Charles T. Fowler, “Prohibition” (1885)




The most important question of the hour is what is the proper function and province of government.

THE Prohibitionist holds that intemperance is the great and crying evil of our time; that it is the direct cause of much of our taxation, and most of our crime, therefore the State should interfere to suppress it.


Now no one disputes the evil of intemperance, suppose we call it the greatest of evils. If government can or ought to suppress the greatest, then it should try its hand at the next in importance. If two pigs are tearing up the sward in your yard is there any reason why, while driving out the one that weighs one hundred pounds, you should leave the other, which counts ninety and nine? That would be a discrimination only against one pound of rooting! If the greatest evil can and ought to be suppressed, then the next greatest evil can and ought to be suppressed. The Living Issue says, “There was consumed last year in the United States 3,212,000,000 cigars. This twin brother of the drink curse will demand the same methods now advocated by the Prohibitionists. The principle will be settled as to alcohol, and then may be easily extended to include all such useless and destructive agents.” The Living Issue is both logical and consistent, and the Christian Statesman already reports a law, in Kansas, to the effect that no dealer shall sell tobacco to a person under sixteen years of age. The ‘old man’ will now have to go and get it himself, which serves him right!

Tobacco is a poison far more dirty and deadly than whiskey. Unquestionably its use is a ‘great evil,’ the useless expenditure for which would support all the schools and churches. Supposing only 12,000,000 people in the United States use tobacco and these spend but five cents per day, the annual expenditure would amount to over $20,000,000. And it is well known that the unnatural thirst and craving, born from the stimulation of tobacco, calls for the use of strong drink. If then, on the ground of the evil, one should be suppressed, the other ought to be.

Tea and Coffee are evils quite as wide spread and insinuating, if not so palpable, as the evil of intoxicating drink. The American indulges in it for the same reason that the French and German use their extract of grapes and of barley. On the ground of evils, I see no reason why one should be suppressed and the other not. Tea and coffee are no more a necessity than tobacco, and it probably costs the people four times as much. Then there are patent medicines which are a great evil, being often times but a mere disguise of the drinking habit itself. These of course should be suppressed.

Evils of Eating.—But if what is drank is so injurious to society how much more so are the evils of eating? How can the dividing line be drawn when the use of intoxicating drinks follow a diseased appetite? The bar naturally succeeds the table’s cuisine. Where a few die of delirium tremens, all dig their graves with their teeth. The race dies, on an average before thirty years of age, and half before they are seventeen, all brought about, directly or indirectly, through the stomach. If governmental interference is justifiable, on the ground that a tiling is an evil, what better argument could the disciples of Trail and Jackson and Graham have for abolishing, at one fell swoop by act of Congress, or an amendment to the Constitution, the use of meat and pastry?

Evils of Dress in some respects outdo the evils of eating and drinking. What more heart rending subject to contemplate than the corset! Consider all the vital functions compressed into the smallest space, the lower portion of the lungs in disuse, and the ribs lapping each other; is thee not here a subject for legislators to ponder upon? And in order that the law may be faithfully executed, should not the District attorney be empowered, upon suspicion or complaint of a member of the Y. M. C. A., to visit any house and diligently search it? Most assuredly he should; if any law should be made against an evil, it should be executed.

Spiritual Evils.—Bui what are bodily ills compared to the evils which prey upon the soul. What a far reaching evil is that of wrong prenatal conditions, passing its influence along through heredity. Recently, in Boston, the city of purity and culture, 175 babes were exhumed from the sewers. But when the ‘paternal’ nature of our government is fully understood, nothing more of that character need to be feared, under the argus-eyed surveillance of the legislature.

Evil not only hovers about us in our infancy, but it follows us to the grave. According to Dr. LeMoyne, the cost of funerals exceeds that of the public schools, more than our annual product of gold and silver. And after the people are buried, the poison that exudes from their bodies, to contaminate the air and impregnate the waters, fills the world with disease and death again. On the ground that it is within the province of government to suppress evils, should not the disciples of cremation get out an act preventing the church’s burial of the dead?

Then there is the evil of poverty, with its degradation. Now Socialists claim that the State should be one great work-house. Then there is the evil of infidelity and our religious friends would have the catechism taught by the State, and their churches untaxed, because they are doing so much good. They would likewise have Ingersoll suppressed because he is doing so much harm. But religion sometimes goes astray, becomes fanatical and superstitious. Shall revivals, then, be suppressed? They must, of course, if when the Infidels get into power, they can show them to be an evil, that they produce nervous derangement and cause a Freeman to kill his own child in imitation of Abraham.

Now the genuine Calvinist holds that there is no particular evil, but that all is evil until it has been redeemed by sovereign grace. Suppose now we let out to the elect all the remaining evil in the world, to abolish on shares. The first article in their Constitution would be, “Resolved that God has given the government of the world over to His saints.” And the second would read, “Resolved that we are the saints.” The whole world would be given over to the suppression business; everybody’s evil suppressing everybody’s evil. The moment one questioned another’s authority for so doing, he would be instantly suppressed. All that would remain in the world would be an old intolerant, dried-up Jehovah as the embodiment of the elect. On each side would be the Y. M. C. A. and the W. C. T. U.; and St. John, Joseph Cook, and Anthony Comstock would be his special agents!

The last and greatest evil, then, requiring suppression would be the spirit of intolerance, or the suppression business itself. For, to this complexion have we come at last, that if one evil can be suppressed for the “public good,” then is there no stopping place. If we are justified in suppressing one evil, then we are another and so on until all are closed out. What kind of a state of society this would lead to may be conjectured. The massacre of Saint Bartholomew was only one application of the paternal principle; when every sect and party get to putting heads on to each other, then we may see a perfect hell on earth.

Then we may conclude that governmental interference in the case of any evil is unjustifiable. However injurious it may be, and however conducive it would be to the public welfare to have it removed, it is plainly not the province of government to attempt to do that work. People may be unwise, immoral, impure, corrupt, and it is the business of government to look on as an idle spectator. All cases of imbecility, immorality, impurity, are beyond its jurisdiction, and with which it has no more to do than it has with bad religions.


But it may be said that, “Evil is the beginning of crime. To claim that a man may be arrested after getting drunk and not prevented from getting drunk is folly. It would be like damming up a stream without stopping the spring, or locking the stable door after the horse had been stolen. As prohibitionists we do not claim to suppress all evil, only its dangerous character, which, at any moment, may break out into a crime.”

But murder often results from anger, slander from malice, theft from avarice; shall the State therefore suppress anger, malice and avarice? Can we tell just where anger leaves off and murder commences? Are we sure that all cases of drinking will result in a crime, or that any particular case will? If not, then the arrest of evil, on the ground that it will terminate in crime is purely constructional, dependent upon public opinion. If the critical condition of all evils is thus to be left to Madame Grundy, who is safe?

