Liberty Vol. II. No. 3.
Not the Daughter but the Mother of Order
“For always in thine eyes, O Liberty!
Shines that high light whereby the world is saved;
And though thou slay us, we will trust in thee.”
On Picket Duty.
The truest and most important thing said by General Butler during his recent campaign for the governorship was this: “You hear about men making money; they get it away from each other. It is all produced from the soil at first.” This is a simple, plain, and forcible way of saying that interest, rent, and profit are dishonest abstractions from the pockets of labor.
Liberty scarcely gets a fair show in the “North American Review” discussion concerning the suppression of obscene literature between Anthony Comstock, aided by a clergyman, on the one hand, and O. B. Frothingham on the other. Two against one, and that one half in sympathy with the enemy, is not a condition of a square fight. Either James Parton or Elizur Wright would have been a much more acceptable and effective champion of Liberty. Why was not one of them invited to enter the lists?
The Boston “Advertiser,” referring to the statement made in a recent cable despatch that the French Anarchists have correspondents in Boston and Montevideo, says that “the boast of the revolutionists that they have a correspondent in Boston is empty. Any fool in any part of the world can exchange vaporings with some one in Boston.” When one considers that in this instance the “tools” are such men as Prince Kropotkine, a prominent contributor to the “Encyclopedia Britannica” and the English reviews, and Elisée Reclus, perhaps the foremost geographer of the world, the “Advertiser’s” statement is seen to be characteristically ridiculous, and arouses the query whether any ass in the “Advertiser” office can show his — well, his posterior in the editorial column. So indecent an exposure seems explicable on no other hypothesis.
For the following interesting and instructive item we are indebted to the London “Truth”: “M. Elisée Reclus, the illustrious author of the ‘Geographie Universelle,’ has inaugurated free marriage, and united his two daughters ‘freely’ to two young men of their choice. This adverb ‘freely’ means that M. Reclus has dispensed not only with the religious ceremony of marriage, but also with the civil marriage in presence of the mayor. He simply invited his friends and relatives to a banquet at the Grand Hotel, over which he presided, more avorum, and there and then, literally entre les poires et le fromage, or, as we should say, ‘across the walnuts and the wine,’ he declared the union of his two girls with their respective sweethearts.” This very sensible conduct is said to have made a “painful impression” upon M. Reclus’s scientific friends in England. Charity prompts the hope that these pure souls may find an early opportunity of ascension and thus be saved the utter agony sure to be inflicted upon them, if they live a few years longer, in consequence of the growing inclination to follow M. Reclus’s wise example.
Liberty takes the greatest satisfaction in calling attention to a pamphlet lately received, entitled “Liberty and Morality,” and written by W. S. Bell. We warmly greet it as one of the many evidences now accumulating on every hand that our work is telling, that we are having an influence on the public mind, and that we are educating the teachers. It is written to show the tyranny of compulsory moral standards and the futility of expecting morality to thrive except as increasing Liberty prevails; and although the word Anarchy is not (we believe) to be found in it, scarcely a page but contains an epigrammatic sentence which might fitly serve as a motto for this or any other Anarchistic journal. Throughout it is eloquent, discriminating, and profound, and indicative of a degree of ability for which we have never given its author credit. He originally delivered it as a lecture before the Watkins Freethinkers’ Convention, and proposes to repeat it frequently during an approaching lecture tour in the West. We bespeak for him and his thought a hearty welcome. He may be addressed at “18 East Springfield Street, Boston, Mass.”
