William Henry Van Ornum, “Why Government at All?” (1892)

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Why Government at All?

William Henry Van Ornum


Charles H. Kerr & Co., 1892

issued without copyright




  1. Introduction
  2. Henry George: his Economic Absurdities and Contradictions
  3. The Single Tax: Inadequate, Illogical, Cumbersome, and Unjust
  4. State Socialism: its Origin, Objects, and Methods
  5. State Socialism: its Foundation and Necessary Development
  6. The Fallacies of Karl Marx
  7. The Fallacies of Edward Bellamy
  8. The Fallacies of P. J. Proudhon and his School
  9. Social Palliatives
  10. Reform by Political Methods


  1. The Motive of Human Action
  2. The Object of Human Life
  3. The Purpose and Condition of Human Society
  4. The Development of Individual Character
  5. Human Equality
  6. On Property
  7. Human Liberty
  8. Slavery
  9. The Church and the State


  1. Recapitulation
  2. Government: Its Nature, Origin, and Tendencies
  3. Government: Its Functions
  4. The Real Scope and Functions of Civil Administration
  5. Government: Its Relation to Public Enterprises
  6. Crime: Its Nature and Cause
  7. Crime: Its Treatment
  8. Public Education
  9. How Laws are Made
  10. Summary


  1. The Abolition of the Law
  2. Effect Upon Public Order and Security
  3. Effect Upon the Distribution of Wealth
  4. Effect Upon the Development of Individual Character
  5. Solution of the Woman Question
  6. Solution of the Race Question
  7. Solution of Every Phase of the Social Question
  8. Conclusion

Why Government at All?

A Philosophical Examination of the Principles of Human Government,
Involving an Analysis of the Constituents of Society, and
a Consideration of the Principles and Purposes
of all Human Association.


During the summer of 1890 became impressed with the difficulties to be overcome in winning adherents to the single tax, in sufficient numbers to make it fulfill the high expectations which had been formed for it, not yet perceiving its inherent weakness, nor doubting its efficiency. Still, I looked forward to the coming General Conference of Single Tax men, to be held at New York in the fall of that year, with high anticipations, in the full belief that something would be done to push forward the work, and bring it more generally to public attention. The outcome of that Conference was disappointing to the last degree. It fulfilled none of the anticipations I had formed for it; and I publicly criticised its action before the Chicago Single Tax Club soon afterwards. From a criticism of the Conference, it was very natural to pass to a criticism of the Single Tax itself; and the moment I began to look at it from the standpoint of a critic, instead of that of an advocate, the aspect changed. I could understand why its progress was slow, and why it must, in the future, move with a still slower step, when its first impetus had been expended. My thought was still directed to devising some scheme of agitation which would force the whole social question to the front, and bring relief to those who so urgently need relief. As early as March, 1891, I became convinced that a plan nearly similar to that outlined in Part IV of this [vi] work, would be the most effective one to adopt; but I knew that to secure any general action it would require, not only to be fortified with abundant reasons, but it must secure the co-operation of all schools of social reformers. To put forward such a plan without meeting every reasonable objection would but submit it to ridicule; and to ignore or antagonize any single school of reform would be to incur its hostility instead of its needed co-operation. And yet, how could we reconcile the socialists with the single-taxers; the anarchists with the socialists; or the farmers with the trades unionists? I already understood the essential weakness of compromises; but I concluded that somewhere would be found a common standing ground which would require no compromise, unless truth proved inconsistent with itself.

I then determined to undertake a solution of the perplexing problems before me; and formed the first imperfect outline of the present work. I did not doubt that in four or five months, at most, I would have it ready for the press. But I at once began as thorough a survey of the whole field to be covered as my circumstances permitted, taking notes as I progressed. I soon found the subject was much larger than I had anticipated; and that I was only just beginning to learn. My views have undergone constant change with each new fact I have obtained, and every comparison I have made. Those things that at first I supposed were fundamental, have often proved to be secondary, or even of still less importance; but in it all, I have not found one single fact or principle which is not in harmony with the general plan of relief with [vii] which I started. On the contrary, its practicability and justice have been more than confirmed in every particular.

I have been compelled, in many cases of great importance, even where principles are laid down differing widely from those commonly accepted, to confine my self to a single illustration in order to keep the work rigidly within the limits I had set to it; but it has not been for want of other illustrations which were ready at hand. In fact, it has been harder to determine what to leave out, than what to include. I have endeavored however, not to put forward any proposition merely to startle by its novelty, and only to advance such as were capable of the most conclusive proof. But where that proof has appeared to me sufficient, I have not hesitated to set forth the truth notwithstanding its seeming novelty, and notwithstanding it may conflict with acknowledged authorities.

There is another reason why I have not deemed it best to present too great an array of proof of the propositions I have laid down. The value of a book of this kind lies more in its suggestions, which the reader will take up, and by his own thought work out to their conclusion, than in the finished argument which leaves nothing to be desired. If I have given enough to stimulate the reader to work out the problem largely for himself, my purpose has been accomplished. Such a reader will find no dearth of illustrations. They will offer themselves everywhere and in the most unexpected ways.

From the first I have labored under a serious disadvantage in not being able to obtain proper [viii] criticism. I have frequently sought it from various sources, but always, partly from the great labor involved, labor which few could give it, and partly from the fact that those who kindly undertook it at first were unable to overcome the notion that it was their approval or disapproval I wanted, they soon abandoned it. As I look back, I can see how this must necessarily have been the case. I was exploring a new field; or, at least, exploring it in a new way, frequently reaching conclusions wholly at variance with accepted authorities. It was impossible for others to understand those conclusions unless they had traveled the same field, in the same way; or without having before them the finished work to enable them to judge of the parts.

It was only after it had been finished, except the final revision, that I was able to secure such a criticism; and I desire to express my sincere acknowledgements to those kind friends, Mr. George J. Schilling, Mr. A. B. Westrup, Mrs. Sarah V. Westrup, Mrs. L. D. White, Mr. William Holmes, Mrs. Lizzie M. Holmes, Mr. Joseph Harris and Mr. H. A. Jaxon, who, at great personal discomfort, and often in the most inclement of weather, met with me night after night for review and criticism, and to whom I am indebted for many valuable suggestions which have enabled me to bring out in a stronger manner some of the most vital points of the work. I shall not expect the public critics however, to deal with me so leniently and kindly as they have done.

I shall issue this book without copyright. In so doing I claim no superior virtue over those authors who avail themselves of that advantage. If the people permit of special privileges by law, no blame can attach to those who accept them. The beneficiary of the copyright law is exactly like the beneficiary of any other legal privilege. He is no more entitled to it than the patentee is to his patent, or the landlord is to the land. They are privileges which exist by virtue of the statute, and will expire with the statute. But copyright cannot possibly help me. I am writing this book just as other men write books, mainly for whatever distinction or honor it may bring me; and secondly, to obtain a present subsistence. For the first, if every publisher in America would reprint it, it would increase that honor, to secure which I need no copyright; and for the second, it is certain that none will reprint it unless it shall prove sufficiently popular to insure a large demand, in which case I shall obtain enough from the earlier editions to fairly compensate me for the labor of writing it, and provide for present needs.




What is to be done with Ginx’s baby? [1] Ginx doesn’t want it; in fact he can’t keep it. He already has all that he can by any possibility take care of. He is going to drown it; not because he is devoid of natural affection, but because there is nothing else he can do. His wages are so small that with the most stringent economy he has only been able to support the others, after a fashion; and now, this one is the last straw to break the camel’s back. He gives up a job which he knows to be hopeless. Yet the police won’t let him drown it, because it is clearly against the law.

But the police don’t want it; in fact they won’t have it. It has already given them an endless amount of annoyance; and their only anxiety is to be well rid of it.

Nobody else wants it. The Church tried to care for it, but had to give it up. The effort produced an endless amount of contention, bickering and litigation, with the net result of getting the priests and the sacred vestments and chasubles shamefully befouled.

Charity took a hand at it, and if anything made a still worse failure. Society, and the politicians too, have each demonstrated their inability to do anything with it.

It is true, the baby is an unpleasant subject. It isn’t nice. It is like all other babies when neglected. It has an enormous faculty for making things unpleasant. Notwithstanding all this, it is clear that something must be done; but what?

What is to be done with the great mass of humanity for which there is no place; whom nobody wants? They jostle each other in their scramble for work, and for trade. They bring down wages and profits, and increase rents, prices and taxes. Of merchants, ninety-seven out of a hundred are not wanted; at least that is the proportion that is said to fail. Some of them find a place for a time in the stores of the three who succeed; but even this refuge has to be abandoned when wages fall so low as no longer to give a support.

The professions are all over-crowded; and yet the scholastic institutions, the training, business, medical, and law schools are turning out young men constantly who are fitted to fill important positions in every possible profession and calling, a large proportion of whom are not wanted.

The farmers are just as badly off. They are being crowded out too. One by one they are being sold out by the sheriff; their mortgages foreclosed; and if they remain at all, it is like the merchant, as a subordinate or a renter.

Among artisans it is the same. There are too many men. There are not places enough to go round. So unions are formed to determine who shall get the places, and to prevent wages from falling below living prices.

The same thing is true of politics. The party is only another kind of union to determine who shall get the places. Everywhere the man who is out confronts the one who is in; the man who is not wanted is the shadow and menace of him who is.
But it is not in the competition for a place, and in the resulting low wages and profits that the worst effects are seen. The instinct of self preservation is strong in men; and when the pressure becomes too great they secretly or openly rebel. Then we call them criminals, and make war upon them, hunt them like wild beasts, imprison them, kill them. The war is one of extermination. But it apparently does no good. It does not lessen their numbers one whit. They are like mosquitoes; the more we kill the more we have to kill. They are now, more than ever, not wanted.

This is Ginx’s baby; these merchants, professional men, farmers, artisans, politicians, criminals, paupers, tramps, prostitutes, people for whom there is no place, or adequate place, people who are crowded out in the struggle for life, those whom nobody wants. Let none of them flatter themselves that they belong to some other or better family; or that the question of their future is different from that of any of the rest. They are all a part of the numerous progeny of Ginx. Ginx, that is nature, brought them here, and apparently has not made or could not make proper provision for them.

What is to be done with Ginx’s baby? No one has yet answered. The State, the Church, Society and Charity have all failed, and given up the job. All that the State makes any decent attempt to do is to beat the baby into submission. The Church sometimes tries to hush it with a few grandmotherly coos, and fairy tales, but does nothing for its physical wants. Society would not if it could. The subject is too unpleasant. It would befoul itself if it tried.

But of all the miserable makeshifts that were ever tried, Charity has been the worst. It has always aggravated the evils it has sought to cure.

Something must be done. But what; and who shall do it? Everybody else has failed. There’s no one left but the baby. It must solve the problem for itself: and, clearly, it must do it in a broad and comprehensive way. A partial solution is no solution at all. It must include both the ins and the outs. The ins can never be safe as long as there are any outs. When the answer to this question is found it will be the answer to the labor question, the money question, the land question, the transportation question, the temperance question, the woman question, the race question, as between the whites and the Indians in the west, and between the blacks and the whites in the south; in fact it is the all absorbing social question, the question of men’s relations one to another in human society.

In subsequent chapters I shall examine the subject as carefully as I can; endeavor to trace effects to causes, in order to find the remedy for the undoubted evils which occur from shutting out a considerable part of mankind from participation in the good things of this world; and, if possible, discover a way whereby men can easily, completely and certainly regain their natural and equal rights. In doing this I shall have the light of a long list of predecessors, men of deep insight and earnest purpose, who have taken up the social problem at different points, and at different times; and, working in different directions, have discovered different facts, which they have generalized according to the best light they had. I do not claim for myself greater wisdom, a keener insight, or a more honest purpose than others who have preceded me in the treatment of social problems. But if I shall be able to add anything to the results of their researches, it will be because I have come after them, and have had the benefit of their labors. Others may again take up the work where I leave it, and carry it as much beyond me as I hope to beyond where they left it. It will not be possible for any of us to claim that we alone have solved the problem. Watch a workman breaking up the bars of pig iron before putting them into the furnace. He will strike them a given number of times with his sledge. The first blow seems to make little or no impression; but it is just as important as the last, and has just as much to do with breaking the bar. My blow is certainly not the first; it may not be the last. I only hope it will be one.

The course of our examination will require a review, somewhat in detail, of the principal schools of reform, which are competing one with another for adherents; and a comparison of their aims and methods with the true issues which we may find as the result of our analysis. The fact that there are so many and such conflicting schools of thought, each offering different remedies for the same evils, remedies which require elaborate explanation to describe, and a subtile mind coupled with extensive knowledge to comprehend, is conclusive evidence that previous analyses have not been carried far enough.

Efforts are being made to harmonize all the various reform elements, for political action, on a compromise platform, which will secure a pooling of issues, in the hope that a large enough combination can be effected to win political victories. Back of all their disagreements there is a feeling that somehow their interests are common, and that they ought to act together. But how? By compromising differences? The thing is impossible. A union based upon a compromise is but a rope of sand. It has no coherence. It must fall to pieces under the first strain to which it is subjected. Men’s allegiance to a third party will be subject to their previous and stronger allegiance to the farmer’s alliance, the labor union, the socialist, single-tax, greenback, or other propaganda to which they may have pinned their faith. They cannot exclude or long repress the natural jealousies which exist between them. And even if they could be held in abeyance during a single successful campaign, they must immediately break out with renewed energy in the distribution of the spoils of victory, and to an extent that must wreck the whole party. A lasting combination is impossible where compromise is necessary. [18]

But it is not necessary. In all the various schools of reform there is something of the truth. And as truth is always harmonious, it follows that, wherever there is a conflict the very fact of the existence of such a conflict is evidence that there is error on one side or both. The conflicts must either be between the truth and error, or between the errors. It can never be between the truths. Truths never need harmonizing. They are harmonious. And it is not only impossible to harmonize truth with error, but foolish to attempt to harmonize errors. Compromises then are always useless or worse. They are never more than temporary expedients, which really delay instead of hastening a solution. The fact of a seeming necessity for a compromise is positive evidence that a more searching analysis is needed, which will eliminate the errors, and make apparent the harmonies between the truths. All human science and philosophy are founded upon the fact that truths are harmonious. In all the universe there are no two facts which conflict with each other. Nor are there any two laws of nature which do not perfectly agree. If circumstances could ever arise when’ two and two did not make four, or when like causes did not produce like effects, there could be no such thing as mathematics—no such thing as science. If we could not count with certainty upon the results of the known laws of nature, science and philosophy would be at an end, reason impossible, and chance would be enthroned in place of order. Every advance in knowledge that has ever been made has been in finding out those laws; and every amelioration in the condition of mankind has been in bringing men more and more into conformity to them. The more ignorant a people, and the less they comprehend of the operations of nature, the greater their superstitious dependence upon something superior to, or outside of nature. But as they learn more of nature’s laws, and discover their universal application to all the affairs of men, the realm of the supernatural is narrowed, and that of knowledge is increased. While knowledge has long been making great progress in the more material things, science has been increased, and invention has extended the powers of man to greeter dominion over nature; yet, in social relations religion and politics have always assumed control. They have disputed the power of science to shed light upon social questions, denying the regularity and order in human affairs which are apparent in other things, and assumed for the politician and the priest the sole right or power to govern in social matters. But science is invading this realm also. The assumptions of the politicians are being called in question, and the fables of the priests are being denied. Men are finding that here too inexorable law governs, and that events take place in orderly succession as the direct result of all that preceded them. The domain of knowledge is extended, while that of authority and superstition is lessened. Chance, the arbitrary will of gods and men, gives place to law. What is gained to science is lost
to religion and politics.

But as yet, the study of social questions has not been pushed far enough to reconcile the apparent contradictions which separate the different schools of thought. There are wide differences between the followers of Karl Marx and those of Proudhon; and between both of them and those of Henry George and others. And if such differences exist between men who lay claim to philosophical systems, what shall be said of those who seek relief through temporary expedients like trades unions, and farmers’ alliances?

The end for which all social philosophers are striving is to bring an era of “peace on earth, good will to men;” to inaugurate the reign of liberty, equality, fraternity. And all who have contemplated the sublime possibilities of such an era have caught glimpses of the most ravishing beauty. Like Joshua, they have beheld the promised land, a land flowing with milk and honey. it is as if they stood in the valley, darkened by mists and fogs, but through a rift in the clouds saw in the distance, outlined against the sky, the gardens, fields and woodlands of a paradise, bathed in the morning sunlight.

What is this vision so many have seen? Is it nothing but the dream of enthusiasts? Or is it a mirage to tempt the weary traveler, and beckon him on with hopes which can never be realized? Is it a myth; or is it reality?

If it is a mirage, however distorted, it can show nothing that does not correspond to a fact. Sailors at sea, who behold strange ships mirrored in the clouds, know that somewhere those ships are real. If it is a dream, it is a very persistent one; it comes to so many men. And even then, it may be a mental mirage that comes to tell us of beauties that lie beyond our grosser sense. But why assume that it is a dream? If I cannot see, does it follow that my brother too is blind? His vision may be clearer and stronger than mine. And then, may be, I have been too stupid, or too preoccupied, to look.

This vision has been seen and described with greater or less distinctness by poets, prophets, and philosophers in almost every age. Henry George makes its condition one in which “youth is no longer stunted and starved; age no longer harried by avarice; the child at play with the tiger; the man with the muck-rake drinking in the glory of the stars. Foul things fled, fierce things tame, discord turned to harmony! For how could there be greed where all have enough? How could the vice, the crime, the ignorance, the brutality, that spring from poverty, and the fear of poverty, exist where poverty had vanished? Who could crouch where all were freemen; who oppress where all were peers? It has been the paradise of dreamers, the utopia of idealists, and the heaven of the Christian. But for the Christian it has been placed by the priests in another life, and another sphere, and offered him as a reward for submission. He has been made to believe that it is unattainable here, and the price of its attainment hereafter is, meekly to bear the oppressions imposed upon him in this life. Thus his brightest and loftiest aspirations have been made the means of his enslavement and destruction.

What a vision! What a hope! However degraded and distorted it may be, it is still, and always has been the inspiration of Christian and pagan, poet and philosopher, anarchist and socialist, single-taxer and Bellamyite, individualist and communist. Some behold it only as a beautiful dream, while others see in it a present living possibility. Some look only to its realization in a supposed life to come, while others furnish charts of the road leading to it.

In the following chapters I shall explore the route, examine and compare the charts, possibly correct them, survey the intervening country, note its characteristics and the difficulties to be overcome, calculate the distance, and, as I hope, blaze the way to this utopia.

But that is not all. I propose to visit this promised land, and see if it is all that fancy has painted it; see if it affords a haven of rest for those who have been buffeted about by the winds and waves of a cruel and merciless fate; see if, in truth, what the poets, seers and philosophers have described is a pre-vision of human destiny.

I shall studiously avoid harrowing descriptions in tended to excite the angry passions of men, or arouse class prejudices. Human institutions are a perfect reflex of human knowledge. They are just as good as men know. When they know better, they will do better. The only way to improve those institutions is to increase the knowledge. If mankind is to solve the problem of its own destiny it must do it by the light of wisdom. So that ignorance is the difficulty we have to overcome. But ignorance is doubly difficult, when attended with hatred, and actuated by revenge.

There are many signs which indicate that some great change in human relations is impending. The spirit of submission to authority is receiving numberless rude shocks. The Church is today facing questions it never faced before; questions which not merely involve the interpretation of portions of scripture, but which demand a reason to be of all religious establishment. Government itself is called upon to answer some very awkward inquiries. True, it hung and imprisoned eight of the audacious inquirers. But it has not stopped the inquiries. It was not so very long between the hanging of John Brown, and the proclamation of emancipation.

It is not an uncommon thing to find men, in no way connected with any of the so-called reform movements, who candidly admit that they expect some great change to take place in the near future, and that it may come at any time. The more observant and thoughtful will seldom venture an opinion as to what that change will be; while the superficial are apt to predict some great cataclysm in which will be swallowed up our civilization itself. In politics, the breaking up of party lines, and in industry, the widening of the gap between the laborers and their bosses, are pointed at as some of the shadows forecasting coming events. This expectation even colors much of the literature of the day, especially that which finds a large sale. Not the least significant is the evident uneasiness of those who have most to lose by such a change. They are clamoring for naval appropriations, armaments, coast defences, military posts, improved weapons, and militia outfits wholly at variance with the spirit of free institutions. On the contrary it is said that great changes are effected slowly, which is true. But who knows that the real change has not already taken place and only needs an outward expression to give it form? When the egg is ready to hatch it takes but little to break the shell. The real change has been going on slowly within it during the whole period of incubation. The breaking of the shell is a perfectly easy and natural process; and is merely an incident in the natural history of the chick. But from that moment the real life of the bird begins. It starts upon a course of development of which its past gave little promise. That we are approaching such a change in human development, I think will be made clear in the course of these chapters; and further, that it is a necessary change, and one that will be effected easily and naturally. In fact, it is impossible that it come in any other way. Our utopia will be found in the subsequent development of the human chick.

[1] “Ginx’s Baby,” by Edward Jenkins, published in Leipzig, in 1872, was a powerful satire upon the treatment accorded by the church, the state and society, of the problems of poverty, crime and misery; and produced a profound impression among thinkers, at the time.



From the complexity of the facts which enter into the study of economics, people have generally inferred that the laws governing those facts were equally complex; and those who have studied them, after grouping together those which seem to be related, have sought for a different law for each group, and then by applying those assumed laws to social phenomena they have tried to account for every variety of human institution. That these laws were often in hopeless conflict, one with another, has not seemed to shake the confidence of the philosophers, but they have thrown the whole power of their intellects into finely drawn and abstruse arguments in order to harmonize apparent contradictions and support elaborate theories.

This is a characteristic of all economic writers, and especially so of Mr. Henry George, although one of the brightest and clearest of all the thinkers on political and social economy. When attacking injustice and exposing falsehood, or teaching the principles of human freedom, his works are a model of terseness, convincing by their logic, stimulating by their warmth, and inspiring by their hope. But when he attempts to construct a system, or comes to the defense of old institutions, his arguments become labored, his illustrations far fetched, and his conclusions weak. An illustration of this is furnished in his treatment of the subject of interest, in which he devotes twelve pages (Chapter 3, Book 3, “Progress and Poverty”) to a most difficult and fatiguing explanation of its character, and argument in support of its rightfulness. Immediately following that are two more chapters of eleven pages, which are made necessary in order to harmonize it with other parts of his system, and enable him to reach an assumed law which is supposed to govern its action.

He defines interest as “all return paid for the use of capital, including compensation for risk.” But capital being a part of wealth is necessarily subject to the laws which govern wealth. Yet wealth is extremely perishable. From the time of its production it begins immediately to decay. Some forms of it will decay in a few days; some in a few weeks; and comparatively little will endure for a term of years. Now it is ridiculous to claim that it is still used after it has ceased to exist. But does interest cease when the capital, for the use of which it is paid, has perished? Not a bit of it! It remains a perpetual tax upon labor until the original amount of capital, undiminished by waste, has been restored. By what magic can wealth, which is only the product of labor, which cannot increase without labor, and which always decays if not constantly renewed, perpetuate itself as capital and justly absorb the earnings of labor through interest?

Mr. George says: “That I, having a thousand dollars, can certainly let it out at interest, does not arise from the fact that there are others, not having a thousand dollars, who will gladly pay me for the use of it, if they can get it no other way; but from the fact that the capital which my thousand dollars represents has the power of yielding an increase to whoever has it, even though he be a millionaire.” Suppose then, a miser has the thousand dollars, and hoards it, how much increase will it yield him? Or even if invested in those forms which Mr. George assumes will yield a natural increase, such as orchards and vine yards, or herds and flocks, how will he utilize that increase without labor? Admitting the necessity for labor in such cases, he still holds that “there is a distinguishing force co-operating with that of labor, which makes it impossible to measure the result solely by the amount of labor expended.” And so too, in precisely the same way, and to the same extent, when the mechanic utilizes the power of the steam, the waterfall, or of electricity to aid him in his work is “there a distinguishing force co-operating with that of labor, which makes it impossible to measure the result solely by the amount of labor expended.” Where does the product of this “distinguishing force” go to? I think that even Mr. George will not deny that it rightfully constitutes a part of the rewards of labor. If this is true in the case of electricity it is true in that of interest. If not, why not? Again, if interest represents the average natural increase due to the reproductive forces of nature distinguishable from labor, why does it constantly fall? Is this distinguishing force less and less active? If so, may it not ultimately stop altogether? Interest would then abolish itself.

No! The real truth is that one of the appliances, which have been devised to facilitate the exchange of wealth is money; and monopoly has seized upon that just as it has upon everything else which it can control, and by limiting the amount has been able to extort a price for its use. It differs in no respect from taxes and tariffs, or rents and royalties levied upon the production and exchange of wealth, for the benefit of those who do not labor. Interest falls because the number of capitalists, and the aggregate amount of capital seeking borrowers, increases faster than the borrowers do. The competition brings down the price.

Coming to the subject of capital, Mr. George attempts, by the rule of exclusion, to reach a scientific conclusion as to what is, and what is not included in the term. He says, “Land, labor, and capital are the three factors in production. If we remember that capital is thus a term used in contradistinction to land and labor, we at once see that nothing properly included under either one of these terms can be properly classed as capital.” Suppose now, I want a watch. The materials for its construction are in the earth. They are component parts of the land,—several bits of land. Labor is applied, and those bits of land are changed into several kinds of pig metal. But the only real change is that the labor has been impressed upon those bits of land. They have taken on the concrete form of pig metal, but they remain simply land plus labor. Exclude the land, and the labor, and nothing remains. Take another step toward the production of the watch, and we have but repeated the first; and when we have finished the watch, it is still only land plus labor. Exclude these two, and nothing remains; therefore, according to Mr. George’s own formula, capital is nothing. Apply the same process to any other form of wealth, and the result is precisely the same. Capital has not been a factor in its production, and is not entitled to share in the proceeds.

Is there then no such thing as capital? I answer, yes, and no. In the sense of something that exists independently of, or apart from land and labor, which performs a part in production, and which is entitled to share in the product, I say, no. In the sense of the stock in trade which the merchant sells, or the materials which the manufacturer uses in his work, I say, yes. But these are only land, with such additions of labor as they may have already received, and which await the further additions of the merchant, or the manufacturer, before reaching the consumer. There is no objection to calling this capital if it is desired. But it is always passive. It does nothing, and is entitled to no reward. We may also speak of capital in the sense of tools, or appliances used to aid labor, and make it more productive. But even then, these tools are but land and labor, and are entitled to no share in the production. Men do not set aside a part of their product as a reward for their tools. Money is one of the tools of trade. It greatly facilitates exchanges, and if men were allowed to do so would provide just as much of this kind of tools as they could use to advantage, just as they do when free in any other department of industry. But the monopoly of money has the same effect as the monopoly of anything else. It lays the industrious under tribute; and we call that tribute interest. In the light of all this, what shall we say to Mr. George’s statement that “interest and wages must rise and fall together, and that interest cannot be increased without increasing wages; nor wages lowered without depressing interest? “I should say that, with all his learning and ability, Mr. George has some things yet to learn in what passes as political economy.

Again, all through Mr. George’s works, he speaks of the inequalities of fortunes as “the unequal distribution of wealth.” But is it true? Is there really any such thing as a distribution of wealth which produces inequalities? At the moment when wealth is produced,—when labor is impressed upon the material, and it takes on the form which we call wealth, then it is distributed; and equitably so, for it is in the hands of its producers. There is a circulation of wealth, and if that circulation is free, the distribution will remain unchanged, because the producer will insist upon getting an equivalent before he will part with it. The thing that does take place is a concentration; and it begins at the moment when the product passes from the hands of the laborer to the employer. The laborer is not free. He has been compelled to enter into a contract of employment by which he must give up his product for a stipulated price, which is inadequate. The concentration begins there. The circulation is not free. The inequalities here set up are further increased by every law or regulation which interferes with the freedom of that circulation. Is this too nice a distinction? I think not. To speak of the distribution of wealth, when we mean a concentration, is to lay the foundation for serious errors. From this come all the arbitrary schemes for effecting an enforced equality of distribution, instead of simply clearing away the obstructions to the freedom of that circulation.

After our very brief, but as I think full analysis of production in its relation to interest, it is scarcely necessary to go over it again in its relation to rent, in order to point out the fallacies of Mr. George’s position; or perhaps I should say, his positions, for he seems to hold several; at one time speaking of rent as “the price of monopoly, arising from the reduction to individual ownership of the natural elements which human exertion can neither produce or increase,” (the land); and at another, as the necessary result of “the great law which alone makes any science of political economy possible,—the all-compelling law that is as inseparable from the human mind as attraction is inseparable from matter, and without which it would be impossible to previse or calculate upon any human action, the most trivial or the most important.” And further, “this fundamental law that men seek to gratify their desires with the least exertion, becomes when viewed in its relation to one of the factors of production, the law of rent; in relation to another, the law of interest; and in relation to the third, the law of wages.” Now, if he holds that monopoly is a perfectly natural and inevitable condition, the result of an “all-compelling law,” then I can understand how he can reconcile these two positions; but this would raise other difficulties still more formidable. If rent is “the price of monopoly,” and monopoly is the result of an ‘all-compelling” and inevitable law, then why should Mr. George waste his energies in attacking it? His tilt at monopoly through 400 pages of his book may well be classed with the exploits of Don Quixote in his attack upon the windmill. [30-31 missing, or mis-paginated in photocopy; book requested][32]

But his own statement of the basis of the right of property excludes both rent and interest. If labor is the only basis of the right of property, how can a man who does not labor make labor the basis of his claim to rent or interest? And if individuals cannot properly do it, how can the community do it as a whole? The community is only an aggregation of individuals. It has no rights or powers which any one of its members does not have. If one man cannot justly collect rent, no more can one hundred, or a thousand, or a majority of all of them. Mr. George’s distinction between private property in land and public property in land is a distinction without a difference. The public has no rights, and can obtain no rights, that are not enjoyed by its private members. The only source from which they can come is its members; and those members cannot confer a right which they do not possess.

Then, as to free trade: No man insists more vehemently than Mr. George that trade should be free. By free he means without restriction; and yet, according to his own statements and definitions, he is not a free trader. If you ask him if he is in favor of absolute free trade in money, he will tell you frankly that he is not. Money is simply a tool, or implement of trade, and how can trade be free as long as the tools necessary to carry it on are restricted: are not free? I leave Mr. George to figure that out.

Throughout Mr. George’s whole “inquiry into the cause of industrial depressions, and of increase of want, with increase of wealth,” he has endeavored to trace the evil to one only of the effects of monopoly, the private monopoly of land, and to substitute for it a public monopoly, which we will consider in the following chapter. At this point he has stopped. He proposes to do this by law, and through political methods, which we will further consider when we come to examine the nature of government and the workings of law.



The single tax is the remedy offered by Mr. George, by which he proposes to shift the public burdens, and concentrate them all upon private land monopoly, leaving intact all the other forms of monopoly: the patent and copyright monopolies, the transportation monopoly, the telegraph and telephone monopolies, the money monopoly, etc. While the main object is not to decrease the public burdens, one of its effects is expected to be a certain measure of decrease in the aggregate amount of those burdens, arising from a possible simplification of the machinery of government, and a consequent decrease in the necessary expenditures. This expectation, however, if ever realized, is admitted to be only incidental, and not the principal or even a necessary result.

By so concentrating the public burdens, in the form of taxation, upon the private monopoly of land, it is hoped to destroy it: to make the burden so heavy that the private monopolists, —the landlords,—will drop it. But when they do, then that public monopoly which we call government, and which is operated by means of law, in the hands of politicians, is to pick it up, and work it in the interest of the people. What the people may hope for from a monopoly, operated by politicians through the machinery of political parties, we will consider in another part of this work. It is only necessary to point out here that the single tax merely proposes to substitute a public monopoly for a private one; and operate it in the only way that any law can be operated, in what is termed a popular government: I do not suppose any single taxer will claim that the purpose is to subvert popular government.

No person who has given the subject serious consideration, or whose opinion is entitled to respect, will deny the evil effects of land monopoly. That those effects are far-reaching is also evident; but the one who tries to make it responsible for all the oppressions from which men suffer has undertaken too much. The farmer who must sell his wheat to one particular combination controlling a system of elevators, and at any price the combination may offer; who must pay more for a reaper than the same manufacturer will sell the same machine for, to an Englishman, laid down in England; who must burn his corn for fuel because the cost of transportation will not permit its shipment to market; and who is being eaten up slowly but surely by the interest on his mortgage, knows better. Tell this to the woman who pays $60 for a sewing- machine which only costs $15, and the chances are she will regard you as a lunatic, and with very good reason.

That the purpose of the single tax is, not to destroy the monopoly of land, but to shift it, is shown both by Mr. George, in “Progress and Poverty,” and in the platform adopted at the Single Tax Conference in New York, in Sept., 1890. It proposes to substitute a common ownership of land for a private ownership. See Chapter II, Book 6, “Progress and Poverty:” “This, then, is the remedy for the unjust and unequal distribution of wealth apparent in modern civilization, and for all the evils which flow from it: We must make land common property.” (The italics are his own.) See also Chapter II, Book 8: “How shall we do it? We should satisfy the law of Justice, we should meet all economic requirements, by at one stroke abolishing all private titles, declaring all land public property, and letting it out to the highest bidders in lots to suit, under such conditions as would sacredly guard the private right to improvements.”

The Single Tax Platform says: “We hold that all men are equally entitled to the use and enjoyment of what God has created and of what is gained by the general growth and improvement of the community of which they are a part. Therefore, no one should be permitted to hold natural opportunities without a fair return to all for any special privilege thus accorded to him, and that value which the growth and improvement of the community attach to land should be taken for the use of the community.”

I must ask the reader to note the phraseology, that “no one should be permitted to hold natural opportunities (the land) without a fair return (the payment of the rent,—the price of the monopoly) to all (the community,) for any special privilege thus accorded him, and that value which the growth and improvement of the community attach to land should be taken for the use of the community.”

This assumes that there is a value which naturally attaches to land by virtue of the growth of the community; which is not true, except as it represents the power of monopoly to take. Land value is always rent, and nothing but rent. If it is paid in a lump sum, at one time, it is simply the present worth of the rent which is expected to accrue; and rent is always “the price of monopoly,” the amount of which is determined by the strength of the monopoly (its freedom from competition), and the needs of those against whom it operates. If the community is a progressive one, its needs are progressive; and, consequently, the monopoly can increase the price. These two elements, the monopoly on the one side, and the need on the other, and none other, constitute all land values. Either of them being absent, land can have no value, and consequently can bear no rent. Destroy the monopoly; that is, make land free, and whatever the need, people can satisfy it, because there is land enough for all. And if there is no need there can be no value, whatever the monopoly. But, it is said, that some land is more advantageously located than other; and that something is needed to equalize that advantage. Let us see.

Advantage of location operates precisely in the same way as does advantage in improved processes, or improved machinery. The advantage is in the fact that more wealth can be produced on that spot than on another. But there is no spot so good that there are not others just as good; and the wealth produced on it must compete with wealth produced elsewhere for the trade. And if the competition is free the advantage of location must go to the consumer in the cheapened price of the goods, and thereby distribute itself naturally and equally. The man who occupies the location cannot possibly put the advantage of the location in his pocket, as increased profits. But even if there were no other equally good location, his advantage is likely to be offset by improved machinery, or improved processes. When a man finds himself at a disadvantage in his trade from any cause, it stimulates his ingenuity to renewed exertion to find something to counterbalance it.

It has thus been necessary to make such a careful examination of the nature of rent, even to repetition, to fully identify it with other methods for the robbery of labor, because it is made the basis of the single tax philosophy; because it is proposed to substitute one injustice for another; and because there is a certain amount of plausibility in the proposition that land values are the result of social growth, and ought to be taken for social uses.

As to some of the other forms of monopoly, “where free competition becomes impossible, as in telegraphs, railroads, water and gas supplies,” it is true the Single Tax Conference did include a paragraph looking to public management “through their proper government, local, state and national,” but this is not a necessary part of the scheme; nor are the single tax adherents by any means agreed upon it. What I wish to make clear is, that the single tax only aims to substitute one monopoly for another, whether of the land or of transportation, etc., and not to free them. And since it does not propose to lessen the burdens of taxation, but merely to shift them, it could not possibly free the land, for that would cut off the revenue. According to Mr. George’s own showing “rent is the price of monopoly,” therefore, if the monopoly were broken,—if land were freed, there could be no rent, and therefore no revenue. That is why the monopoly must be maintained through the political machine called government.

But is it any consolation to the farmer with a mortgage hanging over him that he cannot pay, and with the prospect of eviction confronting him, to tell him that in the dim and uncertain future, when a majority of men have been converted to the single tax, when usurers and landlords have been abolished, and when politicians have all become honest, that he can get another home merely by paying the amount of the annual rental value, which really won’t amount to much anyway? What hope is there in all this for the business man whose goods are unsold, collections slow, paper at the bank nearly due, and who sees nothing but bankruptcy staring him in the face? And the tenant, behind with his rent, out of work, out of bread, served with five days’ notice of eviction—is there anything in the single tax which offers him relief? To the workingmen on strike against reduction of wages, or unreasonable hours of work and unjust regulations, surrounded by special police and Pinkerton detectives, or confronting the militia, armed with gatling guns, does the single tax give any help or safety? Well, yes! To all these it holds out the same kind of relief that the church does to the starving—that if they are only virtuous here, when they die they will go to heaven. If they will only vote for the single tax, when the single tax party gets a majority it will pass a law (provided the single tax politicians are all honest) levying all taxes on land values, which will scare the landlords so that they will give up their monopoly, and the single tax politicians will make everything lovely. Bah! Out upon such trumpery! What me want is relief — present positive relief. Not in a fabulous and unknown future, when all the good and all the bad stand up in a row to be divided off into two flocks for reward and punishment, but now and here. You might as well tell a man who is sitting on a hot griddle that, if he will only be patient, after a while the weather will change.

But the single tax is more than inadequate; it is illogical. It is based upon the inalienable right of men to the land; and Mr. George’s works, like single tax literature generally, abound with appeals to that inalienable right. Chap. i, Book 7, “Progress and Poverty” says:

“If we are all here by the equal permission of the Creator, we are all here with an equal title to the enjoyment of His bounty—with an equal right to the use of all that nature so impartially offers. This is a right which is natural and inalienable; it is a right which vests in every human being as he enters into the world, and which during his continuance in the world can be limited only by the equal rights of others There is in nature no such thing as a fee simple in land. There is on earth no power which can rightfully make a grant of exclusive ownersiip in land. If all the existing men were to unite to grant away their equal rights, they could not grant away the right of those who follow them. For what are we but tenants for a day? Have we made the earth, that we should determine the rights of those who after us shall tenant it in their turn? The Almighty, who created the earth for man and man for the earth, has entailed it upon all the generations of the children of men by a decree written upon the constitution of all things—a decree which no human action can bar and no prescription determine. Let the parchments be ever so many, or possession ever so long, natural justice can recognize no right in one man to the possession and enjoyment of land that is not equally the right of all his fellows. Though his titles have been acquiesced in by generation after generation, to the landed estates of the Duke of Westminster the poorest child that is born in London to-day has as much right as his eldest son. Though the sovereign people of the State of New York consent to the landed possessions of the Astors, the puniest infant that comes wailing into the world, in the squalidest room of the most miserable tenement house, becomes at that moment seized of an equal right with the millionaires. And it is robbed if the right is denied.”

And yet—the single tax, in the hands of a bare majority, would prescribe conditions on which men might be “permitted” to exercise their inalienable rights: the payment of the tax; and on failure to comply with the conditions, it would bar them from the land; that is, deprive them of their inalienable rights. See portions of platform already quoted.

Again: What are men said to get when they buy land now? Is it more than the right of exclusive possession, and disposition of it for all time? No. And what do they pay? Why! the value. And what is the value? The estimated present worth of the rent which is expected to accrue. And under the single tax, what will they get? Just as they get now; the right of exclusive possession and disposition of it for the year, or such time as may have been fixed for the periodical assessments. And what will they pay? Why! The rent. The principle is the same in both cases. The difference is in the time for which the transfer is made, except that the public monopoly has been substituted for the private one. It is hoped that the politicians will expend the funds judiciously for the good of the people. And they will—when they all become angels. And if we are going to have a socialistic state for the control of one of the factors in production—the land—I see no reason why we may not entrust the other factor, the labor, to the tender mercies of the same socialistic state. I don’t know why the politicians would be any the less angelic. It might tax their wisdom a little further, perhaps; but as they are known to have an infinite stock of that we need not fear of exhausting it.

Among the astonishing virtues claimed for the single tax are, that it would be no hindrance to production; and that it could not be shifted by the payer in the first instance, upon the consumers of the goods produced. “Taxes upon the value of land cannot check production in the slightest degree, until they exceed rent, or the value of land taken annually, for unlike taxes upon commodities, or exchange, or capital, or any of the tools or processes of production, they do not bear upon production.” See page 297, “Progress and Poverty.” Is that so? Well, let us see! Dismissing the tax, and taking only the rent, so that we cannot be accused of taking more, what have we? Rent being “the price of monopoly,” and land the thing monopolized, let us re-state the essential part of the above proposition. “The price of monopoly cannot check the use of the thing monopolized in the slightest degree.” How is that for a proposition to be put forward by a professed economist? And yet that is precisely what Mr. George’s proposition means. In the light of this, the absurdity of the following proposition, on the same page of “Progress and Poverty”, is apparent: “Taxes on the value of land not only do not check production as do other taxes, but they tend to increase production, by destroying speculative rent.” How can the price of a thing stimulate the use of it? And if the destruction of speculative rent is a good thing, why not destroy the monopoly for which it, along with so-called economic rent, is the price? [41]

Now for the claim that the single tax cannot be shifted! Suppose the single tax in full operation and I have paid the tax for a location on which to do business, what do I do with that account? Do I not charge it up to expense; and, like all the other items in the expense account, do I not add it to the cost of the goods produced, and do not those who buy the goods pay it? Of course! I could not do business in any other way; nor could others. No! the single tax is like every other tax, a burden upon consumption. It hinders production by increasing the cost of production and thereby decreasing consumption.

As an instance of the curious absurdities into which men are led in pursuit of a theory, the single tax is instructive. The official formula, as adopted at the Single Tax Conference, in New York, reads: “To carry out these principles we are in favor of raising all public revenues for national, state, county and y municipal purposes by a single tax upon land values, irrespective of improvements, and of the abolition of all forms of direct and indirect taxation.” Passing over the manifest self-contradiction in this plank of the platform, let us apply it, and see how it would work. The sale of postage stamps is now one of the sources of public revenue. But according to our single tax platform that must be abolished, the postal service performed free, and the revenue for its support raised by a single tax upon land values. This would be a pretty good arrangement for those who use the mails as the principal means of doing their business, but decidedly disadvantageous to those who only write a letter occasionally. And should the government, under the single tax, finally assume control of other monopolies, such as the “telegraphs, railroads, water and gas supplies,” as hinted at in the platform, it must follow the same rule as with the post office, so far as it performs any service, and make that service free, levying the tax for its support upon the land values. Edward Bellamy certainly ought to be a single taxer, if he is not. [42]

After taking account of all these incongruities, contradictions, and absurdities, is it any wonder that men are slow to grasp the intricacies of the single tax; and that the movement drags? for it is slowly, but certainly, dying out as a specific reform movement. Men of independent thought and good ability may be drawn into it for a time, but they soon learn its inconsistencies, and either go further, or cease their activity altogether; while the ignorant cannot be made to understand it at all. A few men of mediocrity, who take their opinions from authority, will continue to champion the single tax; but it is too cumbersome and complicated at best, to awaken any considerable responses in the popular mind. “The sun needs no inscription to distinguish him from darkness.”

Mr. George says: “If private property in land is just, then the remedy I propose is a false one; if, on the contrary, private property in land be unjust, then is this remedy the true one,” which does not follow at all. That is like saying that, “if private property in niggers is unjust, then to make niggers public property is the true remedy.” “In the name of the Prophet, Figs!” Before we accept his remedy as the true one, I think we may properly ask for further evidence on that point. And, while we are considering the ethical side of the question, may it not be as well to ask what right single taxers have to prescribe conditions upon which men may be permitted to exercise their “inalienable rights,’ say the payment of the single tax, for instance?

At several points during the course of Mr. George’s works he touches upon some very suggestive subjects. On page 64 of “Progress and Poverty,” he says:

“If bad government rob the laborer of his capital, if unjust laws take from the producer the wealth with which he would assist production, and hand it over to those who are mere pensioners upon industry, the real limitation to the effectiveness of labor is in misgovernment, and not in want of capital.” [43]

Right there is a rich vein of ore. It is a pity lie did not follow that lead a little further. But he didn’t. If he had, he might have learned that government is always mis-government, and that law always has for its object the “taking from the producer the wealth with which he would assist production, and the handing it over to those who are mere pensioners upon industry.” He would have seen that law never promotes the prosperity and happiness of any but those pensioners; and that it is just as impossible to make men prosperous and happy by law, as to make them good by law.

Is there anything more needed for the complete refutation and disproof of the single tax? I think not. But if there is, I will try and supply it when I come to treat of government and politics in Part III of this work.

Shall we say then that Mr. George’s great labors have been in vain,—that his work has been a failure? By no means. If all the mistakes, the inconsistencies, and absurdities which I have pointed out in “Progress and Poverty,” his greatest work, remain unanswered; and the whole fabric of the single tax is destroyed, does it lessen the brilliancy of his genius, or detract from the fame which the future will accord him? Not a whit. These are but the tarnish which hides the polished surface beneath. And when they are rubbed off, the life-work of Henry George will shine with a luster it else could not know. In every hamlet between the two oceans men have learned the lesson of human dignity, have obtained a clearer knowledge of human rights, and human equality, and have caught a higher inspiration of liberty. And not here alone, but wherever civilization has lifted men above the savage, he has awakened a larger hope and painted a higher ideal. The seed thus planted is taking deep root, and cannot fail, ere long, to bear an abundant harvest of blessings to every human being. I, too, drank at his fountain. I salute my Teacher.



While socialism, in its broadest signification, may be said to apply to all the theories, which may be advanced, which relate to the intercourse of men in society; yet it is seldom used in this sense.

Most writers give it a narrower, and more restricted meaning, which may properly be described as “state socialism:” or the bringing about by state regulation of a more precise, orderly, and harmonious arrangement of the social relations of mankind, than that which has before prevailed. This very nearly corresponds with Webster’s definition of “socialism;” and is a fair statement of that form of socialism which enjoys a monopoly of the professed socialistic activity of the day.

“We call socialism every doctrine that teaches that the state has a right to correct the inequality of wealth which exists among men, and to legally establish the balance by taking from those who have too much in order to give to those who have not enough, and that in a permanent manner, and not in such and such a particular case,—a famine, for instance, a public calamity,” etc.—Janet.

“In the first place every socialistic doctrine aims at introducing greater equality in social conditions, and in the second place, at realizing those reforms by law.”—Laveleye.

Karl Marx, however, although regarded as more of an authority on socialism, makes no distinct definition of the term. His efforts are mainly directed to showing the inequality of the present system, its economic mistakes, and pointing out what he regards the true economic conditions. But by implication he does leave the inference that the remedy must be sought through the application of legal restraints and regulations. That this is the correct inference is shown by the fact that all the efforts of his professed followers are directed to the extension of the powers and functions of the state, for the avowed purpose of bringing about through the state an enforced equality in what they call “the distribution of wealth.” Observing the power which wealth confers upon its possessor, and the intense competition engendered in the scramble to obtain it, they seek through state regulation to destroy that competition, not perceiving that the competition itself is the result of the laws of property, to maintain which the whole power of the state is bent.

Edward Bellamy, too, representing a modified form of state socialism, is in many respects a more popular writer, while at the same time a far more superficial one. He gives the state the all but absolute control of not only the production and distribution of wealth, but of education, public amusements, and social intercourse.

When stripped of its dreams, its visions and its mysticism, socialism resolves itself into two propositions, which are summed up by Victor Hugo, thus:

“The first problem: to produce wealth.

“The second problem: to distribute it.

“The first problem contains the question of labor; the second contains the question of wages. In the first problem is the employment of force; in the second, of the distribution of enjoyment. From the good employment of force results public power; from the good distribution of enjoyment results individual happiness. By good distribution we must understand not equal distribution, but equitable distribution. The highest equality is equity.

“From these two things combined, public power without, individual happiness within, results social prosperity. Social prosperity means, man happy, the citizen free, the nation great.

“England solves the first of these two problems. She creates wealth wonderfully; she distributes it badly. This solution, which is complete only on one side, leads her inevitably to these two extremes: monstrous opulence, monstrous misery. All the enjoyment to the few; all the privation to the rest, that is to say, to the people; privilege, exception, monopoly, feudality, springing from labor itself; a false and dangerous situation which founds public power upon private misery: which plants the grandeur of the state in the suffering of the individual. A grandeur ill constituted, in which all the material elements are combined, and into which no moral element enters.

“Communism and agrarian law think they have solved the second problem. They are mistaken. Their distribution kills production. Equal partition abolishes emulation, and consequently labor. It is the distribution made by the butcher, who kills what he divides. It is therefore impossible to stop at these professed solutions. To kill wealth is not to distribute it. The two problems must be solved together. Solve the first only of the two problems, you will be Venice, you will be England. You will have like Venice an artificial power, or like England a material power; you will be the evil rich man, you will perish by violence, as Venice died, or by bankruptcy, as England will fail, and the world will let you die and fall, because the world lets everything fall and die which is nothing but selfishness, everything which does not represent a virtue, or an idea for the human race.”

But socialism has a more direct and specific purpose. Realizing in a general way that the differences between men in point of capacity arise more from differences in condition and circumstances, than from anything inherent in themselves; and also realizing that the scramble for wealth carries with it untold evils: wage slavery, dependence, pauperism, and brutality, socialists seek to abolish that competition by changes in the law. It will, however, be seen, when we come to analyze property, in Part II, that this competition comes purely as a result of the laws of property, that those laws are the central point around which all other laws cluster; and that it is in order to enforce those laws that all other laws are made necessary. Then again, by referring to the proposed remedy, in Part IV, it will be seen that it is easier to destroy the whole volume of the law, and so, utterly to destroy competition, and finally bring about a condition of common property, than to change the law in any essential particular. [47]

From the foregoing it is plain that that form of socialism which is described as state socialism, is the proposition to correct the observed inequalities of social conditions by the application of force exerted through the law, or the state. This understanding of the subject at once gives a clue to the origin of this variety of socialism; for what could be more natural to the superficial than that when they see an evil, they try to put a stop to it by force, if they have at their disposal a force which they regard as adequate?

In a rude and barbarous age, when kings ruled by divine right, and the fiction prevailed that “the king could do no wrong,” his acts were supposed to embody all wisdom, because he was the instrument of Divine Justice, and therefore inspired by Divine Wisdom. The king being the state, and being hedged about by a peculiar divinity, or sanctity, what was more natural than that men looked to him for direction and guidance? And when the popular will, as in a republic, was substituted for the will of the king: the king’s authority ridiculed, set at naught, and brought down, while the authority of the people was exalted, what more natural again than that the same veneration should be transferred to the republican state, as had been given to the king; and that men should continue to look to the state as the source of wisdom and authority?

Pleased with this fiction of self-government, men have been blinded to the fact that they have only sub set of politicians for another; that they have set up the political boss, surrounded by his dependents, upon the throne formerly occupied by the king, and his courtiers. This tendency which we find in men to appeal to the state to right every wrong, aid correct every abuse, is only a continuation of the same veneration that was formerly accorded to the king, and has precisely the same reason in it, and no more, than in the claim that the king governed by Divine right, and therefore, that h could do no wrong.

There is still another reason why men try to correct abuses by law, but which is no more creditable to their intelligence than their acceptance of this modem form of the doctrine of the Divine right of the king, or the state. The unthinking man will always accept the theory or suggestion which seems most obvious, without stopping to find out whether or not it is the truth. If he is hurt, he is likely to expend his resentment against the instrument, instead of looking beyond to find out who wields it. If he is jammed in a crowd he curses the one next to him without waiting to see if he is the source of the pressure. In medicine, the doctor plasters the sore without looking for the cause of the disturbance. In politics men try to correct abuses by law, while leaving the real obstruction untouched. Their efforts are aimed at the effect, and not the cause. Thus the prohibitionist would cure the evils of intemperance by preventing people from drinking; the moralist would cure crime by punishing the criminal; and the socialist would correct human inequalities by an enforced equality.

This is, and always has been the method of legislators. It is the method which requires no thought. And I suppose this fact—that it does require no thought, is one reason why we elect unthinking men to govern us, and make laws for us. The ward boss, the blatant demagogue, the political heeler makes an ideal legislator. It does not at all shake men’s confidence in their immaculate legislators, as a class, or in political methods, to find that their laws always have a contrary effect from what was intended, or expected.

State socialism then, originates in the manifest tendency of men to try to correct errors by striking at the effect of those errors. Its object (a pure and noble one) seeks to establish justice: that is, equality, and promote fraternity. Its methods are those of the politician, and must continue to be subject to political conditions.

To entrust one man with power over another: to enable him to decide what that other may, or may not do, is to magnify the one and belittle the other. It is to confer on one what is taken from the other. It is, at its very starting point, a violation of equality, and consequently a violation of justice; because justice means equity. The equal balance is a perfect symbol of justice. A thing is just between two individuals if, in its action, it affects them equally. But when officers are chosen who are given power over others through the making or execution of law, it becomes itself an injustice because it is an inequality. Man being selfish, and possessing the love of distinction, he must necessarily use the power placed in his hand, for the gratification of that passion for distinction. The artificial superiority conferred on him he soon comes to regard as a natural one; and he demands as a right what was at first intended merely as a social convenience. He then not only takes all that is given him, but tries to get more. To this end he finds that he can work more effectually by combining with others situated like him. So parties are formed, whose sole purpose is to get and keep wealth, power, distinction, for the members of the party, or at least, its leaders; and by any method which may be found effectual.

This is, and always must remain, the essential character of politics, as well as the method of politicians. Where power, distinction, and through them the possibility of wealth are offered as prizes, politicians will scramble for them. Nor will they be particular how they scramble. The course of human development has been toward greater equality: that is, toward justice, by increasing instead of decreasing liberty: by restricting instead of enlarging the functions of government. Every social evil will be found, on last analysis, to arise solely from the control which some men exercise over other men. Reform has always been in the lessening of that control: in approaching more nearly to equality, or, justice, by the repeal of laws, and by promoting a larger liberty.

