lunes, 31 de octubre de 2011

Charles-Auguste Bontemps, french individualist anarchist

Charles-Auguste Bontemps (1893 Nievre-1981 )was a french individualist anarchist, pacifist, freethinker-atheist and naturist writer and activist. He wrote alongside the anarcho-communist Maurice Joyeux the founding principles of the Federation Anarchiste. Among the publications in which he wrote include Le Monde libertaire, Liberté, Le Droit de vivre, La Raison, Le Réfractaire. He defended what he called "social individualism" and "a collectivism of things and an individualism of persons".

More on Bontemps here in an entry on him in french at the International Dictionary of Anarchist Militants. Source of the photo here.

domingo, 23 de octubre de 2011

Enrico Arrigoni, italian-american individualist anarchist

Arrigoni is the one on the right with the newspaper. In this photo he is alongside italian anarchist Franco Leggio (left)

Source of this photo

For more information on Arrigoni visit the wikipedia article on him

or his entry at Paul Avrich. Anarchist Voices: An Oral History of Anarchism in America

miércoles, 28 de septiembre de 2011

L'En-Dehors: french individualist anarchist publication

wikipedia article on this publication
site with many articles from this publication

La Mêlée: french individualist anarchist publication

articles from this publication here

L'Unique (1945-1956) : french individualist anarchist publication

wikipedia article on L'Unique
Site with many articles from editions of this magazine
another Site with articles from this publication

Iniciales (1929-1937) : spanish individualist anarchist and naturist publication

Wikipedia Article on Iniciales

Sacrilegious Laughter by Erinne Vivani

In the pale, sad twilight hour, pregnant with comic and tragic events, while all ridiculous pettiness achieves manifestation and crime is erected as a life system, as an athletic gymnastic drill, while the blood of revolutionary and non-revolutionary citizens bathes the beautiful lands of Italy, anarchist individualism — unique and radiant living and historical reality — blazes majestically and gloriously beyond so much civil and social putridity toward joy, toward liberty, toward the sun.

The latest squall that raged suddenly in the cities and villages, has swept away people and things.

It was predictable and fatal.

The theory of love and meekness, propagated by all the Parties and all the proletarian organizations, absolutely could not resist the overwhelming flood.

The party chiefs, instead of educating the working class in rebellion and freedom, kept it always prone and enslaved. They only had their sights on the number of followers, membership cards, votes, discipline, etc, with the sole aim of forming a herd that was willing to let them milk and sheer it.

With a system of social political education of this sort, everyone knows what happened. The majority of proletarian who joined subversive parties and organizations willy-nilly, have gone over — bit by bit — to the enemy. What, pray tell, was the value of all the effusive praise that sages lavished on the proletariat — that poor wind-filled puppet — that some believed to be called by history to become the dictators of the world?

Now the proletariat has gone over to fascism, because fascists command, if tomorrow the black priest were to command, it would be willing to worship them, as it worshiped the red priests yesterday.

All the members of congregations have come out of the terrible storm badly, or rather extremely badly. Once again — and it won’t be the last time — the fraudulent bankruptcy of working class organizations has been declared. They have solemnly shown that they were not at all revolutionary or subversive, but reformist, state, church and shopkeeper organizations.

The failure of the organizational method, in the struggles for the conquest of well-being and freedom, is precisely and absolutely evident. Despite this, revolutionaries — many libertarian communists included — still insist — bellowing like cows about the necessity and importance of organization, don’t notice that their method has inexorably, irremediably swept them away and thrown them into the abyss.

* * *

Individualists have laughed at all the compromises, all the renunciations, all the foul marketing, and still they laugh their irreverent, sacrilegious, cursed laughter.

We always laugh at each and all, at those who manufacture revolvers, rifles, bayonets, machine guns, cannons, ammunition, chains, shackles, various instruments of torture for the workers, at those who build prisons and raise gallows for “their” brothers, at those who organize themselves, or rather link themselves, into leagues and unions, paying membership fees and fattening the swine, as they give up their human dignity by electing masters and shepherds.

We laugh at those who shouts, “long live this and long live that,” at those who go to demonstrations ready to pay up and leave their bellies empty, at those who wait for the orders from the central committee of their party before they’ll rise up, at those who listen to leaders who exhort them to cowardice when they rise up, at those who wait for the sun of the future with arms crossed and stomachs empty, as if it could rise by itself from one minute to the next.

And those subversives who, in the name of liberty, want to overthrow the current government so that they can replace it with a new tyranny, how they make us laugh!

All symbols and all rites still provoke laughter in us. The religious procession is replaced with the march, the sermon with the rally in the same tone, the canopy with the banner. Portraits of rulers take the place of portraits of saints and madonnas, and the new christians, instead of singing sacred hymns, sing patriotic or subversive hymns. Nothing has changed, either in its form or its substance from twenty centuries ago to today.

But we aren’t tired of our laughing.

