Clement M. Hammond, “Then and Now” (1884)





[Written by Clement M. Hammond]


“Fortunatus had a Wishing Hat, which when he put on, and wished himself Anywhere, behold he was There. By this means had Fortunatus triumphed over Space, he had annihilated Space; for him there was no Where, but all was Here. Were a Hatter to establish himself in the Wahngasse of Weissnichtwo, and make felts of this sort for all mankind, what a world we should have of it! Still stranger, should, on the opposite side of the street, another Hatter establish himself; and, as his fellow-craftsman made Space-annihilating Hats, make Time-annihilating! Of both would I purchase, were it with my last groschen; but chiefly of this latter. To clap-on your felt, and,simply by wishing that you were Anywhere, straightway to be There! Next to clap-on your other felt, and, simply by wishing that you were Anywhen, straightway to be Then! This were indeed the grander: shooting at will from the Fire-Creation of the World to its Fire-Consummation; here historically present in the First Century, conversing face to face with Paul and Seneca; there prophetically in the Thirty-first, conversing also face to face with other Pauls and Senecas, who as yet stand hidden in the depth of that late Time! Had we but the Time-annihilating lint, to put on for once only, we should see ourselves in a World of Miracles, wherein all fabled or authentic Thaumaturgy, and feats of Magic, were outdone.”—Carlyle’s “Sartor Resartus.”



Boston, July 12, 2084.

My Dear Louise:

So many things to write about crowd into my mind all at once that I really can’t tell where to begin. Such a world! Such a country! Such a city! Such a journey as I had, too, from Boston of 1884! A journey of two hundred miles, or even two hundred leagues, through space is a very ordinary thing, and we can conceive of a journey of two hundred millions of miles or leagues, but to travel two hundred years through time! It is inconceivable to humanity. I was lifted into the sky, and time sped by, working the most wonderful changes so rapidly that my eyes seemed blurred. Decades flew past like minutes. When two centuries had wrought upon the universe, I descended again into Boston.

You know, Louise, we have often wondered what changes two hundred years would bring, what kind of hats, dresses, and cloaks the women would wear, and whether women would have the right to vote. Louise, one of the most astonishing facts of the thousands that I am going to tell you about is that no one votes in this, the year of our lord 2084. I just mention this to excite your curiosity.

I have been here now just one month, and am becoming somewhat acquainted with the people and customs of this strange world. I, of course, am a great curiosity. In fact, I am the sensation of the times. Newspapers use columns in describing me and commenting upon me. In connection with notices of my sudden and mysterious appearance are many very bitter attacks upon the world of your time. Let me give you a little instance of this feeling. A gentleman was introduced to me a few days ago as one of the most learned men of the times. His knowledge upon some subjects was surely astonishing, but I was shocked at many of his sentiments. In the course of our conversation I asked him to give his opinion of the leading men of the nineteenth century.

“A remarkably fine, strong, brave, clear-sighted set of men,” said he; “what they did, under great difficulties, makes it possible for us to enjoy what we do to-day.”

The names of Bismarck, Gladstone, Elaine, Garfield, Edmunds, Henry Cabot Lodge, Jay Gould, John Roach, Mr. Vanderbilt, James Russell Lowell, Alfred Tennyson, H. W. Longfellow, Henry Ward Beecher, and a hundred others, leaders in government, politics, literature, finance, science, art, and music, came into my mind, and I began to mention them. This very learned man with whom I was talking looked puzzled. I remarked that I was merely rehearsing their names.

“Whose names?” asked my acquaintance.

“Why, those of the leaders of the best thought and action of the nineteenth century!” said I, much surprised.

The man laughed, fairly roared with laughter, then apologized and looked serious.

“Some of those you have mentioned I have never heard of,” said he. “The others I know to have been robbers, hypocritical thieves, charlatans, and narrow-minded men,—the dead weight that held back the nineteenth century.”

“Why,” said I, “you don’t mean that Mr. Lodge and Mr. Edmunds were anything of this kind.”

“I am sure I don’t know. They may both have been great and good men. We never heard of either of them.”

I was thunderstruck for a moment, and before I could reply, the man—I really can’t call him gentleman—continued:

“I presume Messrs. Lodge and Edmunds were political jugglers, either shallow or designing men, who hoodwinked the people and stepped into power over them through the votes of the people, who were so near-sighted that they could not see the result of their own ballots. Politicians are forgotten, because the tribe has long since been cleaved from the face of the earth. They could not exist long, you see, without governments.

“The names that we remember as the leaders of the best thought and action of the nineteenth century are”—and here he gave a long list, the most of which I never heard before. Those that I had heard made me shudder. They were names of Anarchists who plotted the destruction of kingdoms, the murder of czars and kings,—men who, I verily believe, were in league with the evil one when on earth and whose souls now suffer endless punishment,—if there is such. They were such as Bakounine, Kropotkine, and their terrible associates. I am afraid there must be something radically wrong about this world to-day, for all of its apparent happiness and prosperity, if it worships, as it appears to, the memory of such bad men.

I shall write again soon.





Boston, July 26, 2084

My Dear Louise:

Since I last wrote you, I have been trying to solve the problem how the people get along without governments and statesmen. To one like you, so interested in the woman suffrage and temperance movements of your time, I am sure my researches will be entertaining and perhaps instructive.

My very learned man calls to see me often, and we have some very spirited discussions, but, although of course I will not own it, he usually gets the better of the argument. You see he has the advantage of practical illustration on his side. But in spite of the fact that he can prove that the world can get along without governments, he can’t convince me that the people are as happy as they are in the dear old world in which you live. How can they be without the strong hand of the law to rely upon? How can they be without such great and good men about them as Mr. Arthur, Mr. Edmunds, Mr. Lodge, Mr. Long, Mr. Curtis, and others like them to look after the public welfare?

But when I say this to Mr. De Demain (for this is the name of my learned man—Paul De Demain), he says, “Bosh!”

I asked him how the people get along without systems of government.

He said: “Five hundred years ago the world found it impossible to get along without strong religious government. The government of the priesthood was the governor of individuals and governments. It ruled states and kings and extended into the household, exerting its sway over all the minor affairs. It had, as you well know, such power in most ‘civilized’ countries that all were forced to submit to it or die. You cannot have forgotten how the Huguenots were treated, how the Puritans were exiled, and how they in turn exiled and murdered the Quakers. Have you any doubt that the religious government of five or six hundred years ago was as strong as the civil government of two hundred years ago?”

Of course, I am a reasonable creature, and I was forced to tell him that no doubt.

“But,” he continued, “two hundred years ago you managed very nicely without any religious government,—that is, without any religious government that had power to control. You could believe the teachings of one man or men or not, as you pleased. There was no spiritual government except that of the individual, and that, too, in spite of a widespread sentiment in favor of religious things and forms. Your ancestors who first settled Boston and vicinity believed it was impossible for a people to exist without a strong religious government. They believed that happiness and prosperity both depended upon such a government. But their descendants in two hundred years found that they could live and be at least just as happy and just as prosperous without any religious control, and human nature had not improved to such a tremendous extent either. As you know, thought took a wider range as soon as religious governments were thrown over, and you became a greater, if not a happier, people.”

“Yes, but,” I replied, “as you acknowledge, religious feeling remained, it did not govern with the outward forms of the olden time, it still governed.”

“Certainly,” said Mr. De Demain, “but religious feeling and religious government are things entirely different. One governs the individual through the individual alone (and such government is liberty), while the other governs the individual through the community (and such government is slavery).

“Yes,” continued Mr. De Demain, in a half-soliloquy, “your forefathers thought the same about religious government that your people of 1881 thought about civil government. If it were given up, all sorts of crime would be committed, and the world would give itself up to all sorts of excesses. Murders, robbers rapes would be committed daily by the thousands, and there would be no remedy. But religious government passed away, and thoughtful people saw that the world was no worse; in fact, that it kept constantly getting better. People stopped wondering ‘How shall we get along without religion?’ We don’t wonder how we manage to get along without civil governments, but we do wonder how the people got along with them for so many centuries.”

I suggested that religious government was necessary for the people during the earlier centuries of the world, and that without it they would never have reached that state where such government would be unnecessary.

Mr. De Demain laughed at the paradox, and answered the sentiment. Said he: “You could as well say that it was a good thing for the world to believe for centuries that the earth was flat. Or you might argue that it was better for the world that the powers of steam and electricity were unknown for so many centuries. It was perhaps a splendid thing for humanity that the art of printing was unknown during the time when Greece was ages ahead of the rest of the world, but I am sure you do not believe it. Two hundred years ago the world said Anarchy would do for the Millennium. The world should have seen, as we have proved, that Anarchy would bring the Millennium.”

I trust, Louise, that you may be able to find arguments that will answer those if Mr. De Demain. If you can, write them out for me, and I will hurl them at him. He is to explain to me how society exists under individual self-government. I will tell you about it in my future letters.




Boston, August 9, 2084.

My Dear Louise:

Without governments, how can crime be prevented or suppressed? I know that this is the question which you most want answered. I will allow Mr. De Demain to tell you in the language, as near as I can remember, in which he told me:

“Did government ever prevent crime altogether, or even materially lessen it? Under the strongest governments does not history show that crimes have been most frequent? Hundreds, thousands, millions of laws, even the commands of gods, coupled with the threats of endless torture, have not prevented crimes. Some crimes it is perfectly natural for man to commit, and so long as man continues to be man,—that is, an animal,—he will continue to be an offender. The only excuse governments ever had for existing was that they were necessary to prevent crime and punish criminals. Ostensibly they were organized and maintained to protect the weaker as against the stronger, but you know well that a government that did this never existed. Governments are strong, and draw the strong about them; did a state ever protect the weak from itself?

“Let me read you from this book, which contains stories for the children, a little legend:

“‘In the midst of a most beautiful country there was a mighty castle, from whose turrets one might watch the toiling, sweating, tired, and hungry people throughout the length and breadth of the land. The people called it the Strong Castle, or the Castle of State.

“‘Tradition said that soon after the first conquest of the country a monster, half god and half beast, volunteered to protect the conquerors and their heirs and assigns forever in their possession of the country,—the land, its products, and their increase. This was a pleasing promise. The monster said: “Give up all you possess to me, and I will loan it to you for a small annual rental. This is merely that I may say to other monsters like myself, ‘This is all mine,’ when really, of course, it is yours.” So all property was given up to him. Then he said to the people: “Now, upon the condition which I shall name, you may dwell upon these lands, but you must never forget that you are simply my slaves. You must give up to me, if I ask it, even your lives. Here is a list of the things you must not do at all, and another of the things you must not do without my consent. I shall add to both as often as it suits my convenience. As a reward for your generosity to me, I will see that you are properly punished when you do what I have commanded that you shall not do.”

“‘So ran the tradition. After a few generations men gathered about the Strong Castle and took upon themselves the work of mediators between the people and the monster. The monster was never seen, but these mediators, who were variously termed princes, lords, and statesmen, made known to the people his commands and gathered the tributes. For centuries, the people never questioned the right of the monster to command and rob them. These mediators were clever men, and they said to the people: “If this monster be killed, some other monster, still more terrible, will devour you, or you will devour each other. You are a bad lot.” So he who said: “Let us pay no more tribute to this monster; let us slay him, and pull down his Strong Castle,” was answered thus: “But these mediators, who are men of great brain, say we could not do without him; if he were killed, we should immediately be possessed of the desire to set upon and slay other.” And the people contented themselves with this answer, and worked on with the sweat streaming from their brows. But there were murmurings and muttered curses, and distrust and threats. Finally one morning the people formed into a body and marched up to the Strong Castle. The Mediators blew trumpets and flourished swords. They threatened, then argued, then pleaded. but to no avail. The people said: “We will slay the monster.” They rushed upon the Castle and broke down the palisades and gates. “The monster! the monster!” they shouted, but there was no monster found. The mediators had thrown off their priestly garments and mixed with the people. The Castle was deserted and quiet. The monster was a myth, and the people saw how they had been duped. The Strong Castle was pulled down, and, when the sun set, the people had done the grandest day’s work of all time.’

“Government was the great landlord, or rather the great all-lord,” said Mr. De Demain,—“for it not only loaned the land, but all other privileges worth the having. It gathered to itself with its strong hand all rights pertaining to business, labor, capital, money, religion, marriage, morals, etc, etc., and farmed them out. The state, in some of its phases, was like a meddlesome old woman; in others, like a heartless robber; in others, like a scheming villain.

“There is a government today, but no governments. Instead of being governed by a despotic king, a despotic parliament, or a despotic republic,—a government of the people, by the people, for the people,—we have a government of the individual, by the individual, for the individual.”

“But,” I asked, “does not this prevent all harmonious action?”

“Just the opposite. All collective action under the system of individual rule is harmonious. Individuals with the same purpose in view act together and act as a unit. There is no ruling of minorities by majorities.”

“But take a community of five thousand people. Four thousand desire to do something to which one thousand are opposed. The thing will benefit the four thousand in favor, but will injure the one thousand opposed. What is the result?”

“Such a state of affairs is very rare, but when it does occur, arbitration is resorted to. Government does not step in and say the majority is right, as was always the case under the old system. Why, man contains all of justice that exists between man and man. How absurd it is for man to set up an abstraction, and call upon it to decide the question of right or wrong. If the strong in numbers are given the power to rule the weak, they will do so, and call such rule right. If they are not given such power, such action becomes crime. In your time the State licensed majorities to commit crime; to rob, torture mentally and physically, and even to commit murder. Minorities were given over as fit prey to majorities. There was an absolute standard of right and wrong set up; the majority was right and the minority wrong. Now, the natural justice—that is, the man—decides.”

“Suppose,” asked I, “that in a town of five thousand inhabitants four thousand wish to construct and maintain a system of water works, and the remaining one thousand are opposed to the scheme,—what is the result?”

“Why, simply this, the four thousand construct and maintain the water works and reap the advantages. Under the government of majorities the one thousand people would be obliged to pay a tax for the building and working of something they did not want.

“This, I trust, shows you how Anarchy prevents thousands of crimes, and how, instead of producing discord and disorder, it produces harmony and freedom. Humanity is something like a dish of cane syrup; if you keep stirring it, it granulates; if you leave it alone, it crystallizes.

“The next time we meet I hope to explain further how Anarchy makes impossible most of the crimes that governments had to deal with. After that I will explain how it punishes,” and I, Louise, will be faithful in my note-taking and in writing out those notes for you.





