Mr. Bailie Explains

To the Editor of Liberty:

It would be injudicious on my part to enter into a controversy on questions arising out of the articles now appearing in Liberty while they are still running. In the present instance your somewhat premature criticisms call for a word of explanation. If I were attacking merely the man of straw theories so kindly formulated for me by the editor, or again if I could accept them as qualified and defended by him, the present section of my articles would never have been written. Why have I failed to clearly state the iron law that I attack? Because in chapter 2 I intended nothing more than preliminary hints as to the position I meant to take, having, before it was printed, completed the parts that attempt to grapple in a direct and systematic manner with the fallacies indicated in that chapter. I admit that by introducing the views I meant to set forth before I had reached the proper place for their full discussion I committed an error which has laid me open to the editorial lash.

That the iron law of wages and the wage-fund theory are but two sides of the same thing is a point on which I can readily agree with the editor, and I believe my remarks in the article in question indicate that idea. When he hears the case I shall put forward, and when the arguments I deem necessary to establish it are before the readers of Liberty, I hope to come to an understanding with the editor, though I do not anticipate an acceptance of my position by him. This will be when the present section is completed.

Francis A. Walker no more than Henry George can be credited with demolishing the wage-fund theory, for all that either has said was already put forth in English by Thornton. For erroneous estimates of Walker’s discoveries I am not responsible.

My second-hand and unreliable information about Josiah Warren’s notions of value were obtained from Equitable Commerce by that estimable pioneer as well as from Andrews’s exposition of Warren’s ideas in Science of Society. Warren’s theory of value is at bottom the same as Marx’s, and both thinkers were undoubtedly aware that an hour of one man’s labor is not equivalent to an hour of every other man’s. I disagree with both, but not because I overlook the latter point. The inadequacy of Warren’s economics and of Marx’s analysis of capital will be dealt with in their place in the series.

The editor’s criticism of previous articles seemed to me to arise out of a difference in our ethical points of view that are not fundamental to the central principles of Anarchism, nor were they on a question of economics, so that readers could judge for themselves without further explanation from me or the danger of misconception on essential questions. Fraternally yours,

Wm. Bailie

[I await with interest the development of Mr. Bailie’s conception and criticism of the iron law of wages and the wage-fund theory. Meanwhile I think I did well to call attention to the defect which he admits. Doubtless some of the readers of the instalment which I criticised will never see the clearer and fuller statement which Mr. Bailie promises us. His defence of his misrepresentation of Warren is worthless. He tells us that Warren was undoubtedly aware that an hour of one man’s labor is not equivalent to an hour of every other man’s. Does he mean by this that Warren held this view privately, but did not express it in his writings? If he means this, I deny it, and am ready to prove Mr. Bailie in error by quotations. Or does Mr. Bailie mean to admit that Warren upheld this view in his writings? If so, why did Mr. Bailie in his previous article represent him as holding another and different view? His defence against my criticism is a contradiction of himself without a confession. I shall give my best consideration to Mr. Bailie’s coming demonstration of the inadequacy of Warren’s economics, but he must not misstate Warren’s economics unless he desires to be called to account. —Editor Liberty.]