Ireland’s Need of a Free Currency.
At all periods of human history it is possible to observe a combination of times and conditions that seems conspicuously ripe for the recognition and adoption of certain instalments of general truth embodied in particular ideas and principles borne mostly on the obscure banners of hitherto unnoticed reform. Such an occasion, I venture to believe, is presented by the dawning hopes to which the impending political change gives birth in the state of long-scourged and ever-suffering Ireland.
The economic regeneration of that country through the death of Interest by means of a free currency is the idea which the writer believes peculiarly fitting at this juncture of her career to inaugurate the industrial and social Revolution.
A glance at the circumstances upon which this assumption is based cannot fail to interest all students of the economics of Anarchism, besides furnishing the reasons for offering this suggestion to Liberty. Ireland’s industrial position to-day is that of a people whose commercial prospects and productive efforts have been effectually blighted and crushed out by the foreign aggressor and reduced to dependence on an impoverished and miserable agriculture under the worst agrarian system that was ever imposed by the invasive brutality of tyrannical government upon an unwilling but powerless community. Political self-government, the dream of centuries, is almost within their grasp. Alas! that the hopes of ages should be centered upon so deceptive a consummation! Yet it is not the mere expedient of Home Rule to which they pin their faith. It is a reformed land system, the opening up of manufactures and a new commerce, the revival of industry, the growth of trade and exchange, and the building up of a new era of general prosperity, which are anticipated as the fruits of the political change, that render the Irish people hopeful and confident.
Doubtless a partial realization of these expectations will ensue. But in what way and with what results? The system of land tenure may be reformed and agriculture improve; probably attempts will be made with more or less success to create and build up new industries and establish international commerce; the abundant and not high-priced labor, together with the exceptional natural facilities which the country offers for conducting a variety of industrial enterprises, will assure determined efforts for their establishment, and a consequent demand for capital; but this demand cannot be met except by the same classes who have in the past combined with the needy landlords to tighten the screw on the over-burdened peasant. For money-capital is notoriously scarce in Ireland: hence a market for English capitalists and London usurers will be one of the first fruits of Home Rule, of which they will not fail to take advantage, and in the name of Interest the bloodsuckers will despoil labor and seize the lion’s share of the product with as much security under an Irish Parliament as was ever possible in the palmy days of the tyrant Balfour. That the inudstry, intelligence, and talents of the Irish people will be turned in the direction indicated there can hardly be a question. For it is only the incessant struggle against alien oppression along with the creation of impossible conditions of growth and prosperity by British conditions of growth and prosperity by British commercial jealousy and power which have reduced the people to their present backward state.
With regard to the proposed schemes of self-government, the question of the new Parliament issuing a paper currency to supply the internal circulating medium has been discussed with favor both by English statesmen favorable to Home Rule and by Irish politicians. Probably a species of fiat money under certain limitations is the prevailing notion. Something in that direction is likely to accompany the Gladstonian plan. Banks in Ireland at present issue notes which form the greater part of the currency. They are based of course on gold; about two-thirds, I think, is the reserve which the banks are supposed to hold against their paper in circulation. A national paper currency is spoken of to replace this privilege.
As a people the Irish are by no means favorable to Usury. They are hereditary and inveterate foes to its own brother, Rent. They would be as easily aroused against the former as they have always been against the latter. Is there not in these circumstances a remarkably favorable field for the propagation of Mutual Banking as a practical plan for the realization of Ireland’s dream? There is now a large surplus of agricultural products over the home consumption. Her peculiar position compels her to export this surplus without receiving equivalent values in return. The rise of an industrial and commercial class would absorb this abundant produce and also offer an equitable return. Therefore, neither raw material nor real wages—i.e., the necessaries of life—are wanting; nothing but a medium of exchange, a money-capital, is needed to insure the growth of boundless prosperity.
Anarchists in their financial plans offer a medium of exchange, scientifically sound and practically unlimited, free money, capital without usury or interest, a peaceful method of economic revolution.
Among the readers of Liberty are there none who can do or suggest anything which would help to spread the principles of mutualism where there is an exceptional chance of their bringing forth fruit? Has Liberty any readers in the Green Isle who can inaugurate the propaganda? May there not be found an Irish-American with talents, means, and time to put a practical aspect on this imperfect but honestly-meant suggestion?