decide is, shall we follow the promptings of our nature, and prevent them by force, if need be, or shall we leave them to follow their own evil inclinations? With most men, the answer to this question depends upon whether the force is on their side or not whether they, numbering twenty thousand, are able to coerce others, numbering forty thousand or ten thousand, as the case may be; if the force is against them, they are willing to resort to persuasion; if it is with them, they have little hesitation in using it. Take, as an illustration, the Prohibitionists, who are, indeed, very convenient to use as a corpus vile for all sorts of illustrations. There can be no doubt that, if the Prohibitionists thought they had sufficient force, they would use it
to close all the saloons in the country. But suppose the liquor dealers and their friends were convinced that they had sufficient force to keep the saloons open: there would very likely be a conflict. And so with regard to any question on which men feel strongly, if the practice obtains of preventing what seems to be wrong. One party will say to the other," You shall not do this"; and the other will reply, "Only by depriving us of our lives shall you prevent us from doing this." History is full of conflicts of this kind, and the question we are considering is much the same as the question whether the history would have been better if such conflicts had not occurred. In the case of the past, most of us are convinced that, in conflicts of this kind, it was the parties which were trying to prevent others from doing wrong—that is, who were interfering with liberty who were really wrong; and none are more fully convinced of this than those who are at present in favor of restricting liberty.
The most certain way to prevent men from doing wrong is to put them to death. But before proceeding to this we ought to be very sure that they will do the actions which we expect them to do, and that the actions are really wrong. But how are we to decide what is really wrong? Men are certainly not agreed upon this point, and there is little prospect that they ever will be. Unless, then, we set ourselves up to be infallible—unless we deny the possibility that we may be in error as to whether this or that action which we agree to repress is wrong-we cannot justify ourselves in compelling men to refrain from doing the action. If, however, the justice of any rule is admitted, and we are the rulers, we shall not wait for absolute certainty on such a point, but shall act upon a reasonably firm conviction, as we do in other matters. shall believe that such and such a course of action will be for the advantage of a man, and shall compel him to follow it; that such and such actions affect society injuriously, and shall repress them. We shall
certainly make mistakes, and, in so far as we make mistakes, our rule will be not a blessing, but a curse.
This is precisely the course that is pursued by the majority in democracies. If liberty is not invariably a good thing, some rule of this sort may be beneficial. But why it should be called "freedom” if administered by the agents of a majority and tyranny if administered by the agents of an emperor is not evident. It makes no difference to me whether I am prevented from doing as I please by men who prevent me because they are commanded to do so by a king, or whether I am prevented by men. who do so because what I wish to do appears wrong to them. In each case my liberty is infringed in an equal degree.
The chief advantage which democracies possess is, that, when any question is submitted to the people, and a substantial majority pronounce upon it, this renders it tolerably certain on which side the greater force lies. The assumption that the ma
jority is the greater force is not absolutely certain, but it has that degree of certainty on which a judicious man will act. minority submits not because its members are convinced but because they are outnumbered, that is, they are persuaded that resistance would be useless. Formerly it was often difficult to tell just how firmly the government was established; there was always more or less dissatisfaction, and the only way of discovering whether resistance to an unpopular measure would be successful was by actual trial. Hence rebellion is more common under other forms of government than under Democracy.
or less harsh is likely to be tempered by the remembrance, - provided, of course, that he is dealing with a different question from that on which he was before coerced. Again, the practice of coming to a more or less independent decision upon matters of State, and recording this decision, has a tendency not so strong as one would at first suppose, but still a tendency develop independence and respect for individual judgment. Emerson voiced a sentiment which has been steadily gaining ground since the Reformation when he said:
"Whoso would be a man must be a non-conformist. . . . Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of our own mind. . . . No law can be sacred to me but that of my nature. Good and bad are but names very readily transferable to that or this; the only right is what is after my constitution; the only wrong is what is against it. A man is to carry himself, in the presence of all opposition, as if everything were titular and ephemeral but he."