Boston, August 23, 2084.

My dear Louise:

I most sincerely trust that these arguments of Mr. De Demain will not cause you to distrust even, to say nothing of hate, governments. We women, above all should use our utmost endeavor to defend the State from the attacks of its enemies. How carefully it looks after all our interests, asking in return nothing, or, at least, nothing more than taxes! Of course we ought to have the right to vote, but it is not the fault of the State that we do not. No, no! Governments were given to man by God. Man must not abolish them. If he does, as he has here, I am sure there is a terrible punishment in store for him.

What if Anarchy has proved a blessing to the many? Is it the many that this is for? Did not God anoint kings and watch over and care for a people that he called “his people”? Were not all other peoples prey for “his people”? Were not the armies of his people made strong with afflatus that they might overcome the other peoples of the earth? Should it not be so today? Should not the people of wealth, superior intelligence, and education be God’s chosen, and should they not conquer and rule the earth? Happiness is not for the many, but for the favored few. It is a divine gift to superior beings. Must we share it with the common herd? Must we be regarded as simply shareholders with all others in the world? No, no! Anarchy is a conception of man: the State is a conception of God. What if man’s scheme does appear better for man than God’s? Are we to trust it? No, no!

These arguments against Anarchy are all-powerful: it is not god-given; it makes happiness a privilege of all; it does not allow a small, and consequently select and educated, minority to set up a standard of right by which all must gauge their moral yardsticks.

Louise,—in strict confidence,—I am convinced that Anarchy is better, far better, for the majority than the government of the State, but power, wealth, and privileges are lost through it to the few. We, so long as we are of the few, must oppose it; we, so long as we are of the few, and consequently of the strong, can oppose it. We can say to the many: “You have the right to become one of the few, if you can;” and so they praise us for being just. We have hoodwinked the people for so many generations that—but it is no use. Anarchy is today a fact. In spite of all you and I may do, our children’s children will know from experience the true meaning of Anarchy.

Mr. De Demain is still very kind and patient toward me, and really seems to enjoy giving me little lectures on individual government and its results. By the way, I think I forgot to write you before that he is a fine-looking young man of about thirty-five. He is a teacher in Harvard College.

“Are you still interested in the subject of crime and its prevention and punishment under Anarchy?” asked he, when he called just after I sent you my last letter. I, of course, was only too glad to have him continue the subject, which he did as follows:

“With governments were wiped out directly one-half the crimes in the calendar. The State always regarded it a most serious crime to compete with it in any branch of business which it monopolized, and it monopolized, or granted as a monopoly, the most important of all business ventures, money-issuing. As you know, without having your attention called to the fact by me, States named in laws hundreds of things—for instance, Sabbath-breaking, refusal to pay taxes for the privilege of voting, peddling without a license, etc., etc.—as crimes, which were crimes simply because the State said they should be so considered.”

“But,” said I, “vox populi, vox dei.”

“The voice of the people,” replied he, “does not mean the voice of the majority even of the people, much less a minority, which always, even with the most liberal suffrage, decided such questions. The voice of the people that are willing to abide by that voice—not that are compelled to—is the voice of god, in fact is god—the only god we acknowledge.

“Anarchy was as a seed. How the first germ was produced we cannot tell. It grew, and produced a hundredfold. The plant became indigenous to every climate, so strong, so healthy, so hardy was it. As it was found impossible to root it out, many for a time took it for a weed. But as it flourished, mankind began to taste its fruit and seek its shelter. When the few saw its blessings, they cultivated it, and it throve so under care that it soon shaded every highway of life, and its fruit was the food of all. Its growth was more wonderful than that of the mustard seed of the Bible parable, and instead of being, like the grown mustard seed, simply shelter to the birds of the air, it was a shelter to all mankind.

“In order for you to clearly understand how Anarchy superseded governments, it will be necessary for you to read the history of the past century, the twentieth. I trust that you will do so during your stay with us. You had the founders of Anarchistic liberty about you in the world from which you came. You called some cranks, some idle theorists, some assassins. They put their shoulders to the wheel of the wagon of the world, and tried to push it out of the deep and muddy ruts in which it was slowly lumbering along. It carried a pretty heavy load. In it, comfortably seated, were statesmen, politicians, bankers, stock gamblers, priests, poets, novelists, college professors, school teachers, editors, and literary men of all classes. They did not care to get out and make the road any better. They jeered at the Anarchists, and in every possible way hindered their work. But the worst part of the load was the great middle class of humanity, who kept climbing on and tumbling off; now struggling inharmoniously to drag the wagon with the hope of soon being able to ride, now riding with the constant fear that at any moment they might be obliged to get out and help to keep the thing from going out of sight altogether in the mud. They never thought that a better road-bed would improve matters. The sturdy toilers at the wheels appealed to the reason of the strong, comfortably seated inside, and the weak ones struggling outside, but the brain is a hard thing to move. It is the stomach that must be touched. This the Anarchists saw at last, and a scheme was devised whereby the muddy road was dried and made hard, and the wagon rolled on, carrying comfortably all humanity. What this scheme was history will tell you.

“Anarchy, like the religion of Jesus Christ, took hold slowly at first on the people’s minds. To those who were liberal enough to take even a superficial view of it it appeared a beautiful theory, but utterly impracticable. It was a noble, pure conception—too noble and pure for ordinary humanity. To those who would not even look at its surface, but who persisted in looking over it at an imaginary figure in the background, it was something worse than a crime. It was absurd. It meant chaos. It was the distorted conception of dangerous maniacs. Thinking men—that is, men who were commonly in the habit of thinking on other subjects—occasionally picked up stray bits of Anarchistic literature, and from a hasty glance at them formed their conception of the thing itself. They simply went far enough to discover that Anarchy meant abolition of majority rule, and they were so imbued with the idea that society, composed of good and bad men, could not exist, except as a mass of warring people, without such rule, that they set it down as impossible. These were the men who kept on fighting religious superstition after religious superstition was dead. They delighted in creating imaginary dragons and other terrible monsters, and then sallying forth with lance in hand and riding at them full tilt. Their most pleasant pastime was in stuffing the skin of a dead belief with straw and then kicking the straw out of the skin all over the country. They became so engrossed in this seed-bag fox hunting that the real, live fox was stealing and eating their poultry under their very noses. To them the Anarchists were good, able, well-meaning men, but very deluded, very cranky. They had pity for them, pity that so much brain should go to waste when it might be demoted to devising new means whereby old-time and long-since-dead monsters might be revivified and then slain.

“Visionary men, so the Anarchists were called by the liberal; bad men they were called by the bigoted: but they were the least visionary of all men and not one-tenth part so bad as those who called them bad. Their labor was to improve the conditions under which humanity labored, knowing that by this means humanity would be improved. Those who opposed them said: ‘Let us improve humanity, and then the conditions under which humanity lives will improve.’ Which was the more visionary scheme? How was humanity to be improved? The liberals said by education; the bigots said by religion. Could anything have been more visionary? At the rate education was improving humanity two centuries ago, several more centuries would yet have to elapse before it would have secured much better conditions, and several cycles would have still to elapse if religion were relied upon.”

Mr. De Demain had called to invite me to accompany him to a concert, not of music, but of color and motion. It is a new idea in amusements, and I shall tell you about it in some future letter.





Boston, September 6, 2084.

My Dear Louise:

In my last letter I mentioned that I was to attend a novel entertainment with Mr. De Demain as escort. The concert hall is an immense building in the West Roxbury park and will seat twenty thousand people, I think Mr. De Demain said. I should judge there were that many present on the evening when my kind friend and I were of the number. There is a large circular platform in the centre of the hall on which the performances are given. This performance it is about as hard for me to describe as a musical concert would be for one who had never seen a musical instrument or heard a tune. The effect is produced by a series of harmonious blendings of innumerable colors and forms with an occasional discharge of noiseless pyrotechnics. Objects made of twenty different materials and of a hundred different shapes and shades of color, calcium lights, different colored fires, stereoscopes, and many mechanical contrivances unseen, help to make up a grand and pleasing entertainment, the whole a sort of gigantic kaleidoscope with additions and improvements. I never spent two hours more pleasantly than I did gazing at the blending of colors and forms that night. Returning home, Mr. De Demain discoursed something as follows, often interrupted, of course, by questions from me:

“Music is by no means a thing of the past. Wagner, Mozart, Haydn, and a dozen more whose names you are familiar with, as well as musicians of more modern times and just as great masters of the art, have thousands, millions of admirers. But while music has the same basis as the concert which you attended tonight,—harmony,—the former appeals to the passions, while the latter does not. Music fired the soul for war and warmed the heart for love; such harmony as you witnessed tonight soothes the mind for sleep, or for calm, dispassionate thought. It makes men thinkers,—dreamers if you will,—instead of fighters and lovers. Music is like wine, it inflames and stimulates for the moment; such a concert as you saw tonight is like a mild narcotic, it quiets the animal and thus allows the man more freedom. Man has improved much under a century of Anarchy, and this is an outgrowth of it. As man grows wiser and better, he constantly devises means and conceives sentiments whereby he becomes still wiser and still better. Improvement brings with it still greater possibilities for improvement. So this entertainment, a result of improved conditions of life and purer sentiment, is also the cause of still better conditions, by stimulating thought, and of still purer sentiment.”

“Is it not.” asked I, “because man is so much better and wiser today than he was two centuries ago that Anarchy is so successfully practised?”

“It is because of Anarchy that man is so much better and wiser. Said they who opposed it in your time, ‘Oh, yes, Anarchy will do when all men are perfect, or nearly so, but for it to be a success man must be divested of his selfishness. He must be willing to help his brother for his brother’s sake, and the world for the sake of the world. Man today is too much of a selfish animal for Anarchy, and he will be for several centuries’—and after delivering themselves of this wise remark, they would turn on their heels and walk away.

“Selfishness is certainly a strong quality of man’s nature, and Anarchy recognizes this fact and provides for it. The State was constantly demanding that man disregard self for the benefit of other selves with whom he had no sympathy and who had no moral claim upon him. The State said to man, ‘you must be unselfish; you must aid and love all mankind unless I specify certain individuals or nations that you must hate and strive to injure all possible.’ Anarchy says, ‘selfishness is a part of man’s individuality; let it act freely, and human discretion will curb it enough.’

“The State gathered everything within its grasp and doled out a small quantity to this one and a large quantity to that one, and there was in consequence constant wrangling. The worst feature of selfishness was continually being brought to the surface. If no one man has a chance for more than a dozen, most men will be satisfied with a dozen, but if one man is to have a hundred, all men desire a hundred. This is the sort of selfishness fostered by the State. Anarchy simply says to all men, ‘here is the earth with plenty for all, help yourselves.’ It is selfishness that prompts man to take his fair share, but it is a natural and entirely proper selfishness, and Anarchy sees wisely that it is so and does wisely in allowing it to act without restraint or irritation. Thus are prevented many of the crimes for whose punishment States were thought necessary.”

“You say Anarchy invites everyone to take his fair share from the bounties of the earth; how is it determined what shall be a fair share?” asked I.

“By the labor expended in wresting wealth from nature’s grasp, not, as was formerly the case, by the ingenuity displayed in robbing the less ingenious. Under the State the conditions of social life were so arranged, or disarranged rather, that the individual life of everyone was a constant struggle. The poor man struggled against absolute want, the well-to-do struggled to become better-to-do and not to become worse, the rich struggled to become more and more rich, struggling constantly, too, against those less rich who struggled to be richer. The State was like an unhealthy marsh from which arose and spread abroad miasmic particles (laws) which irritated the human tissues until a fever ensued which gnawed at the stomach and tore at the brain. This fever became so prevalent that most men believed it the natural state of man’s system, and they looked upon those who had not this fever as the ones diseased. Truly all the world was mad, and those few who were sane were looked upon by insane humanity as being most insane.

Struggle has been succeeded by progress. The wild-eyed, hot-breathed god of greed has abdicated in favor of the clear-eyed, sweet-faced, plump-formed goddess of plenty. Every man knows that nature has locked up for him in her storehouse enough for all at least of his more pressing needs, and his individual labor is the only key by means of which his store can be got. The robber has no means of entry. There is no State with a duplicate key which it may give up at will to the plunderer.”

“Man, then, has fallen into a state where he is without ambition or energy beyond enough to provide himself daily with food, clothing, and shelter?” I suggested.

‘No, man is still an ambitious and energetic creature, as you may imagine by what you have seen during your stay among us. He has lost, however, certain ambitions and energies. He is no longer ambitious to rule his fellow man or to rob his fellow man that he may become a millionaire. The energy formerly pended in the struggle for wealth and power is now turned into other channels. Such an entertainment as we have enjoyed tonight is a far better result of man’s energy than the accumulation of a fortune. There is about so much force and ingenuity in man, and it is bound to work itself out in some way. If this force and ingenuity is expended in gaining wealth by legalized robbery of those who labor, it cannot be used in devising means whereby more wealth can be produced with less labor, or whereby man may be made happier. Enough human energy was expended in warfare during the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries to have pushed humanity ahead at least ten centuries, had there been no wars.”

“I judge from what you say that warfare is a thing of the past.”

“Yes, war was simply a means whereby States decided their quarrels. The abolishment of the State was the abolishment of war. No human force is wasted in that way now, no human lives are lost, no accumulated wealth is squandered.”

Mr. De Demain said “Good night,” for we had reached my room, and I also will say “Good night” to you.





Boston, September 20, 2084.

My Dear Louise:

When Mr. De Domain told me that Anarchy prevented crime to a great extent, I did not doubt his words, for he is unquestionably honest, but an enthusiast is very apt to exaggerate the benefits of the thing in which he is most interested, and so I began a systematic reading of the newspapers to see how many crimes were reported. I know you will say: “You can’t tell anything by the newspapers,” but newspapers are not today what they were two hundred years ago. Now the papers tell the truth according to the best knowledge of those who edit them: then it was a notorious fact that policy and expediency determined whether a newspaper should tell the truth or lie. But I did not depend altogether upon the papers for my information for fear that there might be certain classes of cases which the editors thought it better not to publish at all. Every day for the past two weeks I have attended some court and watched the proceedings and studied the calendar. I think that I need only say that there is no shade of exaggeration in what Mr. De Demain has said.

