Lego et Penso

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Liberty (1881-1908)

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Benjamin Ricketson Tucker

Contents

I

Lego et Penso.

A PREJUDICE THAT MUST COUNT.

IN The New Freewoman of August 1st Mr. Edward Carpenter expresses the opinion that pretty positively at the present day the men of Uranian temperament are especially in favour of women in their struggle for liberty and hold them in high respect, and he offers numerous citations indicating that a similar attitude towards women prevailed among the Spartans in the days of the Uranian love. I have made no study of Uranian men, least of all historically; but perhaps I shall not be impertinent in suggesting, as far as the present is concerned, that both homosexualists and heterosexualists (let us use plain language, the term Uranian being caviare to the general) may be divided broadly into three classes, the gross, the ordinary, and the refined, and that the attitude towards women is more apt to be determined by the degree of refinement than by the direction which the sexual passion chances to take. The great majority of high-minded men, whatever their sexual lives, respect women and wish them to be free. If the direction of the sexual passion has any influence at all in this regard, I incline to the view that the women stand higher in the minds of heterosexualists. There is an undeniable tendency in many homosexualists to look upon woman as an inferior. They sometimes honor certain exceptional women, just as Anti-Semites sometimes honor certain individual Jews; but in either case, as a rule, prejudice must first be overcome. It is hardly to be presumed, then, that the men who entertain this instinctive aversion to women are absolutely uninfluenced by it when summoned by women to support their demand for independence.

* * *

OUR RIGHTS.

"Foemina" (Madame Bulteau) is writing for "Le Figaro" a series of articles under the general title, "In the Peace of the Evening," one of which is so nearly in line with the teachings of The New Freewoman that I translate it in full:

"The anxiety that torments collectivities, and also the nervous discontent, the swift disgusts, the brief duration of sentiments, and a thousand other unpleasant things from which individuals suffer perhaps more than they used to,—do not all these arise from the growing concern and firm certainty felt by each and all in the matter of their rights?

"Yet what a queer delusion! It happens, no doubt, that one has the power to dispose as he pleases of beings, of objects, of this or that force. Objects, beings, force, are yours! Possession gives you the means of destroying or preserving them. Yes. But the means is not the right ! And if you need to eat and be happy, where was concluded the mystic contract thanks to which food and happiness are due to you? You do not know; but you feel clearly your right to satisfy your instincts. Why should you have it? One finds no other reply than that of stubborn children who have exhausted their arguments: because!

"When certain men, after having declared themselves kings or caused themselves to be so declared, had the inspiration to persuade their subjects that the right to reign emanates directly from God, they showed great wisdom. One does not see how they could have gotten out of the difficulty in any other manner. For it is only by going back to the marvellous obscurity of the divine will that the idea of any right whatever finds a basis.

"In truth, long before he occupied himself with monarchs, the Lord, placing his creature in Paradise, gave him all the delights, or almost all. But, in expelling him, he gave him to understand—as was strikingly shown by the sequel—that nothing more would be drawn from the void for his sole pleasure and definite possession, that every object conquered by his effort, and which he should find good reasons for considering his own, might be taken from him by the effort of another, who also would have his reasons, and that, in short, fire, bread, and Jove would by no means be destined, set aside, for each, prior to his birth.

"With their first steps out of Eden the susceptible Adam and the visionary Eve lost all their rights.

"Yet their successors must have kept some memory of the dazzling garden where the primitive law caused fruits to ripen at the hour of hunger, imposed obedience on animals, and prepared for each desire a satisfaction amid the sublime liberty of the world in flower. Only a persistent recollection of Paradise can explain the mad notion of a right to what one has, to what one wishes, even to what one needs.

"This notion has taken many forms and has never ceased to work upon the mind. Thanks to it, and for the perpetuation of those artificial establishments, societies, has been justified the domination of the stronger—pleasantly qualified as the 'better'—over the weaker and the worse. And with it has been drawn up the catalogue of the virtues and the vices: the former recognizable by the fact that they give freer play to the rights of the neighbour, the latter by the fact that they restrain him, deny him, or annihilate him. Crimes and faults: robbery and murder, which assail the fancied right of each to live and keep his goods; and debauchery, because it compromises the right to endure which the race attributes to itself; and falsehood, which, depriving relations and exchanges of security, tends to ruin all rights together; and disorder, because it invades, gently or abruptly, a multitude of our recognised rights to the money that it screws out of us, the time that it squanders, the peace that, by its very neighbourhood, it destroys.