“But,” says the prohibitionist, “neither can any prove that a critical evil will not result in a crime; the probabilities arc that it will, who is then to indemnify society against the risk?” But this is an entirely different thing from prohibition. Because the critical condition of mules is such that they sometimes kick, is an amendment to the Constitution to be advocated abolishing mules? Houses sometimes burn, should they, therefore, those that do and those that do not, all be prohibited? No: prohibition is not the thing, but insurance is what is wanted. If the mule were a free, moral agent, he should be put under bonds to keep the peace or be sent to a reform school, and the house should be insured against damage in case there ever is a fire. In the case of insurance, a man is put under bail against the liability of his running away. Under prohibition he is hung without giving him a chance! On the ground that an evil is critical, prohibition would either suppress before there was any certainty that it ever will be a crime, or else through a mistaken view, permit it to escape altogether from paying any damages, in case it should become a crime. Surely such a kind of prohibition is plainly untenable.


It may here be asked if the principle of insurance is not equivalent to a license? No, for a license is levied indiscriminately upon the good and bad alike. Insurance is only placed on risks incurred. A license is the same to all. Insurance is high or low according to the risk. License is a tax. Insurance is only a security. License finally comes out of the drinker. Insurance comes out of the profits of the saloon keeper. In the case of license, it may fall far short of the damage done, or be far in excess of it. In the case of insurance the liquor dealer is held responsible for the exact amount of damage, when it occurs. If it does not occur, he is unrestricted in the sale of liquor.


“Then every one is to do as he pleases. Individual liberty is to be so extolled as to preclude all authority, order and discipline. Every thing is to go on in a laissez-faire way until it plunges over the Niagara of crime. The youth is to be permitted to taste, the taster to become a moderate drinker, the moderate drinker to become a drunkard, the drunkard to become a common drunkard, until lie at last blows out his wife’s brains, makes paupers of his children, and dies of delirium. Great is the liberty of license!” cries the prohibitionist.

In reply, let us say that we have now reached that portion of our subject, where we can assure the prohibitionists that they are the instigators of license, and we the sticklers for order. We propose to show to them that we are really more friendly to them than they are to themselves. For, in exposing their errors, we are prepared to rescue for them the real truth underlying their cause. If this is rejected, there is not the least ground for them to stand upon.

How is it possible for the prohibitionists to detect the beginning of crime when they do not know where an evil leaves off? How can they ever expect to suppress the one, when they fail to allow proper latitude for the other? Without recognizing the proper liberty for the individual how can they prescribe the proper order for society? In their utter confusion as to the line of demarkation between evils and crimes, must they not get things mixed? And in suppressing the things which ought not to be suppressed must they not inevitably fail to suppress the very things which ought to be prohibited? Besides, in suppressing things which have an equal right to be free will they not be provoked to regain their equal rights through subterfuge and artifice? And in thus breaking loose from such unnatural and arbitrary bonds, will they not, to find an equilibrium, go to the other extreme? Then it is the prohibitionists, who are the abettors of license and crime. In their blind frenzy to pervert a republican form of government to ecclesiastical ends, it never occurs to them to utilize the common law against common offenses? Why have they never, under the law against fraud and misrepresentation, indicted any saloon keeper for adulteration? Instead of preying upon the social recreations of the beer garden and the wine table, why have they made no arrests for disturbing the peace? Instead of complaining that the liquor traffic confers no good, but imposes such burdens upon the tax payers, why do they not hold the individuals directly responsible for the damages they incur? If a drunkard cannot pay his fines, why is he not sent to an asylum to work it out?* And if In; repeatedly disturbs the peace and taxes the community, why not keep him in an asylum until .society is assured of no encroachment? But how could the prohibitionists be expected to properly administer a government of which they have no conception? However, as advocates of “law and order,” we must hold them responsible for the overt offenses under the common law. In omitting their opportunity here, they fritter away their advocacy; and we certainly should have to suspect them of insincerity, were it not apparent that they are as blind as they are sincere.

We would have our friends remember that the doctrine of government herein advocated is no loose affair . Liberty, in its reciprocal action, is very severe and jealous in the discipline it inculcates. Its mill grinds so exceeding small that no trespasser can escape. There are as many justifications for the arrest of crimes as there are ways to commit them. The defense of liberty needs no special statute, it is the result of ages of human experience, and there is great unanimity for its enforcement. It requires no decoy detectives or eaves-droppers. Societary equality is the collective side to individual liberty. The reaction of the one is equal to the action of the other. The equilibrium and poise of nature are reproduced in the harmony of society. It is impossible to conceive how equal liberty can lead to license; to suppose so would be a contradiction of terms. As Proudhon said, it is indeed “the mother of order.” And the dictatorial imposition of “law and order,” regardless of liberty, is the mother of disorder. Where there is perfect liberty there will soon be perfect temperance; but where liberty and equality are denied, ignorance and tyranny and license ensue.

[Note] Neal Dow says “We do not wish to interfere with one’s private liberty to drink.” How then will he stop intemperance? He claims to prohibit only the right to sell. How then is one to have the right to drink, if there is no place where one can get anything to drink? It is like the boy’s plight when his mother told him he might go in swimming, but he must not go near the water. But the late Constitutional amendment, now advocated, puts a quietus on all this liberty business. It says fermented liquor shall not be sold, manufactured, or used.

* If the saloon keeper gets the wages of the drinker, who is then arrested, and has no money with which to pay his fine, beside throwing his family on to the tax payers for support, how can they become indemnified? Can the saloon keeper be held as particeps criminis? No the drinker must be held solely responsible for the effect of his drinking; the saloon keeper simply does the selling, the same as the seller of firearms, or teas: be cannot be made responsible for what the users of these articles do with them. The drinker should be made to remunerate the tax payers.


But prohibitionists claim that the interests of society are greater than those of the individual. Now in what respect are the claims of society greater or different than those of the individuals who compose it? To be sure society is the aggregate while the individual is only a part; measured by quantity one is greater than the other; and in serving the whole the individual is greatly glorified. But in doing so the standard of society’s welfare is first reflected in one’s own self interest. The source of its authority comes back to the individual. Even in times of public danger, the sovereignty of the individual supersedes that of society. The individual is then sovereign over what he shall consider a public danger, and whether or not his own danger is included. That would be a pretty ‘public danger’ where it should be the fate of the citizen to get an unmerciful Hogging, in order to appreciate the danger of the situation! If then, in times of war the individual is supreme, lie is certainly .so in times of peace. Society can claim no rights that do not primarily belong to the individual.