In all there are but four courts in Boston. Each is in session for two hours each day unless some important case which may be on trial requires more time for its completion, when the length of session is continued at will. In all my attendance upon these courts, I have not seen one case that required more than an hour for trial, and on several occasions there were no cases at all ready for hearing. There are no lawyers today. Those having cases before the courts in charge are termed jurists.

This much I learned by attending the courts. When Mr. De Demain called last evening, I told him of my experience, and many questions by me brought out answers which I will put together in the form of a little essay.

“All criminal cases are tried before a jury of twelve, and the jury decides all questions of law, fact, and punishment. Of course there is no statute law and no other law that carries force with itself. A jury decides after hearing evidence that a certain act is a crime or that it is not. This, you see, makes a judge unnecessary. Most crimes are committed under such peculiar circumstances that it is better to decide upon every point in every case.

“The public courts are little used in civil cases, but such cases are left entirely to the judgment of a jury when they are brought before these courts. Such a jury may consist of any number decided on by the parties to the case. Most civil cases are taken before private courts, of which there are some dozen or twenty in the city. Business is conducted much the same in these as in the public courts, but the expense is somewhat less and the proceedings may be kept private if desired. A keeps a court. B and C are parties to a case which they bring before this court. A has an understanding with fifty or more men, well-known to be honest, whereby he may call upon any number of them to act as jurors. B and C look over the list of these names and mutually agree upon three, four, six, or any number they desire, and these sit and listen to the evidence presented by B and C, and their unanimous decision is binding upon both parties. There are no decisions upon complicated questions of law to be appealed from to higher courts, and so higher courts are unnecessary. Justice is no longer hedged in by endless petty forms. Most small civil cases are left by the parties interested the judgment of one man, who carefully investigates the matter and decides.

“In the time of the State justice was too good a thing for common, everyday use; in fact it was seldom used at all. It was personified and placed on a bright pedestal where it might be admired as a beautiful image. Then, that the people might not get at it, it was hedged in with law, and fenced in with lawyers and judges, and to make this hedge and fence stronger was the constant aim of legislatures and congresses. The shadow, even, of justice could not fall outside of the enclosure in which it was so sacredly kept.

“‘Legal’ is a word no longer used. ‘Is it just?’ is asked, instead of ‘is it legal:’ Justice always meant more than law, never mind how numerous laws were, and if a thing were legal, that was enough. If justice instead of law had defined the bounds of right and wrong, people would have questioned whether a thing were just before doing an injury to a fellow being. I think it was Coleridge who said there could be no definition of right and wrong except in the technical language of the courts. If ‘technical language’ were omitted, this would be true. It is for no man or number of men to decide upon a question and settle it for all time, saying ‘this shall be right’ and ‘this shall be wrong.’ As I said before, every case in which is raised the question of right or wrong has about it peculiar circumstances which must decide. So long as nature knows no absolute right or wrong, man will know none, and nature will always act, as she acts now and ever has acted, upon the impulse of the moment. Forces which have been at work through all time determine such acts, but nothing determines that these forces shall cause such acts. That they do is enough. Why should they not? Why should we suppose a controlling hand? Every man, when he is about to act, must decide for that time whether such act will be just. There is no absolute justice by which he can measure his act. Still, there is justice in the world, but it is simply an ever-varying phase of human nature. The moment you define justice, that moment it ceases to be justice. This—the defining of justice—was the greatest fault of the State; this was the greatest barrier to liberty; this was the greatest barrier to human happiness; this was the greatest curse of the human race.

“The people of your time could see that nature acted well without an outside controlling power. They could see, too, that man was a part of nature, and with the other part of nature acted spontaneously. But they could not see that man needed no outside hand to guide him. ‘God and the State!’ Well did Bakounine connect them. One is as absurd as the other. One is as unnecessary as the other.”

Mr. De Demain was becoming excited and blasphemous, and I checked him, and as the hour was quite late, he took leave of me. What he said seems, to glance at it hastily, very sensible, but I shall give it more thought, and I trust that you, my dear Louise, will do the same.





Boston, October 4, 2084

My dear Louise:

This strange country seems more strange to me daily, as I know it and its people and customs better. It seems more like a dream, a perplexing though pleasant dream, than it does like a reality. I often think that, instead of actually being here, two hundred years away from you, that I am sitting on the beach near my own dear old home, listening to the monotonous sound of the waves at my feet blending with the murmurings of the wind to form what was always a harmony that made me think and theorize and dream. Sometimes I try to rouse myself from my reverie and shake off this that seems so much like a vision. But it is useless. I am in a real world, among real people.

When I tell Mr. De Demain that everything is so strange to me, he smiles and says nothing is strange but myself, and he adds, although I suppose I shouldn’t tell it, that I am not so very strange to him.

When I tell my friend that this world doesn’t seem real, that it seems simply a dream, an ideal conception, he grows earnest, and tells me that nothing could be less a dream than the state of human society today. “Why!” says he, “Anarchy is the most practical thing the world ever knew, but the governments of two hundred years ago, and back as far as history reaches, were based upon dreams. You remember the preamble to the constitution of your country and the things that it set forth as being the objects of the government to be based upon that constitution. Liberty and justice! could anything have been more ideal than that? A splendid ideal, truly, but the fault of the government was that it forced liberty and justice to always remain ideal and not real. Anarchy halts at that point where constitutions are made. Theologians of the olden time held that God, defined, and consequently limited, would cease to be God. So we hold that liberty and justice, defined, and consequently limited, would cease to be liberty and justice. History proved that Anarchy is right in holding this.

“In looking over a file of newspapers of a couple of centuries ago, recently, I ran across a number of speeches and editorials calling upon government officials of all kinds to run the government, national, state, and municipal, on business principles. Now, those principles are just the ones which govern society today. The people do not grant the privilege of government to an individual or set individuals as a monopoly, as did the people of the time from whence you came. Trade is not hampered by monopoly; it is governed simply by the influence of a healthy competition. Anarchy is a very matter-of-fact, every-day, business-like thing. There is nothing abstract or ideal about it. In itself, now that we have it, it isn’t much. It can be defined in a very few words for one who has never lived under the dark shadow of the State. But in defining Anarchy to one like you, it is necessary to compare it with the State. I must tell you what Anarchy is not. I must tell you of the crimes that it does not commit, the misery that it does not cause, the false relations in which it does not place man. I have tried to do this in my talks with you. If you understood the meaning of true business principles, I should tell you simply this: Anarchy means the state of society when governed by true business principles. I suppose now it will be necessary for me to explain to you briefly what true business principles are, and to state them very briefly I will say:

“First: Perfect freedom of exchange. This, of course, makes an untaxed and perfectly free currency necessary.

“Second: Cost must limit price. This, of course, makes interest impossible

“Third: Individuals must own only what has been produced by human labor. This, of course, means that man cannot hold property in anything produced by nature without the aid of man’s hand.

“Fourth: Law must be simply justice defined in individual cases. This, of course, makes congresses, legislatures, and the like unnecessary.

“These are the fundamental principles of Anarchy. Don’t they strike you as being much more practical than ideal?”

Mr. De Demain seems to be a very practical man. I find that he is not looked upon by his friends as being at all visionary. He is considered at the college a very able man, and has the reputation of being a most excellent teacher. Can it be, after all, that the whole system upon which society of your time is based is false? Can it be that Anarchy is the key to the whole problem of life? Can it be that Anarchy answers forever the question, Is life worth living?

Louise, help me to answer these questions.





Boston, October 25, 2081.

My Dear Louise:

I have now ceased to be a great curiosity, and have an opportunity to walk about the streets and visit stores, manufactories, schools, places of amusement, etc., and study the people under all phases of life. Every moment, almost, there is something new to attract my attention, some strange thing to give me food for thought. There is a most striking contrast, surely, between the condition of the people of today and of those of two centuries ago. Humanity seems to be a different thing from what it was then. The mere fact that there is no such thing as poverty must prove this to you. There are no hard times now-a-days; there is plenty for all to do, and, of course, you can easily understand that, where there is work for every one, there must be plenty for every one to eat, drink, and wear. Charitable organizations are not needed to keep men and women and children from starving and freezing. Poverty was always the great cause of crime. To plenty, more than anything else, is due the honesty and gentleness of the people today.

Don’t think from this, Louise, that I have become an Anarchist I believe—for I cannot help believing—that the people of today are more happy without the State, but this system of society under which the people live is not Anarchy. After all that I have written to you, I know that you must be surprised at this statement, but let me explain.

Mr. De Demain says that society today is based upon Anarchistic principles, and I gave you his definition of those principles in my last letter; but I know that he must be mistaken. During two hundred years the meaning of the word Anarchy has changed. It means today peace, prosperity, liberty, and happiness; two hundred years ago it meant revolution, tyranny, crime, and misery. Would not this latter be your definition? Does not Anarchy mean to you something terrible? When you speak the word, does it not call up in your mind scenes of riot and murder?

I cannot see why the quiet, happy people that I see about me should use a word, which means to them so much, which really means all that is terrible and chaotic

Mr. De Demain says that I have a very old-fashioned idea of the meaning of Anarchy, and not only very old-fashioned but very wrong.

“If,” says he, “you wished, in your time, to get the correct definition of some medical term, would you have asked a physician, or some person who knew nothing about the science of medicine? Which, do you think, would have been most likely to have defined the term correctly for you? Is it not, to say the least, probable that an avowed Anarchist can tell you better what Anarchy means than can one who claims to know nothing about the word or the thing except that he has looked up the word in the dictionary and has heard that a king or two has been killed by the hands of Anarchists? No man is an Anarchist who does not know what Anarchy means, and I know that there never could have been a man who knew what Anarchy means who was not an Anarchist. In your time, if you ever saw a person who said he knew the meaning of Anarchy and for that very reason was not an Anarchist,—and you have probably seen many such,—you could easily have discovered how little he knew about it by asking very few questions. You say this is not Anarchy which I claim is Anarchy? And why? Simply because you find that Anarchy is not what you thought it was, because it is not what you had been told it was by those who knew nothing about it, but who claimed to know all about it. Anarchy two hundred years ago could not be fully and clearly defined because it had never been practically tested. A thing to be clearly defined must be defined by its results. In your time Anarchy had produced no results.”

“How about the murder of a king or two?” I asked.

“That was not the result of Anarchy, but merely of the struggle for Anarchy. Until a thing is, it cannot have results. It would be absurd to say that the Revolutionary war was the result of American independence; it was merely the result of the struggle for that independence. The founders of the American republic were men who could look into the future, and they knew full well what such a republic as they strove for meant, but the people, even those who fought for it, did not know. They had faith, but faith is blind. What was the definition of that republic given by people of the old world? That it was an impossible theory, a pretty theory perhaps, but one which practical demonstration would prove to be a curse for the people who lived under it. So with Anarchy. Those who struggled for it two hundred years ago could look ahead to this time and see what Anarchy meant. They could define it, partially. They could not follow out all its blessings in detail, but they could say that blessings would result, and some of those blessings they could name. We today can define it fully. It is defined right before your eyes. You have a clearer definition of it every day as you see more of its effects. There are hundreds of things that you have not yet seen, little things they may be, but nevertheless they go to make up a grand sum total of happiness. Anarchy has made the world—a world necessarily of sin and misery, it used to be considered—fairer than was heaven painted to the dreams of the Christians of the olden time.”

Mr. De Demain’s arguments may be good, and it may be only my woman’s persistency that still leads me to say that I cannot believe that what is called Anarchy today is what was meant when the word Anarchy was spoken two hundred years ago.





Boston, November 8, 2084.

My Dear Louise:

The political campaign which had just begun when I left you is, of course, all over now. How foolish for me to make such a remark when I have a history in my hand which tells all about that campaign and the result. I am sorry, of course, that Mr. Edmunds could not have been elected; but I presume you are perfectly willing to submit to the will of the majority,—the majority of those who voted, I mean.

I have been discussing the politics of your time with Mr. De Demain during the last few days, and some of these discussions have been very warm on both sides, I can assure you. Of course, as you may imagine, he thinks the whole thing a farce from beginning to end. One who does not believe in the State, in presidents and congresses, and who does not believe in the ballot, would be very unlikely to look upon a presidential campaign with any favor

I tell him I think it a grand and noble spectacle,—two men who have risen from the people contesting to see which shall direct the policy of their country. He, however, argues like this:

“A certain number of people, always a minority, meet, and a part of these name three or four men to represent them in another meeting, which selects one man—and he may he selected by a minority—to represent them in another meeting, a majority of which names a man to be voted for by a certain number of men from each state, who are to be chosen by a plurality—often a minority—of the legal voters of the state. It may be often the case that such a man elected to the presidency is the choice of not one-tenth part even of those who vote for him. When Mr. Arthur took the oath of office after the death of Mr. Garfield, it was probably not desired by one million people out of the fifty millions in the country that he be president. That is, if each of all the adults in the United States had written on a slip of paper the name of the man he desired for president, Mr. Arthur’s name would not have been upon one million of them. I doubt if it would have been upon one hundred thousand.

“Perhaps the government of the United States was the best the world ever knew. I am inclined to think that it was. I think the people who lived under it were more prosperous and more happy and more moral than those under any other system which had been tried at that time. Comparing it with the government of Russia, it was grand. Comparing it with Anarchy, it was a tyrannical, cheating master. One-tenth—and often less—of the adult population of the country controlled the government in a manner contrary to the best judgment and the wishes of the individuals composing the other nine-tenths. And still these same individuals comforted themselves with the idea that they were running the whole machine of state. They complained about business depression, about the tariff, about the laws that were passed and that were not passed, and they swore roundly at congresses, and the president and his cabinet, and all government officials, from the heads of departments down. And still every one of the growlers—and they did not growl without cause—would tell you that the ballot was a sure remedy. Not one instance could they name when it had effected a cure for the hundreds of ills of which they complained, but still they put faith in it. They could not see, for some strange reason, that the ballot was the cause of most of their ills, as it puts into the hands of a few designing,—or if not designing, ignorant,—men the power to advance their selfish aims or foolish whims. And even if it accomplished all that was claimed for it,—giving the majority the power to rule the minority,—its result must have been tyranny.

“Under the ballot there was no right but the right of might, and no justice but or that part of the people which called itself the majority. Why, the minority was allowed to exist at all only at the pleasure of the majority!