Another outrage on the freedom of the press has been committed by Anthony Comstock. About a fortnight ago he visited Princeton, and arrested E. H. Heywood, editor of the “Word,” who has been once before his victim. Mr. Heywood was brought to Boston and placed in Charles Street jail, where he remained over two nights and was then bailed out by his brother, S. R. Heywood, of Worcester, who apparently has “experienced a change of heart.” It is not definitely known what all the charges to be preferred against Mr. Heywood are, but he is undoubtedly to be complained of for circulating a printed slip containing the two “objectionable” poems from “Leaves of Grass” and for advertising an article known as the Comstock syringe for the prevention of conception. In both these acts Mr. Heywood only did what he had a perfect right to do against the whole world, and it is the duty of every earnest Liberal to come to his aid in his hour of trial. In this connection we must express our indignation at the cowardly conduct of D. M. Bennett, editor of the “Truth-Seeker,” who prates about Mr. Heywood’s taste and methods. We do not approve of Mr. Heywood’s taste and methods, but neither did we of Mr. Bennett’s when we did our little best a few years ago to save him from Comstock’s clutches. It is not a question of taste, but of Liberty, and no man who fails to see this and act accordingly can over fairly call himself a Liberal again. Mr. Heywood’s preliminary examination will come off in the United States court-house November 16, and we hope that every friend of Liberty will attend to give the prisoner countenance. Now, a few plain words to Mr. Heywood himself. He is very likely, in our opinion, to be cleared on the “Leaves of Grass” charge, but in regard to the syringe his position seems to us very “ticklish.” The statute which forbids the advertising of syringes, etc., is so definite as to admit of no important difference of interpretation, and Mr. Heywood has but one hope worth trusting to of-escaping its enforcement upon him. That hope lies in his ability to convince some member of the jury that he has the right, regardless of the court’s instructions, to judge, not only the facts, but the law and the justice of the law. If Mr. Heywood is shrewd, he will employ no lawyer except in an advisory capacity, but will bring his own well-known powers of oratory and argument directly to bear upon the jury in nailing and clinching that point. Otherwise, it is to be feared that his fate will be a hard one.
“A free man is one who enjoys the use of his reason and his faculties; who is neither blinded by passion, not hindered or driven by oppression, not deceived by erroneous opinions.” — Proudhon.
For a Spy’s Enlightenment.
Despicable Sir,— I am informed by Mr. E. H. Heywood that, in a letter which you recently addressed to him over the false signature of “J. A. Mattock” in accordance with your usual dishonest practice, you asked these questions: “What is Mr. Tucker’s address and his first name? Was it Franklin or Francis, could you give me his address.”
I do not know whether Mr. Heywood has accommodated you with the desired information; therefore permit me, lest he has not done so, to impart to you the knowledge of which you are in search, though knowing full well that, hypocrite that you are, you ask for what you already know and have known for some years past, your sole purpose in so asking having been to mislead Mr. Heywood into the belief that he was dealing with an honest inquirer instead of with a sneak and a spy.
My name and address you will find appended to this letter. Anything bearing that address will pretty surely reach me. Any commands of a business nature (I decline all other correspondence with you) so received in response to advertisements of mine I shall take pains to fulfil with my usual faithfulness, whether purporting to issue from Anthony Comstock or one of the numerous individuals whose names he has befouled by falsely assuming. I recommend you, however, to use your own name hereafter, and thus make no blacker the disgraceful record of what would be your shame were you not shameless.
Accept, sir, the earnest assurance of my profoundest contempt.
Benj. R. Tucker.
Box 3366, Boston, Mass., November 11, 1882.
American Czardom Unmasked.
The government of the United States is the most absolute despotism on the face of the earth. The rag upon which is emblazoned the stars and stripes is a painted fraud. The robber bird is alone truthful among our national symbols.
“Fanaticism!” cries some conceited American Fourth-of-July philosopher; and doubtless, when he reads such a shocking indictment, a suppressed longing that Anthony Comstock may yet able to reach such Anarchistic miscreants in his pious raid upon blasphemy and infidelity seizes him.
But let us reason a little together! What would naturally be the most absolute despotism among governments? Would it not be that government from whose dictum, as expressed under its forms, there was the least possibility of appeal?
“And is this the United States?” cries the indignant patriot, fresh from the gush of the Sunday school and the drippings of the political rostrum.