"As for the virtues, their role is plainly to be seen. The greatest, naturally, are those that appeal to the greatest number, such as heroism or charity, that touching safeguard of the right to wealth, which by generous sacrifices, an exquisite goodness, prevents poverty for a moment from perceiving that it too has its rights.

"Then come the little virtues: submission favourable to the right of tyranny; patience, that permits the right to ill temper to display itself at leisure, economy, so helpful to the prodigalities of heirs; and, for reasons of the same type, fidelity, frankness, industry.

"It is a curious and useful experiment to impose upon one's self for a day the obligation not to say or think, in respect to any matter whatever: 'I have the right.' One is surprised to remark at the end that, a propos of some contradiction, some disappointment, some lack of respect, some servant at fault, some letter delayed, some remark reported, the irresistible formula has risen ten or twenty times, or more. We mingle it with everything, and with it we spoil everything.

"If parents were to strike it from their vocabulary, they would be less certain of having received their authority from heaven, and would no longer believe themselves infallible. Knowing that their little ones are not theirs and do not exist for their sakes, they would bring them up more wisely. And they, the children, if they would refrain from making the absurd formula the basis of their judgments, would realize the value of the endless tenderness, the marvellous devotion, to which they are not at all entitled, as it pleases them to imagine. Brothers, cousins, and aunts would not feel authorized to disparage each other more pitilessly than they disparage any stranger. A more delicate modesty would temper the struggles for money. Families would not be, as they so often are, groups of antipathies, where ill-will is met, and where, amid paltry and cruel conflicts, it seems legitimate to liberate one's faults, one's worst manias, and all that is lowest in the mind. We should respect each other more if we were to forget the rights of blood and of alliances.

"And benefactors would know no bitterness but for their 'right to gratitude.' The most illusory of all! Does one pretend to be loved, admired, for the good that one does? Then one does not deserve it! And those magnificent hearts that are generous and devoted because a sublime egoism obliges them to enjoy themselves only in others,—well, such would desire no gratitude. It is they who owe it when they are permitted to serve and to console, so vast is the joy that they feel therein. Rare hearts, expert in the art of living, they find no rights.

"As soon as one is certain of having rights over them, objects, situations and people begin to lose their interest. For all vital force tends to conquest. One is called only by that which does not yet belong to one, or that which one is afraid of losing. But one may lose anything! No one has said to you: 'This joy, created for yourself alone, has been conceded to you by an indestructible compact in such a way that no one can deprive you of it.'

"You have tried to win some one's love. You have it; you are at your ease. Imprudence! Tranquil on your security, you no longer restrain yourself, uncovering your egoism, your weaknesses. Some one has loved in you a personage who adorned his soul as his body, and who, improved by the anxiety of uncertain love, grew more beautiful. You reveal in yourself another personage. Will you continue to be loved? Do not hope too much from your rights!

"And do not count on them in friendship either. Perhaps you would neglect the daily offer of yourself which is necessary to this sentiment, so strong and so precarious, so resisting and so vulnerable! The lapse of time, the long confidence, the firmness of the received affection,—all these things, remember, simply lay upon you duties. And if you, of the two, love the more, it is a happiness for which you can expect no thanks. Have a poor man's prudence, though your heart be full. And keep a close watch on your feelings after doing a service to a friend.

"Take care! Overcome the temptation to believe that, because of this, he will be the more attached. On the morrow of the day when it has been useful, friendship runs a terrible risk. It is an ordeal that tries the strongest. If the disastrous idea is in him, the generous friend will lose somewhat of that fear of displeasing without which no sentiment endures. He will judge from a higher standpoint, and the cherished being will seem diminished. And, if the latter perceives that, as a reward for this devotion, it is considered that he must belong more than before, you feel his recoil, the instinctive defence that he puts up? How allow an obligation to be laid upon one's heart? The friendship has entered upon its death-agony; the image of the right has intervened.

