Anarchy’s New Ally.

Anarchy’s New Ally.

[Liberty, June 18, 1892.]

Natural science and technical skill, which have revolutionized so many things, may yet revolutionize political economy, and in a way little dreamed of. It has long been known that the water of the ocean contains gold and silver. The percentage of these metals, however, is so very small that at first thought it hardly seems worth noticing. And as a matter of fact little notice has been taken of it, but principally for the reason that the extraction of the metals by any advantageous method has been deemed an impossibility. Now comes the Fairy Electricity, whose wand has already achieved so many wonders, and promises us a new miracle, which, though possibly less strange in itself than some others, will be more far-reaching in its results than all the telegraphs and telephones and railways imaginable. She proposes, by stretching long series of iron plates across channels and through various parts of the seas and ocean and running an electric current through them, to precipitate the gold and silver from the water upon these plates. It is estimated that one-half of one horse power is all that is needed for the purpose, and that it will consequently be possible to get gold in this way at a cost equal to but one per cent. of its present value.(82 ¶ 1)

But where does the revolution in political economy come in? some one may ask. Does the connection seem remote to you, my thoughtless friend? Then think a bit and listen. Every ton of sea-water contains half a grain of gold and a grain and a half of silver. Has that an insignificant sound? If so, let us appeal to mathematics. We shall find that, at the rate of half a grain of gold and a grain and a half of silver to each ton of sea-water, the entire seas and oceans of the world (I take the figure from a scientific journal) contain 21,595 billion tons of gold and 64,785 billion tons of silver. As good fish in the sea as ever were caught? I should say so, and much better! Why, this means, to speak at a venture, that there is several billion times as much gold in the water as has been extracted from the land up to date. Now, if this gold can be taken from the water, as is claimed, at the rate of a dollar’s worth for a cent, soon it will be scarcely worth its weight in good rag-paper. The much defamed rag baby will be a very aristocratic personage beside it. In that case what will become of the metal appointed by God in his goodness to serve as the currency of the world? Would it be possible to more thoroughly revolutionize political economy than by dethroning gold? And could gold be more effectually dethroned than by reducing its value to insignificance? Its monetary privilege would disappear instantly and of necessity, and the era of free money would dawn, with all the tremendous blessings, physical, mental, and moral, that must follow in its wake. As Proudhon well says: The demonetization of gold, the last idol of the Absolute, will be the greatest act of the revolution of the future.(82 ¶ 2)

All hail then, Electricity! On with your magnificent work! Lend a hand, you believers in dynamite; we offer you a better saviour! This good fairy is carrying on a propaganda by deed that discounts all your Ravachols. Success to her! May she force gold, the last bulwark of Archism, to become, through offering itself for sacrifice on the altar of Liberty, the greatest of Anarchists, the final emancipator of the race!(82 ¶ 3)

Money, said Adam Smith, in one of those flashes of his intellectual genius which have so illuminated man’s economic path, money is a wagon-way through the air. If Electricity shall make of this wagon-way a railway, it will be the most signal, the most useful of her exploits.(82 ¶ 4)