If the rights of all individuals were any greater than those of any individual, they would increase as society grew. A community of ten would have twice as many rights as one of five, one of one hundred would have ten times as many rights as one composed of ten. And where there were a million souls there rights would be so vastly increased that the individual would have hardly any! No; a society of ten, a hundred, or a thousand, has no more rights than anyone in that society. Ten is but a repetition of one; one is but the unit of measure for all the rest; the rights of the whole are contained, in miniature, in the rights of one. And this one is a complete sovereign from all aggression, so long as he does not transgress another’s bound himself. If this foundation be ignored, society itself has no rights at all. This talk, then, about the superior claims of society is a trick of words, a delusion, a usurpation. Individuals existed before society; out of them was it made; away from it can they secede. In short, the governmental status of the individual decides the status of society. Society exists for the individual, not the individual for society. Society is but an individual written large. The sovereignty of the individual then, is of supreme importance as a factor in the welfare of society. In one of the brightest gems of legal jurisprudence, the law has always recognized tills fact. Does it say that anything may be done to the individual, provided it is conducive to the welfare of society? No, it says “A wrong done by the government to the humblest individual is a wrong done to the whole people.” Why? Because liberty is always violated in the persons of the despised, never against the rich or the respectable. And if the rights of these are protected, even though they are “saloon keepers!” the rights of all are secure.


Another thing the prohibitionists are solicitous for, and this is the “public good,” the greatest good to the greatest number. And for this end private interest, or private good, must get out of the way. Now is there any such thing, in government, as the public good divorced from one’s own private good? What is the greatest governmental good if it is not to make every one mind his own business? This having been accomplished, an equal opportunity is extended to all to help themselves. All being offered an equal opportunity for self help, they will be able to help themselves, and in case of necessity, be able to help others. Equal liberty necessitates equality, equality begets fraternity, and fraternity solidarity. For the government then to guarantee the perfect liberty of each individual, is to guarantee the “greatest good” to society. We have heard prohibitionists quote the maxim that “The public good was the supreme law,” but we have never heard of it elsewhere. We have heard that the public safety was the supreme law, “Salus populi suprema lex.” But this is a very different thing from the public good as the supreme law. Neither, as has been shown, is the public safety at all incompatible with one’s private safety.


The great mistake made by the prohibitionist, is in confounding what is morally wrong with what is legally wrong. He says “We rejoice in the utmost personal liberty so long as the people do right.” And the Czar of Russia rejoices in the same way. No securer lease of power could any tyrant have. With the individual subordinate to society, with each one’s private interest surrendered to the public good, what end would there be to tyranny? This very article, were prohibitionists in power, could be suppressed, on the ground that it was injurious to society. It may be morally wrong for a person to eat many mince pies, on going to bed. Yet it is not the State’s business to regulate dyspepsia or nightmare. It is a moral wrong for one to get drunk, but it is beyond the province of government to say what a person shall drink. There are many ways in which people may voluntarily injure themselves, yet it is not the business of government to direct all our thoughts and habits. Evils and vice do far more harm to society than crimes; and their indirect influence is greater than the direct, yet for all this, government is unjustified in interfering. The world is full of misery and woe; the strong have to bear the burdens of the weak; the wise must suffer from the ignorant; the virtuous are pained at vice; and would it not be a blessed thing to sweep them all out at one fell swoop by act of Congress! But no, government cannot properly move an inch, without becoming criminal. But let the King so much as tread on a peasant’s toe, and it immediately becomes the duty of government to leap to the rescue;—it is a crime.*

Now the nature of a crime, as distinguished from a vice, and which specially brings it within the power of government to suppress, is an overt act of force accompanied with a bad intent. After an aggressive act of force has been begun it is justifiable to use a counter force, to withstand it. When a crime is thus committed, the sovereignty of the individual is surrendered, in the very act, in favor of equal sovereignty. The rationale for the arrest of force is because it is misplaced, unreciprocal, out of balance. If the intent be good it does not alter the false relationship, which having been rectified, the collective force of society is at an end. This is illustrated with mathematical exactness when a drunkard enters one’s house. The law says if an order to leave will do, the use of force is not justified. If he offers slight resistance, then only just enough force to overcome it is permissible.

The government itself is amenable to law, it cannot violate that which it is to enforce. Its office and exercise is no longer a chaotic mess of opinion and guess work, but determined with scientific exactness. It does not exist to promote morals, or order, but for the scientific preservation of individual liberty. It follows then, that, like every other natural organization, it must have its own particular individuality. As a bird with wings cannot swim, or a fish with tins cannot fly, or a reaping machine cannot thrash, or a thrasher harvest, so the governmental machine can do but one kind of work. If it attempts everything, it will do nothing well; if it goes out of its sphere, it has lapsed from that of a defensive to an aggressive criminal.† And when in the name of “law and order” the government itself becomes the source of disorder, that arising from individuals is small in comparison. The kind of government the people sustain is a sure gauge of their own peacableness and co-operation To such an extent is this true, that when only a scientific government is desired, that will not long be necessary. For, in standing guard over liberty, who can possibly be more interested than liberty, herself?‡

* “We do not propose to interfere with immorality and vice, but to sternly suppress crime.”—Pall Mall Gazette. But the Chicago ‘‘Law and Order League” had the American publishers of the Loudon exposure arrested, on the ground of immorality!

† Only think of the American eagle, having torn the bloody shirt to tatters, now stooping to poke over the dirty linen of Brigham Young! O shame on shame! The downfall of the American republic will date from the party of “public improvements” and great “moral ideas.”

‡ How much defensive government does the reader suppose would be necessary? This cannot be exactly told until we get out from under the effects of a paternal one. How far people would voluntarily transgress, may be conjectured, by noticing those native tribes who are void of government or civilization. The reports of students are that the rule of reciprocity is universally recognized. Theft is rarely known. No police, safes, or locks are needed. Individual sovereignty fairly bristles with a jealous regard for equal sovereignty. There is no inequality of conditions. If we now turn to civilized countries, with a national government, we find all this reversed. Nay, more: not only do we find that crimes against property are a result of civilization, but that they increase with progress. There is now Ave times us much crime as twenty live years ago. Paternal government, too, since the war, has increased that fast. The reader may now be left to judge which is the most criminal, the government, or the people naturally towards each other. And whether or not, when the weak and vicious offspring of paternalism have been disposed of, there will be any need of even a special police force. Indeed, we are inclined to think that such a standing force exercises a predatory function.


But how natural it is for one to desire to see the affairs of the community administered as a father would govern his family. When the wise are able to see a course of action that would plainly be for the benefit of the ignorant, how well it would be for the community to insist upon their following it. And how natural it is for us to impress our ego before the truth. If we were to start a colony, it may be asked, would it not be desirable to pick the best people, and would not sober people be the best, and after having gained these would it not be of first importance to keep all others out?

