"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."
JOHN HAY.
"A free man is one who enjoys the use of his reason, and his faculties; who is neither blinded by passion, nor hindered or driven by oppression, nor deceived by erroneous opinions." -PROUDHON.

7/19/17

The Guiteau Experts.

The government experts, in Guiteau’s case, seem to be having things very much their own way; and will probably succeed in getting him hanged, provided they succeed in getting the jury to accept their opinions as to his sanity, or insanity. But will they do this? Are we to hang a man simply because a certain number of superintendents of lunatic asylums believe him sane? Are we to hang a man, upon mere opinions, the truth or reason of which cannot be judged of by common men? Do the lives of men, in this country, legally depend upon the mere judgments of any twenty, fifty, or a hundred men, who claim to know more than other men, as to what diseases, delusions, or impulses that strange thing, the human mind, is liable to, but who cannot so communicate the grounds of their opinions, as to enable other men to judge of their truth or error?

These men never saw, handled, or examined human mind. They can only observe its manifestations through the body; and can only guess, like other people, at the causes of its mysterious and erratic operations. Are men to be hanged on the strength of their guesses?

There are, we suppose, in this country, three, or perhaps five, hundred men, physicians, so called, who make a specialty of treating diseases of the human body, where there is but one who makes a specialty of treating diseases of the human mind. But although diseases of the human body are so much more extensively studied, and treated, and so much easier to be ascertained and judged of, than are diseases of the mind, we have very little confidence in the knowledge of these many physicians, as to the nature or causes of our bodily diseases. These physicians differ so much among themselves, as to the nature and causes of these diseases of the body, that we would not think of hanging a man on the judgments of any number of them, where the grounds of their judgments were so obscure that they could not be communicated to, or comprehended by, the minds of unprofessional men. In other words, we will not hang men, in this country, on any grounds whatever, that cannot be shown, to the common mind, the unprofessional mind, to be true and sound, beyond a reasonable doubt. We will not hang a man upon the mere secret, incomprehensible, or incommunicable reasonings of any number, or body of men whatever. Yet this is just what the government is attempting to do in Guiteau’s case. And it is attemting to do it on the mere opinions, or guesses of a few men only; these few having confessedly very little knowledge, except what is common to mankind in general, of the causes, or the phenomena of mental diseases.

But this is not all. So far as these experts succeed in communicating the grounds of their opinions, these grounds appear not merely fallacious, but preposterous. For example. They have each spent a months’ time, more or less, in the court room, and in the jail, examining Guiteau, to get the data, the facts, the symptoms, by which to judge whether he is, or is not, insane now. They thus impliedly confess that the question is, at least, an obscure and difficult one to themselves. And when they attempt to communicate their reasons to others, they utterly fail to show any valid ones for their conclusions; that is, any reasons that are intelligible and conclusive to common minds. Common minds know almost absolutely nothing as to the validity,or invalidity, of the reasons which these experts give for holding that he is sane now, or that he has been sane at any time since he bas been under their own eyes. If, then, Guiteau is to be hanged, on the testimony of these experts, he is to be hanged on faith, and not on reason; on faith in the simple opinions or conjectures of these experts, and not on reasons brought home to the comprehension and the understandings of the jurors themselves.

But even this is not all. These experts not only give their opinions that Guiteau is sane now, but also that he was sane on the second of July; five or six months ago.

Even if he is sane now, what do they know, or what are their opinions worth, as to whether he was, or was not, sane six months ago?

They apparently have no reason for thinking that he was sane in July, except that they think he is sane in January.

Would it not be just as sensible for them to say that, because he has no fever, or delirium tremens, on him to-day, therefore he could have had none on him six months ago?

This kind of reasoning implies that they hold that if a man was insane in July, he would undoubtedly have continued to be insane until January; or, what is substantially the same thing, that if a man is once insane, he will always remain so.

Now, this, we think, is very likely to be the rule in the asylums under their own control; that they seldom or never cure any body that comes under their care. And we ought to be thankful for this information; for it enables us to know where not to send our insane friends if we wish to have them cured.

On this theory of theirs, that once insane, always insane, the cases, in which they report the patients as “discharged cured,” must be presumed to be cases, in which the victims never were insane; but were simply sent to them on “the certificate of two physicians,” who knew just so much about insanity as it was necessary for them to know, or as they cared to know, in order to earn two or three dollars for certifying their opinions.

If these experts have really any reliable knowledge — beyond that of other men — as to the operations of minds diseased, or not diseased, why do they not give us some reasonable explanation of the conduct of Guiteau, in killing a man in open day, and before a multitude of people, and making no attempt to escape; and all this, when he had no personal malice towards his victim, and no rational prospect of gaining any thing by his death? Are such acts as this common to human experience? So common as to imply no disorder in the mind of the actor? Do all the experiences of all the Bedlams on earth explain such a phenomenon as this, consistently with the sanity of the agent?

When these experts are confronted with this question, they are confounded. Instead of telling us how a sane man could do such an act, they stammer out “wickedness,” “depravity,” “evil passions.”

But what “evil passion?” Was it the evil passion of avarice, or jealousy, or revenge, or any other particular “evil passion,” that is known to men to commit murder? No. It was evidently none of these. But it was (as thede experts would have us believe) simple “wickedness,” “depravity,” “evil passions.” They can give no answer more definite than that.

Such answers as these might perhaps pass in some schools of theology, which hold that a virus of simple “wickedness,” “depravity,” or “evil passions” was incorporated into the very nature of our first parents, and by them transmitted to all their posterity. But when they are offered in a court of justice, where a man’s life is at stake, they are not merely shameful, they are infamous. Men are not to be hanged, in this country, upon any theory that theologians or others may hold as to an ancient transaction between Adam, Eve, and the devil.

These experts have had thousands of insane persons under their care. Many of these persons have committed homicides, or other violent assaults. All of them, or nearly all of them, were supposed to be liable to commit acts dangerous to themselves, or others. The insanity of no two of them showed itself in the same way. But they were all saying and doing things, daily, that were just as absurd and irrational as was the act of Guiteau. And because their acts, whether violent or not, were so absurd and irrational, these experts have no doubt that the actors were insane. But when Guiteau does an absurd and irrational act, they hold that he is not insane, but simply “wicked,” “depraved,” under the control of his “evil passions.” And yet they can give no reasons — that are capable of being comprehended, end judged of, by common minds — why Guiteau’s absurd and irrational act is not as good proof of his insanity, as the absurd and irrational acts of others are of theirs.

Even the witches were not hanged on such absurd testimony as this.

The testimony of these experts tends to show how much science and reason are to be found among the keepers of our asylums for the insane. It tends to show that these men are either blockheads outright, and do not know that they are making fools of themselves, or that they are capable of committing, for money, or to advertise themselves as physicians for the insane, almost any possible crime against justice and reason. It tends to show that many of them, at least, are capable of all the crimes, against both the sane and the insane, with which so many of them have been charged, and of which some of them have no doubt been guilty.
[Lysander Spooner, (unsigned)]

Justice Gray.

The appointment of Horace Gray, as a Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, adds more weight than light to that bench. He weighs, we suppose, about two hundred and seventy-five pounds. But his light is not at all proportionate to his weight. We might as well expect to get light out of two hundred and seventy-five pounds of rump steak. Nevertheless, all this is just as it should be; for it is weight, and not light, that is wanted in Supreme Courts.

All governments, that assume to control their subjects arbitrarily, find it necessary to keep in their service some authority, or some tribunal, that shall be reverenced by the people, and that shall tell them that the acts of the government are all right, and obligatory; and that it is the moral duty of the people to obey and submit; that resistance or disobedience, on their part, is a great crime; a heinous sin against God and man.

In despotic governments, so-called, this service is performed by a State Church. The government gives great privileges, honors, and revenues to the Church, upon the condition that the Church will teach the people that the government is ordained of God; and that to disobey or resist it would be a great sin against God. In this way, the ignorant and, superstitions people are kept in subjection to an arbitrary power that robs, enslaves, and murders them at its pleasure.

We, in this country, have got rid of this superstition about the Church; and the consequence is that our government must have a substitute. And this substitute it finds in its Supreme Court. It sets up a court of its own; selects its own judges, pays them as long as they sanction all its doings; but impeaches and removes them, if they fail to sanction them.

These judges, of course, do sanction all its doings; they are appointed, and paid, and sustained for that purpose, and no other. They understand perfectly the tenure, by which they hold their places, and govern themselves accordingly. And the government, whenever its tyranny or usurpations become atrocious, and cause an outcry, points to the decisions of its Supreme Court, as if that settled the matter.

In this way, the judges of a Supreme Court, in this country, serve the same purpose as do the dignitaries of a State Church in other countries. And the judges can be as safely relied upon, by the government, in this country, to sanction all its doings, as the dignitaries of a State Church can be to sanction all the doings of the government, on which they depend for their privileges and revenues. The judges are an much part and parcel of the conspiracy, in the one case, as the priests are in the other.

In either case, the judges and priests are simply tools and confederates, employed by the government, to overawe ignorant and superstitious people, and keep them in subjection. They are simply weights, which the governments throw upon the people, to prevent their rising in rebellion against the oppressions which the governments practice upon them.

