Eliphalet Kimball on Anarchy, 1863

Here’s another mid-19th-century anarchist, writing in the pages of the Boston Investigator (XXXIII, 15, Aug. 18, 1863, p. 114). I’ll post the second half soon, along with some additional material from Eliphalet Kimball.

For the Boston Investigator

The word civilization from the Latin word civitas, “a city,”—or civis, a “citizen,” and signifies Government, and its effect on society. The effect of government is ignorance, falsehood, luxury, inequality, aristocracy, crime, and unhappiness. Such, then, is civilization. It is evil and progress in evil. Culture of science, enlightenment, and progress in agriculture and art, are not effects of made-Governments. They are not civilization, and have no connection with it. Born-Government is their genial soil, in which they would best flourish.

To call civilization good, and anarchy evil, is a want of reflection, and with aristocrats it is connected with a want of goodness. The advocates of law, like the advocates of religion, have got everything wrong end first. The word anarchy is derived from two Greek words a or an, “without,” and arche, a “head” or “beginning.” The Universe is in a state of anarchy, always was, and ever will be so. Order is a sure effect of anarchical Government, and under any other Government it is impossible. The effects of anarchy on society is visible in a hive of bees, a village of beavers, a hill of ants, a flock of wild pigeons, or geese, in their passage, and among all other animals. The story that honey bees are governed by a queen is not true. All Nature contradicts it. The social life of beasts is good. Beasts are worthy of respect. Mankind in general believe in great falsehoods and wrongs for truth and right, but beasts do not. In some kinds of knowledge they are superior to man. For my part I never kill any of them except bed-bugs and mosquitoes. I consider they have the same rights that I have. Even the trees of the forest avoid injuring each other—they put forth few or no branches that can interfere with their neighbors. Undoubtedly, it is the same with their roots. By injuring their neighbors they would injure themselves.

Nature has no straight lines for matter, nor for mind and morals. If the stars in the sky, and the trees in the woods, were to be arranged in straight row, it would be disorder to them. A river forced to run in a straight line would be in disorder.—Man-made law is straight lines for mind and morals. That moral disorder is the consequence, is attested by the social condition of every civilized and half-civilized people. The regularity of art is irregularity, when applied to Nature. To make straight rules beforehand for all future occasions, is the extreme of folly and harm. Leave it all until the occasion comes, and then everything would naturally settle itself easy and right. The attempt of man to regulate society by art, concurs with the religious idea that the Universe is a work of art from the hands of a God. If there is a God, and the Universe is his work, then there is no Nature. If there is a Nature, it proves there is no God. God and Nature cannot both be.

It is the fault of the radical reformers, that they are no radical enough. They think something must be done to regulate society, when in truth doing anything is doing too much. Any general arrangement or organization whatever by man is sure to bring evil without good, because it conflicts with the laws of order and harmony which prevail in the anarchical Universe. “Building up” has done all the mischief. Made-rules of any kind are like a board put over the top of a chimney which fills the house with smoke. To settle a bucket of riley water, it must be left alone. There is no such thing as being too radical unless a person can be too rational. No society can ever be in good condition in which are men of large capital. Under born-Governments an accumulation of great wealth by any one man would be impossible. Occupation of the land would be just what it ought to be. Every person would cultivate what he needed for a plain support, and would not in general wish for more. All would be willing he should have it. Where nobody claimed our land, there could be no disputes about it. All or nearly all would be disposed to do as they would be done by. The dispositions of mankind would be entirely different, and better than they are under made-Government. A wrong if attempted could not in general be carried out against the general sentiments of the community. Under anarchy, all would turn out cheerfully to do their part in making roads. Whatever is necessary for the people to do unitedly can be done better with out law than with it. It is to be hoped the people would have good sense enough to abolish all public schools. They are a great injury to the young. At home and alone is the place to study, and parents are the proper teachers of their children. Nobody can study well in company.

Jersey City, (N. J.,) Aug. 3, 1863.
About Shawn P. Wilbur 2703 Articles
Independent scholar, translator and archivist.