State socialism then, by seeking to extend the power of the state, would turn back the current of human progress, and re-enact the despotisms of the past. All this it would do in a mistaken pursuit of a reign of universal justice.



Having ascertained the methods by which the state must exert its force, if it attempts to control the production and exchange of wealth; or, in fact, of whatever else it may undertake, it is evident that its success depends upon one single condition: the obedience or submission of its citizens to its authority. Without this it will be impossible to enforce its decrees. Owing to a diversity of knowledge, and to a thousand varying personal characteristics, there is certain to be a diversity of opinion; but the ruling power in the state, however it is made up, or for whatever purpose, cannot permit freedom of expression in action, of this diversity, in the matters of its control, because this would end the regulation. There can be no regulation where each may or may not accept the prescribed course of action, as it may, or may not accord with his or her varying opinion.

Its foundation, then, is submission to authority. But what is authority, and what does submission imply? Authority presupposes superior qualities, as of knowledge, ability, virtue, or power of the authority; and by virtue of that superiority it claims obedience. To submit is to concede such a superiority. And just as men concede such a superiority: just as they exalt others above themselves, they abase themselves below those others. Just as they submit to be guided by others’ knowledge, do they forego the necessity of increasing their own. Just as they depend upon others’ ability, they cease to cultivate their own powers. If they accept a guide by reason of the virtue of that guide, and use his virtue for their own guidance, they cease to be virtuous themselves. As they submit to the power of another they become slavish and cringing themselves. But, on the other hand, as they reject authority, and refuse to obey its dictates, do they become progressive and self-reliant.

These principles hold good when applied in every possible sphere of human activity. To concede the authority of the past, or of its masters of thought, in science, art, literature, or religion is to deny progress, and stop enquiry. To call it in question is to open the door for advancement. As long as the slave submits to a master he will continue to be a slave. Independence, self-reliance, strength of will, insubordination, always go together, and are incompatible with discipline.

As showing how completely the socialistic scheme depends upon compulsion, discipline, the superiority of some and inferiority of others, and the paternal nature of its government, see pages 63, 94, 123, 127-8, 141, 156, 183-4, 189-91, 199-201, of Edward Bellamy’s “Looking Backward.” These are only a few of the grosser illustrations of this essential character of the plan; and “Looking Backward” is only the working out in detail of the scheme. The schemes of those state socialists who do not accept Mr. Bellamy’s plans, depend equally upon this same submission.

Upon such a foundation there can be built but one superstructure: that of slavish dependence. Freedom of thought, independent manhood, individuality become swallowed up in authority, and a steadily falling standard of mediocrity. The power of the state made supreme, holding within its grasp all the resources and activities of the people to an extent which no despot ever knew before, with the spirit of resistance steadily weakened, we should have conditions inviting, and certain to produce, a despotism more intolerable than any the world ever knew. [53]

But even if this were not so: even if under these conditions the people could retain the power within their own grasp, and carry into successful operation their schemes, it would still violate the conditions of human progress, check the development of individual character, extinguish genius, and promote a constantly falling standard of mediocrity. Whatever our plans of progress, to succeed, they must not run counter to men’s natures; but to make sustenance the reward of labor, and then reward all men alike, whatever their deserts, at once destroys the incentive to excel, closes the door to personal advancement in that direction, prevents the expression of individuality, and encourages indolence and sloth. For some time to come the hope of increased reward for increased exertion must continue to be one of the greatest incentives to excellence. This, state socialism would destroy without substituting anything but dependence and uniformity in its place.

Such a system, as compared with the present, in some respects, might increase the amount of wealth produced, just as an improved system of discipline on a slave plantation might enable the master to get more work out of the slaves; but the advantage could not go to the slaves Those who wielded the despotism would get the advantage. As between the two: our present industrial slavery, and a slavery like this, the present is infinitely more to be desired.

This fact is incontestable, that the condition necessary to the development of an independent self-reliant manhood is the perfect freedom of the individual; and that just in proportion as that freedom is violated, this type of manhood is suppressed, and men become mean-spirited and base.



Karl Marx, like all the economic writers that I know of, started out to study the laws which govern the relations of men, by observing some of the things that men do; which is like trying to learn the mechanical construction and movements of a machine by examining a few of the different kinds of work it turns out. What can a man find out of the complicated mechanical movements of a planing machine by examining a planed board after it has passed through? And what can we infer of the laws which govern the social relations of men by observing the phenomena of the circulation of wealth, splitting economic hairs, and drawing fine distinctions as to the nature of property, the rightfulness of interest, or the value of commodities? We must first know what man is; what are his springs of action, what the purpose of his being, and in what ways he seeks to accomplish that purpose, before we can make real headway in tracing his relations to his fellows.

Without any disrespect to Mr. Marx for his faulty methods, for they have been the methods of others before and since, and with no purpose to detract anything from the real value of his work, I will try and point out some of the mistakes into which he fell, and which might have been avoided had he begun at the right point and followed the subject with the same care and fidelity that he has evidently bestowed upon his work (Kapital).

Along with other economic writers, Mr. Marx falls into an almost inextricable confusion over “labor value,” “surplus value, “and “value in exchange.” Observing that a commodity requiring a given number of hours’ or days’ labor to produce it, does not always exchange equally for another commodity into which the same amount of labor has entered, and which he therefore regards as of equal labor value, he calls that difference “profit,” or “surplus value,” which, together with the “labor value” make up the “value in exchange.” He roundly condemns profit or surplus value, as a species of robbery. Insisting that it can have no economic basis, he says:

“Turn and twist then as we may, the fact remains unaltered. If equivalents are exchanged, no surplus value results, and if non-equivalents are exchanged, still no surplus value. Circulation, or exchange of commodities, begets no value.”

By this he thinks he has shown the injustice of profit, taking profit to mean the difference between the labor cost to produce the commodity and the labor that entered into the cost of production of the thing it is exchanged for.

Condillac came nearer the truth when he said:

“It is not true that on an exchange of commodities we give value for value. On the contrary, each of the two contracting parties, in every case, gives a less for a greater value. And yet, they both gain, or ought to gain—why? The value of a thing consists solely in its relation to our wants. What is more to one is less to the other, and vice versa.”

But why more to one and less to another? Let us see. I have desires. It is only by my labor that I can gratify my desires. By an expenditure of thirty days of my labor, I have produced wheat; but my desire is for clothing. Owing to various causes, the principal of which is my want of skill, if I apply my labor directly to the making of the clothes I want, I must work sixty days to obtain them. But here is another who has clothing which has cost him thirty days’ labor, and who wants wheat. His skill in wheat growing is as limited as mine is in the making of clothes, and it would take him as long, were he to undertake directly to grow wheat, to get the wheat he wants as it would me to produce the clothes I want. But, if we can exchange, I giving him my wheat for his clothes, we have clearly both made a profit in the transaction He has saved thirty days of his labor over what it would have cost him to grow the wheat he wanted, and I have saved thirty days of my labor over what it would have cost me to make the clothes

I needed. This is how both parties to an equal exchange make a profit on the same transaction. But what is meant by “labor cost” and “labor value?“ Are they both the same thing, or different? Let us see. If I speak of the labor cost of a thing I mean the amount of labor that entered into its production. But if I speak of its “labor value,” I mean the amount of the product of labor, measured by its labor cost, that it will exchange for, which is often a very different thing. Let me make that plain. In the case of a famine my wheat rises in value. Labor applied to the production of wheat, owing to the conditions which cause the famine, is unproductive. It may take five times as much of my skilled labor, or five times as much of the others’ unskilled labor, to produce as much wheat as I already have that only cost., me thirty days’ labor. The cost of my wheat remains the same, but its labor value has risen five fold. It will require five times as much labor to replace it as it did to produce what I have. The labor necessary to produce clothing remaining the same, if I now wish to exchange for clothing I can get five times as many clothes as I could before, and yet I only obtain the labor value, under the then existing conditions, of my wheat.

Again, it often occurs that the labor value of a thing falls below its labor cost. Any improvement in methods of production by which labor is saved, its effectiveness increased, and the labor cost of future production is reduced, reduces the labor value of all the goods of that kind in the market, although labor cost remains the same. If a plan of producing wheat is discovered by which I, and others who grow wheat, can realize as much wheat in fifteen days as I have already obtained in thirty, then, although the labor cost of the wheat I now have remains the same, its labor value falls one half, because I am unable to obtain, in the products of others’ labor, more than half as much as I could before.

Labor cost, then, is the amount of labor which entered into the production of a thing in the past: or at the time it was produced; and the labor value represents the amount of labor, which, at the time being, (the present,) it would require to replace it.

But Mr. Marx says, that the “circulation, or exchange of commodities, begets no value.” We have already seen wherein it does beget very important values to both the parties to the exchange. We will now take the case of the merchant who only trades (speculates if you please) in the products. When the goods receive their finishing touches in the shop, they are ready for the customers. But the customers must either come after them, or some one must take them to the customers. However performed, this means the additional expenditure of labor. Then too, all the excepted customers are not ready, and some of the goods must be kept on hand until they are prepared for them. This again, requires further labor to care for them, to show them when wanted, and attend to the delivery of them. All these things enter into and form a part of the labor cost, which, barring other influences which might operate to cheapen them, must appear in the selling value. The merchant who performs the labor of “circulation, or exchange of the commodities,” by the performance of that labor, has added a value, which added value represents his wages for his share in the production of those goods: wages which are just as legitimate, and just as necessary, as the wages of any person, at any step in the whole series of processes. A failure to recognize this fact led Mr. Marx to make his astonishing statement above quoted, and another of the same kind later on that, “wherever equality exists there can be no gain,” and in fact, this idea not only prevails throughout his works, but it is the key note of the socialistic propaganda of the day.

But Mr. Marx makes more serious mistakes than what may be called economic slips. He has missed the essential character of man himself. Observing the men’s wants can only be supplied by labor, noting the increased power of production that comes from association, and without stopping to consider what the essential conditions of association are, he concludes that it is the all-important thing; and he would bring about an enforced association, and that without complying with the pre-requisites upon which all association must rest.

Speaking of present conditions of industry, he says; “In manufacture, in order to make the collective laborer, and through him capital, rich in social productive power, each laborer must be made poor in individual productive powers. Ignorance is the mother of industry as well as superstition. Reflection and fancy are subject to err; but a habit of moving the hand or foot is independent of either. Manufacturers, accordingly, prosper most where the mind is least consulted, and where the workshop may be considered as an engine, the parts of which are men.”

It would hardly be possible to crowd into the same space a greater number of gross absurdities than are contained in this short paragraph. In the very first sentence there are two distinct statements, or inferences, neither of which are true; first, that capital seeks labor which is poor in individual productive power; and second, that there is a social productive power apart from individual productive power. If the first were true, then those who become incapacitated individually: that is, become “poor in individual productive powers,” would be the ones most sought for by capital, and of course, would command the best wages. This is his proposition stated in plain terms, the absurdity of which is self-evident.

But this is probably not what Mr. Marx meant. He doubtless referred to the fact that capitalists, in the employment, of labor, in order to make that labor as productive as possible, promote the greatest degree of subdivision of labor; and, in order to keep wages down, they render the laborers as helpless as possible, by shutting out every opportunity for other, or independent employment; and to still further increase their helplessness they discourage them from learning more than the few simple movements required to perform their assigned parts. But this is a very different thing from seeking incapacity for the sake of that incapacity. Nor do they seek incapacity at all in the things that the laborer is required to do In them they require the highest degree of skill and efficiency; and are willing to, and do, pay additional wages for additional skill. But instead of the subdivision of labor in itself rendering labor dependent and helpless, with labor free, so that it can reap the full reward of its exertion, it becomes the greatest means for making it independent by increasing its productiveness, and thereby increasing the prosperity and happiness of the laborers. The thing then for laborers to do, in order to increase their wages, is to break down all the barriers which shut them out from any or all other employments: which prevent them from freely employing themselves in any line they may see fit to engage in.

But what is this “social productive power” that Mr. Marx speaks of? What is it that enables one hundred men working together, that is, socially, to produce more than the same hundred working separately, or as individuals? Why, simply, this same subdivision of labor. If the one hundred laborers individually engage in the manufacture of watches, each must spend many years in learning how to make watches. In undertaking so much, none of them can become very proficient watch makers. In the course of their lives none of them will make more than a comparatively few watches. If they have some holes to bore in a plate, a few springs to temper, or pinions to turn, or any other process to perform, they must, each time, fit up specially for the occasion, which of itself requires much time; and these fittings must be changed with every change in the process. From the very nature of such work it is imperfect, and under such conditions the manufacture of watches becomes slow and difficult. But divide up these several processes into one hundred parts; let one man bore holes in plates, another temper springs, another turn pinions, another polish a wheel, and so on through the whole list, each being supplied with perfect appliances for doing his work exactly and quickly, and these hundred persons will each save, in the time required to learn his trade, several of the best years of his life, and still the number of watches turned out will probably. be a thousand fold more than it would have been had these men continued to work individually; and besides, the watches will be of much better workmanship. But, while this “social productive power” depends upon association, it is still only the aggregate of the “individual productive powers” of the one hundred watchmakers.

The next statement in Mr. Marx’s paragraph is even more astonishing. “Ignorance is the mother of industry as well as superstition ;“ that is, the cause of it. Then the more ignorant men are, the more in dustrious they are, which is pure nonsense. Men labor to satisfy their desires; but desire depends upon their ability to appreciate good things, and therefore to desire them. But how can they appreciate a thing, and consequently desire it, without a knowledge of that thing? The greater men’s knowledge the greater their desires, and consequently the greater the stimulus to labor to gratify those desires. [61]

There is just one more statement in this remarkable paragraph to which I wish to call attention, and that is, that “manufacturers, accordingly, prosper most where the mind is least consulted, and where the workshop may be considered as an engine, the parts of which are men.” Of course, he means, where the mind of the workman is least consulted. This is clearly indicated by the context; but even if it were not, he would not say that manufacturers prospered most where their own minds were least consulted. The absurdity of such a statement would be too apparent, even to Mr. Marx. But it is certainly not true as applied to the workmen. The fact that the most intelligent workmen get the most pay, and are most sought for, is a sufficient refutation of this most transparent absurdity. Even in shops where there is the least regard paid to the interests of the workmen, superior intelligence is rewarded by higher wages; and the more intelligent the workman, the more intelligently, and therefore the more productively, he can apply his labor. He may even invent a machine to do the work of several men; and as a matter of fact, the machines invented for the saving of labor, and increasing the production in shops, have, in a great majority of cases, been invented by the workmen in those shops. The trouble with Mr. Marx is, that he has missed the whole spirit and purpose of labor. His diagnosis of the disease is seriously at fault, therefore, it is safe to conclude that his remedy is not to be trusted.

The indications are numerous throughout Mr. Marx’s whole work of this misconception of the whole genius of labor. In treating of the subordination of labor to capital he makes that subordination a matter of necessity. He says, “That the capitalist should command on the field of production, is now as indispensable as that a general should command on the field of battle,” which is not true in any sense. Referring to our analysis of capital in Chapter II, it will be remembered that we found that the only function that capital performs in the production of wealth is that of a tool, to aid labor; to make it more productive. To assume that it is necessary for the owners of that tool, when they chance to be other than the laborers themselves, to command in the processes where that tool is used, is a monstrous assumption. It has neither truth nor reason. It is like assuming that a slave must have a master in order to raise the food for himself to live on. If I own a pick which a miner must use in digging ore, is it necessary, in order to enable him to dig that ore, that I command him in the use of that pick? Nonsense! My interference would be a hindrance. And, so far as capitalists, as such, presume to direct in the processes of production, they hinder and obstruct production. The thing that is necessary is this; when capital represents monopoly, as it commonly does, then, to enable monopoly to make sure of getting the largest possible proportion of the product, it must “command on the field of production.” That is where the necessity for the command comes in; and it is the only necessity for it. The master commands the slave, not because that command is necessary to enable the slave to produce, but to enable the master to obtain the product. And if I wish to get the ore which the miner will dig, I may undertake to do so through the command of the use of the pick. But, as a matter of fact, capitalists almost never directly “command on the field of production.” They realize that they are not competent to do so. What they do is, to select workmen (officers of the corporation) who they believe are competent, and on whom they can depend to protect the interests of their monopoly. These men command, not as capitalists, but as superior workmen. The capitalist (the stockholder) does nothing but help select the commanders, and draw his share of the monopoly (his dividend) at stated periods. But, even this limited and indirect command which the capitalist exercises, so far from being necessary to the processes of production, is a discouragement, and therefore a hindrance. Every dollar which the capitalist takes in dividends, which does not represent his own labor expended in that particular branch of production, is the fruit of monopoly, and means just so much dishonestly abstracted from the wages of those who have expended their labor on it. It can never be justified upon any principle of nature, or equity, until it can be shown that it is natural, or equal, for one man who does not work to live upon the earnings of another who does. Nature does not produce on the one side the capitalist, and on the other the laborer. The relation is an abnormal one. We shall try to ascertain at what point the difference is set up which results in monstrous wealth on the one side, and extreme poverty on the other.

Mr. Marx, in urging the need of co-operation, points to those vast structures of the ancient Asiatics, Egyptians, Etruscans, etc., as evidence of the wonderful power and effectiveness of co-operation. From these he argues the utility and necessity for centering the power of direction and sustenance of the people in government. He says; “It is that confinement of the revenues which feed them, (the people) to one, or a few hands, which makes such undertakings possible;” and for once Mr. Marx is right. It does require just such a concentration in “one or a few hands” to make such undertakings possible. And more than that, where such concentrations exist, such undertakings become, not only possible, but exceedingly probable. The history of every country in the world where these concentrations have been reached, tells the same story of vast and useless structures, consuming the unpaid labor of millions, built to gratify the ostentation of the despot, and along with it, of the abject misery, destitution, and ignorance of the people. If we would prevent such a result in our own case, we must stop this concentration that is going on, this “confinement of the revenues which feed them (the people) in one or a few hands,” to render these undertakings impossible. [64]

But while Mr. Marx is right in attributing the possibility of these vast structures to such concentration, he is wrong in calling that concentration co-operation. Webster defines co-operation as “the act of co-operating, or operating together to one end; joint operation; concurrent effort or labor.” The very construction of the word implies equality, and just in proportion as equality, is violated, the operation ceases to be a co-operation. And when the power of direction is centered “in one, or a few hands,” the operation is always performed by the other hands; and to call it a co-operation is a burlesque of the word. There can be no co-operation that is worthy the name which is not an absolutely free and voluntary one: a concurrent operation of equals, and where the rewards are equally shared. Such equality is wholly incompatible with the condition of master to command on one side, and man to obey on the other. His use of the term cooperation in connection with these ancient relics of slavery, proves, as much as anything else, Mr. Marx’s want of comprehension of the whole labor problem, as well as his ignorance of the necessary conditions of co-operation.

One point more and we will leave Mr. Marx and his friends to reconstruct their system, if they can. If any one still has any doubt of Mr. Marx’s utter want of comprehension of the social question let him read his treatment of the subject of the subdivision of labor. I will quote a few sample passages which will give the clew to his notion of this important matter. He says:

“Division of labor, which is the distinguishing principle of manufacture, requires the isolation of the various stages of production, and their independence of each other. The establishment and maintenance of a connection between the isolated functions necessitates the incessant transport of the articles from one hand to another, and from one process to another. From the standpoint of modern mechanical industry, this necessity stands forth as a characteristic and costly disadvantage, and one that is immanent in the principle of manufacture.” [65]

And again: “Some crippling of body and mind is inseparable even from division of labor in society as a whole. The subdivision of labor is the assassination of a people.”

It is hard to understand how a man of even ordinary intelligence should so completely misunderstand this great fact and factor; in short, this one essential condition of human progress. To revert to a previous illustration of the manufacture of watches, we saw that when watchmakers made entire watches the processes were slow, and imperfect, and required many years of patient effort before even indifferent work was turned out. But with a subdivision of the work of watch-making, the production was probably increased a thousand fold, while the work was also improved in quality. A saving, amounting to years of labor to every man engaged at it, was made at the outset; and, measured by the comparative results obtained, a saving of days almost against minutes is further made during the whole active working part of a watchmaker’s life. But this is not singular to the watchmaker’s trade. It applies in a varying degree to every industry in this world. In fact, it is a safe calculation to assume that the subdivision of labor, as a principle, has been a greater labor-saving device than all other machines and devices that were ever invented. And more, the greater the subdivision, the more easily mechanical invention can be made to take the place of manual labor. If a man had attempted to invent a machine to make watches, he would have found it a very difficult thing to do; but, resulting from the subdivision of the labor of watch making, almost every part of a watch is made by machinery, which still further reduces the cost of watches.

This process of subdivision of labor has been going on steadily ever since men began to develop from barbarism, and has kept pace with that development. It does not “require the isolation of the various stages of production, and their independence of each other.” It is a very common thing to see one process follow another through a great variety of stages, under the same roof, as the goods are passed successively through the hands of operatives, each adding his own part until they issue finished; or, in other cases, where the several parts and processes are completed separately, and are finally assembled by others specially trained to that work. If this isolation and separation were “immanent in modern mechanical industry” to the extent of rendering it a “characteristic and costly disadvantage,” it would have been impossible for the subdivision of labor to have developed as it has done. It has developed because not one of these statements is true; because facility and advantage of handling, as well as cheapness of production, is its uniform and characteristic feature.

Then, so far from its having a tendency to cripple the body and mind, the tendency has been to save the body, and give opportunity to develop the mind by shortening the hours of labor and giving leisure for improvement. It has lowered the prices of commodities and cheapened the comforts of life to an extent which has brought them within the reach of people of moderate means. That men have not enjoyed the benefits of shorter hours and improved conditions corresponding to these improvements has been from other causes than the subdivision of labor. This subdivision in itself has been an unmixed blessing to humanity; and it is destined to a still further extension beyond the most sanguine expectation of the wildest dreamer. What shall we say then to the man who sees in it only “the assassination of a people?”

Is Mr. Marx like those protectionists who are so fearful of the demoralizing effects of cheap goods that they seek to pass laws to make goods dear?



It is a hard matter properly to review, within the space to which such a review must be confined in a work like this, a writer whose misconception of his subject is so fundamental, and where that misconception gives such a false coloring to every fact and inference with which he deals. And were it not that so many earnest men and women have been captivated by the gaudy colorings of his fanciful creation, as flies are blinded by the glare of a candle, I should not regard “Looking Backward” as of sufficient interest to merit special examination in these pages.

There is not an analysis of a single principle which throws new light upon the subject, or a proposition put forward that offers even a rational solution of any difficulty. But, on the other hand, the whole tendency of Mr. Bellamy’s book is to hush the popular protest against the growing power of monopoly with promises which can never be fulfilled. To accept his solution of the social problem is to abandon the struggle for liberty, to give up to the enemy every position, and submit to be bound hand and foot while the chains of industrial slavery are riveted the tighter.

In describing his imaginary transition from the dominion of corporate monopoly, which is now fast swallowing up the business and industries of the country, to his reign of universal justice, he attempts to show that while we are not able to see their deeper meaning, yet things are all right as they are. All we have to do is to let monopoly go on unhindered, and it will finally culminate in no monopoly at all. In other words, give injustice full play, and the result is justice. Men need not to trouble themselves about the evils which exist in the world. These things are too deep for human understanding. The only thing to be done is, to let things take their own course; and, in the end, monopolists all become saints, and politicians angels. This is the same old promise we have always heard of a heaven by and by, if we will only submit to a hell now. If any one has any doubt of the correctness of this summary, let him read pages 53 to 58 of “Looking Backward”

Mr. Bellamy is like a painter who would be a botanist. He has painted a rose he never saw, but which he has inferred by looking at the sprout just pricking above the ground. But he was not satisfied with painting his imaginary rose; he must also describe its unfoldings, its leaves and stalk, its height, and the characteristics of its bud. He tells you its color, its odor, and the number and form of its seeds; yet he has never seen a rose. His book bears the impress throughout of the same kind of knowledge of men as such a painter would show of a rose.

A most convincing instance of Mr. Bellamy’s fundamental misconception of the whole social problem is shown in his treatment of government. His government has become beneficent, and his politicians wise and virtuous. He does not even call them politicians any longer. “Demagoguery and corruption are words having only an historical significance.” And yet he says that human nature has not been changed. “The conditions of human life have been changed, and with them the motives of human action.” But a a change of “the motives of human action” is not if change in human nature, pray what would be necessary to constitute such a change? It would be interesting to know what Mr. Bellamy regards “the motives of human action” now; and what those motives become under the changed conditions which he contemplates. But that is exactly what he does not tell us. It is important to know this because, unless we know what a man’s motive is, we can not calculate on what he will do. By inference only he admits that men are selfish now; therefore we may conclude that he does recognize in a vague sort of a way that selfishness is one of the motives (for he speaks of motives as if there were several) of human action. So far as it is a motive of action (by inference again) he eliminates it in his description of the new conditions thus:

“Nowadays . . . society is so constituted that there is absolutely no way in which an official, however ill-disposed, could possibly make any profit for himself or any one else by a misuse of his power. Let him be as bad an official as you please, he can not be a corrupt one. There is no motive to be. The social system no longer offers a premium on dishonesty.” So, selfishness is no longer a motive, because there is no way in which it could be gratified. Mr. Bellamy does not see that he proposes to change human nature,’ and yet, what could be a more radical change of human nature than to change the motive (for there is only one, and that one is selfishness) of human action? For a fuller consideration of selfishness, see Chapter 2 of Part II.

Selfishness being the motive of all human action, and being absolutely necessary, not only to the preservation of the individual; but to his improvement, to weaken, or destroy it, must weaken, or destroy, all stimulus to exertion; and society itself must deteriorate, or die, through the deterioration, or death, of its integers.

Politicians, like every one else, have this same motive. And like every one else, it is their only motive. We entrust them with power now, and they always abuse it. Men love power because it brings distinction. To be, or to be thought, different from others: brighter, smarter, wiser than one’s fellows, to receive deference, is one of the ruling passions of men. To entrust a man with power to command that deference, and then assume that he will not use it, is to assume that a man will not eat when he is hungry. He seeks the power in order to use it. These facts cannot be changed under any possible changes of conditions, because they are a part of the very nature of men, and the immediate result of the motive power which actuates them. If such changes could take place, if men could become less selfish, that change would be an essential change in human nature.

But if it were possible to attain to such a political condition as Mr. Bellamy describes, how is that condition to be brought about? Gradually, through the absorption of greater and still greater functions by government? The more power we place in the hands of the politicians the more we exaggerate the trouble already existing. An evil once established obeys the same law of growth that applies to everything else.

Every new law we pass, every additional office that we establish, magnifies the power and prestige of the politician. Do we finally reach the point in politics that Mr. Bellamy finds in monopoly, where monopoly and politics abolish themselves? Has he discovered a new law by which all evils are cured by promoting their greatest possible development?

Mr. Bellamy thinks it is desirable to abolish the use of money, and then imagines he has done so, when he interferes with, and so far as possible prevents, the exchange of commodities between individuals. This arises from another misconception of the nature and function of money. Had he understood that, he would not have found its use something to be avoided to begin with; and next, he would not have imagined that he had accomplished it by substituting his credit card for a circulating medium.

In some way wealth must circulate from hand to hand. As long as man cannot produce, each by his own labor, all the things he may want, this circulation or exchange must go on. To avoid the intolerable annoyance and inconvenience of a barter exchange in each instance, something must serve as a token, to represent comparative values, that will pass current from hand to hand, and be accepted as the’ equivalent of all forms of value. Such is money. In the function it performs it is a tool which facilitates these exchanges of commodities, and saves the enormous amounts of labor that would otherwise be required to effect the exchanges. How can a laborsaving invention so admirably adapted to minister to human wants, and save almost infinite amounts of human labor, be an undesirable thing; a thing to be gotten rid of? Could human stupidity find a more striking illustration?

Mr. Bellamy supposes that he has obviated the necessity for the use of money by interfering with, and in most cases prohibiting, these exchanges. By making the government a warehouse keeper, maintaining a sort of grand pool into which all wealth that is produced is poured, he finds that the circulation of wealth must still continue, although it is now only outward from his pool, or warehouse. So he substitutes his own kind of money to facilitate that circulation; but it is still money, although he calls it “credit card.”

Credit is another subject which Mr. Bellamy treats in his usual brilliant way. He makes Dr. Leete say of our nineteenth century civilization: “There was a natural limit to gold and silver, that is money proper, but none to credit, and the result was, that the volume of credit, that is, the promises of money, ceased to bear any ascertainable proportion to money, still less to the commodities actually in existence,” which shows that Dr. Leete not only did not understand the money question, but was also ignorant of credit. All this might be overlooked in Dr. Leete, who was looking back at us through the mists of a hundred years, but not in Mr. Bellamy, who is describing the conditions of the present, in the present. Let me observe. First, how does Mr. Bellamy know that there is any practical limit to gold and silver? Has he or any one else ever found it? Second, gold and silver are no more “money proper” than copper, paper, or a string of beads. Even a bank check makes very good money for temporary purposes. Anything will do, that can be made to perform the functions of money. Third, there is a limit to credit. I know it because I have tried it; and I know of a good many others who have too. If Mr. Bellamy has not, I congratulate him. Fourth, the volume of credit is not “promises of money,” and does not depend upon “any ascertainable proportion to the money actually in existence.”

But the culmination of Mr. Bellamy’s scintillations of wisdom, which I commend to those good and venerable ladies in and out of petticoats, who are so diligently seeking his painted heaven, is found when he contrasts our own low degree of civilization with that attained in his new Boston. He says: “Buying and selling is considered absolutely inconsistent with the mutual benevolence and disinterestedness which should prevail between citizens, and the sense of community of interest which supports our social system. According to our ideas, buying and selling is essentially anti-social in all its tendencies. It is an education in self-seeking at the expense of others, and no society whose citizens are trained in such a school can possibly rise above a very low grade of civilization.”

Now glance at his Twenty-first Century Bostonians who have been trained in his school of “mutual benevolence and disinterestedness,” and who have thereby risen to a very high “grade of civilization.” They are incapable of judging for themselves what is equitable in an exchange, and before they are permitted to make one, they must ask their guileless and virtuous politicians, —the government,—who are supposed to know, “to inquire into all the circumstances of the transaction so as to be able to guarantee its absolute equity,” like school children who must ask their mothers before they can swap jack-knives. It will be unnecessary specially to consider Mr. Bellamy further, as his positions are mainly those of the professed State socialists, and are sufficiently considered under other heads.



In these reviews of prominent authors on social topics, it has doubtless been observed that I make no attempt to cover more than a small part of their field. I could not do so; first, because space will not permit of it within the limits I have set to this work; and, second, because I have not been able to make such an exhaustive examination of their works as would qualify me for the task. This last remark applies with great force to this chapter on the fallacies of Proudhon; and, in a less degree, to that on those of Karl Marx. Although Mr. Proudhon has been one of the most prolific of authors, yet I have only had access to two of his earlier works: that on “Property,” and the one on “Economic Contradictions.” It has been my purpose to avoid, as far as possible, confusing details, and to confine myself to the general principles which underlie those proposed systems of reform which are being urged upon the people, and which may form a basis for coming social changes. That changes are desirable all admit, but ail do not agree as to what changes are necessary, or the steps required to produce them. Even those who are supposed to be most interested in the continuance of the present social relations, recognize the existence of social evils; and contribute money and time, and advocate the passage of laws which they hope will either bring about those changes, or greatly palliate the evils they seek to cure. But while doing so they strive to preserve intact their own advantage. They are all willing to have some one else reformed, only so the 5 reform leaves them undisturbed in their own privileges.

What changes are desirable, and how can they be brought about? Are they inevitable; and if so, can anything be done to hasten, or retard them, and what? This is the problem in a nut-shell; and I have sought to confine this work strictly to its solution.

Mr. Proudhon’s first work, “Property,” is devoted to the working out in elaborate detail of the injustice of property; but even with ah his details he seems to have seen scarcely more than an outline of the important principles which he enunciated. But even to have seen that outline, I think is destined soon to lead to very important results. He does not appear to have grasped the full significance of possession as a necessary condition of property, or realized what the necessary development of property must be under it. While he saw too, somewhat of the effect of the law in violating this condition, he evidently failed to understand its importance, or he would not have fallen into the error of subordinating the individual to society, and thus laying the foundation for human law. And, as the so-called science of economics is based upon our present institution of property, he would not have considered it necessary to devote a work of upwards of 509 pages, like his “Economic Contradictions,” to the consideration of contradictions growing out of an institution which is artificial, and transitory in its nature. In Chap. VI. of Part II., I have more fully elaborated the subject of “property,” and shown its necessary development.

One of the most serious mistakes into which Mr. Proudhon fell, but one which has been common to most, if not all previous social writers, was in discussing social questions without first obtaining a clear knowledge of man himself, in his individual character. Thus we see Mr. Proudhon, at one time contending for liberty, and at another advocating the most obnoxious doctrines of state socialism; now denouncing the crime of property, and again defending it; sometimes condemning communism, and then contending for the principles upon which it is founded; and at other times, wandering off until he loses himself among a multitude of contradictory economic absurdities. This I attribute to a want of a proper analysis, followed by a definite method of development, while keeping close to the cardinal principles of man’s nature.

As an instance of these contradictions he finds the three fundamental conditions of human well-being to be “liberty, equality, and security.” He says, “Liberty is an absolute right, because it is to man what impenetrability is to matter,—a sine qua non of existence; equality is an absolute right, because without equality there is no society; security is an absolute right, because in the eyes of every man his own liberty and life are as precious as another’s. These three rights are absolute; that is, susceptible of neither increase or diminution; because in society each associate receives as much as he gives,—liberty for liberty, equality for equality, security for security, body for body, soul for soul, in life and in death.”

And yet, on another page of the same book, his “Property,” page 330, he proposes to violate liberty by adopting almost the entire state socialistic programme, thus: “Gradually lower the rate of interest, organize industry, associate laborers and their functions, and take a census of the large fortunes, not for the granting of privileges, but that we may effect their redemption by settling a life annuity upon their proprietors. We must apply on a large scale the principle of collective production, give the state eminent domain over all capital, make each producer responsible, abolish the custom-house, and transform every profession and trade into a public function.”

We have seen already, and it will be made still plainer in the course of this work, how surely any scheme of this kind must violate liberty. If society as a whole can dictate any plan on which to organize industry, and carry out the above programme, notwithstanding the possible protest of a part of that industry, and it must be able to do it in order to make that organization and general scheme effective, then the judgment of some must be made to prevail over that of others in matters that pertain strictly to those others, thus violating liberty, equality and security.

But if we consider the first proposition a moment we shall see that always to violate liberty is to violate equality and security as well. In fact, liberty is a term that embraces both the others, so that when we have said liberty we have said ail. There can be no liberty without equality, and no equality without liberty. Security also is violated when either is violated; for how eau a man be secure in his rights unless he is equal in those rights, as well as free in the assertion of them? So far as I am aware no social philosopher has ever sufficiently grasped that one grand fact, that under a perfect freedom of the individual, a practical equality between individuals is assured. Had this been done, we should not have been afflicted with ail kinds of propositions, from ail kinds of reformers, looking to an artificial or enforced equality by state regulation, or law. Owing to Mr. Proudhon’s failure to grasp that fact, he devotes very many pages of space to show that all labor is performed for society, and that “society pays all laborers equally” regardless of equal labor. He argues that it is unjust that he who does the most should get the most, “because society is forced to pay them ah the same wages; otherwise natural inequality would reappear in the very bosom of social equality.”

But glance a moment at his state socialistic scheme above outlined, for producing and maintaining an artificial equality. “Take a census of the large fortunes, not for the granting of privileges, but that we may effect their redemption by settling a life annuity upon their proprietors.” And what is the settling of a life annuity upon a man but the granting of a privilege? And where is the equality in fixing a life annuity upon one, and stipulating that others shah pay that annuity? Where is the liberty of those who are bound to meet those payments? And where is their security in their own possessions if those possessions must be taken to pay to others an annuity?

Again, “we must apply on a large scale the principle of collective production, give the state eminent domain over all capital, and make each producer responsible,” etc. Now what is this state, which Mr. Proudhon proposes to invest with eminent domain over all the capital of its people? Simply a corporation, the stockholders of which are monopoly, and whose hired men are politicians; at least, those politicians who are not, are only trying to get a job from the same concern. And the men who draw the dividends are the monopolists. Who are they who draw the dividends from the tariff? Monopolists, every time. Who share the proceeds of the government bonds—the public debt? The bond holders,—one class of monopolists. Who profit by the special franchises and privileges granted to individuals and corporations? Still more monopolists. To what purposes is the judicial power of the State—the courts, put forth? Sometimes to settle disputes between the monopolists, disputes in which the people have no possible concern, but primarily and mainly to make the people give up to the monopolies. Do the people get any of the dividends? Not a cent. They pay the dividends; and then tax themselves to pay the officers of the corporation, and Support the police, militia, army and navy which stand behind the courts to compel obedience. This is the thing to which Mr. Proudhon would have us grant “eminent domain over ail capital.” Would he also “make each producer responsible” to this same thing? What then becomes of his conditions of human well being: “liberty, equality and security?”

Mr. Proudhon mistakes the whole nature of society. [79]

He regards it as something other than the free and voluntary association of each individual composing it. He makes the individual to exist for society, instead of society for the individual. While condemning (p. 127) the principle “to each according to his labor,” and insisting on equal pay to each no matter what the task performed, he is still willing, where a member of society will only perform half his task, to deprive him of half his pay, which brings hmm back to the first principle which lie condemned, of reward according to effort. Looking upon society as a sort of entity controlling in a measure the acts of its individual members, and performing certain functions among which may be mentioned the preservation of a sort of equality between its members, it is not strange that he is unable to rise above the notion of the need of a “political system,” “organization of industry,” “punishments for idleness,” “defense against abuse,” “leaders, instructors, superintendents,” etc., but he says, “they must ail be solved by the principles of equality,” which is equivalent to the abolition of all of them; for there is not one of them that does not violate equality, and therefore liberty.

Society will be allowed to perform the labor, either herself, or through her representatives, but always in such a way that the general equality shall never be violated, and that only the idler shall be punished for his idleness. Further, if society may not use excessive severity toward her lazy members, she has a right, in self-defense, to guard against abuses. . . . There is not a laborer but receives from society at large the things he consumes, and with these, the power to reproduce. . . . The various articles of consumption are given to each by all; consequently, the production of each involves the production by all . . . Every product, coming from the hands of the producer, is mortgaged in advance by society. The producer himself is entitled to only that portion of his product which is expressed by a fraction whose denominator is equal to the number of individuals of which society is composed. In return the same producer has a share in ail the products of the others. . . . The laborer is not even proprietor of the price of his labor, and can not absolutely control its disposition. Let us not be blinded by a spurious justice. That which is given the laborer in exchange for his product is not given him as a reward for past labor, but to provide for and secure further labor. We consume before we produce. The laborer may say at the end of the day, “I have paid yesterday’s expenses; tomorrow I shah pay those of to-day.” At every moment of his life, the member of society is in debt; he dies with the debt unpaid:—how is it possible for him to accumulate ?“

Then if men in society are always in debt to society, they are necessarily slaves to society, because debt, is a slavery; and the liberty Mr. Proudhon has been contending for becomes a myth. But he will not contend that the obligation of any man to society is greater than the obligation of society to him, therefore the obligations are the same; debit and credit are equal: one cancels the other, and there is no obligation at all.

No! Mr. Proudhon’s idea of society is a false and dangerous one; false, because it makes the individual subject to and dependent upon society, instead of society dependent upon and existing purely for the convenience of the individual; and dangerous because, if it were true, it would justify every sort of despotism, and meddlesome interference in the affairs of men, by their fellows, under tire pretense of self defense. No man owes anything to society, but ail to himself; and the impulse to make of himself all that is possible, and to procure all the good that lies within his reach is sufficient to stimulate him, if lie enjoys perfect natural liberty, and restrain him from the doing of things t» the detriment of other individuals, or society. The best, and the only protection that society can have against abuses is, to avoid setting up any power in society which can exercise any coercion over any individual, and which can therefore violate any man’s liberty. Every man then has liberty; every man has equality; and every man has security because there is nowhere anything to violate them.

The trouble with the study of social philosophy has been that it presented a vast array of facts which have heretofore been too little understood to form the basis of any broad generalizations when made by the deductive method; that is, where the generalization is first assumed, and the course of investigation is then carried downward to particulars. This is the method adopted by all those philosophers whom I have reviewed in this work, except to a certain extent Henry George. He appears to have adopted the inductive method; that is, starting with particulars he has sought to rise to and ascertain the general laws which govern the phenomena under consideration. His error seems to me to lie in not first carrying his analysis deep enough to reach the foundation, before he tried to follow out the several details in order to find their law. Proudhon, like the others, has used the deductive method. Starting with a false theory of society, and therefore necessarily of man himself, he has naturally been led into errors and contradictions which seriously impair the value of his work. But his instincts are truer than his logic. They are constantly bringing him back, in spite of his aberrations and his mistakes, to a sense of the importance and dignity of the individual man, like the needle to the pole. There are times when he rises superior to them, and recognizes individual liberty “as the adequate expression of the natural form of human society.”

Nor is Henry George free from the same blemish of starting from wrong postulates as to society, and man in society. Otherwise he would never have reached common property in land, as the alternative of private property in land. And the same fault gives a coloring to many other parts of his work. Wherever he has made any real advance it has been by applying to his examinations the careful processes of inductive reasoning. Empiricisms always result from faulty deductions; and this is why, with all the thought that has been bestowed on social problems, social science practically remain in a state of empiricism to-day.

It is unnecessary to follow Mr. Proudhon through his numerous economic mistakes. They are all referable to the same fundamental errors as have already been pointed out, but which in the end he does not let swerve him from the cardinal principle of human freedom. So far as I understand them, the members of the school of social philosophy which has been founded upon the teachings of Mr. Proudhon, have avoided most of his mistakes, and are steadily pressing forward on the lines of nearly perfect individual liberty. Those particulars wherein they fail to reach, in their contention, to the full realization of human liberty, are only in relation to the so-called punishment of crime, and a few minor matters, which arise from their failure to comprehend fully the essential dignity of man; and to see that, with perfect liberty, there can be no crime, because there will be absolutely no motive to commit crime; but, on the other hand, every motive against it. These imperfections moreover, are necessarily temporary, and must give way as progress makes clearer their vision. Liberty admits of no qualifications. It means, without restriction. There can not be “no government,” and still some government.



Having briefly, but I think sufficiently, considered the leading social reformers, and their schools of thought, which offer professed remedies for social justice, it remains to examine those palliatives which are persistently put forward in the name of reform; and also to consider what the necessary effect of palliatives is, and must always continue to be. I do not mean that in the special notice of particular authors which I have made, I have included all, or even many, of the real leaders. It has only been possible to notice those which seem to be the best exponents of their own schools; and I have aimed to deal with them, not as persons, but as representatives of the ideas they hold.

Among the popular projects labelled reform which engage the attention of so many men and women may be mentioned free trade, prohibition, restriction of immigration (one form of protection), arbitration, eight hour laws, trades unionism, woman’s suffrage, co-operation, profit sharing, civil service reform, election of good men to office, ballot reform, referendum, single tax, education, government control of public franchises, etc., all of which, except free trade, partake of the nature of state socialism. Being alike based upon the idea that reform can be brought about by political action, they may be considered together, and are subject to the general objections which we have already found to that system.

In placing co-operation, and profit sharing in this category, of course I mean those forms of co-operation and of profit sharing which depend upon some form of sanction or recognition from the state. [84]

Free trade, being merely the breaking down of government restrictions to trade: a lessening of the powers of government, is by just so far a step toward liberty; but as it does not depend upon a thorough realization of the principle of liberty, taken by itself it is only a palliative, and is open to the same objections which apply to ail palliatives as such.

Referendum is placed in the same list, because, at best, it is only an improved form of “popular government,” which is itself a myth. There is no such thing as popular government. The people do not govern. It is impossible that they should govern. When the change was made from a monarchy to a republic, the only change was in the outward form. The substance remained the same. Privilege, caste, wealth, still held sway; and always will hold sway as long as men permit any to govern. The people are tickled with the fancy that they are governing; and under that delusion permit grosser excesses than would ever be allowed to a monarchy. The claw which wounded them has only been thinly gloved. It is sharper than ever, although more hidden. Referendum would only change the glove. It would perpetuate the delusion of “popular government,” and put off, like all palliatives, the perception and realization of the truth.

Much as I desire the absolute equality of women with men, I cannot seek that equality through measures which I see have failed to secure the equality of men. Equality is a natural condition, and is only to be attained by the destruction of whatever introduces unnatural conditions. Suffrage is a privilege, and if an absolutely equal suffrage should be established it would, at best, only be the attainment of equality, which would exist without any suffrage at all. Why is it necessary to seek equality through privilege, which violates equality?

It is hardly necessary to say anything about trades unionism further than to remind its advocates that it has been trying, for several hundred years, to better the condition of the working man; and yet to-day he is the same prey to the man who does not work; and he continues the same terrible struggle for existence that lie ever did. While it is true that individuals have been benefited, it has not lifted labor, as a whole, one particle above the helpless and dependent condition it has always held. I do not mean that working people do not now enjoy greater comforts than formerly; but I do mean that, as compared to their wants, their enjoyments are just as small. The proportion of their unsatisfied desires is just as great as ever; therefore their misery is just as acute. There is no hope for the working man as long as any man can take from him, under any pretext whatever, any part of his earnings without giving in return a satisfactory equivalent; or so long as any man can, through the operation of any law prevent him from employing himself in any way he pleases, and enjoying the full fruits of his labor. When that time comes, all men will be working men, because there will be no other way, but by work, whereby men can live. There being no way to live upon the earnings of others, their only alternative will be to earn for themselves. The problem of the working man is exactly the same as the problem of every other man, one of absolute unqualified liberty; which is only another name for equality.

All these several reforms, together with ail others which pass under the same head, and which do not go to the very root of the evil, are only so many byplays which serve to divide and distract the attention of the people, and prevent their focusing their efforts upon the real cause of their sufferings. Monopoly contributes, and will continue to contribute toward some, or even ail these reform movements, 50 long as it can keep people interested in them: keep them divided, and wasting their energies in ways which cannot bring considerable results.

Palliatives always have another effect, to delay the correction of evils, and prolong the misery. Suffering is nature’s warning that people are on the wrong road; and the more intense the suffering the more urgent the demand for a change. So far as palliatives lessen that suffering they tend to prolong the misery, and continue the abuse. Monopoly very well understands this, and so contributes to so-called charity in order to relieve somewhat the suffering, and hush the discontent.



Just now the farmers and working men all over the country are bestirring themselves for some kind of reform which will relieve them somewhat from their load of debt and taxation, and prevent the threatened loss of their farms and homes through the foreclosure of mortgages which hang over them. Their demands have not yet been fully formulated; and even if they were, they are certain to be modified, or increased, as they better understand their rights and their strength.

A very significant feature of the movement is its great spontaneity, showing that its “reason to be” lies in some deep and widespread danger which threatens general disaster. It is not easy to induce the farmer to break his political ties, to abandon his party, to forget the prejudices and associations of a lifetime, and to unite with others for common purposes, whom he has been taught to regard as so unpatriotic as to be little short of treasonable. That he has done this generally, and with astonishing celerity, is attested by the election returns from every agricultural State in the union. In Kansas they so far succeeded as to elect a majority of representatives to the popular branch of the legislature, and were able to control absolutely the legislation of that state; while in several others they hold what is called the balance of power. And the prospects are that another election will indicate a still greater increase of their power and influence.

So far it is well. One great gain is in breaking down the prejudices which bound them to a particular party. Another is in accustoming them to act together for mutual defense and aid. But, as was to be expected, politicians have seized upon the movement to lift themselves into place and power. To do so, they are advocating the most absurd and stupid measures, measures which can only aggravate the evils complained of, hoping to induce the farmers to elect them to office. A third party is held out to them as the panacea of all their ills; always with the mental stipulation that those politicians be made that party. One thing it will be well for the farmer to remember, and that is, that it does not make any difference to him which man is sheriff when they come to foreclose his mortgage. It is of small consequence to him who makes the assessment, or who collects the taxes,—the man he helped to elect, or the one on the opposition ticket. It makes no difference who holds the offices. The mortgage, and the taxes, are the real things that hurt. The farmer may form his third party, elect his ticket, get possession of the offices, and be sold out just the same. What has he gained? Why the net result is, that he has helped a few politicians to fat places, while he is ruined.

This splendid movement among the farmers, so full of promise, and big with hope, may be their emancipation, or their ruin. Which shall it be?

In a previous chapter I spoke of government as a corporation, the stockholders of which are monopolies, with office holders as its hired men, and the politicians as its would-be employees. That was no mere figure of speech. It is a real palpable fact. The principal stockholders; that is the largest monopolies, are the ones who dictate the policy of the corporation; and that without regard to who are its servants. If they want a law passed, they get it, whether it is by deceit, by strategy, by flat-cry, or by bribery; and when it is passed they insist upon its enforcement because it is law. They own the press, and the pulpit, and play upon the fears and prejudices of the people as a musician will play upon the keys of a piano. Thus they make public sentiment, and always in their own favor. Farmers and working men can no more hope to change the nature and policy of that corporation by ordinary political party methods than the consumers of kerosene oil can hope to change the nature and policy of the Standard Oil Company.

But there is one thing they can do, if they have the firmness and wisdom to apply the remedy, which will bring them complete and immediate relief. When done, they will not only have broken the chains of their own slavery, but those of every human being; and that too without violence, or injustice to any. The farmers in Kansas are to-day in a position to effect their complete emancipation without the passage of a single law, and without electing another officer.

But, however, before we come to the remedy, I want to ask farmers, workingmen, merchants, producers of ail descriptions, all men, all women, all who love themselves, their children, humanity; who hope for a brighter and better future for themselves and for humanity, to go over the ground with me carefully, examine ail the facts; see how simple is the problem and how easy of solution: how just and natural is the remedy, and how complete.

Study this corporation, we call government, a little further. People think it is to protect the rights of ah, and promote justice. They are mistaken. It is to execute the law: to enforce obedience to the law. But what is the law? It is a body of special privileges: artificial contrivances misnamed rights, really wrongs. Natural property needs no law to define it, or protect it. But make property something which it is not by nature, and it then needs special protection from the law. Men only have natural rights. Things have none. The right pertains only to the person. But make laws for the special protection of things—of property: set up “property rights,” and it naturally follows that he who has the most property has the most rights. Right is changed into wrong, and the law stands as its guardian. It ceases to promote justice; because justice is equality. It has no other meaning. So, the law stands as the defender of the inequality of property: a roundabout way of making it inequality of mer.: or injustice. Politics is the art of hiding the reality from the people who are being governed; of tickling them with the fiction that they are governing themselves; and that “all men are equal before the law,” and consequently that the law protects ail, and promotes justice. It is not only the art of deceiving the people, but of promoting the interests of the corporation, which, like every other corporation, exists wholly for the benefit of its own stockholders; that is, the monopolies. The practice of politics, being in its nature a scheming for advantage over others, necessarily involves trickery, deceit, dishonesty, a scramble. The greater the prize offered, the greater the scramble, the dishonesty, deceit and trickery. These are not the methods of reform. This is the reason why men of integrity, high minded men, men of honor avoid politics. A third party, to be successful, must use the same methods, employ the same material, and work for the same end as those they oppose. It must simply outdo the others in their work of rascality. And after the farmers, workingmen, and other producers, have offered their political prizes, have set on foot the scramble among men who are willing to engage in such a scramble by employing such means, what right have they to complain if they find in the end, as they will, that they have only changed masters; that themselves are the ones who have been duped, and that their condition is worse than before? They need not be surprised that the politicians they have set up, have served their real masters, the monopolists; and that that ever-growing corporation, the government, bears with still greater pressure upon them in its demand for taxes, while enforcing with even more relentlessness the claims of monopoly.

Suppose the new third party could succeed in bringing the railroads, telegraphs, and telephones under government control and management; suppose it should substitute greenbacks for national bank notes; adopt unlimited coinage of silver; and ban money to farmers at 2 per cent. interest on the security of their farms, what good would that do? Stop and think. These public franchises they seek to control, are now monopolies, and are operated for private advantage; and the thing which gives power to these monopolies is the law. Were it not for the law people would not give up to them. Therefore, they ail have an interest in maintaining the law: or, in other words, the government. The measure of that interest depends upon the size of their monopoly; or, to put it in a different way, the amount of their stock in the government corporation depends upon the size of their private monopoly. Then, to transfer these franchises to government control and management, is only to put them into the hands of the larger corporation which is composed of precisely the same stock holders, and run in the same interest.

If the government issues the circulating medium, whether gold, silver, paper, or what not, it naturally controls that circulation; and must. That control is certain to be exerted in the interest of the stock holders in that same corporation. Money is a tool of ‘ trade; and why not let trade provide its own tools needed for carrying on business, without depending upon the whims or interests of politicians? To assume that it is not capable of doing so without the assistance of the politicians, is to ascribe extraordinary weakness to one, and talents to the other.

And again, if farmers were enabled to borrow money at two per cent. interest, to pay off their present mortgages, how could that possibly help them? There is no difference in principle between bow interest and high interest. The only difference is in the degree. Why pay interest at all? And besides, if they could accomplish it, they would only be increasing their taxes, just as they decreased their interest. They are only taking the burden off one shoulder, and adding it on to the other. It would not relieve them one whit. But it would open the door to the most outrageous favoritism that was ever seen. Politicians would fix the value on the property of their friends, according to the usefulness of those friends; and corruption would reach greater heights—or depths—than ever. The public treasury would become one vast corruption fund for tire use of rival politicians in promoting their own schemes; while the increase of taxes would fall, just as it does now, on the farmers, the workingmen, the producers of the country.

0f course, the politicians in the farmer’s movement will denounce these views, and cry out for a party. They will appeal to ail sorts of prejudices; and if the farmers will listen to them, they will go on just as they have done before, and the farmers will come out just where they have before. The time will come when the farmers will heed these things. They may not do so now. They may have to learn a good many hard lessons first. One lesson it would be well for them to learn is, that the workingmen and farmers of Rome spent five hundred years in contending with their politicians, backed by their monopolists, against tire very same abuses as our workingmen and farmers complain of to-day; and finally Rome fell because justice was dead. We can repeat their experience; or we can attain to perfect liberty. Which shall it be?




The first step toward the solution of any question is to learn the character of the materials we have to deal with; and, as the problem we have set out to solve involves the relations of men one to another in society, it is of the first importance to understand aright man himself.

