Friday, April 27, 2007

Eliphalet Kimball, Law, Commerce, and Religion

Eliphalet Kimball, "Law, Commerce, and Religion," The Boston Investigator, 32, 13 (June 30, 1862), 97-8.

For the Boston Investigator

Law, Commerce, and Religion.

Mr. Editor:—Law, Commerce, and Religion, are the causes of the wrongs, vices, and consequent sufferings which have always prevailed in civilized nations. Natual law, or the healing power of Nature, would regulate society as it does the human body.—The mind of man is his body. Artificial law is a poison which deranges the course of Nature, and is sure to disorder society. The stillness of legal despotism is disorder. Artificial government turns morality upside down, and keeps it so by force. It protects a class of bad men in wronging other, but is no benefit to honest men. Under established laws and forms of government, it full development is impossible.

Artificial law creates Commerce. Commerce makes rich men. The rich make the class of suffering poor, as a natural consequence. Commerce, and merchants, cause luxury, love of show, avarice, speculation, selfishness, dishonesty;—then comes aristocracy, and next monarchy. Our commerce with Europe is fast bringing society in the United States into the same condition with that in Europe. Monarchy in the United States is near. Law, Commerce, and Religion, make leading men. The leading men have ruined the United States, and made the nation not worth saving. Every rich man, every man who lives in showy style, is a curse to this country. Commerce was and is the cause of negro slavery. The nations which have most commerce are most unprincipled; for instance, England and the United States. It is pretended that Commerce promotes peace, civilization, and fraternity. The contrary is true. Commerce was at the bottom of the piratical wars of England in India, and China, and others the world over. Commercial avarice caused the great national crime committed by the United States against Japan, in forcing her to open her ports. The ruin of the Japanese dates from the visit of Commodore Perry to their shores. According to all accounts, Japan excels all other civilized nations in the condition and character of its inhabitants. It is comparatively the country of justice and equal rights, of plainness, mediocrity, and comfort. The people are correspondingly virtuous. For the last two hundred years, they have not had a war. The cause of their better state of society is, they have no commerce nor religion. They are a nation of Atheists. They were shocked at being told that the Americans believe in a God. The Japanese have only the social wrongs and faults of character which spring from law. The frequent civil wars in Mexico are owing, not to faults of character of the people, but to their unequal condition, caused by law. The land of Mexico is in the hands of a few men, and of the Church. The leading men, and the Church, are at the bottom of the civil wars in that country. The inability of the French to maintain a republican government, is owing to the inequality of the people, caused, by Law, Commerce, and Religion, and not to faults of national character. Commerce has hastened the degeneracy of the American republic. The leading men have corrupted society, and the government. The elections are controlled by money. The important offices are mostly filled by unworthy men. The powerful influence of mercantile wealth is brought to bear on Congressional legislation, to encourage Commerce for the gratification of avarice, and thus in effect increase prevailing wrongs. The American government made no open war on China, but their minister and war vessels sneakingly accompanied the British expedition, to assist indirectly its piratical operations, and profit by its victories. Just wars are sometimes prevented by commercial selfishness. Commercial influence makes unjust wars, and disgraceful peace, according to which brings most money.

Religion is the resource of bad minds. It springs from ignorance, and want of reason, and is false in every particular. False principles cannot be otherwise than injurious to society. Religion and goodness are entirely different and separate. A person may be good without religion, or religious without goodness. Of course, he is not by nature a good man, who does right only from religious motives. All murderers, when in prison, and on the gallows, make known their belief in religion. The same want of reason and goodness that makes them commit murder, makes them believe in religion. Bad men are the strongest believers in the necessity of law and of future punishment. They think that all mankind, like themselves, are governed by nothing better than fear. Such men are the Christians. The followers of Jesus Christ are not good by nature. A follower is an imitator. The imitator is different by nature from the person imitated. Of course, those who imitate Christ do not resemble him in natural character. Those who are born good have to imitate nobody. They act out themselves. Priests declare that the world is governed by a God, and religion is necessary to keep people in order. At the same time they profess to believe that human law is necessary. Kings and aristocrats affirm that human government is indispensable, and at the same time they profess to believe that religion is necessary for society. To assert the need of divine law, and of human law also, proves a want of confidence in either. Both have been abundantly tried together, and found wanting. A God would have not right to create people, without asking their leave, nor govern them without their consent. The clergy are mostly aristocrats and monarchists. Kings and priests strengthen each other. The clergy preach the Divine appointment of kinds, and submission to the powers that be, under penalty of eternal damnation. They are rewarded with a union of Church and State.

Nothing is easier than to have this world a good one, if people had reason enough to see the truth, and would apply it. Abolish all artificial law, and let Nature take its course. Destruction is the word! Destroy the shallow and ruinous contrivances of men, and equality, virtue, justice, and comfort, would be the condition of the world. The laws of Nature would prevent extreme wealth in one class, and it natural consequence, suffering poverty, in another. Aristocracy would be impossible. An aristocrat is never a worthy man—he is ignoble. A government of the aristocracy is atrociously unprincipled and selfish.—In opposition to the rights of man, it sticks at no crime nor cruelty. Napoleon, the noblest man in the world, was entirely free of aristocracy, and despised it in others. No person can rightfully own land. Every person has a right to cultivate what he needs. Of course, there would be no quarrelling about land, if nobody owned it. Fishermen never quarrel about unclaimed water. Under natural law, the few wrongs that would be committed, would be attended to by the people of the neighborhood. Punishment would be more sure than now. The law ought to be made for the occasion, and not before the crime is committed, as circumstance make a difference in cases.—The right government of society would naturally correspond with the government of the Universe. The Universe is eternal, and, therefore, without beginning. It is boundless, and, therefore, has no place for a Creator to begin at, and no place to leave off.—It governs itself. Organization, fitness, life, mind, and growth, are but the inevitable effect of natural law. With reference to the works of Nature, design and chance are but the nonsense of fools. The earth and planets are obliged by natural law to revolve with regularity. It would take a God of great strength to stop them or turn them from their natural course.—If there is no God-law, of course there ought to be no man-law. Human law is unnecessary and injurious, so of course would be God-law. If there is a king of heaven, so ought there to be kinds of earth. Under artificial, established laws, and forms of government, many deliberate acts of injustice go unpunished, and many rightful things are punished.

It is only by anarchy and violence that a great accumulation of social wrongs can be removed. Anarchy is a good word. In means, "without a head." Violence is the healing power of Nature applied to society. The violence which would follow from the abolishment of law, would be proportion to the number and magnitude of the wrongs that needed removal. There ought always to be anarchy, but there would be no violence where there were no wrongs.—Japan needs but little violence. Great Britain needs much. Nothing but violence could have accomplished the great French Revolution, the most beneficent and glorious even of modern times. Law and Religion are responsible for whatever was wrong in it.—Mob law is the right law. Mobs assemble to do justice, to punish bad men whom the law does not reach, and to remove wrongs. There is more reason and justice in a large number of men than in a small number, more in a mob than in a Senate, House of Representatives, judges, or juries. The government of a State, or nation, is a mob, the government of the majority is a mob, and they are the only mobs that ought to be put down. If mankind are not good enough to live without law, they are not good enough to vote for law-makers. Beasts and savages are not fools enough to believe in religion and law, and are good enough to live right without them. Christian and civilized men appear to consider themselves inferior in goodness to savages and beasts. In an uncorrupted state of society, mankind are inclined to do right.—If they were naturally inclined to evil, they would not make laws to prevent it. The fact that laws are made, proves that law is unnecessary.


West Campton, (N. H.,) July 1, 1862.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Josiah Warren, On Mobs (Part 2 of 2)

Josiah Warren, "On Mobs," The Boston Investigator, 33, 21 (September 30, 1863), 163.

For the Boston Investigator.

On Mobs.

By the Author of "True Civilization."


It has been preached to us, and sung to us, and printed at us for hundreds of years, that nothing happens without causes to produce it. But precisely at the time and place where this great fact would be of use, no use in made of it. Thanks to commentators, however, for uttering even so much that is true. Now let us apply this fact to desperation and crime. And to be clear and understandable, we must take one case at a time. In the foregoing case, the widow with her husband just hung for burglary and her infant starving at her breast, she fainting for food and insultingly driven from the misers while begging. Could she feel cheerful, comfortable, happy? Had she any power whatever to feel otherwise than as she did feel? Are there no laws of human nature?—Can a mirror reflect any other image than such as is before it? Can one feel otherwise than as "causes" make him feel’! If water is compelled to run down hill, if cold in compelled to freeze it—if a stone inevitably falls downwards instead of upwards, an empty stomach must feel the frenzy of hunger, and those destitute of hope must feel despair.

