Vol. I BOSTON, MASS., SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 3, 1881. No. 3
“For always in thine eyes, O Liberty!
Shines that high light whereby the world is saved’
And though thou slay us, we
will trust in thee.”
On Picket Duty
Wages is not slavery. Wages is a form of voluntary exchange, and voluntary exchange is a form of Liberty.
About Progressive People
Land and Liberty
Within the last two years the above heading probably has decorated every public bulletin-board in this country and Great Britain. Yet probably it owes prominence to the more accidental alliteration, and has no rational significance in the average mind.
What has land to do with liberty, or liberty with land? Certainly, if political liberty is meant, the Land Leaguers are strangely adrift, for in the very country to-day where savage despotism reigns and liberty is almost unknown, the people possess, occupy, and enjoy the soil with a liberality equaled by no other, while in that country said to have the most liberal, popular, and truly representative constitution on earth, the people are practically cur off from free and equitable enjoyment of the soil. Russia is as far ahead of Great Britain in the matter or popular enjoyment of the land as Great Britain is in advance of Russia in the matter of political liberty. Again, in Switzerland and the United States, both republics, we find in the former a most liberal and equitable distribution of the land, while in the latter land monopoly is scarcely less formidable and vastly more threatening for the future than in Great Britain. The sense in which our friends are prompted to associate land with liberty probably arises from the very natural feeling that, were the land more widely distributed, the tent-tax now levied upon the mass of farmers in Ireland would be lifted from their shoulders, and they would attain to greater liberty through a lessening or removal of its load. A very elementary ideas of liberty this, but logical as far as it goes.
But since the rent-tax is only one form of profit-theft, why land and liberty any more than every other article of commerce, and liberty? For it is by no means certain that land-monopoly is the chief source of profit-theft. It is the original (temporal) source, and a very good basis upon which to attack profit-theft; but it is, after all, only one source. Behind the wide rand of profit-plunder lies the concrete embodiment of the whole iniquity—usury.
The problem, then, upon closer analysis, reduces itself to this affirmation: Destroy usury, and you attain liberty. That greatest of all powers for good now working on this planet for the emancipation of oppressed humanity, the “Irish World,” has got so far with the problem. “Usury is theft!” it cries out to 100,000 profit-ridden slaves every week, and it means by usury every species of something-for-nothing-tribute, whether it be in the form of rent, interest, or ordinary profits in the realm of trade.
But the “Irish World,” glorious as its work and mission, has yet one more stage in the problem to conquer. Who is responsible for usury? Who sustains it? Who backs it with artillery? Usury, left to its merits as a voluntary social arrangement, could not stand for a day. As Patrick Ford well knows, the insignificant banditti known as landlords, who enslave Ireland, would run for their lives, or sink to their knees like curs whining for mercy, were not a police force of 100,000 men kept at their back against the protest of 5,000,000 people.
The State, then, is the author and defender of usury, as it to-day holds its murderous grasp at the throat of Ireland. And who is the State? The landlords, as the “Irish World” has reiterated a hundred times. Why, then, not abolish the State, and get down to the hard-pan of the whole problem?
Ah! But here we touch delicate ground. The “Irish World” will never reach that third and last stage of the problem of liberty. It is with a feeling of deep regret that we now indulge in a little plain talk, but duty will not permit us to talk otherwise, if we talk at all, and silence would be a crime against liberty. The moment the “Irish World” attacks the State, it attacks the pope, the bishops, the priests, and the whole tribe of spiritual usurers, who knew their art well before the first temporal landlord was born.
Spiritual usurers! Yea, these are the worst abominations in the whole series. “The monopolizing of natural wealth,” cries the “Irish World,” “is the bottom crime!” But we have natural wealth spiritual and natural wealth temporal. We have landlords spiritual and landlords temporal. Yea, and the landlords spiritual are the creators, abettors, supporters, and defenders of the landlords temporal. The very Christian Go to whom the “Irish World” appeals every week is the Father of usury, and his agents, the ecclesiastics, from the pope down to the pettiest priest who demands an admission-fee at the church-door for the supposed benefit of enjoying the sacraments, are spiritual landlords’ bailiffs. These so-called sacraments—what are they but spiritual natural wealth monopolized by these mitred and surpliced thieves, and rented out for profit? If there is any power for good in this world that it pains us to criticize, it is Patrick Ford’s great “Industrial Liberator.” But a more pitiable plight never fell to the lot of beneficent organ of light and truth. It has reached the second stage of solution in the problem of liberty, but can never get any further so long as it remain the “Irish World” with that phallic symbol, the cross, at the top.