If an engineer is called upon to repair or reconstruct a bridge that is failing into decay, it is very necessary that he know the qualities of the material he must use: its weight, its tensile and tarsal strength, the action upon it of cold and heat, and its resistance to decay. These things being known, with the load it is expected to bear, he can calculate the strain, and determine the size and form of the parts. Without this knowledge it is impossible for him to proceed. It is to a want of such knowledge of man, the material with which they have to deal, that I attribute much of the confusion of thought existing among writers on social topics. Not that it is possible, or even necessary, to find all the springs which modify and determine different men’s actions under different circumstances; but there are certain facts common to all men, which, given their due weight, render human action an open book which may be read and understood by all men.

Such a fact is selfishness. [2] It is the first manifestation of awakening intelligence in the new-born babe as it comes wailing into the world; and throughout life, it is the motive power which communicates itself to all the intricate machinery, and actuates every thought and every impulse. Necessarily it is the only motive; because, if another were introduced, it would be an obstruction, if working in antagonism to it, and useless if in harmony, unless the first proved inadequate. No man puts a second engine into his works to drive the machinery the other way from what the first one propels it; nor to help do the work if the first is sufficient. That selfishness is a sufficient motive I will attempt to show.

When the new-born child makes its appearance, its first sensations have reference to its bodily needs. It instinctively tries to satisfy the cravings of hunger. No one will claim that it is actuated by other than the most narrowly selfish desires. Its knowledge is even more limited than its desires, for it depends upon instinct rather than knowledge. Through the whole period of its infancy the manifestations of gross selfishness are but slightly modified. Those modifications begin to show themselves in exact ratio to its increase of intelligence. A child learns that by dividing his apple with another, he is likely to secure a like division in his favor when the other has apples, and he has none. And besides, he finds that such a course will secure him the friendship and comradeship of his fellows at play, which ministers to other desires that his increasing knowledge has awakened. These lessons must be impressed upon him at many times, and in many ways, before he sufficiently realizes them to induce him to voluntarily share his apple. He finally does it because he expects, in one way or another, to obtain greater pleas than he foregoes. It is an exchange by which he profits, or expects to, just as certainly as I do when I give something I want little, for what I want more. I expect the thing I get to gratify more desires than what I gave would do. And with growth of the child there is an increasing knowledge, which brings into activity increasing and more refined desires, just in proportion to that knowledge. Just as knowledge and desires increase, the child is brought to realize that to secure their gratification he must seek the pleasure and happiness of others. And because he does it, he does not therefore pursue an unselfish course. He is just as selfish as before. The thing that has taken place is that his knowledge has become greater, resulting in more refined desires, and requiring greater consideration for others, in order to secure their gratification. We may apply the same thing to men of the most narrow and brutal desires, or to those of the most exalted benevolence. When we have expressed the difference between them we have only said that one is ignorant, and the other intelligent; and that they are both equally selfish.

Let no one misunderstand my meaning. When I speak of intelligence I do not mean that intellectual drill which crams the mind with a mass of facts unrelated, unappreciated, and not understood. What kind of carpenter would he be who, in order to learn his trade, should pack his chest with all kinds of tools of the most improved patterns, should learn their names, and be able to tell you their uses, and yet who had not acquired the skill to put one of them to use? But this is the kind of educated men our schools are turning out, and this is what stands to-day for education. Such men are not, however, what I mean by intelligent. They are almost as likely to exhibit in their intercourse with others those grosser forms of selfishness which indicate sensual and brutal desires, and which are always the distinguishing marks of ignorance.

The love of distinction, manifestly a purely selfish trait, and yet one of the loftiest and most stimulating: the one that spurs men to the highest endeavor to seem, or to be, begins to develop at an early age, and seldom, if ever, becomes extinct during life. It is doubtful if any human being ever sunk so low as to become insensible to the regard of all other men. Even the most hopeless despair is largely an expression of a want for that regard; and its victims often commit suicide to escape from the hell which this unsatisfied desire produces.

But evidently, men’s desires cannot rise above their ability to appreciate; and such ability is always the boundary line of their intelligence—their understanding. Here is a man who is gross and brutal; whom the unthinking call selfish; who appears to have no desires beyond the gratification of his grosser appetites and passions; and who pursues those gratifications with utter disregard for the proprieties which commonly obtain among men. His love of distinction is manifested in efforts to attract attention by loud talk, coarse jests, abrupt and self-asserting manners, and in loud and flashy garments and ornaments. When however, he extends his knowledge, even if it is only a little way, so as to enable him to perceive the disgust his manners excite, the same love of distinction, the same selfish propensity impels him to modify his manners toward others; and, by curbing his passions and appetites, seek to obtain for himself a greater degree of respect and regard than he before enjoyed.

Another man who is refined and sensitive, who instinctively shrinks from everything vulgar, whose delight is in promoting the happiness of those around him, who bestows his goods to relieve want and suffering in the most unostentatious manner, and whom men call unselfish, is he really so? I think not. His knowledge is simply extended. It has taught him of pleasures to which he was before a stranger. Under its refining influence he has become sensitive to the feelings of others, That sensitive nature is pained at the sight of suffering. He has learned the pleasures which come from deeds of mercy; and whether he knows it or not, he loves the distinction, and the public estimation which his conduct brings him. To say that he is insensible to it is to contradict human love, human sympathy, human aspiration, and all the promptings of human nature. His conduct is still actuated by the same motive—the one that impels the boy to divide his apple, and that prompts the grossly vulgar to modify his manners toward others. The only difference between any of them is a difference in the knowledge that stimulates and shapes the desires.

Men say that love and sympathy are wholly at variance with human selfishness; and that they can not exist where selfishness rules. But let us see! Outwardly there is a wide difference, but that difference is no greater than that between the blossom on the rose-bush, and the wooded stalk which supports it. Love and sympathy may be likened to the blossom which appears upon the rough and prickly stalk of human selfishness, and the stem upon which it grows is the love of distinction. In all the varied manifestations of human relations and development, there is not a kindly act, a generous deed, a throb of sympathy, or a noble impulse, which has not its promptings wholly in selfishness; and which has not the same personal object—the happiness of the individual. These acts and sentiments are not shown until a certain degree of intelligence has been attained: in other words, until advancing knowledge has taught the man that they best promote his own happiness. He learns from experience “whatsoever he would that men should do unto him, to do even so to them; because such a course brings him the love and esteem others, and promotes general good will and happiness, while the opposite conduct excites resentments, heart-burnings, and strife, that are destructive of happiness.

A moment’s consideration will show that selfishness has not been lessened, but it has really been strengthened; and that it is more needed now, under a high development, than ever before.

Selfishness looks to the preservation and development of the individual; the making and the being of that individual all that lies within the scope of its powers. And by the individual I mean, his personality, made up as it is of his likes and dislikes, his conceptions, sensations, aspirations, and all that enters into his being. As that personality becomes refined and elevated in thought and purpose, it becomes more delicate in its constitution, and more sensitive to unfavorable conditions; so that h has none the less need of the preserving power of selfishness, to maintain that development, but rather more; for, as it is lifted above the level of other and grosser individuals, were that preserving force weakened, the tendency to decay would at once appear. It could not maintain itself when exposed to the attacks of other individuals of a lower development, but of a grosser and more vigorous selfishness. The making of individual character—the supreme end and purpose of human existence—is the point toward which selfishness constantly propels men; and the question of how far in this direction the man will go depends wholly upon the favoring circumstances in which he finds himself, and the strength and persistence of this power which drives him, At no point in the life history of man can he safely dispense with selfishness as the one great motive force of his existence.

A failure to recognize this principle, in judging of the conduct of men, and in estimating the value of human institutions, has been the means of setting up false and artificial standards of morality; of investing some acts with a virtue and others with a vice, a basis for which distinction there is no existence in nature; and of keeping alive false hopes, and perpetuating the subjection of some men, to the rule of other men. As long as people can be made to believe that others are actuated by unselfish motives, and that they are therefore purer and better in their lives and acts than others who are more grossly selfish, they will continue to invest their words and deeds with a greater authority, and permit them to trespass more upon their rights than they otherwise would do. As long as they continue their artificial standards of morality, they will punish with public opprobrium, and possibly something worse, violations of them. Let them once understand that every man’s acts, whether saint or sinner, wise man or foolish, priest or layman, philosopher or politician, patriot or criminal, are actuated by one single motive, that of selfishness, and they will estimate them more nearly at their true worth.

They will cease to insist upon the observance by others of a code of morals of their own making, or to accord to pharisaical purists the superstitious reverence they now accord them. Proudhon says: “Whoever talks to me of God has designs upon my liberty, or my purse.”

If we but observe the arguments popularly used for and against reformers, and reform projects, we shall see how this misconception of men’s motives tends to block progress, and perpetuate ignorance. One side, opposing the reform, thinks it has advanced a strong argument against it when it has called in question the motives, or character of the reformer, or his followers; and if it can prove some act which would give color to a selfish motive, or show that his personal character is bad, it regards its case as won; while the other side feels called upon to come to his defense, or the defense of his supporters, and clear him, or them, from unjust aspersions. Thus the contest is carried on on lines which have no more to do with the question at issue than the question of who wrote Shakespeare has to do with the protective tariff.

If the reader will pardon the vulgarity of a reference to myself, I will here admit, for the benefit of those who may hereafter wish to charge me with sinister, or selfish motives, that in writing this book, I am actuated purely by selfish desires, and that I care nothing for any other person in this world except as that person may, in some manner, minister to my happiness. With this admitted, the discussion must shift to the truth or falsity of the question I shall raise, which are the real ones at issue.

[2] “Selfishness,” as used in this work, stands for the totality of individual desires. It is not intended to imply disregard for the well-being of others; and indeed, as will appear later, in its highest development, it is not only perfectly in harmony with the most exalted benevolence, but it must promote that benevolence in order to realize its own fruition. For a fuller understanding of the sense in which this term is used see references to “selfishness” in index at the end of this volume.



Another great fact, like that of selfishness which promotes a clear understanding of human action, is that of happiness. While selfishness is the motive power that drives the machinery, happiness is the object for which it strives. The happiness of the individual is sought in the pursuit, and for the purpose of gratifying the desires awakened by knowledge. In this way, individual character is made; for the character depends upon the nature of the desires, and those desires upon the knowledge of which they are the expression. That all men seek those things which give pleasure, and strive to avoid those which give pain, is so true as to be trite. It fully accords with the experience and observation of every man. I know it will be urged that men sometimes voluntarily undergo the most excruciating bodily pains or deprivations,—sacrifice themselves to an idea; but this in no way conflicts with the rule. The devotee who throws himself beneath the wheels of Juggernaut, who swings himself on iron hooks fastened in the muscles of his back or who endures torture in any other way, as also the anchorite who deprives himself of almost every bodily and social comfort or enjoyment, are all seeking to gratify those desires which, according to their knowledge, or what they regard as knowledge, will give the greatest happiness. They mortify the flesh that the soul may enjoy the delights of the blest. They seek that form of happiness which they believe to be the greatest. Then again, the love of distinction offers a present inducement, which is a great factor in sustaining them in their struggles of endurance. They find in the approbation of their fellows a powerful stimulus to endurance. The man also who voluntarily submits to the amputation of a leg in order to save his life, undergoes present pain for the greater, although more remote pleasure of a continued existence.

Happiness consists both in the gratification of desire, and in the natural and healthy activity of mental and bodily powers,—in the enjoyment of the fruits of exertion, and, within certain limits, in the exertion itself. As shown in the previous chapter, the degree and kind of knowledge is the great factor in determining the nature of the desires. Desires steadily arise as knowledge increases. And by knowledge I mean the thorough understanding and appreciation of the enjoyments which are possible. Most people love music. That love is manifested in their appreciation for the best which they have learned to understand. A child is tickled with the harsh squawk of a split goose-quill blown by his older brother. The peasant goes into ecstasies over the rollicking notes of a bag-pipe in the hands of a strolling bard; while another requires the grand symphonies of a Wagner to fill the measure of his ideal of the exquisite beauties of harmony. In each case, the appreciation is an infallible mark of the degree of knowledge of music. It is the office of selfishness to bring about the gratification of this, as of all other desires which knowledge awakens and minister to the present purpose,—happiness, and finally, the making of individual character.

These principles being universal in every human being, and operating with equal force in all in proportion to their development of knowledge, it follows that if they fail of their result it is because of some interference somewhere in the freedom of their action. Given an inexhaustible field for knowledge to explore,—an infinite possibility of attainment with the means for the gratification of desire as infinite as the possible scope of those desires, and with the same force propelling men forward to greater and still greater attainment, if the object is not reached, if happiness is not achieved, it must be because intelligence has awakened desires which selfishness has not been permitted to satisfy. So that the condition requisite to the attainment of happiness of every man is, freedom from all external or artificial restraint. Such restraints always have a two-fold effect: first, to prevent the gratification of desire, and second, they act as causes of irritation, thereby intensifying and increasing the misery produced by the unsatisfied want.

Who has not observed the tendency on the part of children, and even of adults, to do precisely what they are commanded not to do? In cases where, if left to themselves, they would almost never think of performing a particular act, they are sure to want to do that very thing if once forbidden to do it. This is often the marked effect of the passage of any law making the gratification of any desire a criminal offense. Pass a prohibition law, and hundreds of men in every town, those even who never drank before, will drink, and boast of it among those to whom they can do so safely, and f eel that they have been smart enough to do as they please notwithstanding the law. This fact, so generally observed and commented upon, is often an enigma until we realize that men, unconsciously and almost involuntarily, protest against the interference of others in their personal affairs. It is the natural manifestation of impatience at and resistance to restraint.

We have seen that the impulses and activities of men always tend, when free, to the attainment of happiness. This being true, if we still find misery and unsatisfied desires among men, we know to a certainty that it is owing to some restraint somewhere which prevents or perverts the gratification. People do not remain in a state of misery if they can help it. They do not starve if they can get food. They do not remain exposed to the inclemency of the weather if they can get shelter. They do not endure pain without reason. If they find themselves in uncomfortable circumstances they will change if they are allowed to.

But people, and a very large proportion of the people too, are in misery. That misery is often so great as to drive them to insanity and even to suicide. Great as is the number of those whose reason becomes dethroned, or who find self-murder itself a less evil than that of endurance, the number of those who suffer on through life, secretly enduring the tortures of hell in a living death, is a thousand f old greater. As an illustration we find all domestic tragedies, and crimes of violence in domestic life, arising solely from restraints which prevent people, from changing those relations when they cease to promote the object for which they were assumed, that is, happiness; or on one side or the other endeavoring to enforce those restraints. Who shall estimate the appalling sum of insanity, suicide, murder, and violence, not to say anything of whole lives made miserable by being compelled to continue, or seeking to compel others to assume, domestic relation that are undesirable.

Go a step further, and inquire into crimes against property, and crimes of violence, even to tragedies, growing out of disputes about property, and violation of so-called property rights. What are they all but symptoms telling of restraints which prevent men from freely gratifying their desires, and of the natural resistance resulting from the enforcement of those restraints?

And yet these restraints are imposed, and as far as possible enforced, in the name of morality; and when they have produced their legitimate results, such as restraint from its very nature must produce: that is, intense and wide-spread unhappiness, equal to the intensity and extent of the restraint, men wonder that morality is at such a low ebb; and the social Pharisees cry out for more restraint. A proper understanding of this subject will necessitate a complete change of the popular conception of crime, and criminals, as will appear when we come to treat of law in its relation to crime, and its punishment, in Part III of this work.

It is only necessary to say here, that there ought to be nothing more obvious than that the happiness, and therefore the development of men in their individual characters, is best promoted by leaving them in the most perfect freedom to pursue each his own happiness,—the making of his own character, in his own way, unhindered by the interference of others; and that the general, or public happiness, or character, depends upon the happiness or character of each individual comprising that public, and therefore upon the perfect liberty of every individual.

Then, while happiness is the immediate object of human life, the manner in which it is pursued shapes the final result; that is, the formation of individual character. If the activities of the man have been repressed, or if they have been forced into channels that are unnatural, then the result is misery, and the making of a character that is unnatural.

The life of any person is made up of all his sensations, pleasurable or otherwise, from the moment of his birth until the vital spark is extinguished in death. And the fullness of his life is measured by the aggregate amount and intensity of those sensations. The man who is reared in want, condemned to severest toil to obtain the commonest necessaries of existence, his perceptions dulled, with no opportunities for observation, recreation, or improvement, and working as in a treadmill, may be said to have lived but a small life,—small in amount and exceeding poor in quality. In fact it is scarcely entitled to be called life. True, he has performed the function of respiration. He has taken sufficient nourishment to maintain the requisite strength to breath. But an idiot does the same. There bas been no growth in knowledge, no awakening of loftier de- sires under the quickening influence of knowledge, no realization of a happiness above the most sordid and brutal; and consequently there is no development of character that is of any value. If such an one, under the repressive influence of a society which prevents a normal development, develops abnormally, and preys upon that society, the blame is with the society and not with its victim.

Take another subject, with precisely the same natural abilities, but with favoring circumstances: from the very first his bodily wants are supplied, promoting agreeable sensations and a strong and vigorous growth of body and min His associations are more refined. He is brought into contact and mixes with men and women of culture. His love of distinction finds its natural gratification, producing a more refined and appreciative regard for others in his intercourse with them. His thirst for knowledge is stimulated. New thoughts, new sensations, new experiences constantly open before him new possibilities, and awaken new desires which he is able to gratify. In one case we have a criminal, and in the other a Sir Isaac Newton, or a Herbert Spencer. In one, the object of life has been defeated; in the other it has been attained. What is it that has caused the difference?

Everything that we know of points to the essential equality of those of whom these two are the types, at least we know of nothing on which any considerable inequality can be predicated. They have the same mental and physical constitution, are subject to the same needs, and the same laws of growth and development. They have the same motive propelling them onward, and they are both helped or hindered in the same way. They have the same ultimate purpose to attain, and if they accomplish it, it must be by the same means. We may assume that there is some inherent force or quality in one which does not exist in the other; but this is purely an assumption. No one has been able to designate it. But if we find in the course of our inquiries, a cause working in society which is adequate to produce precisely the differences which are observable among men, we shall be perfectly justified in assigning those differences to that cause until another adequate cause is found.

The farmer who should find four fifths of the grain in his wheat field stunted and dwarfed as men are stunted and dwarfed, while the other one fifth was well developed and natural, would be puzzled to account for the strange appearance. It could not be the seed, for it was all good, otherwise it would not have grown. It could not reside in the soil, for it was the same for all. The same sun warmed it; the same breezes fanned it; and the same dews refreshed it. He would naturally infer that somewhere there existed a disturbing force which was working havoc among his crops. The aggregate of human life to-day is relatively about what the aggregate of such a crop of wheat would be. We shall try to find out what that disturbing element us.

Thus, life is something more than a mere breathing and dimly conscious existence. It is the active interplay of all the human faculties, the experience of all the sensations which come from satisfied desires, which have been brought into being as a result of a constantly increasing knowledge, that has itself been stimulated and developed by the promptings of an ever active and progressive selfishness. Therefore it follows, that whenever any human being is denied by another, any pleasure, any happiness or any possible attainment, he is dwarfing his life by so much. And when one man, or set of men fix limitations to the activities of another, or prescribe bounds to the gratification of that other’s desires, they are certain, not only to dwarf his life, but to force him into unnatural channels to seek gratification, and to resist the restraints imposed.

The problem of human life is the development of the human animal to the highest degree of perfection of body and mind that it is capable of reaching. The condition of that development is the absolute freedom of that animal, both in mind and body, from external restraint. The power to work out such a growth lies wholly within each man for himself; and given the necessary conditions, he can no more help growing in all those graces which adorn and beautify his person and character than a plant can help growing to the best of its capabilities, when surrounded with all the conditions of its growth.



Having ascertained the motive that prompts men to activity, and the purpose toward which that activity is directed, it is necessary to observe also the successive stages of man’s development to rightly understand his relation to society.

Starting at the beginning, we find his desires, like his knowledge, are gross; and have reference to his grosser and more material needs. They are mainly food, clothing and shelter. Food is to the animal what fuel is to the furnace. Without it the fire of life goes out. If it is insufficient it smoulders; and he cannot properly perform his part for the same reason that an engine cannot do its work if the fire burns low under the boiler and therefore does not give sufficient steam. Clothing and shelter are next in importance. They are indispensable to the proper working of the human machine. Insufficient or unsuitable provision against inclement seasons operate exactly like insufficient food to limit the work and cripple the usefulness of the man.

Beginning with these wants, with selfishness spurring him on to their gratification, he is armed in his own person with the needed implements (his power to labor) for the satisfaction of all of them.

But this is not all. The material of the universe on which to expend that labor, and from which he must produce the things he wants, lies all around him, inviting him to take freely. He has a double stimulus to exertion: the hope of enjoyment of satisfied desires, arid the pleasure to be experienced in the very exercise itself of his bodily powers. These constitute the most potent incentives to activity; especially as failure to respond to these incentives naturally leaves desire unsatisfied, and produce misery and unhappiness, instead of happiness.

But when food, clothing, shelter, and whatever else we denominate as wealth, have been obtained man has only secured the primary requisites of his advance. The provision and consumption of these things are not the end of his being. These are only the means to the end, just as the fuel under the boiler is the means of raising the steam which drives the engine, and performs the work for which the engine was designed.

I have sufficiently shown in Chapter I. of this part of this work, how increasing knowledge constantly stimulates and elevates desires, spurring the man forward to greater and still greater attainments in whatever direction his tastes and inclinations may lead him. The reader will do well to remember that, primarily, the only means by which men can satisfy those growing desires is each to exert his own labor upon those materials which nature has provided abundantly for that purpose.

So far we have dealt with man only as an individual, apart from those characteristics which impel him to association with others. But we now come to facts which lead him to form societies, and enter into relations with others like himself for mutual advantage. What are those facts? Let us see! The first is, that his desires soon outrun his own unaided ability to satisfy them. His knowledge travels faster than his bodily powers can keep pace with it. Skill of manipulation is more slowly acquired; and when acquired the arm is weak. Even if a man could obtain the skill to fashion all the multitude of things himself which his wants demand, he could not make a hundredth part of them. He may learn to cultivate the field, but if he would do it well, he must have something more than the rude implements of the barbarian; in which case another must make his plow, still another his hoe, his ax, his spade, his scythe, and each of the multitude of tools he uses. Even, the clothes on his back are the product of others’ labor. Here subdivision of labor comes in to enable him to put forth his skill in the one direction in which alone he has acquired skill. He can produce more of one thing than he needs, because his skill gives him special facilities, which thing he can exchange with others situated like him with respect to other things. Thus both can obtain more satisfaction than either could do alone. It is but the extension of this principle to the almost infinite variety of men and things that gives us the diversity of production, and the ever increasing ability to produce the good things wanted by man, which is the certain mark of progress.

I have sufficiently treated of the subdivision of labor in the previous part of this work, and need not elaborate it here. It is only necessary to say, that in the manifest advantages to the individual which flow from the application of this principle, is the first, and probably the greatest force which impels him to unite with others in society: which makes him a gregarious animal. It is in obedience to the dictates of his selfish propensities, and for the greater gratification of his selfish desires, that he enters into society with others.

And there is hardly a natural or healthy desire which any man can entertain, which does not require for its gratification, or at least, its best gratification, association with others. Man, in both his physical and mental constitution, is so made up that his own happiness and well-being depends not only upon the presence of others, but upon the happiness and well-being of those others. It is only by stifling his natural promptings that any man or woman of normal healthy development can look with indifference upon suffering. Whenever the person becomes conscious of pain or suffering in others, the nerves convey that impression to the brain, which reproduces those sensations in that person just in proportion to his refinement and sensitiveness. This is the foundation of sympathy, which has for its object the mitigation of one’s own pain through the alleviation of the pain of another which excited it. Love too, the twin sister of sympathy, also depends upon association. It always seeks the happiness of the subject through promoting that of its object.

Another thing that it is important to notice is, that the individual does not necessarily give up anything of his individual rights or liberties on entering into society. He need not stop to balance advantages against disadvantages where that association is equal; and where it is not equal, justice is violated, because justice is equality, if free, men associate for mutual advantage; and just as far as it is advantageous they will do so. If it is not mutually advantageous those who are at a disadvantage will naturally refuse to join in the association, if they are free to do so. Therefore, the condition of perfect association is that of perfect mutuality, equality, freedom. It is obvious that unless the mutuality of advantage is in some way violated there can arise no great inequality of condition. Any marked inequality of condition between the members of such a society would be the certain indication of an injustice; that is, an inequality in the terms of their association. And it is just as obvious that when such an inequality in condition is discovered, the members of that society can remove the source of inequality, at any time, without violating justice; in fact, the original injustice, being a continuous one, is a continual violation of justice, and must be removed or justice is not done.

An injustice can never become a “vested right.” Keeping in mind these facts, we need never fall into the error so common among those who have attempted to discuss social questions, of subordinating man to society instead of society to man. Society grows out of the needs of the individual, and exists solely for the satisfaction of those needs; consequently the individual owes nothing to society, and nothing to the other members of society. The gratification of his selfish desires, and the development of his own personal character, are alone sufficient to induce such conduct on his part as will promote the common well-being, provided he is left to develop naturally, without unnatural restriction on one side, or the stimulus of unnatural advantages on the other. If he is at first what men call grossly selfish, he provokes others to resentment, which is the natural corrective, and which opens his eyes to his own conduct, and shows him the importance of increasing his own knowledge in that respect.

Another great fact impelling men to associate themselves in society, which shows itself at a very early age, and which grows stronger and stronger with increasing years and knowledge, is the love of distinction. It is one of the strongest characteristics of men; and is universal, although differing in degree in different men, corresponding to their different degrees of knowledge. It manifests itself in the very ignorant in tawdry show, in coarse and vulgar acts of ostentation, and in haughty, overbearing, patronizing manners toward those whom they regard as their inferiors, as if they wished to display some element of superiority. To their admitted equals they are brusque, loud, demonstrative, and seek to attract attention. Toward those to whom they concede some kind of superiority they are obsequious, fawning, subservient, as if they would win favor and regard by an excess of service. These things are all only the grosser manifestations of what is really one of the loftiest traits of human character, and the one which, in its more enlightened phases, lifts the individual to his sublimest heights. The man of real intellectual superiority in his attainments, who is conscious of the recognition of those superior attainments by other men, enjoys a feeling of satisfaction and exaltation which lifts him far above the vulgarities which the ignorant resort to. I do not mean that those who are especially brilliant in some certain direction, and who by reason of that brilliancy have won the recognition of the world, of their distinguished abilities will not often show the vulgar manners of the ignorant; for one may be highly learned in some certain particular, and yet as a whole be densely ignorant. But the man of really broad and comprehensive knowledge will rarely be surprised into conduct that is rude or discourteous to any.

This love of distinction is purely an expression of human selfishness, and yet it is one of the most potent influences urging men to association. Its pursuit becomes the all-absorbing business of men’s lives after providing for the satisfaction of their more material wants. This is what impels men to continue to amass wealth far beyond their ability to use it, and even after its care becomes an absolute burden. There is no more certain road to the general deference of mankind than the possession or exhibition of wealth. A man needs to be great in nothing, if he is only wealthy, to find flatterers, and enjoy a distinction which another, without it, even of the highest attainments, can never hope to reach. Some lucky chance, some favoring condition, gives one who is ignorant and aggressive an advantage over others who are more intelligent, and who therefore have a more intelligent regard for the sensibilities of other men. That very advantage brings a certain measure of distinction, and he uses the advantage and the distinction as all ignorant vulgar men do use them, to increase his possessions, crushing out all opposition, pursuing his ends with utter disregard of consequences to others, wrecking his rivals in trade, and strewing the road to his own fortune with the ruins and desolation of hundreds. Except in very rare cases this is the genesis of all the great fortunes which have been acquired by the men who hold them. Had they at the start possessed less general ignorance, and therefore had they been more considerate of others, they would not have pressed their first advantage so mercilessly, and would not have obtained such an advance in the race for fortune. Accordingly it is only the ignorant and vulgar whom, under ordinary conditions, we should expect to attain to great wealth; which fact is so marked a characteristic, that we are actually surprised when we find a very rich man who is not also a very mean man. It is the exercise of those very qualities which gave him his riches.

But if men continue to acquire wealth far beyond their own ability to use it, merely for the distinction the possession of that wealth gives them; and if the castes which result from them, keep men apart, prevent equal association and promote classes, as they do, is not then the love of distinction an anti-social propensity instead of social? Not by any means. It craves the attention and admiration of others; and without those others it could find no gratification. That anti-social results are obtained, is owing to the conditions that gave one an advantage at the start, and enabled him to maintain that advantage afterward. The anti-social element is in the law which attaches special rights to property, so that the man who has property, has more rights, and can do more things, than the one who has none; in other words, gives him an advantage. It is the law that is anti-social in that it invests property with unnatural powers. It perverts this love of distinction, which is the grandest stimulus to exalted endeavor to make of one’s self the highest and best within the range of his possibilities, into a mere propensity that seeks the ignorant stare of the multitude; seeks a distinction based upon what one has instead of on what he is. The poor are not the only sufferers by reason of the laws of property. Theirs are not the only lives that are dwarfed by reason of them. Most of the very rich, whose lives and energies have been devoted to the acquisition of wealth; who by reason of their wealth have been largely isolated from other men —have been deprived of the ready sympathy and honest criticism of others; but who, on the other hand, have been surrounded with flatterers and sycophants, intent only on feeding upon the crumbs that fall from their tables, are almost, if not quite, as great sufferers as the poor. The poor have been starved in body, while they have been starved in mind. The poor have been dwarfed and broken in body, while the rich are equally so in mind. The rich, while not condemned by necessity, like the poor, to the severest toil for the common necessaries of life, yet often condemn themselves to it, which amounts to the same thing. Their lives become one prolonged struggle for wealth; and notwithstanding that they can and do surround themselves with fine things, calculated to gratify more exalted desires, music, paintings, books, and elegancies of all kinds, yet just so far as the appreciation for music, paintings, books, etc. is not developed through the cultivation of the mind to an intelligent understanding of them, and just so far as their possession is not in response to desires awakened by that understanding, they are merely an ostentation, and calculated to provoke the vacant stare of the sycophants who fawn upon mere wealth. Such men, like the poor, remain with perceptions dulled, with little opportunities for recreation and improvement. They work on as in a treadmill, living a small life, small in quantity and exceedingly poor in quality. Their measure of the worth of a man is the measure of his possessions; and to those who are inferior to them in point of possessions, although they may be their own superiors in all that constitutes manhood, they are haughty, overbearing, and patronizing, a certain indication of ignorance and vulgarity.

Are the rich therefore to be condemned? No more than the poor. They have only followed the dictates of their own natures, which are precisely like the natures of all other men. Their intelligence and their opportunities being what they were, they could not do other than they have. Bearing in mind that all men at the beginning are ignorant, and that the law gives the opportunity, if the opportunity comes to any man at the proper stage of his ignorance he will develop the inordinately rich; and from thence on the tendency will be to arrest the mental growth, and develop the vulgar rich. Association is one of the most powerful stimulants to knowledge, but inequality in condition erects barriers to a true association and prevents the growth of knowledge which would dispel the vulgarity. So the law, while professedly aiming to protect what is called the “rights of property’ injures the possessor of property little if any less than those who have no property.

I think it will be clear from all this that, although unsocial relations develop from the love of distinction, it is owing purely to abnormal and artificial conditions which are themselves the result of the ignorance of both the rich and the poor; because the poor, were it not for their ignorance, would never consent to the restraints imposed by the law, nor would the rich ask them were it not from ignorantly magnifying the benefits which they expect to receive. This being so, it is nothing short of barbarity to attempt to inflame the passions of the poor against the rich, or the rich against the poor. Both are equally responsible for their condition; and that condition cannot be changed except by developing sufficient intelligence to realize the unwisdom of legislation favoring special interests. [120]

If we would see some of the ways in which this love of distinction seeks expression we shall find it, not only in the pursuit of wealth for the distinction its possession brings, but in ostentatious gifts for religious, educational, or charitable purposes, oftentimes while the giver is practicing the most contemptible meannesses with his employees, or others with whom lie has dealings. Some marry their daughters to men with titles, hoping to buy a distinction based upon something other than mere possession. Others seek public office, even where they are beyond the need of the emoluments it brings; and in order to obtain it they will stoop to equal meannesses with the rich man who grinds his tenants or employees in order to obtain wealth with which to endow a college, or church. Public office always has a fascination, even where the emoluments are less than could be obtained outside, and where the work is more monotonous, mind less useful, and life more tame, because it carries with it a certain amount of authority on the part of the holder, and deference on the part of others, which is only a recognition of a distinction. The stars and uniforms of the policemen, badges, regalia, decorations, titles, peculiarities of dress or manners, personal eccentricities, are all claims to distinction preferred by those who seek the attention, and generally the respect, of their fellow men. Soldiers will often sacrifice their lives to be mentioned in the dispatches. Actors, artists, and poets find in distinction the supreme stimulus to their highest endeavor. To be accounted the best workman, the smartest politician, the wisest philosopher, the most eloquent orator or preacher, the keenest critic, the sharpest gambler, and thousands of others, are all distinctions that are sought purely for the distinction. Men scheme and contrive to get their names into the newspapers; enter into contests of skill, and endurance to determine questions of distinction, in fact, the principal part of life, after providing for sustenance, is the pursuit of distinction; and through that pursuit individual character is built up. But in all cases where distinction carries with it authority over others, the tendency is to brutalize and degrade both the object of the distinction and those over whom he exercises the authority.

One thing more it is important to notice, and that is, that the gratification of the love of distinction does not necessitate the superiority, or inferiority, of any. It neither requires, nor does it permit the subjection of one to another. Depending upon the intelligent appreciation and understanding of one another, where such an appreciation is wanting it cannot exist. For how can a man understand and appreciate the thoughts, feelings, and sentiments of another who lives in a different social atmosphere, or whose condition in life erects barriers between them? What intelligent appreciation is there possible between Dives and Lazarus? Our social forms and ceremonies, built upon distinctions in caste, keep men apart, perpetuate inequality, and prevent the gratification of the love of distinction, which, if given its proper scope, is almost all-powerful to uplift men to higher, and still higher attainments. So, the flattery which the rich receive from the sycophants who fawn around them is but the basest counterfeit of the real distinction which comes from equals who enter into their thoughts and aspirations because they understand and appreciate those thoughts and aspirations.

Here again, then, the individual properly gives up nothing of his own liberty or independence on entering into society. By so giving up anything he defeats the purpose for which society exists. There should be no balancing of advantages against disadvantages. There ought to be no disadvantages in it. Society should be an unmixed blessing to every member of it. If this is not true in fact, then there is something wrong in the terms of the association, which give advantages to some; and place disadvantages upon others. There should be no such thing as social evils.



In the last chapter we found the impulses prompting men to association to be purely selfish, to lie wholly in the benefits such association can bring to the individual. We found also that in order to realize those benefits it is not necessary for the individual to sacrifice anything of his individual rights or liberties on entering into society. He need not stop to balance advantages against disadvantages. Nature everywhere tends toward the perfectibility of the individual, and it nowhere imposes any disqualifications or disadvantages upon the enjoyment of such a manifest good as that of association with his fellows. On the other hand we are constantly told that “when men become members of society they must give up something of their natural liberties, in order to protect and preserve the rest of them, in other words: submit to be taxed; that “men must pay to society for the protection they receive from society;” and “that each must bear his share of the public burdens.” How came there to be public burdens? How is it that society has any protection to give, and from whom and from what does it protect? When men give up a portion of their liberties, where do those liberties go to; who gets them?

We shall find in the further development of our subject that nature not only imposes no burdens upon association, that association involves no disadvantages, but that nature punishes the limitations of freedom, which the ignorance of man imposes, with social evils exactly in proportion to those limitations. We shall also find that association itself only becomes possible in its best and truest sense as perfect liberty is recognized and respected.

But the thing we have to do now is to trace the development of human character, which results from the operation of social forces.

The subdivision of labor, which becomes more and more complete as association becomes more perfect, enables gratification to keep pace with desire. The love of distinction finds its highest stimulus as association reaches its most ideal expression. The increase in material wealth itself promotes individual growth. Wealth may be likened unto the nourishment which the plant draws from the earth, with which to support its growth; while distinction, or the admiration and regard of other men, is like the genial warmth of the sun to the same plant. The plant cannot grow at all without the first, and without the second it becomes a monstrosity. The co-ordination of social forces acting upon the individual, have precisely the same effect upon him as the interplay of physical forces do upon the growth of the plant. Where they are at their best, the best specimens of men are found, just as we find the most perfect plants where the conditions of their growth are the most favorable. The problem of the life of the man is the same as the problem of the life of the plant,—the development of the best specimen of its kind which the circumstances will permit. And that object is always realized. If the specimen proves not to be a good one, it is because the conditions under which it grew were not good. Therefore the question of the improvement of man, as an animal, and I know of him only as such, is the question of improving the conditions under which he must be developed. Those conditions which most profoundly influence his development are the conditions of the society in which he is placed. If those conditions are unfavorable it is impossible to obtain good results.[125] As society is the expression of the average intelligence of the individuals who compose it, it necessarily follows that the only way to improve society is to increase the intelligence of those individuals, which is best done by removing the limitations to their individual advancement.

Another thing to be remembered is, that neither plant nor animal can develop anything which is not already a part of itself—which is not a part of its own nature. We can not confer qualities upon another which he did not before possess. All improvement must be a development from within—a growth. “Men do not gather grapes of thorns, nor figs of thistles.” Therefore the futility of trying to “change men’s hearts,” of regenerating them, of conferring upon them grace they did not before possess.

Another thing which points unmistakably to the supreme solicitude of nature for the individual, and which demands the perfect freedom of that individual from all external restraint, is his faculty of private judgment. While all men are actuated by the same motives; have the same object in view, that of their own happiness; and are practically equal in their powers and capabilities, they are still widely different in their tastes, their inclinations, and their circumstances. This necessarily develops widely differing results. From these differences, often seemingly small in the beginning, grow all the diversity of character and talent as seen among men. No two men are alike, and no one can fully understand or appreciate another, and therefore can not judge for another. And if there ever was any intelligent design in the constitution of man’s nature, that design must have had in view the complete independence of each individual from any reliance whatever upon the judgment or direction of another, or it never would have endowed each with the faculty of judging for himself, and with the natural tendency to resent others’ interference. Had there been any design to confer upon some the power to judge for others, to pass laws for, or to exercise any restraint upon those others, it would have provided some way whereby those who were to judge could have been known and recognized; and whereby they could know and understand the thoughts, feelings, tastes and desires of those for whom they were to judge. For without all this they can make no intelligent judgment; and without some distinguishing mark to designate them, no one can know whose judgment to accept aside from their own.

Yet some men assume to make laws and rules of conduct for the guidance of other men; to command certain actions, and forbid others; and to determine what desires are proper to be gratified, and what ones are not. Under conditions like this, it is too much to expect individual character to be developed in its best and most varied forms. Whatever external restraints are imposed upon the individual, they must show their effects in weakening the force of his character, and in dwarfing its growth. And as society is made up of the individuals which compose it, whatever weakens those individuals must weaken society. Therefore, the necessary and inevitable result of governmental control, or in fact any control exercised by another, whether through the restraints of custom, religion, or the law, just as far as it expresses the will of society, the church, or the government, is to repress the expression of individuality, to weaken the responsibilities of individual action, and to destroy healthy activity. John Stuart Mill says, that “whatever crushes individuality is despotism, by whatever name it may be called, and whether it professes to be enforcing the will of God, or the injunctions of man.” Wilhelm Von Humboldt says: “The true end of man is the highest and most harmonious development of his powers to a complete and consistent whole. Freedom is the grand and indispensable condition which the possibility of such a development presupposes.”

All true growth and culture spring solely from the inner life. They are always a development of what is within; and are never produced by external or artificial contrivances. That development must always be in accordance with human nature, and not against it. So, as men, when free, cannot possibly act other than according to their natures, the best results with any man must always be obtained when that man is absolutely free from every external restraint. The development of the artist is the training of the hand, and the education of the eye, and the imagination. Can it possibly help in the making of that artist, to pinion his hand, to close an eye, or to insist that his imagination shall only be exercised in certain prescribed ways?

Von Humboldt says, “The impressions, inclinations, and passions which have their immediate source in the senses, are those which first and most violently manifest themselves in human nature. When they are absent, the springs of power have perished. They are the source of all spontaneous activity, and inspire a glowing genial warmth in human nature. They infuse life and elastic vigor into the whole being; when unsatisfied, they render it active, buoyant, ingenious in the invention of schemes, and courageous in their execution; when satisfied, they promote an easy unhindered play of ideas. In general, they animate and quicken all conceptions with a greater and more varied activity, suggest new views, point out hitherto unnoticed aspects, and, according to the manner in which they are satisfied, intimately react upon the whole physical organization, which in turn react upon the soul.”

How then can the freest possible expression of these passions and inclinations do otherwise than develop the highest and best good of the individual and as society is only an aggregation of individuals, how can the best good of each produce else than the best good of all? This is nature’s way.

The condition of the best growth of individual character is in absolute freedom from hindrances imposed by others. My own growth depends upon freedom from restraint, but when I throw impediments in the way of the growth of others, I injure my own environment and so hinder my own growth. Individuality is the law of the universe. Every mountain, even, has its individuality, every valley has its character, every tree, shrub and plant its own personality.



In this work I have proceeded and shall continue to proceed upon the hypothesis that men are equal; and yet the differences between them are notorious and obvious. It becomes necessary to examine those differences, see what they consist of, what they arise from, and find out if they do, in fact, violate any dogma of equality. Are men in any essential particular unequal? Republican government is said to be based upon the equality of men. The theory of the elective franchise is, that men are equal; and that one man’s vote should count for as much as another’s. Is the fact true to the theory? In its practical workings, does republican government violate the equality it is supposed to express? These questions are of the highest importance, because they lie at the very foundation of human society; and upon their answer depend the condemnation or justification of republican institutions, and the social adjustments based upon them.

It is not my purpose to enter into any philosophical speculations as to whether men are or are not equal in their powers and capabilities, except in so far as it has a bearing upon their association in society. More than this would be outside the scope of this work. It is so greatly the fashion nowadays to deny the equality of men, and point to their differences as proof of inequality, making that assumed inequality the basis and excuse for the observed inequalities in social conditions, that we need to examine the subject and see if there is any such inequality as would justify those inequalities in condition.

I will try and define what is meant by equality, and show that even if all that is claimed by those who contend for inequality were true, it would still be no justification for inequalities in social adjustments.

If I say that men are equal, I do not mean that they are alike. No two men can be alike; because, while they are made from the same clay, have the same vital spark, are actuated by the same motive, inspired by the same hope, and seek the same ends, yet they are modified by different conditions. Their conditions cannot be the same in any two instances. Then the equality of men does not involve their sameness; and their differences do not imply their inequality.

The most obvious differences between men are in size, weight, strength, skill, endurance, special talents, etc. Men do vary somewhat in size; and it is frequently the case that a large man has strength nearly corresponding to his size; but almost invariably whatever advantage is derived from one source, is neutralized by another, sometimes physical, and sometimes mental. Thus arise special talents, special adaptations, and special inclinations. It is a principle in mechanics that whatever is gained in power is lost in speed, and vice versa; and the same thing holds good, in a manner, among men. When we find a giant in size and strength, his movements are often slow and ponderous; while the one who is small and comparatively weak is likely to be active. The compensation may, however, be in some mental quality which fits one for certain occupations for which the other is totally unfit. The object of insisting upon the inequality of men is to justify their inequality of condition; but even admitting that inequality as a fact, it is no justification for their prevailing inequalities in condition unless nature itself would establish them, independent of the workings of any human law, or regulation . It is the height of absurdity to attempt to justify the possession of hundreds of millions of dollars, or even of single millions, by some, and nothing by others, on any differences in the size and strength of men, or on any other observable difference, if any one thinks differently let him set up any standard he thinks best, and apply it to the men of wealth. Nature does not make a king of an idiot, or a rich man of a fool. It takes human law to do that.

Skill, endurance, and talents in special callings, are mainly acquired by special training, so that they are simply modifications which result from conditions; and are not inherent in men themselves. It is said that some men have a natural bent in some particular direction; but that proves nothing. Other men have equally strong inclinations in other directions; and while individual differences may come to be great there is nothing to show a superiority or inferiority in one or the other. Differences of this kind make no foundation on which to build a necessary subjection of the will of one man to the will of another.

Considering further those physical differences, the new-born babe is dependent upon the care and attention of others. But are they not all equally so? Is the child of a king less dependent than that of the beggar? And must they not both have the fostering care of others, or perish? Then, throughout their whole lives, they are equally dependent for their growth and development upon the proper sup. ply of nutrition, and in fact, upon the satisfaction of all their bodily wants. All men must have food or starve. Notwithstanding any differences that may exist in the amount or kind required by each, their dependence on its supply is precisely alike. In the same climate all men are naturally equal in their dependence upon shelter and clothing. Whatever differences exist have been the result of privation, or exposure, which have inured one to hardship more than the other; but so far from this difference indicating an inferiority of the poor, if it proved anything, it proves their superiority, because they are by so far relieved of their dependence upon their wants. They by so far rise above their needs. But even this is only a temporary and artificial superiority, which nature seeks constantly to extinguish. It can only be maintained by maintaining the conditions which produced it, a thing that people will not do; for as soon as they can supply their needs, they do so; and their advantage of greater hardihood vanishes with the necessity or the deprivation which caused it. The calloused hand very quickly becomes soft when no longer kept to toil.

And what is true of the body is just as true of the mind. The mind cannot develop unless its needs are supplied. And this applies equally to men in every possible condition , in life. In this no one has an advantage over another. In these respects, all men are equal: the rich and the poor, the master and the slave, the black and the white, the child of the pauper and that of the millionaire. In fact, it is open to serious doubt whether if the babe of the wildest Bushman were reared in the heart of civilization, under conditions which did not impress it with a sense of social inferiority, it would not equal in its development the child of genius.

Out of this equality of needs comes the equality of rights. If all men are equally dependent upon the exercise of their powers, they must, of necessity, be equally free to exert those powers. This is simply justice, which is again equality. The equal balance is the symbol of justice. When the scales are even: that is, equal, they are just; and then only. So also, out of this same principle of equality of needs comes the greatest and most important principle of all human association, the principle of freedom; for, when the will of’ one is made to prevail over the will of another, in matters that pertain to that other, then equality is violated, justice is not done, and the liberty of that person is no more. It follows then that men being equal, their association in society must be on terms of perfect equality or liberty: that is, on the perfect freedom of each individual from restraints imposed by other individuals. On any basis of the inequality of men, association is imperfect, because there can be no real association except among equals, Where society is divided into classes, association can only exist between the members of each particular class. There can be none between the members or separate classes. Civilization depends upon association, and the more perfect that association the higher the civilization. Then a high degree of civilization is impossible based upon human inequality, upon class distinctions, and upon restrictions placed upon some by others, because these things are in their very nature anti-social and opposed to civilization.

Equality of right means the equality of opportunity, which precludes the possibility of some taking possession of the materials of the universe which nature has provided for all to exert their labor upon, for the satisfaction of their desires, and charging a price for its use. It precludes the possibility of placing restrictions upon the gratification of any human desire. Human law is absolutely incompatible with liberty; and always operates to the advantage of some, and the disadvantage of others.

Then liberty is what is meant by human equality; and equality is perfectly compatible with the widest personal differences between individuals. For instance a man who is strong, robust, and muscular may require two or three times as much food for his sustenance as another does who is small, weak and less active; but they are both equally dependent upon its supply, whatever the amount may be; and justice requires that both be equally free in procuring it. But suppose our strong man is also a very acquisitive one, and finds his own pleasure in amassing wealth, while the other delights in music. Justice still requires that each remain equally free to follow the bent of his own desires, while they still can and do remain equal, notwithstanding their increasing personal differences. But as will be found when we come to consider property, in the absence of the law which confers an added power and distinction upon the possession of property, both the motive for the amassing of wealth and the possible injury to others by the possession of it will be destroyed. Personal genius may reach its highest expression in any direction, or in ten thousand directions producing the greatest diversity of individual character without equality being violated in the slightest degree.

In such a society the poet will associate freely any equally with the philosopher, the artist, the composer, the inventor, the mechanic, the merchant, the farmer and the laborer. Labor will then no longer be a badge of servitude and inferiority; because, first, where equality is not violated for a time none can live without labor upon the labor of others, and therefore all must labor; and second, the natural stimulants to labor, if not interfered with by law, will soon act and be abundant to induce labor on the part of every human being. Men will produce wealth as spontaneously as a tree will bear fruit.

When people attribute the miseries of the poor to their extravagance, their indolence, intemperance, or incompetence, assuming that themselves are less extravagant, etc., they are guilty of gross heartlessness, and exhibit serious ignorance of their own natures if nothing worse. If the poor are extravagant, what have they done but used the means at their disposal to satisfy their desires? Who is it who presumes to judge of another’s needs, or to determine what desires are proper for him to gratify? Nature offers to all men the utmost abundance of its exhaustless resources from which to draw their supplies and gratify their desires. Why then should not all men be extravagant? Why not indulge those desires to their fullest? But for those who have monopolized the resources of nature, have denied the poor access to those resources, have taken from them their earnings under the forms of laws intended only for their own advantage and thus deprived them of means of their growth, to turn around and taunt them with an arrested development reaches the summit of brazen effrontery. Did not nature make all men equally averse to work, equally wanton and wild? How long since the landlord conquered his indolence or the capitalist became industrious?

Until the poor are relieved of the support of the rich, it were well for the rich to say as little as possible about the inferiority, the improvidence, intemperance and the indolence of the poor. The rich are estopped from making such pleas. It will be time enough to do that when, after having had an equal chance, the poor fail to improve it, and better their condition.

But those who deny the equality of men as a principle, often with the same breath acknowledge that equality, boast of the freedom of our institutions, assume that they are based upon equality and claim that “all men are equal before the law”. If they really were so, there could no considerable difference arise in their conditions. It is because they are not equal before the law, because our institutions are not free, and because it is the very nature and purpose of the law to set up and perpetuate inequality, that those differences in conditions arise.

There is another important respect in which differences are observed, which remains to be considered. Sometimes people speak of “good men”, and “bad men”, meaning thereby that there is a moral or ethical distinction that corresponds to these adjectives. If this is true, there must be some quality that makes a good act essentially different from a bad one. But all through the preceding chapters we have found all men constituted a- like, in every essential particular; all having the same motive force actuating them, that of selfishness; all equally ignorant at the start, and equally dependent upon overcoming that ignorance; all pursuing the same end, that of happiness; all seeking to reach it through the gratification of desires which have been awakened by increasing intelligence; and all warmed into a more genial life and growth by the admiration and appreciation of their fellows. The recognition of this equality in men in the springs of their activity leads to most important results. It at once destroys those moral and ethical distinctions which are commonly denominated “good” and “bad”. The only things left in man answering to these adjectives are “wise” and “foolish.”

There can then be no such thing as “good men,” or “good women” in any other sense than as wise, or intelligent men, or women; nor as “bad men” or women, than as foolish, or ignorant ones.

Thieves are called “bad men”, but what is a thief? One who violates the rights of property.

But what are the rights of property? The artificial, or conventional rights conferred on property by human laws which are themselves violations of nature. It is not the natural rights of property the violation of which we punish as theft, but only those which are created by law. If we punished the violation of the real or natural rights of property we should send every landlord, every real-estate man, every money loaner, in short, every monopolist in the country, to the penitentiary for a theft. Fortunately for them it is only the violation of those arbitrary enactments which the law seeks to punish. It is a peculiarity of human law that the same power which enacted it can repeal it; but can a man be said to have violated any moral dogma which is so capricious and uncertain that it is liable to change, and what is immoral to-day, may become highly moral and proper to-morrow? For a fuller treatment of this subject see Chapter VII, Part II, on property, and Chapter VI, of Part III, on crime.

Thus, in theory at least, we find that social equality is more than a vague sentimentality. It is a positive living principle: a fact that is everywhere seeking recognition; and the bar which everywhere prevents that recognition and realization is the law which creates and maintains inequality. The greatest and best thinkers too, especially in modern times, have seen with more or less clearness this grand principle, as their studies have been more or less directed to the subject. They have seldom or never carried their examination far enough to grasp the idea in all its fullness, and significance; but still they have seen it. Henry Thomas Buckle perceived clearly the worthlessness, as well as the absurdity and injustice, of legal restrictions as a corrective of what are called moral delinquencies: saw that men in their actions are governed by natural laws which always, in the aggregate, operate with certainty and precision; but he failed to see that all this springs from the essential equality of men. He laid down principles and formulas which if carried to their logical conclusion would abolish every legal enactment, and realize liberty. Victor Hugo, Wilhelm Von Humboldt, and Bagehot, all obtained certain glimpses of this important truth. Bagehot says, “In the early ages of an agricultural colony, whether you have political democracy or not, social democracy you must have, for nature makes it, and not you. But in time, wealth grows and inequality begins.” Why did he not say that when the inequalities set up by the law have had time to concentrate the wealth, then inequality becomes apparent? The inequality begins with the law, and it will end with the law.

Rochefoucault, Hevetius, Kant, Fichte and Hegel all carry the principle much farther. They do not stop with the social equality of men. They agree that the intelligence of men differs only qualitatively ‘\between individuals. In judgment it is quantitatively equal in all.

It is not certain there is even a qualitative difference. Law is so subtle in its influence, and so far reaching in its results that we are apt to refer to natural causes effects which, on closer examination, are clearly traceable to it.

Against it all stands this universal fact, that nature, while producing variety, tends constantly to an equality, just as water always seeks its level. Were I to undertake to cite the almost innumerable proofs of this proposition, and to indicate the ways in which equality tries to assert itself, it would require a volume to do this alone.

But there is one proof, or rather series of proofs, which is so remarkable and conclusive that I cannot resist the temptation to present it. It is the history of the work of the Children’s Aid Society, of New York.

While this society ranks among the lists of organized charities, it is essentially different from others, in that it seeks to remove the obstacles which prevent the children from helping themselves: to make them more independent, instead of conferring upon them a help which will increase their dependence. To this end, the most abandoned and destitute children in New York, the offspring of vice and crime, street rats, who gnaw at society, and who scamper away when the light is turned on, who sleep in boxes, under stair ways, on barges, in the coldest weather, with little or no food, kicked and cuffed by their elders, hunted by the police, in rags, under door-ways, in the storm with not a door open to them, with not a welcome from any—such as these are taken and sent away, mostly to the country, where homes are found for them with those who will adopt, educate, and rear them as their own. Nowhere can be found a more unpromising class of subjects to work upon. Many of them are children of foreigners, the history of whose ancestors has been through all time, one of destitution, of a hopeless subjection to injustice amounting almost to personal slavery, or maybe they are children of a long line of criminals, prostitutes, drunkards, the very dregs and outcasts of society, yet in almost every instance, these children have made good citizens, noted for their honesty, uprightness, and intelligence. Many have accumulated wealth, attained to distinction in the learned professions, and all have proved their equality with children born in the conditions into which this society transplanted them.