Now, Gray is just the man for a service of this kind. He has no doubt that the government is entitled to arbitrary, irresponsible power over the people; or that it is the duty of the people to submit blindly to every thing the government does. If, in any particular case, any question should be raised, as to the right or justice of any act of the government, he can tell you that, for hundreds of years back, governments have been doing the same things, or other things equally outrageous; but that the people had no alternative but to submit; and that, therefore, they have no other alternative now.

Now, this is exactly what is wanted of a judge of a Supreme Court. And that is why we say that Gray is the right man for the place. And it is the only thing he is fit for. And it is the only use that he will ever be put to, as long as he remains a member of the court.

His associates on the bench will, of course, welcome him as a brother. And they will all enjoy their dignities, and salaries, as long as they sanction all the usurpations and crimes which the government practices upon the people, and no longer.

It is to be hoped that a machine, to be called Supreme Court, will sometime be invented, to be run by foot or horse power, and made to do the work now done by Supreme Courts — that is, to grind out opinions sanctioning every thing the government does. Then the services of such men as Gray and his associates will be no longer needed.

7/17/17

Light-headed Socialists.

The platform adopted by the convention of socialists which met in New York last week is as singular a heap of sociological bric a brac as could be well jumbled together. Such a ridiculous confusion of ideas easily sifts itself to no ideas at all. The key note of this remarkable pot-pourri is compulsion. This is not, however, very singular, since the socialistic machine, like every other which does not propose to stand on its own merits by voluntary assent, can only be run by extraneous force.

It is, indeed, astonishing that a convention of otherwise intelligent and well-meaning men should meet to denounce the present machine, and yet, in the same breath, set up another, with exactly the same despotic element in it that damns the first,— compulsion. Compulsory factory legislation today makes the protest of the pillaged operative nugatory. Compulsory legislation makes the great railways the deadly suckers of farm labor. Compulsory education makes the Colleges, the pulpits, and the newspapers the lick-spittles of capital. Yet, after denouncing these institutions as the agents of robbery and oppression, the socialists immediately set to work, not alohne to imitate their methods, but to revive them in infinitely more atrocious forms.

Take, for instance, compulsory education. Of course the new education under the socialistic regime will be socialistic education. The taxes to support it must be levied by force. The writer of this article does not believe such to be education, but worse than ignorance. He would consider that he was insulting and degrading his children to send them to school under such a system. Now, do the socialists propose to have the audacity to compel him to pay for this education, whether he wants it or not? If so, then their denunciation of the present order is mockery, and they are worse enemies to progress than those whom they call to account.

This absurd craze of “nationalizing” things is the most impertinent lunacy that could make reform ridiculous. In last week’s “Irish World” William Howard comes out with a scheme for “free travel.” The government, which to-day alone puts travelers at the mercy of usurious corporations, is asked to buy up the railroads and thereby exterminate the only element, competition, which keeps the price of a ride from Boston to Chicago from being one hundred dollars instead of ten dollars. “But the government must run the roads at cost!” cries Mr. Howard. Whose cost? The government’s cost, of course; and yet, if Mr. Howard would only be at the pains to consult the facts, he would know beyond all cavil that the cost of running things by government is almost always above that of the most extortionate corporations. Thieving as are the great railroad monopolies to-day, this government, even though it should set to work in dead earnest to run the roads at cost, could not do it at the cost which is imposed upon the travelling public by the corporations. The most expensive public service of its kind is the national postal service, so often cited by the Socialists and Greenbackers as a guiding “star route” to perfection. A corporation now stands ready to do that service, under the most substantial guarantees and even in governmental handcuffs, at far less cost and more efficiently, whenever it shall be permitted to do so.

We are not generally supposed to be remarkably wanting in the virtue of patience, but patience with this over-repeated idiocy of “nationalization” is one of the things that puts us most severely to the test. Guiteau’s attempt to popularize the taking-off of governmental figure-heads by “theocratizing” murder is ridiculous enough, but has the whole weight of inspiration and religious logic on its side, and his arguments challenge the respect of the learned, the wise, and the pious. The socialists, more absurd than he, are in a fair way to yet demand the “nationalization” of love, lunacy, and common sense, backed by compulsory taxation. As yet we have got no farther into their logic than to concede that “free travel” to the lunatic asylums would not be altogether objectionable.

About Progressive People.

A new street in Paris is to be named after Littré, the great positivist and lexicographer.

The artist Collier has just completed an excellent and life-like portrait of Charles Darwin.

The name of Thoreau has become extinct in this country, it is said, by the dead at Bangor, Me., of Miss Martha Thoreau, an aunt of the late Henry D. Thoreau. The latter was the last male descendant of a large family.

A great-great-grandson of Danton has subscribed five florins towards the monument which is to be erected to his famous ancestor. This descendant of the member of the Convention is Aloys Emile Danton, an officer in the Austro-Hungarian army.

It is reported that Karl Marx is dying. His wife, whose death was chronicled in our last issue, was a woman of brilliant talents, descended from an aristocratic and extremely orthodox Prussian family, allied, it is said, to the Scottish house o Agryll.

Professor Huxley had a cook that got so drunk and raised such a row in his house that the police were called. As she was hustled through the yard she let her tongue fly, and gave the professor a blast, of which the only words that could be made out were to the effect that he was a "damn atheist."

The remarkable types of Nihilist women are well known. Vera Sassulitch, whose shot inaugurated terrorism, was the most modest of her sex. In the court-room she blushed when she perceived any one staring at her. Lydy Figner, a charming lady and an accomplished singer, got her eight years in the Siberian mines by sitting in a parlor and playing the piano for weary hours, trying to drown the noise made by the secret printing press in the next room. Anna Lebedeff, a priest's daughter, in the disguise of the wife of a switchman, lived in a watch-house on the railroad, and was found on a box filled with dynamite, chatting with the switchman. Sophy Perovskaya, the daughter of a general and senator, who declined the dignity of maid of honor to the empress and entered the Nihilist fraternity, did the Moscow mine and directed the late Czar's assassination. Sophy Bardin, who was welcomed as a shining star in the literary horizon, wrote a few poems which, though gems of Russian literature, were treasonable, and the singing of them is a State crime.

It was generally supposed that the charges made by Henri Rochefort against M. Roustan in regard to Tunisian affairs had got the famous radical into trouble, but to Tunisian affairs had got the famous radical into trouble, but on the contrary he, alone of those involved, has come out with flying colors. In the suit brought by Roustan, Rochefort was acquitted on every point. The New York "Tribune" thus describes the defendant's appearance in court: "Rochefort's boldness in refusing to challenge the jury told in his favor. His attitude in court was also prepossessing. Spectators, and one may surmise jurymen as well, observed that his air was distingué. He was dressed by a fashionable English tailor, and did not look in any wise foppish. There was frankness in his manner, in his answers, explanations, and observations. He might have been mistaken, he might have been unfairly violent; but his good fail was patent. Gatineau, his counsel, made a point by alluding to all the misery that Rochefort's intrepidity as a journalist had brought upon him. He had never used his pen to accomplish mercenary ends, and went into the war against finacio-politicians with perfectly clean hands. Rochelfort's face is not nearly so fat as it was when he came back from exile. It now looks like a skill carved in old yellow ivory, with two coals of fire to serve as eyes. The flash of the coals appears to light up the caverns at the remote ends of which they are placed. Thick, frizzly, pepper-and-salt hair covers the head, and is arranged in a curious tuft at the coronal region. Rochefort showed presence of mind. His questions were full of meaning, and opened wide vistas which the presiding judge wished to keep shut to the jury. The Lanternier occasionally let fall a droll observation, which, in every case, had the effect of throwing a strange light upon the case. His voice is as peculiar as his head and face. It is singularly distinct. The chin acts with a chopping motion when he speaks. Gleams and glances of the flashing eyes italicize. As his chest is of enormous girth, what he says is heard a long way off. Clemenceau says that Rochefort is wider around the shoulders than any other Frenchman that he knows."

7/12/17

On Picket Duty.

Macaulay was right. Liberty is her own physician, and cures her own ills.

A king once said: “I require a prudent and able man, who is capable of managing the State affairs of my kingdom.” An ex-minister replied: “The criterion, O Sire! of a wise and competent man is that he will not meddle with such matters.”

The sonnet to Liberty in another column was sent to us by that Veteran reformer, John M. Spear, of Philadelphia. Speaking spiritualistically, he tells us that Garrison wrote it. We prefer to attribute it to Mr. Spear himself. In either case it is a credit to its author.

Henry George has been the subject of our severe criticism, and is likely to be again. It gives us the more pleasure, therefore, to be able to say that, as correspondent of the “Irish World” from Ireland, Mr. George, so far as at present appears, is the right man in the right place. His letters give a better idea of the situation in that unhappy country than any that we have seen. Liberty’s compliments to the Ford brothers on so valuable an addition to their staff!

Mr. W. S. Bell has issued new editions of his own “Outline of the French Revolution” and the Bradlaugh-Besant edition of Dr. Knowlton’s “Fruits of Philosophy.” The latter is interesting from having served as a test of the question of a free press in England, and the former valuable as a convenient and succinct compendium of the events that led up to, through, and away from the memorable era which marked a turning-point in human progress. These and other liberal works may be obtained by addressing Mr. Bell at 38 Upton street, Boston.