Yes, it is the United States above every other government on the face of the earth. There is an element in our institutions more strongly and sacredly fortified against appeal than are all the pompous assumptions of the czar of Russia and the other crowned despots of Europe, and this clement is an ever active, universal, and tireless one. It is the so-called “will of the majority.”
The czar, being one with God by divine right, is of course a majority. But, thanks to the righteous activity of the Nihilists, there is a possibility of effective appeal in Russia, and it is only a question of time when the head of that majority will be either cut off or blown off. In that case there is tolerable cause to hope that another majority-head of that stamp will not dare to show itself. If it does, then the Nihilists are prepared to reecho the words of America’s psycho-logical-bomb executioner, George Francis Train:— “We’ll go you six, ten, or a dozen czars better!”
The czardom once exterminated, the absolute despotism peculiar to Russia is abolished. The empire once overthrown in Germany, the peculiar majority despotism which Bismarck has so long wielded is no more. In all those monarchical countries lovers of justice see a sure way of successful appeal ahead of them, and they are improving it with a rapidity that haunts their crowned oppressors day and night.
But what show of appeal is there from the American species of despotism? If it were a single head, it could not stay on long. If it were any moderate number of heads upon whom the whole responsibility could be distinctly fixed, those heads would probably bo taken off. The fact is that the root of majority despotism in this country is a superstition found in almost everybody’s head, and which could not be exterminated even if millions of heads were taken off. On grounds of utility as well as humanity, then, the American Anarchist must trouble no man’s head any farther than to get the superstition out and get something better in.
“The will of the majority!” So says the czar too; simply supplementing it by the modest clause, “and I am the majority.” “The will of the majority!” So says Bismarck; only adding the significant condition, “and the emperor, myself, and the army are the majority.”
But when the American says, “The will of the majority!” he means in his shallow contest a tremendously big thing. The progressive Russian and German, seeing what a majority means under their systems, do not believe in it, and are determined to throw it off their necks. The average American, however, finds in a majority something very sacred, very respectable, and beyond appeal. “The majority have ye ever with you,” might well be written on the dome of the Capitol as a fitting satire on our national superficiality. Yes, with us, and against us too.
This “will of the majority” is the very despot itself which, in the United States above any other country, cannot be reached. In the first place there is no possibility under our system, or any other system, of ever finding out what is the will of the majority, and in the second place, even if it were possible to find out the will of the majority, that majority; in assuming to be sovereign over the minority, or even over one single individual without his consent, is on exactly the same plane as the czar,— in fact, is simply the czar transformed. From the Russian despot there is, as the world recognizes with more or loss satisfaction, a sure way of appeal. From the American despot there is no immediate way of appeal. One majority succeeds another, making our despotism rotary, but the despot is always there, and the American is the exceptional political dupe among the nations to affirm that his despot is sacred, immutable, and beyond appeal.
The legitimate effect of this abject servility to majority rule is that a people stultified by it naturally lie down and submit to the most iniquitous assaults upon individual Liberty without a protest, if it doth only appear that it was the “will of the majority.” In this respect Americans are the greatest cowards on the face of the earth. Herbert Spencer, the eminent sociologist, has discovered by contact with us what he had already scientifically anticipated,— that Americans are shamelessly indifferent to small encroachments upon their individual rights. In a late interview he remarked that we were steadily going the way of the Italian republics of the middle ages, in which “while there was growing up a great commercial activity, a development of the arts which made them the envy of Europe, and a building of princely mansions which still continue to be the admiration of travellers, their people were gradually losing their liberty".
In no other country in the world could so palpable a hypocrite as Anthony Comstock invade the personal Liberty of citizens with boasting impunity. Some of Herbert Spencer’s strictures on American indifference look very much as though a knowledge of Comstock’s infamous doings was in his mind when he spoke.
When the czar and Bismarck invade Liberty of the press, they do it with directness, and with some show of dignity and honor. Comstock compounds with crime, decoys his victims, openly publishes his determination to suppress “infidelity and blasphemy,” and yet the American people will see a man go to prison, for publishing his opinions on sociology, with the greatest unconcern, because Comstock derives his authority from an act of Congress, and Congress means “the will of the majority.”