“You are well aware that more than four-fifths of the people of the United States two centuries ago proclaimed openly that they thought a political campaign a very shallow, nasty thing. But they were so shortsighted that they poked upon such things as necessities. They knew well that more than half the time bribery and lying: combined carried an election. But they were willing to abide by the result. They knew it was possible often for an insignificant third party, made up of political tricksters and cranks, to carry an election one way or the other. But they submitted to all this, and comforted themselves with the old saying: ‘The voice of the people is the voice of God.’ They knew full well that at best they did not get at the voice of the people, but they put lots of faith in God. They must have, or they would not have allowed such men to rule them as were named by the ballots.

“Those who howled against the socialists, on the ground that, if allowed, they would make private property public, went to the polls and did this very thing themselves. One hundred men, who did not, all together, own one thousand dollars’ worth of property, could vote to tax ninety-nine other men, who, all together, might own one hundred millions, eighteen or twenty dollars on a thousand. You may not call this robbery; I do. The ballot in the hands of the voter was a worse weapon than the revolver in the hands of the highwayman. The latter simply used his weapon to get his victim’s money; the former used his to get his victim’s money, his privileges, his happiness, and often his life.”

Mr. De Demain continued at length in this strain, but all his arguments could not convince me that the United States did not owe its prosperity, its greatness, and its freedom to its system of balloting for rulers. But he is to continue his conversation soon on this subject, and he may bring out some points that will interest you. If so, I will write them.





Boston, November 22, 2084.

My Dear Louise:

On two or three occasions since my last letter was written Mr. De Demain has lectured me on the evils of the political system in vogue in your time. He gives as an illustration the fact that a few hundred voters in New York in the presidential election of 1884 threw the government of the country into the hands of the Democratic party,—not in reality a very serious matter, he says, but very much against the wishes of several millions of people.

In the course of our conversation I asked him the following question, which formed the basis for quite a long discussion:

“You believe, do you not, that the wealthy and so-called superior classes of the United States in the nineteenth century controlled in great measure the government of the country?”

“Yes,” replied Mr. De Demain, “I think that history pretty conclusively proves that.”

“But, two weeks ago, in a conversation you had with me, you stated that one of the faults of that government was the power given men without money to tax those who were rich. You called it robbery, I think.”

“Yes, it was a fault of the government, and was robbery—of the robbers. The wealthy and successful robbers were shrewd men. They gave the poor fellows who were constantly being robbed the ballot, and told them what a big thing it was, and what a splendid generosity it displayed on the part of the ‘superior’ classes. The poor dupes of working men were told in splendid oratorical efforts and brilliant grammatical articles that the great remedy for all the ills of the poor man was in his hands. When there was anything he did not like, he had only to trust in the ballot. He had the privilege of voting for any man or any measure he cared for. This looked on the face of it like a grand thing. The poor workers of the old world looked across on this side and heard the words of these fine-spoken gentlemen, and they came over to live in a country where they had only to ask for a thing to have it. For a great many years the ballot worked beautifully—for the superior classes. But the workers kept on digging in the earth and sowing seed, and reaping the harvest. You people had a big new country of vast resources, and it is not strange that you got rich,—that is, that the country got rich. The only strange thing about it was that the people didn’t get richer. For many years the laborers thought themselves pretty well-to-do. They—a good many of them—built themselves little houses and cleared up little farms, and they blessed the ballot-box and the wise statesmen who formed laws for such a beautiful country. But after a time they began to think it very strange that they didn’t get any richer, while the country got to be more and more wealthy every day. Some began to suspect that, after all, it was not so much the ballot-box as it was their own industry and the native wealth of the new country that made it possible to own little houses and farms. And some even suspected that the good order of the country was not so much due to the fine system of government as it was to their own individual good behavior. Later on they began to think that perhaps, after all, the ballot-box, instead of making them well-to-do, was making them poorer and making those who talked so much about its wonderful power richer.

“I said, I know, that it was robbery for the poor to tax the rich; this was one evil. But the robbery by ballot was not all on one side, and even if it had been all on the side of the poor, the injustice would not have been great, although the principle would have been wrong. It was this wrong principle that I wished to present to you.

“This ballot privilege was merely a sop thrown from the hand of the rich to the poor in order that sharp wits might keep in subjugation strong numbers.

“This robbing of the rich by the poor by means of taxation was more than offset by the robbing of the poor by the rich by the same means. The poor workers were never the ones who concocted the schemes of taxation; it was always the rich robbers with the sharp wits. The few rich robbers individually laid schemes to plunder each other and cut each other’s throats. They found time enough, while the workers were preparing their food and clothes and shelter and pretty trinkets, to sharpen their wits and lay schemes. The ballot in the hands of the workers was a very good means whereby the rich and superior individuals could gain advantage over other rich and superior individuals. At the same time the ballots kept the general government in its regular course so that it was an easy matter for all rich individuals to rob the poor. Back in the earlier ages princes and kings gave their subjects bows and arrows and swords and small ships and sent them out to fight each other. The stronger in battle won honor for their king and members of his household, and for the same plundered the country of the weaker. They, themselves, the subjects, mostly got killed. Many of the survivors got their heads cut off when they returned, and the remainder didn’t get much of anything. Things were a little changed in your time. Names for things were changed principally. Instead of kings and princes were the wealthy classes, the superior classes, the statesmen, and instead of bows and arrows and swords ballots were used. The honor and plunder went the same way. The wielders of the ballots didn’t get killed, but they didn’t get anything else. Some of them, perhaps, did get two or three dollars or a few drinks of cheap gin for their services, but they got nothing more,—no honor, no part of the plunder.”

“But,” said I, “you must acknowledge that the people had the power to use the ballot as they pleased.”

“Not exactly. There were a good many restrictions. There was a tax and registration, and deputy marshals, and sharp-eyed employers, and supervisors, and several other minor things. But the main thing was that the people did not know how to use the ballot to their own advantage. If they had, they would have balloted the ballot out of existence, and with it the government, the privileged classes, privileged monopolies, a privileged currency, subsidized railroads, and the thousand and one things by means of which they were daily being robbed. The people were dupes. If the keen-witted robbers had not understood this, the ballot would never have been put into the hands of the workers. It certainly took a more steady hand, a finer, sharper, clearer brain, to control a people by means of the ballot than it did by means of the sword, but it was done just as effectually. If Alexander III and his princes and advisers had been smart enough, they could have ruled Russia just as firmly with the ballot in the hands of the people.”

What do you think of Mr. De Domain’s arguments?





Boston, December 18, 2084.

My Dear Louise:

You must not think from what I write you that Mr. De Demain and I are constantly taking different sides on all subjects. We often agree very easily, and have many pleasant conversations in which not the shadow of a dispute occurs. It is only occasionally that a governmental whirlwind comes up and blows us far apart. The subject of the ballot was material for several heated discussions,—all perfectly good natured, of course,—the major points of which I have written you.

Finally, on a recent evening, I thought I would close the discussion with a question that my friend would find it impossible to answer. I asked him: “If governments were humbugs,—or worse than that, as you claim,—how was it that all but a very few of the people acknowledged that such governments were necessary? Were not the people of those times better judges of what they and the times required than you are today? They had hard, cold facts to deal with; you have but the skeleton of history. Anarchy may be much better for you today than governments, but you are a more advanced people, far enough advanced, in fact, to do without the bolts and bars that were required two and three centuries ago.”

This did not have just the effect that I anticipated. Instead of acting as cold water, it proved fuel for the fire of his argumentative faculties.

“The fact that the people acknowledged a thing as necessary does not prove that it was a good thing. It does not even prove that it was a good thing for that day and generation. It does, however, prove that people are very easily deceived, just what I have endeavored to impress upon your mind for some months.

“In 1058 Edward the Confessor succeeded to the throne of England. So history says. His people were, many of them, afflicted with a disease known, in the form in which it appears to-day, as scrofula. Edward was a very holy man, and he conceived the idea of curing this disease by the laying on of his hands, as he had read that Christ cured other diseases a thousand years before. His story tells us that the cures were wonderful. No one has ever been able, so far as I know, to explain just what this peculiar medicinal quality given to Edward was, or in what way it effected its miraculous work. It may have exuded from his finger-tips or have passed from them like an electric current,—the people never looked into this, I believe. It was sufficient for them to know that the touch of the king cured this disease, the worst of the times.

“This curative power of Edward did not die with him. Together with his title it was handed down through the succeeding generations until the time of George I, who, in 1714, somehow lost the knack. I believe history says the people refused longer to be deceived in this way.

“Now, during all these seven centuries, I think it safe to say that not one person out of a million ever for a moment doubted that the king had the power to cure the king’s-evil—for so it was called—by the laying on of his hands. For seven centuries the people of England—our ancestors—strove to discover no other remedy for this terrible disease, simply because they saw no need of remedy other than the one they had,—the touch of the king.

“Perhaps Edward the Confessor was honest and believed he had the power to cure. Perhaps all the long line of kings down to George I were honest in their belief. There can be no doubt but the people thought the king’s touch a cure. But all this simply proves how easily the people can be deceived; how anxious they are to be deceived. But it does not prove that it is better for them to be deceived. Because a man can be gulled does not prove that he is a smart man, or that he knows what is best for himself in his day and generation.

“There are certain general principles running down through the ages whose workings we can easily trace back half a dozen centuries perfectly well by the skeleton history you speak of. History does not entirely ignore the hard, cold facts, either. It hints, occasionally, at slavery, starvation, and death. Of course it has most to do with kings and princes and statesmen, but for those who have been up so high we know there must have been a foundation deep down in the mud, and we know that that foundation, which bore all of this load of splendor, must have been the people,—the poor, starving, struggling, weary, deluded people. They may not have been quite as intelligent as the people to-day, or even as the people of your time, but will you say that even a republic like that of the United States would not have been better for them? If they had lived under a republic, you, two centuries ago, would have lived under Anarchy.”

Mr. De Demain never stopped once during all this to give me a chance to answer him. Perhaps it is just as well. I am sure I do not know what I should have said. I shall, however, think the matter over carefully, and I may see some way in which I can show him the fallacy of his reasoning.





Boston, January 23, 2084.

My Dear Louise:

A few evenings ago I had the pleasure of listening to a lecture by Mr. De Demain before the students of Harvard College. The subject was “The Rise and Fall of Authority.” I have written out what I think will give you a fair idea of his argument. Mr. De Demain is a very animated, correct speaker, not eloquent, but earnest.

“When civilization first began to dawn on mankind, authority had its birth. When civilization had fully dawned upon mankind, authority met its death.’’

These were Mr. De Demain’s opening sentences. He continued: “I will not say that this birth was unnatural. Everything being a part of nature, everything must be natural. But because nature is such a tremendous thing and so incomprehensible in many of its phases is no reason why man should not criticise. Nature, outside of man, is blind, unthinking, unknowing. It is moved to action by the force within it, and it acts. Man is the only self-conscious part of nature. It has no other intelligent guiding hand. Man is the greatest thing in nature, so far as man is able to judge. Nature constructs him, develops him, and controls him. But nature’s action on man reflects and gives new action to nature. Briefly, man is nature’s eye. Surely he has a right to criticise.”

In continuing this line of thought Mr. De Demain got a trifle too metaphysical, and I did not take notes for a while. I began when he began as follows:

“Authority set about to construct itself a temple. It took for a site the morass of ignorance,—which then and for thousands of years after was a very large site,—and threw into it nine hundred and ninety-nine out of every thousand human creatures. This was for the foundation. Upon this was reared the structure in which dwelt the kings and princes and statesmen and priests and usurers. It was truly a most magnificent temple, but the only thing between it and the obliterating mud was a living, squirming mass of human beings.

“Occasionally tremors ran through this mass, shaking the temple, tumbling down some of its sacred images, breaking its little graven gods, and leaving wide cracks here and there to be plastered up. Every tremor weakened the structure still more, and marred its magnificence. Now and then a spire would fall and a statue tumble from its niche.

“Still, those who inhabited the decaying edifice found it very comfortable, very pleasant. All who once sojourned within its walls, although these were somewhat marred and cracked, were very anxious to remain forever. And what wonder! It was either a dweller in comfort within or a straggler in the mud without and underneath.

“Shrewd men were those who lived within the temple. They watched carefully the changes in the foundation, and repaired and reconstructed their house that it might withstand the upheavals that shook it.

“For centuries these human beings in the mud thought it a great privilege that they were allowed to exist at all. But after a while the mud dried up somewhat and gave the people a footing. They began to realize that the weight of the temple bore heavily upon them. They rubbed the mud from their eyes, and the need for authority seemed not such a pressing need after all. At last the unintelligent tremors that had weakened the oppressive structure developed into an intelligent quake that toppled over the temple and laid it in a mass of ruins, a wreck too complete to admit of reconstruction. Its debris was scattered and trampled in the now fast-drying mud.”

After Mr. De Demain had finished his lecture, I asked him if it were not true that the people, whom he had represented as wallowing in the mud, built the temple of authority and kept it in repair.

“No,” said he, “the great majority of the people had nothing whatever to do with either, although in some countries at some times they even give the idea that they had. The history of humanity shows that the tendency of the by far greater part of the people has been against authority. Can you name a people, at all progressive, of whom this is not true? The moment a people began to grow intellectually they began a warfare against authority,—not to abolish authority, but to weaken its power. When this power became reduced to the minimum, the natural tendency of humanity suggested entire abolition. A little more progress more widely extended and Anarchy became an established fact.

“So long as humanity continues to progress, so long will the tendency be against authority. If humanity ever reaches a point beyond which there can be no progress, then will come retrogression, and humanity as a whole will, for the first time in the history of the world, tend toward authority. That day may come, but there is no evidence that it must come. The world may cease to develop, the universe may grow old and barren, but man’s brain may still continue to expand I believe that it will continue to grow so long as this planet of ours holds together. There are no signs yet of a tendency toward authority. The State is dead and there is no wish to revive it. It is remembered only as a great evil that has been conquered,—something that was a part of the barbarism of the past It you will, it was a garment which has been outgrown, although I think a strait-jacket which was never needed would be a more fitting simile.”

In a few days Mr. De Demain is to tell me something about supply and demand. I think it may interest you.





Boston, February 28, 2085.

My Dear Louise:

I think that the following conversation between Mr. De Demain and myself may give you an idea of one very important change that Anarchy has wrought.

