Still in the Procrustean Bed.

Still in the Procrustean Bed.

Continuing his controversy with me regarding the logic of the principle of liberty, Mr. Pinney of the Winsted Press says:(31 ¶ 1)

There is no analogy between prohibition and the tariff; the tariff prohibits no man from indulging his desire to trade where he pleases. It is simply a tax. It is slightly analogous to a license tax for the privilege of selling liquor in a given territory, but prohibition, in theory if not in practice, is an entirely different matter.(31 ¶ 2)

This is a distinction without a difference. The so-called prohibitory liquor law prohibits no man, even theoretically, from indulging his desire to sell liquor; it simply subjects the man so indulging to fine and imprisonment. The tax imposed by the tariff law and the fine imposed by the prohibitory law share alike the nature of a penalty, and are equally invasive of liberty. Mr. Pinney’s argument, though of no real validity in any case, would present at least a show of reason in the mouth of a revenue reformer; but, coming from one who scorns the idea of raising revenue by the tariff and who has just declared explicitly that he desires the tariff to be so effectively prohibitory that it shall yield no revenue at all, it lacks even the appearance of logic.(31 ¶ 3)

Equally lame is Mr. Pinney’s apology for a compulsory money system:(31 ¶ 4)

As for the exclusive government currency which we advocate, and which Mr. Tucker tortures into prohibition of individual property scrip, there is just as much analogy as their is between prohibition and the exclusive law-making, treaty-making, war-declaring, or any other powers delegated to government because government better than the individual can be trusted with and make use of these powers.(31 ¶ 5)

Just as much, I agree; and in this I can see a good reason why Mr. Pinney, who started out with the proposition that there is nothing any better than liberty and nothing any worse than despotism, should oppose law-making, treaty-making, war-declaring, etc., but none whatever why he should favor an exclusive government currency. How much torture it requires to extract the idea of prohibition of individual currency our readers will need no help in deciding, unless the word exclusive has acquired some new meaning as unknown to them as it is to me.(31 ¶ 6)

But Mr. Pinney’s brilliant ideas are not exhausted yet. He continues:(31 ¶ 7)

Government prohibits the taking of private property for public uses without just compensation. Therefore, if we fit Mr. Tucker’s Procrustean bed, we cannot sustain this form of prohibition and consistently oppose prohibition of liquor drinking! This is consistency run mad, analogy reduced to absurdity. We are astonished that Mr. Tucker can be guilty of it.(31 ¶ 8)

So am I. Or rather, I should be astonished if I had been guilty of it. But I haven’t. To say nothing of the fact that the governmental prohibition here spoken of is a prohibition laid by government upon itself, and that such prohibitions can never be displeasing to an Anarchist, it is clear that the taking of private property from persons who have violated the rights of nobody is invasion, and to the prohibition of invasion no friend of liberty has any objection. Mr. Pinney has already resorted to the plea of invasion as an excuse for his advocacy of a tariff, and it would be a good defence if he could establish it. But I have pointed out to him that the pretence that the foreign merchant who sells goods to American citizens or the individual who offers his I O U are invaders is as flimsy as the prohibitionist’s pretence that the rumseller and the drunkard are invaders. Neither invasion nor evasion will relieve Mr. Pinney of his dilemma. If he has no more effective weapons, what he dubs Boston analogy is in no danger from his assaults.(31 ¶ 9)