Our satanic laugher starts to boom like thunder and sends out flashes of lightning when we find ourselves before the worshipers of monstrous divine and human phantoms, which they call God, Religion, State, Fatherland, Humanity, Morality, Right, Duty, Custom, Altruism, Socialism, Communism, etc.

These baleful phantoms, created from the ignorance, fear and cruelty of human beings, still today make the stupid demand that the free and strong individual sacrifice himself to them, but he, who loves boundless liberty and the noonday sun, shoots his scorching and poisonous arrows against all the cursed and infamous idols and, striking them, laughs and is happy.

We laugh at all those who transform themselves into apostles of humanity and practice the craft of the preacher, promising earthly paradise and universal abundance; at those who want to give a single form to human society that numbers around two billion individuals each and every one different from the other; at those who, not able to live freely, pose as world redeemers, speaking of the rosy future while forgetting the black, cruel reality of the present. Finally, we laugh at all the poor in spirit who believe and hope in a radiant tomorrow, and faithfully and patiently await the reign of Saint Humanity.

* * *

Beyond the organizationalist, prophetic, christianizing, monomaniacal anarchism of those who, like the young monk of Assisi, preach the theory of love and meekness, according to which our I “must gain by losing and rise by submitting,” there is the Anarchism of the free, virgin and rebellious instinct of refractories, nihilists, innovators, iconoclasts, amoralists, aristocrats, individualist, to whose proud, invincible and immortal breed I belong.

From Proletario

Introduction to Max Stirner, Der Einzige und sein Eigenthum by John Henry Mackay

At the beginning of the 1840s, in a wine bar in northern Friedrichstrasse in Berlin — it was opposite the present Zentralhotel and its proprietor was named Hippel — there gathered every evening a circle of men who called themselves “The Free”, or at least they were so-called by the public. It was named “The Free” because its members belonged to the extreme left in the intellectual and political movement of those days.

Whatever may have been fabricated about it, the circle never formed itself into an organization. It was and remained an informal society, to which everyone had entrance who was more or less dissatisfied with the prevailing conditions, was striving for its improvement, its reorganization, or even its overthrow — and, above all, did not shrink from any, however sharp word of criticism of it. Visitors came and went, came again, and stayed away. But the core of the remarkable society was almost unchanged for probably a decade, through 1848 and beyond, until it fell apart in the grim period of ever increasing reaction, to disintegrate finally under its pressure, which had become unbearable.

The principle representatives of this core were personalities, often and loudly named, whose courageous and relentless criticism of their times again and again drew the attention of the wide public to them. Above all there was their recognized head, Bruno Bauer, the Bible critic — who had lost his position as privatdocent — and restlessly active publicist. He was the opponent and “exposer” of Hegel, and the publisher-editor of the Allgemeine Literaturzeitung, the camp of the entire young movement of “criticism” of the “masses”, under which catchword all endeavors inimical to the “intellect” were gradually combined. Beside him, but entirely under his influence, stood his brother Edgar, though he was taken away from the circle by his sentence to several years in prison because of an all too sharp publication against church and state. A close friend of the two brothers, Ludwig Buhl, the translator of Louis Blanc and Casanova, even surpassed in viciousness the criticism of the Bauers. When from the row of names completely forgotten today are added those of the gymnasium teacher Koppen, the literary figure Friedrich Saß, and the newspaper writer Dr. Eduard Meyen — perhaps also the frequently mentioned Dr. Adolf Rutenberg and Arthur Müller, the editor of Die ewige Lampe — then the inner circle of The Free appears more or less complete. To its wider circle belonged, as was said, almost everyone who was carried away in that time, whose days were pregnant with hope, and who let themselves be swept along. Those names are far too many to be able to number even a few further ones here. Yet, let at least three of these visitors be recalled who honored the society with a fleeting visit, since their names resound to us: Georg Herwegh, Arnold Rüge, and Hoffmann von Fallersleben.

The tone of the circle was free, loud, and — in spite of the occasional presence of ladies — often cynical. Each expressed what he thought. The questions of the day, such as the socialist movement, which was still in its infancy, censorship, the student and religious movement, the Jewish question, and the question of women’s rights — all gave inexhaustible matter for long conversations and heated debates, and always they found themselves in sharpest contrast to the ruling authorities. Here too the year 1848 threw its shadow ahead.

They smoked much, but drank only moderately. Hippel, the proprietor, served them on credit. When he sometimes did not, then it could happen that they went down Under den Linden to beg. When they were more by themselves, the evenings also often concluded with long pipes and a harmless game of cards.

A circle, always stimulating and of undoubted significance for the history of the pre- March period [leading up to the revolution of March 1848], it was attractive and yet also repulsive, according to the type and behavior of its visitors; and it is unforgettable through one man, who probably belonged to it from its very beginning, but certainly up to its end.

This one man was a slender, always carefully dressed man of middle height. His short, blond sideburns left his chin free; behind steel glasses calm and friendly blue eyes looked out on people and things; and a smile inclined to light irony tended to play around his fine mouth.