George W. Smalley, in support of a recent attempt on his part to belittle the influence of women in public life, cites the alleged fact that “the Irish cause has not perceptibly gained in popularity since Miss Anna Parnell and Miss Helen Taylor took to scolding Mr. Gladstone on the platform.” This suggests the inquiry whether any perceptible loss of popularity has been suffered by the Irish cause since Mr. Smalley “took to scolding” Mr. Parnell through the press. Will the flunkey who writes London letters to the New York “Tribune” measure his own influence by his own rule?

One more reformer who keeps a level head! Samuel Leavitt of New York has uttered his protest against the Henry George craze. In a recent lecture before the New York Somebody Club on the “Sense and Nonsense of Henry George’s Book” he poured some very hot shot into the theories of this suddenly popular philosopher, thus concisely summing up and thereby demolishing his defence of usury: “Lo and behold! because bees gather honey, and cattle increase, and corn grows while we sleep — because bountiful Mother Nature gives us something for nothing — therefore we are justified in extorting something for nothing from those of our fellow mortals who have not the same access to her fertile bosom that we have! And this from the great champion of free land!” Mr. George has gone up like a rocket; he will come down like the stick.

Among the Japanese there is nothing of the nature of a legal oath. Witnesses in courts are requested to tell all the particulars; but all the sanctions and penalties, divine and human, which among us are supposed to render an oath sacred, are totally wanting. There is no punishment whatever for bearing false witness. Sensible people, the Japanese! It would be interesting to know how much oftener they lie than we do.

The Land League appears to be spreading to the very ends of the earth. The native journals in India are beginning to republish Land League speeches, and in several of them in the Mahratta district a full translation of the “no rent”, manifesto is given. Extracts from Mr. Parnell’s addresses are quoted approvingly, and there is a prospect of a Land League being started in Hindostan. Mr. Gladstone had best keep his eyes open. Otherwise, as in the case of Ireland, the coercion screws will be applied too late.

A subscriber wishes to know why Liberty uses the word usury instead of interest. We do so for two reasons. First, usury includes all forms of unearned increase, except that which comes by gift or fortune, while interest represents only that increase which is obtained by lending money. Second, the etymology of the word usury brings out more prominently the essential characteristic of the thing it stands for,— namely, payment for use. The word interest has been adopted by modern usurers and their apologists to hide the true nature of their extortionate trade and to make that which is but theft appear as a righteous act of commerce. It is Liberty’s purpose to tear off their mask and show them for the thieves that they are.

The worst act of the socialistic convention at New York was its best. In expelling Justus H. Schwab and his associates it dissociated itself from its most intelligent and only thoroughly honest and earnest element. That element, however, is now shaping its own course, and will do much more effective work by itself than when hampered by the timidity and policy and double-dealing of time-servers and self-seekers. Mr. Schwab Was a good deal of an anarchist prior to his expulsion; we anticipate that his recent experience will transform his tendencies into firmly-settled principles. The road to social salvation leads directly away from politics. We hope to travel it to the end in the companionship of Mr. Schwab and his faithful co-workers.

That paragon of journalism pure and undefiled, the Boston “Herald,” says that “there is a growing feeling in every healthy community against the journals which make it their special object to minister to perverted taste by seeking out and serving up in a seductive form disgusting scandal and licentious revelations.” While the lamp holds out to burn, the vilest sinner may return. But words alone are not meet for repentance. The fruits must be brought forth also. The columns of the “Herald” seem to be as nasty as ever they were. It must begin to inculcate purity and sweetness by example; else its fine precepts are likely to go for naught. Meanwhile, if the above quotation be true, are we to infer that there is a growing feeling against the “Herald,” or that Boston is an unhealthy community?

6/9/17

The Redemption of Money.

If we can fully determine what redemption is, we shall accomplish a great work for human progress. A promise to pay, written on paper, is generally considered redeemed when it is exchanged for coin. This is not always true. If I take a banknote promising to pay one dollar, so far as I am concerned, the note is redeemed; but, if the note is yet outstanding against the bank, it is not redeemed.

If A gives B a note promising to pay one dollar, and B passes that note to C, and C returns it to A, just so soon as A receives it at its full face value, that note is fully redeemed. The great difficulty, in connection with the redemption of paper money, consists of this,— that the promise to pay implies a promise to pay coin; whereas, by right, it should be considered a promise to pay value equal to gold, or silver, whichever may be taken as the standard of value.

In commerce scarcely anybody wants gold, but everybody wants value equal to gold.

If a gold dollar will buy ten yards of cotton cloth, and a bushel of wheat will buy a gold dollar, can there be any difficulty in exchanging wheat for cotton cloth?

Let us remember that, although an absolute standard of value is impossible, a comparative standard is indispensable. We want something of value by which to compare, count, and exchange all other valuable things.

How much fog, mud, and moonshine has been waded through by the would-be teachers of political economy, just because the above truth has not been clearly seen!

Primitive people, as a rule, believe the false and do the wrong. And even when the true thing has been discovered, they are almost sure to start for it in the wrong direction. This is eminently true in regard to money.

Let me repeat,— everybody wants value. Now, if A, B, and C can exchange their goods on the base of a gold valuation, what is the necessity of the gold itself?

Gold always has a marketable value, which is well known. Now, let business men make their exchanges on the value of gold, and not on the gold itself. Then they can use their own credit as money, and redeem their promises to pay by receiving them, and thus, by mutually acting together, they can be independent of the money-lender. For, be it understood that borrowing money, as a good business transaction, is but an exchange of credits. Will the people ever get over the stupid and barbarous notion that money is something of itself?

Our paper money atthe present time (November, 1881) is at par with gold because the government receives it. If A owes B $1,000 and C holds all the gold, how can A pay his debt? Is A has made the promise to pay the gold itself, he must go to C and hive him a bonus for the gold. That is the nature of usury, or interest. But if A, being solvent, has promised to pay B $1,000 in value equal to gold, the debt can be easily cancelled.

What a monstrous barbarism is the arbitrary limitation of money!

And yet money must be limited, to be good money, until people shall find a way to redeem their notes, other than by swapping them for coin.

Apex.

Capital: What It Is and What It Is Not.

Dear Mr. Tucker,— Your comments on my letter in a recent issue call for some response, as it is clear you have not yet got full possesion of the idea you characterise as “unmitigated bosh based on pure chimera.”

Let us pass over the first four and the seventh of your points, for a while, and consider the fifth and the sixth.

You say: “We quite agree with Mr. Smart that ‘accumulated thought and experience are capital,’ but we utterly fail to see why ’things that perish almost as fast as they are produced are not capital!’”

I am glad you admit that “accumulated thought and experience are capital.” You admit, then, that capital is not necessarily material. And you will admit, consequently, that thought and experience (knowledge) — being capital, and being productive — are a force; that, when combined with the simple action of brain and muscle (a purely natural force), they aid the latter, labor, in production. Good!

Now, let us suppose an untutored savage in the wilds of Africa or Australia, who knows just enough to break off a cudgel in the forest to defend himself with or to knock down an animal for food; suppose him carried into civilised lift and taught some useful art by which he can supply himself with previously undreamed-of comforts,— all his capacities developed. From being merely a natural element or organism, possessing dormant or undeveloped capacities and wants, he has now, combined with these, capital, and has become a civilized Man.

Thus far you will agree with me.

Now, let us suppose a piece of uncultivated land in the midst of a jungle, remote from civilization, possessing all kinds of capacity for animal, vegetable, and mineral production, but yielding nothing valuable; suppose a railroad taken in there, axes, ploughs,— in short, all the appliances of civilization. The land will be cleared and fenced and cultivated, and will soon be smiling with abundant crops. From being merely a natural element or organism, possessing dormant or undeveloped capacities and wants, it has now, combined with these, capital, and has become a civilized piece of land,— a farm, or a mine, or a garden.

Now, what difference is there between the two cases? In the one case we have a human savage converted into a civilized man; in the other a land savage converted into a civilized farm.

If the culture invested in the Man is capital, as you admit, why is not the culture invested in Land capital in just the same sense?

And is it not just as proper — or rather, just as improper — to call the material organism, Man, capital, as it is to call the material organism, Land, capital? or any other natural elementary substance, such as wood, stone, coal, or iron; or any animal creature?

Do you not see my meaning? That the productive property or potentiality possessed by any material substance — animate or inanimate — is invested in it, precisely as it is invested in a man’s brain, and is of precisely the same kind. It is capital in the only correct sense of the word; it is stored-up labor in a higher sense than that of the political economists; and neither the man himself, nor the creatures he has civilized, nor the land or things he has civilized are capital.

Have I made this point clear?

As my letter is already long enough for your space, and as I do not wish to confuse this primary question with the other questions included in our discussion, I will leave them for the present.

We are discussing a vital principle,— the corner-stone of Socialism.