The experience of this society has extended over a period of about forty years, during which time probably not less than 50,000 children have been provided with homes in this way; so that it affords evidence of the very highest order that the favorable results obtained were not owing to any temporary causes. I have not the reports of the society at hand, so that I cannot speak with perfect accuracy, but my recollection is that the proportion of children taken charge of by the society which turned out bad did not reach two per cent. It has certainly been so small as to be a source of astonishment to even the most sanguine.

Facts like these are not meaningless. They tell of the unspeakable injustice of social adjustments which condemn millions to lives of horrid brutality, and all to infinitely less than the grand possibilities which await all development to greater enlightenment.

There remains one more plea that men urge in justification for inequalities of condition: and that is, the doctrine of evolution,—”The survival of the fittest.” This is an instance of the base uses to which a grand principle may be perverted. It assumes that the men who possess the wealth are the fittest; and that they possess it because they are the fittest. In this application it is but a restatement of the old doctrine that ‘might makes right.” According to it every injustice on the face of the earth becomes right; and the test of the rightfulness of an act becomes the ability of one to perform it. If these men are the fittest, and if they hold by virtue of their superior fitness, then they need have no fear of the abolition of the artificial, or legal regulations which give then an advantage. If their superiority is a natural one, they need no artificial prop to sustain it. But if it is not a natural one, if the law is only a means of enabling the idler to live at ease off the worker, then it promotes the survival of the unfittest, and obstructs the natural expression of human evolution. If the idler who lives off the labor of others is the fittest to live, then the lice which subsist and fatten upon the calf are fitter to live than the calf is, which is being eaten up by them.



To reach a correct understanding of a thing, and be sure that we are only dealing with that thing, and not with other and extraneous things, it is necessary at the start to strip it of everything not essential to its own self. We can then deal with it understandingly and without danger of being led astray. Property is one of those things with which, unless we do that, we are certain to get lost in a multitude of nice distinctions as to what is, and what is not property.

Webster defines property as “that which is peculiar to any person, that which belongs exclusively to an individual; that to which a person has a legal title, whether in his possession or not; thing owned”.

According to that, in order to know what property is, one must be familiar with the laws of property at the time and in the place where the inquiry is instituted, or determined. The answer to the question to-day might not be a correct one to-morrow, because the law might change. For instance: a few years ago, in certain states certain men were legal property. The law has since changed and they are no longer so. The law in all the states to-day recognizes land as property; but certain men in those states deny its rightfulness, and seek to change the law. However improbable such a contingency may be, it is perfectly conceivable that they may succeed in getting a sufficient majority to change it, and take land out of the list of things which are property. Property has two sources, or bases. One is in nature, and the other is in the law. One is fixed, and the other changeable. One enforces itself unless interfered with by the other, while the other requires courts, juries, policemen, detectives, militia, armies, navies, politicians, and taxes to enforce it, and then it doesn’t succeed very well. As I must adopt one or the other of these two ideas of property in order to consider it at all, I prefer to take the first, because it is the simplest, and because I am not learned in the law, and might get lost in its intricacies.

Natural property is what would be recognized as property even if human law were entirely abolished. Examining the subject, we find three things necessary: the first is, the person, because there can be no possession without a possessor, second the thing, or object which is possessed; and third, the condition of possession; that is, occupation.

In the absence of law I am free to go to nature and produce whatever pleases my fancy. I will not stand idle in want, while all nature invites me to come and take freely. There is no law to take the product of my labor from me in taxes, and if a landlord claims a share, I will laugh at him, because he cannot call the law to his aid to enforce his claim. I will even deny his right of property, because I am the possessor for the time being, and until I give it up, of the land I use. If another wants my product, I will tell him to go and produce for himself: that he is just as free as I am. He may steal it, but I don’t believe he will. There is really no reason why he should. In fact, there is every reason in the world why he should not. He is not prevented from producing freely all he wants; and he is, in common with all others, anxious to obtain the good will of other men, a desire which he is not prevented from gratifying. He is equal in opportunity, equal in dignity, equal in every essential of manhood with me, and with other men; and it is impossible for him not to feel the dignity of his equality in life. He would regard himself a mighty mean man if he were to steal my substance under those circumstances. He would not do it more than once, because the shame would be so acute, and the fear of being found out so great, that I believe no man would try it the second time. In a community where all have an equal show—perfect freedom—there is no need of a law to punish crime, for there will be no crime to punish where there is no organized force in society capable of overcoming all opposition, and compelling obedience: no power sufficiently strong to systematically violate the rights of individuals. Individuals are free, which is to say that they are equal, or in other words, that they are secure. Thus we have liberty, equality, security, all comprised in the one condition of liberty. There being no laws of property, property has no special rights, and consequently the possessors of property have no more power than those who have none (if we can conceive of there be. ing any such under those conditions.) Property, conferring no power, can bring no distinction nor impart any influence; so that no one will seek it for those purposes. Its real purpose being to gratify desire, it will be sought solely for that end; and the accumulation of wealth will cease to be the all absorbing business of life. The real business will be the pursuit of knowledge, the gratification of the higher desires which are developed by increased knowledge; and the seeking of a distinction based upon what one is, instead of on what he has, the whole resulting in the cultivation and development of a loftier individual character.

I said that there are three things necessary to the condition of natural property. The first two are obvious enough; but the third requires a little consideration. Why do we say that occupation, or possession, is a requisite? If, in the absence of law, I am in possession of a thing, and there exists no organized force to take it away, I may fairly, in nature, be said to own it. It is the natural state of ownership. I may part with it to another; but by so doing, I abandon my ownership, because there is no natural means whereby I can compel him to restore it. If he does so, it is of his own free will, and of the same nature as my abandonment to him. In the absence of any law of property, I may lay claim to any number of things which may be in the possession of another, but as I have no possession, and as there is no organized force which I can summon to my aid to get possession, there is no way in which I can enforce my claims; and consequently I have no natural property in those things. This is what is meant by possession, or occupation, as a requisite for natural property.

With possession as a necessary condition for property, the oppression of one man by another becomes impossible. No man can actually possess more than about so much. If one were to enclose a large tract of land, more than he could immediately use, and others needed that land. they would take it, irrespective of his claims. The human hog would have no means of keeping others from the feed, as he does now. But if he confined himself to his reasonable needs, and held only so much as he could fairly use and occupy in the then existing state of society, no one would have any inducement to interfere with him, because there would remain enough for all the others. As population, civilization, and subdivision of labor increase, the average area of land needed by individuals decreases; so that in a state of freedom, there can never be any overcrowding. Population can never become congested where all the land is open to use and where there is no external pressure preventing population from spreading.

If, also, a man should meditate to accumulate a quantity of goods far beyond his possible needs, he would soon find their possession irk some, requiring an amount of care and attention the burden of which would compel him to desist. He could not get others to assume that care for him. They would rather care for their own; rand would have no need to engage themselves to another. And besides if he voluntarily turned over his goods to others for any cause he would have parted with possession and therefore with his property.

This natural condition of property, that of possession, or occupancy, is the first one that the law violates; and this violation is the key to the whole monstrous injustice of property rights. It is the foundation of all the inequalities of condition among the people in any country in this world; and the attempt to enforce that violation leads to most of the misery, wretchedness, brutality, and crime which afflict society. It is the taproot of slavery, of inequality and disorder. By conferring upon the possessors of property the right to part with that property and still own it; that is, hold a mortgage lien or encumbrance on it, and then attempting to enforce that ownership, it leads directly to slavery, subjection, resistance, strife, crime, misery, brutality, and a thousand attendant evils. Everything that the law touches it kills. Where it aims to protect property it violates it. It professes to promote liberty while it destroys liberty. It pretends to preserve public security, while it brings public and private security to an end. Rights conferred upon property increase the power of those who have property and decrease by so much the rights of those who have none. There is where inequality begins, by setting up artificial rights of property. For instance, by the privilege of holding what they do not directly possess, men can and do obtain a constructive possession of land merely to compel others to pay them for the privilege of using it.

That men are empowered to part with possession of their wealth and still hold the obligations of other men to restore it, and pay interest for its use; and then to enforce those obligations by law— makes possible the whole fabric of mortgage and bonded indebtedness in the world.

Debt is one form of slavery. A man can never be free while in debt. The creditor holds over the debtor a power far more subtle than that of the master over his chattel slave, and nearly as absolute. He commands his services, can seize his person, can put him to open shame, can crucify his self-respect, can degrade and destroy his manhood. The interest he exacts is precisely of the same nature as continuous service of the slave. It is a contribution from the debtor for which he receives nothing in return; and it arises solely from that arbitrary provision of the law which invests property with power it does not possess by nature. The law establishes regulations according to which the most sordid and crafty can grasp the good things of this world, and make others dependent upon them for the commonest necessaries of life. Their slavery is made complete through their needs, because the law prevents their natural gratification. And when it has produced its legitimate result of building up a rich class upon the miseries of a poor class, it still farther increases the miseries of the poor by punishing as criminals those who justly rebel against its own violations of justice.

Does any one question the fact that these inequalities, oppressions and disorders arise solely from the law? Imagine then the law abolished, and who is there that would allow himself to be evicted for non-payment of rent? Who would submit to being sold out by the sheriff, to satisfy a mortgage, or a judgment of the court? But the court would have to go with the law; so there would be no court to give judgment. Where would Lord Scully get his power to collect tribute from the farmers of Illinois? Where would any landlord get the power to oppress his tenants? There could be no such thing as tenants. What would give the bondholders the ability to live in idleness off the earnings of an industrious people? How would any monopoly in this world be able to maintain itself as a monopoly except for the law that protects the monopoly, and enforces claims of monopoly against the people? Who would consent to pay monopoly prices for anything after the power of the monopoly was gone? And how can there be any criminal violation of law when there is no law to violate? Apply the same process to every injustice and oppression in this world, and we get the same result. The law stands as the fortress of strength to every one of them. It is only by the aid of the law that any of them can do any harm. We have reared up a monster that is crushing us. There is no hope but to kill the monster. Still, I shall hear the objection that “landlords will cease to build houses if they can not rent them, and collect the rents; and people will cease to loan money if they cannot get it back with interest.” True, and when landlords cease to build houses for rent, men will build their own houses, which they will be abundantly able to do, for they will have no employer to take away all but a small part of their earnings. They will have neither rent nor purchase money to pay for a place to put a house; will not be robbed any longer in taxes to support other men in idleness; and there will be no more grinding monopolies to keep prices above their natural limit. And the same causes that emancipate men from the landlord, will do the same thing for them in relation to the lendlord. They will have no occasion to borrow when they are free to work as they will, and to enjoy the full fruits of their labor.

But make a law which permits men to hold what they do not possess, and of course, they will take the land; and if other men want it they must buy it, or rent it. If they want houses, their wages, after taking out all the claims of monopoly, will seldom be sufficient to buy or build; so a landlord must build for them, and they become his slaves, or the slaves of the lendlord, which amounts to the same thing. A man cannot possess a thing, and not possess it at the same time. If a landlord builds a house, and voluntarily surrenders it to another, with or without payment, his natural property in that house ceases; and equity gives him no power to retake it without the consent of the new possessor. It is the law only that enacts the fiction that he can still own it after he has willingly parted with it. And by means of that fiction it is made possible for some men to live without labor, off the labor of other men.

Suppose we take a little closer look at the rights of property! If they depend upon the law, as they most certainly do, and if the law is the expression of the will of the people, (a pure fiction) then the people may, and will change it, when they change their will, which they are liable to do at any time; or they may repeal it altogether. And they are just as competent to abrogate it, if they choose, in any other way, without taking the trouble of a formal repeal. But if law is the expression of the will of a few favored ones who hold special privileges, called monopolies, and who control the courts, legislatures, and administrations in secret and subtile ways for their own advantage, which is certainly the case, then it is not entitled to even this consideration. In either case the people have a perfect right to change it in part, or in whole, as they see fit; and they cannot be accused of violating any proper code of morals, whatever may be the result of the change. If the morals depend upon the law, and the people make the law, then the morals must change when the people change the law. But if the morals depend upon the law made by monopoly, in the interest of monopoly, they are but false morals at best, and are not binding upon the conscience of any man. If by the abolition of the law every so- called “vested right,” every bonded or mortgage indebtedness, every special privilege, every title to land not actually occupied by the claimant, and every tax were wiped out, it would not violate natural property in the slightest; nor would it violate any correct standard of good morals. It would only be a declaration of independence by the slaves; and few people at this day will deny to slaves the right to declare their independence. If these several “rights,” and privileges above enumerated are only legal violations of natural rights, and are maintained as a means of taking the earnings of the industrious without giving an equivalent, then they are only several forms of slavery which the slaves have a perfect right to throw off by any means they find most convenient, without consulting the convenience of their masters.

Webster’s definition of property is correct as applied to legal property, that is, the institution of property set up by the law. Mine too, is correct as applied to natural property.

There remains one more light in which to consider property. In the beginning of this chapter I spoke of the conditions of natural property as fixed, or stable. At other times, in the course of this work, I have spoken of property as temporary,—”a passing phase of human development.” It is necessary to explain myself.

When I say that the conditions of true property are fixed and permanent, I mean, in the existing state of society. Civilization remaining what it is, or even developing all that it is allowed to develop under the repressive force of the law, property must continue to be practically what it is now. I say practically, because there are indications even now of its transient nature; indications small in themselves, but significant. A straw will point the current as certainly as a whole haystack. But under the law, property must always accumulate in a few hands and manifest itself in vast fortunes, in wealth far beyond the possibility of enjoyment, opulence, arrogance, and despotism of the rich, along with the abject misery, poverty, vice, crime, slavish subjection, and degradation of the poor. No matter how much the aggregate wealth of the country may increase, it must continue to pile up in a few hands, and the effect is only to swell still further those great fortunes, and increase the arrogance and despotism of the rich.

These are the inevitable results of the law; and, knowing the conditions beforehand, one may always, with perfect certainty, predict the effect. With law hampering development the condition of natural property must remain nearly stationary. That condition cannot take on its natural and necessary changes, which it must do before humanity can develop to a much higher civilization.

Again presupposing the entire absence of laws of property, what must be its natural development? Already the tendency to a greatly increased aggregate production is a marked and almost universal characteristic. The more minute the subdivision of labor, the increase of labor saving machinery, improved processes, the development of new forces, new adaptations, and new uses, are going on at a rapidly accelerating ratio, while important economies are being effected. Where is all this to stop? Does any know of a stopping-place?

There is already a constantly increasing ratio of production; but then, with the barriers to production thrown down, the land opened up to unrestricted use instead of being held idle, monopolies, tariffs, taxes, licenses, regulations, and restrictions all swept away, and every man a producer in some form instead of as now, a large proportion living in idleness on the labor of others, what may we not expect of this increase? Take it in the matter alone of the increase in the number of laborers, and think what that means. A very small proportion of all the active labor now employed is adequately employed; that is, is employed to the best advantage. Much of it is idle a large proportion of the time. All of it is poorly paid, and consequently it has little heart in the work, and little stimulus to exertion.

Remove these obstructions; and add to the numbers of the producers, say, one-fourth of the entire male population, who are now idlers, and see what a mighty force is added to labor; what a powerful impulse is given to production. It means not merely the physical labor of so many more men, but so much more thought, so much more skill, so much more ingenuity, and so much more inventive genius. If human advance was a walk before, it must be a run now. And more, it must advance as with leaps and bounds.

Under such circumstances how long will it take for every man to become wealthy? And with universal wealth, the machine everywhere taking the place of manual labor, emancipating mankind from toil beyond what the needs of a healthy activity demand, life must become one everlasting holiday. The labor of keeping accounts or exacting payment between individuals will become irksome, and be abandoned. Property, under these circumstances, cannot long continue to be an individual possession, but common, each taking and using as much as he or she likes, precisely as the members of any family in comfortable circumstances now take and use as much food from the common table as suits their desires.

Thus, through absolute universal freedom, the anarchist reaches the end for which he strives; the state socialist attains his goal; the communist realizes the conditions of which he dreamed, and every social reformer attains his Utopia. It comes as the result of the unrestricted play of man’s selfish nature. It requires no change of heart, no regeneration, and no stifling of the natural impulses of man. It is a condition which cannot be made. It must grow. It cannot be organized any more than one can organize a lily. Freedom is the one sole condition of its growth.



The main purpose of this work is to make clear the nature and scope of human liberty; and to show its importance as the one necessary condition of human progress. Every examination we have heretofore set on foot, and every inquiry instituted, has led directly to that one condition. If we have considered the different schools of professed social reform we have found them progressive just as we have found them tending toward liberty; and retrogressive just as we have found them necessarily violating liberty. In examining the constitution of man it was everywhere the one important requisite of his development. It becomes very important then to understand what this thing is that meets us at every turn; that claims our attention; and punishes our neglect.

Webster defines liberty as “the state of a freeman; ability to do as one pleases, freedom from restraint.”

It will be noticed that it is used as synonymous with “freedom;” and freedom is an absolute term. It admits of no limitations. To be free is to be without restriction, especially the restriction imposed by the will of another. A thing cannot be free as long as it is restricted. It is true, a man whose freedom is restricted a little, is more free than one who is restricted a good deal; but he is not free. He only approximates toward freedom. Nor is a people whose freedom of action is restricted, either through the law, or through religion, free. A sprinter, who would run a race while wearing shackles, would not be regarded as free, even if those shackles were placed there by his own hand. [153]

We should say that the limitation of that man’s freedom was his ignorance. So, it is not only the will of others that restrains men of their liberty, but their own ignorance. Their greatest restraint is their ignorance because it places the most absolute check, not merely upon the gratification of desire, but upon desire itself; for how can a man desire a thing if be is ignorant of the good which comes from its enjoyment? In fact, it may be said to embrace all forms of restraint, for as men become intelligent enough to see the injurious effects of restraint upon themselves through imposing it upon others, they cease to impose it; and when they perceive the nature and cause of restraint when imposed directly upon themselves, they refuse to submit.

There are three forms in which artificial restraint, or the restraint of one man, or some men, over other men, is imposed, namely, law, religion, and public sentiment. The first two are positives and act positively to suppress men’s activities. The third is more negative in its action, but none the less effective. Law is the will of the governors, whether those governors be the king, or a multitude of monopolists. It is to compel subjection. The church, for a long time, aimed to be, and was, the principal monopolist. It made the laws, and controlled not only the actions, but thoughts and consciences of men; and kings, even, were subject to it. It even made the public sentiment, and, through its influence and power was all but absolute. Then, the darkness of ignorance was most intense. Superstition was for the masses, craft and intrigues for the priests who were the politicians; and licentious indulgence in the grossest animal desires, for the rulers. If the rulers quarreled they set the people to fighting, and called it war. And the ruler who could murder most of the people who were subject to the other ruler, regardless of the number of his own subjects that were murder, was the greatest. [155]

But the outs are always scheming to get iii. The so-called temporal rulers were jealous of the spiritual ones, and, in order to boost themselves conceded somewhat to the ruled. The church found itself compelled to grant concessions too, in order to regain its advantage. This would again be met, in time, by the others, every concession being a gain to the people, and a loss to power. Greater freedom always promoting greater intelligence, the gain became confirmed in the people through that intelligence, so that every real advance has been maintained. There has been no step backward. Every contest between the church and the state has been a gain to the people; and it was only through those contests that, for a long time, the people were able to progress at all. Along this line has been all advance toward human liberty; and as soon as the people are intelligent enough, they will throw overboard what remains of both these twin brothers in infamy, the church and the state, and realize complete liberty. Will they also discard public sentiment? They will have no occasion to do so. When intelligence becomes sufficiently enlightened to achieve liberty, public sentiment will be but the expression of that enlightenment. It will always keep pace with progress. When men once realize the value of liberty public sentiment will condemn all infractions of it.

But men’s appreciation of liberty cannot go beyond their understanding of it; and the popular understanding has been greatly at fault. This has been promoted largely by the very general acceptance among scholars, and writers on social topics of the principles laid down by John Stuart Mill, in his work on “Liberty.” When first published, that was by far the most advanced statement of those principles which had been worked out in detail, and which had secured any general recognition from the public; although long before, Baron Wilhelm von Humboldt [3] had laid a broader foundation than that of Mr. Mill. Humboldt’s work was written about the beginning of the present century, and at a time when he was Prime Minister of Germany; but it was not published until after the author’s death. A single comparison will show the marked difference between the two authors in their understanding of liberty.

Von Humboldt says the State is to abstain

“from all solicitude for the positive welfare of the citizens, and not to proceed a step further than is necessary for their mutual security and protection against foreign enemies, for with no other object should it impose restrictions on freedom.”

Contrast that, with the statement by Mr. Mill, on page 14, of his book. [4]

“All that makes existence valuable to any one, depends upon the enforcement of restraints upon the action of other people. Some rules of conduct, therefore, must be imposed, by law in the first place, and by opinion in many things which are not fit subjects for the operations of the law.”

This might have been written by the most bigoted and intolerant religionist, or prohibitionist, with perfect consistency.

Mr. Mill presents another instance of radically wrong conclusions proceeding from false premises. He too looked upon society as some sort of an entity apart from the voluntary association of individuals for the mutual benefit of those individuals. Regarding it as a separate entity, he assumed that it has rights. He also recognized that the individual has rights; then he devoted his whole work to an effort to reconcile the conflicting rights of society, with those of the individual. Of course, it became a patchwork of compromises,—a balancing of the good of society against the good of the individual, with the mutual good thrown in indifferently on one side or the other as inclination dictated. It was perfectly natural for him, under these circumstances, to assume that in all matters that were self- regarding to the individual the individual should be supreme. If the individual had any rights at all, it was obvious that they must be here; but in order to save what he regards the rights of society, he / limits the rights of the person to those matters which directly affect himself. This was a very plausible theory until he undertook to apply it, when he loses himself in a multitude of contradictions and difficulties, which he admits his inability to solve. “So many things,” as he says, “lie on the exact boundary line between the two principles;” that is, between the rights of the person and the right of society to restrain him, that he was unable to decide where to place them.

Another thing that conclusively proves Mr. Mill’s inadequate conception of liberty is his statement on page 184, that “the principle of individual liberty is not involved in the doctrine of free trade.” If his individual liberty is not involved in his right to do what he will with his own, where, in the name of common sense, is it involved? Again, when he speaks of trade regulations pertaining to adulterations, and sanitary precautions to protect working people in dangerous occupations, he says, “these interferences are objectionable, not as infringements on the liberty of the producer, or seller, but on the buyer;” just as if an infringement on the liberty of the buyer, were not equally an infringement on the liberty of the seller, and the producer. Whatever interferes with the freedom of the buyers in a market, interferes to precisely the same extent with those who produce for that market, and those who supply that market. Then again, any process of reasoning which justifies society in an interference in favor of one party in a transaction is equally good for a like interference in favor of the other party. If we may especially protect workingmen, we can also protect their employers; and the workingmen have no right to complain if they find that measures intended to protect them have, in their practical workings, really protected their masters instead of them. The principle of protection, whether applied to trade and production, or to security of possession, is only effective when applied to a part of the people.

Whatever protects all, protects none; because universal protection is an impossibility. The only way that any man can seriously violate the rights of another man, or restrain him of his liberty, is through the law. So that the law is the only efficient violator of liberty from which the people need protection; and the only protection they can receive from that, is to kill it.

Mr. Mill saw clearly enough how essential freedom is to the individual, in those matters which pertain immediately to himself. He says:

“The sole end for which mankind are warranted, individually or collectively, in interfering with the liberty of action of any of their number, is self-protection. The only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not a sufficient warrant. He cannot be rightfully compelled to do or forbear because it will be better for him to do so, because, in the opinion of others, to do so would be wise, or even right. These are good reasons for remonstrating with him, or reasoning with him, or persuading him, or entreating him, but not for compelling him, or visiting him with any evil in case he do otherwise. To justify that, the conduct from which it is desired to deter him must be calculated to produce evil to some one else. The only part of the conduct of any one, for which he is amenable to society, is that which concerns others. In the part which merely concerns himself, his independence is, of right, absolute. Over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign.”

But on the very next page he adds:

“Despotism is a legitimate mode of government in dealing with barbarians, provided the end be their improvement, and the means justified by actually effecting that end.”

According to that, the barbarians in our cities, who are made so, and kept so by the law, may legitimately be the objects of despotism, “provided,’ in the opinion of the despots, “the end be their improvement, and the means justified by actually effecting that end.”

And I suppose that the wolves, observing how lamentably ignorant and barbarous the sheep are, would be justified in adopting despotic methods for their improvement, provided always that, in their own opinion, the means were “justified by actually accomplishing that end.”

But it is impossible to improve men by despotism. The history of the world may be successfully challenged for a single instance where a people has been improved by its rulers. On the other hand, they may be, and often are debased almost immeasurably by the pernicious effects of bad laws, and bad rulers. A remarkable case is that of Spain under a line of bigoted and inefficient kings, following the expulsion of the Moors in the seventeenth century. Spain had been brought to a condition of absolute helplessness as a result of that almost unparalleled act of despotism. The condition of the country was almost beyond description. Its power was broken, its wealth dissipated, its commerce destroyed, and its industries were utterly annihilated. The industrious Moors, on whom the prosperity of the country had depended, had been banished, for the glory of God—and the church. The three succeeding sovereigns were idle, ignorant, infirm of purpose, passing their lives in the lowest and most sordid pleasures. Spain was brought to the lowest point of debasement, insulted with impunity by foreign nations; or rather, by the despotic rulers of foreign nations, was reduced to bankruptcy, stripped of her fairest possessions, held up to public opprobrium, and her territories mapped out and divided by a treaty in which she had no share, but which she could not resent. Certainly here, if ever, was an opportunity for a wise ruler to lift a country and a people out of the miserable condition into which the ignorance, intolerance, and arrogance of its rulers had plunged it.

This was the condition of affairs when Charles III succeeded to the throne. A man of great energy, respected for his honesty, and feared for his vigor, he raised Spain from the condition of a third, to that of a first rate power. As a man he was of high repute; as a sovereign, the superior of all his contemporaries. The army was improved, increased, better equipped; the national defences strengthened and extended; the navy doubled in number and more than doubled in efficiency; and public, improvements were undertaken and carried out with wisdom and skill. All this was done without imposing fresh burdens upon the people; but, on the other hand, trade regulations were relaxed, the laws. of mortmain were reformed, and the principles of free trade received considerable recognition in the repeal of laws relating to the transportation and exportation of corn. A wise and liberal policy was adopted for the first time in the treatment of the American Colonies. While George III was driving the English Colonies into rebellion, Charles III was conciliating the Spanish ones. Finally, he conceded free trade, first to the West Indies, and then to the American Continent, which quickly reacted upon Spain itself by increased trade, trebling its exports of foreign products, multiplying its export of home produce more than five-fold, and increasing the returns from America nine-fold. Many taxes were repealed, the industrious classes were relieved of their principal burdens, and important reforms introduced in the administration of law, securing to the poor a larger degree of equality with the rich. He founded schools, endowed colleges, rewarded professors, and granted pensions. He practically re-built Madrid, and the roads leading to it, built canals, opened up national highways which are even now regarded among the best in Europe, improved the navigation[ 161] of the rivers, and even made their waters available for irrigation, which again increased the productiveness of the country. With unlimited power, and almost unlimited resources, backed by personal wisdom and fidelity, if it were possible for a ruler to confer civilization upon a people, certainly Charles III ought to have done it upon the Spaniards. But he did not and he could not. At his death he was succeeded by Charles IV, a Spaniard devout, ignorant, and orthodox. The liberal policy of his father was reversed, freedom of discussion was forbidden, arbitrary principles revived, the priests reassumed their old importance, the Inquisition was restored, learning was discouraged, the study of moral philosophy even was forbidden in the universities, reforms were neutralized, and the country was brought to the verge of bankruptcy.

And, surprising as it may seem, the king received the cordial support of the people. The advance had been external. It had not been from within. Superstition was revived with the reaction, and the country was again plunged into a darkness from which only its own development can permanently release it. Despotism is no remedy for barbarism; the only remedy is knowledge. This fact is attested both by philosophy and history; and the one condition of the progress of any people in knowledge, is the freedom of its individual members in the pursuit of it.

Out of Mr. Mill’s fundamental error, his misconception of society, flow all his efforts to balance and harmonize the rights of each; the individual and society. He says:

“There are also many positive acts for the benefit of others, which he (the individual) may rightfully be compelled to perform; such as, to give evidence in a court of justice; to bear his fair share in the common defense, or in any other joint work necessary to the interests of society of which he enjoys the protection; and to perform certain acts of individual beneficence such as saving a fellow creature’s life, or interposing to protect the defenseless against ill-usage, things which whenever it is obviously a man’s duty to do, he may be right. fully made responsible to society for not doing.”

We have already seen that a just society is the voluntary association of individuals for mutual benefit; but when its members are “compelled to perform positive acts for the benefit of others,” the compulsion destroys the voluntary nature of the association, as well as the mutuality of benefit. People will often perform acts for others, out of their love of the admiration of those others, which, if they were compelled to perform for the benefit of the others, regardless of the mutual benefit to come, they would be exceedingly distasteful. So far as it is desirable and natural that one man should assist another, men need no compulsion of the law to induce them to do it. Nature has provided abundantly for that. No amount of law can add one iota to nature’s decree.

Also in the payment of taxes, compulsory payment (and people only pay taxes on compulsion,) violates the voluntary condition of the association. If taxes were natural or necessary nature would have provided a natural tax, which would have been collected without resort to artificial means, and without violating natural right. Besides, the right of taxation implies the right of confiscation. This has been decided over and over again in the courts; and it stands to reason. If the taxing power has no right to take all, how much has it the right to take? Where is the limit? There is none in law; and the only one in nature is the one where the taxed will consent to submit. And this is just as true of the single tax, as of any other tax. Then again as to the “joint work necessary to the interest of society of which he enjoys the protection,” I have sufficiently disposed of the protection idea; but who is to judge of the necessity of the proposed “joint work?” If I am a member of a voluntary association, and the other members can compel me to contribute to a “joint work’s of which I do not approve, it is voluntary no longer, but rather, compulsory. The condition of absolute freedom of every individual is necessary to secure a positively mutual and equal intercourse between the members of a community. Nothing short of this is freedom, for anything less is restriction; and restriction is the opposite of freedom; that is, slavery. To use Mr. Mill’s own words, “If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would he justified in silencing mankind.” This had reference only to freedom of opinion, but the recognition of the principle of freedom of opinion carries with it the right of freedom of action; for action is the result of thinking; and if a man may think freely, he may also realize his thought in action. So, let us look at it in whatever way we will, the unqualified liberty of the individual is the central fact and condition of his being. It is a common expression now among professed lovers of liberty that “men should be free, only their freedom must be bounded by the equal freedom of every other man.” Then if men immure themselves in narrow cloisters, like grubs in a honey-comb, they must be content, because the freedom of each is bounded by the equal freedom of every other one. This is not to me a lofty conception of man’s liberty. Who is it that thus places bounds to human thought human activity? Not so! I would instead place man upon the mountain ‘top of his sublimest possibilities, bounded by nothing but the sweep of his own powers. I would bid him trace back the chain of causation, link by link through all the past, explore the present in its infinity, and boldly soar on the wings of his imagination through the eons of eternity. He should delve deep into all mysteries, bring up the hidden treasures of earth and sea, traverse limitless space, weigh suns and stars, and measure constellations, pluck God himself from off his golden throne, consign him to the lumber-room of forgotten myths, and seat himself upon his vacant throne, the master of earth, and air and skies. This is liberty: all-absorbing, all-embracing liberty.

[3] “The Sphere and duties of Government,” by Baron Wilhelm Von Humboldt, translated from the German by Joseph Couthard, London: 1854.

[4] “On Liberty,” by John Stuart Mill, 4th edition, London: Longmans, Green, Reader and Dyer, 1869.



If our analyses in the previous chapters are correct, then every restriction imposed by some men upon the actions of other men, either through religion, or the law, is precisely of the same nature as the restriction imposed by the master over his chattel slave. The difference is wholly in the degree to which the restriction is carried. And more than that, it has the same object in view, the living of some men off the earnings of other men.

If it is the restraints of religion, it has for its object the support of the church, which means, the authorities of the church. If they preach submission to God they mean, in all cases, submission to his representatives, the priests. The means used to effect those restraints have been sometimes legal enactments, sometimes promises of happiness in a supposed world to come, sometimes threats of torments after death, with anathemas and punishments before, and always by appeals to their superstitious reverence for something posed to lie outside of, or beyond human sense, and therefore not easily disproved by those who are disposed to cavil at their pretensions. That their object has been well attained, let the wealthy church dignitaries and the magnificent church establishments attest, in every country where religion has held sway; and let the poverty, ignorance, superstition, misery, and servile, truckling spirit of the people bear witness to the extent of the robbery perpetrated, and their degradation under it, which is only equaled by the cringing servility of the chattel slave.

Where those restraints have been imposed by the secular law, they had their origin in the supposed “divine right of kings to govern,” the present veneration for law under a republican form of government being only a substitution of the political boss for the king, and the investing of his acts with the same sanctions as those which were formerly accorded to the sovereign, under the mistaken idea that it is the people who do the governing. Those restraints too have been to establish and perpetuate inequalities; to enable idlers to live luxuriously off the earnings of the industrious; to build up a rich class at the expense of a poor class, and to protect the rich in the possession and enjoyment of their wealth. The means primarily employed have been the conferring upon property of special rights and immunities not its by nature, thus giving those who have most property the most rights; and secondly, the granting of special privileges whereby the land, the money, the transportation facilities, manufacturing privileges, public debts, and in fact the whole resources of the country are parceled out to a horde of monopolists, mostly who never did an honest day’s work in their lives, but whose work has consisted in scheming to get the wealth that others produce. How well they have succeeded in their scheming, by the aid of the law, which is their principal instrument, let the poverty of the laborers, the bankrupt merchants, and the mortgaged or tenant farmers attest. All that is necessary for a man to live well or even to get rich is, to obtain a few shares in some profitable monopoly, buy a government or corporate bond, invest in some mortgage security, or get hold of some tract of land, just as men used to invest their money in niggers, and thereafter the slaves, that is, those who buy goods of the monopoly, who pay taxes to the government, do business with the corporation, buy or rent the land, or work to pay off the mortgage, will support him in idleness. He does not have to work any more. The slaves (the people) do that for him. [167]

Has the slave a right to run away? Whether he has or not, he sometimes does it. The master formerly regarded such a slave, or one who was suspected of a desire to run away, just as we are taught to-day to regard the man who fails to pay his debts, or the tenant who tries to beat his landlord. The press, mainly owned by, and in the pay of, monopoly hold up such an one as an awful example of human depravity. Shylock always insists upon his right to his pound of flesh; the master upon the baseness of the slave who runs away; the creditor that it is dishonorable to fail; and the landlord condemns the tenant who avoids payment. These are all only different statements of the same thing.

The social question today is precisely the same question as presented itself thirty to fifty years ago in this country: it is the question of liberty against slavery. It is the same one that has met humanity at every step of its progress from barbarism; and it will continue to confront it in some form, so long as one man, or one set of men, for any purpose whatever, or in any way, are allowed to control the actions or thoughts of other men.

Do not understand me as bringing a railing accusation against the monopolists, the landlords, the bond holders, the money loaners, or even the priests. They too are men, actuated by the same motives, pursuing the same end, and using the same means, that is, whatever they find ready to their hands. If the people are kept poor and miserable, it is because they have left the means for their own impoverishment in the others’ hands. That they have done it ignorantly is no excuse. The child that ignorantly places its hand on a hot stove, and is burned, has no cause to blame the stove. The child can only correct its own ignorance, and not do so any more. The monopolists are no worse than the other men; in fact, they are personally often very estimable people, except where their ignorance, combined with their self love, produces arrogance. The slave masters, too, were generally intelligent, high-minded, and courteous gentlemen in their intercourse with their social equals; but that did not prevent them from being haughty, over-bearing, and arrogant to their slaves. The people who ignorantly vote to tax, themselves to support a court, and court officers whose sworn duty is to enforce the claims of monopoly, can find no fault if these officers do their duty and evict them when they default in their payments on their mortgages. The surprising thing is, that the farmers, the merchants, and the laborers do not say to the money loaners, the landlords, the bond holders, and monopolists in general, “Here! you fellows have had this thing all your own way long enough. We have paid the bills, and you have received the benefits. Suppose you pay your own bills for awhile. If you want courts to enforce claims against us, it is only fair that you pay their expenses. If you want police to protect your wealth, just pay their salaries out of your own pockets. It is not fair to ask those who have no wealth to pay for the protection of those who have. If you want militia to call on to defeat us when we strike, you must foot the bills.” When the working men, the farmers, and the merchants will talk to the monopolists of this country like that, and mean it and do their voting to that end, and that only, they will be very near their own emancipation. The slaves will have freedom in sight.



There ought to be nothing plainer than that when people are miserable they will get out of their misery if they can; they will change their condition if they are allowed to. If they are homeless they will build themselves homes, unless they are denied places to put those homes, and materials with which to construct them. If they are without food, they will produce it in the way or ways which nature provided, unless something prevents them. And so they will do for anything else. What is it then that keeps men poor, homeless, hungry, ragged, and destitute?

People are prone to look in every direction but the right one for the causes of whatever evils that afflict them. They have sought the source of their destitution in all manner of causes. At one time it has been their own indolence, until they find that the most industrious are just as bad off as the rest, in fact, the poor, as a class, are the industrious, while those who are notoriously the most idle,—landlords, and the like—are the wealthiest. Then their extravagance is brought under censure; but when they have reduced expenditures to the lowest point that seems possible, thinking it will certainly leave them something towards a reserve for a rainy day, they find their wages fall low enough to wipe out their savings. Intemperance, too, has borne the blame, until it was discovered that intemperance, whatever there is among the poor, is the result of their miseries, and not their cause, that men take to drink to drown their troubles, just as they take to opium to soothe their pains. But even this is by no means general. The poor are not the ones among whom exists the greatest dissipation. That is among the rich. As a class, the mechanics, and laborers, are the equals, in the virtue of temperance, with any other class of people in this country. At last those who contend for things as they are have fallen back upon the inscrutable providence of God as the cause and justification of poverty, thinking that here at least they are safe from overthrow. It is hard, at least, to disprove it, like the other fables intended to amuse or frighten the children. This serves the same purpose with children of a larger growth, but of limited intelligence. For a time it quiets their questionings, and allays their discontent; but, as with the child, it ceases to satisfy, and the inquiry returns. Let those who are curious enough to want to find out what it is that stands in the way, that prevents them from gratifying their desires, obey the promptings of nature and try to gratify them. For instance, if the desire is for a home let them start in on the first vacant lot they come to and undertake to utilize it. How long will it be before an officer of the law will make his appearance and warn them off as trespassers? And if they persist how long before the police will be upon them, or before the militia will be called out if there are enough who join in the move to make it formidable?

Of course, the press will denounce such a movement as “revolutionary,” as ‘subversive of all law and order,” a “violation of property rights,” etc. But that is largely what the press is for. The stock in the great newspaper corporations is almost invariably held by monopolists of one kind or another. Where papers are owned by single individuals they are generally politicians who are trying to get office, which is only another name for serving the monopolists, who are the stock-holders in the government corporation. So, the press may be regarded as one of the arms of the law, or the state, just as the police and the courts are, only it is used to make public sentiment in favor of the monopolists who own it, and in whose interests it works; used to chain the thought instead of, like the police and the courts, to chain the bodies.

Another thing that will be used with powerful effect to hold them back is the restraints of religion. The church will thunder forth its anathemas against the violators of morality, just as it denounced the abolitionists as “slave stealers,” ignoring the primary wrong of surrounding property with special rights which made the slavery possible, and which now makes possible and encourages the appropriation of the land, and all the other resources of the country, by a few. The church has always taken this attitude toward every advance of the people, every attack upon privilege, because itself represents caste and privilege. When men were contending for the abolition of slavery the church was one of its principal strongholds; and it is, and will certainly remain a fortress of strength to monopoly until its defense of monopoly brings it more discredit than favor. When the people are intelligent enough to appreciate their own rights, institutions which stand in the way of their attainment will be visited with popular condemnation; and will loose their hold on the masses. And that is the secret to-day, of the church’s loss of influence over the multitude. As people increase in intelligence they throw off the restraints of religion. The church retains its influence longest where the ignorance is the densest. But when the church gets more discredit from its support of monopoly than favors for that support, it will wheel into line with progress, assume that it has always been in line, and claim the credit of the whole achievement. It did this in the anti-slavery conflict; it has done it in every other; and is certain to continue the same policy. The facility with which it makes these changes, and the fact that it deals with the most ignorant and superstitious, who are not habitually critical, enables it to retain a considerable hold through centuries of advance, notwithstanding its unnumbered delinquencies. Being a purely human institution, it is necessarily governed by human passions and motives, which, we have already found, are wholly selfish. The policy of the church must therefore manifestly be selfish, which accords with every fact in its history.

Thus the tether which holds men back from the land, and from the other good things of this world, is composed of two strands, closely twisted together so as to form a mutual support, and they are the church and the state. One binds the mind, and the other the body. One teaches that it is immoral to exercise one’s natural liberty, and the other that it is illegal. This tether is the only thing that stands between men and freedom. It looks very formidable, but before we get through I think we shall find that its strength is more apparent than real; that its strength is wholly in the ignorance of those who are tethered by it.

I do not pretend to say that the church, or the state, has not, at some time, served a good purpose; but I do say that whatever that purpose was, they have outlived their usefulness, and now only exist as clogs upon progress, like thick clay upon a cartwheel. When tender plants first begin to grow they must be carefully guarded against frost, or drouth, or the burning rays of the sun. But when they obtain a firm foothold; become well rooted, they thrive best to remove them from the pots, and set them in the ground, where they can get the free air of heaven, with the rain, the sunshine, and the dew. Human knowledge is such a plant. When it first began to germinate it needed careful attention. When men knew little of its power, they could not appreciate its value, and therefore were not greatly stimulated to its pursuit. In the early ages the priests were simply the wise men. They were the possessors of whatever learning there was. As was to be expected, they guarded it jealously, throwing around it every possible mystery, and clothing it with supernatural terrors to keep away the uninitiated. The power it gave them among the people, as a matter of course, stimulated the pursuit of that knowledge among the priests, who sought to perpetuate their power by building up a church and continuing the mysteries. The church served the same purpose as pots do in a hot-house. But when the pots are no longer needed, we only delay and stunt the growth of the plant by continuing their use.

This is the origin, the cause, and nature of the church. The theological structure that has been built up little by little, to meet the changing needs of the priests, was merely for the purpose of increasing those mysteries, continuing the hold of the priests over the people, securing their submission, and drawing from them the wealth necessary for their support. The theological schools of to-day, with their ceremonies of consecration and ordination, are only the survival of the rites and ceremonies of the ancient magicians, sooth-sayers, priests, and wise men for the initiation of neophytes into their sacred mysteries. The good the church has done, has been, not as commonly supposed in repressing the natural tendencies of men, keeping them in order, but in furnishing a kind of hot-house for the tender tree of knowledge. So far as it has tended to restrain men from. the gratification of their desires, it has violated liberty, has prevented the spread of knowledge, and defeated its only reason to be. The church was only useful so long as it imparted a stimulus to knowledge within, greater than its repression of the growth of knowledge without. That time has long since passed. The great scholars of the world have, for a long time, been reared or schooled outside the pale of the church. Their distinction has been won in other fields than those presented by religion. The tree of knowledge has been taken out of the pot, and transplanted to the rich soil of human enterprise. The pot only cumbers the ground.

It is easy to see also, how law, government, or special privilege may have served a good purpose in the early development of man. When the infinite resources of nature were all but unknown, the production of wealth slow and laborious, man a savage, satisfied with the gratification of the grossest animal needs, the enterprising men were then the slaveholders, robbers, and pirates. They obtained and enjoyed more wealth because they did not depend upon their own production, but tool the product of others. They were not satisfied with the modes of living of those they plundered, but ransacked the world for new delights, and new gratifications. Their enterprise gave new scope and opportunity for the pursuit of knowledge, which knowledge still further increased their power. Their example was a constant invitation to others to do likewise. Afterwards it became, in many cases, easier and safer to obtain what they wanted by trading than by force; so the merchants were developed, who found most of their profit in producing things for the robber chiefs. They were their principal customers. For them they sought choice viands, fine fabrics, gems, and slaves; and, as a partial return, they received special favors, privileges, and advantages from those chiefs, who were the early governors, or rulers. These grants of privilege aimed to increase the opportunities for gain of those who were favored. The effect was to stimulate enterprise, which again promoted the acquirement of knowledge.

Government itself had its origin in the rule of these robbers, and pirate chiefs. Law was their will, expressed in their edicts, or commands. And those who have studied the history of laws know that they were always intended for the slaves, attendants, and retainers of those chiefs. For themselves, or in their dealings with one another, they acknowledged no law.

While men needed such a stimulus to enterprise, and to the acquirement of knowledge, there is no doubt that government, law, and privilege did have that effect; but the need for government disappeared whenever it hindered enterprise, and the pursuit of knowledge more than it promoted them.

How can that be determined? Easily enough. How are the great monopolies operated to-day? By corporations made up of individual stockholders, only a very few of whom are actually engaged in promoting their enterprises. These stock-holders buy shares of stock, few or many, and sit down and wait for others to carry on the enterprise, they drawing their dividends at stated periods. It is not necessary for them to be enterprising, to cultivate their intelligence, or to do anything. Privilege has become a means of idleness, of sloth, and of parasitism upon others.

Another form of privilege is land-holding. Here parasitism has been carried to its highest degree of expression. The man who gets possession of a tract of land has only to sit still to obtain the fruit of others’ toil. He may be as stupid and idle as a post, and yet he gets rich. He is not only not enterprising himself, but by his robbery of others he discourages them from enterprises, because he takes away the rewards of enterprise.

But the individual merchant even, whom privilege at first helped to develop, has been, and is being destroyed by the same thing that aided him at first. He has no more show in the fierce competition for trade against the corporation, and those wielding great capital, than a pigmy has against a giant in a prize-fight. He is forced out of the ring; and considers himself lucky if he can obtain a subordinate place under the corporation, or the great capitalist.

Science finds its votaries among individuals. Its discoveries are all made by those individuals. Invention, literature, philosophy, art, all depend wholly upon individuals for their advancement. Who ever heard of a corporation inventing a machine, or a process, writing a book, formulating a philosophy, or designing a work of art? So that the law, like the church, has ceased to promote the only object for which it existed. Enterprise and knowledge are repressed more than their growth is stimulated. These plants have long since been transplanted to the freer soil of individual effort, where they can no longer be helped by privilege; and in order to reach their most perfect development they must be free from the rule of the modern robber and private chiefs, the lineal descendants of the enterprising barbarians of antiquity.




It is time now to review the ground we have passed over, and to assemble and arrange the results already obtained, in order to form a starting point for a still further advance.

In the first part of this work we found the ultimate objects of all social reforms to be the same; that is, to bring about a reign of universal justice, although pursuing, in many cases, directly opposite paths to its accomplishment. We found them all tracing the evils complained of to the same source,—the law; and then, instead of analyzing the law to find if they are faults in its administration, which can be remedied, or if they are inherent in the principle of the law itself, they all more or less assume that law is a necessity, and that it only needs to be changed in certain prescribed ways, according to the notions of the particular school represented, to make it work beneficent results, and eliminate the evils. The single taxer traces the difficulty to the laws relating to land tenure, and concludes that by changing the laws of taxation so as to bear solely upon the land monopoly, that monopoly may in time become vested in the hands of that corporation called government, which professes to act for the whole people, but which really acts for the associated monopolies. The state socialist would increase the power and prestige of government, and increase the restrictions already imposed by law, in order to destroy competition, notwithstanding that the competition itself arises wholly through the operation of law. The ordinary philosophical anarchist, while realizing to an extent the inherent viciousness of the law, and while seeking in a large measure to reduce the volume of law, still insists upon “some law, some regulation, some protection from people who might wish to violate his rights.” The free trader, prohibitionist, green- backer, farmer’ s alliance man, trades unionist, and other social reformers, all find in the law the seeds of injustice, but infer that if the particular injustice which they see could only be removed by amending the law, everything would work harmoniously. All but the anarchist seek to bring about their specific changes by political methods, because they are the only methods by which mere changes in the laws can be effected. Even the anarchist keeps a close eye on political movements, and not unfrequently is quite ready to help elect a friend to office.

The best and ablest minds, in the whole history of man, in every country and every age, have been bent to the solution of the question of the proper relation of men, one to another in human society. Facts have been accumulated, theories advanced, and generalizations attempted. The facts have remained, while the theories and generalizations have been successively overthrown. As in every other science, no broad and comprehensive generalization was possible until a sufficient number of facts had been obtained, nor until those facts had been sufficient studied and understood. False theories and generalizations are always sure to be overthrown, whether the true ones are found or not. The attempts that have heretofare been made to generalize social facts, and reach a scientific arrangement of them, I think have failed because men have not properly studied and understood those facts. They have studied society as such, instead of resolving it into its integral parts, and then making a careful analysis of those parts. Their methods have been deductive instead of inductive. They have assumed certain generalizations, and from that have proceeded to particulars, bending their facts to fit their generalizations.

On the other hand, I have sought the key to a right understanding of the facts, in the study of man as an individual. The individual exists before society. He is the unit, or integer of society; and before we can form any correct idea of what society should be, we must know what man is, what his wants are and what the impulses are which prompt his to association. Man has been regarded as a bundle of contradictions, swayed by opposite motives, some good and some bad, no one being quite certain whether the good or the bad would ultimately triumph. If the philosophers have treated of morals they have implied, at least, the existence of immorality. If they have spoken of good actions, they have asserted or presupposed bad ones. They have made benevolence the opposite of selfishness, and then given them both a place in the motives that prompt men’s actions. They have classed meekness, love, and sympathy as virtues, while other propensities equally natural and necessary have been set down as vices. They have thus assumed that the author of man’s being, whoever or whatever it might be, has made a bad job of it; and that the work needs to be done over again according to such patterns as y may furnish; and that it is the province of society to do this I have assumed, on the other hand, that nature makes no mistakes; or, if it does, it is beyond our power to correct them. I have assumed that the first step to the solution of the social question is to begin with the facts of individual character, and rise by the strict methods of induction to the association of those individuals in society. I do not claim that I have found all the hidden springs that modify human action,—all the elements of man’s character. At best it is only an outline; an outline perhaps that may be lacking in very important particulars; but, as far as it goes, true to the facts in all essential particulars.

If we would see some of the ways in which people assume that nature has left its work undone, and in which nature’s work requires to be supplemented by human enactment in order to prevent general ruin and disaster, we have but to consult a list of the several proposed reforms to find them. First, there are efforts at prohibition, which look to the prevention of intemperance by making it difficult for people to obtain drink; agitations for Sunday observance; and agitations for the observance of other assumed moral standards, all proceeding under the supposition that it is the business of some people to look out for and take care of the morals of other people.

Laws limiting the rates of interest are also just so many attempts to tinker nature. Not perceiving that interest itself is the result of human enactments which interfere with the regular and equal action of natural laws, men seek in counter restrictions, to balance the evil effects of the first, instead of sweeping away the artificial laws of property which make interest possible.

Henry George’s scheme to distribute the advantage of special locations by appropriating the rents to public uses, is another one of the same kind. He fails to see that with the laws establishing property rights abolished,—land free, the advantage of location must distribute itself naturally and equally, in the prices of the goods produced on the favored spot. He does not yet see that nature works with perfect justice to all mankind; and that it is only when man attempts to do nature’s work over again in his way, that evil results.

We may go still another step, and include all human enactments of every kind and quality. So far as they are intended to minister to any general need of mankind in the adjustment of human relations, they are an utter failure, and worse. They are absolutely harmful, as witness the social evils; poverty, vice, crime, brutality, and misery, which are all clearly traceable to the same cause,—the law.

The solicitude of nature is everywhere for the individual, that he may develop the best that he is capable of physically and mentally. The laws of nature all tend to the making of the highest specimen of individual character; and the sole condition of the best growth, is perfect freedom. To assume that some would naturally grow vicious, criminal, or bad, and that law is needed for them, is as absurd as it would be to suppose that some trees would grow rotten if they were not prevented from doing so by other trees. Trees do rot; but from disease. Such trees do not grow.

From Adam Smith to Henry George, all the professed economists have sought in what they miscall Political Economy, but which is properly Social Economy, that is, that branch of philosophy which discusses the sources and methods of material wealth and prosperity, for those principles which underlie human association. In many respects I have carried the examination of those principles of social economy further than any of them. I have found the lesson, and the only lesson they teach, to be the imperative necessity for the absolute freedom of each individual from all restraints imposed by others, as the one sole condition of man’s best and highest development, socially or individually. That same lesson has been more than confirmed in every particular when we have turned to the study of the constitution of the individual man. Whether we have considered the formation of his desires, the acquirement of knowledge by which those desires are shaped, the enjoyment of happiness, or the making of individual character, it is the ignoring of this same prime requisite that stands forth as the only hindrance to the upward and onward sweep of human progress.

Freedom being the condition of human development, and the perfection of society depending upon the perfection of the individuals composing it, the interest of both are best promoted by removing the restrictions to that freedom, instead of imposing new ones, or changing their character, as most of the professed reformers seek to do.

Wherever we examine the nature and effects of these restrictions we find the same pernicious results. Is it those which bar men from the land? It is the laws of property which, while professing to protect property rights, set up false conditions of property, and thus violate the natural rights of persons as to property, and enable some to collect of others tribute in the form of rent. Is it the slavery of debt? It is again those laws of property which enact unnatural conditions of property, enabling those who have voluntarily parted with their property to compel its restoration, and pending that restoration, to exact gratuitous contributions in the form of interest. Is it the monopoly of money? It is in the development of those same laws of property which hinder men from providing, in their own ways, the tools necessary to carry on exchanges and in limiting the use of those tools, so as to enable those who control the tools to collect tribute for their use, again in the form of interest. Is it the monopoly of transportation and communication? Here again are found the laws of property so adjusted as to favor, not those who perform the labor of transportation, but who control the opportunity to perform that labor, and who reap the reward of its performance without ever having lifted a hand to labor. They have only bought stock. The gratuitous contribution in this case is in the form of dividends; and this same thing applies to almost all other forms of monopoly. Is it the support of the corporation we call government? Again we have a whole host of laws in violation of the natural rights of persons to property, and restrictions to their natural freedom looking directly to the making effective those violations of natural property; taxes, licenses, duties, fees, etc., collected to maintain the machinery which actuates and enforces these restrictions of liberty. And when we come to consider crime, we shall find that it, too, results wholly from these restrictions, and mostly from the violations of the natural rights of persons to property,—that crime is itself in fact, only the natural and justifiable revolt against the injustice of the law.