Said he: “A few weeks ago I was looking over an old scrap-book containing newspaper clippings, which nave been handed down in my family for two hundred years. I chanced, in turning the leaves, to notice an editorial clipped from a paper called the ‘New York Tribune’ according to a foot note made in ink by my great-great-great, etc., grandfather. The editorial was entitled ‘A Change of Phrase.’

“I suppose that the ‘Tribune’ in those days was considered one of the great papers, or my ancestor would not have clipped from it an article of this kind. After reading it, I did not wonder that the people of two hundred years ago could not see much good in Anarchy. If the writer of this article was a man of average intelligence,—and it is fair to suppose that an editorial writer for a great daily would be a man of at least average mental power.—it is not strange that humanity could not understand the goodness of a good thing.”

“Mr. De Demain, I think that reflects on me,” I was forced to say.

“I humbly beg your pardon,” he replied, “if my remark seemed at all personal. Of course you have been with us long enough to understand that we are so far advanced that we look upon the people of two hundred years ago as barbarians. You certainly were regarded as a barbarian—a fair barbarian—when you made your strange advent among us. But you are not so considered now. Our advanced thought and manner of living have had a remarkable influence upon you. You are not yet, I know, in full sympathy with the teachings of Anarchy, but, as you think deeper, you certainly will be.”

Louise, it really makes me tremble to think that, when I come back to live out my years among my old friends, I may be considered an Anarchist. Still, I think, if my mind does become impregnated with Anarchistic ideas while I am here, that I can easily kill them out by reading the daily papers when I return.

Mr. De Demain continued: “This brilliant editorial writer in the ‘Tribune’ says:

During the last two years the stock phrase used in explaining business depression has been ‘over-production.’ The enemies of the American system have even gone so far as to assert that this is the chief evil of protection, since it unduly stimulates industrial activity and speedily overstocks the market with products that cannot be disposed of without ruinous delay and disturbance to trade. Over-production is the besetting weakness of the industrial world, no matter what the economic system or the tariff schedules may be. The evil will last to the end of time, and there can never be any hope of obviating it, since the requirements of mankind will invariably be over-estimated by the industries of the world. People grow weary of stock phrases. Why not talk about under-consumption during the next twelve months? It will mean about the same thing, but it will be fresh and new, and will possibly have a more cheerful sound. It may be that a vigorous impulse will be given to the workaday American world, if it can be convinced that the hard times merely indicate the wholesome restraints of under-consumption.

“I have simply to quote facts to you to prove that the young man who wrote the above was a false prophet. We have not reached the end of time, and over production is not an evil, and we do not obviate it by juggling with words and calling it under-consumption.”

“Do you mean to say,” I asked, “that it is possible at all times and under all conditions to exactly estimate the quantity of everything the people will want for a given length of time? or that the supply is always kept below the demand?”

“I mean that without the intervention of the State supply and demand are so nicely balanced that what was once called over-production is never an evil. It was not Malthus who first discovered the fact that the increase of humanity is held in check by the wants of humanity. This fact was realized several thousand years before Malthus was born. Two hundred years ago your political economists and social reformers in the same breath spoke of over-production of the necessaries of life and told the laborers that they should have smaller families. Was it not the voice of ignorant barbarians who told the laborers that they were producing too much food and clothing and at the same time that they were producing too many stomachs for the food and too many bodies for the clothing?

“The trouble was that the State stood in the way of a rapid and equal distribution of the products of the world. There never was a time when the earth produced too much wheat, too many potatoes, too much Indian corn. There never was a time when there was an over-supply of good beef and mutton. There never were too many well-fitting, long-wearing boots and shoes. There never was too much warm, clean, strong, attractive clothing in the world. I will not say that such a time may never come, because I do not care to be called in the future a false prophet. But in the past where has been the over-production? There has been often under-consumption, but it was not merely a change of phrase! Over-production, if such could ever occur, would mean immense wealth; under-consumption means poverty. Any blockhead—even a barbarian blockhead—ought to know the difference.”

I don’t relish being called a barbarian, and seeing that Mr. De Demain was growing excited, I thought it better to draw his little lecture to a close, fearing that he might in his enthusiasm unintentionally say something unpleasant. I suppose I was very wicked, but I did wish that Mr. De Demain could have had Senator Hoar for a disputant, and that I could have been a listener. I would have been willing to share any unpleasant remarks about barbarians, etc., with our honorable senator.





Boston, March 21, 2085.

My Dear Louise:

In the old Capitol on Beacon Hill is now one of the finest libraries in the world and I spend two or three hours almost every day in reading from the most remarkable of the innumerable remarkable volumes. The room that once was the Hall of Representatives is now filled from floor to ceiling with cabinets containing books and pamphlets of the present century. In the room once the Senate chamber are books of the last two centuries, with those of the last largely predominating in numbers, and several of the small rooms are used for those of still older date. All books are classified, first, according to date of writing, and, second, according to subject-matter.

The volume that is just now attracting my attention is one published in 1902 and entitled “The Confessions of a Journalist.” The author’s name does not appear, but he introduces himself in the preface as follows:

“For the past thirty-five years I have made journalism my profession, and during that time have been connected in different ways, as reporter, correspondent, city editor, news editor, managing editor, editorial writer, and part proprietor, with many of the leading newspapers of the country. I have been one of the few that have been fortunate enough at sixty to be able to retire from active labors on the press, having amassed a fortune on which I can live comfortably and see my children well started on the journey of life.”

This, by way of introduction, attracted my attention. Books written by journalists I have always found peculiarly interesting, although I must confess seldom very instructive. Journalists know so well how to make insignificant matters entertaining and put things in such a bright, witty way, that it is usually a pleasure to read what they write. Their books are never dull, and it never requires deep thought to understand them. One can read page after page, beginning almost anywhere and leaving off at will, in a dreamy sort of way with the thinking powers at rest. The effect is not an excitement to mental exertion. When I wish to read myself to sleep, I have always been accustomed to take up some book written by a journalist. So, when I ran across this “Confession,” I decided that it would be a good thing to help me digest my dinners. You may judge whether or not I made a mistake from some of the extracts which I shall give you.

The first chapter is devoted to young men who are about to enter the profession, and pretends to give much wholesome advice. But read:

“Young man, you are eager to enter the field of journalism; you are eager to become an editor, perhaps a proprietor. You ask yourself, ‘Have I the talent and the education necessary to enable me to become a successful journalist?’ Are you superficial? This is the first qualification. No deep thinker, no keen reasoner has any place on a daily newspaper.

“Are you an accomplished liar? Or, to put it in a more delicate manner, are you an adept at watering or obscuring the truth? Can you make what you honestly believe to be the truth (provided you think deeply enough to honestly believe any thing) appear to be false, and what you know to be false (or what you would know to be false provided you gave it a thought) appear to be the truth? If you cannot, don’t enter journalism.

“Have you a ready pen for flattery or abuse as you may be commanded? If not, become a hod-carrier rather than a journalist.

“Do you believe in having principles and in supporting them? Go West on the plains, and devote your life to the occupation of a cowboy, but don’t become a journalist.

“Are you one who believes that right should stand ahead of gain? Go hang yourself and die innocent before you become connected with a newspaper.”

Such matter as this did not help me digest my dinner, but it awakened a curiosity that would be satisfied. If honest, right-minded, thinking men cannot make (or could not make, I should say now) successful journalists, then what? Farther on he tells, when he says:

“One who would attain the highest success in journalism as it is today and has been for many years, back as far at least as my memory serves me, must be a man of remarkably quick perception. This is the chief qualification. He must look upon a newspaper as merely a business enterprise, and making money must be his sole aim. This is as true of the most utterly unknown reporter as of the editor-in- chief, business manager, or proprietor. That paper is most successful which sells the most copies daily and has the best advertising patronage; that is, which declares the largest dividend each year. What paper is there that does not aim for this? What leading paper is there that would not support the devil if its management thought that by so doing its finances would be improved? What successful paper is there that would not print anything within the bounds of the law if by so doing more pennies would continue to drop into its till? What prominent paper is there that does not have a little or big list of names of which no unpleasant things must be said, never mind how big the lie told? If Mr. Jones advertises well, must not Mr. Jones be lied about if he happens to do anything about which the truth, if told, would injure him?

“Any man connected with a paper as reporter or editor may be called upon to lie (for twelve, twenty, fifty, or one hundred dollars per week, according to his ability) a dozen times a day, and also to swear that that lie is God’s truth. If he murmurs, he must resign.”

I am beginning to think that my journalist-author is not what he says he is, a retired successful journalist. I am afraid he has not been successful in the profession, and by this means vents his spleen upon those who have. I cannot believe that the great educators, the leaders of the people, the guardians of the liberties and rights of the people of your time are so corrupt; that their only object is gain. Is there, or rather was there, no high moral purpose in the journalism of the nineteenth century? I read on:

“For the most part our dailies are owned by stock companies, and surely no one can expect a philanthropic and moral sentiment to inspire a stock company! The business manager, who is usually the editor-in-chief, who dictates the policy and course of the paper, is paid a certain salary, and he is expected to make the paper earn enough to pay a handsome dividend. It is all business with him. Money is the only principle he sees. That is just and moral that pays best. If he owned the paper, he would do so and so, but it won’t pay, and it is his duty to make the enterprise pay. The managing editor must please the business manager or editor-in-chief. All the subordinates of the managing editor—news editors, city editor, dramatic editor, and all other editors and reporters—must please him and obey him. There must be no individual opinion of right and wrong. Right means profitable and wrong means profitless. ‘Is it for the good of the people that this be published?’ is never asked; ‘Is this just?’ is never asked; but simply, ‘Is it policy to print this?’ I am speaking always, unless I specify differently, of the large daily newspapers, ‘the great leaders of public opinion.”‘

When I had read this, I paused, and the thought went through my mind, “What if all this that he says be true! The people have the power to kill a corrupt newspaper in a few weeks, and can stop its influence at once by not buying it. The most successful papers are most successful because they sell the greatest number of copies,—that is, because they print matter that the people like to read. If the people like to read ‘watered truth,’ well and good; if they want to be flattered and abused, who cares?”

I had read but a few pages more when I found the author had anticipated my criticism and answered it in this manner:

“If you charge a journalist with gulling the public, he immediately answers that he gives the public what it wants; witness the success of his paper! It won’t do, he says, to print the truth; no daily could live and do it. The people desire to read exaggerations and flattering and abusing lies. They want the truth adulterated with what will make it pleasant to swallow. They quote this from Nathaniel Hawthorne (a good journalist must be good at quoting): ‘It must be a remarkably true man who can keep his own elevated conceptions of truth when the lower feelings of a multitude are assailing his natural sympathies, and who can speak out frankly the best there is in him when by adulterating it a little or a good deal he knows that he may make it ten times as acceptable to the audience.’

“What redress have the people? Stop buying the papers? But it is necessary that they should buy the papers. There are matters upon which they must keep informed.”

And so the book continues on to the end. Sometime I will talk with an editor of today, and give you his views of journalism.





Boston, April 25, 2085.

My Dear Louise:

Several weeks ago I was introduced by Mr. De Demain to the editor of the chief newspaper in Boston. It is a daily of thirty-two pages, each page about twelve inches long and nine inches wide,—quite convenient to read. The circulation is very large, often reaching, I am told, five hundred thousand copies in a single day. Editions are printed every hour from one a. m. to seven p. m. I will not attempt to further describe the paper for you, but will let the editor do that in his interesting talk with me.

“Without our papers,” said he, “I think anarchy would be impossible. Anarchy is nothing more or less than a nice adjustment of the different forces that cause individuals to act. The newspaper chronicles their acts, and thus enables the individuals to see when the social mechanism is out of order. In this way the equilibrium can be kept. The newspaper today is a mirror which reflects the acts of humanity. It gathers, but does not magnify, the rays of human actions, concentrating them so that one man can see with the eyes of all men. That is, he can see the facts pictured in truthful outlines. He gets a sketch that he may fill in to suit his fancy. If any part of society gets started on the wrong track, disastrous results will show themselves sooner or later. These results the newspaper records, and the reader is, in consequence, warned in time, and the evil tendency is corrected. You can readily see how such information, or news, is of very great value to every individual. It is no idle curiosity that prompts men to read the newspapers. It is absolutely necessary for their welfare that they do so. That newspaper which gives the greatest number of correct reports of events of the day is most valuable to the reader, and will naturally have the largest circulation. But the newspaper not only warns men against evil tendencies, but, by giving the news, shows them when they are going right, when they are advancing. In this way the newspaper is a most potent factor in the development of humanity.

“The province of the newspaper is not to criticise, not to advise. We simply print information, nothing else.”

“But,” said I, “you print advertisements?”

“Yes, but those are information. We receive payment for them according to the space they occupy, but they are all written by men connected with our office, who inspect the goods offered by the advertiser and then write the notices for the paper in accordance with the facts. Our intention is to print nothing but reports of things as they actually are, of past events as they actually happened, and of coming events which are controlled by man as it is proposed they shall actually happen.”

“Then you do not believe in making comment, favorable or unfavorable, in print on the acts of humanity?”

“I most certainly do believe in it, but not in a newspaper. Such comment is not information, and has no place in a newspaper. There are numbers of very successful dailies, weeklies, monthlies, and quarterlies whose space is almost entirely devoted to comment. Then there are many others filled with poems and romances for the amusement of their readers,—journals somewhat similar to those published two centuries ago.”

“Then the only difference between the newspaper of today and that of two hundred years ago is that today you have no editorial page?”

“We fancy that there is more difference than that,” said he with a smile. “But that is an important difference, for this reason: when we make no comments, we make no mistakes in judgment; we let each individual read the reports of events as they happen and form his own opinions first. If he desires the opinions of others, he can always find them in journals published for that purpose. [1]

“You appreciate the fact that we Anarchists believe in individual opinions. We like to read the opinions of others, but we prefer to form our own opinions first. ‘Editorial policy’ was the worst feature of the newspapers of two hundred years ago. It kept the people in a sort of slavery intellectually, and helped keep them in actual slavery to the profit-gatherers. If the newspapers of that time had printed faithful reports of current events, without comment, anarchy would have resulted in a very short time. The editorial policy of the newspapers was then dictated by those whose interests it was to keep alive the system of robbery fostered by government. Matter in the news columns every day showed that society was founded on false principles; the editorial columns were devoted to articles showing that these principles were not false.