"Detestable image! It destroys the militant ardour, the taste for perfection, and the proud humility in the artist too sure that he deserves the success that is his. He takes his ease with his art, and no fear of doing less well causes him a holy anguish. It is this image too that detaches from precious objects, deprives chance of its amusement, corrodes all the feelings, and prevents people from maintaining with respect to each other that buruing curiosity which alone gives happiness. It turns aside from effort also. It is really a detestable image!

"Everyone remembers certain simple emotions, yet as intense as happiness, called forth by a sunset, or music that, thanks to the assent of mind and nerves, has procured one of those perfect movements in which a long-felt weariness slips from the shoulders like a cloak. And again, on a journey, the mysterious street or a distant song, an odor of bark borne on the breeze, a sudden ray piercing the shades, suddenly deliver to you the soul of a region. And also, those joys without a morrow: the swift look that penetrates and caresses your dear secret; an anonymous sympathy that decks the twilight of a gloomy day. If all these delicate treasures have such value, it is because we do not believe ourselves entitled to them. Precious offerings of chance! We are free to seize them, attentive, eager, full of the fine appetite for conquest; alive, in short.

"None of these things are due to us,—not the sky on fire, not the melody, not the perfumes, not the love that has come, nothing! Say to yourself every morning, joyfully—and anxiously: Why am I free, beautiful, glorious, rich, contented And why am I loved, instead of another? At once you will feel a wonderful taste for life. Things will no longer wither in your hands. For a long time, perhaps indefinitely, everything will wear an aspect of novelty. You will find a pleasure, mingled with the exquisite acid of astonishment, in remarking your glory, in enjoying your beauty, in spending your money. Underlying your pains you will not meet so often the intolerable sensation of injustice. And you will no longer lose your treasures of tenderness by the wayside. For you will be afraid of losing them.

"If, sure of our rights, we do not keep a firm grasp on our possessions, they quickly change to ashes, or escape. We must continually renew our deserts, achieve afresh our conquests. We must, or else we shall not be slow to see what our rights are worth."

* * *

POSSIBILITIES OF THE FUTURE.

When my friend Swartz shall have organised the industry of the sex-workingwomen, presumably advertisements of the industry will be in order, and the daily papers will teem with bargain-counter announcements, offering remainders and shop-worn goods at reduced prices. Being a believer in liberty, I cannot say nay. Most people having the idea that every Anarchist is bound to prove that Anarchy and the millennium are one and the same thing, it will be no new thing for me to answer such objectors that even liberty has its unpleasant side. But meanwhile the illogical human race, which rarely grants one liberty without curtailing another, probably will have agreed to the proposal of E. C. Walker of New York, also my friend and one-time libertarian, that the boycott shall be rigorously suppressed by law, and then it will be illegal to refrain from reading any journal whatsover, even the Bulletin of the International Intelligence Institute, which Mr. Swartz conducts, and which perhaps will then be filled with the delectable advertisements in question. With this cheerful prospect before us, I feel some comfort in the reflections that we may still have the liberty to take to the woods. By the way, in view of the the increasing vogue of male prostitution, does Mr. Swartz intend to organize the sex-workingmen as well?

BENJ. R . TUCKER  

II

Lego et Penso.

OUR RIGHTS.

(The following paragraphs from Madame Bulteau's article with Mr. Benj. R. Tucker's comments thereon were omitted from Mr. Tucker's contribution in our last issue. By an oversight Mr. Tucker's statement that Madame Bulteau's article was given in full was allowed to stand. The paragraphs appearing below which were omitted on account of pressure on our space should be read to follow par. vi., page 115, in the previous issue.—ED.)

"And why has adultery in woman been held so long for a grave offence? Because of its possible consequences? Evidently. Morals, like everything else, have been constructed by men, and the capital importance which they have given to feminine adultery is the necessary consequence of the imperative need of being sure of their paternity. Perhaps this need has some profound physiological cause which science will one day determine. Perhaps too it was born at the same time as the notion of possessing goods, the right to which is so sure that it continues to be exercised even after death. In short, there is probably a relation of cause and effect between the power to bequeath one's weapons, the scalps of one's enemies, or one's American railway shares, and the stamp of reprobation which so far has been placed upon erring wives. And who knows if the new and even greater indulgence that is being shown to these weak ladies does not announce, a little prematurely, the feelings and the judgments of a day when the laws will no longer permit the leaving of one's fortune to one's children?

