Eliphalet Kimball—”Anarchy is a good word.”

As promised, here’s a bit more from Eliphalet Kimball. One of his early contributions to The Boston Investigator was “Law, Commerce, and Religion” (June 30, 1862). It may, in fact, be his earliest explicitly anarchist essay. And it’s a doozy—a mix of revolutionary and primitivist elements, written in fine ranting style. There’s something to amuse and/or offend pretty much any anarchist or libertarian. But, most importantly, there is the very existence of Kimball, a Yankee doctor calling for a very radical anarchy in the midst of the Civil War, as striking as he is unexpected. Here’s a taste:

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.

About Shawn P. Wilbur 2703 Articles
Independent scholar, translator and archivist.

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