W. G. H. Smart.


[Nothing but the above letter was needed to clinch our statement that Mr. Smart’s socialism is an incoherent structure. We print it because we do not wish to be in the least unfair, but we really have not the patience to follow the writer in his absurd hypotheses and indiscriminate analogies. For instance, his statement that “the productive property or potentiality possessed by any material substance” alone is capital, when he has previously supposed no capital to be contained in “a piece of uncultivated land possessing all kinds of capacity for animal, vegetable, and mineral production;” or, his identification of “productive property or potentiality with “stored-up labor,” as if there was no such thing an a natural productive force independent of labor; or, his confusion of man with capital, as if the word capital had not been set apart, in contradistinction to labor, to denote all productive forces and aids to productive forces outside of the laborer, man, and for the express purpose of affording a convenient terminology to be used in discussing the relation of man to wealth; or, finally, his starting out to explain to us why “things that perish almost as fast as they are produced are not capital,” and then making it the conclusion of his letter that capital is stored-up labor and that “neither man himself, nor the creatures he has civilised, nor the land or things he has civilized are capital.” Upon which Mr. Smart asks us if we see his meaning. Well, we frankly confess that we do not, unless he means that men and animals and land are “things that perish almost as fast as they are produced.” But it is useless to ask you, Mr. Smart, what you mean. You probably think that you mean a great deal, but as a matter of fact you do not mean anything at all. You have not the faintest idea of the nature of capital. The A B C of political economy is unfamiliar to you. You have long been an earnest student of the industrial question; you have thoroughly acquainted yourself with many important phases of it; you are constantly saying many good and true and useful things about it; but you have never yet planted yourself upon an intelligible basis, and that is why nobody can ever understand Mr. Smart. — Editor Liberty.]

Apex or Basis?

“Apex” says that it is a barbarism to pay interest on money. That is another way of saying that a state of society in which wealth is not universalized is barbarous, since, in our present stage of evolution, those who have no capital of their own will be glad to borrow from those who have, and to pay interest for the use of the capital.

For it is really capital that is borrowed, and not money, the latter being only the means for obtaining the former, as money would be worthless if it could not be exchanged for the capital needed. We see already that as the loanable capital of a country increases the rate of interest diminishes, and when the accumulated wealth of the world becomes large enough, no one will pay interest.

But to denounce the payment of interest to-day, and (if it could be done) to forbid the man of ability, but lacking means, borrowing the capital he needs, or, in other words, using his credit, would not tend to universalize wealth and so destroy usury; but, on the other hand, it would discourage the production and accumulation of capital, since one of the principal incentives to that production is the use of capital to increase production and add to one’s wealth. It is onvious that, unless the use of capital added to the productiveness of labor, no one would wish to borrow, and no usury could be had. It should not be forgotten, in considering this question, that, in the last analysis, reducing things to their simplest, individualized form, the possessor of capital has acquired it by a willingness to work harder than his fellows and to sacrifice his love of spending all he produces that he may have the aid of capital to increase his power of production. For example, two men work side by side; one consumes all he produces, the other saves part of his product; in time the latter has saved enough to enable him to build or buy a tool, by the aid of which he accomplishes four times as much work as before, and is able to go on adding to his accumulation. The one who has not saved, seeing the advantage of the use of capital, naturally desires to obtain the same benefit for himself, but, not liking to save and wait until he can create capital, he proposes to borrow a portion of the capital of the other. By means of this borrowed capital he can quadruple his product, and is very willing to give a part of his increased product to the neighbor who has befriended him. Would he not be a mean sneak if be were not glad to do so? By the use of the borrowed capital he is not only enabled to pay for the advantage gained, but, by his greater power to produce, he can, in a short time, buy his own tools and no longer be forced to borrow.

Although our present system of business is vastly complicated, and we sometimes seem to borrow money merely, the actual transaction being kept out of sight, yet the case supposed is the real basis of all just payment of interest. I believe there will be a state of society in which money will not be necessary, but that state cannot be built up by commencing at the top. We must build from the foundation, understanding things as they are as well as knowing how they ought to be.

The question is asked,— and it is a very important one, and, simple as it is at bottom, a complex one as it stands,— what is money? It would simplify this matter very much if all would agree to call coin, or money having value as merchandise, money, and paper or representative money, currency, or notes. It is plain that the representative money is that which must be and is principally used in this country and in all commercial countries. Coin money derives its real value in exchange, and as a measure for ths exchangeable value of other products, from the fact that it costs labor to produce it, and, although government laws may foolishly try to make it pass for more than its cost value, they never succeed in doing so. No government ever has succeeded in over-riding natural law, though they may and often do obstruct the operations of Nature’s laws to the great detriment of Nature’s children.

The simplest form of representative money, or currency, is furnished by Josiah Warren’s labor note, which was substantially as follows (I quote from memory):
For value received, I promise to pay bearer, on demand, one hour’s labor, or ten pounds of corn.
Modern Times, July 4,1852.
So long as it was believed by his neighbors that the maker of such notes always had the corn on hand with which to redeem them (since their redemption in labor would rarery be practicable or desirable), they would pass current in that locality; and, in fact, such “labor notes” did pass to a limited extent at Modern Times. Interesting as that experiment was, and showing clearly as it does the principle at the basis of all good currency, it could not be extended so as to satisfy the needs of a great commercial country, or, safely, of a large neighborhood.

But a currency, to be good, must possess precisely the qualifications and qualities of that labor note, with the addition of a guaranty, universally recognisable, that the notes actually do represent solid wealth with which they will be redeemed on demand. Now, there is one thing, and only one, that government can rightfully or usefully do in the way of interference with the currency, the ebb and flow of which is governed by natural laws altogether out of the reach of state or national governments; and that is to issue all the notes used for currency on such terms that it shall be universally known truly to represent actual, movable capital (not land, which is not property in the true sense, and which cannot be carried off by any one wishing a note redeemed), pledged for its redumption. There should be no monopoly, but any and every person complying with the terms should be furnished with the national note. Of course no one who had not the requisite capital could procure these notes, and rightly so because notes made by those who have no capital would swindle the people. And, as our government has no property or capital except the necessary tools for carrying on the affairs of the nation, and as government should have no debts and no gold and silver accumulated, it is obvious that it cannot properly make a good note beyond the amount which could be redeemed in payment of taxes. And, as taxes ought to be diminished and ultimately abolished, there is no valid basis for a government note to be used as currency. Neither will Mutual Banks answer any good purpose, if the notes are based on land.

Basis.


The remarks that follow are not intended to debar “Apex” from answering his opponent in these columns in his own time and way, but simply to combat, from Liberty’s standpoint, such of the positions taken by “Basis” as seem to need refutation.

The first error into which “Basis” falls is his identification of money with capital. Representative money is not capital; it is only a title to capital. He who borrows a paper dollar from another simply borrows a title, and not at all that to which it is a title. Consequently he takes from the lender nothing which the lender wishes to use; unless, indeed, the lender desires to purchase capital with his dollar, in which case he will not lend it, or, if he does, will charge for the sacrifice of his opportunity,— a very different thing from usury, which is payment, not for the lender’s sacrifice, but for the borrower’s use; that is, not for a burden borne, but for a benefit conferred. Neither does the borrower of the dollar take from the person of whom he purchases capital with it anything which that person desires to use; for, in ordinary commerce, the seller is either a manufacturer or a dealer, who produces or buys his stock for no other purpose than to sell it. And thence this dollar goes on transferring products for which the holders thereof have no use, until it reaches its issuer and final redeemer and is cancelled, depriving, in the course of its journey, no person of any opportunity, but, on the contrary, serving the needs of all through whose hands it passes. Henco, borrowing a title to capital is a very different thing from borrowing capital itself. But under the system of organized credit contemplated by “Apex,” no capable and deserving person would borrow even a title to capital. The so-called borrower would simply so change the face of his own title as to make it recognizable by the world at large, and at no other expense than the mere cost of the alteration. That is to say, the man, having capital or good credit, who, under the system advocated by “Apex,” should go to a credit-shop — in other words, a bank — and procure a certain amount of its notes by the ordinary processes of mortgaging property or getting endorsed commercial paper discounted, would only exchange his own personal credit — known only to his immediate friends and neighbors and the bank, and therefore useless in transactions with any other parties — for the bank’s credit, known, and receivable for products delivered, throughout the state, or the nation, or, perhaps, the world. And for this convenience the bank would charge him only the labor-cost of its service in effecting the exchange of credits, instead of the ruinous rates of discount, by which, under the present system of monopoly, privileged banks tax the producers of unprivileged property out of house and home. So that “Apex” really would have no borrowing at all, except in certain individual cases not worth considering; and therefore, when “Basis,” answering “Apex,” says that “it is really capital that is borrowed, and not money,” he makes a remark for which there is no audible call.

The second error committed by “Basis” he commits in common with the economists in assuming that an increase of capital decreases the rate of interest and that nothing else can materially decrease it. The facts are just the contrary. The rate of interest may, and often does, decrease, when the amount of capital has not increased; the amount of capital may increase without decreasing the rate of interest, which may, in fact, increase at the same time; and, so far from the universalization of wealth being the sole means of abolishing interest, the abolition of interest is the sinc qua non of the universalization of wealth.

Suppose, for instance, that the banking business of a nation is conducted by a system of banks chartered and regulated by the government, those banks issuing paper money based on specie, dollar for dollar. If, now, a certain number of these banks, by combining to buy up the national legislature, should secure the exclusive privilege of issuing two paper dollars for each specie dollar in their vaults, could they not afford to, and would they not in fact, materially reduce their rate of discount? Would not tho competing banks be forced to reduce their rate in consequence? And would not this reduction lower the rate of interest throughout the nation? Undoubtedly; and yet the amount of capital in the country remains the same as before.

Suppose, further, that during the following year, in consequence of the stimulus given to business and production by this decrease in the rate of interest and also because of unusually favorable natural conditions, a great increase of wealth occurs. If, then, the banks of the nation, holding from the government a monopoly of the power to issue money, should combine to contract the volume of the currency, could they not, and would they not, raise the rate of interest thereby? Undoubtedly; and yet the amount of capital in the country is greater than it ever was before.