A mighty educational work is ahead of true reformers. It may take a long while before that work will begin to effect serious headway against American political superstition; but, if Liberty can only successfully initiate the work, demonstrate its necessity, and see it recognized as the basis of all other social reform, its mission will be looked back upon as invaluable.
Who are the Terrorists in France?
France is in a turmoil. The industrial deeps are beginning to boil again, and the outcome it is impossible to foresee. Nor is it easy to account for all that has recently happened or locate the responsibilities therefor. The newspapers attribute all to the terrible Anarchists, but how far they have really had a finger in the present revolutionary pie is as yet a matter of considerable uncertainty. Certain it is, however, that the French authorities desire for some reason to lay the burden on Anarchistic shoulders, and it is by no means improbable that Gambetta, through his tools, the ministers now in power, has taken advantage of a local disturbance in the mining districts to foment dissension, further outrage the oppressed, create consternation and indignation by arbitrary arrests, place whole districts substantially under martial law, and thus, if possible, precipitate a revolution and prepare the way for the dictatorship which this renegade radical has so long coveted.
Let us briefly review the recent disturbances. The trouble began last August in the little village of Montceau-les-Mines, situated in the mining districts and inhabited principally by miners. The condition of the industrial population in that locality and the oppression under which they labor afford a singularly striking illustration of the mutual support and countenance in tyranny extended to each other by capital and the church, both under the protection of the State. A definite alliance appears to have been formed there between the mining companies on the one hand and the Catholic church on the other for the purpose of keeping the workmen in abject submission, extorting from them their earnings, and dividing the spoils. The miners grew gradually restless under the religious régime enforced upon them whereby they were not only prevented from acting according to their own beliefs but even compelled to participate in Catholic rites, and they first manifested their discontent by tearing down crosses which the religious societies had illegally erected at various street-corners. Finally, so it is said, on the night of the fifteenth of August a small band of them burst into the chapel of Bois-Duverne and broke some of the windows and altar paraphernalia. Meanwhile another band went to a convent-school near by and smashed a few window-panes, singing revolutionary songs and uttering threats. Both bards then procured arms and returned to the chapel, where they made a bonfire of the altar ornaments, after which they marched to the woods, carrying a red flag, and dispersed, a few of them temporarily arresting and threatening a priest on the road. In consequentce of these events twenty-three arrests were made by tite authorities on charges of pillage, devastation, and massacre, and it was pretended that the prisoners were members of a secret society known as the “Black Band” — a society whose existence is doubtful, but whose description is not unlike those given of the andmuch-maligned “Mollie Maguires” of Pennsylvania. Before going further with the story we may profitably read Henri Rochefort’s explanation of the causes of this revolt of the miners:
The mining company in that region is entirely at the disposal of the priests, and the priests are at the disposal of the company. The priests from their pulpits eulogize the employers, who in turn require of the laborers a strict fulfilment of their religious duties. Such a confusion of masters results from this illicit association that the unfortunate miners are as dependent on the church, which forces them to receive the sacrament, as on the company, which pays them.
When the wife of one of these slaves neglects a prayer, or when one of his children fails in the catechism, immediately the priest complains of the head of the family to the employer, who pitilessly discharges him. Thus is he forced, under penalty of dying of hunger with his whole family, to bend his neck under the clerical yoke. It is not money or your life, but the mass or your life.
When this abominable system of blackmailing became intolerable, the miners lost patience. The report was circulated then that a priest had been arrested by bands traversing the woods, and that his rectory had narrowly escaped destruction by repeated explosions of dynamite cartridges; and the public, whom they tell only that which they wish them to know, asked in stupetied tones what rascally provocations had succeeded in pushing formerly peaceable workmen to such misdeeds. The matter is easily explained: the miners of Monteau arrested their priest because they formally accuse him of having driven from the mine and the tile-kiln in less than a year more than forty of their number, who now have neither food nor shelter.