"However that may be, it is difficult to give the face of a crime to adultery in man, since he runs no risk of introducing into the home a little thief to steal the inheritance. The taste for equality will have to be developed still further in women, and they will have to use their revolvers on a considerable number of faithless husbands, before persuading them—and persuading themselves!—that the treason of the male is as serious as their own. For the right to constancy occupies even in delicate souls, a smaller place than the right to money.

"As for the virtues, their rôle is plainly to be seen. The greatest, naturally, are those that appeal to the greatest number, such as heroism or charity, that touching safeguard of the right to wealth, which by generous sacrifices, an exquisite goodness, prevents poverty for a moment from perceiving that it too has its rights.

"Then come the little virtues: submission favourable to the right of tyranny; patience, that permits the right to ill temper to display itself at leisure, economy, so helpful to the prodigalities of heirs; and, for reasons of the same type, fidelity, frankness, industry.

"They have done well, since men must live together, to so draw the line between good and evil that each individual might learn to respect the rights of others. They would do still better to convince each other that only the others have rights,—each none at all. Ah! if we could efface the images of that Eden, the road to which decidedly is lost! If we could renounce the belief that men and circumstances owe us something or other, that happiness is necessarily in reserve for us somewhere, that to have held a thing in our hands is a warrant for its eternal possession!"

* * *

Mr. Tucker's comments on Madame Bulteau's entire article are as follows:—

The only criticism that I feel inclined to pass on this fine article is that "Foemina," while denying rights (for the most part triumphantly) seems also to counsel against self-assertion, and that, in saying that "only the others have rights," she not simply assails her main contention, but utters an absurdity, since all of us are others to some one, and therefore all have rights. The essence of the matter is that none of us have rights, and that what we call our rights are either pure fictions or else permissions from the mighty. And, this once established, we have cleared the field for consideration of the further question : What permissions shall we find it advantageous to grant to ourselves and to each other when we, the free,—that is, the mentally enfranchised—shall have become the mighty? To me it is obvious that the answer must satisfy at least two conditions: first, that the permissions shall be mutual, since no one wishes to participate in a one-sided contract; second, that they shall guarantee the greatest possible amount of liberty to each participant, since the desire to extend and assure our freedom is the chief motive of the contract. These permissions we may perhaps call our rights, in the absence of a better name ; yet it will be necessary always to remember that the individual is prior to the contract, and may recede from it, after which recession he will be under free, beautiful, glorious, rich, contented ! And why no obligation to respect anybody, nor will anybody be under obligation to respect him. But, while the contract lasts, it must ever be a healthy thing for the participants to insist upon their privileges, "Foemina" to the contrary notwithstanding; for to do otherwise would be to cultivate that "little virtue," submission, which she describes as "favourable to the rig-ht of tyranny."

Benj. R. Tucker.  

III

Lego et Penso.

PROUDHON AND ROYALISM.

