This is part of a series
After Nestor: Libertarian Globalism, Libertarian Localism
While early libertarians like Tucker and Donisthorpe built a trans-Atlantic movement, less hopeful figures looked to diffusion and localism.
Instead of a Book, By a Man Too Busy to Write One
Part Two: The Individual, Society, and the State
L’État est Mort; Vive l’État!
(first published in Liberty, May 24, 1890)
To the Editor of Liberty:
Hooks-and-eyes are very useful. Hooks are useless; eyes are useless. Yet in combination they are useful. This is co-operation. Where you have division of labor and consequent differentiation of function and, eventually, of structure, there is co-operation. Certain tribes of ants have working members and fighting members. The military caste are unable to collect food, which is provided for them by the other members of the community, in return for which they devote themselves to the defence of the whole society. But for these soldiers the society would perish. If either class perished, the other class would perish with it. It is the old fable of the belly and the limbs.
Division of labor does not always result in differentiation of structure. In the case of bees and many other insects we know that it does. Among mammals we have the well-marked structural division into males and females, but beyond this the tendency to fix structural changes is very slight. In races where caste prevails, the tendency is more marked. Even in England, where caste is extinct, it has been observed among the mining population of Northumbria. And the notorious short-sightedness of Germans has been set down to compulsory book-study.
As a general rule, we may neglect this effect of co-operation among human beings. The fact remains that the organized effort of 100 individuals is a very great deal more effective than the sum of the efforts of 100 unorganized individuals. Co-operation is an unmixed good. And the Ishmaelitic anarchy of the bumble-bee is uneconomic. Hostility to the principle of co-operation (upon which society is founded) is usually attributed by the ignorant to philosophical Anarchists. While Socialists never weary of pointing to the glorious triumphs of co-operation, and claiming them for Socialism. Wherever a number of persons join hands with the object of effecting a purpose otherwise unattainable, we have what is tantamount to a new force,—the force, of combination: and the persons so combining and regarded as a single body may be called by a name,—any name; a Union, an Association, a Society, a Club, a Company, a Corporation, a State. I do not say all these terms denote precisely the same thing, but they all connote co-operation. I prefer to use the word Club to denote all such associations of men for a common purpose.
Let the State be now abolished for the purposes of this discussion. How do we stand? We have by no means abolished all the clubs and companies in which citizens find themselves grouped and interbanded. There they all are, just as before. Let us examine some of them. Stay; there are a number of new ones, suddenly sprung up out of the débris of the old State.
Here are some eighty men organized in the form of a cricket-club. They may not pitch the ball as they like, but only in accordance with rigid laws. They elect a king or captain, and they bind themselves to obey him in the field. A member is told off to field at long-on, although he may wish to field at point. He must obey the despot.
Here is a ring of horsemen. They ride races. They back their own horses. Disputes arise about fouling, or perhaps the course is a curve and some rider takes a short cut. Or the weights of the riders are unequal, and the heavier rider claims to equalize the weights. All such matters are laid before a committee, and rules are drawn up by which all the members of the little racing club pledge themselves to be bound. The club grows; other riding or racing men join it or adopt its rules. At last so good are its laws that they are adopted by all the racing fraternity in the island, and all racing disputes are settled by the rules of the Jockey Club. And even the judges of the land defer to them, and refer points of racing law to the Club.
Here again is a knot of whalers chatting on the beach of a stormy sea. Each trembles for the safety of his own vessel. He would give something to be rid of his uneasiness. All his eggs are in one basket. He would willingly distribute them over many baskets. He offers to take long odds that his own vessel is lost. He repeats the offer till the long odds cover the value of his ship and cargo, and perhaps profits and time. “Now,” says he, “I am comfortable. It is true I forfeit a small percentage; but if my whole craft goes to the bottom, I lose nothing.” He laughs and sings while the others go croaking about the sands, shaking their heads and looking fearfully at the breakers. At last they all follow his example, and the net result is a Mutual Marine Insurance Society. After a while they lay the odds, not with their own members only, but with others; and the risk being over-estimated (naturally at first), they make large dividends. But now difficulties arise. The captain of a whaler has thrown cargo overboard in a heavy sea. The owner claims for the loss. The company declines to pay, on the ground that the loss was voluntarily caused by the captain and not by the hand o[f] God or the king’s enemies; and that there would be no limit to jettison, if the claim were allowed. Other members meet with similar difficulties, and finally Rules are made which provide for all known contingencies. And when any dispute arises, the chosen Umpire, whether it be a mutual friend, or an agora-full of citizens, or a department of State, or any other person or body of persons, refers to the common practice and precedents so far as they apply. In other words, the Rules of the Insurance Society are the law of the land. In spite of the State, this is so to-day to a considerable extent: I may say, in all matters which have not been botched and cobbled by statute.