There is no doubt but that sober people are preferable, and that a community without saloons would be desirable. But it would be far more desirable to have an immoral community well governed than to have persecution and a whited-sepulchre-kind of morality. A far richer and more complex life would be engendered from a variety of people of different morals, but recognizing equal liberty, than could be derived from any class, sect, school or clique. Without this indispensable requisite, even heaven itself and the society of angels, would be intolerable. However, any set of individuals have the right to unanimously make their own contract not to have any saloons, and to parcel oft’ their own ward or tract, where such conditions shall exist. But they have no right to exclude adjoining dissenters from establishing saloons, as a part of their right of contract.*

Then it may be further objected that, “If the principle of paternalism is not applicable in the State neither is it a tenable one to hold in the family. “Certainly not. Who has not heard the remark when a particularly wayward youth was noticed, “He must be a minister’s son?” The doctrine of equal liberty obtains between parent and child as much as between children themselves. “But is not the parent’s counsel the child’s safeguard?” Only when the child is free to disobey it at its own cost can either its experience or character be formed. If it be said that the doctrine of equal liberty is surrendered in the case of infants, it is because they are infants, and cannot be made responsible for their parents’ acts. Their liberty begins with their capacity to show that they are responsible. “But has not a child a right to be well born? If so, the State should regulate offspring.” Yet, not even here as its last resort, and with Plato for a guide, can paternalism find lodgement. Force can never supplement the defects of the parental instinct.

Again it may be claimed that if a purely defensive government is the only correct one, “It could not educate the children, take care of the sick, or relieve the poor.” Certainly not any more than it can teach religion. “Then it cannot employ inspectors of meat or milk, institute sanitary regulations, erect light-houses, grade streets, build bridges and sewers, improve navigable streams, issue money, or carry the mails.” Most assuredly does the doctrine of equal liberty and a defensive government allow people to voluntarily provide these things for themselves, “as their interest may appear. “

“But can large enterprises be carried on by voluntary association?” Yes, the continent has been spanned with rails, the sea dotted with sails, the Alps have been tunneled, a canal is being dug across the Isthmus, the desert of Sahara is about to be watered, all by private enterprise. And did not the government keep her deadheadism screened from competition, some Yankee would have, long ago, given us penny postage and the postal telegraph. A Chicago daily, by ocean cable, gave us a whole revelation from God to man, the following morning after it appeared in London. Meanwhile the only distinguishing feature characterizing governmental supervision, is its employment of an espionage of the mails.

But it may be said, “The doctrine of paternalism is not inconsistent with but inclusive of the doctrine of equal liberty.” So far is this from the truth that where the execution of the doctrine of paternalism begins that of equal liberty leaves off. Where paternalism is simply advisory or recommendatory, it falls outside of the category of government. Paternalism in government, imposed by force, however good or beneficial in design, is pure tyranny. †

Many pretended justifications of paternalism grow out of previous violations of liberty. Fencing laws, for instance, are unwarranted usurpations of liberty. So are all stock laws. No man should be compelled to fence against another’s stock, neither should another’s stock be prohibited from running on the public domain. All trespassing is a matter of private grievance. But grant a monopoly of land, and all the other laws follow. Poor men’s exemption laws have never helped a poor man, except to curtail his credit, and make him dishonest. But having instituted the devouring shark of usury, the paternal State likes to protect the poor! The unjustifiable usury laws, can only be rationally interpreted, by acknowledging the right of free banking. Compulsory education, excusing itself under “universal suffrage,” becomes needless, after the abrogation of majority rule.

The doctrine of equal liberty, on the other hand, covers all that is so bunglingly attempted by paternalism, without its expense or injustice. For instance, a person has a right, on the ground of equal liberty to make his own kind of street and side- walk, but if it should be such as to impede travel, he could be complained of. But on the ground of paternalism, one could not regulate the architecture of his own house; and if it was a Quaker who was in office, it might have to be painted drab.

Paternalism itself, at last, comes to reciprocity for judgment. The mooted questions of governmental jurisdiction can be settled in no other way. Take, for instance, the dispute over the Bible in the public schools, where the religious conscience of the Catholic is diametrically in conflict with that of the Protestant. What is to unlock this difficulty, and insure peace, except the doctrine of equal liberty? There is compulsory vaccination, what can paternalism do to adjust the relations of the rival claimants? Take the case of free speech for Dynamiters and the parades of the Salvation army, what is to decide the limits of governmental jurisdiction? Take the problem of land tenure, how can paternalism settle it? But, upon the basis of equal liberty, it settles itself.

In our hue and cry for political liberty, as interpreted by majority rule, the counterfeit is often taken for the real. The advocates of paternalism, then, cry “laissez faire,” and “do as you please.” We answer that these are none of the characteristics of equal liberty. License is always a result of an irresponsible paternalism, an undefined reaction from it, or a relic of paternalism, in the name of liberty. Equal liberty is the very soul of order conservatism and progress.

Let us not, then, confound the application of paternalism with the doctrine of equal liberty. The exact principle that separates them is that governmental interference is never justifiable on the ground of the nature of the act itself, but on the ground of its unreciprocal relationship. An act, good by itself, may be very meddlesome, while a bad act, which injures only the party concerned, is not to be suppressed. And if there is ever any doubt as to how far the direct influence of a person’s acts may extend, it is always safe to give the benefit of the doubt to liberty.

* Liberal, Mo., has evinced the same lack of discrimination in prohibiting not only saloons, but churches. Pullman, near Chicago, is a complete illustration of paternalism, which has resulted in a huge plantation speculation. Our boarding schools and colleges are all conducted on the paternal principle, which is the cause of much of their immorality.

† The more paternal the government the more it is hated, until people put out their eyes, pull out their teeth, cut off their fingers, and lie about their tuxes, to escape its service.


It may be claimed that a purely defensive government is inoperative in the presence of majority rule. Then so much the worse for majority rule. If the majority should vote to chop off the heads of the minority would it establish the unlimited right of majorities to do as they please? And would the minority be justified in returning the same favor, when it gets to be the majority? If not, then is there some principle or standard of liberty, above the majority. It is called a constitution. And a constitution, in limiting the powers of the majority, recognizes certain rights for the minority, such as the right to life, liberty, and property. But these are not rights, if they conflict with the equal liberty of others to the same. The equality of rights, then, is the only fundamental right, the greatest of rights, embracing all others. A constitution, guaranteeing this, would be perfect, in the nature of things, for all. But, one failing in this, would be only a constitution for the majority, who need none. It would not only be no constitution, but worse, an instrument of oppression.

The modus operandi of vesting sovereignty in the majority is as absurd as it is unjust. Suppose the sovereign will is composed of eight noses, and a minority consists of seven. Then, if one from the eight goes over to the seven, those which previously were ruined now rule, all by a majority of one! What a temptation, where vested interests are at stake, to buy, bribe and bulldoze that one! Or where personal rights are jeopardized, the result is a bolt and secession. If a third party be in the field, consisting of two, it will hold the balance of power, and a minority rule. If from the seven one should move into a ward where six constituted a majority, then what was a majority in one place, would be a minority in another; the sovereign power resting in a mere comparison of numbers. If the majority of voters are industrial slaves, the strongest organized social influence, a moneyed oligarchy, will rule. Politicians, instead of statesmen, become dice throwers; politics become an organized mob, with no heart that can be appealed to, no head that can be blown off. Great is the sovereign power, not of liberty, but of noses! It matters not whose, or of what kind, only so they can be counted! The more numerous they are, and the lower in the scale of creation, the more republican the form of government!