I am aware this is treading on forbidden ground—but I have no respect for authority that forbids the admission of a fact. I know that ‘‘this doctrine excuses all crime ‘‘it is fatalism, Owenism, philosophical necessity, heresy, infidelity, and would lead,” &c., &c. No matter now about names nor where a fact may least: it is a fact, as far as I know, that nothing happens without causes to produce it and where these causes exist, the effect will follow, whether you and I are pleased with it or not. I regret that it is so, I wish I could speak some other order of nature into existence—it would save “a world of trouble,” but I feel a humiliating sense of my own impotency in this respect, and mere preachers, moralists, political economists, law makers, courts, justices, judges, juries, hangmen and prison keepers seem to be afflicted with similar imbecility.

Since all these agencies have utterly failed for successive centuries, to produce what they professedly aim at, and since nothing can happen without causes to produce it, suppose we begin in this nineteen hundredth year of the world's enlightenment to look to causes.

The commencement of the troubles of the despairing woman was her husband being hung for burglary. What caused this? What did he want? What did he expect to find in the house which he broke open?

The answer is, money.

What caused him to want money?

He wanted it because it was the means necessary to supply his wants.

What were these wants?

This is none of our business. It was only for him and those involved in his action to legislate on this point; but there are some causes for the want of money that we may legitimately meddle with—these are, its general deficiency—the difficulties to some people of procuring it when it is wanted

What causes these difficulties?

The metals of which it is made, are rare and costly, and are under the control of, or within the reach of, only a small portion of mankind; and money is designedly made scarce and difficult to obtain.

What causes these motives to make money scarce and difficult to obtain?

The prospect of gaining large quantities of it.

What are large accumulations wanted for?

For future security for self and offspring against want.

What causes these motives?

Insecurity of Condition.

Here is the end of the chain as far as it seems useful to pursue it; and I will ask if any one of the parties involved could be expected to feet or act otherwise than as they do, under the influence of the causes named? If any one thinks he could, let him try in any case to do differently from what he does do. But the idea is an absurdity, therefore it is nonsense to say people might be better, might think otherwise, ought to be something else than what they are in any one present case. In common newspaper phrase, the foregoing is an exhibition of “shocking depravity;" but I think the shocking depravity is with those who can see nothing but depravity in it.

I would not publish it at all, but as a stimulant to work for remedy. Let those who have bread to eat, not have it stick in their throats by thoughts of the starving, and those who have beds to lie on, let them sleep, if they can, if they must be surrounded with the breadless, than bedless, freezing, desperate, and dying; unless, by being disturbed, they can work towards remedy.

To those who know of none, I suggest that if every person had access to one acre of land of the millions of acres that now lie under useless monopoly, and had the legitimate advantages of the division and exchange of labor and did not lose three quarters of their proper compensation in the process of thus exchanging their products, nor had them destroyed to manufacture vulgar glorification for military heroes, there would be found all the bread that could be eaten, all the houses and beds that were wanted, and all the money that could be used.

But, perhaps it is replied, Government has already provided that any one may go and take possession of not one acre, but a hundred and sixty acres of the public land without price. Yes, it has; but this does not remedy the evil where it is most severely felt. The strongest of men, (not to speak of women and children,) cannot isolate themselves a hundred and sixty acres away from other people, without depriving themselves of most of the advantages of society and working themselves down to an early grave or to the condition of mere savages. And if they attempt to draw others around them, they commit the communistic error or else retain in their own hands the power to become oppressive speculators on house lots. No middle course has been struck out. Speculation has had no limits nor regulator, nor does it know any;—and exactly the same principle which gives such destructive sway to speculators, is pursued by the poorest and most honest, and most useful citizens. All get whatever they can, as the price for what they do or sell; and whether they succeed or fail in the scramble for life, all are equally guilty and equally innocent so far as causes are concerned; and certainly all are equally ignorant of any regulating principle for the sale of land and labor, merchandise, or anything else. The principle required is the principle of Equivalents.

We have now reached the remedy required to neutralize the antagonism of classes; "but," it is replied, "this remedy is too new—it will take such a long time to get it in operation, we cannot wait—we must have something that we can use now, at once." If the remedy is new, it is not untried nor undemonstrated.

I know what the want is, and wish it could be immediately supplied. If you can find an immediate remedy, pray apply it at once; but I know of no remedies that are old, and if any are found at all, they must, of necessity, be new; and if they, like arithmetic, require time and application, the sooner those are bestowed the better.

In the meantime, let us not add torture to desperation, but confine ourselves to the least violence that will protect all, even the mob themselves, from unnecessary disturbance, while the proper remedies are found and applied.

I think I hear the suffering masses say, "Who cares for us? Who offers us anything but insult and abuse? What remedies have we with the courts, the lawyers, the juries, or the judges? Will the lawyers plead the cause of poverty and destitution without pay? And do not the judges condemn us to the prisons or the gallows from the same motive that they would go to a bull fight, or else because they love to display their power? Where are courts for the poor who cannot pay high prices for protection? There is no protection for us, but such as we can find in our own hands, and in our desperation."

I reply, that among all the horrors and desolation the war has brought about, it has also converted every house into a council chamber, and has constituted every thinking person a judge, the whole people making one great Supreme Court of inquiry; and when lime great cause of the working classes comes up before this great tribunal of public opinion, then your true remedy shall come. Specific councils are already being formed in different parts of the world, principally for the purpose of considering the present condition and future prospects of labor; and the subject will never be abandoned till relief is obtained, and because it can be had without any violent revolution or the sacrifice of a single life or any property.

In the meantime, real a little work, published by Fowlers and Wells, written by Robert Dale Owen, entitled “Laborits present condition and future prospects, and you wail see that there are those among the easy classes that feel as deeply for the suffering classes us they feel for each other; though he does not propose any particular remedy, but modestly leaves this for others, who profess to know one. Be assured that there are others, like him, who would hail with joy any plan of relief that appeared efficient and practical. But there have been no many plausible plans tried and failed, and in which many of the best of men have been ruined, they despair of all prospects of the kind, and are too apt to dismiss them without examination, though they would be the first to assist in a true reliable scientific plan of permanent relief, when they once could be got to examine it. Help us yourselves to solve the great problem of what constitutes the true or equitable compensation for labor, and you will find difficulties you never dreamed of.

Don't persecute the poor innocent black people. There is room enough on the earth for all to employ themselves to advantage. Don’t destroy property, but increase it and enjoy the increase you make, by protecting yourselves against speculation by the adoption of a principle that would give an abundance of employment to all and much higher wages than you ever thought of asking.

Frochel, the German compatriot of Blume in the revolution of 1848, has hold us that "the working and suffering classes had obtained all the power they needed; but when they came to apply it, they did not know what to do!"

The Labor Question is certainly the most difficult subject in the world to settle, or it would have been settled before this time; but it is capable of settlement, as you or your descendants shall see.

Josiah Warren, On Mobs (Part 1 of 2)

Josiah Warren, "On Mobs," The Boston Investigator, 33, 20 (September 23, 1863), 155.

For the Boston Investigator.

On Mobs.

By the Author of "True Civilization."

Mr. Editor:—I see it stated that a hundred and fifty of the (so called) rioters in New York are brought up for trial and punishment. Punishment in this case cannot mean reparation for damages done, for these poor creatures have nothing with which to make restitution, but the punishment is intended as usual for a "terror to evil doers." But those who punish instead of preventing crime do not know that they are themselves evil doers! They give the authority of the State and the influence of their high example to that very spirit of revenge which they condemn in the mob, and the more they punish destitution and desperation or even crime, the more mobs there will be. But what is to be done? Ah! That is the question—for the present moment the least violent restraints that are effectual seem the best expedients. The policeman who exposed his life in three times extinguishing the fire at the Orphan Asylum, displayed the right kind of heroism. He did not stand to quarrel with the mob, but was entirely engaged in preventing the destruction; and though he did more good than hundreds who were fighting the mob, some of whom lost their lives in so doing, his life was spared by the mob, who could have killed him in a moment, but they could not find a motive to do so. There is something so self-evidently correct in protecting persons or property from wanton destruction, it at least commends itself to forbearance even from men rendered desperate. Cannot the official take a hint from this and draw a line now between the punishment and the prevention of crime?