There is another class of club springing out of the altruistic sentiment. An old lady takes compassion on a starving cat (no uncommon sight in the West End of London after the Season). She puts a saucer of milk and some liver on the doorstep. She is soon recognized as a benefactress and the cats for a mile round swarm to her household. The saucers increase and multiply, and the liver is an item in her butcher’s bill. The strain is too great to be borne single-handed. She issues a circular appeal, and she is surprised to find how many are willing to contribute a fair share, although their sympathy shrivels up before an unfair demand. They are willing to be taxed pro rata, but they will not bear the burden of other people’s stinginess. “Let the poor cats bear it rather,” say they. “What is everybody’s business is nobody’s business. It is very sad, but it cannot be helped. If we keep one cat, hundreds will starve; so what’s the use?” But when once the club is started, nobody feels the burden; the Cats’ Home is built and endowed, and all goes well. Hospitals, infirmaries, alms-houses, orphanages, spring up all round. At first they are reckless and indiscriminate, and become the prey of impostors and able-bodied vagrants. Then Rules are framed; the Charity Organization Society co-ordinates and directs public benevolence. And these rules of prudence and economy are copied and adopted in many respects by those who administer the State Poor Law.
Then we have associations of persons who agree on important points of science or politics. They wish to make others think with them, in order that society may be pleasanter and more congenial for themselves. They would button-hole every man in the street and argue the question out with him; but the process is to lengthy and wearisome. They club together and form such institutions as the British and Foreign Bible Society, which has spent seven million pounds in disseminating untruths all over the world. We have the Cobden Club, which is slowly and sadly dying of inconsistency after a career of merited success. We have scientific societies of all descriptions that never ask or expect a penny reward for all their outlay, beyond making other people wiser and pleasanter neighbors.
Finally, we have societies banded together to do battle against rivals on the principle of “Union is strength.” These clubs are defensive or aggressive. The latter class includes all trading associations, the object of which is to make profits by out-manœuvring competitors. The former or defensive class includes all the political societies formed for the purpose of resisting the State,—the most aggressive club in existence. Over one hundred of these “protection societies” of one sort and another are now federated under the hegemony of the Liberty and Property Defence League.
Now we have agreed that the State is to be abolished. What is the result? Here are Watch Committees formed in the great towns to prevent and to insure against burglars, thieves, and like marauders. How they are to be constituted I do not clearly know; neither do I know the limits of their functions. Here again is a Mutual Inquest Society to provide for the examination of dead persons before burial or cremation, in order to make murder as unprofitable a business as possible. Here is a Vigilance Association sending out detectives for the purpose of discovering and lynching the unsocial wretches who knowingly travel in public conveyances with infectious diseases on them. Here is a journal supported by consumers for the advertisement of adulterating dealers. And here again is a Filibustering Company got up by adventurous traders of the old East India Company stamp for the purposes of carrying trade into foreign countries with or without the consent of the invaded parties. Here is a Statistical Society devising Rules to make it unpleasant for those who evade registration and the census, and offering inducement to all who furnish the required information. What sort of organization (if any) will be formed for the enforcement (not necessarily by brute-force) of contract? Or will there be many such organizations dealing with different classes of contract? Will there be a Woman’s League to boycott any man who has abused the confidence of a woman and violated his pledges? How will it try and sanction cases of breach of promise?
Above all, how is this powerful Company for the defence of the country against foreign invaders to be constituted? And what safeguards will its members provide against the tyranny of the officials? When a Senator proposed to limit the standing army of the United States to three thousand, George Washington agreed, on condition that the honorable member would arrange that the country should never be invaded by more than two thousand. Frankenstein created a Monster he could not lay. This will be a nut for Anarchists of the future to crack.