The real fact is, then, that the rule of the majority, under a republican form of government, must always be wrong. God never speaks through majorities. The majority, over here, as against King George, did represent liberty, but it has never since represented it except as a protest against some previous majority. The majority rule system, then, carries in itself the seed of its own dissolution. King George was once our political Pope, then majority rule became our political Bible, and ‘rule of faith and practice.’ Soon will the private interpretation of sects and parties so divide its authority, that the last majority will be the sovereignty of the individual, as typical of the equal sovereignty of all. Mere numbers, devoid of any principle of liberty, only indicate brute force. And when an important issue or crisis arises, it results in civil strife.

Majority rule and compulsory taxation, then, are the tap root of all violations of equal liberty. They are surviving types of brute force and rapacity. When a car of cattle or hogs is unloaded to feed, the form of government they immediately resolve themselves into is one of majority rule and compulsory taxation. The moment one should be stationed, as an umpire to keep the others in place, we should have a government of reciprocity. And as soon as all should find that it was for their interest to Keep themselves in place, without any outside government, we should have local autonomy, or self government.

Now the evolution of government passes through these changes. First, we have the government of animals, or brute force, which takes an aggressive form. Then we have brute force, directed by cunning and greed, qualities of the fox and the wolf. This direction of government is exemplified in wars of conquest, in commerce, in corporations, and makes most of our legal titles to property. The function of government is that of a thief and highwayman. Then we have brute force aggressively directed by paternalism, or the rule of the good over the bad, the respectable over the unrespectable, the orthodox over the heterodox. The source of authority emanates from a central head, the pretext for its exercise is always “the public good.” This is the government of the theologians, for its author and origin is God governing the world. It is the government also of the reformers and the state Socialists. It is the government of the best, of the aristocracy. Some wise man has said that it does not make any difference what the form of the government, if only the best rules!

Lastly, we have the kind of government herein advocated. It is not the entire elimination of brute force, but it is used defensively, instead of aggressively, repressive not initiative. Its use is to withstand force, to put it at rest, not to set it in motion. Action and reaction being equal, an equilibrium is produced and peace obtained. It differs from paternalism as to the source of its authority. It does not come from God, nor any person, however good. It is not the government of any man over man. It arises from the necessity of reciprocity in harmonious, human relationship.

This kind of government never suppresses an action because it is bad, nor assists one because it is good. It knows nothing about the “public welfare.” It does not aim to make you pure, or chaste, or wise, or religious, or learned, or moral, or good. It only aims to keep the peace, to prevent trespassing, to award damages.

In its use of force, it is to preserve equal liberty. It is the beginning and end, the only thing for which it exists. When this is accomplished, law and order are the result; but in seeking law and order first, liberty is violated and disorder ensues. A defensive government, therefore, is the only kind that is legitimate, efficacious, definable, subject to law, or stops when it gets through.*

* Herbert Spencer’s “Social Statics” was one of his first books, written over 25 years ago. “Man and the State” is one of his last. In the first, he showed the inefficacious working of all State interferences with banking, with education, sanitary affairs, &c. In the last, he denominates class legislation in favor of labor as ‘The Coming Slavery.” Under “Prohibition,” we have endeavored to show another instance of like character. Cannot the reader now perceive the law of inefficacy which applies to all paternalism? Hardly, for that would imply that the governmental mind was imbued with an idea of natural causation. Until then, let it be understood that God and government are the only two lawless objects in the Universe! But the moment the mind recognizes that these two objects cab be tamed, let it be remembered that there can no more be parties in government, than in botany or chemistry.


Having disposed of the jurisdiction of prohibition, showing that it has no right to prohibit, we now come to show how it could not, if it would. Do not all know that knowledge is not administered by proxy, that all wisdom comes from experience, and that outside imposition never can raise the moral standard higher than the inward development? Prohibitionists might as well advocate producing a vacuum by legislation, as to make character by it. It is an utter impossibility. To be sure, an artificial obstruction has an influence, but how? In exciting the drinking habit to renewed activity. And, in the use of force, the exercise of the character is changed from the higher to the lower faculties. You may not see the accustomed expression of the habit, but, depend upon it, it is there, it has been driven in. A disease had much better be on the surface; the best authorities say bring it out; by driving it in, you will kill the patient. The weather cannot be changed by breaking the thermometer, it will go right along just the same. You can no more change a person’s morals by law than you can teach a child to pray, with a whip. It is only by bringing the counter moral and intellectual influences to bear that vice is eradicated. It must be drawn out by attraction, not suppressed by compulsion; the sun may melt it, but the wind cannot drive it away. There is a correlation of forces in the moral as well as in the physical world. When the devils, in Scripture, were driven out, it is said that they all came again, bringing with them seven other devils worse than the first. Why? Because the chambers were empty, there being nothing left to take the devils’ place. How virtuous, that man must be, who never takes a drink only because he never gets a chance!

Our prohibitory friends seem to mistake the nature of evil; they give to it a theological instead of a philosophical cast. They regard evil as an entity, an emanation from the devil, a thing that can be cast out. Now bodily physicians have given up this idea long ago. They regard disease as an effort of nature to overcome an obstruction; and their method of cure is to assist nature, in overcoming it, not in obstructing her! Prohibitionists, therefore, from their diagnosis, are entirely unfitted, to treat intemperance. The real fact is that every evil begins as a good; it only becomes an evil when it goes to seed, becomes respectable, or is outgrown. In all evil there is a soul of goodness, in error a soul of truth, and to arbitrarily suppress the evil, unless it is naturally outgrown, one must also suppress the good. Evil and good being only relative terms, it follows that all pharisaism is ill founded; any and all effort endeavoring to overcome its mal-adaptation, is equally saintly. To resort to force to exterminate an evil is a sui-e sign that one’s own virtue is at a low ebb. It shows a moral cowardice, a lack of faith in one’s cause. It indicates that it is risky business to allow the whole of vice to combat with the whole of virtue. The prohibitionists see virtue down and they run up to the great bull dog of the State and say, “Seize him! Pull the Devil off’.” Believing that the heart of the Universe is rotten, they beg Congress to cover it with a paternal plaster! But we have far more faith in vice, under liberty, than in all their regulation and conformity. Give us a good healthy sinner any time, in preference to a dead saint; above all, give us a good square look at a natural human being.