I use the word "mob" in no opprobrious sense. Those who gather round a fallen horse in the street to assist him to get up, are a mob; and those who used to hurry to a neighbor's house on fire to do their best to extinguish it, were mobs, until there were regular organizations for that purpose. Wat Tyler and his associates were a mob, but had they not done as they did we might not have had the character of Liberty so highly prized and so little understood in this country. I might multiply illustrations but I wish to space unnecessary words. It is not, then, the mob that is to be condemned, but it is what they do that is to be considered; and then it is not what the mob are supposed to have done, but what individuals it was that did this or that—and then, not to visit them with vindictive punishment, but to obtain reparation for damages, or to learn the causes which impelled them, in order to prevent similar effects in the future; for this is all that is truly worthy of the wise legislator. We are not true and consequently not safe without this careful discrimination. But here we come to a stand—there seems to be no knowledge of causes among law-makers nor among the administrators of laws; nor do they seem to be aware that causes can have anything to do with what happens! If they did, why do we not hear of anything by "catching and punishing" the rioters? Let Mr. Aikin give a hint on this point:—

"Don't be angry with me, Sir," cried the widow, sobbing bitterly. She was a poor creature with an infant in her arms. The man whom she addressed, asked her to give up her child to his care. She refused, and on seeing that he was displeased, she said, "Pray don't be angry. I know I am undeserving of your bounty; but if I were to tell you the hardships I have undergone—to what extremities I have been reduced—and to what infamy I have submitted, to earn a scanty subsistence for this for this child's sake,—if you could feel what it is to stand alone in the world as I do, bereft of all who ever loved me, and shunned by all who have ever known me, except the worthless and the wretched—and Heaven grant that you may be spared the knowledge—how much affliction sharpens love and how much more dear to me my child has become for every sacrifice I have made for him; if you were told all this, you would I am sure pity rather than reproach me, because I cannot at once consent to a separation which I feel would break my heart."

"Let me advise you," said Mr. Wood, "on no account to fly to strong waters for consolation, Joan. One nail drives out another, it's true; but the worst nail you can employ is a coffin-nail. Gin Lane's the nearest road to the churchyard."

"It may be, but if it shortens the distance, and lightens the journey, I care not," said the widow, who seemed by this reproach to be roused into sudden eloquence. "To those who, like me, have never been able to get out of the dark and dreary paths of life, the grave is indeed a refuge, and the sooner they reach it the better. The spirit I drink may be poison,—it may kill me,—perhaps it is killing me:—but so would hunger, cold, misery,—so would my own thoughts. I should have gone mad without it. Gin is the poor man's friend,—his whole set-off against the rich man's luxury. It may be treacherous, it may lay up a state of future woe; but it insures present happiness, and that is sufficient. It comforts the most forlorn. When I have traversed the streets a houseless wanderer, driven with curses from every door where I have asked for alms, and with blows from every gateway where I have sought shelter—when I have crept into some deserted building, and stretched my wearied limbs on a bulk, in the hope of repose—or, worse than all, when frenzied with want, I have yielded to some horrible temptation, and earned a meal in the only way I could earn one—when I have felt, at times like these, my heart sick within me, I have drunk of this drink, and have at once forgotten my cares, my poverty, my guilt. Old thoughts, old feelings, old faces, and old scenes have returned to me, and I have fancied myself happy—as happy as I now am!" and she burst into a wild, hysterical laugh.

"Poor creature!" ejaculated Wood; "do you call this frantic glee, happiness?"

"It's all the happiness I have known for years," returned the widow, becoming suddenly calm, "and it is short-lived enough, as you perceive. I tell you what, Mr. Wood," added she in a hollow voice, and with a ghastly look, "gin may bring ruin, but as long as poverty, vice, and ill-usage exist, it will be drunk."[1]

It is common to find fault with the apathy and indifference of the rich, in regard to remedies; but before this charge will hold good, a practical remedy should be presented; which never has yet been done. There has been no lack of good intentions and self-sacrificing efforts, but they have all failed over and over again. Common property was tried at least eighteen hundred years ago, and all through the present generation, and Fourier's Association idea have been attempted several times in Europe, and, I believe, thirty-nine times in this country, within the last thirty years; and yet another and another attempt is made in the same way, without any new elements, or any new arrangement of the old ones, all with the same inevitable result; till a general feeling prevails that no remedy is practicable.

I will venture to say that those who have come to this conclusion are the nearest right—none which they know of, are practicable.

[Remainder next week.]

[1] Ainsworth, William Harrison, "Jack Sheppard, A Romance," 1839.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

J. William Lloyd, The Evolution of Homes and Architecture

J. William Lloyd, "The Evolution of Homes and Architecture," The Phrenological Journal and Science of Health, 73, 3 (September, 1881), 133-5.


Evolution is the favorite watchword of modern philosophers. We are told how man descended or ascended from the monkey, how learning, civilization, religion, everything has developed by this selfsame process. The light of the theory is thrown on every subject of human affairs; it is the key that fits every lock, and the answer to every puzzle. By one class, evolution is condemned as the head and front of infidelity and every sort of radicalism, while others laud it as the first great truth the world has ever known. The common opinion appears to be—and the writer shares it—that evolution is a theory yet to be proved, with much to be said for, and some things against it, and great possibilities of being right in general, but wrong in some particulars. But, be this as it may, evolution offers a broad field for pleasant and profitable speculation. I have often amused myself this way, by tracing the process by which man evolved his present comfortable habitations and surroundings, from the possibilities of the natural world that environed him in his pre-historic infancy.

Fancy the primitive man, naked, houseless, homeless, fireless. He has within him “the power and potency” to acquire every form of comfort and luxury, but as yet he knows it not. After food—which the wild creatures and vegetation of the forest supply him—his first desire is for a home, or rather a shelter from the pitiless storm and the scorching sun. At first he imitates the wild beasts he hunts, and takes refuge in a cave, or under the thick boughs of some umbrageous tree, or perchance even in its hollow trunk. These are the first habitations, and by degrees—as the rude hunters who own them, leave their wives and their children there, while absent on the chase or foray, and adorn them with their few implements and possessions—they become in some measure even homelike.

No doubt, as this pre-historic being roamed the woods, he often gazed and pondered in wondering horror, as the instant flash of the lightning lit up the dark aisles of the forest, or the dead oak tree blazed beneath the electric stroke. To his benighted intellect, fire was a god or a demon; something to be worshiped and feared, but not used. But one day while fashioning some rude stone implements, the sparks that fly from the clashing flints ignite the dead leaves around, and he discovers with mingled joy and fear that the demon can be called up at will, to be his friend and his slave. But as yet he knows not its uses, and with breathless interest he experiments. He feeds the fire with grass, leaves, and sticks, clapping his hands with childish delight, as they crackle and burn and crumble to ashes; while the blue smoke curls upward through the green leaves of the forest as though seeking its blue friend, the sky. It is a cool morning, and he enjoys the genial heat with chuckling delight, until a too near approach makes him withdraw his hand with a howl, and teaches him that the demon, though a slave, must be treated respectfully. Still he feeds the flames, and still he experiments. He throws in stones, and wonders to see them change color and crack, but not turn to ashes like the wood. He trys a bone—it is calcined to powder, but does not act the same as either the stick or the stone. Thoroughly excited now, he snatches up the half-eaten leg of venison he breakfasted on that morning and thrusts it into the blaze. But the savory odor that soon salutes his nostrils is too much for his Alimentiveness, and plucking it from the fire, with true childlike instinct lie applies it to his lips—the taste is delicious, and he eats his first meal of cooked food. The demon once enslaved is never again to be free—except in moments of rash rebellion—but shall always remain the chief joy and comfort of the human home.

But caves and hollow trees are scarce; and the boughs of trees are but poor shelter even in summer, still worse in winter. So as human beings increase on the earth, the necessity for artificial habitations becomes apparent. But where shall the man look for patterns and instruction he knows nothing of geometry or architecture? Where, indeed, but to the homes of the instinct-inspired creatures around him, and to the rude natural shelters he formerly used. One of the first things that he perceives, is that most creatures are provided with a sort of home which they carry everywhere. Thus the oyster and the snail have their shells, the armadillo his coat of mail, and the ram his wooly fleece, which, to a greater or less degree, protects each one from enemies and inclement weather. The savage looks and thinks; it is his first idea of clothing, or a house in its most convenient and portable form. With the selfish instincts of his nature fully aroused, he strips the beast of its akin and the bird of its feathers. Feeling, too, the active germs of the love of beauty and praise, he begins to dress for ornament as well as use, and strings of teeth, and shells, and gaudy plumes, are added to his wardrobe. In his wanderings, he often finds it convenient to make a shelter by stretching his skin robe or mantle over trees or bushes and crawling underneath. This idea developing, and bearing fruit, becomes the tent or wigwam, which is nothing more than a kind of outer garment, to be worn on extra occasions like an overcoat or shawl.