“How absurd it is to speak of the editorial opinion of a newspaper! There can be no opinion but the opinion of man. All opinion must be individual opinion. This is recognized by those who edit publications which consist of comments; and all articles are signed with the name of the writer.”

“Are there, then, no papers which publish both news and comment?”

“There are a few, but, for the reasons that I mentioned above, they are not popular. There is a sort of mutual understanding between editors and readers that a man cannot deal in news and comment in large quantities both at the same time any better than he can deal in silk and groceries. Of course, a man may do the latter, but he can’t do it well. I think it is always well for a man to give his attention to one kind of work at a time, and the rule applies to papers as well.”

I suppose he must be right in his views about newspapers. However that may be, his paper is very interesting to me, and everybody reads it. I may send you a copy sometime.


[1] I dare not vie in prophecy with Josephine, Liberty’s correspondent from the Boston of 2085, for that fortunate young woman with her time-annihilating hat has an unfair advantage over me. Therefore I do not question her account of the journalism of two hundred years hence. But I will venture the opinion that, if the newspapers of that day abolish the editorial column, those of 2185 will restore it. Not the anonymous editorial, but the signed editorial. And the people who buy and read such journals will be truer Anarchists than any of their predecessors. For men will never be free until they have mastered the power of studying the opinions and arguments of others with the same independence that they show in the study of facts. Another’s opinion is as much a fact as any other fact, and the wise and truly free man will not exclude such facts from the data on which he forms his own opinions. The criticisms of the editor of 2085 whom Josephine has interviewed, upon the editorials of the present day, are perfectly just, but they tell against the editorials of policy rather than against the policy of editorials.

Certain kinds of news are of great importance to the public, but they can be presented advantageously in comparatively small space. Exclusive of the publication of these, editorial criticism is the most important province of a journal. No press in the world is so elevated in tone and so wisely influential as that of Paris, and in none with which I am familiar is the proportion of criticism to news so large. Perhaps Josephine’s editor will heed this fact, if not my opinion.—Benjamin R. Tucker.



Boston, May 16, 2085.

My Dear Louise:

Mr. De Demain today explained to me some things about the money of today which I think will be of interest to you. Knowing how much we of 1885 depended upon our government for a stable currency, I have often wondered how a people without a government could have any safe medium for exchange. Mr. De Demain’s answer to my question about the matter was, first, his peculiar smile, and then the following:

“Our money is simply labor certificates. Labor is the basis of our currency,—not gold, not silver. We consider the result of man’s handiwork more stable than the credit of a government. Our money is based upon nothing potential, but upon something actual, something substantial. Nothing can cause such a currency to fluctuate. It never depreciates, it never bears a lie on its face. If it be marked ‘one dollar,’ it is worth one dollar in exchange without the command of any law.”

“Who makes and issues the money?” I asked.

“Private individuals or companies. Money is issued just the same as cotton cloth is, and with no more restrictions. You know that a certain firm which manufactures cotton cloth is reliable, that its goods are always what they are represented to be. You do not ask your government to guarantee that cotton cloth shall be as represented or up to a certain standard, and you do not expect your government to monopolize the manufacture of such goods or to grant to others such a monopoly. You prefer to rely on the honesty, or, if not the honesty, the self-interest, of the manufacturers. That is the way we feel about money. Private individuals organize, a company and issue money based upon the possessions of the members of the company. These possessions, of course, are based upon labor expended in producing them. They loan this money to such as need it who can give good security, charging for such use enough only to cover the cost of transacting the business. No interest is charged.”

“You say the money issued by a banking firm is based upon property owned by the firm. Suppose a case where $50,000 was the total amount of property owned by a bank represented by A. B is worth property valued at $1,000. He goes to A and desires to exchange moneys for convenience’ sake. A has already disposed of notes to the value of $50,000, the extent of his firm’s wealth. Must he refuse B?”

“Not at all,” said Mr. De Demain. “When he takes B’s money, he adds just so much to the wealth of his firm, and can issue notes for this additional wealth. If B presents $1,000 worth of his money, A fills out blank notes of his firm to that amount and hands them over to B. Under this system, which, you can see, is perfectly honest and sound, a banker is not required to have much capital. His stock in trade is his widely and favorably known name. He simply loans the indorsement of that name.”

“Why, if the borrower has good security, does he not issue his own money?”

“Because it is generally more convenient to have the money issued by a well-known firm. For use simply among those who know him well his own money, or notes, would be perfectly good. If he is transacting business with strangers, he must have money that they know to be good. So he exchanges his money for that of some well-known man or company. The cost is trifling. A man who owns property worth two thousand dollars issues money to that amount. This is a very simple matter. No one is forced by any law to receive such money. If the man who issues it is known to be honest, it will be received, of course. You would take a check from an honest man in your Boston of 1885 as soon as you would a bank note or coin. In order to protect the interests of the national bank, you made laws that such checks should not pass as currency. Honesty is the only protection that our currency needs.”

“Suppose you were well-known here in Boston, but were unknown in San Francisco, and you should have occasion to pay a bill in that city,—what money could you use?”

“I should simply exchange my personal notes for those of some individual or firm well-known on the Pacific coast and send such notes in payment,” said Mr. De Demain.

“Such a system as you have was tried before the times of national banks in the United States, but was a failure, as I suppose you have learned from history. Why was it?” I asked.

“The system in vogue before that of national banks was not in any manner like ours. The currency issued by those institutions (which, by the way, were under State control) was based upon fictitious values. There was nothing stable at the bottom. Most of such currency was based on the credit of the State. Is there any wonder that money of this kind was of uncertain value?

“I have read that many men of your time argued that a national debt was a national blessing, because without it there could be no national bank currency. There is some difference between money based upon a debt and money based upon the actual labor value of property. We think ours is the better system. We have no fault to find with it, at any rate.”

“To make such a system the success that you say it is the people of today must be much more honest than the people of two hundred years ago,” I suggested.

“Not of necessity,” said Mr. De Demain. “I think the people of today are more honest, but their prosperity is what supports our currency, and that prosperity is in turn supported by the currency system. General prosperity also, I think, tends to make honesty more general. All things work together for the good of those who live under Anarchy.”

At this point our conversation drifted off to other subjects, one of which I shall write you about in my next letter. It will, I think, show you one of the most peculiar things about this most peculiar thing,—Socialistic Anarchy.




Boston, June 13, 2085.

My Dear Louise:

Insurance was the subject of a recent conversation between Mr. De Demain and myself, and he told me so many interesting things about it as carried on today that I will tell you briefly what he said.

“Your police system two hundred years ago,” said he, “was but a system of insurance, as were your fire departments, your standing armies, and your navies. Police protection is now furnished by private companies. You pay a certain per cent, on the valuation of your property, real and personal, and the company agrees to pay you for any loss to that property caused by the depredations of others. The company employs policemen, watchmen, and detectives, and there is no collusion between these and would-be criminals for reasons which you can appreciate. Few crimes are committed that are not detected sooner or later, the criminals being brought to justice.

“Suppose that you have in your house two thousand dollars’ worth of valuables. You insure these in some police protection company of good standing. If these valuables are stolen, the company pays you two thousand dollars, and it is for their interest to catch the thief.”

“I should think such a system as this would encourage fraud. What if I should hide or give away my two thousand dollars’ worth of valuables?”

“You may be sure that in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred you would be found out, and the penalty which a jury would be likely to inflict in such a case would be heavy, much heavier than for a theft.”

“The officers of these companies also give alarms of fire. They report every day to the office. Anything of a suspicious nature that is observed is carefully investigated by men specially detailed for that purpose. Thus crimes are not only punished, but in a great many cases prevented. A criminal today must be a very bold and a very shrewd man.”

“Under such a system of detective espionage I should think innocent persons would often be arrested and charged with having committed some crime or with criminal intentions.”

“Mistakes are sometimes made, but it is rarely. The utmost caution is used, and none but honest, competent men are employed. Policemen are not appointed today because a friend has a political ‘pull,’ and there is no State and no party to protect them if they do wrong or prove incompetent. I believe this was a most serious fault with your police systems two hundred years ago. It was the State, always the State, that was the root of all evil. You saw the branches and lopped them off occasionally, but beneath the ground, out of ordinary sight, were the roots that gave sustenance to the tree. The Anarchist dug down and found these roots, and pointed them out to the suffering people, but for years they shut their eyes and turned away. We have torn out the noisome plant, root and branch, and burnt it as an offering to Liberty. The ground is no longer cumbered with such a growth to suck its healthy substance and turn it into poison with which to contaminate the life-giving air.

“War having ceased with the State, no insurance against foreign invasion or internal disruption is needed, but I see no reason why private enterprise might not carry on a war with much less loss than a State would sustain. Friends as well as foes were always ready to rob a State in times of war as well as times of peace, and, as the opportunities for robbery were better in a time of war, the plunder was always greater.

“Just two hundred years ago, I am told by history, Boston was very much disturbed because the State interfered in its police system and took away the appointing power. On one hand, the cry was that the police commission was corrupt, and, on the other, that Boston knew better what she wanted than the State. Anarchy would have solved the problem, you see, to the entire satisfaction of nearly every individual. What matter was it whether those intangible, soulless things, the State and the city, were satisfied? What was satisfaction to them? It meant simply the satisfaction of a few scheming politicians and their hangers-on. That was all.”

I was very pleased to learn that the State had stepped in and tried to put an end to the terrible wickedness of Boston. I have long been shocked by the thought that Boston people could not see that their city was in a very bad way. I trust that there will be great improvement made now that the State is to control it.





Boston, July 4, 2085.

My Dear Louise:

For some strange reason until a few days ago I did not think that, because all laws are abolished, those regulating marriage and divorce must also have passed away. I had noticed that men and women lived together as man and wife and reared their children in families; that home life was much the same to all outward appearance as in my good old Boston; and there was every evidence of affection and devotion on the part of husband, wife, and children. I could not believe that this could be without law, either of the State or Church. I, of course, at once went to my never-failing source of information, Mr. De Demain.

“I had intended,” said he, “to explain this matter to you some time ago, but I thought it would be better for you to live among us for a while and see for yourself that our social life is pure and happy. You have now been with us for several months, and have, I believe, had even opportunity to see what of evil there may be in our social system. You have been into many homes of the people, and have seen little but harmony and happiness. Am I not right?”

I assured him that he was, but I desired to know now man and woman can live happily as man and wife without the sanction and aid of the law.

“Affection, I believe,” said Mr. De Demain, “was the chief reason for marriage in your time, as it is today. People did not marry because there were marriage laws, and people did not love because there were marriage laws. Love was the binding force, and not law. Law could not cause love, and law could not make an unhappy marriage a happy one. Love caused a desire in men and women to live together as man and wife, to beget and rear children and have a happy home life. Marriage laws never helped to make the lives of husbands, wives, and children more happy. We realize this, and so have no such laws.”

“I suppose, then, that I may take it for granted that your social system allows a. man to have as many wives as he likes, and a woman to have as many husbands, either at different times or at one time,—in fact, that the relations between man and woman are on a free love basis.” I think my voice, as I said this, must have given evidence of my disgust.

“As every individual is a law unto himself, so long as he does not interfere with the natural rights of other individuals, you can easily see that men and women have the privilege to follow their individual inclinations in this matter. I must once more beg of you not to consider me personal if I allude to your time and its customs in a somewhat uncomplimentary manner. Your marriage laws came down to you from the time when mankind was in a condition of barbarism. Women were looked upon as property,—valuable property, in fact. It was observed that there were not, at any one time, many more than enough to go round; so each man was granted, upon his request, the privilege to own one woman who was not at the time owned by some other man. We fancy that we have advanced far enough to see that men and women are equally human, and that they have equal rights in nature’s bounties or such portion as they can gather through labor. We recognize absolute freedom of love and all that it means. You need not be shocked in the least. I can assure you that society is much purer today, even from your standpoint, than it was two hundred years ago. If a man loves a woman who loves him, they live together happily so long as that love continues, and you know enough of human nature to know that, where there is love of this kind, the man and woman will be satisfied with, each other and be true to each other. Where there is no love, there will be no happiness. It was so, was it not, in your time? Men and women mutually agree to live with each other as man and wife so long as they find happiness in such partnership. If love is outlived, if a man and woman living together as man and wife find that they can live together happily no longer, they part. There is no appeal to law. If there be children, some mutual agreement is entered into in regard to them. If no agreement can be reached, some third party is appealed to. But such separations are rare, much rarer than they were two hundred years ago, and when they do occur, there is no disgusting exposure of petty family quarrels, such as there were in your divorce courts. Little unpleasant incidents were dragged up out of the past and magnified into grievous offences. It was worth—if I am correctly informed—the reputation of any man or any woman to appear, sometimes even as a witness, before a divorce court.”

“Do I understand that there is but one custom in regard to marriage? Is it true that one man and one woman always are satisfied to love and be loved by but one at a time? Is there no plurality of husbands or of wives?”

“As I said, human nature follows its own inclinations, and there is no cast-iron custom that places any restraint upon any individual. There are many customs in regard to marriage in vogue, and none are frowned upon, provided the rights of others are not interfered with.

“To sum the whole matter up in a few words, we have marriage without marriage laws, and divorces—not many—without divorce laws. We allow human instincts to act without restraint or compulsion, and the result is, I can assure you, much more satisfactory to humanity than was the system under which you lived.”

I take his word for it that this is so, for I have every reason to believe that he is a correctly-informed and honest man. It nevertheless seems strange to me that men and women can live pure and happy lives without laws to govern marriage and divorce.





Boston, August 15, 2085.

My Dear Louise:

For the past two weeks Mr. De Demain and I have been comparing notes on the character of the people of two hundred years ago and that of the people of today, and I will give you his summing-up of his side of the case:

“Whether the people of today are more virtuous, more generous, more honest, more sympathetic is a secondary consideration. The main question is: Are they more happy? Without groping about in the semi-darkness that dims the past and trying to discover how man came to be an inhabitant of the earth; without calling upon metaphysics to tell us why he is here and what is his destiny; without even asking our own individual consciousness whether there be another existence after that which seems like death has made our body dead,—we may use our individual experiences in solving, individually, what is known as the problem of life.