Now of what is the evil of intemperance composed? Instead of its being the cause of all other evils, as our prohibition friends would lead us to suppose, is it not caused by them, the result of them? Have they not got the cart before the horse? Is not intemperance the necessary outgrowth of present conditions? Men first took to spirit, when their own got at a low ebb. It indicates that our social conditions are abnormal. Buddha said there was no need of getting drunk, for man was naturally enough intoxicated through the Holy Ghost. Perhaps the angels live on pure alcohol, their organizations not being sufficiently gross to admit of a relapse. However the Holy Spirit may be connected with alcoholic spirit, we know that they are both derived from the same root. In wine and the vine, Jesus found many of his spiritual illustrations. He even was called a wine bibber, and on one occasion turned distiller. At all events, so long as people are overworked, so long as many can live in luxurious dissipation without work, so long as business is competitive gambling, so long as usury eats at the vitals of the poor, so long as landlords deprive the people of homes, so long as woman is a connubial appendage and children are the result of passion, just so long will the natural and sweet wine of life, which Buddha refers to, be unorganized and wanting, and the people seek its counterpart m an artificial stimulus.


Not only can prohibition not prohibit, it is entirely unnecessary to call upon the State. What is there to hinder anyone, believing in prohibition, from first prohibiting its use from himself? Then if ne is a church member, what hinders him from endeavoring to make the practice of temperance the sole condition of membership? If he conducts a manufacturing establishment, a railroad, or a bank, I know of no law dictating whom he shall employ, or with whom he will have any dealings. He has a perfect right to not speak to a man who drinks green tea, if lie chooses. And when an association of such has converted the whole world to itself, as it can, if it has the truth, there will then be prohibition.

But no; this is not the line of action the prohibitionists are the most fond of working on. This course would necessitate some self reliant, spontaneous virtue among themselves, and then who would there be for them to “wallop”? Such a regime would never do; t lie cause of the church and the cause of prohibition, would both suffer thereby.


Not only has prohibition no right to prohibit, not only is it impossible to prohibit, not only is it uncalled for, but to attempt to do so, is the worst thing possible that could happen to the temperance cause.

First, in chasing this artificial and fictitious remedy, all attention is diverted from the real one. The temperance movement is thereby divided into two sectarian camps, fighting each other, instead of the common enemy. Educational work and natural regeneration have been given over to partisan triumph and the counting of noses. Women, who were more acquainted with the recesses of the sanctuary now rise from their knees and enter the lobby. The priests who pray join hands with the politicians who also prey.

Now we will suppose these people’s opinions have passed into a statute, and is called “the law.” Their wills are to be imposed on the community, and it is to be called justice. Is it a law that exists anywhere else in the world of mind or matter? Is it so constructed that it applies to the guilt of each person under any and all circumstances? O no, the law finds no counterpart in the nature of things, nor is it sufficiently elastic to admit of an equitable construction. So the law catches a few innocent people who are made to think that they may be guilty, while it serves as a net work of technicality for the guilty to escape. The lawyers are fed. The law is as iron clad as it can be made, yet it does not convict, “it is not executed.” Yes, here is where the trouble lies, for you have got to repeal every other law in the Universe before this can be made to work. It is not the vicious who are opposed to it, it is the virtuous, it is temperance people themselves. The law is a partisan, a class law, over which a respectable community is equally divided. If a horse is stolen, a citizen murdered, woman outraged, or legal justice mocked, an indignant populace would rise, clothe itself with the hurricane, and bearing courts and juries on its shoulders, march to swift vengeance. How different the execution of the liquor law! These same high handed yeomanry cannot be made to believe that the taking of a glass of “sea foam,” is anything like stealing a horse, much less the source of devastation to our land! They wipe their mouths, crack jokes, and wink at “the law.” They enter into a freemasonry to break it, calling themselves “The Personal Liberty League,” the meanest thing of which a member can do is to “go back” on a brother. The law’s violation they regard as a duty. A prosecution they consider a persecution. Instead of society being their victim, they regard themselves as the victims of society. Juries cannot be found to agree, witnesses fail to appear, or commit perjury, to tell the truth. Officers are bribed, politics and the courts become corrupted.

The friends of the law now find it necessary to make more strict provision for its execution. They move that prosecutions be taken away from their local jurisdiction, that nobody but Prohibitionists sit on the jury, that it be only necessary to have a suspicion in order to convict, in case there is no one to suspect, that the beardless youth of the Y. M. C. A. be taught to decoy some unsuspecting one to commit a crime, that every house be subject to search without a warrant, and that all resolve themselves into a smelling committee to root out the deadly evil. A beautiful state of society has now been reached, old neighborhood feuds are revived, every man now is a spy or a hypocrite. The air is full of deception and fraud. The liquor interest is active and ingenious. The flames that were fanned now burn all the fiercer. Men who never drank in open day, now had stolen pleasures sweet. Men who drank before, now drink all the more. They buy liquor by wholesale now, and every man’s cellar becomes a saloon.

It is under such a system of gymnastics, that prohibitionists claim that intemperance is on the decrease. They offer statistics to prove this. But how can they get at the statistics, after they have been driven in? If it should be found that there was less drunkenness, would it necessarily be proof that it was owing to prohibition, instead of education, or general prosperity, or climate, or nationality? Pro hoc, propter hoc, is not always an infallible guide. While the evil of intemperance is doubtless large enough, it is no less true that the prohibitionists are not noted for temperance of statement in their general statistics. Travelers tell us there is less drunkenness in the wine and beer drinking countries than in our own. Massachusetts long ago tried prohibition, and has outgrown it. Maine is trying it, and the police statistics of Portland show no abatement of drunkenness, while but one man in fifty, during the last presidential election, thought enough of prohibition to make it national. In Iowa, prohibition has been in operation one year up to the Fourth of July; and the testimony of the mayors of twenty nine leading cities and towns, is that there are open saloons in nineteen. The total number of places where liquor is sold, is 916. An increase of 146 during the year. Kansas, a young, agricultural state, with no great cities, and but little foreign population, showed, according to Gov. Glick’s message, the following result.

Permits Issued to Sell liquor.

Last year of Local Option—1132.

First year of Prohibition—1788.

First forty five days of second year—1148.

Concealed methods not stated.


Having now canvassed the outward effect of prohibition, lei us examine its inward impulse. We must first recognize that prohibition is not, primarily, a temperance question. There are many people opposed to prohibition who have practised total abstinence all their lives. Such men as Dr. Dio Lewis, Howard Crosby, Ex Gov. Robinson and Henry Ward Beecher are not all drunkards, and take no stock in prohibition. On the other hand, many might be named, who, while holding that prohibition is the best policy for the State to pursue, still, in private, think it perfectly proper to follow Paul’s advice to Timothy. Many saloon keepers in Kansas are Prohibitionists. So that the dispute over the subject arises not so much as to whether people shall be temperate, but how. The matter is not in dispute, but the manner. It is not a question of morals, but of methods, not whether it is best for one to drink, but whether it is the function of the State to deter him. In brief, it is not a temperance question, but one concerning the science of government.