But suppose, on the other hand, that all these banks, chartered and regulated by the government and issuing money dollar for dollar, had finally been allowed to issue paper beyond their capital based on the credit and guaranteed capital of their customers; that their circulation, thus doubly secured, had become so popular that people preferred to pay their debts in coin, instead of bank-notes, thus causing coin to flow into the vaults of the banks and add to their reserve; that this addition had enabled them to add further to their circulation, until, by a continuation of the process, it at last amounted to eight times their original capital; that by levying a high rate of interest on this they had bled the people nigh unto death; thus then the government had stepped in and said to the banks: “When you began, you received an annual interest of six per cent., on your capital; you now roceive nearly that rate on a circulation eight times your capital based really on the people’s credit; therefore at one-eighth of the original rate your annual profit would be as great as formerly; henceforth your rate of discount must not exceed three-fourths of one per cent..” Had all this happened (and with the exception of the last condition of the hypothesis similar cases have frequently happened), what would have been the result? Proudhon shall answer for us. In the eighth letter of his immortal discussion with Bastiat on the question of interest he exhausts the whole subject of the relation of interest to capital; and “Basis” cannot do better than read the whole of it. A brief extract, however, must suffice here. He is speaking of the Bank of France, which at that time (1849) was actually in almost the same situation as that described above. Supposing, as we have just done after him, a reduction of the rate of discount to three-fourths of one per cent., he than asks, as we do, what the result would be. These are his words in answer to Bastiat, the “Basis” of that discussion:
The fortune and destiny of the country are to-day in the hands of the Bank of France. If it would relieve industry and commerce by a decrease of its rate of discount proportional to the increase of its reserve; in other words, if it would reduce the price of its credit to three-fourths of one per cent., which it must do in order to quit stealing,— this reduction would instantly produce, throughout the Republic and all Europe, incalculable results. They could not be enumerated in a volume: I will confine myself to the indication of a few.
If, then, the credit of the Bank of France should be loaned at three-fourths of one per cent., ordinary bankers, notaries, capitalists, and even the stockholders of the bank itself would be immediately compelled by competition to reduce their interest, discount, and dividends, to at least one per cent., including incidental expenses and brokerage. What harm, think you, would this reduction do to borrowers on personal credit, or to commerce and industry, who are forced to pay by reason of this fact alone, an annual tax of at least two thousand millions?
If financial circulation could be effected at a rate of discount representing only the cost of administration, drafting, registration, etc., the interest charged on purchases and sales on credit would fall in its turn from six per cent., to zero,— that is to say, business would then be transacted on a cash basis; there would be no more debts. Again, to how great a degree, think you, would that diminish the shameful number of suspencions, failures, and bankruptcies?
But, as in society net product is undistinguishable from raw product, so in the light of the sum total of economic facts capital is undistinguihable from product. These two terms do not, in reality, stand for two distinct things; they designate relations only. Product is capital; capital is product: there is a difference between them only in private economy; none whatever in public economy. If, then, interest, after having fallen in the case of money to three-fourths of one per cent.,— that is, to zero, inasmuch as three-fourths of one per cent. represents only the service of the bank,— should fall to zero in the case of merchandise also, by analogy of principles and facts it would soon all to zero in the case of real estate: rent would disappear — becoming one with liquidation. Do you think, sir, that that would prevent people from living in houses and cultivating land?
If, thanks to this radical reform in the machinery of circulation, labor was compelled to pay to capital only as much interest as would be a just reward for the service rendered by the capitalist, specie and real estate being deprived of their reproductive properties and valued only as products,— as things that can be consumed and replaced,— the favor with which specie and capital are now locked upon would be wholly transferred to products; each individual, instead of restricting his consumption, would strive only to increase it. Whereas, at present, thanks to the restriction laid upon consumable products by interest, the means of consumption are always very much limited, then, on the contrary, production would be insufficient: labor would then be secure in fact as well as in right.
The laboring class gaining at one stroke the five thousand millions, or thereabouts, now taken in the form of interest from the ten thousand millions which it produces, plus five thousand millions which this same interest deprives it of by destroying the demand for labor, plus five thousand millions which the parasites, cut off from a living, would then be compelled to produce, the national production would be doubled and the welfare of the laborer increased four-fold. And you, sir, whom the worship of interest does not prevent from lifting your thoughts to another world,— what say you to this improvement of affairs here below? Do you see now that it is not the multiplication of capital which decreases interest, but, on the contrary, that it is the decrease of interest which multiplies capital?

Now, this reduction of the rate of discount to the cost of the bank’s service, and the results therefrom as above described, are precisely what would happen if the whole business of banking should be thrown open to free competition. It behooves “Basis” to examine this argument well; for, unless he can find a fatal flaw in it, he must stand convicted, in saying that “when the accumulated wealth of the world be comes large enough, no one will pay interest,” of putting the cart before the horse.

“Basis” is in error a third time in assuming that “Apex” wishes to “forbid the man of ability, but lacking means, using his credit.” It is precisely because such men are now virtually prohibited from using their credit that “Apex,” and Liberty with him, complains. This singular misconception on the part of “Basis” indicates that he does not yet understand what he is fighting.

The fourth error for which “Basis” assumes responsibility is found in his statement that “in the last analysis the possessor of capital has acquired it by a willingness to work harder than his fellows and to sacrifice his love of spending all he produces that he may have the aid of capital to increase his power of production.” A man who thoroughly means to toll the truth here reiterates one of the most devilish of the many infernal lies for which the economists have to answer. It is indeed true that the possessor of capital may, in rare cases, have acquired it by the method stated, though even then he could not be excused for making the capital so acquired a leech upon his fellow-men. But ninety-nine times in a hundred the modern possessor of any large amount of capital has acquired it, not “by a willingness to work harder than his fellows,” but by a shrewdness in getting possession of a monopoly which makes it needless for him to do any real work at all; not “by a willingness to sacrifice his love of spending all he produces,” but by a cleverness in procuring from the government a privilege by which he is able to spend in wanton luxury half of what a large number of other men produce. The chief privilege to which we refer is that of selling the people’s credit for a price.

“Basis” is guilty of several other errors which we have not space to discuss at length. He supposes that to confine the term money to coin and to call all other money currency would simplify matters, when in reality it is the insistance upon this false distinction that is the prevailing cause of mystification. If the idea of the royalty of gold and silver could be once knocked out of the people’s heads, and they could once understand that no particular kind of merchandise is created by nature for monetary purposes, they would settle this question in a trice. Again, he seems to think that Josiah Warren based his notes on corn. Nothing of the kind. Warren simply took corn as his standard, but made labor and all its products his basis. His labor notes were rarely redeemed in corn. If he had made corn his exclusive basis, there would be no distinction in principle between him and the specie men. Perhaps the central point in his monetary theory was his denial of the idea that any one product of labor can properly be made the only basis of money. To quote him in this connection at all is the height of presumption on the part of “Basis.” A charge that his system, which recognized cost as the only ground of price, ever contemplated a promise to pay anything “for value received,” he would deem the climax of insult to his memory. “Basis,” in donning the garments of Josiah Warren to defend the specie fraud, has “stolon the livery of heaven to serve the devil in.” “Basis” is wrong, too, in thinking that land is not a good basis for currency. True, unimproved land, not having properly a market value, cannot properly give value to anything that represents it; but permanent improvements on land, which should have a market value and carry with them a title to possession, are an excellent basis for currency. It is not the raw material of any product that fits it for a basis, but the labor that has been expended in shaping the material. As for the immovability of land unfitting it for a basis, it has just the opposite effect. Here “Basis” is misled by the idea that currency can be redeemed only in that on which it is based.

But this fertile subject has taken us farther than we intended to follow it. So here, for the present, we will quit its company, meanwhile handing over “Basis” to the tender mercies of “Apex,” and heartily endorsing almost all that “Basis” says at the close of his article concerning the true duty of government, as long as it shall exist, regarding the currency.

Editorials

Liberty has won praise from Sir Hubert. J. M. L. Babcock, the founder of “The New Age,” writes that he “rejoices greatly in Liberty,” which he describes as “a periodical in which the most radical thoughts are radically spoken.” These words fitly describe also the paper which Mr. Babcock conducted. The career of “The New Age” was short, but of such a character that its editor may look back to it with unmixed pride and satisfaction. It was one of the few papers that have ever lived that was not afraid of its subscribers. In many more respects it was a model journal, and, typographically and otherwise, we feel that we owe much to it. We grieved greatly at its death, and are glad of this opportunity to acknowledge that we profited greatly by its life.

Guiteau’s “Malice.”

When one man kills another, he is not a murderer, unless he kills him from some motive, which the law calls “malice.” And this malice must be such as a saneman can entertain, and such as is naturally sufficient to induce a sane man to commit a murder. The violent passions, impulses, or delusions of an insane man are not such “malice” as the law requires to convert a homicide into a murder.

Now, what sane malice — such malice as could reasonably be expected to induce a sane man to commit a murder — has Guiteau ever exhibited, towards Garfield, either at the time of the homicide, or before, or since? None at all, unless it be this: Corkhill shows, or attempts to show, that Guiteau was a persistent and disappointed officeseeker; and he wishes it to be inferred that he (Guiteau) was indignant at his disappointment; and that this indignation amounted to legal malice; to such malice as might reasonably be expected to induce a sane man to commit murder. His whole case hangs upon this fact.