And now, to revert to the Vigilance Society formed for lynching persons who travel about in public places with small-pox and scarletina, what rules will they make for their own guidance? Suppose they dub every unvaccinated person a “focus of infection,” shall we witness the establishment of an Anti-Vigilance Society to punch the heads of the detectives who punch the heads of the “foci of infection?” Remember, we have both these societies in full working order to-day. One is called the State, and the other is the Anti-Vaccination Society.
The questions which I should wish to ask, and which I should wish Mr. Herbert Spencer, Mr. Auberon Herbert, Mr. Benjamin Tucker, and Mr. Victor Yarros to answer, are chiefly these two:
- How far may voluntary co-operators invade the liberty of others? And what is to prevent such invasion under a system of Anarchy?
- Is compulsory co-operation ever desirable? And what form (if any) should such compulsion take?
The existing State is obviously only a conglomeration of several large societies which would exist separately or collectively in its absence: if the State were abolished, these associations would necessarily spring up out of its ruins, just as the nations of Europe sprang out of the ruins of the Roman Empire. They would apparently lack the power of compulsion. No one would be compelled to join against his will. Take the ordinary case of a gas-lit street. Would a voluntary gas-committee be willing to light the street without somehow taxing all the dwellers in the street?…
Personally, as an individualist, I would not compel a citizen to subscribe to common benefits, even though he necessarily shares them. But what I want the four lights of Anarchy above-named to tell me is: How are we to remove the injustice of allowing one man to enjoy what another has earned? My questions are quite distinct. Thus an army under the system of conscription is a case of compulsory co-operation: a band of brigands is a case of voluntary co-operation. I hate both. I would join a voluntary association directed against either or both. Neither do I put these questions in order to cast doubts on the feasibility of Anarchy at the present time. I ask merely for information from those who are, in my opinion, best able to give it.
(first published in Liberty, May 24, 1890)
It is questionable whether Herbert Spencer will relish Mr. Donisthorpe’s classification of him as one of four lights of Anarchy. I think he would be justified in putting in a disclaimer. No doubt Anarchy is immeasurably indebted to Mr. Spencer for a phenomenally clear exposition of its bottom truths. But he entertains heresies on the very questions which Mr. Donisthorpe raises that debar him from recognition as an Anarchist. His belief in compulsory taxation and his acceptance of the majority principle, not as a temporary necessity, but as permanently warranted within a certain sphere, show him to be unfaithful to his principle of equal liberty, as Mr. Donisthorpe has convincingly demonstrated in his recent book on Individualism. I am sure that his answers to Mr. Donisthorpe’s questions would widely differ from any that Mr. Yarros or myself could possibly make.
When it comes to Auberon Herbert, the community of thought is closer, as on practical issues he is pretty nearly at one with the attitude of Liberty. But I fancy that Mr. Donisthorpe would have difficulty in driving all three of us into the same corner. Before he had gone far, the ethical question of the nature of right would arise, and straightway Mr. Yarros and myself would be arrayed with Mr. Donisthorpe against Mr. Herbert.
As one of the two remaining “lights of Anarchy” appealed to, I will try to deal briefly with Mr. Donisthorpe’s questions. To his first: “How far may voluntary co-operators invade the liberty of others?” I answer: Not at all. Under this head I have previously made answer to Mr. Donisthorpe, and as to the adequacy or inadequacy of the answer he has as yet made no sign. For this reason I repeat my words. “Then liberty always, say the Anarchists. No use of force, except against the invader; and in those cases where it is difficult to tell whether the alleged offender is an invader or not, still no use of force except where the necessity of immediate solution is so imperative that we must use it to save ourselves. And in these few cases where we must use it, let us do so frankly and squarely, acknowledging it as a matter of necessity, without seeking to harmonize our action with any political ideal or constructing any far-fetched theory of a State or collectivity having prerogatives and rights superior to those of individuals and aggregations of individuals and exempted from the operation of the ethical principles which individuals are expected to observe.” This is the best rule that I can frame as a guide to voluntary co-operators. To apply it to only one of Mr. Donisthorpe’s cases, I think that under a system of Anarchy, even if it were admitted that there was some ground for considering an unvaccinated person an invader, it would be generally recognized that such invasion was not of a character to require treatment by force, and that any attempt to treat it by force would be regarded as itself an invasion of a less doubtful and more immediate nature, requiring as such to be resisted.