“I say to myself: ‘The world is here, and I am here.” My senses and reason combined lead me to believe that certain things have happened, that certain things are happening, and that certain things will happen. The latter is always problematical. I am not sure that certain things will happen. Past experiences, either of myself or others, make it probable that they will happen. Whether there be a reason or be no reason why I am here I care not; my sole object, so far as I consciously control myself, is happiness. There can be no nobler object in life than happiness. That may or may not be what we are here for, but a man who, when dying, can look back over the years, months, and days of his existence and say he has been happy has not lived for nothing. His transitory stay upon the globe has added something to the sum of all things,—that something his individual happiness. He has answered the question: ‘Is life worth living?’ Even if death be the end of existence, it is better to have lived and been happy even for a few years than not to have lived at all.

“The problem of life, then, is how to be happy, or, how to be most happy and least miserable. In order to be happy, we cannot close our eyes and stalk forth through time. The more closely man observes the world, the less he believes that it was created especially for his benefit. I think that most human individuals believe today that the world was no more made for man than man for silk hats. Man must conform himself to the world as the hat must conform to man’s head. Man must watch nature within himself and outside of himself. He must follow nature where he cannot overcome nature to advantage. He must study the future in order to be happy. Happiness depends more upon tomorrow than upon today. To know what is to be tomorrow is to be happy. Look carefully at the circumstances that surround you; then strive to find what will be their result. If you have good reason to believe that the result will not bring you happiness, try to change the circumstances. If you cannot change them, conform yourself to them. Either put the things with which you must come in contact in harmony with yourself, or put yourself in harmony with them. In order to be happy you must do one or the other. Compromise. Don’t lay out a path through the future and rush along it, never mind what obstacles intervene. You are liable to run your head against rocks and trees, to get stuck in the mud or fall over a ledge.

“Lay out your path as you go along. Go slow, unless your way is clear. When you come to a rock or a ditch, stop and calculate whether it be better to climb over or go around. Before you do anything, do not ask yourself: Is this right? Is this honest? Is this virtuous? Right, honesty, virtue mean nothing except as they are interpreted by the individual. What leads to happiness is right, is honest, is virtuous; what leads to misery is wrong, is dishonest, is not virtuous.

“The road to happiness is not straight, and its outlines are often dim. I was once asked by a student in college if I could think of any additional sense that it would be of advantage for man to possess and that might reasonably exist. I answered that a sense which could look into the future would be reasonable and of greater service to man than either hearing or smell. If man could see into tomorrow, there would be little misery in the world. The future is a problem the solution of which can only be approximated by the shrewdest minds, the closest observers, and deepest thinkers. Such men should be most happy, and such men are usually most happy.

“We consider Anarchy the best social condition under which men can live and procure the greatest amount of happiness with the least amount of misery. This is why we think Anarchy better than the State. You must, I think, acknowledge that I have convinced you that the people are at least much more happy today than they were two centuries ago. This is all we claim for Anarchy,—that it is the greatest promoter of happiness that has yet been conceived.”

I am not quite willing yet to acknowledge that I believe the people of today more happy than they were in the good old times that I remember. The common people are more happy today, but the upper classes,—I keep constantly forgetting that there are no upper classes,—the people of superior intellect who should form an upper class,—are no happier, or I do not see how they can be more happy, than they were when I was one of them.





Boston, September 5, 2085.

My Dear Louise:

Mr. De Demain and I were looking through his old scrap-book of newspaper clippings, to which I have before referred, a few days ago, when I noticed a short article from the New York “Herald” of 1885 entitled “Brains.” I was interested and read it. When I had finished, Mr. De Demain said: “You can see, looking back from today, that that little article is wonderfully suggestive.” Then he proceeded to comment on it at length. As you may not nave noticed the article when it was printed in the “Herald,” I copy it here:

When asked to give his opinion as to the cause of business depression in America, a gentleman replied, with considerable emphasis, “too much brains, sir.” It is barely possible that there may be something in this rather original solution of a difficult problem. When one man in a crowd has brains, he becomes the leader of the others. They work with their hands, and so save themselves the responsibility of thinking. He gets pretty nearly all there is, and they have what is left. He is the aristocrat, and they are the common people. When, however, the whole crowd have brains, and know how to use them, they are unwilling to serve, because they all wish to be masters. Whatever good is to be had, each will contrive to get his share.

It is the peculiarity of every free-born American citizen that he believes in his right to the possession of a corner lot and an ample fortune. He disdains service and spends his time in contriving. With our public schools behind us, with every possibility round about us, we are a nation of brigadier generals. No people on the earth are so unwilling to do merely manual work, and none are so capable of doing brain work. Not a boy on the continent but expects to be a millionaire; not one who is not looking forward and reaching forward.

This brings the unhappiness of numerous disappointments. Certainly, but it averages up the whole people’s ability to do and be in a very wonderful way. It makes us restless, without doubt; it creates competitions of the fiercest kind; it involves commercial risks which too frequently end in disaster; but it makes a people who have a tremendous impetus for great achievements. Brains are a good thing to have, if we have enough to get out of a difficulty after we have fallen into it. The American people have never yet been “stumped,” and it will go hard but they will find a way through this commercial crisis to booming times. Brains will do it.

Said Mr. De Demain: “The gentleman referred to as having given the reason for the business depression of that time as ‘too much brains’ was right. He who had brains, not only in the time of Caesar,—who said that because Cassius thought too much he was dangerous,—but always, was a bad man for the State. If he were rich and consequently powerful, he held the State in his grasp; if he were poor, he saw that the State was the cause, in great measure, of his poverty. Before the people had become possessed of much brains—brains here meaning deep thinking power—there was little business depression. The reasons were these: They did not know their rights; they did not realize that the result of their labor belonged to themselves; they were satisfied to take what their employers gave them, never asking if they were getting their fair share of the world’s bounty. They looked upon the rich and employing classes as the lords of the earth; the rightful owners of the land and all upon it; the masters of themselves and their children; the anointed of God to rule. They worked on and on, taking what fell from the hands of their masters and complaining not, or, if at all, so faintly that the great busy world did not hear it.

“But somehow, in spite of all these disadvantages, their brains grew bigger and bigger, and they began to think more. Then they began to grow dangerous,—dangerous to the State, to the robbers, to the stealers of the fruits of their labor. This is why they were called the dangerous classes. This is why there was business depression, strikes, lower rates of interest, small profits, depreciated stocks, unremunerative bonds, broken banks, and failures of business houses. It was brains. It was thought. It was a dawning of the light of Anarchy. It was the beginning of the appreciation of the fact that the world is not for any select few, but for all. It was the realization of the truth that labor was the producer and should be the consumer.

“Before brains began to show themselves among the workers, there were no spells of business depression. Business was always good—for the employer. Money would always bring good interest. Rents were always high. Bonds and stocks were better money-earners than labor. Mills ran from early morning until late, at night, year in and year out. Employees always busy. Employers were always prosperous. Men worked ten and twelve hours six days in every week in the year and just kept themselves and their wives and children on the bright side of starvation. Then came brains. Not all at once; but, when they got started, they developed rapidly. Then came business depression. Idle mills, broken banks, ruined merchants and manufacturers, showed that the people were thinking, showed that brains were developing.

“The latter part of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth centuries stand out upon the background of history like a mountain. The people passed over it into the beautiful valley of Liberty,—not they, but their children. They only, like Moses, saw the promised land, but to see it was worth dying for.

“It is brains that alone make Anarchy possible; Anarchy alone makes brains worth possessing. Anarchy without brains would not continue for a day; brains without Anarchy would make men—at least such as had ever tasted of true Liberty—miserable.”

Of course, I can’t argue against history. I can simply console myself with the reflection that one, to be entirely happy, must have something besides brains.





Boston, October 3, 2085.

My Dear Louise:

Since writing you last Mr. De Demain and I have had very few warm discussions. I realize that he belongs to an advanced age, and I to an old one, which have many things not in common. We do not stand on the same ground, and in consequence, if we were to argue for years, we should not convince each other. Then he has the living facts of the present on his side in many cases, and I find it hard work to argue against facts, especially with one who has shown himself so able to handle them. I now usually let my arguments, or would-be arguments, take the form of questions, and, like the over-smart and self-confident debater, “merely ask for information,” when I think I see an opportunity to trip my adversary by throwing a block in the way.

A few days ago Mr. De Demain was reading to me from a very interesting book on the history of the twentieth century, making verbal notes of his own, as he proceeded, for my benefit. He was in the midst of the section devoted to the last decade of state government in America, just before the final acceptance of Anarchy by the people, and was commenting on the passage which told of the struggle made by the rich against the coming new order of things.

“Why was it, Mr. De Demain,” I asked, “that there was always such a cry made by the poor against the rich? Was it not jealousy, in the main? The rich man did not consume very much more than the poor man,—not enough more, at any rate, to cause famine or even scarcity.”

“You ask a very old question and one that has been answered time and time again. It is the same question that the wise statisticians asked two hundred years ago, and they massed their figures like an army to prevent invasion of the rich man’s territory. The statisticians were the generals of the rich lords of the earth. Their armies were figures which they brought up in terrible array of long columns to frighten the slow-witted, unmathematical poor. But the guns of this terrible army were Quaker guns, and the army itself was composed of nothing but ingeniously contrived scarecrows. The people did not for a long time, however, know that they were being fooled. A dummy will serve the purpose of a genuine, flesh-and-blood man—to scare crows.

“The figures laboriously made by the statisticians did not show why the rich men kept the poor men poor. They were not arranged for that purpose. There are truths that figures will not show; there are truths that statisticians, never mind how careful their investigations or how correct their comparisons, may not know. It was not the direct robbery of the poor by the rich that kept the poor in poverty. It was that the rich monopolized all the means of wealth,—including brain development, born of leisure and opportunity.

“This statistics ignored. This the people, in their blind ignorance, did not see.

“It was, as I said, not so much that the rich took big tolls from the earnings of the poor, but they also fenced in the opportunities by means of which the poor could obtain wealth easily. A child born to poor parents found, as soon as he began to realize his necessities, that almost everything had been monopolized by those who had been so supremely fortunate as to be born before him. He found signs stuck up every way he turned, saying, ‘This is mine; keep off!’ All of Nature’s raw material, except the air which wandered through the public streets and the few rays of sunlight that struggled in between the tops of high buildings and the lofty branches of grand old elms that shaded the lawns of the wealthy, was locked up. The only key was money, and he soon found that to be locked up, as well. There was a big placard posted across the faces of the earth, and on it was written:


“In order to be able to exist at all, the poor unfortunate found it necessary to beg for an opportunity to toil. He went to one of the landlords of the world, and asked that he might be allowed to take some of this monopolized raw material and turn it into what the people desired. The landlord figured on the profit. If it looked big enough, he accepted the service of the poor beggar; if it did not, he pointed to the placard, and said, ‘Go!’

“It was not what the rich used that made them obnoxious to the poor; it was what they monopolized and did not use. They owned the land and all upon it and within it. The poor, in order to live, must, whether they would or no, become employees, and submit to the terms of their employers or starve.

“This in your time, I believe, was looked upon as quite the proper thing. No one but Anarchists dreamed that men did not possess the right—except by might—to gather within their grasp Nature’s resources, and demand heavy rent for their use, retaining the privilege to oust a tenant at any time and for any cause or without cause.

“I have before explained to you how the rich, with the aid of the government, monopolized money, the only means by which the poor might get possession of the raw material, so abundantly furnished by Nature, with which to add to the wealth of the world.”

Mr. De Demain continued at considerable length on this subject, but my letter is already long, so I must conclude his remarks for your benefit some other time.





Boston, October 24, 2085.

My Dear Louise:

In course of conversation with Mr. De Demain recently, I remarked that I presumed contentment to be the leading characteristic of the people of the time. I was entirely innocent in my allusion, and had no idea of the storm that it would raise.

“Contentment? the thing that poets and fools sighed for; the thing that the rich and powerful wanted for the poor and weak! It was ambition—the opposite to contentment—that first brought organized life from inorganic protoplasm. It is ambition that has caused all development, both physical and mental, since.

“Contentment means stagnation. Contentment kept the savage a savage. Contentment made slaves of men. Contentment kept men in ignorance and poverty. Contentment of the many made rulers of the few.

“Contentment never did one thing for the advancement of humanity. It never moved a stone, it never cut a tree, it never built a fire, it never provided shelter, it never painted a picture, it never wrote a line, it never sang a song, it never taught a lesson.

“Contentment never made a discovery, it never conceived an idea, it never made an exertion.

“Contentment was the fruit of the lotus that benumbed the senses of the people, tied hands and feet, stopped thought, and turned them over as slaves to the ambitious. The moment ambition broke through the crust of contentment, there was advancement. While the laborer was contented with his lot, employers could easily become millionnaires. Business was good, interest was high, rents were high. The blessings of contentment were preached from the pulpit, taught in the schools and by the newspapers, scribbled about by poets, and talked of on the street-corners by fools and pharisees. Ambition was pictured as a terrible curse, but the picturers did not pose as examples. It was contentment that gave powers to giant monopolies; it was discontent—undefined ambition—that curbed those powers. Contentment was satisfied with the State; ambition gave birth to Anarchy, and the mother did not die in childbirth.

“Contentment under Anarchy! Were there contentment, there would be no such thing as Anarchy. Anarchy is not stagnant; Anarchy is progressive, constantly, rapidly changing and advancing. Anarchy is not a rule, it is not a law, it is not a standard. I can tell you what it is and what it has been, but I cannot tell you what it will be, except that it can never be contentment.

“Ambition is a tool. Put in the hands of a few men, it makes all others slaves to them; put in the hands of all men, it gives plenty and happiness to all, and makes humanity constantly greater and grander.

“Ambition is not a desire to conquer men, to rule states, to control monopolies, to become a millionnaire,—it is a desire to improve, to advance, to have more, to enjoy more and suffer less. Could there be any nobler motive? Could there be any better state of society than that under which such a desire is given the greatest scope?

“Contentment ate its crust and drank its water while Gould and Vanderbilt piled up millions and ate and drank the best the world afforded.

“There is no place for contentment under Anarchy. It is a mould that the sunlight of Liberty has killed. There are no germs of the unhealthy fungus left.

“There is but one thing with which we are content, and that is Anarchy. If that were not progressive in proportion to our ambitions, we should not be content with that.”

If this is true that Mr. De Demain says,—that there is no contentment under Anarchy,—what a peculiar state of existence it must be in which the people of today are placed! And still he says they are happy, and I confess myself that they appear so. Can it be that we in 1885 did not know the true meaning of happiness? Or is happiness, like most other things, but a progressive state, whose fullest development may never be reached, yet whose influence may constantly be brighter?

