On Picket Duty

[10]On Picket Duty


The older generation will remember the paragraphs that appeared in Tucker's Liberty under the heading we have adopted. There has been a long period of quiet since Benj. R. Tucker laid down his pen seventeen years ago, but a rebirth of the movement he worked for so valiantly is now due.

Many changes have taken place since the beginning of the Liberty propaganda in 1881, and we expect to call attention to them from time to time. Some of these have been for the better—a few for the worse. The old adherents of Liberty, most of them still living, are pessimistic as to what can be accomplished.

Whether this is from old age, disillusionment or failure to reorient themselves as time passed is difficult to decide. We are inclined to think the last has had much to do with this hopelessness.

The fight waged against authority a generation ago was along political, legal, ethical, sociological and economic lines. It is more difficult to make these distinctions now than it was then. Some writers go so far as to say such lines should not be drawn. But of one thing we are sure—economic conditions are neither the last nor the least in importance.

The reading public is better able to understand what is told them than they were when the Victorian era was drawing to a close. In that most stupid of periods it was hard to get a hearing for a new idea. Things were at a low ebb as regards everything worth while, and it is to the everlasting credit of those who gave battle to conservatism in those days. Now we at least do not have to cope with such provincialism. There is a public that can be gotten hold of if it will only stop its auto or hang up its telephone or radio receiver long enough to do a little reading.

The controversy regarding the teaching of evolution in the schools of Tennessee and the world-wide publicity given the trial of Professor Scopes caused a great awakening of thought. Modernism lost its case at law, but won in the public mind. The late Bryan, leader of many a lost cause, won his last battle—which was a Waterloo for the bigotry he represented. His answers to Darrow show the folly of arguing with a believer. The rationalist bases his argument on demonstrable fact, which the fundamentalist rejects for miracles alleged to have been performed by God in contravention of natural law—mere fiction by unknown dreamers.

The Scopes trial judge did not admit argument to show whether the Bible or Evolution is true, but the question was the guilt of Scopes and the constitutionality of the anti-evolution law of Tennessee.

The greater question was not touched upon—whether one part of the community can enforce a certain teaching in a school that is distasteful to another part of the community. The real problem is one of compulsory taxation for educational purposes. If schools were supported by voluntary contributions, every parent could make his own selection of a school and of the subjects taught, instead of having legislatures and courts decide what they should be. The parent could have the Bible or Darwin, or both, or neither of them taught, and any method he desired, but no one seems to have raised this question.

The modernist, who tries to reconcile the Bible with science or evolution has a difficult job on his hands. The God-be-glorified fundamentalist is right in his view that a figurative interpretation of the Bible will render its meaning anything one imagines it to mean. Even the literal meaning is now understood differently by many denominations. The naturalist or atheist who accepts as plausible the evolutionary theory does not worry about reconciling the Bible, any more than he does the Arabian Nights Tales, with science.

Irrespective of whether the Bible or ab-extra Godism is right or wrong, or whether Naturalism or Science, that sees no need of an all-knowing and all-ruling mind, is on the side absolute verity, the days of the religion of our time are numbered. The Bible is fixed and unchangeable, while intelligence increases, new facts are discovered and the minds of men change. The old sticks tenaciously, it is true, and the church is powerful, but it cannot kill Science, nor the worm of doubt that gnaws away the churchman's faith.

Coolidge is strengthening his fences by his stand for tax reduction. That pleases those who are bled for ten billion dollars a year, and the president's political managers are giving the matter extensive publicity. The tax reduction, if made, will be made on the levies of those having immense incomes—those most able to pay and who can't easily shift the burden onto consumers or labor—the Morgans, Rockefellers, Stillmans, whose incomes are largely derived from interest, which has a legal limit rate. Little of the tax will be lifted off the smaller industries, which would mean lower prices and higher wages—just a sufficient reduction to make technical ground for an immense political argument in behalf of our Cal. in 1928. Coolidge may mean all right, but he doesn't run the whole works in Washington.

When Arthur Brisbane is not boosting one or more of the several kinds of filthy poisons used in vaccination, and telling how science is saving the lives of many, he is pleading for greater activity by the government in the preparation of poison gas and disease germs, and is manufacturing devices for the spreading of cholera, the bubonic pleague, pox, typhus, etc., among the people of small countries not peacefully submitting to U.S. intervention.

Prohibition enforcement officers (liquor and dope) have been shown up as great bootleggers and dope peddlers.