Thus does almost every injustice in this world cluster around the laws which violate the natural rights of persons to property; which enact unnatural conditions of property; and which necessarily violate natural liberty, in every conceivable way, in the attempt to enforce those violations. All these injustices and inequalities radiate in every direction from this one center, and ramify through all the relations of business, of religion, of politics, and of society. Vast interests hang upon them. Learned professions are built upon them as a foundation. Literature takes its coloring from them. And every system of ethics and morals is directed to their support. The whole volume of the law has for its one sole object, immediately or remotely, the preservation or extension of the special advantages enjoyed by the few, mainly through the violations of the natural condition of property. Government itself stands as the concrete corporate body of all the associated monopolies, privileges, and advantages which violate the natural rights of persons to property, by taking from the industrious to confer upon the idle. In government the landlord is the partner of the lendlord, the mine owner of the railroad magnate, the bondholder of the coal baron, Jay Gould of Lord Scully, the Standard Oil Co. of the national bank monopoly, the mortgage loan companies of the whisky trust, the landowner of the tariff beneficiary, and the elevator monopoly of the gas trusts. Each separate monopoly constitutes a wheel, great or small according to the size of the monopoly, within the greater wheel,—the government. Each stock-holder in a monopoly may be said to be a cog in one of those wheels. The affairs of this corporation are carried on precisely as the affairs of any other corporation are conducted. The principal stock-holders are the directors; and they dictate its policy. While they tickle the people with the fiction that the people govern, they take good care that nothing is done to weaken the power of monopoly. If they want a law passed) or one repealed, they know perfectly well how to get it. The office holders are their servants, and must do their bidding.

Through the agencies at the command of monopoly, the press and the pulpit, backed by the courts and the army, it has thus far succeeded in securing obedience to its dictates. How long it will continue to obtain respect and command submission, depends upon the intelligence of the people. When they have become intelligent enough to throw off the yoke, they will do it without consulting the convenience of their masters.

The first step in this direction is to understand the real nature of the yoke. This we have already found to be essentially the yoke of slavery. Slavery may differ in either one of two ways. The first is in form; and the second in degree. One of the forms of slavery is, where men are bought and sold as chattels. The essential character of it is that their labor is taken without recompense. There are different degrees even in this form; as, in ancient England the serfs of the soil were freer than the negroes in the south were before emancipation. Another form of slavery is where the land is bought and sold as a chattel. The essential character in this case is also that the labor of the men who must use it is taken without recompense. The degree of slavery in this case corresponds to the price of the land. When the land is rented it has not changed the nature of the transaction a particle. Rent and purchase money are the same. Our single tax friends hope to change its nature by appropriating the rent to public uses. They would change the master, and make it the state, just as we should have done, if, at the close of the late war, we had made the negroes slaves of the state instead of freeing them. The slave traders of to-day are the real estate men who make a business of buying and selling the opportunities for men to labor,—the land, which is only another way of buying and selling the unpaid labor of the men.

We have other slave traders also; those who buy and sell stocks, bonds, mortgages, securities, patents, and make investments. These things are only privileges; and when we come to analyze them we find the privilege to consist in the privilege of collecting from some people gratuities in the form of interest, dividends and royalties for which no equivalent is given. If it is a public bond, the bond-holder buys of the government monopoly the privilege of appropriating to himself a given amount of the unpaid labor of the people, which this same monopoly engages to collect in the form of taxes, and turn over to him annually; and, finally, from the same source, to repay him the original amount paid for this privilege. If it is stocks, bonds or mortgages of a corporation, it is again the power to live off the unpaid earnings of those who do the work of that corporation, or who use the facilities that corporation was organized to furnish. The aggregate amount of those annual charges, evidences of debt; in other words, evidences of slavery, constitute the great bulk of the cost of railroad transportation. If the interest on the bonds and mortgages, and the dividends on the stock of the railroads were wiped out, and the expenses only covered the actual labor and expense of operation, the workingmen who perform that labor would have no cause to complain of their wages, or the farmers and business men of the charges.

In the case of notes and mortgages against individuals, the slave master is brought a step nearer to the slave. He holds the power to take from him directly the unpaid fruits of his labor as interest, while behind him stands the power of associated monopoly,—the state, to compel submission. Wherever one man holds the power over another man, directly or indirectly, to live without labor, in whole or in part, off the earnings of that other, it can be traced directly to and identified as some form of slavery. And furthermore, in whatever form such slavery exists it is made possible through the operation of law, and through this alone.

Therefore, any reform which does not strike at the principle of slavery as such,—which merely seeks to change some of the forms of slavery, or palliate its evils, is not of the slightest value. It is not within the power of God (if there is a God) or to prevent the constant fall of wages, the crushing out of small merchants and manufacturers, and the ruin of the farmers as long as the power of monopoly, as a whole, remains unbroken. Monopoly: that is, slavery, is essentially a war upon society, and a violation of liberty and equality. It is the cause of all the depopulated countries, the ruined cities, and degenerated peoples in the world. Reforms which do not strike at the root—the fountain head and source of slavery, (the law) only distract the attention of people from the real cause of their trouble, amuse them with trifles, and choke them with political sugar plums. Reform, mend, patch, here a little and there a little, prop up, paint, and when we are through, we have but a whited sepulcher reeking with horrible uncleanness within, and tumbling to decay without. The only cure for slavery is freedom. Slavery is the expression of the despair and death of mankind; freedom its hope and life.

In the previous chapters I have proved theoretically that freedom from the restraints of the law is the true condition of human progress; that the degree of civilization depends upon the perfection of association; and that association again requires equality in material condition of the people. I have also shown that it is solely by the law that inequalities are established and maintained, mostly in those laws which enact special rights of property. It now remains to examine the actual workings of law, and see if the principles we have already discovered hold good in practice.

Another lesson we have learned in the course of our examination is the utter futility, and worse, of violence as a method of reform. Slavery is but the expression of human ignorance. But violence begets violence, inflames passions, and provokes resentments. Knowledge cannot grow in such a soil. Freedom can only he attained through an increase in knowledge. If freedom were to be conferred up on any people without their having first attained the knowledge necessary to its understanding and appreciation, they would at once set up again the fetish of the law, and worship it with the same devotion as before. That is why the violent destruction of one government has always been followed by putting another in its place, which in a little time became as bad as the first.

How can it be known when men have reached that degree of intelligence? Simple enough! When their knowledge finds expression in action. If I shall make clear in the course of this hook, how simple and easy a matter the attainment of freedom will be when that time comes, I shall have accomplished my purpose. Although, as yet, men almost universally venerate the law, I think it is mainly because their attention has not been seriously directed to its injustice. Such is not likely to continue, however. Recent economic discussions have paved the way, and demands for political reform will probably increase the tendency, while any great crisis, like a commercial panic or a general railroad strike for instance, will be likely to precipitate it at any time.



I have said that government is a corporation. Let us see! When a state, city, county, or township is organized, a corporation is formed, according to certain prescribed rules. It is not only a corporation in theory but in name. The popular theory is that each citizen owns a single share of stock in that corporation, which is represented by his one vote. As in every other corporation the majority must rule. Still, if the popular theory only held good, and each stock holder actually expressed his own unbiased will by his vote, and was intelligent enough to have and to express an intelligent will, there would be little cause for complaint. It would then only be a condition where manifestly no governing corporation would be needed. But aside from all this, and admitting for the present a necessity for such a corporation, it is plain even to the dullest that all do not possess that degree of intelligence. Not that they are lacking in the power of its development, but in the condition. Knowledge is a plant which only grows under favoring conditions. And where a large part of the people are desperately poor, they remain ignorant and brutal for want of the conditions which develop knowledge; and they are easily swayed by the rich and crafty. We have also seen that the laws enacting special rights of property still further increase the power and influence of the possessors of property, while they correspondingly decrease the power and influence of those who have none, or little; so that the power of the rich is still further increased. Every special privilege, or franchise, granted by law but augments that power on one side, and diminishes it on the other. Then, given a class whose interest it is to control the poor and ignorant, and with another class so poor and ignorant a to be willing to be controlled, it is utterly impossible that the rich and crafty should not be able to command a majority, and become masters of that corporation; and that they should not use that mastery to freeze out the smaller stock-holders. It would be impossible to trace all the ways in which this process of freezing out the smaller stockholders is carried on. To undertake it would transcend the limits set to this work. I will only note a few of them, and leave my readers to supply others. It can be done by any one who will use ordinary observation and thought.

To begin with, if unnatural rights of property are established, it requires unnatural means to enforce them. If the land is to be monopolized by a few and others are to be compelled to pay for the privilege of using it, that few must have at its command a sufficient power to compel respect for their claims. If men are to be prevented from freely exchanging the product of their labor with whomsoever they will without paying toll to these modern pirates, it necessitates heavy expenditures to carry it out. If they are to be obliged to contribute annually to support a horde of useless bondholders, it takes money to do it. If all the multitude of monopolies,—forms of slavery, are to be made effective, the people kept in subjection, and forced to give up to them, it involves enormous expenditures for public building and works, courts, great and small, and court officers, records, police, militia, armies, navies, tax gatherers, and office holders generally. These are the agencies by which the mass of men are held in slavery. By preventing them from going directly to the land,—the heritage and birth-right of all,—and producing freely the wealth necessary to place them in comfort, they prevent the acquisition of knowledge, with the attendant growth of individual character. Even after men have produced wealth, under all the disadvantages to which they are subjected, the various forms of monopoly, through interest, rents, taxes, and increase of prices, constantly filch it away from them. Even if taxes are levied for the support of this corporation upon the property of citizens, the grossest favoritism is always shown in favor of the rich as against the poor. In the very nature of the case it is utterly impossible to devise a tax which will work with equal justice to all. Taxes, if levied upon any basis of valuation, can take no account of the intentions of the owner of the property, therefore they must fall in- differently upon property whether in the hands of the consumer or not. But taxes upon goods in the hands of other than the consumer, are simply added to their cost, and are shifted until finally paid by the consumer.

Our single-tax friends think they have found a simple process of reaching an equal and just system of taxation. By levying the tax upon the land values, it is assumed that they cannot be shifted, but I have already shown in Part I that this is a mistake,—that the single-tax can, and must be shifted precisely as every other tax is shifted. Taxation in every form is essentially a robbery, and always falls upon the weak, while its benefits accrue to the strong. Thus, with the crafty rich in control of the governing corporation, and necessarily manipulating it in their own interests, society must present on one side the ignorant poor, and on the other the haughty and overbearing rich. The more abject the poverty, the more do the poor reverence the power of wealth; and the greater the wealth of the rich, the more arrogant and domineering they become, and the more willingly the poor entrust their most important interests to their keeping, which is only to say, that the more intense the degree of slavery the more slavish become the objects of that slavery, and the more arrogant become the masters. So that the poor, no matter what may be their relative numbers, can no more shape the policy of the ad ministration of the government than they can originate the solar system. A few party leaders determine the programme, or policy, and in one or two speeches fix what shall be said or written, while they in turn receive their inspiration from the great interests which stand back of all politicians; and the small fry follow in their wake. This is the way platforms are made, policies established and laws initiated. Bagehot says, that “all important laws affect large vested interests; they touch great sources of political strength; and these great interests require to be treated as delicately, and with as nice a manipulation of language, as the feelings of any foreign country in making treaties.”

This is the very nature of government; and whether we consider the most autocratic or the most popular the difference is only in the outward form. At bottom it is the strong and crafty, against the weak and ignorant. Its basis is, the subjection of the will of one part of the people to the will of another part, whether it is the will of one, or of many. The voting is only a farce enacted in order to give the appearance of fairness, the more completely to blind the poor to the trickeries and impositions practiced upon them. These trickeries take every possible form and character. False and diverting issues craftily put forward to mislead the people, and divert their attention away from the real cause of their miseries; bogus enthusiasm worked up over some scheme which has for its object the promotion of some new form of plunder; playing upon their sentiments of religion, patriotism, or party prejudices until they are so confused and divided that they are unable to discriminate between truth and falsehood, or unite upon any practical measure of relief, are some of the ways in which voting is made a farce. But, should all these influences fail, and men be elected of sufficient knowledge and stability to perceive, and for a time pursue, the real good of the people as a whole, and oppose the will of the real governors, public sentiment is again invoked through the command of the governors to destroy their influence, discredit their motives, and blast their reputation, while comfort, wealth, and honor are held out to them in a thousand insidious ways to tempt them into subservience to the will of the strong and crafty. The natural and inevitable selfishness of men here comes in, with their love of distinction and admiration, and the invariable result is that the ranks of the strong are secretly, if not openly, reinforced by new accessions, while the people are left just where they were before.

Democracy is not fulfilling the expectation of its jealous and conscientious founders. It is coming to be perceived that it is just as impotent to secure justice, and correct the great inequalities in condition, as the most absolute autocracy. The history of popular governments, in all nations, is the history of a constantly increasing restriction of the liberties of the people, and in the name of the people.

In a monarchy the powers of the despot are physically limited. He can give only so many hours each day to business. The balance is devoted to pleasure, society, the court, and his mistresses. Even if he wishes to he could not understand more than a small part of public affairs; so that his capacity for meddling is comparatively small. But this is not the case with representative government. Representatives rave no such powers of unlimited gratification, so that each has more time and opportunity for meddling; and a country ruled by such representatives, is ruled by a worse despot, one with unlimited time, unlimited vanity, unlimited assurance, and whose ambition is stimulated to the most vicious activity.

But suppose the attempt is made to redress grievances or correct abuses through legislation, let us see what that involves. Even in the best of laws, be they never so wisely designed as a whole, the insertion or omission of a harmless appearing word, or clause, at a critical moment of its passage, sometimes even a comma, will destroy the whole intent of it; or even a provision for its enforcement may be omitted. And after all, when a seemingly desirable law has run the gauntlet of all the adverse influences of ignorance, incompetence, trickery, and bribery, a hostile executive may defeat its execution through a mere quibble, and finally, in almost every case in the whole history of law, the ultimate effect of every legal enactment has been different, if not exactly opposite, to what its promoters expected, or intended, except where a law has been directly or positively repealed. To entertain a hope, or expectation of correcting the evils of monopoly,.— achieving liberty, through amendments, or improvements in the law, is as utterly futile as for one who has lost his money at the gambling table to hope to recover it by play, where he knows that the game is stocked against him. Men are playing against loaded dice. They are beaten at every turn. It does no good to curse the politicians. They are only the hired men of monopoly, and must do its bidding if they would receive the advancement they seek. The political party is only an organization for getting and distributing the offices. Its action in shaping the real policy of the governing corporation is next to nothing. The differences between the different parties is not worth mentioning, only just enough to amuse the people, distract their attention, and keep them occupied with trifles. In the choice of parties the people are governed by their interests, and by their passions, which are cunningly played upon by those who would control those actions. Thus ignorance and poverty produce general tyranny, and while liberty of thought and action ostensibly prevail, slavery, under the name of “majority rule,” is the universal fact. Under these circumstances monopolists may well advise workingmen to “do their striking at the ballot-box.” It is like a gambler advising his victim to keep on betting against a game which he knows has been fixed beyond the possibility of his winning. But we shall find that even the ballot box has virtues when the people acquire intelligence enough to use it.

If we trace government to its source, and learn its historic basis, we shall find as little in its history to command respect as appears in its present constitution. Composed at first of pirate or robber chiefs, who plundered and made war upon their neighbors, their power gradually became consolidated, and confirmed, until they took on more permanent forms, when the chiefs became Kings, Dictators, or Emperors, governing by nearly absolute authority, and surrounding themselves with favorites to whom they granted special privilege to plunder certain districts, or in certain ways, and who in turn supported the pretensions of the chief. This is the origin and genesis of government. The chief enforced deference to his will; and when he became king, what at first was admitted to be an enforced usurpation, was afterward claimed as a “Divine right.” And the same is true of every other infringement of the rights of the people. A protective tariff only has to stand a very short time before its beneficiaries set up the plea that they have acquired “vested rights” under it, and therefore it must not be repealed. Morality is invoked against any interference with their “vested rights.” Morality is only the ghost of that old doctrine of the “Divine right of kings.” It throws a glamour of sanctity around usurpation. This was true in the case of chattel slavery. It is true to-day of land monopoly, the money monopoly, the transportation monopoly, and of every other monopoly in this world. The law, morality, or religion are never invoked except to bolster up and sustain some hoary headed wrong or abuse. “Vested right” is a humbug; morality is a humbug; and religion is a humbug. There is no such thing as vested right. There is no right except justice,—present justice, which is only another word for equality; and there is no equality except in liberty. If there ever was any basis for morality, or religion, the reason for them has been so completely lost, or perverted, that it can no longer be traced. The sole use of either of them to-day is to maintain the control of the slaves by their masters. Does any one question the truth of this? Let a movement be made, in any way, by the people, to regain possession of the fruits of their labor, of which they have been despoiled; or to free the land, and religion, morality, and law will all be in- yoked to defeat them. When the people could no longer be blinded to the hollowness of the pretense of the “Divine right of the king” they overthrew the forms of monarchy, and substituted a republic. While the immediate effect of a change from monarchical to popular government, and in fact, any change in form, must always be to obscure the real nature of law, awaken false hopes, deceive the people, and make possible still greater violations of liberty, the ultimate effect upon human progress is likely to be salutary. Until mankind has drank deep of the bitter cup of slavery it is unable to appreciate the sweets of liberty. If men had never followed a false light, or learned its dangers, they might easily be led astray, and again loose their liberties, as they have done before. They have repeatedly achieved liberty through the destruction of government, but they have inevitably submitted again to the yoke of slavery, by setting up the law in the same, or some new form. Until they become free in thought,—until knowledge is sufficiently increased to enable them to understand and appreciate liberty, they can never preserve it, even though all law were, for a time, destroyed. This consideration alone is enough to discredit all violence in the destruction of law, because, where violence is necessary, it is a certain indication that popular knowledge is as yet insufficient.

The change was merely one of outward form. The substance remains. The king still lives in the law; and his favorites are the monopolists, who continue to plunder the people, some in certain districts, and some in certain ways, just as effectually as they ever did. The monopolists are just as much the favorites of the law as their ancient progenitors, the courtiers, were of the king. One, through the forms of the law, obtains a tract of land, and can plunder the district it comprises, in the collection of rent; another receives a special franchise, and can plunder in certain ways all who are compelled to use his monopoly. The law just as completely and just as certainly exists for plunder as the robber and pirate chiefs did from whom it sprung. The people are worshiping the law with just as much devotion to-day as they ever worshipped the king when he pretended to govern by right divine; and with just as much reason. I do not assert that the development from monarchy to a republic was not a necessary one in the progress toward freedom, but that the problem became more difficult just as it became more complicated; just as the real situation became more obscure.

As I write there lies before me a list of 215 citizens of the city of Chicago, with what is said to be a conservative estimate of the private fortune of each. The account says that “most of the money was made since the fire,—amassed in fifteen years.” These fortunes range from $1,000,000 to $25,000,000 and aggregate $506,500,000. Allowing those 215 men to have been fairly industrious during the time, and to have actually produced all the wealth that their average degree of industry could produce in the absence of special advantages given them by law, it is safe to say, that after paying their expenses of living, which were certainly no trifle with any of them, if they had been able to lay by $2000 a year each, for that fifteen years, it would probably be all that, by any reasonable estimate, could be attributed to their own labor in the production of wealth. This would give each a clear saving of $30,000 at the end of his fifteen years, after paying for a very comfortable living during the time; or a total of less than $6,500,000, leaving more than $500,000,000 abstracted by the operation of law from the workers of Chicago, in fifteen years, by 215 men only. And if 215 men obtained $500,000,000 in that time, it would be interesting to know how much all the other monopolists big and little received through the same means, and in the same time, especially as a very large proportion of them never did produce any part of their wealth, but have depended entirely upon the advantage possessed in the law. While those 215 men were undoubtedly the largest monopolists in the city during the time, and received more of the plunder than any other equal number, they were by no means all, or even more than a small minority of the direct beneficiaries of the law. I think it is a very conservative estimate to conclude that not more than one tenth of the total fruits of monopoly in the city of Chicago, during those fifteen years, went to those 215 men. This gives a grand total of more than $5,000,000,000 as the direct takings of monopoly, through the operation of the law, in fifteen years, in the city of Chicago alone. But even this does not represent its cost to the people of Chicago. The wasting of labor through enforced idleness, or through inadequate employment, interference with production by legal restraints, the ruin of enterprises which were driven into bankruptcy, or out of business, all represent losses probably as great, at least, as all the actual stealings of monopoly; so that $10,000,000,000 would not be too great a sum to estimate as the total cost of the law, to the people of Chicago, in fifteen years; a sum large enough to place every man, woman, and child in the whole city in luxurious circumstances for their whole lives. When this same computation is extended to the whole country, and it must be, because the same conditions exist everywhere, the amount swells to proportions far beyond the power of the human mind to grasp.

We can now form a fairly good idea of the nature, origin, and cost of the law, as well as to who pays the cost, and who gets the benefit. It is next in order to examine its tendencies and limitations; and its effects upon human association, and upon the making of individual character.

“Every government, let its form be what it may, contains within itself a principle common to all, which is that of a sovereign power, over which there is no control, and which controls all others.”—Thomas Paine.

Thomas Paine was a firm believer in popular government; and he placed this sovereign power, in democratic governments, in the people. I have already shown that the people do not, and in the nature of the case, cannot govern. It must be, even were it possible to secure a perfectly fair expression of the intelligent and unbiased opinion of every person, a government by the majority, of a minority, which is the subjection of the will of some men to the will of other men, which is itself a violation of nature, of equality, of justice, and of liberty. But as we understand how majorities are made it becomes all the more monstrous. Despotism is always despotism whether exercised by king or by congress; whether it is the expression of the will of a sovereign or of a law bought with the bribes of the rich. The instruments of it are no more tolerable in a Czar Reed than in a Nero; in Anthony Comstock than in the Spanish Inquisition.

A peculiarity of every system of law is that its imperfections are being constantly exposed. It is like a leaky vessel,—it always needs mending. Repair it in one place and a fault is shown in another. Restrictions placed upon men’s liberty naturally arouse resentments and resistance, stimulate their ingenuity to defeat its provisions, and finally, revolt against its injustice. This necessitates more laws to overcome their resistance, or defeat their ingenuity. So legislatures and common councils interfere to formulate more laws to meet these contingencies. In this way the volume of law constantly increases, government becomes more complex, and more centralized; law encroaches more and more on liberty, and the people become more dependent; in fact, more servile in disposition, losing their hardy independence which is the concomitant of liberty. Inequality grows, classes are established, poverty and wealth become more sharply differentiated, and a ruling class is built up on one side, and on the other the ruled. All this is directly opposed to the spirit and conditions of association. Association can only exist between equals in material condition, consequently the growth of inequalities is the destruction, of association, and also of civilization, because civilization depends upon association. As law increases slavery becomes more intense, because law is the very essence of slavery; that is, restriction. And the only limit to the scope of law, that is, to the degree of slavery, is the point of the endurance of the slaves. The more ignorant a people the longer and further they will endure the impositions of the law; but just as they increase in intelligence is the power of legal restraints weakened. I do not mean that increasing intelligence will always show a present corresponding disregard for law, because, for a considerable time men are occupied with their ordinary pursuits, and their minds are diverted from evils which steadily encroach upon them. But whenever any great emergency arises to arrest their attention, they discover the encroachment, and act with greater promptitude and decision. And more, they are likely to call in question, to a greater degree, the fundamental principles of the law itself.

But while the law operates it works with destructive effect to repress individuality, and prevent the development of individual character. The slave is not a responsible being, for he must obey his master. The soldier is not responsible, for he is subject to his superior officer. The pauper is not responsible, for he is dependent upon others for his subsistence. And everywhere, where men are subjected to the will of others, they lose the sense of responsibility for their own acts; thus individual character is weakened. Law is but the expressed will of its makers, and when that will is made to prevail against those who are not consenting, or after their consent has been withdrawn, it is clearly an unjustifiable usurpation, and furthermore an usurpation which violates liberty, promotes inequality, destroys association, prevents the growth of civilization, and crushes individual character. Government always stands in direct antagonism to civilization. It is the greatest, and almost the only impediment to civilization.

“The more perfect civilization is, the less occasion it has for government, because the more does it regulate its own affairs, and govern itself; but so contrary is the practice of old governments to the reason of the case, that the expenses of them increase in the proportion they ought to diminish.”—Thomas Paine. [204]

He might have included all new governments as well. With monopoly and privilege operating by and through the law, it is utterly impossible to prevent the degeneracy of labor through reduction of wages; the crushing out of the small merchants and manufacturers through rents, taxes, interest, and disadvantage in competition; or the farmer through the foreclosure of his mortgage, and the multitude of agencies which rob him of his earnings. No association of interests, no political reform, no effort of public charity, or of instruction, can change, or virtually modify, the increasing dependence. Those social reformers who seek to ameliorate the condition of mankind, individually or socially, whether socialists, anarchists, single taxers, communists, or third party men, and who would remove the obstacles to man’ s natural development, must see, that those obstacles lie wholly in legal restraints to his natural liberty, that they are inherent in the law itself, and that they can never be removed except by removing the law. These facts once clearly recognized, all will see that the real ends of all social reformers are identical, that the place of each is shoulder to shoulder with all the others, and that they are properly allies working together for the same purpose, and must use the same means. And when they learn further that it is far easier to compass the entire destruction of the law, to destroy every possible monopoly, and reach absolute liberty, than to make any essential amendment to the law, it seems impossible for them to hesitate a moment longer. The only limit to which these tendencies are carried, as I said before, is the limit of endurance of the people; and that depends upon the degree of general intelligence which prevails.

Is there any doubt that the limit of endurance is the only limit to the degree of our present slavery? Examine any of the details and see. Is it in taxes? If men can be taxed at all, they can be taxed to the full extent of their possessions. There is no logical stopping point except the forbearance of the taxed. And this doctrine is held by the courts. The right of taxation implies the right of confiscation. If it is in rent, the landlord can exact whatever he will within the power of the tenant to pay; or he may refuse to rent at all. The same thing is true of interest. In the slavery of debt, the creditor will seize the goods of the debtor to the full value of his claim. The slight exceptions allowed by law are so hedged about with restrictions and difficulties as to be of little practical advantage to the debtor. These exceptions are of the same nature as the laws in the south which used to forbid the master to kill his slave, or which provided for a minimum allowance of meal and molasses per week. Neither of them were of any practical value to the slave. If it is the slavery of any other form of monopoly, that monopoly may increase its demands to any amount it sees fit. There is no limit but the point of endurance of the people. If prices are increased above that limit people refuse to buy the goods and thus express their resistance. The slave has no more rights now than he had before the war. The law is never intended for the protection of the slave, but for the master. In 1856 the Supreme Court of the United States decided that if Dred Scott was a freeman, lie was an alien and could bring no action; but if he was a slave, he could still bring no action, because a slave had no standing in court, having no rights which that court could protect. And the question to-day is precisely the same. When a man is brought into court, the question is, according to the law does he owe the debt? In other words, is he a slave? This is the only question to be determined. If yes, then the edict is, to seize his possessions for the benefit of the master, to the extent of his mastery, the debt. It is of no consequence what that debt arises from; to the state for taxes, to the landlord for rent, to the usurer for interest, to the monopolist for charges, or even to the petty tyrant of a magistrate for costs of process. It is all one. The status of the slave is the same.

Since writing the foregoing a scandal has broken out in the operations of the Chicago Drainage Commission, which forcibly illustrates the methods by which the functions of government are made to work to the advantage of monopoly, and build up a rich and privileged class at the expense of the poor. When the drainage commissioners undertook to acquire from the property holders along the line of the proposed canal, the right of way, preparatory to beginning the work, they found that options had already been secured upon the property along the whole line. A syndicate of wealthy men had been formed, and the options secured through the agency of a single real estate firm, which had acted as brokers for the syndicate. All this had been done three weeks before the route had been fixed upon, so far as was known to the public. The syndicate was informed in advance of the intended action of the board; and was thus enabled to act with certainty. Who were the members of this syndicate? It is probably impossible to obtain their names. Nor is it necessary. Those things are always worked in secret; but their personality is of no consequence. The purpose, and the only purpose, was to rob the tax-payers in charging a high price for the land on which to dig the canal,—more than the land could be bought for of the owners; and to hold the land not so needed for actual use of the canal, until the improvement, built at the expense of those taxpayers, had increased the value. In other words, to fleece the tax-payers for their own advantage without doing one thing to earn this wealth they will obtain. Some may be simple enough to believe that the syndicate did not contain more or less of the commissioners themselves. I am not one of them. The information upon which the syndicate acted must have come from an authorized source. It would take no such chances as the purchase of options unless the assurances were backed by sufficient votes in the board to insure that certain location. The report reads that “a secretly appointed committee of the new board is now engaged in investigating, with the utmost secrecy, certain features which may cause an upheaval in political and business circles.”

Nonsense! It will do nothing of the kind. It may have the effect of admitting some new members to the syndicate. Nothing more!

It is possible that there is nothing in the whole story; and that the disturbance comes from disappointed rival interests. Grant it. Does that make it any better? That a public improvement for which the people will be called upon to pay should develop rival interests to fight over at all, is the real evil. Government can do nothing without operating to the advantage of some, and the disadvantage of others.



Having found the real origin, nature, basis, tendencies and limitations of government, we must also consider its ostensible functions in order to remove any lingering respect or regard which may still be entertained for it by those who have not become fully awakened to the hollowness of its pretensions. We must see if in fact it does bring any of the benefits which are usually ascribed to its workings.

The ostensible functions of government may be briefly summed up as, “the preservation of the security of its citizens.” If it protects against a foreign foe, it is the preservation of security. If it maintains internal order, quells disturbance, settles disputes, punishes or prevents crime, enforces contracts, collects debts, preserves records, and promotes morals and education, it is because the doing of these things is supposed to add to the security of the citizens in their persons and property, and to make sure that each really gets his due,—in other words, secures justice. The only excuse which can be urged for the state’ s meddling in the private affairs of the people is, that it seeks to, and does, accomplish this very object. If we find that this object is not attained in any case; but, on the other hand, in all cases security is violated,—justice is defeated, we shall be forced to the conclusion that law or government is always an usurpation, and an injustice; and that the only way to preserve security, and promote justice, is to destroy the law,—abolish government.

There is another important respect wherein certain people are coming to ascribe great virtues to government, which is, the performance of undertakings in which it is assumed that government can perform a service for the people more efficiently than people can do it for themselves, such as the building and maintenance of certain kinds of highways, of providing means for conveying intelligence, supplying gas, water, etc. The chief advantage urged is that as far as already undertaken it does, and an extension of the principle probably would, bring a greater degree of security to each individual in the enjoyment of his fair share of the benefits to be derived from these several public enterprises. So that even these are no exception; and the preservation of security is the one sole ostensible function of government.

I say ostensible, because, we have already found that the real purpose of government is to promote the advantage of those who govern. We have found that human nature being what it is, where some men control the actions of other men they will always control them to their own advantage. The real object for exercising such a control can never be other than to reap that advantage. But if those who govern were frank enough to avow their purpose it would put an end to their governing in short order. Therefore the ostensible functions of government must always be different from the real ones. Having considered the real functions of government in the preceding pages, we now turn to the ostensible ones, which we find to be the preservation in various ways of the security of its citizens.

One of the first and most important of these, is the defense against foreign enemies. Through the action of the governing corporation war is made, or peace is declared; and measures are adopted for the invasion of the territory of others, or the defense of its own. Surely here, if anywhere, a governing corporation is needed. But we shall find that here again government is so far unnecessary that instead of promoting the public defense, and preserving security, it has precisely the contrary effect. It is constantly embroiling the people in foreign complications, arousing sectional, or national jealousies, inspiring hatreds, and fomenting strife. It is a constant source of irritation between peoples who not only have nothing to gain by strife, but who have everything to gain by peace and fraternity. In the absence of rulers, with their jealousies, rivalries, ambitions, and intrigues, I am unable to conceive of a cause of war arising between two countries. People of one country would gladly trade freely with the people of—other countries, and would no more think of making war upon them, than a merchant would think of making war upon his customers. Each must be the customer of the other, and each be equally benefited by the commercial intercourse between them. The prosperity of each would enhance the prosperity of the others. Boundary lines would be abolished, because the necessity for them grows out of the dominion of governments; and with the abolition of governments,—rulers, the need for them would disappear.

The action of governments in embroiling their people in foreign wars, and thus bringing upon them the very evils from which they pretend to protect them, is well illustrated in the case of France and Germany. The last war was notoriously a quarrel between the crowned heads carried on by their representatives, which culminated in an angry scene between the French envoy and Bismarck, in which neither the French or German people had the remotest real concern. But immediately, without consulting the people who must do the fighting, the vast armies of each were set in motion for a hostile attack upon the other. The sentiments of patriotism on either side were cunningly played upon by the rulers; immense enthusiasm was aroused until the people went wild with excitement. Instead of setting the precious rascals who started the quarrel to fighting it out between them, the people, who never quarreled, or had any cause to quarrel, were set to cutting each other’s throats, or murdering each other in other ways, while the originators took good care to keep out of harm’s way. Mourning and desolation was brought home to every hearthstone in both France and Germany; the richest portions of France were given up to destruction; she was stripped of two of her fairest provinces; and Paris itself succumbed to the invader. At last, as a condition of peace, France was compelled to pay to Germany an indemnity of two hundred millions of pounds sterling: about one thousand millions of dollars. Did the German people who did the fighting get any of this indemnity? Not a dollar. It all went to enhance the glory, splendor, and power of the despotic rulers of Germany who had been parties to the original quarrel.

This war kindled the angry passions of the two peoples to a dangerous degree, and those passions have never been allowed to subside since. They are ready to break out afresh whenever the rulers on either side shall take it into their heads to renew the quarrel. That France has since changed to a republic makes not a whit of difference. Those republican rulers are just as ready to plunge their country into another war with Germany as ever Louis Napoleon was. The fire of hatred and revenge has been so steadily and cunningly fanned on both sides that whenever it suits the convenience of those rulers to quarrel again they are morally certain of getting the support of the poor dupes upon whom must fall the whole scourge of war, and who have everything to lose and nothing to gain by fighting. The danger, and the only danger to the security of the citizens, in any country in Europe to day, is from their so-called defenders,—their governments. [212]

But the Franco-Prussian war was in no way different from every other war between the two countries. Their early wars were simply quarrels between the French monarchs and the princes of the house of Hapsburg, in jealousy of the latter’s ambition for universal dominion. Afterward, when religious dissensions broke out in Germany, and Germany had become weakened by them, Richelieu, and afterward Louis XIV, deemed it a favorable time, while so weakened, to plunder her. But they were called in by some of the contending factions among the German princes themselves (Germany’s protectors) who were intriguing for power in the empire. Throughout, not only the whole history of the struggles between the French and Germans, but that of all the wars that have ever cursed the world, they have been due solely to government in some form or other. In all cases it is the jealousies, ambitions, and intrigues of the rulers which have brought upon the people the curse of war, and the horrors of invasion.

Yet Lord Salisbury says: “The real danger of European wars lies not in the intrigues and rivalries of monarchs and statesmen, but in the deep feelings of great nations.” But who is it who play upon those feelings, provoke the arrogance, ignorant prejudices, and foment the hatreds of those people? It is precisely those monarchs and statesmen; and when they can no longer be held in check, they put on innocent airs, and cry:

“Thou canst not say I did it: never shake

Thy gory locks at me.”

If any one thinks that all governments are not essentially organized robbers, and that the best of them are not as bad as the worst, in that respect, we will take the government of England under the ministry of that professed liberal, Mr. William E. Gladstone. Some of the English monopolists,— favorites of the governing corporation in England, had entered into a conspiracy with the Khedive of Egypt to impose new burdens upon the people of Egypt; that is, to intensify the already grievous slavery of the people by an increase of the bonded debt. They advanced money to the Khedive, at enormous and usurious rates of interest, to squander in extravagant expenditures for his own aggrandizement, he binding himself to repay those advances out of increased robberies of the people in taxes. After the bonds had been issued, and the people placed under tribute to their foreign slave-masters, the bond-holders, for the payment of debts which they had had no hand in contracting, and for money from which they had never received any benefit, those masters became suspicious that the Khedive would not, or could not, carry out his part of the agreement; and so they appealed to Mr. Gladstone for assistance. They demanded such a share in the administration of the internal affairs of Egypt as would enable them to make sure of their plunder.

Did Mr. Gladstone rebuke their rascalities, and refuse their demands? By no means. Were they not the special favorites,—the beneficiaries of the laws which he had undertaken to execute? Were they not large shareholders in the governing corporation over which he presided? On the contrary, he fitted out a naval and military expedition against Egypt; bombarded the city of Alexandria; murdered innocent and unoffending citizens; seized upon the administration of affairs; and enforced the demands of the bond-holders; a practice and policy which has been continued through subsequent administrations.

All this was done, so far as the world knows to the contrary, without one word of protest from this man who is held up to the admiration of the world as a “liberal”(!) ruler. This course was also adopted notwithstanding it was liable to, and almost did embroil his own country, that country the people of which it was his ostensible business to protect in their security, in a foreign war the outcome of which no man could foresee. But there are attending results which accompany all wars, which Mr. Gladstone could foresee, and which he could not possibly be ignorant of. Those were that in case of the threatened European war, involving two, and possible four of the great powers of Europe in addition to his own, vast numbers of the people in all those countries, and those too who had no interest in Egyptian Bonds, and therefore no interest whatever in the quarrel, would be set to slaughtering each other; and those who were not so engaged in mutual slaughter would be called upon to pay the cost of the slaughter, although they could not possibly be benefited by it whatever the result. I say Mr. Gladstone knew all this, and yet, at the risk of all the misery and desolation his course was liable to bring upon the people of his own country and others, he did not hesitate to pounce upon a weak and practically defenseless people, bombard their chief city, and destroy lives and property of innocent persons in order to support the pretensions of a lot of men whose only purpose was to plunder the people of Egypt through a grinding bondage of debt dishonestly imposed upon them.

No! A liberal government is a humbug. The English government is precisely the same whether administered by a D’ Israeli, a Gladstone, or a Lord Salisbury. The government is the lineal descendant of the ancient robbers and pirates; and it has not abated one iota of its robberies and piracies. On the other hand they are carried on, on a grander scale, though with more refined methods, than ever before.

Our civil war between the states differed in no respect from a foreign war, in the causes which led to it, the characteristics attending it, or in its results. One class of politicians endeavored to take advantage of the popular prejudice which had been aroused against another class of politicians, who desired to extend the territory over which they could exercise a peculiar monopoly which they enjoyed. These monopolists had been closely watching the growth of the popular sentiment against them, and knew that sooner or later they would have to meet the issue in some form. Believing themselves stronger than they really were, they deliberately broke up the democratic party, ensuring the election of a republican president; and then made the danger to their privilege the pretext for withdrawing from the union. The other politicians undertook to coerce them back again. First and last it was purely a quarrel between the politicians, on sectional lines, in which the people had not the slightest interest. The questions involved had nothing whatever to do with the abolition of slavery. The abolitionists, who had aroused all the popular antipathy to slavery, took no hand in the quarrel at its inception. The idea was distinctly and emphatically disclaimed that the war was waged for the abolition of slavery, or in fact, for anything else but to coerce the southerners back again into the union. That the abolitionists were afterward drawn into it, and finally made common cause with the north, was because they foresaw that sooner or later the exigencies of war would lead to the abolition of slavery.

After the war was started it was characterized on both sides with the same vandalism, the same disregard for the rights of the common people, the same oppressive burdens of taxation, the same favoritism, the same jobbery, the same corruption in public office, the same brutality among the people resulting from familiarity with scenes of blood, and the same advantages to the original parties to the quarrel.

And its results have been exactly what might have been expected of a foreign war. Hatreds have been intensified; the spirit of patriotism, which is only a spirit of blind subservience to political rulers, has been fostered; the slavery of bonded debt has been increased enormously, and the whole country placed under its yoke; offices have been multiplied; taxes imposed; monopolies established; the rich have been made rich beyond their wildest anticipations; while the poor have been reduced to a condition of abject and desperate dependence and poverty.

The essential thing is that, like all other wars, it was a politicians’ war for the benefit of politicians and monopolists, but in which the people on both sides who were neither politicians nor monopolists were the sufferers. But the meanest thing of all is that more than twenty-five years afterward those same people should be taxed more than one hundred millions of dollars annually to buy votes for the party in power, under the pretext of pensions to disabled soldiers. Here again, instead of maintaining the security of the persons and property of the citizens, it was, and continues to be, a violation of that security.

Watch the performances of the politicians,—statesmen, they call themselves, who are persistently trying to embroil us in quarrels with our neighbors. We are treated to a fisheries dispute with England and Canada; which, for a time, serves its purpose in winning political support for the party, especially from the Irish, whose animosities are already strong against an old enemy. Then we have a Behring Sea question to enforce the exclusive privileges of a pet corporation to kill seals; and again an acrimonious quarrel with the politicians of Chile, over a drunken spree while on shore of a lot of sailors from an United States man-of-war. In each case the prejudices, passions, and vanities of the people are played upon through the press to see how far they can be aroused to sustain still more aggressive acts on the part of their politicians. If they can only hoodwink the people into the belief that their honor is at stake, and that they ought to fight, then the politicians can reasonably count upon a continuance in power. Just to the extent that a political party which is already in power becomes discredited at home, and its supremacy is threatened, will it endeavor to foment disturbances abroad, in order to regain the support which it has forfeited. The exigencies of politics in a republic, exactly as in a monarchy, lead politicians to plunge a country into foreign wars to bolster up their own declining hold upon the people. It is a trick which has been played time without number, and will continue to be played until the people become intelligent enough to dispense with the whole political humbug of governing. They will continue to be exposed to this danger to their security, from those who profess to protect that security, just as long as they worship the fetish of government.

[Since writing the above, the truth of these deductions has received a most vivid and unexpected illustration in the unseemly anxiety of the President of the United States to dragoon this country into making war upon Chile, on account of that same drunken spree of the sailors. But the sensational developments which placed him in such an unsavory light were not different from what would be liable to any other politician under similar circumstances. Both he and his party need a foreign war to bolster up their declining hold upon the people. That is what wars are for.]

Talk about maintaining the honor of a people! What is that honor? How can a slight, or even a studied insult, to an officer, or representative of a government, reflect discredit upon a people over whom the government assumes to reign? What have the people to do with the honor of their rulers? Just this, and no more; that is, the interest the slave has in the honor of his master. The spectacle of a people fighting for the honor of their rulers is precisely like that of slaves fighting for the honor of their respective masters. That slave is entitled to the greatest respect, the greatest honor, who has become sufficiently imbued with the spirit of liberty to let his master look out for his own honor; one who has learned that the honor of the master is the disgrace of the slave. Just to the extent to which a government is discredited, brought into contempt, disgraced, is that government weakened, and the people strengthened.

Of course, when one government is dealing with another, it must maintain what it terms its honor. And if it can convince that other that its own people are so devoted as to fight for its honor, it is able to command respect according to the fighting strength of that people. But if it cannot convince the other that it enjoys that support, it is held in contempt. That is why it is vital to all governments to maintain their dignity, and enforce respect. From this comes all the flummery of court etiquette, salutes, apologies for insults, “honor to the flag,” etc. It is from this same necessity that we have judicial punishments for “contempt of court,” and for ‘resistance to officers.” When the slaves are most respectful to their masters, most ready to fight for their honor, and most obedient and submissive, they are manifestly the most valuable as slaves. These are qualities that are just as desirable to the rulers in their citizens, as to the masters in their slaves; but they are wholly in. consistent in freemen. Self-reliance, independence, and insubordination are the qualities of freemen; but they utterly destroy the value of slaves.

Look at it in any aspect we may, instead of being a protection, government is always the exciting cause of war, of insecurity, and of spoliation. It invites the very disasters it pretends to ward off. It has precisely the same effect in the intercourse of nations, and peoples, that the law does in the intercourse of individuals. It builds walls of separation between them. It prevents intercourse, hinders association, cripples commerce, and retards civilization.

Some one will ask me how a people who has discarded any organized government can resist invasion from neighbors who still maintain such an organization. Would it not be at the mercy of the first piratical government which chose to take possession? I say, no. The discovery of gunpowder rendered possible, and actually did destroy, in form at least, the institution known as the feudal system. Until then, mailed knights rode the country at will, and plundered whom they would. The people had no adequate means of resistance. They were practically powerless. But after the advent of gunpowder, coats of mail were no protection against powder and ball. I presume those who used this new agent were roundly denounced as resorting to

uncivilized warfare. But who ever heard of civilized warfare? There is none. War is essentially uncivilized, and barbaric. It can never be justified on any ground but that of defense. And where violent defense is necessary at all, it is proper to use a sufficient degree of violence to make the defense effective. Science has recently placed in the hands of the people new agencies against which the old methods are as ineffectual as the knight’s armour was against gun-powder. No invading army can possibly make head against them. It would be annihilated. Nor would it require any government organization to make use of them; or any other organization to speak of. A few intelligent, resolute men can utterly destroy any army of invasion; and that too without levying a tax, or creating a bonded debt.



Having considered the protection that government affords against foreign enemies, we will now turn to its functions at home, and see how far the order that exists in human society is due to its action; and what effect that action has upon security.

We have already learned that government is lineally descended from ancient robbers and pirates, who plundered the people as occasion offered. At no period in the line of that descent has it changed its nature. Its methods, however, have undergone constant changes, from time to time, to meet changes in the development of the people; but its essential character remains.

Another thing we have learned is, that “property rights,” to sustain which government exists, is a purely artificial and arbitrary arrangement, existing wholly by virtue of the law; that for all its representing anything in nature, it might as well have been entirely different, as to be what it is; and that, so far as that arrangement violates the natural conditions of property, it is a violation of the natural rights of persons to property.

The real functions of government being to sustain an institution of property which is itself a violation of natural right, and which has its source in privilege, can only perform its functions by the protection and extension of privilege, so it grants titles of nobility, makes grants or sales of land, issue corporate franchises of every variety and kind, co tracts public bonded debts, authorizes stocks, and bonded debts of corporations, issues patents and copyrights, sets up monopolies, loans its credit for private gain to its favorites, taxes some for the advantage of others, and then enforces these privileges with the whole power of the government.

I propose to show that almost the whole effective action of government, is directed to such an enforcement; and that if it undertakes more, it is in the nature of meddlesome and pestiferous interference in the private affairs of people, which always does more harm than good, and is always intended to divert attention from the primary purposes of its action; or else it is to make an excuse for fresh appropriations.

Prof. W. S. Jevons, in an opening address before the British Association for the Advancement of Science at Liverpool, in September, 1870, said: “The laws of property are a purely human institution, and are just so far defensible as they conduce to the good of society;” and he makes that fact the justification of a recommendation to government to confiscate to its own uses private bequests which had been made to charitable purposes.

It is a well recognized fact that the laws of property are wholly artificial, and therefore no natural right will be violated should the people conclude to abolish them.

Although in this country government issues no titles of nobility as such, yet the privileges granted by law hereby the grantee are enabled to subsist upon the labor of other men without labor themselves, amount to the same thing. When the government grants a tract of land in aid of the construction of a railroad, as hundreds of millions of acres have been granted, it simply places in the hands of those who exploit the construction of the road (not those who construct it) the power to absorb the unrequited labor of those who must use that land. The government has granted to individuals precisely what in substance other governments grant to individuals when they confer titles of nobility. The same thing is done too when the railroad franchise itself is granted; and the telegraph, telephone, gas, water, street-car, patent or copyright franchises are given. Wherever a privilege, immunity, or special right is conferred upon one man, or set of men, it is in its nature the same as a grant of nobility; and it has exactly the same effect.

Public bonded debts is another form of privilege which enables the holders of those bonds to live without labor upon the labor of the taxpayers who must pay the interest on those bonds, and finally the principal; and for which those taxpayers do not receive one dollar of benefit. Interest itself is made possible only by conditions produced by the law; and those who pay interest get absolutely nothing in return for it. A bonded debt is one of the forms of slavery whereby the monopolists, through the action of government, which is the instrument of the law, secures and maintains the bondage of the people. No bonded debt can ever carry with it the rightful obligation of the people to pay either principal or interest. It is neither good in law or justice. Even the law, if it were consistent with itself, would condemn it, because no man can be legally held for an obligation which he did not make, or authorize another to make for him. At the very most a bond can only bind those who actually voted for that bond. And if it were possible that at the time of its issue it had received the direct sanction and authorization of every man, woman, and child in the community, it would not bind the next child born. No man can sign away the rights of another without the consent of that other. And if he cannot sign away his rights, it follows that he cannot vote them away; and much less the rights of unborn generations yet to come. There is not a public bonded debt in this world that is worth the paper it is written upon except in so far as the people can be kept in ignorance of its true character, and humbugged into the idea that their own honor is at stake in its payment. The only honor that is at stake is the honor of the governing corporation that issued the bonds. Here again, the honor of the master is the disgrace of the slave. If the slave is so ignorant as to be unaware of the true nature of the bond, and so subservient and submissive as to pay that bond, it is to his everlasting disgrace. But if he sends the bondholder to the men who issued the bond, and tells. him to look there for payment, the disgrace is on the master. His credit is destroyed, and he will have to withdraw from the business of governing The maintenance of the so-called public credit is only useful to governments to enable them to raise, on emergency, the money necessary to sustain their supremacy at home, or fight their neighbors abroad. The people are no more interested in it than the slave is interested in the credit of his master.

Another convenient scheme for exploiting the labor of others is the organization of joint stock corporations. Large blocks of the stock are distributed gratuitously to the organizers, and other large blocks are sold at a small percentage of their face value. Very few of such corporations actually receive from their stock-holders the full face value of the stock they control, and the total capitalization seldom bears any necessary or ascertainable relation to the money actually invested in the enterprise. The stock so issued in excess of the money invested,—which represents no investment at all, is called “water,” or “watered stocks.” But they come in for their share of the dividends just the same, and swell the amounts that must go to monopoly, and thus diminish those which can possibly go to labor.

In addition to the stock manipulations of these corporations, it is a common practice to issue bonds bearing a fixed rate of interest, and running a given time, which still further increase the fixed charges of monopoly, and reduce the rewards of labor. The greater the amount of the watered stock in a corporation, the less cash that stock brings into its treasury, and the more necessary becomes the issue of bonds to obtain means to carry on its business. It is often the case that through these bond and stock manipulations, schemers will build whole railroads, and obtain and keep enough of those stocks to control the roads without ever investing a dollar themselves, especially if they have obtained a grant of land from the government in aid of its construction. When a railroad has been built in this way, and most of them have been so, it is of course loaded down with interest-bearing debt, and with dividends on stock which represents nothing; it must charge high rates of freight and passage in order to meet those charges, and pay salaries to high priced officials, and other running expenses of the road. This again puts additional burdens upon those who do business over the road, breeding discontent among the farmers and business men; while at the same time the wages of employees are kept almost down to starvation rates. If the men strike for higher wages, or the farmers and others demand lower charges, the first plea put forward against them is, that “the capital invested is only making legitimate interest,” and so they cannot afford to reduce charges, or raise wages.

But in the first place, the stock does not represent honest capital invested; and, in the second place, there is no such thing as legitimate interest. Interest is always illegitimate. Dividends are always illegitimate; because neither interest nor dividends represent wages for actual labor performed. Those contrivances by which a stock-holder can draw dividends, or a bond-holder can draw interest, are exactly like the slavery of public bonded debts,— contrivances which enable the idler to subsist upon the earnings of the industrious. They exist wholly in and by virtue of the law. They receive from it their only sanction. Through the establishment and maintenance of just such things as these do governments build up monopolies, and protect them afterwards. In the absence of law they would be impossible: First, by violating the natural rights of persons to properly, by setting up arbitrary and unnatural fights of property; and then favoring and facilitating large aggregations of capital through abnormally increasing the power of aggregated capital, and through special advantages enacted in laws relating to corporations, the law kills off the competition of individual merchants and manufacturers, who are placed at so great a disadvantage in the competition for trade that they are driven out of business, or compelled to accept subordinate position under the corporations. Everywhere the individual or firm is giving way to the corporation. Those only who can command almost unlimited captital can hope to make head against these modern cyclops.

Men frequently look upon the tendency to concentration in business, to the disappearance of the small trader of limited means, and the substitution of the corporation, or great capitalist, as indicating a gain to the people at large, in the cheapness of production. If cheapness is taken to mean a less expenditure of labor in the production of wealth, then the idea is wholly erroneous. But if it means the lessened amounts that monopoly is compelled to pay to labor as wages for that production, then their idea is correct. Monopoly does not facilitate the production of wealth. It hinders it. It requires just as much, or more labor to produce wealth under monopoly than under freedom, but those who produce it get less, while more; therefore the outward appearance of cheapened cost of production. That this is true is proved by the steady decrease everywhere in the number of small, or independent traders, who are driven into bankruptcy, and are finally compelled to accept a situation at a small salary under monopoly; and they generally consider themselves lucky if they get even that. And yet, there is probably not one per cent of those who have been thus forced into bankruptcy by the operation of the law, who do not religiously worship the fetish of the law, and who would not consider it their sacred duty to fight, if necessary, for the government, which is the instrument of the law.

Patents and copyrights are other ways in which governments play into the hands of monopolists under the pretense of “rewarding genius,” of “stimulating invention,” and of “promoting authorship.” It makes, and keeps people poor, and therefore helpless; and should they invent a useful article, they are generally so poor that they can not pay the fees for taking out a patent; or if they can, they can not manufacture and sell the article, but must look to monopoly to help them out. And it generally does help them “out,” and so far out that they never get back again.

If a man writes a book he must find some publisher with sufficient means to defray the cost of its publication. And the poorer he is, the more helpless; in other words, the more he is in the power of the publisher. A man with a patent, or a copyright, but without money, is just about as well off as the settler is, on a quarter section of wild government land, who has nothing with which to work it; and if lie had, he is so far from market that his land is well nigh worthless to him. In this condition the patentee, the author, and the settler become easy victims to monopoly. What to them was nearly worthless becomes of vast importance to monopoly, The reward which the generous government grants to genius, or the settler, is a pittance, while that to monopoly is magnificent and substantial. And then, when the monopoly has grown rich on the invention; or the landholder by the rise in the value of the land, people are invited to admire the beneficent generosity of a government which so munificently rewards inventive genius, and the sturdy frugality of its pioneers, notwithstanding the pioneer and the genius may fill a pauper’s grave.