And why are they and their childern hungry and cold? Because they refused to knee at the going of the confessional. Such is the respect shown for liberty of conscience under the free-thinking republic! And so true is it that no other cause is assignable for the agitation of Monteau-les-Mines that a neighboring priest, having had the good sense to confine himself to the functions of his ministry without trying to exercise any material or moral pressure upon the workingmen of the village, did not find it necessary to repel the slightest attack from them.
On the eighteenth of October, after the prisoners had been in custody for two months, they were placed on trial at Chalon. Some fifty witnesses were examined, but the testimony against them was so ridiculously weak that it soon became evident that none of them could be convicted of anything more serious than the creation of a noisy disturbance in the streets at night. We should like to give many samples of the evidence offered, but must content ourselves with reproducing “L’Intransigeant’s” report of the examination of Chagot, the manager of the mines:
Chagot knows what has happened only by hearsay. To believe his story, the condition of his workmen is exceptional. The proof, he says, is that I have received from the miners of St. Etienne a note in which their demands are formulated, and I noticed that my workmen enjoyed much more comfort than that asked for by their colleagues of St. Etienne.
He explains the system of pensions which he has organized. He does not see what further his workmen can ask. They are more fortunate than any other miners. He says that three or four years ago, á propos of his pension fund, there was talk of the organization of workingmen’s societies. In his opinion his workmen are in better circumstances, thanks to his system. than if the communistic theories preached to them were realized.
He then tells of the destruction of the crosses, which, he drones out, did no harm to any one. This declaration is received with shouts of laughter. To a question of the court M. Chagot, perceptibly confused, replies, “Yes, monseigneur.” The poor man fancies himself at the palace of bis bishop.
The clerical pressure which I have brought to bear, adds the pious Chagot, has been offered as an excuse for these outbreaks. Like everybody else, I have religious sentiments; but never have I obliged my workmen, whom I consider as my children, to go to mass.
Chagot admits, nevertheless, having prevented anti-religious manifestations, which, he says, are anti-social. Never will he authorize anti-religious manifestations; if any appear, he will treat them rigorously.
Chagot concludes by enumerating, with a seriousness worthy of a better cause, the pretended advantages which the laborers under his orders enjoy. According to his account, they are more comfortably situated than the stockholders.
Laguerre, counsel for the defence, asks the witness if he considers the presence of one of his workmen at a civil burial at an anti-religious manifestation, and if, in case of such an event, he would discharge the workman.
YES! replies Chagot.
Well might Rochefort exclaim in view of this astounding confession:
We still need to abolish the Inquisition. It has lost nothing of its terrible power. Within a hundred leagues of Paris, three kilometres from Chalon-sur-Saone, it still reigns supreme, as in the days of Philip IV. Only, the Duke of Alva has become the manager of a minning company under the name of Chagot and is protected in his executions and auto-da-fes by gendarmes and troops of the line which the government is base enough to put at his disposition.
As the case of the government against the prisoners grew weaker, new developments occurred. Threatening letters were sent to the jury, dynamite bombs were exploded in a restaurant at Lyons, and warnings were received by occupants of public buildings that the buildings were to be blown up. The government then instituted the policy of indiscriminate arrest. Revolutionary journals were seized, Anarchistic agitators were arrested, witnesses for the defence in the cases on trial were put in prison, troops were stationed throughout the district, and men were taken into custody for having in their possession letters from Kropotkine, Reclus, and others. Everything possible was done to give a terroristic aspect to affairs, and the radical press of France openly charge that the letters, bombs, warnings, arrests, and all were parts of a government plot to induce the belief that the fair trial of the arrested miners was impossible under such circumstances, and on that ground suspend the trial until the next court session three months later, thereby securing in advance of a verdict as long an imprisonment as possible, knowing that an immediate verdict would probably set the prisoners free at once. The plot succeeded, and on the twenty-fourth of October the suspension was announced by the court, thus condemning presumably innocent men to a needless preventive detention of ninety days, while their dependent families are starving in their homes. Such manifest injustice has brought about a strong revulsion of feeling in many quarters, an instance of which may be seen in the following words written by a man of moderate views to “L’Intransigeant:” “After the first newspaper accounts I would have condemned the accused to two years’ imprisonment; after the indictment was preferred I would have condemned them to three months; alter the testimony of M. Chagot I would have acquitted them; since the latest arrests I demand the indictment of the ministry.”
