State Socialism and Liberty.

State Socialism and Liberty.

[Liberty, February 21, 1891.]

To the Editor of Liberty:(125 ¶ 1)

An Anarchist paper defines an Individualist to be one who believes in the principle of recognizing the right of every non-aggressive individual to the full control of his person and property. Is this the meaning of the word as you understand it? If so, and if it is correct, Individualism and Socialism are reconcilable, since the aim of the latter is the attainment of the condition sought by the former. Though the methods of Socialists may conflict in effect with the principle of Individualism, they accord with it fundamentally, do they not? From all the works I can find on modern Socialism, or Nationalism, I understand its object to be the protection of each individual in the privilege of enjoying his rights,—i.e., to form a condition whereby equal freedom may be enjoyed, by forbidding the invasion, and all acts of men, which affect to a disadvantage, directly or indirectly, the person or property of any non-aggressive individual. The means proposed by Socialists may fail in effect to form such a condition, but still a Socialist may be an Individualist. I understand how the nationalization of industries may stop the invasion of the greedy monopolists of interest, unfair profits, and rents, but I have never learned from Liberty or any other champion of Anarchism how the same could invade the liberty of any individual but the aggressive and the tyrannical. The protection of the weak and innocent against the strong and avaricious necessarily involves compulsion, whether by the will of the people as typified by a system of democratic government or by their will as idealized by Anarchists. A defence of a crime involves compulsion of some sort, whether the force of a superstitious law or the power of popular Anarchy. How, then, does Anarchism conflict with Socialism or Individualism as above defined? Yours,(125 ¶ 2)

Willis Hudspeth.

Atlantic, Iowa, February 11, 1891.

The definition offered of Individualism might not be accepted by all Individualists, but it will do very well as a definition of Anarchism. When my correspondent speaks of Socialism I understand him to mean State Socialism and Nationalism, and not that Anarchistic Socialism which Liberty represents. I shall answer him on this supposition. He wishes to know, then, how State Socialism and Nationalism would restrict the non-aggressive individual in the full control of his person and property. In a thousand and one ways. I will tell him one, and leave him to find out the thousand. The principal plank in the platform of State Socialism and Nationalism is the confiscation of all capital by the State. What becomes, in that case, of the property of any individual, whether he be aggressive or non-aggressive? What becomes also of private industry? Evidently it is totally destroyed. What becomes then of the personal liberty of those non-aggressive individuals who are thus prevented from carrying on business for themselves or from assuming relations between themselves as employer and employee if they prefer, and who are obliged to become employees of the State against their will? State Socialism and Nationalism mean the utter destruction of human liberty and private property.(125 ¶ 3)