But Guiteau had little or no occasion to be indignant at Garfield personally, on account of his disappointment. If he was indignant at any body, on this account, he evidently had much more reason to be indignant at Blaine, than at Garfield; for he evidently understood that Blaine, rather than Garfield, was the one who stood in the way of his success.

But admit that Guiteau acted from malice — from such malice as a persistent, disappointed, indignant, and sane officeseeker might reasonably be expected to entertain, and act upon — what is the inference? Why, that all persistent, disappointed, indignant, and sane officeseekers are dangerous persons; that they go about with murder in their hearts, and pistols in their pockets; and may reasonably be expected to commit murder.

This being the case, who can tell the number of dangerous persons there are abroad in the community? What census could enumerate them? it is frightful to think of their number. And they are of all grades, from those who aspire to the presidency, down to those who aspire only to the humblest offices in the nation, or the States.

We are far from defying that this class of persons are dangerous. On the contrary, we have no doubt that all officeseekers, the successful ones as well as the disappointed ones, are dangerous. In fact, we think the successful ones are by far the more dangerous. They kill men by the hundreds of thousands, when it is necessary to maintain their power. But we are now considering only the cases of the disappointed ones.

And here an important inquiry forces itself upon us, viz.: If all persistent, disappointed, indignant, and sane officeseekers are to be supposed capable of such legal malice as prompts men to commit murder, what shall we say of Blaine, and John Sherman, and Grant? They were publicly known to be persistent, disappointed, and indignant aspirants for the presidency, at the last election. And it is not likely that either of them has recovered, or ever will recover, from either his disappointment, or his indignation. They are, therefore, dangerous persons. Yet they are still at large; and who of us are safe from their malice?

But this is not all. The number of like characters — only of lower grades — is such that, on the principle laid down in Guiteau’s case, they constitute a great public danger; a danger everywhere present, and that no one can guard against. The only remedy would seem to be, to abolish the government itself, on the principle that “the public safety is the supreme law.” If, therefore, Guiteau shall be convicted, we shall expect to see the people rise en masse, and abolish the government, as their only means of saving themselves from the pistols of persistent, disappointed, indignant, and sane officeseekers.

And here we wish to protest against the examination of medical experts, as to Guiteau’s insanity. The question is not, what will an insane man do? but what will a sane man do? a sane officeseeker? a persistent, disappointed, indignant, but still sane, officeseeker? That is the question. What do the superintendents of lunatic asylums know about such a case that? They never had such a case on their hands. Or who do know any thing about it, except officeseekers themselves, and their intimates? They are evidently the only ones who can tell us what crimes a persistent, disappointed, indignant, and sane officeseeker is capable of. These, then, are the only ones whom the government should summon.

We think those political editors, who are so anxious to have Guiteau hanged, should be first put upon the stand, and be required to tell what they know about themselves, and their officeseeking associates. We wish, for example, that Horace Greeley were still alive, and capable of testifying. He was himself a lifelong, persistent, disappointed, and indignant officeseeker. Whether he was sane may be questioned. He was subject to violent paroxysms of rage and profanity. We should like to know whether he ever wished to kill any body, except Seward and Thurlow Weed.

Then there were Seward, and Chase, and Cass, and Webster, and Calhoun, and Clay, who were persistent, disappointed, and indignant officeseekers; seekers of the presidency. We wish they could be put upon the stand, and required to tell what they knew about officeseekers, high and low; and whether they themselves, in their disappointments, ever wished to kill anybody.

What revelations we might have, if all these political experts could be put upon the stand, and made to tell us all they knew about officeseekers!

But it is not necessary to call up these old and famous officeseekers. Let them rest, although they never suffered anybody else to rest. Without their oral testimony, we know enough of the nature of officeseekers, successful and unsuccessful, to know that, as such, they are all utterly dangerous, and thoroughly bad. We know that the successful ones will murder mankind by the wholesale, to maintain their power; and we know that the unsuccessful ones would do the same, if they could but get into power. But if, not getting into power, they feel indignant, and now and then kill a man, that is a small matter, compared with what they would have done, if they had been successful in their ambitions.

But whether these disappointed ones are sane or insane, it is time to have done with a system that breeds, in such numbers, these dangerous creatures.

[Lysander Spooner, (unsigned)]

Honoring a Great Law-Breaker.

On the evening of Friday, December 2, the twenty-second anniversary of the execution of old John Brown of Ossawattomie at Harper’s Ferry, a festival in honor of the hero’s memory was held at New York in the theatre of Turn Hall. A large audience, made up in part of ladies, was present, including also not a few colored people. The hall was prettily and appropriately decorated with flowers and mottoes. The meeting was held under the auspices of workingmen, and, as was eminently fit, the tributes of the evening to the martyr of oppressed black labor came from the lips of men now among the foremost in championing oppressed white labor,— the speakers being Hugh McGregor, Victor Drury, and John Swinton. The latter made the principal speech of the evening, and nothing could be more appropriate to Liberty’s columns than the following extract from the New York’ “Sun’s” report:


It were hard to tell in what way we should properly estimate the depth and the scope of the influence of this man John Brown upon our country’s history. We know that after ages of ascendancy for American slavery, he was the first man to enter its stronghold and smite it with the sword; and we know how quickly the sword that was struck from his hand brought destruction to American slavery. We know how slavery stood in safety before he delivered his blow; we know how it reeled to ruin under that blow. We know how the South was startled by Harper’s Ferry, and how the North. It was the challenge to battle, the first shot in the war.

It was a new policy that John Brown brought into play against American slavery,— the policy of meeting it upon its own terms and its own field, confronting with force a system based upon force, and establishing human rights by the weapons that upheld public wrongs. In place of the old way of acquiescing in slavery, or compromising with it, or arguing over it, or resisting its extension, he adopted the way of assailing it by the only means that gave any hope of destroying it. John Brown’s way was justified by the event — justified amid flame and smoke by Abraham Lincoln’s proclamation of abolition. . . . . . . . .

I proclaim it here to-night ns my judgment that the man who goes highest in his estimate of the immediate, the far off, and the permanent efficacy of John Brown’s influence, is most nearly right.

Now, then, in this view of his life and work, and from this vantage of the years, I acclaim as Prophet, Hero, Martyr, and Victor, the man John Brown — prophet for half a century, hero for five years, martyr for a day, victor forever — victorious in Kansas with his rifle, victorious in Virginia on his scaffold, victor against slavery in the United States,— victor over the earth and through the ages — his name as a pillar of fire in the sky, guiding men to the Canaan which be himself saw not.

But hark! I hear the drool of Old Legality that John Brown was condemned and hanged under the authority of government and law. Ay, it is true. So we then hold that John Brown was guilty? Nay, nay, nay; but let our guilty system of government and law beware lest his condemnation be its doom.

What is this thing that arrogates to itself the title of law, the records of which are foul with wrong — the hands of which are red with the world’s best blood — the administrators of which were so perfectly described by Zephaniab, the Hebrew prophet, who said “The Judges are wolves, gnawing the bones” — which has supported every powerful culprit and every incorporate monstrosity — which poisoned Socrates, slew the Gracchi, strangled Savonarola, beheaded Vane, burned Servetus, hanged John Brown — ay, crucified the young Galilean himself — the devices of which are the scourge, the rack, the wheel, the stake, the gibbet, the cross, and every invention of torture?

Who are these beloved felons at law arrayed in white, for they are worthy, their names effulgent in the sky, burnishing the dull world? How many of the apostles and prophets of the ages have fallen victims to the fraud misnamed law? The world is to-day as busily engaged as ever it was in sacrificing them. Look at the scaffolds of Russia, the dungeons of Germany. But, my hearers, this will not last forever. As Samson in his death brought down the temple of Dagon, as John Brown in his death shivered the bulwarks of chattel slavery, so every martyr hastens the end of the system under which he is sacrificed.

Well, now, my hearers of to-night, though chattel slavery has been abolished from our country, we have yet other wrongful and destructive things established among us which, in their turn, shall be brought to the judgment of justice. Take notice, then, of a few of the features of John Brown’s revolutionary action:

1. John Brown acted under his own authority, or, as he himself said, “under the auspices of John Brown,” by the power of his own manhood, in behalf of right and man’s rights. He took the responsibility, seeking no sanction other than that of his own conscience. He did not refrain from action because he was weak, nor wait till the majority was on his side. “I acknowledge no master in human form,” said John Brown.

2. John Brown did not hesitate to confront the government and all its menaces. He stood by himself against all the established shows of the day — political, ecclesiastical, and pecuniary.

3. John Brown violated law and the laws.

4. John Brown believed in destroying wrongful institutions by the sword, when no other way was available.

5. John Brown believed in fighting for others, in giving his life for the freedom of slaves.

6. John Brown took no heed of self-interest, obloquy, petty prudence, or the condemnation and vengeance of the times.

7. John Brown put his whole soul in his work, and gave it all he had, his own life and his four sons, three of whom fell by his side.

8. Yet withal, John Brown was a practical and sensible man, the attestation of which are his work and his success.

If it be not for us of to-day to imitate John Brown’s action, well were it for us to possess the qualities of soul that underlay it.