FOR some years past there has been developing in France a new reactionary force, which may be described as the party of neo-royalism. Though its aim is to undermine the republic by ruse and overthrow it by force, restore the Orleanist dynasty, and place Monseigneur le Duc d'Orleans on the throne, it is distinguished from the older royalism by the fact that its leaders, many of whom formerly belonged to the most advanced political factions, are atheists in private yet stout upholders of the Church of Rome, and will look to their king to institute, under the guidance of the pope, a regime of decentralization that shall guarantee numerous individual liberties now more and more endangered by democracy and socialism. It is growing in importance, and has a daily organ, "L'Action Francaise," edited by Leon Daudet, and numbering among its contributors the pilosopher of the party, Charles Maurras, a young man of high culture and ability. It has converted at least one Academician, Jules Lemaitre, who on all possible occasions shout A bas la Republique! and Vive le Roi! in company with its fighting force, Les Camelots du Roi, whose members promptly voice a hot resentment whenever contemptuous opponents, in printing the name of this army of conspirators, spell Roi with a y, and thus offer insult to their modernism. One of the methods of propagandism practised by these agitators is the attempt to enroll among their apostles all the great dead who, if living, would look with scorn upon their ways and works. Every great writer who has criticised democracy and who, being in his grave, cannot enter protest, is listed as a royalist, a nationalist, and an anti-Dreyfusard. Chief among these helpless victims is the foremost of all Anarchists, to whom these impudent young rascals constantly refer as notre grand Proudhon. Indeed, they have formed a Cercle Froudhon, which publishes a bi-monthly review under the title, Cahiers du Cerele Proudhon. On the whole, I am glad of this, because it advertises Proudhon, leads people to read his works, and thereby, in the end, will render all misinterpretation futile, especially in France, which, of all the great nations (England alone excepted), least understands and appreciates Proudhon, and where, on January 19, 1915 , his works will fall into the public domain and consequently will appear in cheap editions. (It is interesting to note, by the way, how this miserable copyright business retards progress by burying the most important progressive writings for more than half a century.) Of course democracy is an easy mark for this new party, and it finds its chief delight in pounding the philosopher of democracy, Rousseau. Now, nobody ever pounded Rousseau as effectively as Proudhon did, and in that fact the Cercle Froudhon finds its excuse. But it is not to be inferred that, because Proudhon destroyed Rousseau's theory of the social contract, he did not believe in the advisability of a social contract, or would uphold a monarch in exacting an oath of allegiance. On the contrary, after demonstrating the falsity of Rousseau's claim that existing society is founded on contract, he proceeded to find fault with existing society for the very reason that it is not so founded, and endeavoured to substitute for existing society, or to develop out of it, or to dissolve it in, a society having voluntary contract for its base. All this, however, is carefully concealed by the Cercle Proudhon. It freely quotes and prints Proudhon's attacks on Rousseau, but utterly ignores the affirmative statements of its stolen hero. To expose this fraud I present here an extract from Proudhon's most representative work, Idee Generale de la Revolution au Dix-neuvieme Siecle.

"Reason, assisted by Experience, discloses to man the laws of Nature and Society; then it says to him:

"These laws are those of necessity itself. No man has made them; no man imposes them upon you. They have been gradually discovered, and I exist only to bear testimony to them.

"If you observe them, you will be just and good.

"If you violate them, you will be unjust and wicked.

"I offer you no other motive.

"Already, among your fellows, several have recognised that justice is better, for each and for all, than iniquity; and they have agreed with each other to mutually keep faith and right—that is, to respect the rules of transaction which the nature of things indicates to them as alone capable of assuring them, in the largest measure, well-being, security, peace.

"Do you wish to adhere to their compact, to form a part of their society?

"Do you promise to respect the honour, the liberty, and the goods of your brothers?

"Do you promise never to appropriate, either by violence, or by fraud, or by usury, or by speculation, the product or the possession of another?

"Do you promise never to lie and deceive, either in justice, or in business, or in any of your transactions?

"You are free to accept or to refuse.

"If you refuse, you become a part of the society of savages. Outside of the communion of the human race, you become an object of suspicion. Nothing protects you. At the slightest insult, the first comer may lift his hand against you without incurring any other accusation than that of cruelty needlessly practised upon a brute.

"On the contrary, if you swear to the compact, you become a part of the society of free men. All your brothers enter into an engagement with you, promise you fidelity, friendship, aid, service, exchange. In case of infraction, on their part or on yours, through negligence, passion, or malice, you are responsible to each other for the damage as well as the scandal and the insecurity of which you have been the cause: this responsibility may extend, according to the gravity of the perjury or the repetitions of the offence, even to excommunication and to death.

"The law is clear, the sanction still more so. Three articles, which make but one—that is the whole social contract. Instead of making oath to God and his prince, the citizen swears upon his conscience, before his brothers, and before Humanity. Between these two oaths there is the same difference as between slavery and liberty, faith and science, courts and justice, usury and labour, government and economy, non-existence and being, God and man."

Leaving out the words "good," "wicked," "brute," and "Humanity," which are mere surplusage here, this extract, I think, would have been acceptable even to Max Stirner as a charter for his "Union of the Free," an appreciation of the importance of which is necessary to a complete appreciation of Stirner's political philosophy. If Miss Marsden knows of any idea originating in America, or developed there, of greater moment or larger dimensions than that presented in this page from France, she will do me a very great service in pointing it out. (In any case, it amply serves to demolish the audacious claim of the neo-royalists. If, in face of it, it should be decided that Proudhon is their property, we might well say, without doing violence to current terminology as Proudhon did when he said it: La propriete c'est le vol. With it in hand, the Anarchists answer to Charles Maurras and all his followers: No, the author of Idee Generale de la Revolution au Dix-neuvieme Siecle is not your great Proudhon; he is ours.