But under a system of Anarchy how is such resistance to be made? is Mr. Donisthorpe’s second question. By another band of voluntary co-operators. But are we then, Mr. Donisthorpe will ask, to have innumerable bands of voluntary co-operators perpetually at war with each other? Not at all. A system of Anarchy in actual operation implies a previous education of the people in the principles of Anarchy, and that in turn implies such a distrust and hatred of interference that the only band of voluntary co-operators which could gain support sufficient to enforce its will would be that which either entirely refrained from interference or reduced it to a minimum. This would be my answer to Mr. Donisthorpe, were I to admit his assumption of a state of Anarchy supervening upon a sudden collapse of Archy. But I really scout this assumption as absurd. Anarchists work for the abolition of the State, but by this they do not mean its overthrow, but, as Proudhon put it, its dissolution in the economic organism. This being the case, the question before us is not, as Mr. Donisthorpe supposes, what measures and means of interference we are justified in instituting, but which ones of those already existing we should first lop off. And to this the Anarchists answer that unquestionably the first to go should be those that interfere most fundamentally with a free market, and that the economic and moral changes that would result from this would act as a solvent upon all the remaining forms of interference.
“Is compulsory co-operation ever desirable?” Compulsory co-operation is simply one form of invading the liberty of others, and voluntary co-operators will not be justified in resorting to it—that is, in becoming compulsory co-operators—any more than resorting to any other form of invasion.
“How are we to remove the injustice of allowing one man to enjoy what another has earned?” I do not expect it ever to be removed altogether. But I believe that for every dollar that would be enjoyed by tax-dodgers under Anarchy, a thousand dollars are now enjoyed by men who have got possession of the earnings of others through special industrial, commercial, and financial privileges granted them by authority in violation of a free market.
In regard to the various clubs referred to by Mr. Donisthorpe as based on an intolerance that is full of the spirit of interference, I can only say that probably they will cease to pattern after their great exemplar, the State, when the State shall no longer exist, and that meantime, if intolerant bigots choose to make petty tyranny a condition of association with them, we believers in liberty have the privilege of avoiding their society. Doesn’t Mr. Donisthorpe suppose that we can stand it as long as they can?
L’État, C’est l’Ennemi.
(first published in Liberty on February 26, 1887)
“As to the term Anarchism, I have grown to be convinced that it is partial, vague, misleading, and not a comprehensive scientific complement of Individualism. If it means a protest against the existing political State, then I am, of course, an Anarchist. You say that it means more, and includes a protest against every invasion of individual right. But this is merely a convenient assumption, not warranted by its etymology, which is purely of political origin. Proudhon, from whom you borrowed it, used it only when speaking of political application of government. Most, Parsons, and Seymour base their protest against the existing political State on Communism, their model of social order. You base yours on voluntary co-operation of individual sovereigns,—your model. Now, if Anarchism is merely a protest against the existing State, then, as friend Morse truly says, you have no more right to say that they are not Anarchists than they have to say that you are not one. If you are all Anarchists, and become such from principles in direct antagonism to each other, then who is an Anarchist and who is not, and what reliability attaches to it as a scientific protest?
“Moreover, every man has the right to be understood. If you stretch the scope of Anarchy beyond the political sphere, then it plainly comes to mean without guiding principle,—the very opposite of what Individualism logically leads to. Anarchy means opposed to the archos, or political leader, because the motive principle of politics is force. If you take the archos out of politics, he becomes the very thing you want as an Individualist, since he is a leader by voluntary selection. It will not do, then, to stretch the scope of Anarchism beyond political government, else you defeat your own purpose. It must, therefore, stay within the boundaries of politics, and, staying there, it is only a partial and quite unscientific term to cover the whole protest which complements Individualism.