Other times need other work and ways of other men. Man rises to each occasion. For every emergency, bountiful nature furnishes the man. . . . . . . . .

According to the song that swelled from our embattled hosts during the years of strife, John Brown was a body and a soul, which became a mouldering body and a marching soul. Behold John Brown in the body — erect, rugged and grim, battling for man and for freedom, closing his career on the gallows. Behold John Brown’s soul, luminous and august, compassionate and benignant, enriching us all by its radiance, raising us all by its puissance, and softening us all by its tender grace, of which he made such sublime display during the closing scenes of his life.

A monument to John Brown here in our city! Would that my fiat could raise it aloft! There is already a monument to John Brown at North Elba, where he is buried; there is, I believe, another at Ossawattomie, on the plains of Kansas; his statue will stand in the Capitol at Washington; and in the quiet Massachusetts town of Concord, you may see, in the Summer School of Philosophy, besides the busts of Anaxagoras, Plato, Pestalozzi, and Emerson, the bust of John Brown. But I should like to see two other memorials or monuments to this man — one of them here in our city, at this gate of the continent; the other at Charlestown, in Virginia, on the site of his scaffold — so that the North and the South, and all the world, would thus again have perpetual reminder that here was a man of our nineteenth century who, accounting his own life and home and treasures as naught, gave himself to battle and death that he might deliver those who were crushed and lost, even black slaves.

How hopeful were the times and the skies, had we among us but a few men — ay, or one man — of John Brown’s conscience, judgment, valor, righteousness, and, above all, of his self-sacrificing life!

Now, as my last words for to-night, I exclaim: Great were John Brown’s life and work and triumph! Worthy, thrice worthy, is John Brown!

In the course of the meeting Prof. Marquand played on the piano a funeral march by Beethoven, “John Brown’s Body,” “The Marseillaise,” and “Marching Through Georgia.”

On Picket Duty.

Without unrestricted competition there can be no true cooperation.

The Boston “Investigator” offers itself to trial subscribers for one month for twenty-five cents. The paper has a glorious record, and all Liberals should unite in rewarding its valiant struggle against superstition by stanch support in its honorable and still vigorous old age.

Herbert Spencer, though he knows nothing of Proudhon’s ideas and made a complete fool of himself on the only occasion when he ever undertook to criticise them, is as much of an anarchist, if he only knew it, as was Proudhon himself. For his theory of social evolution from militancy to industrialism means the eventual abolition of the State. Mr. Spencer is a philosopher who busies himself more with the past than the future, but the lesson of his teaching and the applications of his theories, though less emphatic on that account, are just as clear to thinking people.

At the recent celebration of John Bright’s seventieth birthday at Rochdale the hero of the occasion, responding to the tributes of the admiring laboring population, briefly roviewed the progress made in England during his career. In the course of a glorification of free trade he said, jubilantly: “So far as selling to all the world, you are perfectly free with your labor as we are perfectly free with our capital.” What a sorrowful satire upon the present system of industry and commerce that a prominent representative of a class which does next to no labor and therefore produces next to no capital should be able to stand before an audience made up from the class which does nearly all the labor and therefore produces nearly all the capital, and talk to them, unrebuked, of “your labor” and “our capital”!

The “Free Religious Index” has dropped the adjectives from its name, and wishes henceforth to be known, as of old, simply as the “Index.” Whether the discarded title implied too much freedom to suit the old management, or too much religion to suit the new, or whether both old and new have become suddenly impressed by the profundity of a remark said to have been made by a near relative of the original manager, Mr. Abbot,— namely, that she did not like the term, “free religion,” because it reminded her of “free love,” — we are not informed. But, whatever the motives that inspired it, the change is a good one. A combination of circumstances that makes it expedient for a newspaper to abandon its original name is very rarely found. [George Chainey, please notice!] Certainly no such circumstances ever occurred in the history of the “Index.” The old title is unquestionably simpler, stronger, broader, and, in its present lettering, typographically neater than the one recently in use. Its readoption, therefore, is to be commended. Moreover, the paper itself is now much better “made up” than ever before. The new editor, Mr. Underwood, has reconstructed its anatomy to advantage. If, in addition, he will infuse some blood into its colorless veins, it will become a readable and valuable journal.

6/7/17

Mr. Frothingham’s Defection.

[For Liberty]

Free Religion may put on mourning now. Its ex-chef, if he has not fallen, has had his mind greatly shaken, and knows not but he must beat a retreat to the shades whence twenty years ago intellectually he emerged. “I do not want to give the impression,” he is reported as saying, “taht I recant anything. I simply stop denying, and wait for more light.” I am not surprised to find Mr. Frothingham at this point of doubting, for, though I believe him always perfectly sincere, it has ever seemed to me that his nutural frame of mind could be best imaged by a doubt. He doubted “revealed religion.” He pleaded for the “Religion of Humanity.” But his plea never leaped forth like an irresistible conviction. It sounded like what the old Christian writers called an “apology,”— an apology for his doubt. It was an argument: an intellectual stating, a lawyer-like presenting of his case,— his case against the old supernatural faith. Always well done; strong, classical, rhetorical, elegant; but not stirring one with more than a keen intellectual appreciation. “I always feel cold chills run down my back when —————— speaks,” once said an acquaintance of mine;” and when that happens, I know my soul is coming up to fever heat.” But it was not Mr. Frothlngham’s discourse that produced in my friend’s soul these responding fever heats. Yet, it can be truly said that few men have made clearer statements of what has been termed the Radical, or Liberal, position than has Mr. Frothingham. He has done great service, and there are hundreds, if not thousands, who would earnestly confess that he had been a real helper to them. He helped, as we have indicated, in resolving their doubts,— placing the weight of argument to the doubter’s side. But to quicken the believer in his belief, clearing away the contentious intellectualism that intervene between the universe of spiritualities and the soul’s vision by spontaneous spiritual affirmations which no soul could or would gainsay,— that function of the great teacher, or quickener, he did not, in any marked degree, possess. He was not, however, without that side of human nature. Especially in his private conversation, when controversy or advocacy did not come to the front, he would manifest a reserve transcendental power which not alone surprised the listener, but suggested that Mr. Frothingham was probably the “coming man.” But this suggestion was not to be realized. The view of the intellectual doubter was too habitual with him. He must leave his own direct vision for the reconstruction of old visions or old beliefs. Not contented with what he himself could believe, he must enter the arena of debate, and rid the world, by force of new arguments and profounder statements, of its errors. The “situation” had a charm he could not resist. How Free Religion stood; how much headway it made from year to year; how the old faith was affected by it, and what might be the next step,— all these considerations came up for him as for the others; he and they came consciously to regard themselves as a part of a movement in history, and were ever busy about the “logic” of it; unrestful with their ideas, unless they could also be making themselves felt as a power in the Republic, shaping events.

Finally, some two years ago, it came to pass that Mr. Frothingham felt the stress of a new departure so strongly that he retired from his old associations and sought to regain himself in the quiet of foreign travel. He did well; and, if the report of the result, as given by an interviewer to the press, be correct, he has, in our opinion, made a decided gain upon the free religious past which he had forsaken. What Mr. Frothingham now more clearly sees is the fact that there is something in human experience corresponding to what the Christian world has proclaimed as “revealed religion.” He sees or feels that the materialistic religion coming to the front has only the intellectual basis which closes up the channels of the spirit whose in-coming into human experience is all that keeps human life fresh, progressive, and, in any true sense, alive. When he left New York two years ago, he announced that his ministrations from the transcendental, or individualistic, standpoint were at an end. He looked for no farther progress, save in the beneficent aids of social, scientific organization. It was his lapse into those materialistic moods which have more or less overtaken nearly all the liberal leaders. To-day he turns his face toward “revelation,” which is simply a word that stands for the so-called orthodox interpretation of the soul’s proclamation. As the Christian world has understood (or misunderstood) the great fact of the soul’s revelation of itself, the world is limited to an individualism of a past age. Peter, Paul, and Jesus had revelations from the soul, but no individual to-day may assume any such importance. This limitation is the Christian’s misapprehension, the truth being that all ages and all individuals may leave this open door for the soul’s entrance. Undoubtedly Mr. Frothingham saw in the Catholic clergy a certain “power behind them which must mystify the philosophers,” especially those whose life is led by speculations of the materialistic brain. These Catholics have at least some portions of the soul’s revelation by inheritance. Had they that which might and would come to them separately as individuals were they disconnected from organised tyranny, the mysterious power Mr. Frothingham speaks of would not lessen, but increase.

Mr. Frothingham’s purpose to stop denying and wait for more light is a good one. He can well afford now to let “Evangelical religion” alone: neither concern himself with its errors or its truths, nor be oppressed or elated by its strength or weakness. Its churches may or may not be filled,— what is that to a man who is conscious of his own spiritual health? For, though the light that is in him be at ebb, if he will in truth “wait,” it will come again at flood. But, if he forsakes the Free Religious organization to run after other organizations, to hear their dissertations of “revealed religion,” he will cease to be loyal to his purpose. There is a difference between waiting and going after light. In our judgment Mr. Frothingham’s greatest failure in the twenty yeary of his ministry was his unsteady reliance on the revelations of his own soul. His waiting may restore his faith therein, and clothe him with power as from on High.

Usury.