The State is the immediate supporter and defender of usury. Behind the civil state is the spiritual stat. Both have one common cause, the enslavement of the masses. Behind the whole is God, the author and finisher of usury and every other enslaving device that paves the way for man’s inhumanity to man. Liberty aims to abolish them all, and all superstitious reverence for their unholy offices. Liberty alone has mastered the third stage of the problem of emancipation, and proposes to stand upon the logic of it without fear or favor. Come with us, good friends, and then you will not only know what “Land and Liberty” means, but, in solving the whole problem of liberty, all these other good things will be added unto you.
A B-B-Bird with W-W-W-One F-Feather
Shall We Tease Our Big Papa?
Two Kinds of Communism.
We do not believe in communism in the economic sense of the word. To us it seems, for many reasons, an impossible and undesirable form of society. Proudhon described it accurately as well as epigrammatically when he called it the “religion of poverty.” But it is not our special business to antagonize the voluntary communism vigorously pictured by W. H. Riley in another column. He, and those of his friends who agree with him, may attempt any associative experiment they please; Liberty will look on with interest and report results.
It is compulsory communism of the Bismarckian stamp that we combat. It is the needle-gun socialism of Ferdinand Lassalle that we oppose. Statecraft is our enemy, whether it be that advocated by Jay Gould in the New York “Tribune,” or that advocated by our good friend, W. G. H. Smart, in a note printed elsewhere in this journal,—a note, by the way, so good-humored, so straightforward, so utterly void of the circumlocution too frequently characteristic of Mr. Smart’s newspaper articles, that we publish it with great pleasure. Space is lacking to meet his points now. Nevertheless, on misapprehension should be corrected immediately. We do not believe that any one can “stand alone.” We do wish “social ties and guarantees.” We wish all there are. We believe in human solidarity. We believe that the members of society are interdependent. We would preserve these interdependencies untrammelled and inviolate. But we have faith in the sufficiency of natural forces. Motives and good impulses aside, we have no sort of sympathy with those multitudinous groups of so-called socialists, of all colors, stripes, and propensities, with each its little scheme for bursting the bonds by which nature unites us and tying men and women together anew with artificial chains. None of them, whatever they may claim, believe in the unity of the race. All its members, in their opinion, need to be cemented into unity, and for this purpose each has his patent glue. They wish a manufactured solidarity; we are satisfied with the solidarity inherent in the universe. When Mr. Smart has whipped the Universe, “body, soul, and breeches,” Liberty too will throw up the sponge.
Pity, but not Praise.
Communism vs. Commercialism
The only society in which the rights of individuals will be respected will be a communistic society, in which the partnership will always be voluntary. Where the right to secede is not recognized—in a family, a state, or a federation of states—there exists subjection, slavery.
All the frenzied babble about the rights of majorities to govern other than themselves must cease. Between kingcraft and communism there is no logical or permanent abiding-place. The rights of all individuals must be recognized as equal, or, sooner or later, we must submit to the “divine rights of kings”—supreme thieves.
Already, in these states, we have an upper ten and an upper ten thousand—virtually ten kings and ten thousand peers of the realm—whose wealth is stolen from the people by the vilest monopolies, usurpations; usuries; and this devilish aristocracy is not despised, but admired. To-day this aristocracy is more powerful and more vicious than that of Britain, and the vox populi is now really less effective in the United States than it is in the United Kingdom.
Commercialism is organized discord. Communism is organized harmony. Commercialism is compulsory conflict. Communism is voluntary concert.
Wm. Harrison Riley
A Welcome and a Warning.
Our European Letter
The Mistake of American Socialists
Compliments from Liberty’s Friends
Kicks and Cuffs from Liberty’s Foes