“When I am asked if I am an Anarchist, the person who asks it wants to know if I am the kind of person he thinks I am,—one believing in no guiding principle of social administration. In duty to myself I am obliged to say no. This is the eternal mischief which follows from defining one’s self through his protest, rather than his affirmation. It is a position which everyone owes to himself to keep out of, where the protest is deduced from a philosophical system. All the Protestant sects define themselves by their affirmations and not by their protests, and so should all scientific systems of sociology. The protest is none the less strong—yes, far stronger—when carried along as a complement to the principles which create it, rather than as a main term,—the creature usurping the domain of its creator.
“As an Individualist, I find the political State a consequent rather than an antecedent. By making your protest your main term, the State must be made antecedent, which it is not. If you think the State the efficient cause of tyranny over individuals, I take it you are beclouded in a most radical delusion, into which I could easily turn a flood of light, had I not already encroached too much on your space. The State is a variable quantity,—expanding just in proportion as previous surrenders of individual sovereignty give it material. The initial cause is, however, the surrendering individual, the State being only possible after the surrender. Hence the individual is the proper objective point of reform. As he is reformed the State disappears of itself.
“This subject is so rich in thought that I could fill the whole edition of Liberty, and then not have said half that is still pertinent to what I have begun. Having already spent too much of my life in fighting and trying to pull things around by the tail rather than by the head and heart, I propose to spend the remainder of it in constructive educational work. Fighting with tongue and pen is simply a process of spiritual killing, differing from other killing only in method. While there is so much pressing constructive work to be done, I prefer to leave the fighting line of propaganda to those whose temperament and constitution make them better fighters than builders. So go on kicking up the Anarchistic dust at the tail end of the beast of despotism, but pardon me if, having been a reform tail-twister all my life, I am trying to get a little nearer the head and horns of the beast and finish up my work on that end.
“Unnatural government inevitably follows unnatural conditions, and mere scolding and kicking and protesting to all eternity will never change this stern law of nature by which she secures self-preservation. That diseased form of social administration known as the State belongs in nature to that diseased condition known as centralization, in place of localization. New York and other cities, the places where the State chiefly draws its material for rent, usury, and individual slavery in general, are ulcers on the face of this planet. Localize their population over the soil, with individuals not only claiming, but utilizing, their right to the soil and other means of sovereignty, and nineteen twentieths of the State in this country would cease to be. Yet thousands of miserable servile wretches in New York will go to labor meetings and shout, “The land belongs to the people!” while they cannot be coaxed or whipped out of this stinking nest of usury and political corruption, though you should offer them plenty of good land for nothing. In fact, large tracts across the river in New Jersey can be had for next to nothing, the young men of those sections preferring to let their fathers’ homes and lands rot and run to waste in order to crowd into New York with the rest of the vulgar herd, with future visions of duplicated Jay Goulds in mind. I say that, until we can get more manly and sober incentive into individuals, the New Yorks and Chicagos will press and stink themselves into such intolerable political corruption and general demoralization that the merciful torch alone can rid humanity of them. To cry Anarchy in such communities is futile, unless you cry it in its worst sense, and that is already well-nigh realized.
“Yes, friend Tucker, you have always treated with contempt my proposal to warn individuals to get out of these cities and colonize on the soil, under conditions that alone make voluntary government possible. You say great cities are blessings, and that the proper thing for those low-motived, noisy wretches who cry in labor meetings, “The land for the people!” is to stay right here and fight it out. You seem possessed with the unfortunate delusion that natural government is possible in this crowded hole, where even the rich sleep in brown-stone stalls, and the surroundings of great masses of the people are more than beastly. So long as industry, commerce, and domicile are centralized, the necessary conditions of individual sovereignty are physically impossible, while usury is invited, and the patched up fraud which goes by the name of government becomes the necessary arrangement for holding the diseased conditions together, pending the inevitable day when fire and dynamite will come to remove these social ulcers, in order that the general body social may survive. I sincerely hope you will look into these matters more seriously, and insist on localization, the social expression of Individualism.