But as individuals came to possess a property-right in portions of the earth’s surface, a demand for more permanent homes arose. These were built of more durable materials, so that they might last longer, and be more capable of resisting hostile attacks; for, when a man lives always in one place, his enemies can easily find him out. Probably the first permanent home, artificially made, was a rough hollow barrow or cairn of turf and stones, after the model of the ancestral cave. Apparently the nests of birds suggested the erection of huts within the branches of trees, and finally the building of structures elevated on piles instead of trees. The building of these stilted structures over the shallow waters of some lake or pool afforded still greater protection from beasts and men, and was a favorite practice. Some savages still live in trees, and others dwell in pile-mounted huts. Thus we see that man brought the three kingdoms—animal, vegetable, and mineral — into subjection, and taxed them all, to furnish building materials and provide him with habitations. But wood, stone, and earth were then, and have ever since remained the favorite materials for constructing homes.

As men improved in the art of building, they combined these three classes of materials; thus stones wore used for walls, various earths for cements to bind these stones together, and wood was used for rafters, beams, and floors. Then for the first time house-building proper began. Its final outcome was to be the grand series of palaces, temples, and public buildings that now adorn the world.

Man, as a builder, appears to have always had two natural models before his mental vision—the rocky cave and the branching tree—thus copying after the first shelters of the race. It is curious to trace the imitation of nature in all the grand structures of the present. Look at that great gothic cathedral. What is it but a vast craggy hill of rock? Go into the mountains and you wilt see that the Divine Architect there erected the models long before the human architects were heard of. Arch and angle, buttress and battlement, wing, tower, and spire, all are there; and the ivy grows as greenly on the walls of this temple of nature as on the walls of the cathedral of man. But let us within. Are the pillars that we see really such, or are they the stalagmitic columns of a cavern? Is the sunshine tinted by stained glass, or by the gorgeous foliage of autumn-dyed trees, seen through the natural windows of a cave? Aisle and altar, chancel and chapel, niche and nave, sculptured walls and vaulted ceilings are common to both. Men name rocks and caves after castles and cathedrals; they had better name castles and cathedrals after rocks and caves,

How the lofty tower symbolizes the hollow tree-stump that sheltered the savage. Its foundations are sunk deep in the earth, like the roots of the tree; the gaping fissure becomes the arched gateway; knot-holes change to loop-holes and windows; the jagged and broken top becomes the notched and embrasured battlement, add men climb the winding staircase of the tower instead of woodpeckers and squirrels running up the ragged interior of the tree.

In ships—those floating houses of the sea—the same imitation of nature may be observed. Water has always had a strange and sweet fascination for the human being, and we can picture the aboriginal savage, wandering by the side of some woodland stream, watching the straws and acorns and driftwood floating down the peaceful current. Childlike he amuses himself by tossing in chips, and seeing them whirl down the eddying pathway. But humanity is ever adventurous, ever seeking the beyond, and he wishes to explore the unknown land across the stream. The frog and the otter have taught him to swim, but the laziness of the savage is too strong within him, and he does not wish to struggle against the tide, so he sets his wits to work to devise some other and easier method of crossing. Thus if Necessity is the mother, Indolence is the father of Invention, and Opportunity its birthplace. Opportunity is not wanting here, for a floating log has stranded at his very feet, although, as yet, the thought of using it has not occurred to him. But suggestion comes also, for as he looks he sees a squirrel floating down stream on a chip. His bushy tail, sail-like, expanded, catches the freshening breeze, and he soon makes the opposite shore and scuds merrily away in the woods. The spell is broken! With a shout the log is pushed off, and with mantle extended to catch the wind, and with paddling hand and feet for oars, he sails merrily across. That first trip contained the germ of all future navigation. The fish, the frog, the water-spider on his curled-up leaf, the nautilus, and the ship- like swan, have all been man’s teachers in the theory and practice of subduing the watery world.

In furniture, too, we have copied from nature. Instead of the mossy bank we recline on the cushioned divan; chairs, as seats, take the place of the stump or stone; we dine from tables, not from flat rocks; and we have reproduced the green of the grasses, the brown of the dead leaves, and the form and coloring of the flowers in our carpets.

And so it seems, that even as God in framing this universe— having no other pattern—made all things to resemble Himself, everything in nature suggesting or symbolizing something in Him; so human beings, in the absence of other models, have made everything to imitate the divine structures.

We imitate our Father’s acts;
Our minds repeat His thought;
We copy—else we mar—His works,
And teach what He has taught.


J. William Lloyd, The True Basis of Individualism

J. William Lloyd, "The True Basis of Individualism," Liberty, 6, 10 (September 7, 1889), 6.

The True Basis of Individualism.

In No. 148, Comrade Yarros, with whose logic I usually agree, asserts: "The true basis of Individualism is not any natural individual right, for nature knows nought but might, but a broad Utilitarianism, social expediency." Now I have nothing to say against "a broad Utilitarianism," or "social expediency," but, with an respect for Mr. Yarros, I consider this statement of out basis as misleading. It has always seemed to me only a piece of common sense to look for the basis of individualism in the individual himself, as far back as might be, and I found It, to my own satisfaction at least, where I looked for it. The true basis of Individualism is egoism, self-benefit,—the natural right, or rightness, of every man's attending solely to his own good. That, where there is sufficient knowledge and mental development, the exercise of egoism will lead naturally to a broad utilitarianism and social expediency I have always claimed, but that is very far front admitting their basic importance.

My happiness is the basic thing, and happiness is a natural right; that is to say, in the very nature of my organism it is so arranged that every thing goes right only when happy, only when in a state of normal gratification. And my natural right is not in the least dependent upon my natural might; I have the natural might to cut off a forefinger, but it would very naturally be wrong for me to do so; it is naturally right for me to have all my teeth, but I have lost some, and it is naturally impossible for me to get them back.

That which the "laws" of nature require us to do, the actual conditions of nature too frequently forbid.

Does "nature know nought but might"? Effort, struggle, labor, might, for nothing at all, is foolishness, and nature is not such a fool. She uses her might for a purpose, and therefore knows something before and after might. Preservation of life, development, pleasure, in the service of these she uses her might, and whatsoever makes for these is right.

Here is natural right—that which is beneficial to the individual; here is our basis. Shall we then say: "Might is right"? In a certain sense yes, and in another sense no. Might is perhaps right in intention, i. e., always intended to benefit the user; it is often by reason of ignorance very wrong in its results. A man slew his best friend by mistake, supposing him his deadliest enemy. He was acquitted of wrong as one who acted in self-defence, and his own conscience was clear. He acted in self-defence, and it is right to act in self-defence, therefore he did right. Did he not also do wrong? Assuredly it is wrong to make mistakes; from the standpoint of the slain it was wrong to be slain, and from the standpoint of the slayer it was wrong to kill one's friend.

It becomes evident then that there are natural rights and natural wrongs (that is, that there are intentions, acts, and rotations that in the course of nature benefit self, and intentions, acts, and relations that In the course of nature injure self), and also that the same act may at the same time be both right and wrong. To a certain extent a given relation may be beneficial, and beyond that an injury. Recognizing this, we have all learned that good and evil are comparative terms, and the habit has become world-wide of calling those things that benefit more than they injure right and good, and those that injure more than they benefit wrong and evil. When the moralist speaks of right be always means, whether he is conscious of it or not, that which, in his opinion, in the long run and the wide circle, will return the most pleasure. It seems to me that all the varying uses of the word right clearly base themselves here.

Observe. To many those things only are right that are decreed by God. Everything believed to have the divine sanction is called right. To the theological mind God is the fountain of benefits. To antagonize God is, in the long run and the wide circle, to bring ruin upon sell, to obey is in the greatest possible degree to benefit self. Therefore the decrees of God are tight, and obedience to them right. Could anything be more egoistic? And even such monstrous doctrines as predestination and infant damnation were applauded from fear of the divine vengeance, which is egoism in another form, or from a persuasion that those doctrines were mysteries which would finally be revealed as human benefits.