Such is the true story of the troubles in France. We have told it at considerable length to show how slight is the basis for the violent denunciations of the French Anarchists winch have been going the rounds of the American press.
Our Creed and a Creed Not Ours.
The Providence “Journal” is really frightened at the growing influence of Liberty, and continues to frequently and frantically warn its readers against our dangerous doctrines. We would not mind this, if the “Journal” would only fairly state these doctrines. But it persistently misstates and distorts them. In a recent editorial we find these remarkable words:
A society, small in numbers and weak in character and in influence, but active and aggressive, holds its frequent meetings, and is struggling to extend its power in the interest of communism in Rhode Island, and its orators boldly declare that the goods of life belong equally to the industrious and the idle, to the virtuous and the vicious; that capital, which is but the saved accumulation of labor, is the foe of labor; that all laws in restraint of the natural inclinations and propensities of any portion of the people, are usurpation; in their own terse expression, that “interest is extortion, wages is crime, rent is robbery, property is plunder.” A paper, published in Boston, openly advocating these doctrines, without subterfuge, or the pretence of concealment, but with a boldness which, at least, is creditable, styling them, as they are, the doctrines of “anarchy” boasts that its circulation is larger in Providence than in any other city in New England. At meetings of the Equal Rights Association, these doctrines have been declared, mainly by imported orators, but, in some instances, by those at h...e, and have been received with a degree of applause which manifests the growing approbation of the listeners.
We are informed by one of our Providence readers that no such society as the “Journal” describes meets or exists in that city, and that so far this statement of the “Journal” is a “witful lie.” Liberty does not profess to know whether the “Journal” lies or not: but, as we have once admitted in these columns that the “Journal” ought to be better posted than ourselves concerning the educational status of Rhode Island reformers, it is no more than fair to allow now that Rhode Island reformers ought to be better posted than ourselves concerning the moral status of the “Journal.”
But let that pass. We are chiefly interested here in the queer hodge-podge of doctrines attributed to us. Liberty is written in intelligible English, and it would seem that any honest newspaper, after reading it as long and carefully as the “Journal” has been reading it, ought to know what it is in favor of and what it is against. Will the “Journal” now pay strict attention to a “terse” statement of what we do and do not believe about the matters mentioned?
Instead of working in the “interest of communism” we hate communism above all other evils, and are fighting it with all our strength, whether it be the communism of Jay Gould and the Providence “Journal,” which aims to indirectly oppress the many by the few, or the communism of Karl Marx, which aims to directly oppress the few by the many. We believe, with Proudhon, that communism is the religion of poverty and slavery: at bottom it is the majority principle itself, and Liberty lives to do it battle.
Instead of declaring that “the goods of life belong equally to the industrious and the idle, to the virtuous and the vicious,” our crying grievance and complaint has been and is that the goods of life are almost exclusively in the hands and control of the idle and the vicious, and that the industrious and virtuous are cheated and plundered and starved.
We do believe that capital, while it remains in the hands of idleness, is “the foe of labor,” but we also believe that, when it shall be restored to the hands of labor, which created it, it will prove labor’s most potent friend.
We do believe that all statute laws are “usurpation,” but we also believe that all real laws are eternal and beyond the power of men to manufacture, and that these, when men do not foolishly attempt to thwart them by so-called laws of their own making, are amply sufficient, not to “restrain,” but to harmonize the “natural inclinations and propensities,” not of “any portion of,” but of all the people.
