Rights and Duties Under Anarchy.

Rights and Duties Under Anarchy.

Old readers of this paper will remember the appearance in its columns, about two years ago, of a series of questions propounded by the writer of the following letter and accompanied by editorial answers. To-day my interrogator questions me further; this time, however, no longer as a confident combatant, but as an earnest inquirer. As I replied to him then according to his pugnacity, so I reply to him now according to his friendliness.(13 ¶ 1)

To the Editor of Liberty:(13 ¶ 2)

Will you please insert the following questions in your paper with your answers thereto, and oblige an ethical, political, and humanitarian student?(13 ¶ 3)

1. Do you, as an Anarchist, believe any one human being ever has the right to judge for another what he ought or ought not to do?(13 ¶ 4)

The terms of this question need definition. Assuming, however, the word right to be used in the sense of the limit which the principle of equal liberty logically places upon might, and the phrase judge for another to include not only the formation of judgment but the enforcement thereof, and the word ought to be equivalent to must or shall, I answer: Yes. But the only cases in which a human being ever has such right over another are those in which the other’s doing or failure to do involves an overstepping of the limit upon might just referred to. That is what was meant when it was said in an early number of Liberty that man’s only duty is to respect others’ rights. It might well have been added that man’s only right over others is to enforce that duty.(13 ¶ 5)

2. Do you believe any number combined ever have such a right?(13 ¶ 6)

Yes. The right of any number combined is whatever right the individuals combining possess and voluntarily delegate to it. It follows from this, and from the previous answer, that, as individuals sometimes have the right in question, so a number combined may have it.(13 ¶ 7)

3. Do you believe one, or any number, ever have the right to prevent one another from doing as he pleases?(13 ¶ 8)

Yes. This question is answered by the two previous answers taken together.(13 ¶ 9)

4. Do you believe it admissible, as an Anarchist, to use what influence can be exerted without the aid of brute force to induce one to live as seems to you best?(13 ¶ 10)

Please explain what influence, if any, you think might be employed in harmony with Anarchistic principles.(13 ¶ 11)

Yes. The influence of reason; the influence of persuasion; the influence of attraction; the influence of education; the influence of example; the influence of public opinion; the influence of social ostracism; the influence of unhampered economic forces; the influence of better prospects; and doubtless other influences which do not now occur to me.(13 ¶ 12)

5. Do you believe there is such a thing as private ownership of property, viewed from an Anarchistic standpoint? If so, please give a way or rule to determine whether one owns a thing or not.(13 ¶ 13)

Yes. Anarchism being neither more nor less than hte principle of equal liberty, property, in an Anarchistic society, must accord with this principle. The only form of property which meets this condition is that which secures each in the possession of his own products, or of such products of others as he may have obtained unconditionally without the use of fraud or force, and in the realization of all titles to such products which he may hold by virtue of free contract with others. Possession, unvitiated by fraud or force, of values to which no one else holds a title unvitiated by fraud or force, and the possession of similarly unvitiated titles to values, constitute the Anarchistic criterion of ownership. By fraud I do not mean that which is simply contrary to equity, but deceit and false pretence in all their forms.(13 ¶ 14)

6. Is it right to confine such as injure others and prove themselves unsafe to be at large? If so, is there a way consistent with Anarchy to determine the nature of the confinement, and how long it shall continue?(13 ¶ 15)

Yes. Such confinement is sometimes right because it is sometimes the wisest way of vindicating the right asserted in the answer to the first question. There are many ways consistent with Anarchy of determining the nature and duration of such confinement. Jury trial, in its original form, is one way, and in my judgmenet the best way yet devised.(13 ¶ 16)

7. Are the good people under obligations to feed, clothe, and make comfortable such as they find it necessary to confine?(13 ¶ 17)

No. In other words, it is allowable to punish invaders by torture. But, if the good people are not fiends, they are not likely to defend themselves by torture until the penalties of death and tolerable confinement have shown themselves destitute of efficacy.(13 ¶ 18)

I ask these questions partly for myself, and partly because I believe many others have met difficulties on the road to Anarchism which a rational, lucid answer wold remove.(13 ¶ 19)

Perhaps you have been over this ground many times, and may feel impatient to find any one as much in the dark as I, but all would-be reformers have to keep reiterating their position to all new-comers, and I trust you will try and make everything clear to me, and to others who may be as unfortunate as myself.(13 ¶ 20)

S. Blodgett.

Grahamville, Florida.

Time and space are the only limits to my willingness to answer intelligent questions regarding that science whose rudiments I profess to teach, and I trust that my efforts, on this occasion, may not prove entirely inadequate to the commendable end which my very welcome correspondent has in view.(13 ¶ 21)