If there are any other opportunities for setting up monopolies, and special privileges, the government maintains several corps of very industrious men to look them up, and parcel them out—for a consideration. There is the national congress, the state legislatures, the city councils, the town boards, the excise, drainage, railroad and warehouse, and inter-state commissions; and all the other legislative, and semi-legislative contrivances whereby laws are passed, franchises granted, contracts let, and taxes imposed. There is scarcely an act from the cradle to the grave that government does not endeavor to bring under subjection to the will of those who assume to rule, and which does not involve the payment of fees, duties, taxes, and contributions of various kinds, either directly to those rulers, or to some of their favorites, whom they have given special permission to collect these charges. The child at birth is required to be registered. If he is sick he can only be doctored by an authorized physician. He must only eat authorized food, drink authorized drink, work at authorized times, and at authorized things, marry in an authorized way, live in an authorized place, and finally die and be buried in an authorized manner. Of course, all these authorizations cost money. It does not matter whether the doctor knows anything or not, if he has gone through certain formalities, the state suppresses all competition so far as it can, except from those who have taken the same formalities. The result is that the doctors are, to a large degree, absolved from the necessity for study. They do not even have to keep posted on the current advance in knowledge in their own profession. Their profession is protected by law from outside competition; and then, by setting up artificial standards of ethics for themselves, they still further limit competition among themselves; or, in other words, make it hard for some and easy for others to get ahead. It naturally follows that some have more than they can attend to, get large fees, and attain great reputation, while others get nothing. The doctor with a large practice is physically unable to keep abreast of the advance in medical knowledge, for want of time and strength, while the one who has none cannot do it for want of means. The latest discoveries in the nature of diseases, and improved methods of treatment, are as completely foreign to the great majority of physicians as if they had never studied medicine. Here again, the law destroys whatever it pretends to protect. Freedom is just as necessary in medicine as in anything else. Protection to a learned profession is just as injurious as any other kind of protection. Instead of protecting ability, and merit, it always turns out that it is incompetence that has received the protection. Ability needs no protection; but incompetence does.

So we may go through the whole list of laws providing for official inspections, against the adulterations of food and drink, all forms of sumptuary laws, laws for the promotion of morality, Sabbath observance, etc., and we shall find that where they do not have the direct purpose in view of violating the security of the citizens, in the direct robbery of those citizens, they still amount to a meddlesome and pestiferous interference, with the direct result of destroying all spontaneous and healthy activity. The law promotes adulterations instead of protecting against them; it fosters licentiousness where it would prevent it; and enables the strong to prey upon the weak instead of preserving the weak against the strong.

The laws for the collection of debt are practically a nullity so far as promoting the payment of just debts between individuals goes. They give almost infinite opportunities for fraud, deception, and dishonesty. Those who are disposed to pay, and have the ability to pay, need no law to compel them. But those who are not, always seek in the forms, technicalities, and delays of the law an efficient method of avoiding payment. Instead of leaving debt where it rightly belongs, as a matter of honor, laws are made for its forcible collection, and then / it no long rests upon honor, but upon the law; so that if a man can cheat according to law he is all right. Honor is not involved. Here again, the law promotes dishonesty instead of honesty. All this has come to be so well recognized that very few good business men will undertake to collect debts by law. They find it costs more than it comes to.

That the law is wholly unnecessary in the collection of debt is abundantly shown in the transaction of business between men. In the stock and grain exchanges pencil memoranda in the note books of brokers are sufficient to guarantee the sales of property to the amount of thousands of dollars. These contracts, depending wholly upon the honor of those who made them, are considered safer than those made outside, although they may be signed, sealed and registered parchments. Among gamblers also, the debt of honor,—the debt which cannot be collected by law, is the first debt paid.

But of course, this only applies to obligations which have an honorable basis,—a basis of equity between man and man. It could never be applied to the exactions of monopoly. When we come to rent, interest, taxes, mortgages, royalties, or any of the other takings of monopoly, which are purely legal stealings, and no honor is involved, the law is then an absolute necessity. It is a club in the hands of monopoly to compel the people to give up. Monopoly could not live a week in the absence of law. And as the chief purpose and function of the law is to create monopolies, and enforce their demands, its action must necessarily be to violate the security which it pretends to subserve, instead of promoting it To the poor the law is utterly worthless, or worse; but to the rich it is invaluable. Yet the poor pay the expense while the rich get the benefit.

The enforcement of contracts comes under the same head as the collection of debt, although it is something more. Men enter into contracts to do certain things; and if the terms of those contracts are just and equal both parties to them are equally benefited, and consequently will be equally interested in their fulfillment, and will therefore need no law to enforce them. But if one party to a contract has misrepresented the facts, has overeached the other, and has secured terms which are not just and equal, then the law is necessary to enable him to enforce and make effective his rascality. Here also the law directly encourages and promotes deception and fraud, and then helps to carry out that fraud.

Then, under the pretense of regulating commerce, the law exacts contributions, tariffs, licenses, duties, fees, and taxes; subjects it to delays, hindrances, and regulations, in many respects prevents it altogether; stirs up envy, strife, war; and again violates security. Commerce needs no regulation. It is best promoted by leaving it perfectly free to take its own unhindered way. If free, it will always adopt such methods and appliances as best promote the interest of those who are engaged in it, at the least cost. What does a ward politician know about the needs of trade of a circulating medium? What does the average legislator know about the requisites of a proper grain inspection, or an inspection of meats, fish, or dairy product? What does h know about the qualifications of a doctor, or ninety-nine out of the hundred things about which he is called upon to legislate? And if he seeks information from those who are supposed to know, that information will be colored by their own interests, or prejudices. Commerce is never regulated except to rob it; and those who regulate it to-day, are the same as those who plundered it of old. The name has been changed, but the thing is the same.

Every human institution, every rule of intercourse, every custom is but the expression of the needs and interests of men, and not of formal laws enacted by government; and so long as they continue to be such an expression they will be observed without law; but when they cease, they will change with the changing needs, notwithstanding the law. Law at the very best, can only hinder and delay the adoption of better customs and usages; and whenever an institution needs the support or sanction of law, it is an indication that it is in a state of decay. Ignorance, prejudice, and bigotry cling longest to old institutions. Men fear and condemn what they do not understand; therefore, when law is enacted to sustain any form or tenet of religion, any standard of morality, or any custom of society, it is certain to represent, not the intelligence of the community, but its ignorance.

This is law at its best. What it is at its worst, we have already had glimpses; but they are only glimpses. Where the law is not a direct and conscious robbery of the people in the interest of a part of those people, it furnishes a means of oppression whereby the most ignorant and bigoted can harass, annoy, and persecute those whose increasing intelligence has discarded the old methods and standards.

Let us take a look at the courts! What do their duties consist of? What is their function? Primarily to enforce the demands of monopoly; sometimes to settle disputes between different monopolies; and very rarely to furnish a tribunal for the people themselves. But their action is so bound up in technicalities, delays, and expense, that in the last case, it amounts to the merest sham. It is a notorious fact that no matter how just may be a man’s claim, unless he is rich he stands no show against the wealthy. First, he cannot employ the best legal talent to conduct his case; second, the delay wears him out; and third, the expense eats him up. The poor man has no more show before the courts, as they are constituted and conducted, than a lamb would have before a tribunal of wolves.

Examine the records of every court in the land, and it will be found that more than nineteen twentieths of all their work is either to enforce the demands of monopoly, or they are purely disputes between different monopolies in which the people have not the slightest interest, although they are heavily taxed to support them.

When a difference arises between two or more individuals, one of them appeals to the law, which assumes to arbitrate it, not with the mutual consent of the parties, but at the instigation of one of them. The government meddles constantly in the private affairs of the people, assuming the right to settle their disputes with or without their consent. It sends its minions to evict the starving widow and fatherless children from their miserable shanty upon the demand of the rich and favored, when they can no longer wring enough from their misery to satisfy their greed. It stands ready to foreclose the mortgage of the farmer when he can no longer meet the demands of the usurer; and it sends its militia, and if need be the army, to shoot down the workingmen if they insist a little too strongly on their right to a little larger proportion of the wealth they produce.

The keeping of records is another very important function of government,—important to the monopolies, but to no one else. Natural property, depending solely upon possession, or occupation, needs to preserve no records. It is only when that natural condition is violated, and men are enabled to own a thing while in the possession of another, that records are necessary. Yet here again; the people are taxed once more to keep the records of their own slavery. Voltaire says that “the art of government is to make two thirds of a nation pay all it possibly can pay for the benefit of the other third.”

Voltaire was right; and those payments are only in small part in the form of taxes, although these are heavy enough in all conscience. During the six years, ending June 30th, 1871, following our civil war, the revenues collected from the people over and above the total expenditures of the government, were in round numbers $380,890,000. Such a thing in any other government on earth would not have been tolerated; nor would it have been here had it not been for our peculiar form of government which falsely deceives the people into the idea that they are governing themselves. Add to this excess over and above all the needs of government, the total expenses of government, national, state, and local. then include the almost incalculable amounts exacted by monopoly through the operations of government, whereby the idle are made rich, and the industrious are kept poor, and we get the aggregate cost of government to the people.

Can a people so taxed, and robbed, and hampered be said to be free? To be free as to be without restriction. What has government, or law, which is the embodiment of restriction, to do with freedom? To speak of “free government” is to employ a contradiction of terms. Freedom and government are utterly inconsistent. There is no such thing as a free government. Government is slavery. There is no slavery possible outside of government, except the slavery of ignorance; and ignorance is soonest conquered when men are free to employ their faculties to dispel it, without the restraining influences of government. Men can never achieve freedom until government is completely eradicated. I am not here discussing their right to so free themselves. Like M. Dunnoyer, “I do not say sententiously: men have a right to be free; I confine myself to asking: How does it happen that they are not so?” Let them once understand that they are not so, and I have no fears that they will not attend to it in a becoming manner.



We will now see what truth there is in the claim that government can perform certain public functions better or cheaper than the people can do themselves without the intervention of government, or through private enterprise.

The one great and conspicuous enterprise to which all those who would have government undertake almost everything point, as an example of what government does, and what might be expected in other things, is the mail service. Those who would have the government run the railroads, operate the telegraphs, telephones, institute gas and water plants, furnish public baths, places of amusement and recreation, all tell us what a model of perfection the post-office department is, and what a fine thing it would be to have cheap and efficient service in all these important matters.

To begin with, it is impossible to know whether the postal service is cheap, or dear. The rates of postage on different classes of mail matter are established on purely arbitrary rules, and without regard to the cost of the service. Some cheap congressman who is desirous of gaining credit at home, of making himself popular with his constituents, introduces a bill to reduce postage, and other congressmen with a like ambition join in its support. The senators, swayed by the same considerations, either concur, or fail to oppose it, and so it reaches the president. He, too, is looking to another term in office, or to party advantage, and dare not veto it; and finally the bill goes through, notwithstanding the returns already show a deficit in the receipts as compared with the expenditures of the department.

I have before me the annual report of the secretary of the treasury covering the fiscal operations of the government for the year ending June 30th, 1891. According to it the total net receipts of the government during the year, from the postal service, were $65,908,909.36. The total expenditures and liabilities for the same account, during the same time are given as $72,069,114.55, leaving a deficit of $6,160,205.19 which has to be made up by taxation In other words, the government performs a service for a part of the people for less than the cost of that service, and then taxes the whole people to make good its loss.

But here again the advantage goes to the rich. Those who use the mails the most, are the great corporations, the wealthy individuals, or those who have extensive connections and interests extending over wide territories. There are many such who will write, or send, more letters in a single hour than the average citizen would do in a whole year. In order to carry an occasional letter at less than it costs, for a countryman who will not write one in weeks together, the government performs the same service for the monopolist who sends hundreds, or may be thousands, every day or hour, which is a beautiful arrangement for the monopolist, but decidedly not so for the countryman, especially as he is taxed to pay the deficit. So, the many are fleeced for the benefit of the few. Again, a letter will be carried clear across the continent and be delivered in some far out of the way town, or at a street numb’r remote from the office of delivery for the same rates that are required to send it a half dozen squares. The rate is not regulated by the service performed.

Another inequality is in the classification of the mail. While one class must pay thirty-two cents [ 327] a pound, another requiring little, if any less labor to handle it, gets off for one cent. This however is on the plea of promoting the circulation of information,—intelligence among the people; really it is a direct bribe to the newspapers to support a system of spoliation and robbery such as all governments practically amount to.

Another thing, it places in the hands of the politicians, and through them of the monopolists who stand behind them, the supervision and control of the private correspondence of the people; and not only of their private correspondence, but of the literature they read. Already the claim is set up of the right to open and inspect private correspondence; and every postoffice of importance is supplied with all the necessary appliances for opening letters. This claim is only put forward as to the correspondence of those who are “suspected” of something. But of what? No matter. It may be of anything from prohibition to anarchy, from petty theft to high treason, or from heresy to atheism. If a man can be suspected of one thing he can of another. It is only necessary that he be suspected. But by whom? By the politicians, of course; or by the monopolists whom the politicians represent. This is the first step toward placing in the hands of the monopolist complete information of every movement by the people looking to the destruction of monopoly. It is the same kind of despotism that has always been practiced in other governments which make no denial of their despotic character. There is not a letter that passes through the mails that cannot be opened and inspected with impunity upon the whim of any postoffice inspector, on the plea of “suspicion.”

Then as to the press, already the government claims the right to control what shall be published. A lottery advertisement may exclude a paper from the mail, and possibly subject the publisher, or advertiser, to penalties for the “improper use of the mails.” But people who buy lottery tickets are only doing what they will with their own. What right has the government, or any one else to interfere? If interference is proper in this thing, it is in others. Where is it to stop? This is but the first step toward a censorship of the press, such as prevails in the most despotic governments of Europe. But for Anthony Comstock to use the mails to deliberately tempt and decoy men into a breach of the law, for the sake of punishing them afterward, or blackmailing them, is a highly proper use of the mails, in the eyes of the virtuous politicians.

Then as to efficiency, there isn’t any worth mentioning. From the very nature of the case it is impossible that there should be. With every change of administration there is a change in at least the principal officers of the department. Men are chosen, not because of any special fitness, but because of political influence. With changes in the heads of departments come changes among the subordinates sufficient to, for a time at least, throw the department into confusion. Tenure of office depends upon personal or party service more than upon merit and efficiency, consequently more attention is paid to politics than to business. These things are not chargeable to any particular political party, but are concomitants of all of them. These abuses are inherent in the principle of politics itself, and will continue so long as the system continues. If the postoffice department is to be taken as a model of public service it certainly is not one that is highly inviting. Inefficiency, irresponsibility, political and personal favoritism, and impertinent meddling in private affairs are its most characteristic features.

If the railroads and telegraphs were taken under government management there is no reason in the world to expect different results from those already realized in the mail service. There would be the same tenure of office, the same disproportion in the use of them between the rich and the poor; the same inducement to politicians to reduce the tolls below the cost of the service, and to throw the burden of the deficit upon the people as a whole. Then telegraphic messages are open to inspection, and therefore are even more subject to espionage than letter mail, consequently there are still greater facilities for political and business favoritism, especially in relation to the press. In the delivery of press dispatches alone, at critical periods in political campaigns the power would be enormous.

But there is no way in which the railroads and telegraphs can be acquired by the government under a continuation of present political conditions without involving an amount of fraud and corruption in their purchase which is simply appalling, and which would saddle an amount of debt upon the people beside which their present burdens would be but a bagatelle.

Prof. W. S. Jevons says of the English proprietors of the telegraphs, that when they transferred them to the government, they did so at about twice their previous value. They made enormous profits’ out of the sale. It could not be expected that the owners of the American railroads and telegraphs would be any the less grasping. With such men as Jay Gould, the Vanderbilts, Huntington, and a dozen others that could be named, on one side, and a lot of politicians on the other, the people would fare badly in such a trade. It is useless to talk about taxing them out, or acquiring the properties in any other way than by a purchase in which the monopolies would have the best of the bargain. Even if this were a reform at all, it is impossible to effect any reform, which can really disturb monopoly, by political methods which are controlled by those monopolies. And after the purchase has been effected, and the bonds issued in payment, the people are just as badly off. They have only shifted their slavery from a railroad and telegraph monopoly to a bonded debt. They have taken their load off one shoulder and put it onto the other, and in doing so have greatly increased it.

But after the people have obtained their railroads and telegraphs they at once come under the control and manipulation of politics. Cheap politicians will reduce freight and passage to give an appearance of cheapness, and to curry favor with special interests among their constituents, and then charge up the deficit to the whole people. In Paris the telegraph charges were reduced from one franc to a half franc, which multiplied the business ten fold; but the expenses were not reduced proportionate to the increase of business. The telegraph is not subject to the same conditions as the postoffice. Increase in business does not admit of considerable decrease in the cost of doing the business. Not only in Paris, but all over France, England, Belgium and Switzerland the telegraphs are worked under government management at a loss. The London District Telegraph has not succeeded in paying a profit although low charges have brought plenty of business. In Germany the complaint comes of government favoritism in the use of the telegraphs. Newspapers in opposition to the government find their special telegrams suppressed, or delayed; and liberties are taken with private messages. The ordinary privacy of a private letter is impossible in a telegram, and the political party in control of the telegraph necessarily knows the nature of the news sent. To increase the scope and function of government is but to aggravate the evils that men complain of Government, or law, being a violation of liberty, cannot possibly promote liberty.

The same considerations apply to all the other undertakings of government, whether in the management of a continuous business, the construction of public works or public buildings, the purchase of materials, or the adoption of improvements. Everywhere where there has not been downright jobbery, and corruption, there has been inefficiency, incompetence, and wastefulness.

The corruption in the construction of public buildings is so open and notorious as to scarcely excite remark. It is not even necessary to cite instances. I do not think there is a single public building in this country of any considerable proportions which has not had its public scandal in its construction; and the same is true of every large public work that was ever attempted. If the scandal did not come to the surface it was not because the materials were not there.

The demand for navy, coast defenses, iron-dads, etc., comes from contractors, and those who wish to secure jobs; and from politicians who expect to reap a benefit in the lettings, and in obtaining contributions to their political campaigns. The wastefulness of them all is shown, especially in war materials, in the rapid advance in improvement, by which the most improved kinds are made obsolete even before they are finished.

The wastefulness of political management is strikingly shown in the treatment of the sewage of cities. Chicago alone wastes not less than an equivalent of 400,000 tons of guano a year, which at $50 a ton would give $20,000,000. Contrast that with the efficiency of private management. The appliances for the slaughtering of animals for the Chicago market have been so greatly improved in the last few years that the blood, hair, hoofs, manure, etc., which formerly went to waste, are now all utilized, and are sufficient to cover the whole cost of the slaughter of the animals, and the preparation of the meat for the market.

I am also told by those who are entirely competent to know, that if the street sweepings in any of the great cities were properly gathered, dried, and pressed into convenient form for shipment, they would form a cheap and convenient fertilizer which would find a ready market among the farmers throughout the country, and yield a net income sufficient to defray a large share of the municipal expenses.

The same characteristics of government are shown in other countries as well as our own. Prof. W. S. Jevons, in an address before the Manchester Statistical Society, in April 1867, stated that “in England, the state manufacturing establishments, especially the dockyards, form the very types of incompetent and wasteful expenditure. They are the running sores of the country, draining away our financial power.”

Officialism is more than corrupt and wasteful; it is always inefficient; and delays the adoption of improvements long after their merit has been abundantly proved. A striking instance of this is shown in the introduction of lemon juice into the English navy. It was not until more than two hundred years after its specific qualities had been demonstrated, and forty years after the chief admiralty officer had given conclusive evidence of its worth, before it was regularly supplied to naval vessels as a part of their stores, notwithstanding that during that time the scurvy carried off more victims than all the battles, wrecks, and other casualties of sea life put together.

Legislators make high sounding speeches in favor of reform, and economy in general, and when a special appropriation is to be made from which friends or constituents are to profit, they logroll and work in its favor as if their political existence depended upon its passage, which it often does. Thus private and political interests are unseen factors in the passage of every law except such as are purely acts repealing previous acts. The greater the number of undertakings which government assumes, the wider the scope of these private and political interests, and the more corrupt does government necessarily become. Law is like what Walter Bagehot affirms of the English monarchy. He says, “Our royalty is to be reverenced, and if you begin to poke about it you cannot reverence it. You must not let in daylight upon magic.” When you begin to poke about the law, to find out what the law does, and why and how it does it, you can no longer reverence it. No man can study the history of legislation in any country for a considerable time, and trace its effects, without being struck with the uniform viciousness of it. Who would increase the power of such a hydra? Rather kill it. “Sovereign power, without sovereign knowledge is something which contradicts itself. “—Thomas Paine.

Herbert Spencer describes the state thus:

“A cluster of men (a few clever, many ordinary, and some decidedly stupid) we ascribe to it marvelous powers of doing multitudinous things which men otherwise clustered are unable to do, we petition it to procure for us in some way which we do not doubt it can find, benefits of all orders; and pray it with unfaltering faith to secure us from every fresh evil. Time after time our hopes are balked. The good is not obtained, or something bad comes along with it; the evil is not cured, or some other evil as great or greater is produced. Our journals, daily and weekly, general and local, perpetually find failures to dilate upon: now blaming, and now ridiculing, first this department and then that. And yet, though the rectification of blunders, administrative and legislative, is a main part of public business—though the time in the legislature is chiefly occupied in amending, until after many mischiefs implied by those needs for amendment, then comes at last repeal; yet from day to day increasing numbers of wishes are expressed for legal repressions and state management.”



One of the most important of the ostensible functions of government is the detection, punishment, and prevention of crime; in fact, the preservation of security is generally held to depend upon the repression of an assumed natural tendency among a part of the people to violate the rights of society, assuming that society has any rights to violate. That part of the people who are supposed to naturally prey upon others, and upon society, are called criminals; and are treated as if they were essentially different from other individuals not criminal. The difference between these, and the ordinary citizen, has come to be broadly and generally expressed as “bad,’ and “good,” the bad being understood to mean not only those actually criminal, but with strong criminal tendencies, while the good comprise those who are supposed to be devoid of such tendencies.

In the treatment of any subject it is important, at the very outset, to get a clear idea of the thing under consideration. So, in the examination of crime, we must first understand what crime is before we can reach any proper understanding of its cause and cure.

The popular conception of crime is that it consists in some lapse from a more or less generally accepted standard of virtue, arising from an inherent viciousness on the part of the criminal; in other words, a moral delinquency. This view is wholly erroneous, as is shown on slight consideration. Regarding the precept, “Thou shalt not steal,’ as a proper moral standard, does the law look upon its violation as necessarily criminal? Not at all. He who takes the substance of another without recompense as rent, interest, taxes, or insufficient wages, is a highly respectable citizen. There is not the least suspicion of criminality about him; but if he from whom these sums were taken, recognizing his own property, retakes it, he is a thief, and is punished as a criminal. If an American farmer takes his wheat to market across an imaginary line called the Canadian frontier, and brings back clothing for himself and family without notifying a custom-house officer, and submitting to a robbery of a large part of the value of the clothing, he is a felon, and is punished criminally, although he has done no wrong to a living man. If under the brutalizing influences of poverty, and the stress of extreme want, one waylays and kills another, and thus obtains relief from present needs, he is a criminal—a murderer, and will be punished accordingly. But if a judge, a sheriff, a lawyer, and a jury of a dozen men organize a conspiracy to kill him, although without any of the impelling influences which prompted him to commit the first offense, they are highly respectable, will have their portraits published in the morning papers, and be looked up to, as, in a manner distinguished. And when the killing takes place it will receive the sanction and benediction of the church. If another, in a moment of anger slays a fellow man, this too is crime; but if a lot of politicians quarrel among themselves, they may organize war upon still others, against whom they had no quarrel, and slay innocent people at wholesale, and instead of an implication of criminality, the thing is “glorious war,” the amount of the glory depending upon the extent of the slaughter.

So that crime is exceedingly variable. It depends upon no recognized moral standard. It is what the law says is crime. Sometimes it says one thing, and sometimes another. It changes with every change In the law relating to crime. [246]

As this subject has to do with man in society it will be profitable at this point to recall some of the conclusions reached in Part II, in the study of man as an individual, because they throw important light upon the whole problem of crime.

Our analysis of man showed that all are actuated by the same motive; follow the same guide; and work to the same end: the making of individual character through the pursuit of individual happiness; that all possess the same mental and physical constitution; and all are subject to the same needs, and laws of growth. We found also, that society itself is but the expression of the selfish requirements of the individuals composing it; that it exists solely to gratify those needs; must be purely mutual and voluntary; and involves no surrender of any individual right. We found more; we found that men are practically equal in all those things which determine their relations to society; and that liberty is the equivalent, and resultant, of equality. These things being true, the law which violates equality by setting up artificial rights of property, and enforcing those rights by oppressive regulations which keep people poor, prevent the natural gratification of their desires, suppress their aspirations, and arrest their development, naturally and certainly operates to produce what are termed criminals. Then the nature of crime is, that it is the natural resistance, or protest, against the oppressions of the law; that law itself being a violation of natural right, is the real criminal, while those who resist it and put it to open shame are really the virtuous, and deserve the commendations instead of the curses of their fellows. This is not only true as to some crime, but if our previous analyses are correct, it must be true of all crime; and that law, which ostensibly exists to protect the persons and property of the people, directly promotes the violation of them; and thus, as in the case of wars, invites the very evils it pretends to ward off. This thought is so opposed to all our old notions and prejudices that it is necessary to make such a careful and thorough examination as will leave no doubt of the truth of our conclusions.

It has, for a long time, been a well recognized fact that notwithstanding all the efforts to repress and prevent crime by law, it continues to recur with almost unvarying certainty. This has been observed and commented on by very many of the foremost writers on moral philosophy for the last fifty years, and in countries differing widely in language, customs, religion, and law. Along with those observations have gone like observations as to the variations in the ratio of marriages, and the causes of those variations, which throw a flood of light upon the main question of the cause and condition of crime.

Henry Thomas Buckle, in his “History of Civilization,” has probably given the most comprehensive and condensed summary of the researches in this direction, of any writer of his time, or even down to our own. He says:

“It becomes, therefore, in the highest degree important to ascertain whether or not there exists a regularity in the entire moral conduct of a given society; and this is precisely one of those questions for the decision of which statistics supply us with materials of immense value.

“For the main object of legislation being to protect the innocent against the guilty, it naturally followed that European governments, so soon as they became aware of the importance of statistics, should begin to collect evidence respecting the crimes they were expected to punish. This evidence has gone on accumulating, until it now forms of itself a large body of literature, containing, with the commentaries connected with it, an immense array of facts, so carefully compiled, and so well and clearly digested, that more may be learned from it respecting the moral nature of man than can be gathered from all the accumulated experience of preceding ages.”

In summing up his conclusions as to murder he says again:

“The fact is, that murder is committed with as much regularity, and bears as uniform a relation to certain known circtimstances, as do the movement of the tides, and the rotation of the seasons.”

Again, in concluding his examination of the crime of suicide:

“In the different countries for which we have returns, we find year by year the same proportion of persons putting an end to their own existence; so that, after making allowance for the impossibility of collecting complete evidence, we are able to predict, within a very small limit of error, the number of voluntary deaths for each ensuing period; supposing of course, that the social circumstances do not undergo any marked change. . . . To appreciate the full force of this evidence, we must remember that it is not an arbitrary selection of particular facts, but that it is generalized from an exhaustive statement of criminal statistics, consisting of many millions of observations, extending over countries in different grades of civilization, with different laws, different opinions, different morals, different habits. if we add to this, that these statistics have been collected by persons specially employed for that purpose, with every means of arriving at the truth, and with no interest to deceive, it surely must be admitted that the existence of crime, according to a fixed and uniform scheme, is a fact more clearly attested than any other in the moral history of man. We have here parallel chains of evidence formed with extreme care, under the most different circumstances, and all pointing in the same direction; all of them forcing us to the conclusion, the offences of men are the result not so much of the vices of the individual offenders as of the state of society into which that individual offender is thrown. This is an inference resting on broad and tangible proofs accessible to all the world; and as such cannot be overturned, or even impeached, by any of these hypotheses with which metaphysicians and theologians have hitherto perplexed the study of past events. . . . Nor is it merely the crimes of men that are marked by this uniformity of sequence. Even the number of marriages annually contracted, is determined, not by the temper and wishes of individuals, but by large general facts, over which individuals can exercise no authority. It is now known that marriages bear a fixed and definite relation to the price of corn; and in England the experience of a century has proved that, instead of having any connection with personal feelings, they are simply regulated by the average earnings of the great mass of the people; so that this immense social and religious institution is not only swayed, but is completely controlled by the price of food and the rate of wages.”

But Mr. Buckle did not grasp the full significance of the facts he so clearly perceived. While recognizing the modifying influences of social conditions on the ratio of crime, he did not see that its entire volume depends wholly upon the bad, or unfavorable social conditions which are brought about by the operations of the law. He saw that the ratio of marriages depends upon the prosperity of the people; “the price of food, and the rate of wages; and these are probably the same conditions which he recognized as modifying crime. But whether he saw them or not, they are precisely those conditions which diminish or increase the aggregate amount of criminality, according as those conditions are favorable, or unfavorable. And if a small average increase in the general prosperity of the people will decrease crime a little, it is reasonable to expect a much greater increase to diminish it much more. Is there any rational stopping place short of the complete extinction of crime? I think not.

But even looking upon crime according to the old standards, as a moral delinquency, this uniformity in its commission, in any given state of society, proves the utter impotence of the law, or any repressive measures whatever, to lessen it. Punishment becomes the vindictive resentment of ignorant passion, which can have no other than a brutalizing effect both upon those who punish and those who are the object of the punishment. The heart of one is hardened against every kindly impulse of sympathy, and the resentment of the other confirms him in his hostility to society, which he thenceforth preys upon as his enemy. It proves more. Taken in connection with the fact that, the more prosperous a community the less criminal will be the individual members of that community, everything which tends to lessen that prosperity will have a direct and positive tendency to increase the crime; so that, the immense establishments for the administration of the law,—the paraphernalia of protection, just so far as they add to the burdens of the people in taxes for their support, reduce that prosperity, and directly increase the evils they claim to prevent. And further, if the several governments of this world are in possession of such complete information on the subject of crime, and the regularity of occurrence, as these extracts indicate, and yet they persist in the ordinary attempts at prevention, and methods of punishment, notwithstanding their possession of the most complete information that all such efforts are utterly useless and ineffective, we must conclude that their real object is not prevention, but simply to keep up the pretense, in order to furnish an excuse for their own existence,—to maintain the ostensible objects of government, the more effectually to carry out their real purpose, which is robbery.

I have assumed that crime, in its essence, is the spontaneous and possibly the unconscious but natural resistance of the criminal to the unjust restrictions of the law. But to assume a proposition is not to prove it. It is not enough to draw broad general conclusions from well established facts, without tracing the most intimate relationship between those facts and the conclusions. Let us see if there is such a close connection between the prevalence of crime, and the law, of which it is a violation, as to justify placing them in the relation of cause and effect.

Almost all offenses known to the law, and which are classed as criminal, are committed either against persons, or property; so that we may properly divide them into these two classes, for convenience of examination; those against persons, and those against property. And, inasmuch as most of those against persons grow out of offenses against property, and disputes about property, the later is much the largest and more important class. Accordingly I will consider that first. The reader must remember that in speaking of offenses against property, I mean those so-called “rights of property,” which are set up by the law. If we accept the law’s definition of crime, (and it is that kind of crime we are considering) we must also of property, in treating of crimes against property.

The first and most conspicuous of the immediate incentives to infringements upon the accepted rights of property is poverty. It is among the very poor that we expect to find the greatest amount of petty thieving. People who never stole before will steal to get bread. It is comparatively easy for the rich to be honest; but when a man is out of work, and out of bread, with loved ones cold, and naked, and hungry, temptation is a thousand times more tempting. And if that man is a good, kind, and affectionate husband and father, keenly sensitive to the sufferings of his loved ones, those very ennobling qualities become whips to goad him to the commission of crime to provide for their wants. Did it ever occur to those who so readily condemn others for what they call crime, that there was anything incongruous or inconsistent in a condition that makes a noble quality an incentive to an ignoble deed? If the so-called “rights of property” were founded in nature, it would require no violation of natural instincts to respect them.

Again, men find themselves in straightened circumstances, unable to meet their engagements, with the prospect of disaster staring them in the face, involving not only themselves but those they love most, and for whose happiness, it may be, they would sacrifice life itself. It is often the case that men. like this have spent the best part of their lives in building up a character and reputation of which any man might be proud. To such, the greater his reputation, the more honorable his record, the more sensitive his nature, the more acute will be the pain and ignominy of loss of fortune, and with it the loss of friends, and the distinction earned in a life of well doing. All these things are so many incentives to steal, cheat, defraud, embezzle, rob, murder, or whatever else stands between him and the preservation of his reputation. The greater the honor attained, the more bitter its loss, and the greater risks he will incur to maintain it. Again the noblest nd purest promptings are made those which most surely bring destruction.

But it will be objected, men commit these crimes who never had any reputation to lose. True I but they none the less love distinction, honor, pleasure and power; and they see that wealth, and wealth alone, brings these things, therefore, they infer, to get wealth by any means whatever, is the sure road to their attainment. This conclusion is strengthened by what they see of others. These noble promptings are still the force that impels them to commit what men call crime. To punish such a man for his crime, is to punish him for his noblest and loftiest impulses, and suppress the expression of them.

Even in the case of the confirmed criminal, who is said to have lost all sense of shame, and who persistently and systematically preys upon society like a wild beast; he had the same experience at first. He sought to obtain honor and wealth by the quickest and most direct methods. Men do these things by law, or in defiance of the law, and yet escape punishment. Is it to be expected that they ‘will always be particular to properly discriminate? The professional criminal is constituted exactly like other men. In his case the law has punished him, persecuted him, made war upon him; and even after the punishment, has sent its officers to spy upon, and inform against him. It has closed every avenue to his legitimate employment. It embittered him, confirmed and intensified his hostility until all hope of improvement is utterly destroyed. He is what he is because and only because of the law. Viewed in any light, punishment can never benefit the criminal. It is unnatural and arbitrary, L and always degrades and debases him. It makes him a covert, if not an open enemy. It comes too late to prevent the crime, because it has already been committed. But it adds to the commission of the second crime the motive of revenge, which was absent from the first. This is one reason why in all the annals of crime, and notwithstanding all the efforts of all the governments in the world to pre. vent it, it recurs with unvarying regularity.

It is said that there are houses in New York well known to the sanitary and police officers where malignant fevers never disappear, where murder has stained every wall of their gloomy stories, and vice riots from one year’s end to the other. Their inhabitants are the children of poverty and vice. They will break a bank, murder, sack the city; are ignorant and brutal. They are the roughs that sustain the ward politicians, frighten honest voters, repeat, and stuff ballot-boxes. They have full credit at the saloons and exert a powerful influence in politics. They realize in some vague and dim way that the rich have always had all the good things of this world while the evil has fallen to their lot. Here the criminal is, in a large measure, under the protection of politicians, frequently officers of the law who owe their places to their criminal acts, and he is thus encouraged to recoup himself against society knowing that those officers must protect him.—But there is another and stronger reason; and one that has not only been previously stated, but one which is so obvious, from what has already preceded in the foregoing chapters of this book, that the reader has doubtless anticipated it. The law itself being an unnatural and arbitrary restriction of the liberty of the people, violations of it are but the natural resistance engendered by the law. For instance, if force is applied to raise a column of water to a given height, the pressure of the water against that force, whatever form it may take, will exactly equal the force applied to raise it. And just in the same way, if laws are made, restricting the natural liberty of the people, the resistance to those laws will always exactly equal the force of the administration of the laws themselves. The greater the volume and stringency of the laws and their administration, the greater will be the criminality. And, on the other hand, the less the volume and stringency of the law, the less will be the crime. Why is crime in all the older and more stable governments exactly the same from year to year? Simply because the average burdens of the people remain about the same one year with another. If an average improvement in the harvests give a slight average improvement in general prosperity, so that bread is cheaper, and wages higher, there are more marriages, more happiness, less misery, less criminals. Then let taxes or rents be increased, sufficiently to absorb the surplus, and the improvement is lost; criminality goes back to what it was before.

The laws establishing and enforcing “rights of property” are a complete demonstration of the truth of this proposition. The one invariable condition of natural property is occupation, or possession. Under it no man could oppress another. Under it no man could have any object to steal from another. Under it every natural impulse of man would find scope for gratification. There would absolutely be no crimes against property. Property itself would very soon cease to be an individual possession, and become common; not by law, and not by any regulation, but by common consent, in order to avoid the labor and inconvenience of individual attention. The production of property would become, through improvements, an universal pastime; while the real business of life would be the development of individual character in all its varied manifestations. For a fuller treatment of property, see Chap. VI., Part II.

But, as I have already pointed out in the chapter on property,” already referred to, this condition, of occupation, or possession, is the first one that the law violates; and through that violation makes possible every abuse, every injustice, every slavery in this world. It makes men criminals by denying them the means for the natural gratification of their desires, and thus forcing them to resort to unnatural means. It invests property with unnatural powers, so that the possession of property carries with it those powers, which are wielded over those who have none. And finally, it builds up gigantic f or- tunes in the hands of men who did not earn them, while those who did, remain in abject poverty and want. There is not a single crime against poverty which cannot be traced directly to this primary wrong of the law, in violating the natural condition of property,—in making property in law, what it is not in nature.

While I have not mentioned directly more than a very small number of crimes against property, it is scarcely necessary to do so. I have indicated the way in which they stand to the law in the relation of cause and effect. To go over the whole list would be but a tiresome repetition, and unnecessarily enlarge this work. The principles laid down can be easily applied to all forms of crime against property, and to crimes against persons growing out of attacks upon property, and disputes about property.

Turn now to crimes against persons, and we shall find that they also spring from legal restrictions which are violations of natural liberty; and that in the absence of law very few, if any of them could ever occur, because there would almost never be a motive for their commission; but, on the other hand, every motive in the world against it.

A large proportion of the crimes against persons occur in the domestic relations of people. But even in these, most of them have their source in property troubles. Questions of the succession of estates, occasioning disputes which lead to violence, and even tragedies, could never occur if the possession of wealth did not carry with it a larger degree of gratification, and increased power, and influence. Again, the pressure of want embitters domestic relations, and is the exciting cause of quarrels, estrangements, desertions, etc., which often culminate in violence. And beyond the outbreak of violent acts, the brutality itself in which those quarrels have their ultimate source, is promoted by poverty. In fact, the course of human development through increase in knowledge, the gratification of desire, the refining influences of association under conditions of comfort and leisure, is arrested. So that the operation of the law, mainly in relation to property, is directly responsible for the conditions of brutality from which come all those crimes of violence, the repression and punishment of which forms so large a part of the ostensible functions of government.

But there are other crimes of violence which are not so directly the result of property troubles, and yet are just as directly traceable to the law as those we have just considered. The laws relating to marriage are founded upon the idea that each of the parties to the marriage owes to the other certain obligations, which it is the province of the law to enforce. The law, in all so-called civilized countries, and in all time, has been made by men; and as a matter of course, has been made in the interest of men, on the principle of the subjection of women; so that, while certain mutual obligations have been imposed, the bulk of the obligations are on the side of the women, and the benefits on that of the men. This is an illustration of the way in which the law always protects the weak against the strong? The real trouble arises from imposing obligations on either side. The marriage contract works just like every other contract; it offers a premium to fraud and deception in the first place, and then calls upon the law to enforce the fraud. Domestic tragedies and crimes of violence in domestic life almost wholly arise from efforts to enforce or resist those obligations, or to compel others to assume obligations and relations that are repugnant to them. Obligations, however imposed, and however enforced are based upon the control of some, by others; and are necessarily violations of natural liberty. The only thing that makes them injuriously effective is the law which puts a club into the hands of either party with which to worry and harass the other. Freedom in domestic relations is just as necessary as in anything else; and legal restrictions produce the same unhappiness, violence, and crime there that they do in other things. The only just relations are those that are mutually voluntary; and they can only be mutually voluntary as long as they are just, which is to say equal.

It is unnecessary to carry the examination of this class of offenses any further. The same principles will be found in full operation in every possible form in which crimes against persons may be found. In one way or another, or in many ways, the law acts directly to stimulate the perpetration of crime, and to prevent the growth of civilization, which would in time abolish crime.

There remains still another class of offenses which are denounced by the law as crimes, but which are neither offenses against persons, or against property, unless they may be regarded as offenses against the persons of their perpetrators, if a person can be said to commit a crime against himself. I speak of crimes against what is called “public morals,” whatever that may mean. Here we spend more than ever upon the law to designate what constitutes “public morals.” I have never been able to find any authoritative code of either public or private morals, even in the law. In one city, or in one state, the public morals seems to be one thing, while in another it is quite another thing; but in all, it depends wholly upon the law. For instance, in one place it is highly immoral for the public to gamble, work on Sunday, or to sell whisky; while in others any one may do all these things provided he submit to blackmail on the part of public officers openly in licenses, and taxes, or covertly in contributions to the prosecuting attorney, to campaign funds of political parties, or to the police authorities of the district. Another difficulty; I have never been able to see how the public could be either moral, or immoral, and therefore how there could be any such thing as “public morals.” This is one of the absurdities of the law; but I do not wish to be querulous. I will admit, for the time being, that there may be such a thing as “public morals;” and I will consider one class of offenses that is most generally regarded as a violation of public morals; that of prostitution.

Regarding prostitution as the law does, a crime, we have presented, in the most striking manner, the baneful effects of the law; and an instance of the way in which it promotes the very thing it condemns. While the statistics as to the causes which lead women to adopt the life of a prostitute are very meager, as well as unreliable, enough is known to justify the conclusion that in a vast majority of cases the cause is poverty. The conditions of life have been made so hard through the operations of the law, that vast numbers of people are kept just on the verge of starvation. They find themselves cut off from all hope of anything but a slavish existence of severest toil in poverty and rags; and they accept what appears a promise of more comfort, more enjoyments, and less toil. Sometimes this is the result of sudden misfortune, and at others of a long continued pressure of adverse circumstances; sometimes a disappointment in love where poverty prevented the natural consummation of the womanly instincts, and again it is resorted to secretly at first to eke out a scanty provision, and enable them to make a better appearance in the world, or enjoy greater comforts. Even where passion, or dissipation was the immediate cause, it will be found that in a considerable proportion of cases the dissipation was resorted to to drown sorrow, or disappointment; and, if passion, they were denied the natural and legitimate gratification of desire, and were thus driven to unnatural gratification. In all of them it will be found that somewhere the natural and proper instincts have been suppressed, and this is the inevitable revolt against the arbitrary limitations which hamper the free play of their activities. The law interferes in the relations of the sexes, forbids the gratification of natural desires except in certain prescribed ways, and, just as in all other things, it excites resistance exactly corresponding in amount to the force of the law itself.

What I am trying to make clear, and what I think has been abundantly shown, is, that all criminality in this world has its source in the law itself, and that in the absence of law there would be neither offenses against persons, or property, regarding property in the light of what nature made it.



There are four theories on which punishment for crime may be inflicted, not one of which will bear a moment’s scrutiny. The first is, that of restraint. But the crime has been committed. It is too late for restraint. The criminal can only be restrained from its repetition. But how long? An offense not capital only admits of a limited term of punishment, and consequently of limited restraint. After his release is he less liable to its commission than before? No, rather more. His self-respect has been destroyed, and there is less restraint than at first. Perhaps the immediate stimulus to its commission at first was temporary, and never likely to recur, which would render the restraint no more necessary than with others open to the same danger. Shall we arrest those others too for the offense they may commit?

Another theory is that of reform. But reform is from within. It is a growth. It is a development of self-respect, of individual character. But punishment is a destruction of self-respect, and of character. To punish a man is to degrade him. Reform can no more live in the atmosphere of punishment, than healthy physical life can exist in an atmosphere of sewer gas.

Another theory is that of example. If it is good, the more horrible the example the better it will be; which is an absurdity. Try it. Make petty thieving a capital offense. Draw and quarter men for slight causes. Apply the rack and thumb-screws. Make an example of them. The absurdity is apparent.

The last is vengeance; and it is the only consistent theory of punishment. But it is the theory of the barbarian.

“Wrong begets revenge; and revenge is but a new wrong. And hence it is necessary to look for some species of revenge which does not admit of any other relations—that is, the punishment inflicted by the state, or for a settlement of the controversy which obliges the parties to rest satisfied, viz: the decision of the Judge.”—William Von Humboldt.

This is probably the most favorable statement of the theory of punishment that the subject admits of; but at best, the revenge of the government is but the revenge of the bigger bully who administers his revenge without the mitigating circumstance of having a grievance. But this is, at bottom, the only theory on which all punishment of crime is founded. Men say, “The thief has offended against the law; let him pay the penalty.” “The robber has forfeited his liberty; confine him.” “The murderer has forfeited his life; kill him.” It is vengeance. But what shall be the measure of that vengeance—the degree of the punishment? There is no relation between crime and punishment,—no standard of delinquency. Such a thing is impossible until men are able to sit in judgment upon the motives, thoughts, and circumstances of other men. They profess to do it now, but it is the wolf sitting in judgment upon the necessities, motives, tastes, and circumstances of the lamb. Men are at heart exactly alike, but vary infinitely by reason of circumstances and conditions; so that no man can judge of the thoughts and needs of another. We formulate a scale of punishments, and then fit the offense to the punishment, instead of the punishment to the crime. We must do this if we punish at all, because no two crimes were ever exactly alike. Punishment is illogical, viewed in any light. Restraint is only effectual as long as it lasts. Reform is out of the question. Punishment can reform no man. The only value in the example is in an exhibition of the brutality of vengeance. And the man who is once made to feel the weight of vengeance is thenceforth an enemy, with all the motives, passions, and resentments of an enemy. He is incapable of reconciliation.

The “crime against criminals” is one of the blackest in the long list of crimes which have been perpetrated by governments in all human history. I see no way in which that crime can be lessened so long as the oppressions of the law are tolerated. Something might be done by jurors, when sitting in criminal cases, if they would refuse to convict regardless of the testimony offered, if the severe examinations as to qualifications did not exclude from the jury-box those intelligent enough and humane enough to apply this remedy. But even if this were practicable it could never give •any large measure of relief. It could only apply in individual cases. The only remedy is to destroy the law.

Much is said from time to time about “prison reform,” and reformatory penal institutions; and there are some men who pose as advocates of prison reform, attend prison reform conventions, and get their names into the papers as authority on the subject of reforming of criminals. One conspicuous case of this kind occurs to me now, where such a person was placed in charge of an institution in Pennsylvania, designed upon the most approved principles of prison reform. But his theories of prison reform did not work, and he was at his wit’s end, until at last he was compelled to resort to an improved paddle, and “spank” the refractory into submission. He had not advanced one step beyond the rack and thumb-screw, or any other instrument of torture. The utmost that any prison reform can do is to make successful hypocrites. The only way to reform the prison is to destroy the prison.

The fact is, that the punishment of one man by another, in any way or for any purpose, is directly opposed to nature, and can never result in good. This is proven over and over again by the increase of crimes where the severity of punishments has been increased, and the decrease where that severity has been lessened. Punishment becomes more efficient as it becomes milder. Keep on; it destroys itself.

“The great ameliorations in. our penal code, initiated by Romilly, has not been followed by increased criminality, but by decreased criminality.—Herbert Spencer.

Thus, the law being itself a violation of nature, its enforcement by penalties is but a continuation of that violation; and can never become anything else but mischievous and unnecessary.

Von Humboldt says:

“If it were possible to make an accurate calculation of the evils which police regulations occasion, and those which they prevent, the number of the former would, in all cases, exceed that of the later.”

As a comparison of the expense and efficiency of two methods of treatment of criminals, one that of repression, punishment, and degradation, the method of the law, and the other a comparative degree of liberty, let us contrast the police method with that adopted by the Children’s Aid Society, of New York, already referred to.

It is useless to itemize the expenses of the first. Any one can do that for himself, and to his own liking. Take into account the losses by way of depredations of criminals, the expenses of their capture, detention, trial, and punishment, with almost the certainty that they will renew their depredations as soon as released, and with the added incentive of hostility to society for the punishment undergone, and the sum total must be large, and the results meager, whatever the basis of computation.

According to the reports of the Children’s Aid Society, the children taken from the slums of New York, directly from the ranks of the criminals, with long lines of criminal ancestry behind them, all their associations criminal, and with no hope of anything better before them, were removed to homes in the country where they were adopted, reared and educated under conditions of respectability, and between 98 and 99 per cent of them became honest, industrious, and respected citizens. The average cost in each case only amounted to a small fraction over $15.

I do not infer from this that people should go into the business of removing children, or criminals to the country at $15 a head, or any other sum. But this does show beyond a possibility of cavil, that what the poor need, and what criminals need, and in fact, what all men need, is liberty; liberty to produce freely, and to have what they produce without being robbed by government, or by the creatures and favorites of government. Such a liberty is just as possible in the city as in the country; and when it is realized, not 98 per cent, but 100 per cent will become prosperous, happy, and honored citizens.

But the utter viciousness of the criminal administration of the law does not stop with the ordinary criminal procedure. The detectives and the police are actively and purposely engaged in making criminals, either for rewards offered by those interested, or to obtain credit for efficiency. Men are trapped into the commission of crime, —purposely lured into it, so that at a critical time they may be arrested and exposed. A case was recently reported where a Chicago policeman was offered $500, if he would induce a previously respected citizen to commit a burglary, and then nab him in the very act. The report was that he earned and received his reward.

And yet, this does not sound the depths of infamy to which those who profess to administer the law carry their oppressions and abuses. In every considerable city in this country, and from time immemorial, the police courts, and the police, have practiced a regular system of blackmail upon those unfortunate women who have been driven to prostitution as a means of subsistence. When threats of arrest and imprisonment have not brought contributions liberal enough to satisfy the guardians of the law, they have made the arrests, and the magistrates have imposed fines or imprisonment. Over, and over again this has gone on from year to year, with never a protest except occasionally from a newspaper which desired to make a sensation whenever it ran short of other news. These facts are so well known that it is only necessary to refer to them. They are of common notoriety. A case occurred recently in Chicago which is a complete illustration of these abominable methods. A police raid was planned and executed upon some of the vilest haunts in the city. One hundred and fourteen; arrests were made, and every one of them were immediately released on giving bonds for their appearance; which means that there were one hundred and fourteen different fees for the professional bailor, and a like number, of one dollar each, for the justice (!) who signed the bonds. The Captain of Police may have “stood in” with the bailor and justice; or, he may have taught the “disreputables” to give up more freely in future whenever he should call upon them for contributions. In any case no one believes that men like that do jobs of that kind for nothing. At last, when the newspapers undertook to trace the responsibility, the department disowned all knowledge of the affair, and finally disapproved it. But did it repair the wrong done? Did the justice restore the extortions wrung from the miseries of the poor and unfortunate under threat of imprisonment? Did he compel the professional bailor to restore his share of the plunder? Not a bit of it.

The following is taken from a recent report submitted to the various labor organizations of Chicago, by a joint committee, including one from the Illinois Woman’s Alliance.

We respectfully submit the following synopsis of the recent work of the alliance, as reported at its last meeting: One year ago the Illinois Woman’s Alliance began investigating the administration of justice in the police courts of the city as it affects women and children. The investigation revealed the fact that the word justice in connection with our police courts is a misnomer, for so far as their effects upon the helpless women and children are concerned the word injustice more properly applies; that these courts in connection with the police courts have for years been operated under a system by which the most wretched and helpless class in society (the female prostitutes) have been regularly blackmailed, the money obtained thereby forming such an important and unfailing addition to the wages of the police and fees of the “justices” as to encourage the most outrageous violations of the law and public decency. Liberty to walk the streets has been made dependent on the ability and willingness of the poor victims to pay the police officer his levy. Failure in this results in their being “run in.” . . . Investigation proves that not alone are the rights of these creatures violated by these representatives of the law, but the rights of the wife, daughter, and sister of spotless reputation, have been arrested on the principal streets of this town at mid-day, without process of law, by officers both in uniform and in citizen’s dress, and subjected to indignities for which no redress has been had.

Procuresses have been known to ply their nefarious business in our very justice courts, and under the eyes of the officers of the law, to whom they are known. Under the baleful influences that have controlled police stations the women matrons appointed to guard the females arrested have been necessarily of a type in keeping with the prevailing conditions. Efforts to remove especially brutal police officers and objectionable matrons have been until this time unavailing, these individuals being retained by influences coming not alone from the disreputable elements of the community, but from sources from which the public has been educated to expect naught but the purest moral force. . . . The investigation has proved to the satisfaction of the alliance that inability to find employment at living wages is largely the cause of prostitution; and we here emphasize the fact too little known that the dependent condition of women and girls makes them the easy victims of lecherous employers, managers and foremen, who, under the intimidating power of discharge in case of refusal, and additional pay and favor as reward for submission, debauch the wives, daughters and sisters of the workingmen of this city to an extent but little dreamed of by those who have not had their attention called to this phase of the social and economical relations of employers.

If a poor man is drunk, he is ‘run in” to the station. If it is a rich one, he is taken home in a cab. If the poor are found with dynamite in their possession, they are railroaded into the penitentiary, if perjured evidence will do it. But if a rich distiller tries to blow up a rival in business he is not even tried. If a poor man steal food to ward off starvation he is branded as a felon. But if a wealthy one steals millions he is adjudged insane by a convenient and facile judge. If a strike of workingmen is to be put down, or a workingman’s meeting broken up, the action of the police is prompt and energetic. It deals its blow first and investigates afterward. But if it is desired to break up a gambling lay out of sporting men, it must proceed with great deliberation. It takes weeks or months to get down to business with a thing of that kind. It can pay contributions. If workingmen conspire to boycott a railroad, in order to make effective a strike, the law is strained in every possible way to convict them of conspiracy, and send them to the penitentiary. But if the directors of a great railroad fail to provide proper appliances, or take proper precautions for the safety of passengers, and people are killed and mangled, those directors may possibly be mentioned in a respectful manner in the verdict of the coroner’s jury. It is barely possible that they may be indicted, and held to bail. Such a thing has been known. But it was treated by those directors, and others, as a roaring farce. And well they might! The criminal law never was meant for them at all. It is intended to protect them, and prevent interference with their privileges. Of course, the prosecution never went any further.