* * *

THE POLICEMAN AND THE PIPER.

Following the example of his Master, my Christian and Anarchist friend Byington comes into the columns of The New Freewoman (I hail his advent with enthusiasm), not to bring peace, but a sword. Of late he has had too much peace to suit him, and he is looking forward with relief to a resumption of hostilities. Doubtless he expects me to get into the fray, and I shall not disappoint him. He and I are not only old friends and co-workers, but old adversaries as well. We have had more than one battle, stubborn and long-drawn-out, and our last ended, much to my surprise, in his acknowledgment of defeat, thereby showing that sometimes not alone the bystanders are convinced. Should I be less fortunate in our new encounter, I hope to profit by his frank example in my acceptance of discomfiture. At the worst I can always comfort myself with an old saying of mine, which has won me some prestige, that " n all intellectual controversy he is the real victor who gains the most light." In thus promptly joining issue, I do not forget Mr. Byington's advice to his "angry friends" to await his later articles before returning fire. It is a warning that I need not heed, since I refuse to be counted in that category. My humour is not ruffled; and so I begin by asking Mr. Byington, since he would have the Union of the Free suppress all assaults upon the material environment— that is, protect the air against the tobacco-smoker, the street against the organ-grinder, the tree against the woodman, the river against the manufacturer, and the young lobster against the fisherman—how he expects to secure for these ends that voluntary co-operation to which alone—and very properly—he consents to look in seeking association for defence. In estimating the practicability of such association, I have been accustomed to view strength as dependent upon simplicity. The more we multiply the duties of the policeman, the less efficient will he be; and not only that: the more difficult also shall we find it to achieve that virtual unanimity as to his usefulness which is requisite to the voluntary subscription of his salary. Unless we limit the sphere of defence to the suppression of those invasions that are perfectly simple and plain, we shall enter upon an endless quarrel between conflicting interests and passions that must end in paralyzing secessions. With the presentation of this difficulty I suspend my argument. It will be time enough to look upon the matter in its other aspects when Mr. Byington shall have satisfied me that the tobacco-smoker will voluntarily pay the expense of his own suppression. I ask not who will pay the piper, but will the piper pay?

Benj. R. Tucker.

 

IV

Lego et Penso.

PROUDHON'S STYLE AND SANITY.

Miss Marsden, in her rejoinder to my challenge, speaks less respectfully of Americans and their ideas than she did in the extravagant remarks which called the challenge forth. That is a point gained. If, having over-rated Americans, she now under-rates them, the injustice serves at least to restore the balance.

Her criticism of the passage which I quoted from Proudhon seems to be directed in part at that author's style and in part at his sanity. So far as it is directed at his style, it interests me little. True, I might urge that the competent of France generally class Proudhon with Michelet and Balzac as prominent among those whom the Academy ignored to its own disgrace. Or I might contrast with Miss Marsden's opinion my own that Proudhon is a master stylist, little dreaming that it convicts me of a fondness for "bombast and fustian." But I will not insist. I content myself with pointing out that the passage in question, far from "showing Proudhon at his worst," was written at the zenith of his career, after the "Property" and the "Contradictions," those powerful works of his immaturity, and before the "Justice," that product of wonderful, but uneven, excellence wherein the grip so well sustained in his prime was occasionally relaxed. The value of miss Marsden's estimate of the passage in comparison with the other writings will be enhanced (or the opposite) if she will state precisely which of Proudhon's works she has read. It is the fashion to talk of Proudhon without reading him. But I do not suspect Miss Marsden of being a fashionable woman.

Of greater interest and importance would be her contention that it is insane to suppose that people can associate for mutual protection on the basis of a contract defining the protective sphere if it were supported by any reasons. But I find none in her paragraphs. Instead, I find only a wild onslaught on all ideas whatsoever—an onslaught which I take the liberty of characterizing as pure nonsense, unanswerable because intangible. The phrase is impolite, but Miss Marsden's own language is hardly Chesterfieldian.