The use of the term right as synonymous with privilege evidently had a similar origin. Men did not look to scientific relation of cause and effect; they took theological views of everything. Whatever God did or permitted was right, but the devil gave him the slip pretty, often, and then things were done that were wrong. How the devil he did this was a knotty question, but anyway God was for men, and the devil man's enemy, therefore God was good, and Satan bad. Rulers being "ordained of God" (it was very unsafe to doubt this), the agents and sub-agents of his will, having "a divine right," it followed that all their privileges were divinely right, and beneficial to everybody. To rebel was to rebel against God, to ultimately ruin self, and, on the other hand, to do what God through the ruler permitted not be wrong, however it might look to the natural man; at any rate, it was the safest and most fashionable to call it right Therefore all privileges become rights. And the old idea of self-benefit through it all.

Read the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence, substituting the word benefit or benefits for the right and rights wherever they occur, and it will be found that the author's idea is fully preserved. A Deist, he reasoned from nature to God, — that is, whatever he found of beneficial nature he referred to God as its author.

Believing in a deity who could do no wrong, also believing, as we do, in equal liberty as beneficial, it was to him self-evident men were equal by creative intent. To substitute privileges, or any such term signifying might, for "rights," will not thus express his meaning. This is clearly shown by his reference to "inalienable rights." He did not intend to convey the idea that "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness," were mere arbitrary privileges, conferred by God or the government, or he would not have called them "inalienable."

As privileges and powers he knew they were continually being alienated, but as "rights" they were in his view inalienable —that is, it would always be beneficial to the Individual to live, be free, and seek happiness, whether able to do so or not. A man might voluntarily become a slave, but he could not thereby alienate his right to freedom, could not alter the fact that it would be better to be free.

Even the most useful hand, because the most beneficial, is called the right hand. And so I might go on indefinitely, but I have illustrated sufficiently, I trust, to prove my point.

Thus it appears that in nature all acts and relations are to some extent beneficial, somewhat right, but to avoid inconveniently nice distinctions human language has divided all into two classes;

Right, Good = More beneficial than injurious

Wrong, Evil= More injurious than beneficial

and this from the standpoint of the speaker.

While by right, in a special sense, have always been meant those conditions, actions, or privileges supposed to be superlatively beneficial, such as liberty, security, labor, compensation, suffrage, etc. Finding that humanity has based its entire nomenclature of right on an egoistic basis, I, as an egoist, make haste to adopt it, and dissent sharply from those few philosophers who assert "might is right," meaning thereby that whatever nature permits is right. To view of the basic meaning of the word, and of the fact that nature permits all sorts of self-injury, I deny it.

Nothing is clearer to me than that those who use "nature-right" as a watchword, mean, and have always meant, those conditions and actions which in the very nature of man and his relations are in the highest degree necessary to his development, perfection, and happiness as an individual.

Our basis is the natural Individual right to happiness; our method, the natural social right of equal-freedom. Therefore we are In our desires, actions, hopes, altogether based on natural right, and the "Individualist" need not hasten to haul down its standard.

How can Comrade Yarros say, "there is nothing whatever in nature to interdict such a policy" as the endeavor of one man to tyrannize over another? If that be so, let him rest assured he is a fool for interdicting it himself. Is, then, our protest against tyranny based upon supernaturalism? Are we left without an inch of solid ground to stand on?

Into such folly does the advocacy of might as right lead us. Nature indeed permits tyranny between man and man, but she none the less forbids it by all the pains and penalties of Individual undevelopment and social disorder. Nor do I agree that "all" men's "rights are natural social rights' (if they are, they are confessedly natural rights), but deny that there is "no liberty without society," and maintain that, if I were the only man living, I would still have rights, could still be free. My social rights are only a part of my rights, and include all those interrelations of conduct between myself and my fellows necessary to secure my greatest social benefit. Outside of these lie all my right relations to self, and to that nature which is not human. Whether in or out of society, for instance, my right of free access to nature's materials remains unchanged. Does Mr. Yarros really believe that: "Civilization does not modify men's natural rights; it creates them. In the absence of civil society individual rights are inconceivable"? To me such a statement appears absurd, and worse. Which, then, was first, civilization, or primitive nature? Was it not the working out of the perception of natural rights by the primitive savage that produced the little civilization that we have? Because the primitive savage will not associate with us, have we a right to outrage him? Is it inconceivable that he has a right to his life, liberty, happiness? As it would not be difficult to prove that we have as yet no "civil society" worthy of the name, is it inconceivable that we have rights,—are they still uncreated?

Now the truth is that natural rights are not created at all, but are inherent in the nature of things—individual rights in the nature of the Individual, social rights in the nature of society; and nature is self-existent.

It is true, however, that, as a man alone could not be invaded by other men, our contention as Anarchists is chiefly for the natural social right of equal liberty, but our demand for that is prompted altogether by our belief that its realization will in the highest degree satisfy our natural individual right to a perfect personality—which is our true basis.

"The hope and strength of our cause lies in the great verity that, as men gain in enlightenment and refinement, they come to realize more and more that not stern military discipline, but trust in the spontaneous unfoldment of individuality, not force and repression, but liberty and sympathy, should be depended upon for the working out of a harmonious social order." True, O prophet!— and that because "liberty and sympathy" are natural rights. If humanity had to wait until its "harmonious social order" had "created" its liberty and sympathy, in order that its liberty and sympathy could work out its harmonious social order, it would be in a very dizzy and hopeless condition of chasing its own tail.

J. Wm. Lloyd.

Monday, April 23, 2007

J. William Lloyd, Co-operative Free Money

J. William Llloyd, "Co-operative Free Money," Liberty, 6, 21 (October 5, 1889), 6.

Co-operative Free Money.

Suppose a Confederation of Free Individuals, divided into groups.

Suppose the members of each group appraise—through the agency of a committee selected by some mutually satisfactory method—the amount of exchangeable wealth in labor products possessed by them. The same being placed on a record, publicly published, which should show at a glance the amount possessed by the members of the entire Confederation considered collectively, by the members of each group considered collectively, and by each individual member separately.

The standard, or unit of measure, used by the committee in appraising the cost or exchangeable-value of these labor products being an hour’s labor of “the average intensity and extensity,” as Andrews puts it. Suppose that, now, the several committees, met in convention, issue a call to the inventers to invent a paper suitable for currency,—waterproof, fireproof, acidproof, untearable, non-counterfeitable; to the paper manufacturers to furnish this paper in desired quantities; and to the printers to print an amount of paper money exactly representative of the nine of the property on the record.

These matters settled by a free competition calculated to secure the best work and material possible, at the nearest approach to ideal labor-cost possible, suppose the money printed, and its distribution by the committees to the members of the groups to each individual in an amount exactly representative of his wealth as declared by the record. Said recipient buying said money at cost; said cost including all the labor of inventing, manufacturing, printing, and committee work.

Suppose the value represented by these notes expressed, not in dollars and cents, but in hours and parts of hours spent in labor. The notes to he actually called Quarter Hours, Half Hours, Hours, Days, Weeks, Months, etc.; thus clearly symbolizing to the parties in a bargain the amount of lifetime's labor exchanged. Any marked increase in the wealth of the Confederation, occurring in the course of time, and requiring an increased currency, to be met by a re-appraisement and new issue on the same plan as before; the new bills being of a different pattern from the old ones, which retire front circulation simultaneously with the new issue, to prevent fraud on the part of those who might hide part of their notes, and then plead that some accident had deprived them of tools of exchange for the labor products they possessed, if an issue wore made of new notes similar to the old; those who had exchanged alt or part of their labor-products for labor notes exchanging these old notes, now, for the new ones. It being provided, too, that any one could, at any time, exchange worn-out or defaced notes for new ones of the same denomination at the printers, the old ones to be counted and destroyed by the printer in the presence of the applicant and other witnesses, and a record made of the same, and the applicant paying cost of new notes.

If re-appraisement revealed decreased wealth in labor-products, obviously the entire volume of currency, and each particular nuts, would he depreciated in purchasing power accordingly, thus constituting, in the easiest possible way, the entire Confederation a mutual insurance company hearing mutually the lessee suffered by individual members.

It being, of course, understood and agreed upon by all the members that these notes were to be received by each and all in payment of debt, and as fulfilling in every respect the present functions of good money.