I have here called attention to a few recent cases, not that they are at all singular; in fact, they are typical of the whole administration of the law. I have done so, not to arouse prejudice against the rich, but to illustrate a fact, that the law is intended to operate, and does always operate, to the advantage of the rich, in the exercise of its criminal functions, precisely as it does in its civil functions. The law is never for the benefit of the poor. It was never intended to be. It is for the rich; and the richer the man, or the corporation, the more immunity he, or it, receives from the law. Whatever resentment is entertained should be directed against the law. That is the culprit, and not the rich.

It is impossible and unnecessary to go into the vast multitude of abuses growing out of, and always attending, the penal administration of the law; the wanton degradations attending arrests before conviction, and in many cases where parties are wholly innocent, the mistaken, and willfully false convictions procured by perjury, oppressive and disproportionate punishments, the over-crowding of prisons, the brutality of keepers, the open scandals in prison management, etc. They are well known and notorious. They are made possible by the false ideas generally accepted as to the nature of crime. When we understand that these same criminals are our brothers, our sisters, possibly our children, and might have been ourselves under slightly different circumstances not due to any quality, or volition of our own, but to the oppressions which we ourselves are upholding in the law, we shall have taken the first step toward banishing criminality from the world. Let us understand that all the disorders which afflict men have their origin, not in the absence of law—not in the freedom from restriction, but in the law itself, and the problem of banishing evil from the world will be near its solution.

“Men, in looking upon crime, look upon it as the law looks upon it. They have accepted the ideas of the law. They worship the law. Whom the law smites they smite. Horrible! Distinguish between what man writes and what nature writes, between law and the right.”—Victor Hugo.



Another institution that is held up for the admiration of the world, as an instance of the beneficent effects which can be obtained by government, is the common schools. I will examine them also, and see what virtue they possess; and if they furnish any just grounds for maintaining an institution so essentially evil in its nature and tendencies, as we have found government to be.

The excuse used to justify the usurpation by the state of the functions of the schoolmaster is, curiously enough, the same as that for the detection and punishment of criminals. In fact, the schools are made auxiliary to the police function of government, on the ground that to educate men is to make them better citizens; and reduce the average amount of criminality. It is claimed that in this way the public security is promoted, which we have seen, is the ostensible function of government, it is because of this supposed increase of public security that men are taxed to support the schools notwithstanding they may have no children to attend the schools.

But does education reduce the rate of criminality? As a matter of fact, it does not. On the other hand it has a direct tendency to increase it. To educate a man,—that is, to increase his knowledge, is to increase his wants. Unless his ability to satisfy those wants is increased, to correspond with that increase in needs, a tension is produced under the pressure of which crime is committed. In any case, it cannot decrease that pressure because the ability to satisfy want cannot increase beyond the want. The first step in individual progress is an increase in knowledge. Previous to that, the want cannot exist; for, manifestly, a man cannot want a thing of which he has no knowledge. But give him a knowledge of it, so that he formulates the want, and unless he also has the ability to obtain it legitimately, he may steal it. Therefore, education can never reduce criminality; but, so far as it has any influence at all on the ratio of crime, it is to increase it by increasing the disparity between want and gratification. Increase in want, through an increase in knowledge, always carries with it increased ability to satisfy want unless something else interferes; and the only thing that does, or can interfere, is the will of other men exerted through the law in some form. Where the resources of nature are monopolized by law, to educate men without at the same time increasing their freedom; that is, relaxing the law,—decreasing the power of monopoly, is to inevitably increase crime.

Such an increase in crime has been going or steadily in this country, at least, during the last one hundred years. This increase, in proportion to population, is so marked a feature of the moral history of the country that no one at all observant will question it. Its confirmation will be found in every table of statistics of crime and population published since the establishment of this government.

There are two causes which have contributed to this effect. One is the general increase in knowledge; and the other is, the increase in the restrictions of the law; so that, instead of the law relaxing its severity to permit of more freedom as knowledge has been increased, it has tightened its hold, and thus increased the tension from both sides. Of course, this has increased the ratio of criminality. This increased tension is shown in the increased pressure of hard times, decrease in wages, increase in rents and prices, and lessened opportunities for employment and business. That a change must come soon admits of no doubt. Knowledge cannot always continue to increase on one side, and repression to do the same thing on the other. The only question is, how long before we reach the breaking point?

But this is a digression. We started out to find what influence the state has upon human progress through its promotion of the common schools. We have seen that its claim, on which it founds its right to meddle in public education, is fallacious,— that it does not and cannot reduce crime.

What influence then does it have? In answer, I will refer again to the work of Baron Wilhelm Von Humboldt. “The Sphere and Duties of Government,” from which I have made frequent quotations, and which has been of the most valuable assistance to me in my whole inquiry.

Speaking of schools under the control of the state, he says:

“A spirit of governing predominates in every institution of this kind; and however wise and salutary such a spirit may be, it invariably superinduces national uniformity, and a constrained and unnatural manner of action. . . . In proportion as state co-operation increases in extent and efficiency, a common resemblance diffuses itself, not only through all the agents to which it is applied, but through all the results of their activities.”

Again: “State measures always imply more or less positive control; and even where they are not chargeable with actual coercion, they accustom men to look for instruction, guidance and assistance from without, rather than to rely upon their own expedients. , A general state education is a mere contrivance for moulding people to be exactly like one another; and as the mould in which it casts them is that which pleases the predominant power in the government, in proportion as it is efficient and successful, it establishes a despotism of the mind, leading by natural tendency to one over the body.”

And as to conditions of freedom from state interference in other matters, as well as in education, he says:

“Among men who are really free, every form of industry becomes more rapidly improved,—all the arts flourish more gracefully,—all sciences become more largely enriched and expanded. In such a community, too, domestic bonds become closer and sweeter; the parents are more eagerly devoted to the care of their children, and, in a higher state of welfare, are better able to follow out their designs with regard to them. Among such men emulation naturally arises, and tutors better befit themselves, when their fortunes depend upon their own efforts, than when their chances of promotion rest on what they are led to expect from the state. There would, therefore, be no want of careful family training, nor of those common educational establishments which are so useful and indispensable.”

Summing up his conclusions respecting state schools, he again says:

“All such institutions, I maintain, are positively hurtful in their consequences, and wholly irreconcilable with a true system of polity.”

The one universal purpose of human life;—the grand leading principle toward which every advance in human civilization directly converges, is the absolute and essential importance of human development in its richest diversity. State schools must always promote a definite form of development, so far as they do not actually repress the acquirement of real knowledge, notwithstanding the greatest precautions. Even where they seek to encourage the spontaneous development of the faculties, they must prove impracticable, because, wherever there is an uniformity of organization, there is certain to be an uniformity of result. Every institution which acts to thwart individual development, and mould men into common types, directly counteracts the current of civilization.

But it is not only in the tendency to repress the expression of individual character and development, that our common school system is bad. It will probably be found that the whole theory of crowding into the first twenty years of a child’s life, while mind and body are both in a state of immaturity, the acquirement of a knowledge of the facts and theories, which are to form the basis of a life’s work, and which people are pleased to call education, is to dwarf its development, and prevent its obtaining a real and practical education. To cram the mind with a knowledge of facts without the exercise of thought in the comparison and arrangement of those facts, so as to reach an understanding of their significance, is like overcrowding the stomach with food which it cannot digest. But thought only comes with maturer years. The child does not think beyond the quick comparison of objects immediately present to its senses, or nearly so. Imagination, which is an important element in thought, only becomes possible in a methodical way, after it has been tempered by observation. In early youth the imagination runs riot: and a child can no more exercise prolonged and connected thought than a new-born babe can digest pickles. In this immature state, when every muscle and fiber of the body calls for the intensest activity, and the mind is chiefly employed in taking observations,—correcting and tempering the imagination, to prescribe a given number of facts and rules daily, which the child must memorize, and be able to repeat, is to produce a mental dyspetic, incapable in after life of thinking to any considerable purpose. It matters little whether the amount of drill applied in the school is sufficient to impress a clear understanding of those facts and rules upon the child’s mind or not. They are received before the mind is ready for them, and consequently require too great an effort to master them, an effort so great as to cripple the power of future mental action. To attempt to train a child in the essential affairs of life in the common school is like trying to teach him to swim without going near the water. He may with sufficient effort be taught the rules of swimming; but he cannot swim. A carpenter cannot learn his trade by storing his chest with fine tools, and learning to repeat the names and describe the uses of those tools. He must use them.

A child if left to itself, will seek the knowledge it wants, and will not require any severe mental process to master it. It will develop its own individuality and not another’s. It will become capable of strong, vigorous, and independent thought, a thing impossible under any system imposed from without.

But carry our examination closer to the administration of the schools themselves, and what have we? I speak from personal observation. Generally the local school boards in country districts have for their leading member the richest man in the district, regardless of his qualifications, with one or more, according to the number of members, whose action he can control. It is often the case that he has no children to send to the school; but as the school tax is the principal direct tax he has to pay, it is highly important to control its assessment and expenditure. And almost invariably he does control a majority of the board. The question of salary has more to do with who teaches the school, than the question of efficiency. And the salary is likely to be exceeding meager, unless it goes to some relative, or favorite of the leading member of the board. The same thing holds in the purchase of appliances for the use of the school, and in the care of the school property. Economy in expenditure is carried to a degree scarcely consistent with the efficiency of the schools.

I am not finding fault with this state of affairs. I only point out that it exists, and to an extent that, if efficiency were really a desirable quality, it must be a minus quantity. But I am inclined to think that they are desirable, just in proportion as they lack in efficiency.

In large cities like Chicago the members of the school board are appointed. Perhaps it i too important an office to risk to a general election by the people of the district. Some of the districts might elect troublesome men. The rich still control the composition of the board just as effectually as in the country, and through that, the expenditures, and the levying the taxes to pay them.

There is no doubt that in point of efficiency, regarding efficiency to mean success in mental cram, the city schools are far in advance of those in the country; but even they are not above criticism. There have recently been published the most sensational reports of extreme inefficiency, mismanagement, neglect, and paucity of results in certain model schools in Chicago. Those reports have been strenuously denied. I have no desire to do injustice to any by giving currency to them. It is even of no consequence whether they are true or not. The real question is, are they possible under the system as it is, or any system that can be adopted? I must answer, yes.

Under any system of officialism possible, favoritism, corruption, and mismanagement are not only possible, but probable. In fact, it is impossible for any considerable time to avoid it. I have before me a paper openly charging the Chicago school board with collusion with a school book trust, by which notoriously bad text books are forced upon the people, in opposition to the united protest of the principals of the high schools; and that the principals were forced to withdraw their protests under penalty of losing their positions. That paper was published nearly three months ago; and yet, I have not even heard a denial. Again I say, these reports may not be true; and for our purpose, it is of no consequence whether they are true or not. The essential thing is that they may be true.

A former member of the Chicago School Board, and a man of undoubted integrity, and high standing in the community assured me in a recent conversation, that “if the real history of that Board could be written the speculations of Boss Tweed would smell as sweet as the attar of roses, by the side of its corruption.”

There is one real, practical advantage that comes from the public schools, and only one, that I can find. They do inculcate patriotism. They teach children to be patriotic. And in a sense that pro. motes security. Patriotism is supposed to be, love of country. But love of country is made to be, love of the rulers of the country; so that patriotism as taught in the schools, means respect, veneration, and submission to those in authority: the office holders. This is varied by a worshipful respect for past rulers who are held up for their veneration, no matter how scandalously corrupt may have been their administrations; or how brutal may have been their personal characteristics. A sentiment of this kind generally prevailing in society undoubtedly promotes the security of the tenure of office of the office holders, and through them of monopoly which it is their office to protect. That is the only kind of security, that I can find, that is protected by the public schools.

Thus we have reached the same conclusion with regard to the public schools as we have in the consideration of all the other functions of government: that is, that the action of government here, as in everything else, is not only unnecessary, but injurious. Whatever government would make, it mars; whatever it would preserve, it destroys; whatever it would save, it kills.

We have covered the field. If there are any important functions of government that have not been considered, it is because they have been overlooked. But they could not change the result. That result has been too uniform, and unvarying, to admit of any material modification, by minor details not involving general principles. We are forced to the conclusion that under any and all circumstances and for all purposes, the control of some men by other men is evil, and only evil.



In most cases our inquiry would stop here. Having examined the whole field of the law, and finding it, in all cases, and under all circumstances, operating to the disadvantage of the mass of the people, plundering the poor and industrious, promoting and producing the very evils it would ostensibly ward off, and setting up and maintaining a class of rich and idle ones in the enjoyment of special privileges, this ought to be sufficient to condemn it. But it is not. People have so long been taught to fall down and worship the fetish of the law, and ascribe to it all the benefits they enjoy, that whoever attacks it must destroy its last citadel of strength before men will realize that their fetish is only a fetish, and instead of protecting them, it offers a convenient means of enabling others to prey upon them.

We will now take a look at the way laws are made, and see if there is anything in it that would throw any degree of sanctity around legal enactments.

Quickly passing over the schemes, intrigues, false pretenses, corrupt bargains, and trickery, if not actual fraud, which are a natural and necessary part of politics by which legislators are chosen; taking note of the character of the men who are chosen: men generally ignorant of all save how to flatter and cajole the ignorant, while giving no cause of alarm to the rich, we will come at once to the process of law making. Bagehot says: “The cure for admir. ing the English House of Lords is to go and look at it;” and I apprehend that the cure for respecting the law is to go and see the making of it.

There are two sources from which the first suggestion of a law can come: one is from some person, class, or interest which sees, or thinks it sees, an advantage to itself which would come from its passage. Naturally, that person, or those persons do not go about proclaiming the advantage they expect to reap. That is kept in the back-ground; and every effort is made to hide it. Specious arguments are put forward to make it appear of public importance. Press and pulpit are enlisted, and all the agencies by which public sentiment is made. This is the course adopted where the circumstances admit of it: such as the building of a great public improvement, the holding of a world’s fair, or the levying of some new tax. It is only after the improvement has been begun, as in the case of the Chicago drainage canal, that the public finds that those who are benefited are the officers and contractors, and the syndicate which obtained options on the land along the route. The people must foot the bills by way of taxation, and then if they get any benefit from it, they must pay over again in rents to the landlords, or higher price for the land. If a world’s fair is wanted, that too is boomed as a great public benefit. The public is wheedled, cajoled, and bullied into its support; workingmen are almost coerced into subscribing for the stock; and taxes are voted in lavish profusion. Then what a delightful time all this supplies to an almost endless horde of very high-priced officials, in banquets, entertainments, excursions, foreign missions, honors, titles, and expenses, to the tune of a million dollars a month, for all of which the people must pay in taxes; and then, if that public wants to get any benefit from the fair,—wishes even to take a look at it, it must pay over again at the gate. The poor are made to believe that such a fair will be a great advantage to them; and then, when it brings a horde of workmen from other cities to keep wages down to starvation rates, and squeezes up their rents until general public distress ensues, the only answer monopoly or the law gives to their complaint is to increase the police force, again at their expense, to suppress any expression of discontent.

Where the legislation sought is the granting of a franchise of such a character as will not bear too close a scrutiny, more covert methods are adopted. It may not even be discussed publicly at all. It is then suggested privately to some member, and inducements offered, which neither party is anxious to parade before the public, such as granting of franchises by the Chicago City Council.

The second source from which suggestions of laws may come is from ignorant but well meaning people, who see evils in society, and who think they see how those evil s are to be corrected. Naturally self-asserting, and thirsting for distinction, they busy themselves with the affairs of others, assuming that it is their province to make men over again after such improved patterns as they are able to furnish. These pestiferous meddlers serve monopoly almost as usefully as its direct tools, because they keep the public busied with their schemes and speculations, and thus divert them from their own miseries, and the cause of them. To such, monopoly always contributes a certain degree of honor, flattery, and cash. Liberal subscriptions can always be depended upon to promote agitations like that of temperance, and prohibition, or any form of religious propaganda; anything to keep the people amused and interested.

Now, with ignorant legislators, schooled mostly in the arts of practical politics, their very positions being a certificate of proficiency in those arts, and with interested schemers, or ignorant meddlers as prompters, what may people expect? Just what they get: laws made in the interest of special classes, or impertinent interference in private affairs, and all gross violations of the freedom of the people. In matters affecting party politics a few party leaders govern, who take their inspiration from the great interests which stand behind them. Those interests govern the leaders, the leaders govern the party, and the party governs the people. The legislature bows to the same power. It merely registers its edicts. Were it not so, did each member of a legislative body undertake to bring to the performance of his duties, to the making of the laws, his own best individual judgment, the diversity of thought and sentiment which would be developed would be such that no agreement could be reached, and no progress whatever could be made. At the very best, popular governments must represent purely mediocrity, or selfish greed. The average must be low. Unlike a monarchy it will be free from the occasional supremacy of a driveling idiot; but it will always bow to the sway of active and capable private interests. And this is just as true in municipal management and legislation, as in state and national affairs. To what depths of rascality, what brazen effrontery in open corruption, what scandals in the passage of laws, and other scandals which never reach the public, such a legislature, constituted as all legislative bodies must be constituted, is capable of, let the possibilities of the combination suggest. The acme of shame is reached when one of the members or a lobbyist, goes into court and sues other members for his share of corruption funds collected for their common benefit, as was reported to nave been done in one state recently.

And yet, people accord the action of such bodies a degree of respect which surpasses belief. They even visit upon those who refuse obedience to their dictates the vengeance of the law, degrade- them, stigmatize them as criminals, outlaw them, and make them infamous. Government, or law, is said to be founded upon the consent of the governed; but the passage of a law, like the contracting of a public debt, is justly binding only upon those who consent to it. And even if all were to consent, it could not bind the next child born. There is absolutely no way in which a law can be enacted, just as there is no way in which a public debt can be contracted, which is binding upon the people, in justice. Nor is it necessary. In most of the essential affairs of life men do govern themselves. If government is necessary in some things, why not in all? And if in some, and not in all, where draw the line?

Yet they say, “it is better to obey a bad law while it remains a law, than to violate it,” which I deny. Obedience means submission, which is contrary to the spirit of liberty. Monopoly will always teach submission, depending upon its well known resources to prevent repeal. The oftener a law is violated the sooner it will be repealed or ignored.

To understand how impotent law is to remove evils, or correct abuses, we must consider, not only the manner in which legislators are chosen, and the influences to which they are exposed, but the further fact, that it is always impossible to know what will be the ultimate effect of any law which can be passed. The legislator has to deal with infinitely diverse materials of whose nature he can know nothing. In chemistry we may mix two cold liquids, and they become boiling hot; two clear ones may produce on opaque mud. Water in sulphurous acid freezes even on a hot plate. So among men, results are obtained by law which were impossible to foresee. This has been especially pointed out by Herbert Spencer, who says: “There is no truth more obvious than that generation after generation must pass before the outcome of an action that has been set up can be seen.” Seemingly little things are far reaching in their results, and require a long lapse of time to observe their effects.

Sometimes however, the effect comes sooner than expected, and in a way least looked for. In Texas the farmers hoped to remedy some of their troubles by law, and secured the passage of an alien land- law. The effect was as prompt as fire applied to a powder-mill. They received notice that from $50,000,000 to $75,000,000, of foreign capital invested in Texas would be withdrawn, which would render it difficult for farmers to renew their mortgages, and would bring financial disaster upon the state. The revulsion in sentiment was quick. Those who had been foremost in demanding the “reform” were the ones most anxious to be rid of it, after they had obtained it.

The English poor laws, originally passed to discourage idleness, and prevent mendicancy, and also to meet the case of beggars too feeble to serve, is another instance where the law has produced exactly contrary effects from those intended. The people in the districts where the indigent were found were made responsible for them. Afterward the law was slightly modified to meet the cases of increasing vagrancy which the law, although establishing the severest penalties, was powerless to suppress. So severe was the law that even death, without benefit of clergy, was enacted against the vagrants. But it is reported that now, after 250 years, the law has come to be the most potent means of encouraging idleness. “The poor fund is regarded as an inexhaustible one belonging to the indigent.” The recipients bully and intimidate the officers; the women show their bastards, for which they get a pension of 1s. 6d. a week each, while honest girls starve.

In France, about the middle of the present century it was discovered that the tax of about eight cents a quart on wine had reduced the consumption of wine more than one third. As a result the wine dealers were overstocked with wine which they could not sell. One of the principal industries in France was prostrated, and produced wide spread hard times. About the same time it was found that the duties laid upon the importation of cattle had decreased the consumption of meat by the people in about the same ratio as the diminished consumption of wine, with the effect that the French workmen did less work than the English, because they were not as well fed.

But we do not have to go so far away from home to see tile baneful effects of the law. Laws which were ostensibly enacted to protect the interest of our own shipping, have completely destroyed it: have driven American ships from the seas. Laws have also been enacted for the protection of manufactures; and the same thing is taking place there. However, in this case, there are other influences which operate to sustain it, and counteract this tendency: that is, the improvements in methods of production. Invention is progressing at a rapid rate; and the production of wealth generally is therefore able to withstand a greater strain of taxation than would otherwise be the case. But for people who are being devoured by the law, to clamor for more law, is like a drowning man crying “fire!”

Go where we will, it: this country or any other, under any form of government that may exist, whatever reforms have been adopted have been either in the actual repeal of law, in concession to pressure from without, or in the violent destruction of law by revolution. It has never been by positive enactment other than by repeal. Revolutions sometimes destroy one form of government, but either through the desire of leaders to govern on their own account, or through the ignorance of the people of the true principles of liberty, they have set up others in place of those destroyed, which in time became as bad as the first. But enacted reforms have always been through repeal, and always as a concession to pressure from without.

That no hope is to be expected of the amelioration of present conditions, by the action of legislators in the adoption of reforms, may be inferred, first, from the ignorance and training of the men who make the laws; second, from the influences they are under, and to which they owe their places, and third, from this historic fact, that no reforms are ever brought about in that way.

Henry Thomas Buckle says: “No great political improvement, no great reform, either legislative or executive, has ever been originated in any country by its rulers. The first suggesters of such steps have invariably been bold and able thinkers, who discern the abuse, denounce it, and point out how it may be remedied. But long after this is done, even the most enlightened governments continue to uphold the abuse, and reject the remedy. At length, if circumstances are favorable, the pressure from without becomes so strong, that the government is obliged to give way; and, the reform being accomplished, the people are expected to admire the wisdom of their rulers by whom all this has been done.”

Again, “The most valuable additions made to legislation have been enactments destructive of previous legislation; and the best laws which have been passed, have been those by which some former laws were repealed. . . . . . But, it is absurd, it would be mockery of all sound reasoning, to ascribe to legislation any share in the progress; or to expect any benefit from future legislators, except that sort of benefit which consists in undoing the work of their predecessors.”



We are now prepared to sum up the results of our inquiry. We have made an exhaustive examination of the character and functions of government, covering the nature of its corporate organization, and actual workings. We have found that all governments are precisely alike in all essential particulars; that popular governments are a total failure so far as the people’ s exercising any real power and authority in legislation, or their ability to correct abuses or secure justice; that all governments are but the development of the ancient robbers and pirates who, in more barbarous ages, plundered the peaceful; that they have not changed one iota of their real character, although their methods have undergone steady changes to meet the changes in human society; and that the poverty of the poor, the vast wealth of the rich, the vice, the crime, the ignorance, and the brutality which still exist among men, notwithstanding the progress in the arts, sciences, general knowledge, and facility of production of wealth, all come from the law, as certainly as a stream flows from its fountain. We find human society built upon human subjection, in degrees like the markings upon a thermometer, all set up and maintained by the law. Instead of society being the free, natural and voluntary, association of equals, it is made by the law the association of master and slave. Instead of a garden of infinite variety of plants and flowers, where the rose, while maintaining all its distinction of fragrance and beauty, can claim no superiority over the lily; where each vies with the other in offering the utmost wealth of his own personal character and attainments for the admiration of all others, it is made a wilderness of human passion, greed, and avarice in which honor, love, and sympathy are choked and obliterated.

We have found also, that the real functions of government are radically different from its ostensible one; but that the ostensible one is never realized,—that the state does not promote the security of the people at home or aboard; that it is a constant source of embroilment, exciting and inciting wars, invasions, and desolations, destroying and preventing civilization, instead of promoting it; and that it is not even necessary as a means of defense against invasions. The ambitions, jealousies and intrigues of politicians, statesmen, governments, and rival monopolies produce wars, and wars give excuse for increased taxes, offices, and public burdens. Man is not the enemy of man, and only becomes such through the meddling of governments. All his hopes and all his interests are in peace. The distrust of other men is preceded by ignorance of other men, and develops into hatred, thence into war against them. Rulers set up barriers to intercourse, keep men ignorant of their neighbors, excite distrust, provoke hatreds, and foment strife and war. A cause of war is inconceivable between free peoples. The history of governments, the history of law and politics, has been a record of wars abroad and intrigues at home, and of constant interference with the rights of other communities, and encroachments upon the rights of their own. Instead of giving security they have always laid the world in blood and ashes. By reason of them the trail of blood is across every page of human history.

Regarding the history of its civil administration we have found it, first, under the pretense of protecting the possession of property violating the natural conditions of property, by setting up artificial rights of property, and then. riveting the chains of industrial slavery upon the people through land grants and laws relating to land tenure, through special privileges to favorites, franchises, joint stock companies, and bonded indebtednesses, until a few men without labor are able to absorb vast fortunes from the unrequited toil of those who do labor; and then we find it bringing the whole force of the law and the machinery of government to enforce the claims of these monopolies, and protect the rich in their ill-gotten possessions.

We have found that even in the exercise of those functions which have most to do with the public at large, such as the carrying of the mails, the management of railroads, and telegraphs, the law inevitably works to the advantage of the rich, and that its administration involves the same corruption, the same inefficiency, and the same wastefulness as manifest themselves in every other department of government. We have seen that an extension of the functions of government in this direction to include the ownership and management of the various means of communication would be but to transfer to the large monopoly those functions now performed by several small ones; that it would not in any respect free them; but that it would give opportunity for an enormous increase in the bondage of debt and taxation.

Coming to the consideration of crime, the prevention, detection, and punishment of which forms so large a part of the ostensible functions of government, we found that its prevalence depends upon the degree of prosperity or adversity of the people; and that inasmuch as the expenses of maintaining the machinery of government imposes burdens upon the people which reduce the degree of prosperity, they directly increase the volume of crime. We found more: we found that governments in all civilized countries are in possession of the most abundant and conclusive evidence that all their efforts in this direction are utterly useless; and that crime continues to be committed with unvarying regularity notwithstanding all their efforts to suppress it; and yet they continue to amuse the people with pretended attempts to suppress or punish crime, knowing full well that is useless.

So far there is no room for a difference of opinion. The proof is conclusive beyond all possibility of question or cavil. But the facts all point to still more startling conclusions, conclusions which will be slow at first of general acceptance, but which rest upon all the facts of the nature of man, the principles which govern his actions, and all that is known of the laws of nature. In time it must come to be recognized that criminals are exactly like other men, and that their crimes are only the natural and justifiable resistance induced by the repressions of the law against their natural liberty. The crime is only the pressure of resistance against the pressure of unjustifiable force; so that an increase in the force of the law must always increase exactly by so much that resistance, or crime. And, on the contrary, a decrease, even to extinction, of the force of the law must decrease, even to extinction, the resistance, or crime.

Proceeding then to the treatment of crime, we have found that all attempts at punishment are merely the exercise of brutal vengeance, and must continue to be, so long as punishment is attempted at all. When human knowledge has become extended and expanded as it is destined to be extended and expanded, it will be found that there are no bad men or women no bad plants or herbs, and no bad lands: that all things in nature are good; and that our condemnations only express our own ignorance of their uses an adaptabilities.

Public education also, as practiced in the public schools, we found to be false in theory and pernicious in practice; suppressing individuality, super-inducing uniformity, in cultivating a spirit of submission and obedience wholly at variance with the spirit of independence and self-reliance which are the sure marks of a free people.

Then passing to the consideration of the way in which laws are made, we found that the conditions attending the making of all laws are such as preclude the possibility of obtaining just or equal results; and that the evils of legislation are inherent in the principle of law-making itself, and cannot be remedied by any improvement in administration. This exactly agrees with what we were led to infer from the analysis of man himself in Part II of this work, as well as with all the known laws of nature. The course of human progress from the slavery and barbarism of ignorance to the freedom of light, of knowledge, of science, and of civilization must be as free as possible from the impediments of one man, or of some men, placed in the way of other :men. Those impediments are always expressed in legal regulations and restrictions, and can never accelerate the current of that progress but must always retard it.

Men embark upon the sea of life full of hopes and aspirations. They spread their sails to catch the breeze of opportunity, never doubting that the voyage before them will be a prosperous and happy one. With timbers sound and staunch, and every rope taut, they speed gaily over the waves, never fearing for storms and tempests which may come. Carrying a rich freight of joyous anticipations, of brightest hopes and yearnings of loved ones, self stands at the helm to guide the good ship safely on her course. But across that course pirates have built a huge sea wall against which bark after bark in endless succession are wrecked, until the sea itself is covered with the debris. Every profession, calling, or walk in life presents many times more wrecks than of anything else.

Our merchant of limited means, carrying on a small retail business, sees his trade steadily slipping away from him, going down town to the great department stores. He finds on investigation that he is being undersold. With almost unlimited resources of cash; buying in large quantities, their goods cost them less; nearly every item of their expenses are much less in proportion to the business done; their taxes are far less in proportion; they are able to present greater attractions of every kind; and finally, they sell for cash, and of course have no bad debts. Against this, the small merchant buys comparatively little and must pay a high price. His expenses and taxes are comparatively high. If he receives credit he must pay interest. And then he must charge a high price. The only trade he can hold is the most undesirable trade, that which requires credit. If he does not fail altogether he is soon driven out of business, and there is another man looking for a job. Conditions remaining as they are the small trader, just like the small artizan, will soon be a thing of the past. The department stores will completely supersede them. Our merchant will be fortunate if he is able to get a situation at a small salary in the big store.

These department stores are yet in their infancy. They are constantly perfecting their organization; making new arrangements by which they can obtain greater results with less expenditure; and perfecting their systems. Just in proportion to their efficiency is their power increased; and we may look for their rapid extension to smaller and still smaller country places.

Farmers, workingmen, and small manufacturers are all going the same way. They are being wrecked upon this same rock,—the law.

Reader, how do you like the prospect? These are the cold unvarnished facts. They stare us; and not only us, but our children, and our children’s children squarely in the face. Notwithstanding it is almost infinitely easier to bring wealth into being to-day than it was twenty years ago; yet it is harder for a poor man to get a living. And it is growing harder. You may not yet have struck the rock; but it is only a question of time when you get there. The salvation of the people rests wholly with themselves. It is the madness of folly to expect relief either from changes in the law, or in the administration of it. I have before me a circular of “The World’s Congress Auxilliary, of the World’s Columbian Exposition,” inviting those interested in labor problems to hold a labor congress under the auspices of the World’s Fair authorities in Chicago, during the time of the World’s Fair; which is like inviting the sheep to hold a congress under the auspices of the wolves. The circular specifies seven general topics for discussion, none of which are of the least practical value. None of them reach the root of the evil. Nor would a question that did be permitted before a congress held under such auspices. Victor Hugo says: “The last thing owls wish is a candle.”




The vision of paradise, glimpses of which we caught at the beginning of our inquiry, and which appeared so unreal and distant, now begins to assume definite form, and character. Its gardens, fields, and wood-lands show a reality and nearness which before were only mist, haze and uncertainty. We are nearing our utopia: that dreamland of idealists, that heaven of Christians, and that paradise of all social reformers. We know that we are nearing it, because the outlines become sharper and clearer, and its objects become more distinct and real. It no longer presents the characteristics of a mirage; but we behold, only a little way in front of us, with every step of the intervening space clearly in view, rising, a splendor of reality, the perfection of which as far surpasses our previous vision as the splendor of the sunrise surpasses the first dim outlines of the early twilight.

We have found the nature, the length, the breadth, and the height of the one only obstruction to overcome before we can reach that promised land. It is an obstruction which admits of but one course of treatment: its removal. While it remains, it is almost a complete bar to human progress. At whatever cost, that bar must be removed. The law must be abolished. Time after time humanity approached that obstruction, and instead of removing it, has attempted to change it in specific ways, with the result that, instead of humanity destroying the obstruction, the obstruction has destroyed humanity—at least, has extinguished its hopes, suppressed its yearnings, and turned back civilization upon itself. Whenever the restrictions of the law have been carried beyond the point of endurance, and men have risen against it, and for a time destroyed it, not understanding its true nature, they have invariably reconstructed it on such modified plans as seemed to promise better results, but which, in time, turned out to be just as bad as those which they supplanted.

Law, then, must be abolished instead of amended. It must be destroyed instead of being improved. Why? Because it is the safest course, the easiest course, and the only practicable course. All human history proves that mere changes are unsafe; in fact that at best, the new soon becomes as bad as the old, or worse. I said it was the easiest course. I say more; it is easier to destroy the whole fabric of the law than to amend it in any essential particular. And the easiest way is always the most practicable way.

But how? By violence, by fighting, by insurrection? By no means. These are the methods of revenge, of passion, of unreasoning ignorance. The problems of social life must be solved by the exercise of wisdom; but these are the negation of wisdom. Men who are actuated by passion or revenge do not reason. Reason is dethroned. Fury takes its place: a condition which easily makes men a prey to the wiles of the crafty.

There is an easier way; one that involves nonviolence, no destruction of property, and no injustice. It is one against which the courts, the police, the militia, the army, and the navy are utterly powerless. It requires no elaborate party organization, no considerable contributions to drain away the resources of those who are striving for liberty, and no long and anxious waiting for an interminable period of development of humanity before it can be realized. It only requires a clear knowledge of individual rights, a calm but determined insistence upon those rights, and the wisdom to avoid being surprised into acts which would drive away friends, or give excuse for violence from enemies. It involves no long course of training in abstruse principles of political or social economy, which only the learned and thoughtful can grasp or understand. it is doubtful if any ordinary man in any walk of life would not be able to understand so much as is necessary for practical work on its first intelligent statement; or to understand its direct benefits to himself. It appeals directly to the only motive of every man’s action; his selfishness, and inspires strongly his hopes and anticipations.

It is a plan upon which all reformers, having in view the ultimate objects of all social reform, and who are not wedded to particular methods of attainment, can combine. The single taxer, who cares more to abolish poverty, to free the land, and to bring about the reign of universal and exact justice, than to levy the single tax, will find it the readiest means of reaching his goal The state socialist who desires to destroy cut-throat competition, to inaugurate an universal co-operation, and a perfect human equality, can secure it without repression, or doing violence in the least to human liberty. The anarchist at one stroke reaches the utmost limit of his highest ideal of liberty. The workingmen, including clerks and professional men, can, and naturally will unite upon such a platform. Small tradesmen and manufacturers will do the same; and the farmers must. It is their only hope. Circumstances, and their own inclination and interests, will all impel them to do so. They cannot possibly pay their mortgages. From the time that public agitation on this line is once begun, monopoly and government are doomed.

When this government was first established the people had just cast off the chains of another despotism. That despotism had claimed the right to tax them without their permission. And the rupture had come mainly through the attempt to enforce that claim. Therefore it was quite natural that they should try to guard against subsequent attacks upon their liberties from that direction. So they provided both in the national constitution, and in the constitutions of all the states for an effective veto upon the acts of their rulers through control of the appropriations. I do not suppose that they contemplated the possibility of being called upon to use this measure for the destruction of all law, but only as a defense against obnoxious and tyrannical laws But they builded wiser than they knew. When they understand that all law is tyrannical they will look upon it all as obnoxious.

That plan of action is simply the withholding of taxes; not the refusal at first to ay taxes, but the refusal to appropriate them. Appropriation bills, like all other legislative acts, require the concurrence of both houses of the legislature, and the governor. An appropriation for national expenditures must pass both houses of congress and be approved by the president. If it fail of one house, it can go no further. In municipal affairs, money must be appropriated by the city council, and the bill be approved by the mayor, before the officers can get their pay. Even town and county boards in country places hold the grip upon the purse strings if they choose to use it. Taxes to the government machine are like steam to an engine. Without them the machine is powerless. All that is necessary is to combine, and elect a majority of one house, lo do no/king. It is not necessary to repeal a law, or to amend a law; simply refuse to pass any law. Elect men to one house only, absolutely pledged to do nothing, except to be present at every meeting, and vote “no” on every proposition, except motions for adjournment. Without appropriations the militia cannot be called out to put down a strike, a court cannot enforce a single process, a mortgage cannot be foreclosed, a tenant cannot be evicted, a tax cannot be collected, the police must quit, and every office holder must go home about his business.

In municipal, or town, or country affairs, let the people who are not interested in monopoly combine to elect a majority of the city council, or the town or county boards, and the thing is done. They have only to see that those whom they elect perform precisely the duties they were elected to perform, and no other.

Such an agitation cannot long be carried on along these lines without attracting the attention of every man to its merits, or before a majority of the national house of representatives can be elected. When that is done the whole governing machine must stop. Freedom will have been achieved. Free production, and free trade will have become an accomplished fact, because there will be no one capable of interfering with trade or production. The whole system of internal revenue will be wiped out at one stroke; men will become emancipated from the bondage of government debts and taxes of all kinds. Monopoly cannot then enforce a single one of its demands. The land becomes free to whoever will use I it, for there will be none who are able to keep any one off it. All this can be done by only getting control of one of the three co-ordinate branches of government. To amend the law requires all three.

No tax is better than one tax, or many taxes. It is easier for men to understand, easier to attain, and easier to pay; and then, as already seen, it will give far better results. It reaches the full realization of liberty; that is, a condition where mankind is without restriction. It emancipates men form the bondage of public debts, and every other form of privilege. It takes away the club which the landlord, and the lendlord, and every other kind of a lord wields over mankind to compel submission.

This plan of work does not violate in the slightest particular the fundamental objection of anarchists to political action. It is not a political move in the ordinary sense, but rather a co-operative one of mutual defense. It is purely defensive. It merely seeks to pack one house of the legislature with men pledged to refuse any appropriations for the execution of law; and by doing so, it is a perfect check upon all action by the other house and the executive. By electing men for this purpose we are not setting them up in authority over us, because they can exercise no authority. We need not elect, or even nominate any other officers than members of one house of congress, of the legislature, of city councils, and of county and town boards. This is a very different thing from present political methods, where two houses and an executive must be elected, and then to proceed to change the law by amendment or re-enactment in the face of active and powerful opposing interests, skilled in all the arts of intrigue and corruption.

At the last meeting of the Kansas legislature the farmers bad a clear majority in the house of representatives. Had they have taken the stand of refusing to appropriate a dollar to pay the expenses of the state government, instead of wasting their energies in a long struggle to elect one man to an useless office, one where for a long time to come at least, that officer is powerless to help them even if he wished to, they would have sounded a note which would have been heard around the world. Every tyrant would have understood it; and every victim groaning under the heel of oppression would have taken new heart. It would have given encouragement to the oppressed of every land under the sun. In our own country the farmer’s party, long before this, would have been the producer’s party against the idlers and monopolists. The republican and democratic parties would have been forced to coalesce and make common cause against it. The farmers of Kansas would have found practically the whole farming community of this country behind them; and not only them, but all other classes of wealth producers also.

Until this issue is made, both the old parties will stand, one as the representative of conservatism, and the other of liberalism, according to the bias of the person who considers them, while they both practically represent the same thing. The difference between them is not enough to quarrel about. When there comes a real danger to the interests they stand for, they will permanently unite, as they did temporarily in Kansas, in the face of the farmers. While they remain apart it is a certain indication that they see no danger. But when they join hands, we may know that the end is near.

After a most careful survey of the whole situation I am convinced that this issue, of “no taxation,” is the true line of attack. It is the most vulnerable point in the whole position of monopoly. It is the one most easily assailed, and most difficult to defend. From the moment this issue is made, government itself is put upon the defensive. It will, and inevitably must try, at least, to show what good it does; by what right it exists,—what it does to justify that existence, which it cannot do. When it undertakes it, it is lost, as I have abundantly shown throughout this whole work. Thus, the contest must be carried on along lines, the mere discussion of which will bring out the essential principles of liberty and show the utter hollowness of the pretensions of government.

But other effects must follow almost immediately, of the same character as when the credit of any other corporation is attacked. It must not be expected that the beneficiaries of government,—the monopolists, are going to sit idly by and see the government credit attacked without an effort to rescue it. The men in Chicago who gave $500,000 in five years into a secret fund to crush out anarchy, and boasted that they would make it ten times as much, if necessary, will pour out money like water at first. But they cannot make it effective. For a considerable time our agitation can only look to the enlightenment of the people. It can only be a campaign of education. The contributions of the rich can only be used to arouse prejudice, and meet the arguments put toward for liberty. And for this they will be harmless. The more bitterly they assail it the more they direct public attention to it. In fact, it is highly desirable that monopoly should present the best case it possibly can, in order to show how weak it is. There is not the least danger in that. I see only one more way in which it can use such contributions against a movement of this kind, conducted on perfectly peaceful plans. That is, by secret assassination of men foremost in this move. This would be no worse, and not much different from the methods adopted to kill off the Chicago anarchists; but it will be a plan extremely dangerous to those in whose interest it is adopted. Just now the wealthy men are badly frightened over the attempt upon the life of Russel Sage, in New York; and they will be slow to inaugurate a war which might provoke reprisals; and millionaires are painfully conspicuous persons when such dangers threaten.

As a means of propaganda and instruction of working men in the principles of liberty, co-operative unions can be organized in every shop or factory and on every railroad or other corporation on any basis which is found satisfactory to the men, to take up and carry the business right on as soon as the destruction of the law has enabled them to rid themselves of present so-called owners. The whole of the earnings will then go to those who do the work, with nothing for rent, interest, dividends on stock, royalties on patents, profits to useless employers, high salaries to ornamental officers, or corruption funds to buy courts and legislatures. It matters but little on what terms those co-operative unions are formed. As soon as the law, by means of which unjust regulations can be enforced, is destroyed, there will be such a rearrangement of industry as will naturally correct any inequalities in the terms of those cooperative unions at first.

When however, the farmers, the workingmen, the small merchants and manufacturers, and the social reformers of all the varied schools, become sufficiently acquainted with the advantages of this plan of work, for any considerable number of them to combine upon a platform of “no taxation,’ the credit of the government is then seriously called in question. Its bonds will depreciate in value. It will become harder for it to raise money. Bonds held in foreign countries will be sent home for redemption. As soon as it reaches the point where the legislature refuses to make appropriations, a panic will ensue: not a commercial panic, but a panic in government securities. What funds happen to be on hand in public treasuries, will disappear in a twinkling. Every officer will try and look out for himself, and save what he can from the general wreck. The government cannot borrow. It requires legislative sanction even to do that. Capitalists are extremely careful to have all the forms of law complied with before they will buy a single public bond, or advance money in any way, even where the people are as submissive as lambs. But in the face of such a movement, not a capitalist in the world would put up a dollar, especially if the bonds were not sanctioned by all the forms of law, which sanction they cannot get. The army, the navy, the militia, the police, and employees generally cannot, and will not continue in service beyond the time they get their pay, especially if a strong party exists pledged to the stoppage of their pay. It is extremely doubtful if even the greatest monopolists, those who have most to lose would advance a dollar to pay the running expenses of the government in a crisis like that, because the government could not possibly give an obligation to repay it, which would be recognized by its own law.

It can produce no commercial panic, because people will at once be relieved of their burdens. Rent paying will at once cease, which will be a present, palpable relief to more than nine out, of ten of the people. It will be impossible to throw a man into bankruptcy for failure to meet his notes when due, or to seize his goods, and close up his business. Taxes will be stopped; the patent monopoly will be broken; and if men with patent articles will not sell them for what they are worth, other people will make the articles. The hundreds and thousands of acres of vacant land in the city of Chicago, and unused land everywhere, will be open to whoever want it; and people will seize it, as starving men seize bread. Homes will rise everywhere like magic. Labor will be in the greatest demand, and wages will rise. If that is a panic, it is one that most people would like to see.

There are other considerations which commend such a plan. It needs no elaborate party organization, or considerable expense. A few plain simple statements which every one can understand can be issued cheaply in large numbers and generally circulated. Meetings can be held in parlors of private residences to talk over the details, and make all acquainted with its merits. Farmers’ and working- men’s organizations already in existence, and more or less in communication with one another, can be quickly instructed in all the important particulars. This is all that is necessary until it is time to make nominations for town or county boards, the common council, the legislature, or for congress, the only officers to be nominated.

No government and no police regulations can prevent people from meeting peacefully and discussing methods for improving their own condition. Those discussions should always be carried on openly, temperately, but earnestly. On no account, and under no degree of provocation, should denunciation be indulged in. It only furnishes excuse for police interference. And besides, it is uncalled for. The rich are no different from the poor; and deserve no more censure. Both are injured by their ignorance. Present conditions are equally the result of the ignorance of the rich and the poor. There is no occasion for either to denounce the other. I would even invite the police to attend, and listen to the discussions, and to participate in them if they desire. And besides, the rich are precisely like the slaveholders of the south before the war. They have grown up under present institutions. Their minds have received a definite training. They have been taught to believe that the present social and industrial system is a wise and natural one. They have had no occasion to call it in question because it has treated them with very great favor. The slave-holders too, believed that slavery was wise and natural, equally beneficial to master and slave. These men are all just as much the creatures of their circumstances as are the criminals, the prostitutes, and the poor generally. There should be no resentment against any. Nor can the government prevent people from voting for whom they wish, or on whatever platform they like. And when those representatives have been elected they are entitled to their seats if properly qualified. The very fact that appropriation bills must be submitted to them for their approval implies their right to disapprove. If they may vote for a measure, they may vote against it. No one can legally exercise any compulsion upon them.

But some one will say; suppose our representatives should be bribed, and vote for appropriations in violation of their pledges? I answer: this is a very unlikely thing to occur, because almost always when men are elected to office for any one specific purpose, whatever that purpose may be, they will do that thing. No matter how corrupt they may be in other matters, or how much they may violate pledges of a general character, it is very rare for any man to violate his pledge where its violation would be open and notorious, where that pledge is the only one upon which he secured his election, and where it involves the whole principle of his party. But even if, for the time being, such a defeat were encountered, it would only be temporary. It would make the determination of the people all the stronger to win in the end. It would have still another advantage; it would give more time for men to study, and familiarize themselves with the real principles of liberty before being called to the exercise of it. The longer men contemplate the sublime, and infinite possibilities of liberty, the better they appreciate it, the more determined they become in its pursuit, and the more tenaciously will they cling to it when it is once attained.

Such a political party will only be a temporary expedient. It will require no permanent organization; and can offer no great prizes to be scrambled for. Those elected to office can reap little, if any advantage, but to wear the laurel crown, a real distinction which in after years will be prized. The first practical lesson in voluntary co-operation on a large scale, will then be the united action of the people in such a party.

The next question that will be asked is, is it just? Let us see! What is justice? It is scarcely necessary to go into all the nice distinctions and use of the term, justice, as defined in the lexicons. It is only necessary to say that it is everywhere made synonymous with equity, which means even, equal. So justice is equality. But there is no equality in taking from the poor by law to confer upon the rich. There is no equality in calling upon the poor to vote taxes upon themselves in order to enable the, rich to maintain an inequality in condition between themselves and the poor. Where is the equality that imposes upon the farmer the support of the machinery which will foreclose his mortgage, and evict him from his home; that will compel a man to defray the expenses of his own eviction when he is unable to pay his rent, or for the seizure of his stock when he cannot meet his obligations on time? When these wealth producers, through their representatives, are asked to vote these burdens upon themselves, what more natural, and equal, and therefore just than for them to decline to do anything of the kind? But in addition to ask men to pay for the employment of spies, and informers, as the government does, to pry into their most private and delicate affairs, to tempt them into some violation of regulations set up by other men, and then visit penalties upon them, passes the bounds of all proper conceptions of justice. Whatever may be thought of it at first, this issue cannot long be delayed. Although the attention of the people has not been seriously directed to government itself as the real cause of the evils they complain of, circumstances are likely to occur at any time to do so. When they do, the contest will be a short one. Any great crisis like a commercial panic or general railroad strike may precipitate it at any time. It is true, we have had political crises, and commercial crises, many times before, without producing this effect; but never when the conditions were like the present. Knowledge is more generally diffused than ever before; wealth is more easily produced, while times are harder; social topics have been more studied, and are better understood. Let such a crisis take place now, and it would take very little to focus the whole responsibility upon the government. [308]

Then, once establish liberty, and if a sufficient time is given to permit a vigorous growth of individuality it will become extremely difficult ever again to subjugate such a people to government control.



The first thought that will arise in men’s minds will be as to what effect such a remedy will have upon public order. Will men be secure in their persons and property when the action of the law has been paralyzed? In the next chapter I will consider the effect upon property; in this I will do it for persons.

Notwithstanding our analysis of law in Part III, and the very complete proof that the law always promotes disorder, instead of order, few men can avoid a lingering fear that in the absence of law a condition of violence would be inaugurated, which would realize the popular conception of anarchy. That it would be anarchy there is no doubt, but of a very different kind from what men commonly mean when they speak of anarchy. The vulgar conception of anarchy is a condition of disorder. And this idea is promoted by the definitions given in the dictionaries. Webster defines anarchy as “want of government; the state of society where there is no law or supreme power, or where the laws are not efficient, and individuals do what they please with impunity;” and so far he is correct. But he adds, “political confusion. Hence, confusion in general,” which is not true, unless individuals, in doing what they please, please to be disorderly, which we know is not the case. The absurdity of Webster’s definition is made more apparent when defining the word “anarchical,” which he gives as, “without rule or government; in a state of confusion, as a state or society; as, anarchic despotism; an anarchical state.” But despotism implies a despot, and a despot is always a ruler or governor But anarchy means “want of government,” the absence of rulers, and therefore the absence of despots, according to Webster himself. To speak of “anarchic despotism,” or “an anarchical state,” is to employ a contradiction of terms. Where anarchy is, there is no despot, and no state. Webster has only reflected the vulgar prejudices of the ignorant; and his definition is entitled to no respect whatever.

But the assumption that disorder would follow the abolition of the law is historically disproved. Thomas Paine, in his “Rights of man” says:

“For upwards of two years from the commencement of the American war, and a longer period in several of the American states, there were no established forms of government. The old governments had been abolished, and the country was too much occupied in defense to employ its attention in establishing a new government; yet, during this interval, order and harmony were preserved as inviolate as in any country in Europe. There is a natural aptness in man, and more so in society, because it embraces a greater variety of abilities and resources, to accommodate itself to whatever situation it is in.

“The instant formal government is abolished, society begins to act. A general association takes place, and the common interest produces common security.

“So far it is from being true, as has been pretended, that the abolition of any formal government is the dissolution of society, it acts by a contrary impulse, and brings the latter closer together.

“Formal governments make but a small part of civilized life; and when even the best that human wisdom can devise is established, it is a thing more in name and idea than in fact. it is to the great and fundamental principles of society and civilization—to the common usage universally consented to, and mutually and reciprocally maintained—to the unceasing circulation, of interest, which passes through its innumerable channels, invigorates the whole mass of civilized man, it is to these things, infinitely more than anything which even the best instituted governments can perform, that the safety and prosperity of the individual and of the whole depends.

“The more perfect civilization is the less occasion has it for government, because the more does it regulate its own affairs and govern itself; but so contrary is the practice of old governments to the reason of the case, that the expenses of them increase in the proportion they ought to diminish. It is but few general laws that civilized life requires, and those of such common usefulness, that whether they are enforced by the forms of government or not, the effect will be nearly the same. If we consider what the principles are that first condense men into society, and what the motives that regulate their mutual intercourse afterwards, we shall find by the time that we arrive at what is called government, that nearly the whole of the business is performed by the natural operation of the parts upon each other.

“Man, with respect to all those matters, is more a creature of consistency than he is aware of, or than governments would wish him to believe. All the great laws of society are laws of nature. Those of trade and commerce, whether with respect to the intercourse of individuals, or of nations, are laws of natural and reciprocal interest. They are followed and obeyed, because it is the interest of the parties so to do, and not on account of any formal laws their governments may impose, or interpose.”

But Thomas Paine, with even his grand conceptions of liberty, did not grasp its full import. He did not emancipate himself from the idea that a “few general laws” are required in civilized life.

Another writer of no mean reputation who has learned the essential hollowness of the pretensions of government to preserve public order, is William Godwin. In his “Political Justice” he says:

“There is a state of society that by the mere simplicity of its structure, would lead to the elimination of offense; a state, in which temptation would be almost unknown, truth brought down to the level of all apprehensions, and vice sufficiently checked by the general discountenance, and sober condemnation of every spectator. Such are the consequences that might be expected to spring from an abolition of the craft and mystery of governing; while on the other hand, the innumerable murders that are daily committed under the sanction of legal forms, are solely to be ascribed to the pernicious notion of an extensive territory; to the dreams of glory, empire, and national greatness, which have hitherto proved the bane of the human species, without producing entire benefit and happiness to a single individual.”

Another thing which goes to show that no general disorder might be expected is the fact that our present population, made up as it is of diverse nationalities, speaking every language on earth, with widely different customs, traditions, and religions, and reared under the most different conditions, sometimes living in separate communities, and sometimes in a state of almost promiscuous admixture, and naturally subject to intense jealousies, do live in peace and harmony now. We find them dwelling in close relationship one to the other, sharing each others hopes, and sympathizing with each others troubles. Almost the only things that now sow dissension between them are the troubles growing out of poverty, exhibitions of the brutality bred of poverty, and legal disputes which are themselves fostered by the presence and advantages conferred by the law, precisely as the habit of carrying weapons promotes individual quarrels. Will men be more likely to dispute about property when the power of property is destroyed; when property becomes tenfold easier of acquirement; when poverty no longer has terrors for any man; when the brutalities bred of poverty give place to an universal desire for the esteem, admiration, and love of their fellow men; and when there is no longer any law to stimulate men to meddle in the affairs of their fellows, or to exercise a repressive influence in their concerns? No! the law is always the promoter of disorder, and to abolish the law is to stop the disorder.

But even, if for a time, men did trespass upon the property of others,—steal it, or take it away violently, whose property would they steal, and whom would they rob? Of course it would be the rich. They would never steal from the man who had little when they could just as well reach one who had much. Take away the protection that the law affords to the rich, and if a man is going to steal he will go where there is most to steal. Why should the poor, whom the law cannot protect, out of their poverty be forced to pay for protection to the rich, who are abundantly able to pay for their own protection? Then if the poor combine, and refuse to vote to tax themselves to protect those who can, and ought to pay for their own protection, they are only doing what common sense, and their own natural promotings would impel them to do. If the rich want protection let them hire their Pinkertons, and special police, and pay them out of their own pockets. It will undoubtedly cost them more than at present; but that is nothing that the poor need have any concern about. Another thing, the protection the rich can secure from their special private police can only extend to protection of persons and immediate possessions. It could not enforce a monopoly. In the absence of the sanctions of law, people would not submit to aggressions from such a police. But even this would soon be brought to an end by the general increase in prosperity which would raise the wages of that police along with the increase of all other classes of wages, and soon bankrupt the rich to pay them, especially as their monopolies and privileges would be cut off. Even that police would quickly find its interest on the side of the people, and would soon leave the rich to shift for themselves.