I surmise that the thought of our evolution into a society founded on contract involves, in Miss Marsden's mind, the necessity of erecting a new social structure separate from that which now exists. In that case, I call attention to her error. The passage from Proudhon stated simply his ideal, not the means of attaining it. His conception of the means he phrased elsewhere as " a dissolution of government in the economic organism," meaning thereby the gradual and successive lopping-off of the functions of the State, and the assumption of these, so far as useful and non-invasive, by voluntary associations of workers. In view of this, one sees how wide of the mark is Miss Marsden's analogy, "a scheme for building a block of flats as high as St. Paul's with lily-stalks for materials."

ANARCHISM AND PROPERTY.

I learn in a roundabout way that the quality of my Anarchism has been questioned lately in the English press. The news comes to me through "Regeneration," an interesting journal published in California, partly in Spanish, partly in English, the English section being edited by Mr. W. C. Owen, from whom I quote as follows:

"The editor of the 'Herald of Revolt' has been called sharply to account for his endeavour to read Benjamin R. Tucker out of the ranks of Anarchism, and we are glad to see that he has had the fairness to open his columns to a full discussion of the question. We have expressed ourselves already on the subject, and need only repeat here that Anarchism means exactly what its name expresses, 'Without Rule,' and does not chain humanity to the wheel of any economic dogma. Indeed, it is negative, declaring simply that no economic arrangement ran be satisfactory which places one man in the power and at the mercy of another man. If Communism, for example, should result in that, Communism would stand condemned by Anarchism."

I do not suppose that the Editor of the "Herald of Revolt" has gone farther than to express the opinion that I am not an Anarchist, and it is perfectly proper that he should do so. It is a liberty that I have taken repeatedly with reference to John Most, Kropotkine, Emma Goldman, and numerous Other so-called Anarchists, and there is no reason why their sympathizers should not retaliate in kind. I do not agree with Mr. Owen that Anarchism does not commit its adherents to any economic dogma. Anarchism is a word without meaning, unless it includes the liberty of the individual to control his product or whatever his product has brought him through exchange in a free market—that is, private property. Whoever denies private property is of necessity an Archist. This excludes from Anarchism all believers in compulsory Communism. As for the believers in voluntary Communism (of whom there are precious few), they are of necessity believers in the liberty to hold private property, for to pool one's possessions with those of others is nothing more or less than an exercise of proprietorship.

* * *

May I note that Mr. Swartz's preference of frankness to hypocrisy does not prevent him from carefully avoiding my question whether he would organize the sex-workingmen as well as the sex-working women?

Benjamin R. Tucker.  

V

Lego et Penso.

A REBEL AGAINST WAR.

ON the death of Louis Nazzi at the age of twenty-eight, France has lost one of the most promising of her younger writers, and one whose promise had already resulted in a considerable performance. I shall venture to offer The New Freewoman a sample of his quality, though I do so with some foreboding, lest this offering also may appear, to the editorial eye, or ear, as mere "bombast and fustian." Writing of armed peace and compulsory military service, he says:

"I hate war, violently, with all my filial and fierce love of life. From the day when I understood the work of faith, ardour, and suffering that is summed up in the single word, life, I have refused my consent to war, which at school I was taught to venerate. When one thinks of the amount of goodwill, tenderness, devotion, fruitless effort, anxious and vigilant thought, toilsome deeds, and tiresome marches, requisite to the filling of a man's existence from the cradle to the grave, one cannot admit its criminal destruction in the name of an interest declared superior. No reason can triumph over it. Nothing can make me deny the individual; I am for him, against sanguinary czars and republics. Man is his own country, and the vastest of all. All that I know, feel, and am, my entire being, rises and refuses its complicity for the day of the next butchery. I need my arms and my brain, my heat and my thought, for my own, my work, and myself. My country is what I love and understand; it overruns four frontiers. If you wish me to kill, efface from my soul my dreams of happiness, efface the words of peace and love, efface everything. Drive from my vision all the images of earth, expel all light! Burn my deepest recollections, my dearest associations, my reasons to hope and smile again! Devastate my past, all that has been and all that means to be—the uncertain future that I have prepared by the painful labour of my loyal and trusting hands! Break the embrace of the mother, the wife, and the child! If you wish me to kill, kill first the man that is in me; perhaps then the beast will obey you."

A REPORT OF PROGRESS.