“The name Liberty, so artistically inscribed on your editorial shingle, expresses neither the affirmation nor the protest of our system, but is simply an auxiliary term between them. I think it unfortunate that your paper was not named “The Individualist,” and I have in mind a name even nearer the centre than that. Had our propaganda been started on the centre from the first, we should probably have been far along in the constructive educational work, rather than come to whipping about in the tangle-brush of misunderstanding. But it is probably all for the best, and, whatever may be the mistakes of its pioneers, the new structure is bound by and by to take definite shape and avert the social suicide which the existing order is so rapidly precipitating.
…I appreciate the spirit of condescension and self-abasement which has finally permitted Mr. Appleton to continue controversy with so unworthy an antagonist as myself and to place himself on a level with that inferior race of beings who write for Liberty non-editorially, and in this obliteration of self I feebly emulate him by consenting to let him fill these columns with his defence or explanation after he had ignored the invitation which I had extended him to do so long enough to ascertain that he could not procure its publication elsewhere.
After these preliminaries, I may proceed to consider Mr. Appleton’s arguments, numbering the points as I deal with them, to avoid the necessity of repeating the statements criticized.
I do not admit anything, except the existence of the individual, as a condition of his sovereignty…
It is true that the affirmation of individual sovereignty is logically precedent to protest against authority as such. But in practice they are inseparable. To protest against the invasion of individual sovereignty is necessarily to affirm individual sovereignty. The Anarchist always carries his base of supplies with him. He cannot fight away from it. The moment he does so he becomes an Archist. This protest contains all the affirmation that there is…Anarchy has no side that is affirmative in the sense of constructive. Neither as Anarchists nor—what is practically the same thing—as individual sovereigns have we any constructive work to do, though as progressive beings we have plenty of it. But, if we had perfect liberty, we might, if we chose, remain utterly inactive and still be individual sovereigns. Mr. Appleton’s unenviable experiences are due to no mistake of mine, but to his own folly in acknowledging the pertinence of the hackneyed cry for construction, which loses none of its nonsense on the lips of a Circuit Court Judge
… Those who protest against the existing political State, with emphasis on the existing, are not Anarchists, but Archists. In objecting to a special form or method of invasion, they tacitly acknowledge the rightfulness of some other form or method of invasion. Proudhon never fought any particular State; he fought the institution itself, as necessarily negative of individual sovereignty, whatever form it may take. His use of the word Anarchism shows that he considered it coextensive with individual sovereignty. If his applications of it were directed against political government, it was because he considered political government the only invader of individual sovereignty worth talking about, having no knowledge of Mr. Appleton’s “comprehensive philosophy,” which thinks it takes cognizance of a “vast mountain of government outside of the organized State.” The reason why Most and Parsons [two of the “Haymarket Communists,] are not Anarchists, while I am one, is because their Communism is another State, while my voluntary co-operation is not a State at all. It is a very easy matter to tell who is an Anarchist and who is not. One question will always readily decide it. Do you believe in any form of imposition upon the human will by force? If you do, you are not an Anarchist. If you do not, you are an Anarchist. What can any one ask more reliable, more scientific, than this?
Anarchy does not mean simply opposed to the archos, or political leader. It means opposed to arche. Now, archē, in the first instance, means beginning, origin. From this it comes to mean a first principle, an element; then first place, supreme power, sovereignty, dominion, command, authority; and finally a sovereignty, an empire, a realm, a magistracy, a governmental office. Etymologically, then, the word anarchy may have several meanings, among them, as Mr. Appleton says, without guiding principle, and to this use of the word I have never objected, always arriving, on the contrary, to interpret in accordance with their definition the thought of those who so use it. But the word Anarchy as a philosophical term and the word Anarchist as the name of a philosophical sect were first appropriated in the sense of opposition to dominion, to authority, and are so held by right of occupancy, which fact makes any other philosophical use of them improper and confusing. Therefore, as Mr. Appleton does not make the political sphere coextensive with dominion or authority, he cannot claim that Anarchy, when extended beyond the political sphere, necessarily comes to mean without guiding principle, for it may mean, and by appropriation does mean, without dominion, without authority. Consequently it is a term which completely and scientifically covers the individualistic protest.