I shall be charged with directly encouraging men to steal, and to rob. But it is not true. I am only stating facts which those who will make such accusations against me, cannot themselves deny. We are trying to ascertain just what results to expect from the adoption of a certain plan of action; and to see how it will affect those who must join in the combination, if it is done at all. I shall also be acccused of urging men to repudiate their honest debts; of advocating wholesale dishonesty. But that again is just as untrue as the other. Every man must judge for himself whether or not it is right or proper for him to pay a debt. I will only take away the power of the creditor to summon to his aid the force of the whole people to crush the unfortunate debtor. I will leave debt and credit just where it was when the debt was contracted, a private matter between the parties, in which no one else has any right to interfere, with or without the instigation of either party.

But as to so-called public debts, there is no doubt that they will be wholly and absolutely repudiated, There is not one single element of justice in one of them. No man can make an obligation that another is bound to pay, without the consent of that other. In all that I propose there is nothing to promote violations of the rights, or security of persons of any one. No sane man will believe for a moment that there is anything in relieving men from the burdens of public debt, from the power of the personal creditor, from the exactions of the landlord, and from the demands of all other forms of monopoly, which will impel them to disorder. Disorder springs from wrong, from injustice, from infractions of personal liberty, which are only made possible by the law.

But there is another view to take of this whole matter, and that is, its necessity. There is absolutely no way in which by ordinary political reforms labor can emancipate itself, the farmer can clear himself from debt, or the small merchant and manufacturer can prevent being crushed out by the pitiless competition in trade. There has never been a case in the whole history of the world, since we have a written history, when a class has ever thrown off its yoke through mere reforms in the law. Where it has been done at all, it has always been by the destruction, or suspension, in whole or in part, of the law. Sometimes it has come by revolution, which has permitted of a partial re-adjustment, and relief of the extreme tension; and sometimes by the arbitrary authority of some bold and powerful lawgiver, but It has always been at the expense of established forms, and legal rights. The same causes that are operating to crush out the producing classes in this country are those that the same classes contended against in ancient Rome, for more than five hundred years. Those causes are debt, taxes, monopoly, and special privilege. Reforms were sought to be brought about by the law. The privileged classes steadily opposed, and defeated the reforms, carrying their opposition to the extent of seeing Rome itself destroyed rather than yield. And men are constituted now exactly as they were then. Our own monopolists are certain to present just as determined a resistance to everything that will take away anything of their own power. The reforms effected by Solon, in Athens, in the sixth century B. C. is an instance of the arbitrary setting aside of the law by a bold and courageous lawgiver. There too, the poverty and indebtedness of the farmers, and small tradesmen, brought about in the same way, had aroused demands for reform which had been resisted until a crisis was imminent. Men were actually sold as slaves, and exported, in payment of debt. Those who still clung to their small properties could, with all their pinching, barely keep their heads above water. Solon decreed the annulment of all mortgages. The rights of property established by law were set aside for the time being. The small cultivator was given a fresh start. The tension of the situation was relieved; but the relief was not permanent. Nor could it be. The causes which produced the distress in the first instance were only temporarily suspended. Privilege, established and sanctioned by law, was soon restored, and in time reproduced the same conditions as before.

Lycurgus is also said to have adopted the expedient of abolishing debt as a relief of widespread distress. But if so, he left the causes, as Solon did, to reproduce the distress at a later time. Nehemiah also, after the Babylonian captivity, resorted to the same expedient, and with the same result. It is utterly useless to remove the effect, if the cause remains undisturbed. The law is the cause of inequality; and in order to permanently remove the inequality it is only necessary to destroy the law, which is easiest done by taking away the thing that the law lives on,—the taxes. But in all this there is nothing to produce disorder, because, as already shown, the disorder arises from the distress. It is an effect which will disappear with the distress which occasions it.



Inasmuch as the concentrations of wealth result wholly from the laws of property, to abolish those laws must produce the same effect upon property as pulling down the dam does on the mill-pond. While the multitude of the wealthy may not as yet perceive how prompt and thorough this result would be, yet they instinctively realize that in the law alone lies the secret of their advantage; therefore every influence which can be brought to the support of the law, morality, religion, education, culture, public sentiment, society, respectability and patriotism are all made to do duty, to induce obedience and submission, and to promote a reverence and respect for the law. The law is made to support all of them, that they in turn may support the law, and preserve to the rich the accumulations which have grown out of it. Under these circumstances those who attack the law must expect. to find all these influences, arrayed against them. And more: they must expect to find them backed by secret funds contributed to manufacture evidence, stubborn juries, and corrupt courts to hang and imprison those who presume to call in question the authority of the law.

There is no occasion for condemnation or resentment toward the rich because these things are done. They will tell us that we would do the same things if we were given the same opportunity, which is true. And because it is true,—because all men are constituted alike, and will always abuse special advantages and privileges, it is conclusive evidence that no such privileges should ever be granted, or if granted, they should be withdrawn. It should teach us further that anything like malice, or hatred, or revenge, is wholly out of place and is unjustifiable from every possible standpoint, because they have done, and are doing, only what we should do were we placed in their circumstances. The only thing that is called for is, a calm, dispassionate inquiry into the causes of our troubles, a discovery of the best and easiest means of remedying them, and the firmness and wisdom to apply the remedy with out unnecessary offense to any.

With the laws of property abolished, the natural condition of property,—that of occupation, will assert itself, the mortgage will lose his claim upon the property of the mortgagor, whether it be in city or country; the debtor becomes discharged of both principal and interest; the tenant farmer becomes at once the rightful freehold proprietor without rent or purchase; the occupant of city or village household will be its proprietor notwithstanding any adverse claim of its former landlord to whom he previously paid rent; the tax-gatherer can then no longer take the earnings of the people to support the bond-holders, and idlers; the money monopoly will be destroyed, and business be free to provide such appliances for carrying it on as its needs may suggest, without the intervention of blundering and self-seeking politicians; transportation becomes freed from the incubus of bonded debts, of capital stocks, and ornamental high-priced officers, so that the expense accounts of the railroads, the telegraphs, the telephones, etc., will be reduced to the maintenance of the rolling-stock, and plants, and the payment of the wages of those who do the work. The present employees will simply become the co-operating proprietors, with no dividends to. pay on stocks, no interest on bonds, or big salaries to arrogant officials. Every bonded or mortgage indebtedness public and private, stocks, titles, and securities of all kinds, which are now means of enslavement, will become at once the active means for restitution, redistribution, and equalization of wealth. Not one of the great fortunes can be maintained for a week. They will vanish like a bubble when it is pricked.

It is true that the rich will cry out against ‘the spoliation.” They will appeal to men’s sense of justice, and denounce it as confiscation. What! Appeal to justice to sustain an injustice, to equity to support an inequality!” Dismiss the appeal for want of equity. The appellant has no standing in court. Even the law recognizes a man’s right to recover his own, no matter in whose hands he finds it. And if those who have produced the wealth of this world, find it in the hands of those who did not produce it, who shall gainsay their right to retake it, especially where it involves no more than the destruction of the means which have been employed to wrest it from them. Certainly the rich cannot object. They are condemned out of their own law.

But even admitting the momentary spoliation, what is that to the centuries of expropriation of the poor? Will the ostentation and aggrandizement of a few be allowed to weigh against the degraded, embruted, and ruined lives, the blasted hopes, and miserable deaths of the many? Shall the Moloch of wealth continue to claim its victims by the thousands every day, and every hour, in order that a few rich people may continue in the enjoyment of wealth they never had a hand in producing?

With the destruction of the law which produces and perpetuates inequalities, the inequalities of wealth must quickly disappear, and along with them the inequalities in social condition. Men will come to be esteemed for what they are, instead of for what they have. The possession of wealth will confer no power, and consequently no distinction. Then men will seek distinction in the acquirement of personal qualities which command the admiration of men, and thus promote the growth of individual character. But the thing we are now concerned with is, the effect which the application of the remedy will have upon the distribution of wealth. As already, seen it will be toward a redistribution and equalization almost immediately, the tendency being constantly toward a more perfect equalization. The first changes will naturally be from those who have most, to those who have least. The destruction of the law will at once loosen every hold upon those who are the hardest pressed, and therefore in the greatest straits. It will also relieve the necessities of those who are often compelled to oppress others in order to meet demands upon themselves. Many a man will crowd a debtor because others crowd him. But the relief will be general. No man can then oppress another, because the engine of oppression, and the only efficient engine of oppression, is the law.

The vile districts in the great cities will vanish as quickly as the vast fortunes of the inordinately rich. The law is the only thing that prevents their inhabitants from making better homes for themselves on lands lying vacant and unused, and utilizing the clay for bricks, the rocks as quarries, and the forest for timber, in the construction of those homes. Men who have been in the habit of paying a large proportion of their earnings every month to the landlord, will use those earnings to beautify and adorn their homes, make improvements, and provide comforts. This will make an enormous demand for labor, not only in the building trades for the building of new homes, and the improvement of old ones, but in the production of all the forms of wealth which minister to human wants. Under the stimulus of this demand for the products of labor, the wages of labor must necessarily increase, so that comfort, prosperity, happiness, even luxury becomes possible to all. The department stores can then no longer crush, by their pitiless competition, the small merchant, because wages will rise until they will absorb their profits. They will have no advantage in taxes, in interest, or in rents, because all these things will be abolished. Trade will be emancipated from the restrictions which now hamper its freedom, and which destroy the prosperity of the people and consequently their ability to purchase. With the expenses of business so largely reduced, with the advantage which some have over others removed, and with the ability of their customers to buy increased beyond all previous calculation, such a thing as a mercantile failure will be a thing unheard of. Under such a state bf affairs the conditions outlined in the chapter on “property,” in Part II, as the end toward which property necessarily must develop, cannot long be delayed. Property must soon become a common possession, and be enjoyed by all to their fullest capacity for enjoyment. Men will become like guests at a well filled table, spread with such a wealth of abundance that none will begrudge another any possible enjoyment. Human society will then no longer be built upon the subjection of one man or one set of men to other men. Men will become free; and their freedom will have a definite significance, very different from the meaningless jargon now employed to express their subservience to their legal masters. One of the first fruits of liberty will be the extinction of property as an individual possession, not as a regulation, or as an institution definitely set up,—instituted, but as a convenience, in order to avoid the labor and the trouble of keeping accounts, of exacting payment, and the care of looking after large personal belongings. Thus will be realized a condition of socialism of “to each according to his needs,” more perfect than the dreams of a Bellamy, and without the dangerous interferences with personal freedom so essential to his proposed system. It will come as naturally as the fruit comes upon the tree, through the destruction of government, instead of the extension and increase of the functions of government.

I set out, at the beginning, to carry the examination of social questions to the point where all social reformers meet upon common ground. And I have done it. I have reached the promised land, which, like Moses of old, we beheld from afar, and which, notwithstanding the mists and haze of uncertainty, was lit with the sunlight of hope; and even then appeared so beautiful. But now that we can clearly see it; can almost walk among its groves, enjoy its refreshing breezes, listen to the music of its songsters, the babble and plash of its waters, inhale the sweet fragrance of its endless variety of shrubs and flowers, and contemplate the abundance of its provisions and resources for the gratification of every human want; everything to please the eye, the ear, and every sense, as well as uplift the soul to higher aspirations, I feel that my laborious re search has not been in vain.

Here, in the destruction of all that hampers human freedom in thought or expression; which binds men down to low desires; which hinders the growth of knowledge, and diverts them from the cultivation of a rich and varied individuality, to the sordid acquirement of gold; and which is filling the world with untold sorrow and mourning; I say, in the destruction of all these, we reach the grand realization toward which men in all ages have striven, the reign of universal peace and justice.

All this brings the promise of direct, positive, and present relief to the oppressed of every name and clime; to the workingmen vainly resisting the downward tendency of wages, and the increasing difficulty of finding employment; to the merchant crowded out of trade by the unequal competition against monopoly; to the farmer who is made the victim of every species of imposition and injustice, striving against hope to save his home and fireside from the grasp of the usurer; to that large and increasing class, the criminals, against whom the door of hope has been closed, and who are branded with an infamy which elsewise even death itself cannot remove; and to the social outcasts whom it is an offense even to mention in polite society: to all these, and more, it comes as a deliverer, to break every chain, and set the oppressed free. With the fire of liberty kindled here, its light will be seen around the world. No despot in this world will be able to maintain himself long in the face of a practical realization of liberty such as this.

But let us explore still further this utopia, and see what more it offers.



As we have seen, one of the first results of the abolition of the law will be to remove, not only actual poverty, but all fear of poverty. When the boundless resources of nature are once opened up to the unrestricted use of mankind, and with no organized force remaining which is capable of robbing it of the fruits of its labor, not only poverty but the fear of it becomes a thing of the past. And when the possession of property confers no power by reason of that possession, it will cease to be sought as a means of distinction. Is man then less selfish than before? Not at all. His selfishness will seek new means of gratification. It will seek its natural channel of expression, instead of the artificial one. The supreme purpose of human life is the making of individual character; and in order to stimulate its development every man possesses a love of the admiration of his fellows, which I have called a love of distinction. So long as wealth alone confers distinction, men seek it with an all absorbing greed, regardless of the true aim and purpose of life. Character is sacrificed instead of promoted. But take away the power of property, by abolishing the laws which decree special rights of property, and men will seek distinction by cultivating those personal qualities which command the admiration of others, instead of depending upon property, the possession of which is more likely to indicate a want of those qualities.

Let each consider a moment how much greater will be his own powers of individual improvement when the question of a support through life, for himself and for his family, is entirely eliminated, so that the acquirement of wealth will be merely a pastime, and he can follow his own inclinations to the utmost, free from all fear of want, or of the interference of his fellow man, instead of being compelled to toil unceasingly day in and day out, and year in and year out, for a mere subsistence, with a constant liability of being brought to a condition of destitution. And then contrast a whole people so situated, every individual member able to follow the utmost bent of his own desires, instead of being bound down to a brutalizing scramble for mere wealth, and we can form some idea of the vastly different results to be expected as the aggregate of human growth. When we were considering the causes that impel men to the commission of crime, it appeared that it is often the purest and loftiest impulses which most surely make men criminals. This fact ought to convince every one that such conditions are wholly unnatural; but they are no more unnatural than that men should be bound down to an everlasting grind to obtain a subsistence. Almost every person adopts some particular line of study, research, investigation, or experiment, or tries to perfect himself in some special industry, according to the bent of his, or her own mind; and make himself master of it. In the pursuit of that object he finds his greatest pleasure and enjoyment. When freed from the anxieties of getting a living, he can and will pursue that natural bent, and seek in the attainment of a high degree of excellence in that particular, the admiration of others. Herein will lie the natural development of individual character. Selfishness will here find its legitimate and healthy expression in the attainment of the highest degree of excellence possible. That degree of excellence will be that individual’s title to nobility; and the pursuit of such a nobility will be open to every one. Selfishness loses none of its intensity. It is rather extended, exalted, purified, and lifted to new and higher objects, and is manifested in better ways. It is like gold refined from the dross which debases and hides the pure metal. The crowning glory of liberty will be a free and luxuriant individuality, with a title of nobility, which will be a real distinction, for everybody.

Herbert Spencer, in his ‘Social Statics,” recognizes the necessity for a constantly increasing differentiation in the constituent parts of society; and he looked for it in a differentiation as to political power. Therein was his mistake. He did not see that a differentiation in the constituent parts of society is consistent with the entire absence of political power, and a perfect freedom and equality of those constituents. He evidently saw no other place for such a differentiation except as to political power. If this were true, then slavery would be the inevitable condition of a large part of mankind; and just as civilization increases would slavery deepen, class distinctions become more pronounced, and social evils more intensified. So far from his being right, those differentiations as to political power must be obliterated before the natural, the individual differentiations, can find their legitimate expression. In the subdivision of labor may be seen an indication of the course of that natural differentiation which runs through all nature, producing specialization of function, and promoting the greatest variety of talent, while at the same time bringing all talents practically to the same level as to capacity. Here, as everywhere else, the one absolute imperative need is perfect freedom of action.

But under this condition of perfect liberty which I am contemplating, labor itself will become an emulation, a means of distinction, an expression of the highest individuality. Men will seek in the performance of labor, in the production of wealth which all may enjoy, in the doing of those things which bring happiness to others, the gratification of their own happiness, and the attainment of their own honor and distinction. Man needs no laws toll compel him to do right, or to respect the rights and feelings of others. If he were to fail in these particulars, he would fail in the attainment of what most, if not all men, hold dearer than life itself,—their honor. The gratification of his own selfish desires will lead man to do more for society than he could be brought to do, if the doing of them were in recognition of any claim which society holds against him. Herein most certainly lies the pathway to that universal brotherhood the visions of which have appeared with varying clearness to social reformers of every age and clime; not in a human regeneration, not in a change in man’s nature, but in a development of that nature; not in a condition of society organized upon any plan, or according to any scheme; but in the destruction of all special organization and restrictions which hinder such a development.

I wish to caution the reader against dismissing too lightly this love of distinction as an element in the making of individual character, and in determining the course of individual action. It has been too common with writers to treat it as a weakness to be overcome, instead of an universal fact to be studied, and taken account of in all estimates of human dynamics. Milton speaks of fame as “the last infirmity of noble minds;” and this thought has run all through a large part of the literature of religion, and the teaching of a certain school of professed moral philosophers, who would make men over again after plans of their own. They would have them sacrifice their pride, humble themselves, crucify self, and become lowly and obedient. That very element which is intended to sweeten human intercourse, to awaken reciprocal feelings of love and sympathy between men, and to bring about an universal brotherhood, is sought to be degraded and discredited. On the other hand, I hold that men need no other change than is afforded by a natural growth and development. Whatever I have found in the constitution of man, I have assumed that it is there because it belongs there, because it is necessary to the perfection and symmetry of his character; and that to suppress any of those constituents would be to destroy that symmetry, and produce an abnormal development. Men in all ages and climes, and under all conditions, seek distinction; and the way in which that propensity manifests itself is the surest mark of their degree of knowledge. If it is found, as in the Fiji Islander, in an ambition to be a murderer, it indicates the dense ignorance and brutality of the barbarian. So through all the gradations of human character up to our ideal condition where the possession of wealth no longer furnishes that gratification, and where labor itself becomes an emulation, we find the same active force moulding human character after its own highest ideal.

As the reader has probably already anticipated, the effect of the application of the proposed remedy upon the formation of individual character, must, as we have seen, remove every possible incentive to criminality. With universal wealth, and freedom from anxiety as to support in life, and with the possession of wealth conferring upon its possessor no power or distinction, there remains not the least object for any man to steal from another; (in fact, I am unable to see how he could possible steal at all) or to accumulate in one’s own possession more than his present needs require. Then this same universal love of distinction will surely obliterate the last remaining causes of violence, or aggression, which now come under the head of offenses against persons; and every spark of criminality must necessarily be extinguished. And this is exactly what we might expect from a removal of that repressive force which now acts through the law to produce the prevailing volume of criminality.

Who shall pass judgment upon his brother? Who will add to the load of misery he is compelled to bear through the injustice of the law? Who shall even say that he is an erring brother? The real struggles of life are enacted in secret. There is an unseen bravery against the invasion of baseness and necessity which transcends the exploits of military heroes. There are triumphs which no eye sees, no renown rewards, and no trumpet salutes. How then can any man pass judgment upon another, or by his verdict condemn him to a life of infamy, no matter what the outward circumstances, and no matter what the evidence. For myself, I could not sit as a juror in any criminal case, and by my verdict consign any man to punishment. Victor Hugo says: “There is a sublime glory in the scriptural injunction to visit those who are sick and in prison; and in the commendation, Inasmuch as ye did it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye did unto me.” Every man who believe in the truth of the doctrines here formulated can do much to bring those doctrines to the attention of mankind, by refusing to convict a fellow man when sitting as a juror; and even if rejected as a juror by reason of those opinions, the very fact of announcing such opinions becomes a protest against the injustice of the law; and the oftener that protest is entered, the stronger it becomes. Every report of such a protest published in the newspapers will serve to direct men’s attention to the truth, and aid not only to bring about a truer understanding of crime, and its causes, but of the principles of liberty.

But it is not necessary to wait until summoned on a jury before protesting against the inhuman treatment of criminals, that commonly prevails. In private as well as in public men should make that protest heard We ought never to join in the popular condemnation of others for the commission of offenses, even though they shock all our own sensibilities, and tend to arouse our resentments. There is an adequate cause for all things; and somewhere there operate causes sufficient to impel the criminal to commit the crime. The commission is an effect; in other words, the causes being what they were, he could not help doing what he did. Therefore he should not be blamed. “Inasmuch as ye did it unto one of the least of these, ye did it unto me.” Let us rather seek to remove the cause of crime, and the effect will disappear. The effect never can be removed until the restrictions of the law which produce it have been obliterated. We shall then see such a growth of individual character, and such improved social conditions as will remove all possible motive for crime, and develop every possible motive against it.



There remains now to examine those principles of liberty which we have reached in the course of our extended inquiries, in their application to the various branches of the social question. This is necessary for two reasons: one is, to be able to forecast the practical results to be obtained from a realization of a condition of unqualified liberty, and the other, to see if a platform and plan of work looking to such a realization will afford common standing ground for all genuine reformers of every name.

One of the most important as well as delicate of those branches is the relation of the sexes. The necessity for some relation of intercourse between them obviously arises from the most imperative necessity of mankind itself. And the natural forces impelling the sexes to assume and maintain relations of intercourse have been made powerful commensurate with that importance; therefore the law, when dealing with those relations, is meddling with the most powerful factors of human association. Even admitting that any sort of regulation, other than those natural instincts which prompt and control that association, is necessary or possible, it is manifest that it should be undertaken with the greatest caution, and carried out with the highest wisdom. But considering those who make the laws, there is nothing either in their habits or training which would lead us to expect even an average degree of wisdom. The methods by which legislators are chosen are such as almost preclude the possibility of obtaining any other than the grossly vulgar, and corrupt. Nor is there anything in the manner in which laws are suggested, or enacted, which would remove the difficulties one particle. They rather thicken as we advance, rendering more and more remote the possibility of, even by chance, the enacting of a good law.

But we are not left to hypothesis in this matter. The evidences are positive and overwhelming of the most serious evils which come from efforts to regulate the relations of the sexes by law. Ill-assorted marriages, violations of the marriage contract, tyrannical and abusive treatment by one of the parties, jealousies, quarrels, constant friction, often culminating in appalling tragedies, are some of the more direct effects which flow from arbitrary legal restraints.

Scarcely less direct, in fact often forming steps to these disagreements, are the results which come from the laws of property. Instead of sexual relations being the result of inclination, of love, they are made to depend upon sordid considerations as far removed from the natural object of such a union as it is possible to conceive. The first consideration is made a support, and afterward, social position. Wealth, conferring distinction, is sought for the sake of the distinction; and the degree of distinction,—the social position, depends upon the degree of wealth. Even where love exists, and would assert itself, poverty stands in the way. Herbert Spencer says:

“Where attachments exist what most frequently decides for or against marriages? The possession of adequate means. Though some improvidently marry without means, yet it is undeniable that in many instances marriage is delayed by the man, or forbidden by the parents, or not assented to by the woman until there is a reasonable evidence of ability to meet the responsibilities.”

In the face of such obstacles, with natural instincts so powerful, is it any wonder that artificial standards of morals are often violated? The mother instinct in women, while differing somewhat in intensity, is universal. It is manifested even in infancy in the passion for dolls. It grows in strength with increasing years until it either finds its proper expression, or is crushed by adverse circumstances at the expense, not to say of happiness, but of health of mind and body, and may be of life. This mother instinct, just in proportion to its intensity, imparts a sweetness and grace to the personal character, which most powerfully attracts the opposite sex. If, under the influence of these powerful attractions, manifestly the most natural as well as the most exalted, artificial standards of morals are violated, is it not because the law has set up barriers against the natural gratification of desire? Society then steps in with its unwritten laws, but which are just as despotic, and just as arbitrary, to finish the work begun by the statute, and destroy, often the purest and truest of womanhood, and consign them to lives of dishonor. In this case, just as we have found in many other cases, the best and noblest qualities are made the ones which most surely bring dishonor and ruin. That this is the character, in a very large degree, of those who have entered upon a life of prostitution is shown by a great many circumstances, often small in themselves but exceedingly significant. The honesty of their dealings with their washerwomen, and the shopkeepers who trust them while inmates of houses of prostitution, is a matter of frequent note, although in many cases they are shamefully victimized. Another thing, still more significant, is the experience of physicians at Blackwell’s Island Hospital, who say that there are no nurses so tender and devoted to the sick and dying, as those girls. Yet some of our most earnest and conscientious people continue to uphold, not only the law, but the pretended standard of morals, although frequently their own children are the victims; and they will speak of their honor as having been violated by a beloved daughter, whom they feel called upon to disown and discard. Dishonor? Yes. But the dishonor lies in their own weakness and ignorance which permits them to enact such a monstrous injustice to a beloved child.

But some women enter into the ranks of prostitution, just as other women marry, for money. Some of them do it from necessity, and some from choice. But what have they done more than those who marry for the same reasons? They have each sought for support,—for wealth. The only difference is that one method is legalized, and the other is not. The cold blooded social pharisees, who would cut all others to their own measure, are made respectable by law, while their more unfortunate sisters are not.

Everywhere it is the same question,—that of a support, whether in marriage, or out; and it is the same in all the other phases of the woman question, that of equality of opportunity in employments, equality of wages, equality in the family, and equality in political power. It all resolves itself at last into the question of a support. How then will perfect freedom from the restraints of the law act upon this question of a support for women? Precisely as it will for men. It will destroy privilege. It will take away the power that one man or one woman, or some men and some women, exert over other men and women. It will make support infinitely easier for all, at once; and soon will bring about a common possession of property for both men and women; so that the question of a support will be settled in the most complete and substantial way, leaving the relations of the sexes to be determined by natural inclination, or love. Support will no longer be an element in determining those relations. There will be no longer any law to enforce subjection of one party to the will of the other, or to enforce a continuance of relations when no longer productive of happiness, the object for which they were originally assumed. There can be no prostitution, because all will have the most abundant support; and the opportunity for the gratification of sexual desires will depend upon the mutual and natural promptings and consent of the parties themselves, and none other. Women, as men, can and will work at whatever they please, and as they please, not for a support, but as a means of self-culture, of improvement, and to win renown and distinction. The same path of progress will be open to them as to men; and the end will be accomplished by the same means. But now, if a brutal husband knows that he can force his suffering wife to obey him, that she risks starvation, or still greater suffering in mind or body by refusing, while he is practically exempt from any injury to his reputation as long as he maintains a semblance of respectability, be will be extremely careless of criticism and make the life of his wife a burden. He now has a power over her which no person in this world should possess over another. It is precisely the power which the master has over his slave. The only difference is in the extent to which he can carry it.

What then will be the condition of the family: that institution which the law so persistently professes to protect? I do not know; nor do I care to stop to consider. If it is a natural institution, and suited to the wants of humanity, it needs no artificial support like the law to sustain it. And if it is not, it will give place to something that will better express the needs of humanity. In any case it will be purified from the imperfections which are imposed upon it by law. But if the family can only be preserved at the expense of preserving poverty, prostitution, subjection of women to men, domestic infelicity, and the blight and ruin which always follow in the wake of the law, then we had a thousand times better give up the family. It is too high a price to pay even for a good article. [336]

I suppose these sentiments will, at first, find small favor among the professed leaders in social reform. Leaders are only so many rulers in their way. Almost invariably they are infected with the itch of governing. Their ideal of equality and liberty is the equal liberty of scrambling for an office, that they may lord it over the people while in office, and enjoy the emoluments and honors while they are able to retain office. If the leaders in the woman’s movement to obtain equal political power with men, really wish to secure the emancipation of women, they will find that they can only do it by, at the same time, emancipating men. The emancipation of men is the emancipation of women, and the law is the only thing that stands in the way of either. What is the use in wasting our energies for what has failed to produce equality among men. Agitation for right of the franchise, or any other artificial contrivance, cannot possibly do more than delay the day of emancipation, by keeping up a false and misleading issue. If, however, the purpose of the leaders is the same as that of politicians generally, and reform is only presented to hoodwink the people and secure office for the leaders, then they will utterly ignore these propositions until the people, for whom these pages were written, shall take to doing their own thinking and acting, which they must do before they can obtain relief, and act without the intervention of leaders. And really, it is not leaders that men want. So long as they submit to being led, they will be led to the advantage of the leaders. Men must do their .own thinking; and all that I can do, or any other man can do, is to hold up whatever light we have. When men and women understand where the trouble is, their natural interests, and co-operative instincts, will enable them to associate effectively to overcome the obstruction that stands in the way of freedom.



One of the most portentous of the questions that loom up before the people of this country, and one that is fraught with the greatest possible danger unless settled in time, and settled aright, is the race question. To the white people of the south the possibility of negro supremacy constantly haunts them like a spectre. Increase in numbers, increase in wealth, increase in education and culture are all looked upon with extreme jealousy and apprehension. The more thrifty and enterprising the blacks are; in other words, the better citizens they become the more imminent appears the danger. What shall be done? This common fear has heretofore kept the south solid for one political party by practically disfranchising the blacks through the manipulations made possible by law and politics, or by actual force and fraud. This again furnishes other politicians with excuses for fanning the flames of race prejudice, and paving the way to an open rupture. On one side, disfranchisement by law is advocated openly in order to provide against the danger of negro supremacy; and on the other, a measure of force is urged to compel respect for the rights of the negro to the ballot. These are Just the conditions out of which are liable to come serious trouble; and many already predict a most relentless and terrible race war in the south within the next twenty-five years.

At the close of the late civil war it was widely believed that the negro race was so inferior that when brought directly in competition with the white man, free from whatever protection slavery was supposed to afford, his natural inferiority would place him at such a disadvantage that he would be unable to hold his own; and, like the Indian, would rapidly diminish in numbers, and finally become extinct. But the truth appears now that in some parts of the south, at least, the negroes are increasing more rapidly than the whites. And, although I know of no reliable data upon which positive conclusions can be based, I think it will be found that where emigration has not sensibly decreased their numbers, they are everywhere increasing more rapidly than the native white population. I have come to this conclusion notwithstanding the statement of Robert P. Porter, superintendent of the census of 1890, in one of the advance bulletins of that census. He states that, “during the last decade the colored population of the south has not held its own against the whites in the region where climate is most favorable.” But it will only take a moment’ s examination to see that the census upon which Mr. Porter based his hypothesis is utterly worthless for any purposes of generalization. For instance: in Alabama, in the period from 1860 to 1870, the white population decreased 0.93 per cent. but the blacks increased 8.62 during the same time. Turning to the census of 1890 we find the whites increased from 1880 to 1890, 25.46 per cent. while the blacks only increased 13.55 per cent. during the same time. What was it that gave the whites so much greater increase? Without doubt it was immigration. During the last decade a considerable tide of white immigration has been pouring into all the southern states. On the other hand there has been a counter current of blacks northward and westward. Superintendent Porter shows that in Arkansas from 1860 to 1870, when changes from immigration were slight, the whites increased 11.71 per cent. while the blacks only showed 9.81 per cent. of increase; but from 1880 to 1890 the ratios were 38.03 of increase for the whites, while the blacks were 47.40. What was it that made the blacks so much more fertile than the whites in the last decade, when they were less so in the other? And what should make the increase in both of them so much greater than in Maryland for the same period, where the whites increased 13.72 per cent. against the blacks’ 3.70 per cent? Evidently it was owing again to shifting populations. Those migrations of population have been sufficiently great to destroy any value which generalizations would have, based upon any census showing of a stable population. This is even more strikingly shown in the case of the Virginias. In old Virginia, the increase in white population from 1880 to 1890, was 15.19 per cent. while the colored population only increased 1.46 per cent. In West Virginia, right along side of it, the white population increased during the same time 23.07 per cent; but even that is left far in the rear by the colored, which shows 29.44 per cent. increase. Are we to understand that the ratio of fecundity of the blacks between old Virginia and West Virginia is as 1.46 in the former to 29.44 in the latter? If the census figures are intended to show a lower degree of vitality on the part of the black population than exists among the whites, they are utterly worthless for the purpose. But there are other evidences which go to show that the blacks, as a race, possess a vigor and tenacity which were little expected twenty-five years ago.

Whatever the truth may be as to numbers, mere numbers are of slight consequence. As we have seen, numbers count for little in the control of public matters, if by public matters is meant the control of government, and the shaping of the state. The real thing that does control is wealth.

Now the blacks are a progressive race, not only as regards population, but they are extremely thrifty. While their standards of living have undoubtedly risen on the whole since their emancipation, both can and do live with greater frugality than the whites. Their earnings are hoarded until they can be safely and profitably invested. One characteristic, I am told, is that they seldom if ever buy subject to a mortgage, but nearly always pay all cash down. This relieves them of the danger of losses by foreclosure, and the burden of interest charges, as in the case of men who buy on time. While they undoubtedly do work for small wages, this very fact tends to keep them constantly employed; and their frugality enables them always to save a portion, so that with almost all of them there is a steady accumulation.

A recent writer, in treating of this subject, stated that according to a late census of the state of Georgia, the colored population in that state were paying taxes upon $15,000,000 of valuation of real property. As the assessed valuations in that state are regularly made upon the basis of one half of the actual value, this would indicate that at least $30,000,000 of the real estate of Georgia is already in the hands of the colored population. This writer saw in this, grave danger to the continued supremacy of the whites. He looked forward to the time when the wealth of the state would be mainly owned by negroes; and as wealth also confers power, they would be the employers of labor, could dictate the policy of the state, and would come to rule the descendants of their former masters. To him there was no other solution of the difficulty but to take away at once their political power before it became fortified by accumulated wealth. The alternative he presented was, that within the next twenty-five years would come a war of extermination between the whites and blacks, with all the horrors such a war would involve.

There is no doubt of the danger he portrays. Nor is it any less serious than he indicates. But the remedy he proposes, so far from averting the danger would be the surest possible means of precipitating it. Any such general injustice enacted against the blacks must inevitably change an industrious, frugal, and contented people into a bitterly hostile one. It would not prevent their acquirement of power, because the power lies in the wealth instead of in the elective franchise. The simple and natural way is to take away the power which wealth gives. Then they may accumulate wealth to any extent, and it offers no menace to any one. It is true, it involves an abandonment of the supremacy of the whites; but it sets up no supremacy of any other in its place. It is a settlement that is perfectly just and equal. It is liberty to both whites and blacks. So long as either is supreme: so long as either rules the other, the question as to who shall rule will return to plague us and our children after us, until it is settled right, or settled in blood. So long as there is a law to administer, the question as to who shall do the administering will destroy the peace, and haunt both sides with hideous dreams of slavery, or tempt with visions of authority. Justice and liberty is the only desirable thing; it is the only safe thing for either side.

The foregoing is addressed to the mass of the whites irrespective of condition. I have something now to say to that portion of the white population of the south which does not enjoy any form of monopoly, the great middle and lower class. If trouble ever comes between the two races, the weight of the burden of it must certainly fall upon you. You are sure to be the sufferers. The supremacy of the government, is not your own supremacy. It is the supremacy of monopoly; and you are not the beneficiaries of monopoly. You have everything to lose by trouble between the races, and nothing to gain. A man from among your ranks may occasionally be elected to an office; but it cannot help the mass of the class itself. Monopoly cares no more for white supremacy than it does for black, so long as it can maintain its own position. If it can do so to advantage it will use the blacks to crush the whites just as quickly as it will the whites against the blacks. This is proven over and over again by mine owners, and others, who hire a force of blacks to take the place of the whites on strike, just as quickly as they will hire whites to replace blacks. Monopoly secretly foments strife between races in order to plunder both of them; so that with the most combustible materials placed in such close proximity to each other, as the whites and the blacks of the south must continue to be placed, and then with another capable of igniting them, and whose interests are in igniting them, it is certain that there is going to be a fire. That combustibility may be destroyed, along with the interest any one could have in kindling the fire of discord, by doing away with the principle of government itself. Government is only useful to sustain the artificial rights of property set up by the law, in the interest of those who have the most property.

As an instance of the way that monopoly, or government, foments strife between races, in order to plunder them both, I may mention the Russian agitation against the Jews. The laws of property operate in Russia just as they do in the south, or in any other place in this world. They enable the Jews, who, like the negroes, are extremely industrious and frugal, whose expenses of living are kept much below the average standard, but who still prefer earning something, even though it be little, to idleness, to accumulate constantly. But the Jew adds to all this, the faculty of loaning his accumulations for usury; a power which is conferred by the law. He simply takes advantage of the law, just as other people do when they can. Their accumulations have gone on until it has become an object for the governing classes, or the government itself, to plunder them; and it is an easy matter to stir up the ignorant prejudices of the people against the usurers, and get them expelled from the country, after being despoiled of their hoards. Does any one suppose that the poor people of Russia are benefited by the plunder and expulsion of the Jews? They certainly are not one particle. They are made to play directly into the hand of their real masters, the governing classes of Russia. Even admitting all that any one can allege of the Jews as to their extortionate practices, the fact remains that the only thing which makes those practices possible is the laws of property. It is the most inhuman barbarity to visit the popular indignation upon those who have only taken advantage of what the law permitted them to do. It is precisely what I should do, if I were to arouse the popular phrensy against the wealthy monopolists of our own country to plunder them, and then expel them empty handed. The Jews were not to blame, nor are our monopolists to blame, for doing what the law places within their power to do. It is our ignorance that permits the law. The law is the only effective means of oppression; and the only way to destroy oppression is to destroy the law.

The same principles are applicable to all the disputes between different races in this, or in any other age. Without government to erect a supremacy of one over the other, or to stir up the passions of one against the other, there could no disagreement arise between them as races. If individuals differed, it would remain an individual matter, not involving others in the least; because the personal interests of other individuals would so strongly be on the side of peace that it would be impossible to dragoon them into a dispute not their own.

The Indians and the whites could not possibly get into war one with the other if there were no domination of one over the other by law. There is certainly room enough for all; and there is not the slightest occasion for either to feel the least jealousy or bitterness against the other. The only reason which makes the world seem crowded, and why it is crowded in places, is that the laws of property keep most of it idle, while a small part of it is crowded. Destroy the law, and throw open the resources of the world to the people of the world, and race disputes will be no more likely to arise, than disputes between people who have black eyes, with those having blue eyes.

All this involves no question of enforced association of one race with another. That will take care of itself. Each individual, white, black, or yellow, will consult his own tastes and inclinations in selecting associates. And when he has selected them no other individual has any right to interfere, and could not interfere effectively in the absence of law. Liberty is peace, plenty, security, and fraternity between individuals and peoples, and between nations and races; while the law is slavery, discord, poverty, strife and war between them all.



Going still further in the application of these principles, the simple, natural principles of liberty, principles which every man can easily understand, to all the multitude of human affairs, to all the relations of mankind in society, it solves every question, removes every injustice, and cures every social evil. When the absolute liberty of every individual is once clearly recognized, when no man, and no woman, can bring any sort of physical compulsion to bear upon another one to do anything in this world which he or she does not choose to do, the only way in which any one can secure a given line of conduct on the part of another will be to compel him, or her, by kindness. It cannot fail to increase greatly the sum of human kindness. Men’s selfishness will compel them to be kind, to seek the wellbeing and happiness of others, instead of crushing them as now.

While it must be plain to every one that changes like this must produce very important results, yet we need to examine the subject with considerable care before we can realize how great will be those changes.

First, what will be the condition of labor? Manifestly it will be free; but from what? From rents, from taxes, from interest, from the exactions of monopoly, free to take freely from the earth, the storehouse of nature, the materials upon which to labor, and provide for the satisfaction of desire; free from the necessity of supporting in idleness an employer, or even a lot of stock-holders in the products of labor; and free from the arrogant dictation of others as to hours of labor, or rate of wages. All nature stands beckoning to every man to come and take freely from its exhaustless resources. Are men hungry? Come till the soil, and gather the fruits of it. The beasts of the field and the fishes of the sea are for your use and pleasure. Are you cold, or naked, or homeless? Here in the earth are clay and stone, and minerals of the greatest variety and utility; and in such abundance that all the people of all time cannot exhaust them. In the forest are the woods of every kind to suit the tastes or fancy of men, while the forces of nature are everywhere ready to come at your bidding and perform every service. The law is the only thing that erects a barrier between mankind and its natural and bounteous mother earth. Destroy the law, and the laborer shall plant the vineyard and eat the fruit of it. Nothing shall hinder him from exchanging freely the product of his labor with others, as suits-his convenience. The relation of master and servant, and of mistress and maid will be ended, because no one will serve another when he can just as well serve himself.

As this applies to labor in its broadest sense, it includes every one who does any useful thing in this world,—every one who derives his or her support from their labor of head or hand, as opposed to those who live upon the labor of others, such as landlords, bondholders, money loaners, stockholders in productive enterprises in which they perform no labor, professed employers who subsist upon a profit derived from the inadequate pay of those employed, those living upon royalties derived from patents, copyrights, or other forms of legal privilege, and government officers. Labor does not mean merely those who work at manual labor for stipulated wages. It includes merchants, manufacturers, and professional men, farmers, editors, authors, actors, students, all who seek to increase by their own efforts in any way, the general store of human knowledge, or enjoyment.

But when we have catalogued them all, and found that they are free, it does not itself convey an adequate idea of the enormous change that will have taken place. The first effect, after the suspension of the functions of the law by stopping the appropriations for its execution, will be seen in the immediate relief from the pressure of hard times, first in the stoppage of rents, taxes and interest. People are not so much in love with the landlord as to continue payments when he has no longer the power to compel them. Those who can do so will at once take possession of vacant land and begin the erection of homes. For money, some form of mutual token will be adopted which will be generally accepted, and serve in making settlements.

Such changes in social relations make necessary long lines of changes in architecture, in methods of business, in public amusements, in education, in the learned professions, and in domestic affairs. There are very few buildings, public or private which will not require to be rebuilt. The present residences of the poor are little better than stables, and will not be used longer than until others suited to a much higher degree of comfort can be built. The middle class houses are little better, but on the whole, will remain the longest; while the present mansions of the rich will, for a time, stand as monuments of the arrogance and folly of their builders. It will be impossible to obtain servants to care for them, while for their proprietors to do it, will involve an amount of labor and care they will not long submit to; and they will either be pulled down or transformed to other uses.

Changes in methods of business will also involve changes in structures devoted to business. The great store with its multitude of employees will be a thing of the past, unless conducted on a purely co-operative plan. And the same thing is true of the great manufactories. The improved condition of the people, their freedom from the necessity of constant toil during long hours to get a living, will enormously increase the demand for-public amusements; so that present conveniences bill be found totally inadequate. In education also, methods better adapted to the true purposes of education, and to the development of a high individuality, will certainly supersede present clumsy and vicious methods, and render useless the barn-like structures which now pass as school-houses.

But the changes in the learned professions will be the most radical. With the disuse of the law will necessarily come the disuse of the lawyer. His functions will be at an end. He will no longer find an honorable calling in the promotion, for pay, of the dishonest schemes of his clients. He will no longer study how much unjust advantage he can secure for his client, and still keep within the forms of law. An honorable profession will no longer be based upon making trouble to others. The priests will continue to exercise their calling as long as they can find ignorant and credulous people; but ignorance and credulity cannot last long in the face of such general prosperity. Make a man prosperous, and he becomes self-reliant, and progressive. There is no danger in religion if deprived of the sanctions and support of the law. The medical profession, also, will receive a powerful stimulus. The law will no longer protect incompetence; and physicians will maintain an honorable consideration just as long as they keep to the fore front of medical knowledge, and no longer. College professors will no longer depend for their positions upon their willingness to teach the ancient philosophies long since disproved, and avoid the more dangerous dogmas which incline men to liberty.

But in every department of science investigation will be promoted, because freedom will increase a thousand fold the number of those who can prosecute original investigations. I think it is probable that these original invocators will become the teachers of the future; not as a means of subsistence or for the acquirement of wealth, but in the pursuit of distinction.

Second, what will be the condition of the farmer? Again the answer is, he will be free. From what? From debt, from taxes, from interest, from the exactions of monopoly, free to produce, and free to exchange with whomsoever he will anywhere on the face of the broad earth. There can be no custom house officers to take toll upon his exchanges, and thus reduce his earnings. Even the cost of transportation will be relieved of its greatest burden, because it will immediately destroy the stocks and bonds which now constitute fixed charges against the business of the roads, abolish interest, dividends, and salaries to ornamental officers. The operating expenses of the roads will be the labor involved by the actual workmen, plus the maintenance of the rolling stock and road. But ultimately, with the extinction of private property through universal wealth, railroad men will perform the railroad service just as other men will perform services, for the honor and distinction it will bring them, and not for any reward of wealth, because all will take freely from the common wealth.

This is a rational, tangible relief, which is clearly within reach of the farmers whenever they have the courage and wisdom to grasp it.

Third, how will it help the merchant? Just as it does the workingman, and the farmer; he will be free; free from unjust and ruinous debts, from rents, interest, taxes, and licenses, from injurious interference, and from unequal competition. The sources of advantage which the large dealer, or the department stores, have over him will be destroyed. A great store requires a large number of employees. When the wages of those employees rise from five to ten times as high as they are now, as they certainly must do, these high wages, coupled with a less efficient service than where performed for one’s self, must certainly place the great store at a disadvantage by the side of the small ones operated by individuals almost without expense, or by several individuals working co-operatively. The power of the great corporation or wealthy employer lies in the law which prevent people from employing themselves, and which thus permits the employer to reduce wages to ruinously low prices. Break down the legal fences which bar men from the natural means of self-employment, and the merchant is doing two things: he is destroying the unequal power of his competitor, and, at the same time, increasing the prosperity of those whom he expects to become customers. Think what this increased prosperity means. When all the men, women and children in Chicago, or for that matter, in the whole country, are so prosperous that they can buy anything they want, will not trade be good in every line? Merchants certainly will not want for customers. But when, along with it the expenses of doing business are reduced by abolishing rents, interest, taxes, licenses, high prices for transportation, and monopoly prices for goods, I want some one to tell me how a merchant will go to work to fail in business. He will certainly be an ingenious man who can do it under such circumstances.

Then who can conceive of the inestimable boon such an emancipation will bring to the despised and outcast ones of earth, branded by the injustice of the law as criminals, and prostitutes; or who are condemned by the hard conditions of life to live incomplete and unnatural lives, with all their natural promptings suppressed, sometimes until reason itself is dethroned? The plague-spots of vice and poverty in our cities will vanish like mists before the rising sun. The jails, the penitentiaries, the reformatories, [!] the alms-houses, and the insane asylums will be tenantless, while the waste places will blossom like the rose. Liberty is the true Messiah for whom we wait. We know not yet where he will be born, but his time draws nigh. It may be in the manger, or in the hovel, but when he comes, nature itself will break into singing, “Peace on earth, good will to men. And that song will be heard around the world, speaking hope and deliverance to the oppressed and downtrodden of every name and every clime; while the monopolists, the rulers, the Herods of this world, will send out to slay the young child, in the hope of preserving their power. Oh weak! Oh fools! Oh blind! Do you not know that liberty comes to you with as great a boon as to the slave? Do you not know that the emancipation of the slave is the emancipation of the master? What is all your untold wealth, when the utmost possibility of enjoyment cannot bring you a single day’s unalloyed happiness? What more can you do with it than to buy distinction? And when you have bought it you have only a counterfeit. It is the distinction of possession, instead of personal worth. It brings the idle stare of the multitude, instead of the love and esteem of a community of equals. It surrounds you with base sycophants, and flatterers, whose interest in you is in the crumbs that fall from your tables. Can you develop a personal nobility in an environment of baseness? Can you rear healthy children in an atmosphere of sewer gas? Liberty to you also brings freedom; freedom from anxiety, from care, from false friends, from a ceaseless grind to obtain and keep wealth, from baseness, and from the ingratitude of those whom you have trusted. It offers you an opportunity of attainment, and a capacity for enjoyment, infinitely greater than anything you have ever dreamed of. It invites you to a residence in a society where each separate person will be the highest expression of individual attainment, each in his own way; a society into which, if your wealth would buy it, you would gladly expend it all. Liberty kindles no hatreds of man against man. It is the slavery of ignorance that does that. Liberty is peace, prosperity, and happiness for all; and if for all, none can be unhappy. It is the prime condition of association, of civilization itself.

Then why should not the rich join with us in achieving a real liberty? They give up nothing that is valuable, nothing that does not impede their own progress. Why not cast off the impediments of slavery which hamper not only others, but themselves?

I know that many will be strongly prejudiced by reason of my strictures upon religion, and the church; and will be disposed to condemn this whole work as irreligious and immoral; and for that reason to shun it. But it has been necessary to carry the examination to the full extent to which I have carried it, because religion, as represented by the church, is one of the strongest props to the law; because it necessarily teaches subjection and subordination, which of themselves are vicious; and because it directly prevents the growth of individual self-respect and independence, which are essential to the spirit of liberty. Men must be free in mind before they can achieve or appreciate freedom of the body.

Still, there is nothing in what I propose as a remedy for social ills, nothing in a combination of the people to defeat the appropriation of money to pay the expenses of government, to prevent even the most religious from joining heartily in that movement, while yet practicing all the religious ceremonies, and observances enjoined by their churches. They may reject my theories as to religion, and yet work in perfect accord in the practical measures I have outlined. If I am wrong in my theories of religion, and religion has a real basis of good, the adoption of the social reforms which must result from liberty will give a powerful stimulus to that good. So that, whatever there is of value in religion will be helped, but the evil will be powerless for evil when no longer sustained by the law. In the end I think it will be proved that religion is exactly what I have found it in these pages to be: a form and method of enslavement of the mind, the more perfectly to secure the enslavement of the body. But if it has a natural or rightful basis, it needs no artificial support, and cannot be injured by being thrown upon its own resources. To deny this, is to manifest a serious lack of faith in the inherent power of religion. But religion is harmless so long as there is no law to keep men poor, and therefore ignorant and superstitious.



If we have read man aright in these pages, if his springs of action, his natural promptings, the end and purpose of his life are as they have appeared to us in the long inquiry just ended, then he is himself the true Divinity, the sublimest fact in all nature, the crowning glory of all the sons of development from the lowest monad up to a Darwin or a Spencer. If this is true, the baseness, the greed, the vice, the crime and the brutality of men are but the remainders of an imperfect but progressive development, which only requires freedom from external and unnatural restraint to remove. If selfishness is the mainspring of human progress, and only becomes perverted from its true and natural expression into a debasing greed for wealth, as a result of legal enactments which violate the natural condition of property by setting up special rights of property, then the proper way to destroy that greed is to destroy the rights of property which have been set up by the law. The greed of wealth is but misdirected selfishness. The evils which come from it are like the inharmonious sounds which come forth from an imperfectly tuned violin. Nature is a wonderful musician, and is now tuning its instrument, eliminating its discords. The strings are bound together so that they hold each other in check. They cannot vibrate. Free those strings, and permit nature to tune them in her own way; and when she has removed the discords of poverty, vice, and crime, there will break forth such rapturous melodies, such divine harmonies that all nature shall dance together for joy. In the light of all this, and in all that our inquiry has shown, there arise in thought the most enchanting visions of a social paradise that have ever flashed upon the imagination of the wildest social reformer. And those visions are endowed with a consistency, an almost present possibility, which bids us but stretch out our hands in order to grasp their substance.

The sacred fire of liberty which Prometheus stole from Zeus, in a hollow tubs, for the benefit of mortals, has remained hidden away, and concealed, cause men have not recognized its genial warmth and power. And as a result, the diseases, sufferings, and miseries which torment mortals; evils which Pandora, the daughter of the gods, released when she lifted the lid of the vessel in which the foresight of Prometheus had concealed them, have been permitted to work their way unhindered. It is for us to rekindle this Promethean spark, and again confine those torments which have plagued the whole race of mortals, and brought to naught their highest and purest aspirations.

How fair and radiant is liberty! She brings the olive branch of peace to soothe and quiet the angry passions of warring nations, to remove class distinctions, and heal the wounds that jealousy and bitter wrong have made. She brings no word of reproach, and no condemnation to the outcast, or the erring; but lovingly binds up the bleeding heart, and wipes away every tear. She brings joy, and peace, and love to the master as well as the slave, to the high as well as the low, to the rich as well as the poor. Her face is radiant as the sun, while the touch of her lips is as soft and fragrant as the kiss of a babe. But she permits no chain. She cannot be bound. Authority and obligation are alike repugnant. She does all from love, and her own desire, and nothing from duty. Duty kills, but love makes alive; the law destroys, while freedom preserves. Those who would enjoy her must also be free. They have no need to enslave themselves to authority. They may not incur an obligation, assumes duty, or submit to the reign of law. Do this, and liberty flies. She brooks no restriction, and submits to no leaders.

To win her, we have only to break the chains, renounce the obligations, deny authority, repudiate duty, and give scope to man’s freest thought and act. His natural promptings are truer than the temporal or spiritual rulers would have us believe. If not, what is it that keeps those rulers aright? Wherein do they differ from us who are not rulers?

To break those chains it needs no violence; no angry passions. A widespread knowledge of the true principles of liberty is the first step toward its attainment. To this all can contribute by spreading the light, each among his own associates; and no power of any ruler can prevent it. Any efforts to do so can only help instead of hinder. Let us always seek to convince instead of to vanquish. Victor Hugo says: “I make little account of victory. Nothing is so stupid as to vanquish; the real glory is to convince.” And when the time comes to act, as I have outlined, in treating of the remedy, all that is required is steadiness and firmness, and withal kindness. The right, when it triumphs, has no need to be violent. And if the first efforts do not immediately succeed, it is only because a knowledge of those principles has not become sufficiently general; and it shows the need of further work. But every effort, whether at once successful or not, cannot do other than spread a knowledge of liberty, and kindle the hope of mankind. It is a warfare with ignorance in which there are no defeats. Every contest but makes more certain the final victory.

“A fire would cause a dawn, undoubtedly, but why not wait for the break of day? A volcano enlightens, but the morning enlightens still better.”—Victor Hugo.

Work and wait.


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