We do believe that “interest is extortion,” that “rent is robbery,” and that “property,” so far as it is a creature of privilege and not of labor, “is plunder;” but we do not believe, and never have said, that “wages is crime.” This last doctrine has been repeatedly attributed to us by the “Journal” without any shadow of justification. It fortunately happens that Liberty has had in type for many months, waiting for room in its crowded columns, a short statement of what we believe about wages. The “Journal” may find it in the present issue under the head of “Buffeted Labor,” and may be able to gather therefrom that we believe most unequivocally in wages system.
Is the “Journal” fair enough to print this creed of ours in our own words? Or will it continue to misrepresent us? In the latter case, we shall find consolation in the fact that each fresh assault which it makes upon us is followed bv a batch of new subscriptions from Providence, generallv accompanied by these or similar remarks: “Whatever the “Journal” maligns is always worthy of patronage, and its abuse is an infallible patent of esteem for decent people.”
The Modern Charles Stuart.
If the cablegrams rightly inform us, Charles Stuart Parnell, the distinguished Irish traitor, has implented his parliamentarian projects by securing writs of eviction for three of his tenants, and that, too on suits for arrears of rent.
This act, outrageous as it is, is in perfect keeping with the instincts of a political trader who scards by the State as against the march of ideas. The Parnells from the first (Anna possibly excepted, have been a sorry investment for the afflicted Irish people. The members of the family have ever whined overtheir individual sacrifies. “My son Charles” has manifestly on many occasions been a more tearworthy object than outraged Ireland. “My brother Charles” would spurn to advocate such communistic doctrines as that ront is morally forfeited in equity. The Parnell family have steadily been a more important institution in their own eyes than the great human family, if the Parnells would only go home to their estates and stay there, thus reinstating the family among the other respectable landlord families of the world, it would be well for Ireland.
To the editor of Liberty:
Dear Sir,— Away back in Great Britain, the land par excelence of tyrants and slaves, I was a rebel to all in power,— kings, landlords, capitalists; and to-day, here among the mountains of New Mexico, I mean to be as uncompromising as ever to authority, and am determined to do my best to help all who want to level old society and build up a new civilization on a scientific basis. I know there are many who say that the present state of affairs is all right, although the people are not contended anywhere in any of the so-called civilized countries of the world. Even here, in this boasted republic the useful people are being buffeted about at the merey of the idle and useless; the workers who have built up all the wealth of the nations have not anywhere a secure home; they own nothing, while the capitalists owns everything. The great mass of the toilers do not know yet the way out of their insecure wage slavery. Liberty will show them. They think that it is quite right that they should be driven to struggle for existence, at the mercy of the capitalists, from Minnesota to Texas and Massachusetts to California. They do not yet know that they should not be driven to seek labor over a continent, but that it should come to them like a haven-sent-blessing.
Yours for Anarchy,
Blossburg, Raton, New Mexico.
[Our friend should beware of that senseless and mischievous phrase, “wage slavery.” There is no such thing. A man’s true wages are fixed and paid by nature, and consist of what he produces or its equivalent. No man is a slave because he gets his wages, though many men are slaves because they do not get their wages. As far as freedom is concerned, there is no difference between the man who produces for unknown parties on problematical terms, working with his own tools at his own risk, and the man who produces for known parites on specified terms, working with their tools at their risk. Both of these are wage systems, and there is no other system. Where there is monopoly, both are slave systems; where there is no monopoly, neither is a slave system. The one condition essential to the rightfulness of both is the absence of the usurer, whose sole function is to secrete for his own benefit a portion of the laborer’s wages. It is the fundamental crime of conservative political economy that the usurer — that is, the monopolist — is privileged to keep back a percentage of that product. Usury, slavery, then — not wage slavery,— is the land of bondage out of which Liberty, Labor’s Moses, is destined to guide the children of Industry — Editor Liberty.]
For fifteen years Tchernichevski, the author of the celebrated novel “What to do” and one of the most remarkable of Russian socialistic writers, has been interned in a little town of Siberia. A Russian review published in Geneva contains an interesting communication relative to the illustrious victim of proscription, for whose liberation liberal Russia has so long pleaded in vain:
Though the Russian patriot Tchernichevski is not dead, as has been more than once reported, he is dead to society. He still lives in the remotest portion of Siberia, that icy country which has witnessed the death of so many illustrious condemned.
