On Picket Duty

On Picket Duty.

In the Twentieth Century, under the head of Anarchist-Communist Notes, it is stated that the first number of Protoplasm has been issued at Edinburgh. Mr. Pentecost's sarcasm is always keen, but this bit of editorial classification is his most delicate thrust.

The Massachusetts legislature, in legalizing the lobby, has adopted the police of licensing political prostitution. The next thing in order is a Contagious Diseases act providing for the periodical examination of the legislative harlots by the aid of some moral speculum yet to be invented.

A leading Nationalist of Boston, in answer to a question of a friend of mine, bluntly said that Gronlund's new work, now running serially in the Nationalist and entitled: Our Destiny: the Influence of Nationalism on Morals and Religion, is worse than nothing. Isn't this the most unkindest cut of all? Poor Gronlund! Even the power behind evolution cannot save him from ridicule.

Mr. Pentecost says that the State, in renewing the charter of the Louisiana Lottery, has made a scheme of robbery respectable. As I look at it, the case stands just the other way. The State has made an otherwise respectable scheme a scheme of robbery by endowing it with the dishonest privilege of monopoly. Except in this monopoly feature, wherein is the Louisiana Lottery Company a robber? Does it not do as it agrees? Is that which it agrees to do robbery? In short, is it invasive to bet? If so, why?

In response to my article, Individual Sovereignty Our Goal, the Open Court declares that it has no quarrel with Anarchists who think that the laws should be obeyed. The implication is that these words define Liberty's position. Of course they do not. To admit the right of society to do as it pleases is not at all to assert the duty of the individual to acquiesce in society's pleasure. The Open Court adds that, in its view, Liberty is not the mother of Order, but Order is the mother of Liberty. I call for an extension of the geneology. Who or what is the mother of Order?

The editor of the Twentieth Century explains that, when he pronounced Nationalism practicable, he meant that it is not theoretically impossible. All right; the explanation is satisfactory. But when the editor further says that practicable does not mean (as I suggested that it might) conducive to social health and stability, I think he is wrong. The really practicable thing is not that which can be established for an hour or a day or a year, but that which does not carry within it the seeds of its own death; in other words, in the case of a proposed form of society, that which is conducive to social health and stability.

J. M. L. Babcock, opposing freedom in the Twentieth Century, says: Money is an order on the nation for labor; and to be available the whole people must stand sponsor for the order. This condition is not necessary. If the order is issued by a man known and trusted by the nation, or by a bank known and trusted by the nation, it will be just as available as if the whole people had issued it. Now the claim of the advocate of free banking is that such banking can be so organized that its notes will be as widely known and trusted as the government's. In answer to this Mr. Babcock probably will cite the old State banks, regardless of the fact that those were privileged institutions.

Answering an opponent of free money, Mr. Pentecost declares his willingness that government money should retain its legal tender character, provided the freedom of Tom, Dick, and Harry to issue money is not restricted. I have always considered my confidence in private enterprise equal to the greatest, but such faith in it as Mr. Pentecost's puts me to shame. I confess to serious misgivings as to the circulating power of private currency if it must struggle against the legal tender handicap. When Mr. Pentecost stops to reflect that, while professing the theory that each form of currency shall stand on its merits, he consents to give government currency a value independent of its merits, and that, while professing to believe in liberty, he grants to the holders of government money the power to levy a forced loan, he will see, I think, that he has gone too far.

In one of his recent Sunday addresses Mr. Pentecost, from the standpoint of materialism and atheism, boldly and vigorously attacks agnosticism and routs it. He also properly ridicules Colonel Ingersoll's hope that sees a star in the night of death. But I observe that toward the end of his discourse Mr. Pentecost himself hopes for some scientific escape from materialism. Isn't it better to leave hope entirely out of the question? The man who hopes already has a bias. Mr. Pentecost cares nothing about seeing Colonel Ingersoll's star or the pearly gates of the new Jerusalem, but he never has seen the day when he did not feel the thrill of those lines of Tennyson in which life is preferred to death. I cheerfully grant that there is a wide difference between Tennyson's poetry and that of Ingersoll and Talmage, but as for any serious difference between their hopes I fail to see it.

It is the opinion of Today that, on the average, restrictions of every kind cannot last much longer than they are wanted; and this opinion is claimed to be an inference from the fact that the genesis, the maintenance, and the decline of all governments, however named, are alike brought about by the humanity to be controlled. Now I fully admit the premise, but deny the claim of legitimacy for the inference. All that may be properly inferred from the fact stated (as even Lecky could not help seeing) is that restrictions cannot last much longer than they are endurable. Restrictions are daily authorized by the people's servants or their divine masters without the least regard to the wishes and needs of the people, but in the interest of a few, the masters and servants well knowing that the people are too engrossed with the questions of existence to be capable or inclined to sedulously watch them, and too easily imposed upon by sophistical and high-sounding talk to be dangerous. As long as the mischief produced by the restrictions is not too great; as long as the ignorance of the people is such that absolute evils and abuses may be made to appear benefits or at least harmless practices, the conspirators against the people's liberties and economic opportunities are secure. This fact should be kept in mind by those who discuss government.

The pamphlet report of the convention held in Washington last winter to organize the Woman's National Liberal Union is a highly interesting document. The call for this convention was issued professedly in the interest of woman's suffrage, but indicated a marked and progressive departure from the old lines of suffrage agitation by inaugurating a bold attack upon the Church as the worst enemy, not only of woman's freedom, but of freedom in general. So intelligently directed was this attack on the part of many of the leaders of the movement that I was unable to reconcile so much appreciation of liberty with a desire to get possession of that instrument of coercion, the ballot. I began to joyfully suspect that some of the women were becoming dimly conscious that the ballot for woman and freedom for woman are two distinct and indeed antagonistic issues, and that this convention was the first indication of the new drift. The suspicion was strengthened when the new organization adopted resolutions and framed a declaration of objects from which all mention of the ballot was significantly omitted. This fact, coupled with many of the sentiments expressed in addresses before the convention and letters sent to it, leads me to believe that the Anarchistic leaven is working among the woman suffragists. Indeed, Anarchism is squarely represented in the personnel of the new movement by Voltairine de Cleyre. And in the letter sent by Mrs. Mattie P. Krekle I find the following affirmation of the Egoistic philosophy, or at least of a truth intimately connected with it: I don't believe much in what you call inherent rights, any more than I believe in what our hard money men call intrinsic value. A right inheres if there is power enough to secure it and vigilance enough to perpetuate it, not otherwise. Natural rights are a phantasm; natural man is a savage. Acquired rights are the product of the civilized process applied to natural man. The report contains much else that is notable. It can be had for fifty cents from Mrs. Matilda Joslyn Gage.