Paying money for the use of money is a great and barbarous wrong. It is also a stupendous absurdity. No one man can use money. The use of money involves its transfer from one to another. Therefore, as no one man can use money, it cannot be right and proper for any man to pay for the use of that which he cannot use. The people do use money; consequently, they should pay whatever the money may cost.

Money is necessarily a thing which belongs to society. This is one of the great truths of civilization which has been generally overlooked. For this whole question of the rightfulness of interest turns on the question, “What is money?” So long as the people shall continue to consider money as a thing of itself objectively,— why, there is no hope for humanity.

All wealth is the product of labor, but no labor can produce money. There can be no money until some wealth has been produced, because money is a representative of wealth.

Money is a form of credit,— credit in circulation. It is not a thing of substance. The great object of money is to exchange values. Now value is an idea, and money is used to represent, count, and exchange values. The symbol or token of money is not the money itself. Therefore, as money is not a thing of substance, and cannot wear out, it is and ever must to a great wrong and an utter absurdity to give wealth for the use of an idea.

In equity compensation implies service or labor, and as money does not cost labor, why, labor cannot, justly be demanded for its use.

But let us look at it practically. The people use money; the people furnish the money; and, if the cost of issue is paid, there can be no other expense. The great difficulty touching this whole matter is a barbarous misconception of the nature of monoy and a more barbarous disposition to monopolize power and rob the weak. For — let us ask — who pays the great tax of interest? Not those who have and handle the money; not those who use the money; but the poor, the weak, the ignorant, the dupes of the ruling class. We can illustrate this by a fact of to-day. If five or more men having one hundred thousand dolars, and no more, organise and establish a national bank, just so soon as their bank is in operation they have the use and income of one hundred and ninety thousand dollars. Now, is it not clear that, this company having got ninety thousand dollars for nothing, somebody has lost that amount? For, if one man gets a dollar that he has not earned, some other man has earned a dollar that he has not got. That is as certain as that two and two make four.

If all men could use their own credit in the form of money, there could be no such thing as interest. Yet, to put this idea into practice, there must be organization and consolidation of credit. Commercial credit, to be good, must be known to be good. A man’s credit may be good to the extent of a thousand dollars, but, that fact not being generally known, he must, as things are, exchange his credit for that which is known to be good, and pay a monopoly price for the privilege of using his own credit in the form of money.

Let us remember that no man can borrow money, as a good business transaction, under any system, unless he has the required security to make the lender whole in case he should lose the money. What a stupendous wrong is this,— that a man having credit cannot use it, but must exchange it and pay a monopoly price, which is really for the privilege of using his own credit!

And again, he cannot pay this himself, but must compel the poor man to work out this tax; the latter must pay this interest in the enhanced price of goods. I wonder if the people will always be this blind and stupid!

So long as business men, as such, and laborers shall continue to permit the few shrewd moneyed men to monopolize commercial credit,— that is, money,— just so long will it be hard times for business and labor. What we want now is the organization of credit on a just and equal plan. William B. Greene solved this whole matter and summed it up in two words: “Mutual Banking.” That is what we want.

Apex.

Attention, “Apex”!

My dear Mr, Tucker,— Allow me just to say that “Apex” is in error in supposing he has answered my question. It appears by his own comment that his “Yes” means that the plough-lender is entitled to pay for the wear and tear of the plough. I asked: Is he entitled to pay for its use? I marvel that he should overlook the distinction, for I bad been careful to mark it in my first statement. When the question as I put it is answered in the affirmative, I shall be ready to answer the other, “What of it?” But I am still left to the mournful impression that my question is not answered.

Yours cordially,

J. M. L. Babcock.

6/3/17

“Leaves of Grass.”

Liberty has received from the publishers (James R. Osgood & Co., Boston), and joyfully welcomes “Leaves of Grass,” the collective title of Walt Whitman’s poems. It is a convenient, compact, and tastefully “got up” volume of 382 pages, and contains a number of hitherto unpublished poems, besides those of the earlier editions. “Leaves of Grass” have lost nothing of their original native simplicity, freshness, and vigor from being more carefully arranged and placed in a more artistic, though it may be a more conventional vase. The book will be more readily purchased and read, at any rate; and that is the main point. The titles of some of the poems have been changed, and the table of contents newly arranged and made much more convenient for reference to special passages.

We have not discovered that the book has lost anything of its characteristic outspoken independence, nor that any concession has been made to Mrs. Grundy. It still retains all its naked truthfulness and purity, like its prototype in marble, the Greek Slave.

Walt Whitman is preeminently, above all and before all, the poet of innovation, the poet of change, the poet of growth, the poet of evolution. There is not a drop of stagnant blood in his veins. Every fibre of him quivers with life, energy, and fire. His spirit is at the same time the spirit of content and discontent. He is satisfied with whatever is and as it is — for to-day, but not for to-morrow, nor that for any future to-morrow.

Urge and urge and urge,
Always the procreant urge of the world.
That seems to him to be the key-note of the universe.

A study, “By Blue Ontario’s Shore,” affords a good idea of what he himself considers his mission, and shows how thoroughly one in purpose that mission is with Liberty’s. He shall speak for himself from that poem.

By blue Ontario’s shore,
As I mused of these warlike days and of peace return’d, and the dead that return no more,
A Phantom gigantic superb, with stern visage accosted me,
Chant me the poem, it said, that comes from the soul of America,
Chant me the carol of victory, and strike up the marches of Libertad, marches more powerful yet,
And sing me before you go the song of the throes of Democracy.


The poet, in responding, commences with a striking bit of individual self-assertion, of which we can quote but a few lines:

A Nation announcing itself,
I myself make the only growth by which I can be appreciated,
I reject none, accept all, then reproduce all in my own forms.


We are powerful and tremendous in ourselves,
We are executive in ourselves,
We are sufficient in the variety of ourselves,
We are the most beautiful to ourselves and in on ourselves,
Nothing is sinful to us outside of ourselves,
Whatever appears, whatever does not appear, we are beautiful or sinful in ourselves only.


(O mother — O sisters dear!
If we are lost, no victory else has destroy’d us,
It is by ourselves we go down to eternal night.)


Have you thought there could be but a single supreme?
There can be any number of supremes . . .
All is eligible to all,
All is for individuals, all is for you.


Produce great Persons, the rest follows.

Then comes this attack upon Authority and conservatism:

Piety and Conformity to them that like,
Peace, obesity, allegiance, to them that like,
I am he who tauntingly compels men, women, nations,
Crying, Leap from your seats and contend for your lives;
I am he who walks the States with a barb’d tongue, questioning every one I meet,
Who are you that wanted only to be told what you knew before?


Somewhat changing the theme:

I listened to the Phantom by Ontario’s shore,
I heart the voice arising demanding bards,
By them all native and grand, by them alone can these States be fused into the compact organism of a Nation.


To hold men together by paper and seal or by compulsion is no account,
That only holds men together which aggregates all in a living principle, as the hold of the limbs of the body or the fibres of plants.


Of these States the Poet Is the equable man,
For the great Idea, the idea of perfect and free individuals,
For that the bard walks in advance, leader of leaders.
The attitude of him cheers up slaves and horrifies foreign despots.


Without extinction is Liberty, without retrograde is Equality,
They live in the feelings of young men and the best women,
(Not for nothing have the indomitable heads of the earth been always ready to fall for Liberty.)


For the great Idea,
That, O my brethren, that is the mission of poets.


A few lines to show what he claims for himself:

Give me the pay I have served for,
Give me to sing the songs of the great Idea, take all the rest.
I have loved the earth, sun, animals, I have despised riches,
Claim’d nothing to myself which I have not carefully claim’d for others on the same terms,
I am willing to wait to be understood by the growth of the taste o myself,
Rejecting none, permitting all.


We must find room for our poet’s creed of Individualism, and close therewith our quotations trom this remarkable book:

I swear I begin to see the meaning of these things,
It is not the earth, it is not America who is so great,
It is I who am great or to be great, it is you up there, or any one,
It is to walk rapidly through civilizations, governments, theories,
Through poems, pageants, shows, to form individuals,


Underneath all, individuals,
I swear nothing is good to mo that ignores individuals,
The only government is that which makes minute of individuals,
The whole theory of the universe is directed unerringly to one single individual — namely to you,
(Talk as you like, he only suits these States whose manners favor the audacity and sublime turbulence of the States,)
Underneath the lessons of things, spirits, Nature, governments, ownerships, I swear I perceive other lessons,
Underneath all to me in myself, to you yourself, (the same monotonous old song.)


I am for those who have never been master’d,
For men and women whose tempers have never been master’d,
For those whom laws, theories, conventions, can never master.
I am for those who walk abreast the whole earth,
Who innagurate one to inaugurate all.


I will not be out-faced by irrational things,
I will penetrate what it is in them that is sarcastic upon me,
I will make cities and civilizations defer to me,
This is what I have learn’t from America — it is the amount, and it I teach again.


(Democracy, while weapons were everywhere aim’d at your breast, I saw you serenely give birth to immortal children, saw in dreams your dilating form,
Saw you with spreading mantle covering the world.)


I will confront these shows of the day and night,
I will know if I am to be less than they,
I will see if I am not as majestic as they,
I will see if I am not as subtle and real as they,
I will see if I am to be less generous than they,
I will see if I have no meaning, while the houses and ships have meaning,
I will see if the fishes and birds are to be enough for themselves, and I am not to be enough for myself.