Tchernichevski is interned at Kolimsk; he is alone, separated by the gigantic barriers of snow and ice of Yakoutsk from everybody that can understand him.
The little town to which he is consisted counts but a few hundred inhabitants; the literary society of the vicinity is composed of two or three officials.
As there are no available lodgings in the place, the exile lives in a single room in the guard-house, where he can be most conveniently subjected to a very rigorous surveillance. During the day he is allowed to walk the streets, but must present himself every evening before his guardians.
The labors of science which might distract and occupy his mind are almost impossible, for he has no books; he is forbidden to read newspapers or literary publications.
One day he tried to send an article to a Russian journal, but the governor confiscated the package.
Tchernichevski, nevertheless, writes occasionally, but tears up and burns all his productions. There is something mysterious about this method of procedure. The poor exile has a little garden which he cultivates himself, he gives much attention and carefully watches the grow of his plants; he has drained the soil of his garden, which is marshy. He lives by the products which he raises and cats only vegetables; he lives so plainly that in the entire year he does no expend the sum of one hundred and twenty roubles allowed him by the Russian government; his saving are deposited with the police commissioner.
The health of the exile is bad; he has grown old and bent in the little town where he is interned the people revere him and consider as a saint,— not, of course, because of his literary genius or scientific knowledge, of which these poor people have probably never heard; but the wisdom, goodness, and charity of this man, whose life is absolutely pure and who bears his burden with such touching resignation, inspire in all a sentiment of the profoundest pity.
If three, four, or five men, writes Rufus Hatch in the New York “Hour” can accumulate a hundred million dollars a year each by selling something that cost nothing, the public will get tired of it, and, remembering how Mr. Vanderbilt launches his anathemas against them, they will be likely to rise up and assert their power. Not one of these men is a producer in the sense that implies progress, or the increase of the public wealth. They think, or say, they are “developing” that wealth, while, as a matter of fact, they are only absorbing it, just as great sponges soak up water. With these men, it seems, the only thing to do is to build a railway or parallel another one, mortgage it for twice what the road cost, issue stock two or three times too large in amount, and feed the “lambs” in Wall Street with it. If the building of this line disturbs any of the conditions which favor some man’s enrichment and monopoly-power, all he has to do is to get his sons to buy it up. Paper car-wheels have been a success for several years past, and cars run very well on them; but trying tu run a railway altogether on paper is trying to do too much.
Our Patronage Done For.
To the editor of Liberty,— This is to notify you that I do not intend to renew subscription to Liberty. So this will close its patronage.
Providence, R.I. October 29, 1882.
[This settles it. Mr. Howe decides that Liberty’s supplies must be stopped, and of course they will be. Curiously, the same mail that brought us Mr. Howe’s discontinuance brought also one renewal and three new subscribers. Really, what an enormous conceit this man Howe must have! — Editor Liberty]
“Those Filthy Chinese.”
How many Americans would have the self-reliance to act after the manner of the Chinese whose doing are thus reported by the Virginia City “Chronicle”?
A gang of Chinamen have for the past few days been at work laying a sewer from a wash-house close to the court-house on B. street across to Taylor street, to connect with the main sewer there. This unusual sight has caused many to suppose that the country commissioners are employing Chinese labor upon the streets. This is a mistake. The Chinamen are laying the sewer for their own convenience, not having been able to get it done at public expense. The job will cost the wash-house Mongolians over $100.
The Crisis in France.
[New York “Hour”]
The end is now at hand. There is going to be a determined tussle between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. The masses are roused, and the preliminary struggle will be seen in the Chambers. Will some leader emerge from it dominant, victorious? It may be a prince. It may be Gambetta. If it is Gambetta, his dictatorship may be short. There is a spirit abroad in France which is ominous of assassination.