Men who feel this, in however slight a degree, cannot help seeing, though it were only as in a glass, darkly, that if each is
to live after the laws of his own nature,
they must have toleration for one another;
that, since the constitutions of all are not the same, what is right for one will be wrong for another; and that therefore this one or that must be content to permit much that seems to him to be wrong. Democ racy seems to favor this feeling, and a perception of what its prevalence would imply. And so, though democracy, regarded simply as the rule of the majority, is not freedom, or even an approach to freedom,yet the way to freedom appears to lie through democracy.
Perfect liberty implies liberty to do wrong, as well as right, but it does not imply liberty to infringe upon the freedom of another. When it is said that men living together in freedom must be content to permit much that seems to the majority, perhaps, to be wrong, it is not asserted that any man must submit to suffer wrong at the hands of another, for that would be to resign his own liberty. This qualification is
necessary, though it opens the door to a great deal of casuistry, by which most of the restrictions upon liberty which now exist are attempted to be justified. It is said, with some truth, that every man is interested in every action of every other man; still, it cannot be seriously questioned that some acts concern the doer primarily and chiefly, while others concern other men nearly as much as they do himself. I may think it is wrong for a man to revile the saints, or to sell a bottle of wine, or to build a factory without putting a fence around the machinery, and I may have some interest in his not doing any of these acts; but that hardly gives me a right to compel him to refrain from doing them. There are acts of a different kind, however, as murder, assault, theft, the repression of which involves less injury, less infringement of liberty, than their permission. The two agencies for repressing such acts are the criminal law and public opinion. Neither of them is perfect, and both combined are not entirely effective; but, in so far as they prevent men from aggressing upon one another, they do not diminish, but increase, liberty, and they are not felt as restraints by decent people.
POLITICS IN THE MAGAZINES.
The "North American Review" contains two articles on the Federal Election Bill, the one by H. C. LODGE the other by T. V. PowDERLY. The McKinley Bill in Europe is discussed by M. GUSTAVE MOLINARI (editor of the Journal des Economistes. The new Silver law is dealt with by R. P. BLAND; the Pan-American Conference by M. ROMERO; the Recent Crisis in Congress by F. D. PALGRAVE. Among the "notes and comments" is one on Child-saving Legislation, by CHAS. MARTINDALE.
Of Mr. Lodge's article on the control of Federal elections it is unnecessary to speak, as the writer has already explained his views on the subject on so many previous occasions. He describes the bill briefly. The chief advantage which he claims will result from the operation of the proposed law is "publicity."
In fact he dwells so largely and so emphatically on this point as to convey the impression that if any one should succeed in showing that no greater "publicity" will attend elections under this than under the prevailing methods he, for one, would be ready to abandon the measure. He rejects the criticism that the bill is sectional, and intimates that its operation will be equally if not more effective in certain Northern cities than throughout the South. He admits that the cost of applying the proposed law may exceed five millions, and says the money will be well spent. Finally, he asserts that the only real objection to bill is that "one of the two great political parties believes that free elections imperil their power." Mr. Lodge does not state the corollary that if the opposition to the law springs from this source the support of the measure probably springs from a similar expectation of the other party.
Mr. Powderly, "master-workman," takes the other side of the question; but his article is not specifically a reply to Mr. Lodge. He says that the operation of the law would be sectional, and that it was intended that it should be sectional. The objection he places first is the increased opportunity for patronage. He predicts that, if the law is passed, it will be put in operation everywhere by interested parties, if for no other reasons, as a new source of "spoils." Supervisors, having the appointment of four or five hundred deputies, will succeed in getting the fifty or hundred required petitioners for him to take charge of the election. Mr. Powderly states that corruption is as rampant in the North as in the South, but that intimidation in the former section takes a more indirect form and adopts more specious disguise. Corruption, bribery, prevails everywhere; and he challenges any member of the present Congress to deny that bribery direct or indirect was used at his election. He concludes that,
"The Federal Election Bill stands guard only at the polling-booth, but the evil is located elsewhere, in the home of the citizen, - and the education of the citizen is the only thing that will remedy it."
He does not allude to the fact that most of the bribing is done by men who have had the best education the country affords; nor does he seek to show what difference there may be between giving and taking a bribe. Perhaps the bribed should be educated, and