Would not the currency supplied by this method fulfill all the requisites of a scientific medium of exchange—cheapness, portability, indestructibility, inappreciable intrinsic value, uniformity, difficulty of counterfeiting, exact representation of all the labor-products to be exchanged, absolute security of basis, public confidence—to the greatest possible extent? Being unsupported by law, it could not prevent the competition or coexistence of any better or complementary system, if devised.

Counterfeiting, being obviously a form of theft, contrary to equitable commerce, could be resisted by the Confederation acting defensively, and the passer of the bogus notes compelled to make restitution to those defrauded. Is there any need of redemption in a currency which is never refused?—or, In other words, does it not redeem itself every time it effects an exchange? Being perfectly equitable, leaving all in the same relative positions of wealth or poverty In which it found them, does this schema offer an unfair advantage to any?

As it offers tools of exchange for alt possible exchangeable wealth, does it not abolish all necessity for interest? Would not a method so simple, and whose single issue would afford all the currency needed for a long period of time, probably, be far less expensive, less cumbersome, every way more convenient, than the mutual- or mortgage-banking plan, with its multitude of rival bankers, foreclosing of mortgages, forced sales of mortgaged property, frequent losses, and general complexity and disorganization, or possible organization against the people?

Would not its currency command the confidence of outsiders and aliens, much more than that offered by the mortgage-banking plan on the credit of petty bankers and obscure individuals? Is it not easier to comprehend, and therefore to teach, and better fitted in every way to meet popular objections to free money than any other schema?

Could not such a scheme he adopted now, by groups of confederating individuals, just as easily and successfully as any free-banking plan?

Comrades, I present this scheme with the utmost modesty, for I am no financier, and the money question has always been a most formidable one to me. I am haunted by a fear that there is some radical and fatal defect in it, which less dull brains than mine instantly perceive, or else, so simple is it, it would certainly have been advocated before. Perhaps it has been advocated before, and its weakness so thoroughly demonstrated that nobody even mentions it now.

Anyway it has banned my brain so long that at last I have resolved to give it utterance. If an error—he who brings an error to the trial does that much, negatively, to establish the truth.

I invite criticism.

J. Wm. Lloyd.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Samuel M. Jones, A Plea for Simpler Living

Samuel M. Jones, "A Plea for Simpler Living," The Arena, XXIX, 4 (April 1903), 345.


THE following words from a flaming advertisement recently I caught my eye: "Why don't you marry the girl? We'll help you." They were from the advertisement of an instalment house—that is, a business house that sells furniture on the instalment plan, generally asking a very large price in the first place, only to take it tack in many instances after those who have purchased have partly paid for it, and after months and perhaps years of agony in trying to extricate themselves from the burden of debt have in the end seen their goods taken from the house, put in the furniture van and conveyed back to the instalment house, usually to be rubbed up, repolished, and again sold to the next confiding victim whose ambition has been stimulated to venture beyond the limits of his ability to pay, and who by so doing takes upon himself involuntary servitude or slavery to the instalment people.

These operations are repeated indefinitely, and the result of the successive surrenders and heartrending sacrifices on the part of the poor is by the alchemy of business converted into dividends and vulgar luxuries, both of which are supposed to be enjoyed by idle owners. But in reality the ultimate effect of these luxuries and dividends is moral disintegration to those who possess them.

I do not believe that there is any one delusion or evil that is responsible for more misery, wretchedness, and downright despair than that which seems completely to possess the large majority of those who esteem themselves the best society, and which may be summed up in the belief that life consists in things. The shrewd business man, knowing this weakness, turns it to his own selfish advantage in a thousand ways similar to the one alluded to above. After much serious reflection I have almost concluded that it is just as immoral to get things that we cannot pay for, by running in debt for them, as it is to get them litany other way without paying for them.

Let us not delude ourselves into the belief that it is the fault of the dealer. It is his business to sell his goods, but he cannot compel any human being to buy them; and the misery that I would avert is due to the yielding temptation born of the imperfect understanding as to what constitutes the true end, aim, and enjoyment of life. Before we can be free we must be emancipated from these misconceptions of the fundamentals of life, and this emancipation must come from within.

I can conceive of no more important or worthy work for ministers, teachers, and other molders of public opinion than a high-minded and serious attempt to stimulate in the minds of all the people a noble and consistent ideal of a perfectly simple, free, yet artistic and beautiful life. We have not yet begun to understand how very little we really require—how easily our actual necessities incident to a happy life may be supplied.

In proportion as we get away from the artificiality and from the slavery that requires us to do as other people do—in proportion as we live a wholesome, normal, free life, and allow our varying tastes to express themselves untrameled by the arbitrary dictates of conventionalism—we will grow in health, happiness, independence, and true greatness.

Now, as to what we actually need. I believe a condition of life is possible—nay, is attainable here and now—where each one can have free access to everything that is needful to develop the individual to the highest possibilities of soul and body. And first I find that we need air. We have a right to pure air, and singularly enough we each need about the same amount of air in order to have a healthy body and in order to have a beautiful body—for this, too, is our right. But we do not need to hoard the air; we do not need to lay up air for a rainy day; we cannot store it; but we can freely have as much as we will use, and no matter how much we use the supply is not lessened.

Now, this law in every detail, I believe, applies to every other thing required for the development of a perfect life just as clearly as it does to air. Though we may not be able to understand its application, it only requires a little study of this fundamental principle to bring us to an understanding of the sound philosophy set forth in the German saying: "Zu viel und su wenig sind ungesund."

It is perfectly clear to me that in the development of a pure democracy we have much to learn about the value and importance of simple living. In the social philosophy that fills the air to-day, I am constantly impressed with the thought that there is altogether too much importance attached to the stomach. Again and again it is dinned into my ears, "A man must eat." While admitting the truth of this statement I must add that it will be well for a man to remember that it is probable more human life is destroyed by overeating than by starvation. Of the truth of this proposition I do not think any careful observer can have a doubt. Probably a hundred people are made sick or plant the seeds of disease within themselves by overeating or improper eating for every one that is injured by fasting.

Only to-day at the hospital in the police station a poor man sought to appeal to my sympathy by telling me that he had fainted in the street from want of food. "How long had you fasted?" I inquired. "I had nothing but a sandwich for two days," he replied. He was rather discomfited when I replied:

"That ought not to injure you, I am sure, for I myself have fasted once five days and another time four, taking absolutely nothing but water." "And did you walk?" he said: "Walked every day; besides that I was suffering from a real sickness, and the fast cured me." I really felt that it was worth while to have had such an experience to shock this unfortunate brother into a realization of the fact that "man does not live by bread alone."

The fact that we can have life and have it more abundantly, while practically ignoring or living above the anxieties that distress the common mind, seems to be coming to me day by day with a force that makes it in the nature of a revelation, and without any apology I become personal. I am writing truth, and truth never needs apology. For more than a year I have eaten but two meals a day, leaving out breakfast and taking my first meal at 11.30, and some of the very best meals that I have eaten during that time have consisted of rye or whole-wheat bread and Schweitzer cheese, with perhaps a few dates as a dessert.

"Hunger is the best sauce" is a true adage, and, when we understand the processes of life to the extent that we learn to eat to live rather than to live to eat, we begin to have a conception of the outrage that we perpetrate by eating when we are not hungry. Much depends upon the plane we are living upon. Gluttony and drunkenness are the same soft of offenses. As Long as one is a victim of appetite, it matters not particularly what form the dissipation may take, although there is more hope for the salvation of one who is the victim of almost any kind of an appetite than the insatiable one for "things"— useless things. The appetite for luxuries and the idleness and laziness that luxurious living breeds are, without doubt, the most destructive agencies that civilized man has to contend against to-day.

When the working young man and working young woman become emancipated from the desire to ape the idle rich, they will not be attracted by such appeals as that to which we have referred. They will learn the beauty of simple living; they will learn that along all the highways that lead to happiness, to health, to life, there are well-defined guide-boards, and each one bears the magic label, Simplicity.

All hope for democratic America must rest upon the production of a race of healthy, able-bodied fathers and mothers that can only be developed by an entire abandonment of the lazy and enervating kind of life that is destroying the idle and depraved, both rich and poor, and the adoption instead of the simple and natural modes that lead to life and life everlasting. Goldsmith saw it when, contemplating the beauty of the simple lives of the villagers, he said:

"O Luxury, thou curst by heaven's decree,
How ill-exchanged are things like these for thee!
How do thy potions with insidious joy
Diffuse their pleasures only to destroy I"


Toledo, O.