Miss Marsden, in causing her to offset her too flattering remarks about Americans by an estimate of them apparently belittling, a second point now is gained in causing her to express contrition for having momentarily abandoned her Stirnerism to the extent of bunching individuals according to their nationality and ancestry. And I may claim even a third advance in having elicited from her a new appreciation of Proudhon, which, if still inadequate, is at least more generously specific in its allotments to the credit side of that author's long account. But, as to the main contention,—whether it is crazy to think of voluntary co-operation for defence, in conformity with a voluntary contract fixing the limits of such co-operation, as a possibility of the future,—we are no farther forward than before; for Miss Marsden still neglects to supply a reason why a person who pursues that ideal will find his proper environment within the confines of a mad-house. Until such is forthcoming, the discussion cannot proceed. But incidentally I had better correct the statement, unhappily erroneous, that I have published "most of Proudhon's works," one or two being much the lesser part of forty or fifty; and I will venture to express my surprise at hearing that The New Freewoman "stands for nothing." May I ask for an explanation of the subtitle:

"An Individualist Review"? And what did Miss Marsden mean when she said that the paper was "not for the advancement of woman, but for the empowering of individuals"? My interest in the paper grows out of my belief that it "stands for" such empowering. And I am persuaded that Miss Marsden's declaration to the contrary is nothing more than one of those buzzing intervals which she finds in Proudhon's communications and which I find in hers. If I am wrong; if, in truth, The New Freewoman is not, or is no longer, a co-ordinate effort toward a definite end, but has become, instead, a mere dumping-ground for miscellaneous wits,—then, even though the dumping be effected through an editorial sieve of a mesh most rare and fine, my interest will diminish materially and speedily.

[We have not been in the habit of accustoming our readers to over-modest statements, and lest Mr. Tucker's modesty should be misunderstood, we are impelled to say that in an advertisement appearing as late as 1907 Mr. Tucker offers to mail—for the due consideration—close upon 40 works in various languages, by or about P. J. Proudhon: and we will leave the matter at that. To the remaining criticism of The New Freewoman in the above paragraph we reply elsewhere. —{Small-caps|Ed}}.]

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IS THE STATE WORTH WHILE?

Of late there is much talk in France of the desirability of offering one of the vacant chairs of the Academy to a journalist, and in this connection the name of Henry Moret is among those most frequently mentioned. The Immortals, however, will hardly be tempted to welcome him to their company, if they are readers of his articles in "L'Intransigeant." I quote the following from one of them:

"An academy might well address itself to the problem whether the sum of the benefits obtained by the taxes that we accord to the State really exceeds that which we should enjoy if we paid no taxes. One might ask at the same time whether the sum of the evils occasioned by the established powers—courts, administration, police, etc.—is not much more considerable than that to which we should be exposed if we had not all this lumber. I have always been of those who believe, with the infamous Anarchists, that we spend much more to avoid being robbed than it would cost us to suffer ourselves to be robbed with tranquillity.

"Just as the State sacrifices a large number of our coins to discover an error of a centime, so we hand over a hundred sous to be sure of keeping two francs. Such is the splendour of our advanced civilisation.

"And the beauty of this proceeding will increase continually, until, by an inevitably logical consequence, the State shall take everything and leave us nothing. Then we shall be perfectly happy. I am, in fact, the first to admit that we shall have less care.

"Pending our entry into this paradise, we have already reached the point where one half of the French people pay the other half to annoy them. It is the same with other nations. And there you have the best definition that can be given of a normal society.

"There is a Hindoo proverb which says that the human comedy is one of the seventy-five pieces with which the Eternal amuses himself. It certainly furnishes food for laughter. And the gravity with which we pay for the rods that are to be laid upon our backs must seem comical in a high degree to the dwellers in the Empyrean."

Benj. R. Tucker.  


  • Benjamin R. Tucker, “Lego et Penso,” The New Freewoman 1, no. 6 (September 1, 1913): 115-116.
  • Benjamin R. Tucker, “Lego et Penso,” The New Freewoman 1, no. 7 (September 15, 1913): 134.
  • Benjamin R. Tucker, “Lego et Penso,” The New Freewoman 1, no. 8 (October 1, 1913): 156-157.
  • Benjamin R. Tucker, “Lego et Penso,” The New Freewoman 1, no. 11 (November 15, 1913): 217-218.
  • Benjamin R. Tucker, “Lego et Penso,” The New Freewoman 1, no. 13 (December 15, 1913): 254-255.