The misunderstandings of which Mr. Appleton has been a victim are not the result of his defining himself through his protest, for he would not have avoided them had he defined himself through his affirmation and called himself an Individualist. I could scarcely name a word that has been more abused, misunderstood, and misinterpreted than Individualism. Mr. Appleton makes so palpable a point against himself in instancing the Protestant sects that it is really laughable to see him try to use it against me. However it may be with the Protestant sects, the one great Protestant body itself was born of protest, suckled by protest, named after protest, and lived on protest until the days of its usefulness were over. If such instances proved anything, plenty of them might be cited against Mr. Appleton. For example, taking one of more recent date, I might pertinently inquire which contributed most to the freedom of the negro,—those who defined themselves through their affirmations as the Liberty Party or as Colonizationists, or those who defined themselves through their protests as the Anti-Slavery Society or as Abolitionists. Unquestionably the latter. And when human slavery in all its forms shall have disappeared, I fancy that the credit of the victory will be given quite as exclusively to the Anarchists, and that these latter-day Colonizationists, of whom Mr. Appleton has suddenly become so enamored, will be held as innocent of its overthrow as are their predecessors and namesakes of the overthrow of chattel slavery.
It is to be regretted that Mr. Appleton took up so much space with other matters that he could not turn his “flood of light” into my “delusion” that the State is the efficient cause of tyranny over individuals; for the question whether this is a delusion or not is the very heart of the issue between us. He has asserted that there is a vast mountain of government outside of the organized State, and that our chief battle is with that; I, on the contrary, have maintained that practically almost all the authority against which we have to contend is exercised by the State, and that, when we have abolished the State, the struggle for individual sovereignty will be well-nigh over. I have shown that Mr. Appleton, to maintain his position, must point out this vast mountain of government and tell us definitely what it is and how it acts, and this is what the readers of Liberty have been waiting to see him do. But he no more does it in his last article than in his first. And his only attempt to dispute my statement that the State is the efficient cause of tyranny over individuals is confined to two or three sentences which culminate in the conclusion that the initial cause is the surrendering individual. I have never denied it, and am charmed by the air of innocence with which this substitution of initial for efficient is effected. Of initial causes finite intelligence knows nothing; it can only know causes as more or less remote. But using the word initial in the sense of remoter, I am willing to admit, for the sake of the argument (though it is not a settled matter), that the initial cause was the surrendering individual. Mr. Appleton doubtless means voluntarily surrendering individual, for compulsory surrender would imply the prior existence of a power to exact it, or a primitive form of State. But the State, having come into existence through such voluntary surrender, becomes a positive, strong, growing, encroaching institution, which expands, not by further voluntary surrenders, but by exacting surrenders from its individual subjects, and which contracts only as they successfully rebel. That, at any rate, is what it is to-day, and hence it is the efficient cause of tyranny. The only sense, then, in which it is true that “the individual is the proper objective point of reform” is this,—that he must be penetrated with the Anarchistic idea and taught to rebel. But this is not what Mr. Appleton means. If it were, his criticism would not be pertinent, for I have never advocated any other method of abolishing the State. The logic of his position compels another interpretation of his words,—namely, that the State cannot disappear until the individual is perfected. In saying which, Mr. Appleton joins hands with those wise persons who admit that Anarchy will be practicable when the millennium arrives. It is an utter abandonment of Anarchistic Socialism. No doubt it is true that, if the individual could perfect himself while the barriers to his perfection are standing, the State would afterwards disappear. Perhaps, too, he could go to heaven, if he could lift himself by his boot-straps.
If one must favor colonization, or localization, as Mr. Appleton calls it, as a result of looking “seriously” into these matters, then he must have been trifling with them for a long time…He has not yet fathomed the real cause of the people’s wretchedness. That cause is State interference with natural economic processes. The people are poor and robbed and enslaved, not because “industry, commerce, and domicile are centralized,”—in fact, such centralization has, on the whole, greatly benefited them,—but because the control of the conditions under which industry, commerce, and domicile are exercised and enjoyed is centralized. The localization needed is not the localization of persons in space, but of powers in persons,—that is, the restriction of power to self and the abolition of power over others. Government makes itself felt alike in country and in city, capital has its usurious grip on the farm as surely as on the workshop, and the oppressions and exactions of neither government nor capital can be avoided by migration. L’État, c’est l’ennemi. The State is the enemy, and the best means of fighting it can only be found in communities already existing…