Alfred B. Westrup, Let Us Emancipate the Race

Alfred B. Westrup, "Let Us Emancipate the Race," The North American Review, CCVIII, 752 (July 1819), 159.


Sir,—I write you because of the imperative demand for a change in our economic system, which is the cause of all the evils we are suffering. Bellamy has shown very clearly in his master work, Equality, that if the wealth that is produced were equitably distributed, these evils would disappear! Lift the burdens that modern civilization has imposed and let us get a chance to surround ourselves with the comforts that man has invented, and the viciousness that dominates man’s efforts to acquire wealth would also disappear. The profit system is not a result of free competition, but of class legislation which our Government is criminally guilty of, and there is no way to get relief except by starting a system that will supply money on the mutual plan affording the borrower an opportunity to use his credit instead of being compelled to use the lender’s capital. I shall be exceedingly glad to hear from you on this point. There can be no question about an overwhelming majority favoring this idea if it could be put to the public so as to afford all an opportunity to understand it. Authority has not a single argument with which to defend itself for having established a monopoly of the medium of exchange; or, to put it more forcibly, prohibited the people from establishing a medium of exchange and compelled them to use a makeshift that was devised for speculative purposes in which the people were to be the victims. The fact is that governments are not established to sustain right, as the Declaration affirms, but to prevent man from getting his rights. It is the great delusion that we are dependent on government to get our rights. We will never get them until we take them and public opinion sustains the act. Oh, that a man could be found that has the influence and means to force this issue, and thus emancipate the human race!

Alfred B. Westrup.

Chicago, Ill.

Edgeworth, Land Nationalization

Edgeworth [M. E. Lazarus], "Land Nationalization," Liberty, 3, 22 (January 23, 1886), 8.

Land Nationalization.

In J. K. Ingalls’s “Social Wealth,” several passages leave the cursory reader in doubt of the author's definite aims. Among these, in the beginning of his criticism upon that unflinching defender of capitalism and land monopoly, Mr. Mallock, (p. 161), he writes; “Mr. Mallock thinks a remedy like ‘nationalization of the land,’ or ‘limitation of estates in land,’ would be like prohibiting the sale of knives, because they were sometimes used feloniously to take lifee.” Here it would seem to be assumed by Mallock and allowed by Ingalls that nationalization of the soil is a process analogous to limitation of proprietorship, which is contrary to all our experience thus far, in the management of public lands, either by the United States or by particular States. Mr. Ingalls has also cited many historians to prove that the same betrayal of trust and privilege extended to monopolists, while disinheriting the mass of citizens, have ensued upon the national assumption of property in the soil of conquered countries in the Roman, the German, the English, and other traditions. Everywhere, with a fatal monotony to the slaves rescued from carnage by cupidity, the serfdom of the victors has succeeded, and both now stand upon the dreary level of an exploited proletariat. The Nation, the State, Government, has ever been an intermediary organ of spoliation, confiscating the soil from its cultivator and organizing landlordry.

Is Mr. Ingalls a State Socialist appealing to Government as a remedy for the evils it has caused? No; if nationalization is here quoted as a remedy against monopoly, it is only by deference to the reputation of Alfred Russell Wallace, who has artificially connected the limitation of proprietary land tenure with the revival of those feudal traditions which In the English land laws are still vivacious, and acknowledge the supreme title of the State as feudal chief.

Mr. Wallace pays homage to this in a quit-rent tax to be levied on the original value of the land distinguished from values added by labor, as in H. George's plan, though not, as in the latter, levied up to its full value. This distinction would of necessity be arbitrary, be left to somebody’s discretion, or else really unequal by its assumption of equality; since between values and areas there is no parity.

For the rest, Mr. Wallace proposes occupancy as a principle of limitation, but no definite areas and no basis on which to compute them are stated. No British subject is to be excluded from occupancy, and sales freely allowed; but subletting prohibited,—a fantastic scheme of legislation. Mr. Ingalls relies exclusively on public opinion enlightened by science and the sense of justice for the restoration of the soil to the laborer; who on his side may help public opinion with a patent cyclone wire-fence cutter and a few bullet-headed arguments.

Mr. Wallace’s prospective liberality is not to touch any living soul among the privileged, but he forgets to add that it begs the question of that posterity which, educated in privilege, will have its own say about the execution of the DOW legislation, when it come to the scratch. This legislation for the exclusive benefit of future generations may be admirably conservative in its intentions to avoid revolutionary bloodshed; it recommends itself especially to the priests, from whose promised treasures in heaven it has taken the quiescent hint, and both systems require equal doses of faith. Mr. Wallace, be it remembered, is not merely a naturalist, which is positive, but an evolutionist, which is comparative, and a spiritualist, which is superlative, and may carry the endowment of prophecy. The feature of compulsory taxation, as applied to land per se, as a original value belonging to the State, representing the collective humanity, is a bit of political quackery common to Wallace and to George. The “Summary,” quoted from Wallace, does not provide for the limitation to which it alludes, in the clause of occupying ownership, which, by the employment of machinery and hired labor, might legally cover any number of acres. Probably Mr. Wallace has not formulated his plan in a business way, but merely suggested its aims and directions

As to the extension by that promising youth, Clark, in the “higher law of property,” to “the bounty of Nature in the whole material universe outside of man," reverting to Humanity, alias Uncle Sam, by a two per cent. death rate, Ingalls, no longer restrained by his respect for popular reputations, fearlessly pricks the economic bubble.

He computes that two per cant. on all assets, including land, would amount to a double tithe, which State and Church may share, and he says of Taxation, that its power is the very essence of despotism. About this artifice for “correcting Nature’s blunders,” he remarks: “What neither George nor Clark seem capable of comprehending is that the civil power to collect rent, make compulsory exchanges, and enforce unequal contracts is the evil to be abated, and not the inability of Nature to bestow her bounty as she desires, or to effect the economy she intends.”

How loose a thinker, and at the same time how besotted with the arrogance of despotic capitalism using government as its tool, is Henry George appears from a paragraph quoted by Ingalls, which begins with “All taxes must come from the produce of land and labor, since there is no other source of wealth than the union of human exertion with the material and forces of Nature,” and ends with “We can tax land whether cultivated or uncultivated or left waste, wealth whether used productively or unproductively, and laborers whether they work or play.” This metaphysical humbug about Nature as a preface to the most fantastic and arbitrary legislation, so fashionable with our demagogues, gives a pitiful Idea of the public intelligence on which it can impose, and which mistakes for original genius of statemanship the rehash of a criticism upon patent abuses, now ventilated for the hundred thousandth time, and which St. Simon, Fourier, Owen, and Proudhon completed in the last generation.

Mr. Ingalls in several places flouts “the empiricism of political platforms,” the petrifaction of legal enactments, speak of the multitude “fruitlessly following the ignis fatuus of legislating justice into human relations and rectifying wrong by use of the ballot,” “organizing temperance by legal prohibition,” etc.

He alludes here and there to Anarchy as if deferring to conventional prejudices; yet, to be a pronounced Anarchist, he lacks only the courage of his convictions.


Edgeworth, Economic Fallacies

Edgeworth [M. E. Lazarus], "Economic Fallacies," Liberty, 3, 20 (December 26, 1885), 8.

Economic Fallacies.

Mr. J. K. Ingalls, in the introduction to his "Social Wealth," deals a few socdologers to economic sophisms. He does the economists, whose proper title would be, the apologists of capitalism, the justice to consider that, in explaining how the producer is crushed under production, justice is nowise in question, they not being responsible for its absence from matters of fact. The title, "Social Ethics," would better characterize the aim of Mr. Ingalls’s work. He exposes the hypocrisy of defending the actual business world by laws of tendency, as it were, in a vacuum; while ignoring the continual intervention of circumstances, end especially of government,—i. e., of arbitrary wills,—to frustrate them. Warmly espousing the cause of oppressed labor, he shows how "opportunity is wanting for play of that free competition," which is with economists the excuse for every iniquity. What pretension, indeed, to the name of science can a system have which

Treats "values" indiscriminately, whether increased or diminished by supply and demand, or by the interference of executive or legislative will; by scarcity of a season, or the cornering of a market, or by any speculative conspiracy; by the natural laws of trade, or by the subjecting to the rule of the market "by act of parliament" and "force of arms," things foreign to Its away; and whether relating to the commodities which may be increased indefinitely, or to the buyer and seller, the men themselves, or to the land, of which no increased supply is possible.