I will leave it for you to decide.





Boston, November 14, 2085.

My Dear Louise:

Mr. De Demain’s old scrap-book furnished him with another text for a little lecture on a recent evening. The extract which he quoted was from an address delivered by some man, whose name time had obliterated, before a convention of bankers held in Chicago in 1885. It said:

The capital of the day-laborer consists of his health, strength, experience, intelligence, and honesty; his stock in trade is so much of these as can be worked out of him in ten hours; his business consists in selling every day one day’s worth of himself, and in replenishing by food, shelter, and warmth so much of his vital forces as have been either worked off or wasted. If they have been worked off for wages, these supply the means of replenishment; if they have run to waste, from want of profitable employment, they must be replenished at the expense of his savings, or remain either partially or wholly impaired.

“Do you wonder,” said Mr. De Demain, “that I have frequently alluded to the age from which you come as an age of barbarism? Could anything better illustrate the feeling of the rich toward the poor in the Christian year 1885 than the words of this man? Could anything show better the true position of the laborers? The very same men who patted the workers on their backs and told them they were the foundation of civilization, the upholders of liberty, the backbone of the republic, whose power through the ballot was unlimited, told them also to their very faces that their whole stock in trade was so much of their health, strength, experience, intelligence, and honesty as could be worked out of them in ten hours!”

I must confess that this quotation staggered me. There was no doubt, however, but it was genuine, for extracts pasted above and below it on the same page contained in themselves evidence of having been printed in 1885.

“I have only this comment to make,” said I: “the laboring men and women of two centuries ago were fools not to have denounced such sentiments by very decisive action. They should have taken the power of the ballot to have rid themselves of men who would act as this man talked. That they did not do it was their misery. If the rich could make the people believe that it was well for them to have their health, intelligence, and honesty squeezed out of them at so much per day, I do not see that the rich were so much to be blamed, after all.”

“Allowing that the people were fools, is it any wonder, when they were expected to work the intelligence out of themselves at so much per ten hours? Allowing that they were vicious, is it to be wondered at when, to sustain life, they were expected to work out their honesty at so much per day?

“Here we have the acknowledgement of the rich that they considered the poor, the workers, as so many sponges which could be dipped into the springs of nature’s wealth and then squeezed to the last drop into the dish of him who squeezed.

“You think the rich were not to blame if the workers, after they had been drained of their health, strength, experience, honesty, and intelligence by the rich, did not raise objections strong enough to overthrow the system? I am too well acquainted with you to believe that your heart will allow you to entertain such ideas. What could the laborers do after their ‘stock in trade’—including strength, intelligence, and virtue—had been worked out of them? Is it any wonder that they submitted to the robbery of profit for so many generations? Is it not a wonder that they were ever able to emancipate themselves from such serfdom as my quotation shows them to have been in? Is it any wonder that they are so happy and prosperous now, when their stock in trade is not worked out of them, so much every day? Is it any wonder that I state so positively that Anarchy will never give place to governments? Is it any wonder that I speak in such strong language against the rich men and the statesmen of your generation and of the generations before it? Is it any wonder that we of today call profit robbery?

“I think not.”

“I presume,” said I, “if a man were to use such expressions in an address today, he would be mobbed?”

“Nothing of the kind. I doubt if he would draw a large audience, but he certainly would be offered no violence. Fear is the main cause of violence always; such a man would be looked upon as a harmless lunatic. We do not in this age mob men who hold views contrary to those of the majority. We do not call them a dangerous class. We feel secure, perfectly, in our social system. We know that Anarchy is right. We fear no innovation. There is no wronged class crying for redress of society’s evils. There are no subdued mutterings of discontent; there are no cries for vengeance; there are no cries for work; there are no cries for bread; there is no selling of health, strength, intelligence, and virtue at so much per ten hours. We are satisfied with Anarchy, yet always striving for better things under it.”

Privately, I wish that you would tell someone to find out who made this address, referred to by Mr. De Demain, and have him informed that it would be better for him and for the social system of your time if he will be more guarded in his remarks in the future.





Boston, November 28, 2085

My Dear Louise:

On recommendation of Mr. De Demain I have been reading a book entitled “The Nineteenth Century in the Light of Today,” written by one of the most popular authors of the present time. I have found the work intensely interesting, and, in order to give you an idea of what it contains, I will make a few extracts.

The author says in his introduction that the people of today are much too apt to criticise the people of two centuries ago for their methods of social life. “While,” says he, “the methods were constructed, or suffered to remain, by the people, yet they should always be considered separately. The methods may be bad without qualification, but there is always something that palliates the offence of the people in using such methods. There is that in humanity, instilled by Nature, which makes it slow in adopting new methods of living. In every century there have been those-—and not a few to a generation—who have cried: ‘Try my remedy; I have the only genuine cure-all. You are sick unto death; my medicine will make you well and strong.’ With scores of these nostrum-venders, each crying a different remedy, is it strange that the people for so long did not try the medicine that their ills needed?

“There were those with free trade, with unlimited coinage of money, with restricted coinage, with absolute freedom of suffrage for both sexes, with State Socialism in infinite variety of phases, and with other ‘isms’ unlimited. Each had honest men for advocates, and each had attractions of which much could be said.

“How were the people to distinguish between these and the true remedy for their social disorders? All these would-be reformers were constantly disputing among themselves and calling each other’s schemes shams.

“When reformers disagree, who shall decide?”

Further on in the book the writer says: “The people of the nineteenth century knew that the methods governing society were unjust, unnatural, and they desired something better, but they were slow to accept any radical change. It is, perhaps, better that this was so. There were plenty of poisons with labels upon them which read ‘panacea.’ Humanity was sick. Had it been of more hasty action, it might have drunk of the poison and been made mad or have died. It found the cure at last; for that it is to be praised.”

Under the title of “Free Trade” he says: “If ‘free trade’ had meant absolute freedom of trade, and not simply an absence of tariff on imported goods, we might well call the people fools for not adopting its principles. Tariff restrictions on trade were among the least. There was a feeling that trade was not so free as it should be. The people knew that something was wrong, but they were slow in accepting the assertion of a large class of reformers who said: ‘Remove the duties from imported goods, and poverty, long hours of labor, and half a dozen other social ills will vanish.’ The people had sense enough to see that there were many other and far greater restrictions on trade than a tariff on imported goods. They realized, to be sure, that many people were amassing vast fortunes because of the protection incident to a high tariff, but they were not in any great measure inclined, for the sake of cutting off the source of wealth of a few, to make themselves poorer.

“There were those who said the dissatisfied poor laborer was so dissatisfied simply because someone had more than he himself, and that the object of agitation was to make the rich poor. Not so. The poor laborer was dissatisfied because he did not have as much as others, and the object of his agitation was to make the poor rich. A vast difference in sentiment.

“What was a high tariff as a trade restriction compared to the protection, the monopoly, given inventors and the national banks? Where a high tariff robbed the laborer of a cent, the national banks robbed him of a dollar, and the inventor robbed him of seventy-five cents.

“There was nothing that had the power to interfere with trade that the national banks had. National banks were the offspring of the government. Directly to the government can be traced all manner of trade restrictions. The government was the prime source of poverty and of wealth. The people were not so blind that they could not see this, but what were they to do? We can say today: ‘Why, they should have accepted Anarchy and abolished the State;’ but, if we today realized that Anarchy was causing a hundred social evils, should we be hasty to accept any one of a dozen different remedies that might be offered us, never mind how grand it looked as pictured by its advocates? I think not. Human nature has not changed to that extent.

“We must not judge the people of 1885 too hastily. There were so many alluring traps set for them that they did not dare venture on the right path for fear of pitfalls and enemies waiting in ambush. Then, again, they were bound in service to the government, and, if they fled from their master, they well knew that his bloodhounds would be sent out to capture them.

“Let us put the curse where it belongs, not upon the people, but upon the State.”

I think I have quoted enough to show you the drift of the book, but in order to make you appreciate how interesting it is, I should be obliged to transcribe pages, and that would make my letter too long.





Boston, December 12, 2085.

My Dear Louise:

You may judge from what I have written you, I think, that the people today are not great money-getters,—that their ambition does not lead them to desire immense wealth. I think a few quotations from Mr. De Demain may give you a letter conception of the matter than you have yet had.

“Ambition is energy. It is something more than desire; it has in it the element of action. It is, besides, imitative. Those who, in any age, achieve a success which is called either great or glorious set the standard of ambition which is followed by the rank and file of humanity. In the time of Alexander every boy desired to become a conqueror; so in the days of Caesar and Napoleon. In your own time, two hundred years ago, every boy desired to be a millionaire. Poor young men were encouraged by being told that Jay Gould was once a poor young man. Almost every man, until his hair was white and his steps faltering, cherished the hope that some morning he would awake and find himself possessed of a fortune. All looked upon money secured as the proof of success. Fame was desired simply as a means of gold-getting. Religion was affected because it gave an air of respectability which paved the way to wealth. Learning was sought for because through it money might be made. Wealth was the goal, and, no matter how miasmic the meadows, how high the hills, how rugged the roads, that lay between, the journey must be that way. There were pleasant paths in other directions, but there were no pots of gold at the end of the beautiful rainbows which lay in the direction of their termini.

“Ah, what terrible tracts those were over which men toiled for the sake of gasping with their last breath: ‘I am rich!’ Light burdens only could be carried across that dreary desert. Men, to lighten their load, threw away love, friendship, honor, health. Where one reached the journey’s end, a thousand sank by the wayside. Perhaps a passer-by would say ‘poor fellow,’ as he saw an old-time friend sink exhausted, dying, but there was no time for more. To stop, with that mad, endless procession pushing on from behind, meant death.

“That path, marked with the whitened skulls of millions, is no longer travelled. There is no one thing today, except happiness, after which all are striving. There are little merry parties on all the pleasant paths. Those whose burdens are heavy loiter behind; those who are fleet are at the front. A weak or tired one may stop, and not fear being trampled to death by a madly-rushing herd.

“Ambition today is individual. The people’s desires are for things that money will buy, and not for the money. The desire for money simply is unnatural. Whenever it shows itself today, we look upon it as a sure sign of lunacy. The desire for things which add to the comfort and convenience, and consequently the happiness, of the individual is natural. To satisfy such a desire is a healthy ambition, and the result is all sorts of labor-saving contrivances and all sorts of pleasant pastimes.

“It is not natural for man to be idle. Because humanity today is not struggling for money, it is not to be supposed that there is any less energy leavening human action. I must repeat what I have already told you,—and not only told you, but shown you by many examples,—that ambition is as strong as ever, but it is thrown, by means of the different and far superior conditions under which men and women live, into other paths.

“The chief aim of the people is to enjoy, and the inventive genius which is natural to humanity—I say natural, because in your time it was supposed to be an outgrowth of patent laws—works itself out in contrivances which add to this enjoyment. The question is not, ‘Will this make me richer?’ but, ‘Will this make me more happy?’ Happiness is surely a more worthy ambition than wealth, even if the struggle of humanity be not so feverish.”

From what I have myself seen, I think that Mr. De Demain is right. I believe that the people of today do strive more for happiness than for wealth. They all appear prosperous, but there are none who are so very much richer than others. The contrivances for amusement which Mr. De Demain mentions are of countless number. I should much like to describe for you some of the most ingenious of them, but I can tell you better than I can write, and I may possibly see you soon.





[In this issue Miss Josephine D’Aujourd’hui heralds her return from the Boston of 2085. The series of letters in which she tells of her sojourn there will soon appear in pamphlet form, and from them many a scoffer will learn that the advent of Anarchy is not as remote as the millennium. But, though this young lady will no longer address her “dear Louise” and the readers of Liberty from the future, she will be heard from regularly in the present, perhaps under a new name; and what she has to say will doubtless show the fruits of her journey, not to “Kingdom Come,” but to Anarchy Come.]

Boston, December 28, 2085.

My Dear Louise:

This is my last letter to you from the twenty-first century. In a few days I shall journey backward through the many years that intervene between you and me, and—-Mr. De Demain will come with me. You are to see him and talk with him. He will tell you in his own language and his own way of this wonderful age and of what Anarchy is. We—you and I and our friends—must try to convince him that Boston of 1885 is not so bad as he thinks it, even if we cannot prove to him that it is equal to Boston of 2085.

Mr. De Demain tells me that in 1885 a Dr. Brooks lectured on Socialism at Harvard, and he desired, while he is with me in Boston, to meet him in joint debate. I should much like to hear them. Mr. De Demain is, of course, an enthusiast in regard to Harvard College, being one of its professors. He says that Harvard showed herself to be at the head of educational institutions by giving lectures on the subject of Socialism at a time when its true aims were so little understood and when the men who held Socialistic views were classed as cranks or would-be robbers and murderers.

“I think,” says Mr. De Demain, “I can convert Dr. Brooks to Anarchy in a very short time. At any rate, I can prove to him, with you for a witness, that Anarchy is a good thing for this century. You will certainly admit that, although you would say it is because the people are educated to it.”

I do not deny this statement, and I often think that, when I am with you again, I may be considered an out-and-out Anarchist, so advanced have my views become since I have been here with Mr. De Demain for a tutor. I presume that during the rest of my life I shall constantly be defending Anarchy whenever anybody says anything against it. But I am not completely converted. I doubt if any one ever could be who had from childhood until near middle life been taught the advantages of power and wealth which come because of the State. There is such a pleasure in governing by authority and in possessing greater wealth than most any one else that we dislike to give it up even for such a beautiful conception as individual liberty. There are so many of us—in 1885—who feel that it is simply the power of the State that makes us better and greater and richer than our fellows that the justice and freedom of Anarchy cannot get a strong hold. It might—I think it would—be a good thing for the great mass of humanity, but we are not of that mass. Our word is taken as law, and we would be truer than human nature were we to tell the people that we were robbers and liars, that we were no better than they, with no more right to govern or enjoy the fruits of the earth. While we can deceive the people and reap the harvest of their la of pleasure and leisure, why should we not?

No man of wealth and a disposition to live on the labor of others, no man in authority over others, no man who believes in the right of majorities to rule, no man who believes that he has a right to preempt more land than he can use, has any sympathy with Anarchy.

But you have been told all this, in different ways, in many of my previous letters. I must now say farewell until I meet you. I will then try to answer all of the many questions that I know you must have ready for me.



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