Now since the function of the State is to suppress crime, not to enforce morals, it follows that, if drinking and selling liquor are not crimes, then the attempt to suppress it is a crime. The very thing for which the State is properly constituted to defend, it violates. And because the perpetrators are deluded, they are exempt from arrest. But as between a fool and a knave, for a pilot on a dark night, give us the one who can steer clear of Niagara, though the other would shove us over with the best of intentions. A mistake in government always results in a crime. Those administering it may be as sincere and respectable as Cotton Mather, when he hung Quakers and drowned witches, but the nature of their acts is all the same. It may be an open question which is the most dangerous member of society, one who has an intense, but benighted conscience, or one who has enlightenment without a conscience.

If then prohibition is, at bottom, but persecution, whence did it originate? Prominent among the bearers of this ark of the Covenant is the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union. The reason given for this departure in temperance is specially in the interest of “the home.” “The Home vs. the Saloon,” is their banner. But the homes of the country are a subject of very broad and varied import. It is difficult to see how the saloon can enter the household without some member of the household first enters the saloon. But it is not an impossible thing to conceive how such a member can be induced to leave an unattractive home to go to a saloon. It takes a competence, culture, and domestic felicity to make a home. These come from the workers getting their pay, from leisure, and equality and independence in marriage. Now if you should ask a majority of these women why, as home champions, they do not strike at the squalor and want which infest the workingman’s hovel and the sewing girl’s garret, and you would be frightened with the word “communism,” and run the chance of waking up some of the soundest sleepers along the broad aisles of the leading churches. If you should indicate to these estimable women the propriety and importance of making marriage a free and voluntary contract, in order to be virtuous, and they would scorn you as an enemy of mankind. Such a home, it is plainly evident, the priests have got a padlock on. What peculiar kind of a home is it, then, to which these women are so devotedly attached? It is what is called a “Christian home.’“ These champions of home are not only women but Christian women. The People’s Temperance Union would be a most narrow title, under which to conduct all their operations. It would not hit “the home,” much less the “Christian home.” By Christian home is meant, not a liberty loving home, or a justice seeking home, but an Evangelical Christian home. One that can repeat the Catechism, subscribe to the creed, and belongs to the church!

Now we have the true significance of “the home vs. the saloon.” Once, when it was respectable to drink, the church was a saloon. The minister took his jug of New England rum into the pulpit, and drank between acts. It occupied an equal position on board the ship with Bibles and missionaries bound for the heathen. Now, it is not respectable, but the great mass of communicants are in the saloons. They hold the balance of power. Between them and the church there seems to be a rivalry as to who shall gain the most Sunday school scholars. While the church is immolating its victims on a life to come, putting them into tall boxes and making them answer questions which they do not want to ask, the ordinary, carnal minded youth much rather play billiards or go in swimming. Then his clothes are hardly sufficient in which to worship the Most High. A seat too, in the opera, could be got for less; and withall he feels much more at home with an ordinary sinner than with an unnaturally affected saint. In a word, the masses have left the church, and she has lost her hold. Henceforth, the world is to save the church, instead of the church saving the world.

Now the women are the most useful members of a church, to pull the priests’ chestnuts out of the fire. Scenting the rising discontent among women for enlarging their “sphere,” they say, “Direct all your energy to a Christian home in a Christian republic!” So prohibition, divested of its skin, is one form of church extension. Scratch a Prohibitionist and there will show up a God-in-the-Constitution man. While there may be some “liberal” dupes to the prohibition movement, who do not espouse the latter cause, I can assure them that when it comes to the God-in-the-Constitution believer, he has no hesitancy in knowing who is on his side. Mrs. Ellen Foster, of Iowa, a lawyer and one of the chief officers, says, “The prohibition movement is but the first step towards engrafting Christianity into the Constitution; we shall keep on till we have all under the banner of Jesus.” There, do you want anything more explicit than that? St. John is a vice president in the movement to unite Church and State. This means that American institutions be blotted out, and that we be set back into the Middle ages. The Church, made up of fear, the State, made up of force, and trade, made up of fraud, shall constitute one happy trinity. Three in one and that one,—tyranny. The Church has always been a dead head when the assessor was around, now she aims to be a dead beat when the constable comes around.

The amusing part of this performance is that it is all to be brought about to vindicate the right of woman to the ballot! We thought that the only excuse there was for meddling with another’s affairs was when one failed to properly mind them. Now your Voice in your neighbor’s business is justified in proportion as you fail to mind your own! What more exact statement of a basis for the ballot, than that persons shall be put in possession of a thing as often as they show they do not know how to use it. But if men have made fools and tyrants of themselves, in its exercise, have not women a right to an equality? That depends upon whether they exercise that equality upon themselves or their neighbors! Women seek to be in fashion; and the fashion with the best minds of to day is to find that form of social and Industrial organization which is to supplant, not repeat the present political system.


The prohibitory movement, then, is the dying embers of that paternalism which presided at the Salem witchcraft; the dying gasp of an effete theology. Its adherents are not Germans, or Frenchmen, from England, or from the Continent, or from the mixed population of our great cities. It is directly traceable to the Puritanic zeal and intolerance in those country parishes, settled by the New England descendants of those who banished Roger Williams and hung Mary Dyer. The blood still tells. In other states it has a feeble existence, and is used as a foil for the God-in-the-Constitution party.

Now whatever be the side issues, or the party name, we know that there is but one line of political evolution, and that is in the direction of liberty. We therefore hail our prohibition friends, as co-adjutors in that cause. We would not have them suppressed, by any means! They will succeed, but in a way altogether different from what they expect. The good which their agitation will accomplish will be because of its educational influence, not because of its legal bearing, because they are temperance men and women, not because they are prohibitionists. Instead of getting God into the Constitution, they will finally effect the complete divorce of Church and State. They will show to our “liberal’ friends the unsoundness of introducing any other than a defensive function, under the province of government. And as for these devoted women, so zealously attached to the church, what can be said for them? We warn the priests of the dangerous character of the liberties they are conceding. For, no sooner will these women have exercised their new fledged wings in one direction, than they will begin to use them in another: must not this divide your power? Already, a leading woman, in a leading article, in a leading magazine, discounts the baneful influence of Christianity upon her sex.* Therefore we welcome “prohibition” as an adjunct in the cause of civil and religious

When one looks back over the history of the church, and inquires in what respect she differs from other religions, we are impressed with the intolerance growing out of her “plan” of salvation. The hypothesis of its “divinity” does not permit a doubt. For if it is divine, and the only one, what becomes of the sinner while in doubt? He is irretrievably damned. Quite contrary to this is the first postulate of science, that a thing is not true until it is proved. Science says, if you do not doubt, you are damned.