The proper Illustration of this single paragraph would make a useful book, although the potential suicide of liberty in free competition or in any other mode is complete, when government controls at once taxation and the currency; for a simple contraction of the one is equivalent to Increase of the other, while enrolling as partisans, by the cohesive force of plunder, the whole creditor class, against labor. Later the author says:

Not only does this assumed law of supply and demand utterly fall in its salutary effect upon labor denied the use of the land while exerting to the full the baneful effects of a forced competition in Its operation, but upon land treated as property or capital it has an opposite effect. Increased demand not only, as with commodities, begets a temporary rise of price, but a continuous rise. Demand does not, as with commodities, beget an increased, or any supply whatever no protection [of land] being possible or conceivable, except in regard to lands transferred from a general to a specific use.

Let us analyze this paragraph, which in its spirit is a protest against injustice, but is faulty in its several propositions. There is no occasion here to pick a quarrel with the "law of supply and demand," which is the economic translation of "Ask and ye shall receive." Who shall ask, what shall they ask for? Row shall they ask it, and of whom? Answer: The laborers unemployed shall ask for the sell; they shall ask corporately, through theft organized unions (Knights of Labor, etc.); they shall ask it of the States or General Government, or of the railroad companies, to whom it has transferred the natural inheritance and sustenance of fifty millions.

But the labor corps must first prove, not only their need, but their ability to cultivate, and earnest intention, by devoting to farm settlements theft union funds, hitherto wasted in strikes, which only provoke the hostility of their employers, and cause the importation of cheaper labor. No use talking about abstract rights and Justice. We are dealing with selfish, greedy powers, and Labor is not prepared to right itself by force.

Mr. Ingalls sympathetically appreciates the fatality of forced competition upon laborers cut off from the use of the soil. But in the spheres of manufacturing labor, which have distracted them from agricultural ideas, aims, and habits, an ever-increasing competition for employment inevitably results from industrial progress with machinery. This machinery and the science which invents it and controls it is the property of capitalists. Laborers, unintelligent and demoralized, are bribed in guard it for capital, against theft brothers in labor.

But suppose it were otherwise; suppose cooperation in joint stock partnership, supplanting hireling labor; still, with the aid of machinery, a small part of the number of artisans formerly employed, and even of the operatives now employed, fully suffice for all needed production. If the rest are to live by their own labor, it can only be by a return to agricultural habits. Otherwise, the giant Ant├Žus, held aloof from the soil by the Hercules of capital, must be strangled. To induce the laborer to demand the use of the soil ought to be the aim of his friends. The real limitation in question is not, as Mr. Ingalls contends, that of the soil, but of the laborer’s demand on the one side, and, on the other, of the manufacturers demand for labor. Irrespective of the great tracts of alluvion redeemed by labor from the waters of irrigated deserts, or of that oceanica which the coral polyp builds on its pedestal atolls, land is being constantly reproduced, by manure, which is more than equivalent to extension of area, because a large crop on an acre does not cost, after manuring, much more than a small one. The difference is only in manipulating the harvest, and a big ear is gathered as easy as a small ear. All improvement of the soil, all increase of productivity, increases the possibilities of life. This can be averred of no other industry, comparatively.

Under the hireling system liberty is lost; but production may be increased and cheapened to meet the needs of any population known, even In China, and without the aid of machinery.

The fall of political governments would, in annulling monopolist tenures, restore the soil to labor; but Government, under the sense of danger, may render speculation in the immediate products of the soil a penitentiary crime, and tax unimproved tracts into use.


Thursday, April 19, 2007

John Adams, Social Reform, No. 1

John Adams, "Social Reform, No. I.," The Boston Investigator, XXIV, 24 (October 11, 1854), 1.

For the Boston Investigator.

Social Reform

No. I.

Mr. Editor:—As the friends of Social Reform occasionally speak through your columns, allow me, if you think worthy, to utter a few thoughts upon the question. The object oaf all social reformers, is the establishment of justice in the relation which each individual man sustains toward his brother man. The cause of the present injustice and discord is in the fact that the present organization of society is founded in the false relation which capital sustains towards labor. Society says, that capital is entitled to a share of the products of labor; whereas truth and justice say, that labor is entitled to the whole of its production.

The adjustments of this issue will remedy the existing evils of cosiety. To M. Proudhon belongs the honor of developing the true idea which must soon revolutionize society. Says M. Proudhon, "Labor is productive; capital is not." A house, a bushel of wheat, or a yard of cloth, is capital or past labor, neither of which will reproduce itself; a house cannot reproduce itself, nor the wheat itself, consequently they are fit only to be consumed as used, and whoever consumes or uses them other than the producer, will be required by strict just to restore the same and now more. Society, as at present, says, the he should restore more than he has consumed.

The two Opposing principles cannot always exist; one of which now lives in the actual world cursing and destroying the happiness of man, while the other lives only in the ideal, but is yet to bless and save. It is a true saying, that the ideal always produces the actual. The key-stone in the present social edifice which holds it together and builds it up, is the limited basis of the present currency used by mankind to exchange their productions. Our currency is based upon the precious metals which the world has fixed upon, on account of their value in the arts, their compactness, and their indestructibility. Because of their limited quantity, it follows that whoever can monopolize them can charge a premium for the use of the same as money. Therefore, whoever issues the bank note based upon specie, can also by taking advantage of men's necessitates compel them also to pay a premium for the same. Thus society justifies the present banking institutions of the world, and mankind exclaim in their wonted ignorance that we cannot live without banks, which is equivalent to saying society cannot live without injustice, which is true enough in the present order of things.

We would not object to the basis of our currency, but we would make it more extensive; even we would extend it to all the productions of man. A gold or silver dollar has cost past labor, and its very existence presents evidence that some one has toiled in its production, so also has a house, a farm, a bushel of wheat, or a yard of cloth. When we see either of these articles, we know that some one ha toiled in their production. Gold and silver shelter, feed, and clothe no man, while the other productions which we have name do all of these. Then why may we not justly extend the basis of the currency to other really useful productions of man as well as to confine it to the productions of a small class of men called miners? The evils of the present narrow basis of a currency, no man can calculate. The toiling men and women of Massachusetts are paying to-day for the use of a currency at the rate of over $5,000,000 per annum to the bankers of the Commonwealth, for a currency based upon $3,000,000 of specie. Sometimes our politicians shudder at the idea of taxing the inhabitants of the State the comparatively small sum of $3,000,000, but if they were to swell the tax to the cost of our currency, some of them, especially the patriotic ones, would soon faint in their extreme lover which they bear for the dear people.

But the evil does not stop here. The various railroads of the State declare dividends of late years of about 8 per cent, and the amount of capital invested in the same is not far from $40,000,000, the dividends upon which must amount to $3,000,000, the whole of which is a tax upon labor. There are "business corporations" whose capital amounts to over $100,000,000, which must also declare dividends of over $7,000,000 more, for you know that shrewd business men do not invest their money unless it pays more than 6 per cent. Thus do the toilers of our State pay to these classes of corporations the enormous sum of $15,000,000 annually in the shape of dividends to capitalists. It is evident that this vast sum of money is the labor of one class of men paid directly to the pockets of another class of men "who neither toil nor spin." Add to this the sums of money which the same class are paying to capital in the shape of rents, interest on bonds and mortgages, and the amount would be incredible—the exact amount of which we have at present mo means of computing. To make an estimate is impossible.

We know that landlordism is common wherever it is profitable, and that the larger part of the property of our cities and villages is in the hands of landlords whose profits are derived form the mechanic, the trader, and the artisan. A statement went the rounds of the papers a few years ago that two-thirds of the farms in some of the agricultural counties of the State were covered by mortgage, which statement if it approximates towards the truth, would astonish the natives in the amount of burden under which the agricultural districts groan.—The very fact that our State produces less quantities of the staple agricultural productions, at the present time (as the census returns show) than at former periods, must exhibit evidence to every reflecting mind that there is something "rotten in Denmark." Under the light of agricultural science the State should increase her productions, but facts show the reverse to be true.—If we can break down landlordism and the banking institutions of the State, and substitute a system in its stead whereby a currency can be furnished at a tenth part of its present cost equally and more safe for the holders of the same, we shall have accomplished the great work of Social Reform. (To be continued.)


Brookfield, (Mass,) Sept. 25th, 1854.