Now there is not a Christian clergyman, to day, retained in his place, first and foremost, because of his character or attainment, lie may be very wise, and pure, and lovable, yet if he holds to no part of this “plan,” he cannot be an ordained clergy-man. Therefore intolerance and arrogance are their cardinal characteristics. These ecclesiastics, by nature, never lead the life of any age. Jesus and the Prophets, in their time, were always opposed to them. Being bound to an institution which never changes, nor graduates its pupils until they die, they always reflect, the prevailing sentiment of the time. Their seven scriptural principles are, practically, reduced to the five loaves and the two fishes. Nor is this derogatory to any trade, when it is not aided by privilege or false pretense. Where there are a great many priests, there sin abounds. The people are led to think that it is the latter which causes the former. Statistics show that the clergy furnish more criminals than any other class, the saloon keepers unexcepted. Yet, the saloons have never demanded that the churches be suppressed. They only ask that they stay at home. There is just as much reason, from a strict reciprocity, why the churches should be taxed to support the saloons, as that the saloons should be taxed to support the churches. Jehovah must be swapped for a natural standard of reciprocity among men.

* It is with infinite sorrow that I see earnest women wasting so much enthusiasm on intemperance, polygamy, prostitution,—all outgrowths of woman’s degradation—instead of utterly repudiating the idea of her “divinedly ordained subjection,” wherever they find it, whether in church or state.—Elizabeth Cady Stanton, in the North American Review.


The encroachments of authority, are very insidious in their approach. One avenue by which the people lose their rights is through the everlasting “minor.” The “law and order” leagues are now working their greatest racket over these young men, who are minors! As though every saloon keeper kept a family register of every youth that passes. A young man is of age when he would buy a revolver, but he immediately loses his majority, the moment he asks for a glass of beer! In one case, the parent is properly responsible for its offspring, in the other case, the saloon keeper is responsible! The infantile part of creation is a fruitful held for paternalists to get in their work. The solicitude of mothers is nothing when compared with their watchful eyes.

And then the popular superstition about the Sabbath, makes a tine stake, in the name of the saloon keeper, upon which to crucify liberty. God is good and needs our worship: worship is akin to rest; rest should be compulsory for people will overwork; when not at work, they get into mischief; the better place for them then is in church; all competition should be destroyed, in order that they may go! Do you see the logic? The chain of title is complete!

Again it will be noticed that these restrictions are urged against a class. Now the individual’s liberty is rarely ever violated by a class, except it come in the form of the State. Therefore any such ground for restriction, may be at once set down as a bid for partisan prejudice, in order to obtain party supremacy. Their great cry of “protection” is for themselves. They are so zealous for the “public good” that they would crowd it down the people’s throats!

The people having no definite standard for government, admit the restriction, without protest; it is recognized, acquiesced in; continued acquiescence gives consent; consent makes a contract; and a contract settles a thing. One false restriction leads to another. The first has been established as a precedent, by which an inequality of conditions is admitted, and there is then no end to governmental tinkering. Separate violations, at last, run together into one chronic disease. This disease is called government. Its tyranny at last becomes ‘vested’ and ‘divine’; to question it is treason and blasphemy. The people are “the masses,” the “lower classes.” Their general degradation is so stereotyped, it is attributed to a second law of nature, where they must forever remain. They are subservient, degenerate, and only know how to imitate and obey. The individual has been absorbed by the county, the county by the state, the state by the nation. The rulers are a set of despots, living on war and taxes. The people have lost their liberty.

Now prohibition utilizes all these methods in wresting away the people’s liberty First, their interpretation of the principle of government is false: second, the precedents they adduce to sustain their position are false : third, they seek to accomplish their ends by means of class prejudice.


Now picture to yourself two communities where these two kinds of government are in operation; one paternal, the other defensive; one the regulator of morals, the other a suppressor of crime. In one of them God’s inspiration flows down through the eaves of the orthodox church and passes along in conduits of uniform order. There are no saloons, but the people drink just the same. There are no houses of prostitution, but the people are just as unchaste in their lives. There are no gambling dens, but every one desires to overreach. There are no erroneous views, but the orthodoxy is musty and mouldy with age. Having all public places of vice suppressed, it is now our duty, if the law is correct in principle, not to allow it to be evaded in private. And since no law is of any avail, unless it is executed, private houses should be put under guard. Detectives and the secret service should be introduced. Where every body is suspected, but no one detected, decoys must be employed to tempt the offence. The officers must show enough game to make their services needed. In detecting immorality every body must either become a hypocrite or a knave. At last an eruption bursts forth through this repression. People are assassinated, poisoned, put away mysteriously. Now it is Russia, now Ireland. Nobody knows who is safe. The community is as moral as a penitentiary, and every body is trying to break jail. A Puritanic sabbath reigns, but it is over the corpses of a Saint Bartholomew. Such is the logical termination of a community governed by paternalism. Beginning with dictation in morals, it ends in crime.

Pass now into the other community, whose one compulsory rule is the equal liberty of all. Everything is natural, and spontaneous. There are all kinds of morals, as there are all kinds of people. There are different standards as to purity, and every body has his own opinion. Do you ask if they do not make mistakes, if there is not immorality? Suppose we grant there is. But there is also crime, you say. But the distinguishing feature of this community is equal liberty; that everyone should have his own business and mind it. And in doing so, they have a clear idea of where their social duties begin and leave off. They find they cannot all be paternal to one another, but must be fraternal. In discarding morals from their government, they are all doubly jealous about crime. They will brook no trespassing. Each having his own rights knows those of his neighbors. Perfect liberty makes perfect order.

How now about the morals? For the sake of illustration, we have conceded these were bad. It is impossible, however, to conceive of a low state of morals under such a government. For when force has withstood force, and order prevails, the best ideas of living must come to the top. Liberty is the very breath of truth. Nor is this all. Under a defensive government, every individual is the source of sovereignty. Not until people are integers, until they are separate, can they come together and co-operate. The people now standing separate, being free and independent, must, of necessity, voluntarily associate and co-operate As they do so, their government for defense falls into disuse, as being unnecessary and expensive. As co-operators, they find that a unity of interest leads them to where, by each working for all, all will, in turn, be working for each. This is the solidarity of mankind, brought about by the free and independent interchange of the parts. Which kind of government would the reader choose to live under,—that which begins with saints and ends with demons, or that which begins with the average individual and leaves him a saint? In a word, that of paternalism, or that of equal liberty. Such is the problem which prohibition presents to us.


Let us profit by past experience. Let us learn the principle of liberty. Principles are greater than measures or men: and the principle of liberty, well defined, is the greatest of principles. He who is on the side of liberty, cannot but be on the side of temperance. When all this zeal is spent, this gush exhausted, still will abide the star of liberty. Beware, then, that your sympathy and generosity be not imposed upon by any false clamor for the “public good.” Know well that “law and order” are inseparable with equal liberty, and that true temperance cannot be advanced by the constable, but by education, growth, and better conditions. Scrutinize well the hoofs and horns of this blind crusade, that would make its inroad upon popular government by exciting prejudice against a certain class. Permit no false construction of paternalism under the name of “protection,” to barter away the right of private contract! Indignantly repel every such encroachment upon a purely defensive government.

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