His conduct and his way of life were as simple and unobtrusive as his outward appearance. Almost without needs, also without that for a more intimate friendship, he kept himself with inner refinement in the background of the loud society and therefore remained mostly unnoticed on more strongly visited gatherings.

Because of his strikingly high forehead everyone called him Max Stirner [Stirn = forehead], and it was said that he was working on a thick book in which he planned to set down his “I”.

In reality his name was Johann Caspar Schmidt, and he was born on 25 October 1806 in Bayreuth, the son of the “wind instrument maker” Albert Christian Heinrich Schmidt and his wife Sophia Eleonora, née Reinlein. He lost his father early; after the remarriage of his mother to the pharmacist Ballerstedt he went to Kulm in West Prussia and from there returned again to Bayreuth, where he grew up in the home of his godfather Sticht and attended the famous gymnasium of his hometown — “an industrious and good schoolboy”. After finishing school he attended the universities of Erlangen, Königsberg, and Berlin — with a break of another one-year stay in Kulm. He then passed the teacher’s examination, which gave him a conditional facultas docendi [entitlement to teach], but did not help him to get a permanent position in a state school, so that now, after a short trial period in a Realschule [secondary school], he was from the beginning to the middle of the 1840s a teacher in a private educational institution for young ladies. Already married once and soon widowed, he married a second time Marie Dähnhardt, a wealthy young woman from Mecklenburg, who had come to Berlin “to enjoy life to the full” and who frequented The Free. Also frequently occupied with literary works, his principal collaboration was with the newly founded radical Rheinische Zeitung, for which, among other things, he wrote fundamental works on Das unwahre Prinzip unserer Erziehung [The false principle of our education] and Kunst und Religion [Art and religion], while secretly his life’s work grew and grew.

It appeared at the end of 1844 in the publishing house of Otto Wigand in Leipzig and carried the title Der Einzige und sein Eigenthum [The unique one and his property]. It caused a sensation, was forbidden in Saxony, and received detailed reviews, which its author himself sometimes answered just as thoroughly.

It doubtless originated from opposition to the views he encountered in his time and in the daily debates among The Free; whole sections are occupied with their refutation. In this sense it has also been called “the last branch of Hegelian philosophy”.

Very unjustly. For just as it goes far beyond the most radical views of his contemporaries, so too it creates at the same time the foundation for an entirely new weltanschauung, opposed to all those preceding it: that of conscious egoism (as the sole motivating force and guiding principle of all human actions).

Nothing more and nothing less is postulated with it than the sovereignty of the individual in the face of all attempts at his weakening and suppression: the spook and the loose screws in the human brain along with all external powers that want to subjugate this individual under the guise of “law”.

After the brief examination of a human life — the realistic child, the idealistic youth, and the man become egoist — and an intellectual historical look back at the ancients working toward conquering the world, and a similar one of the moderns — their obsession and their hierarchy (their rule of the intellect) — he settles with his own time, with The Free, and exposes their political liberalism as the state, which is based on the slavery of labor and is lost with labor’s freedom; their social liberalism as the society with a new slavery (the “lumpen society of communism”); their humane liberalism with its concept of man. He does the last by showing that one cannot be less than a man (whereas they believed one cannot be more).

To the first, negative section, the criticism of man, he counters in the more positive second section his “I” and clears up first the falsely understood concept of freedom, which cannot be given, but must be taken. Then he describes the “unique one”: his power with regard to the state and society, this power that laughs at law as a loose screw in the head; his intercourse with the world, which consists in his “using” it; and his self-enjoyment, which leads to uniqueness, to which the I as I develops.

The “unique one”, however, no longer recognizes any law over himself, neither a divine nor a human. He sets his concern on himself alone and sets his uniqueness in opposition to every power.

Thus, in a language full of clarity and superiority, full of mockery and disdain, Max Stirner castigates the deeds of men, divests ideas of their sacredness, and shows them as “fixed ideas” in the great madhouse of the world: mankind and fatherland; God and State; virtue and morality; freedom and truth; right and duty. From now on one individual stands opposite another, without rights and without duties, and what alone still binds them to one another is the voluntarily concluded contract (“I will not deceive a confidence that I have voluntarily called forth”). 6 That such a work could not in its consequences be understood by his contemporaries may not be surprising. They were baffled and did not know what to do with it. Some took it to be a satire, others saw in it only a monstrous product of the devil, until its pages too were carried away by the storms of the coming years.

These storms did not completely split up the core of The Free, though they left only a few secondary members. Hippel had moved from Friedrichstrasse to Dorotheenstrasse and during the revolution his bar was a sort of headquarters for all kinds of leftist parties. After the reaction it became more and more quiet there and only the old friends still held together for a while. With them was Max Stirner.

He had given up his position in the school for young ladies before the publication of his book, and soon afterwards his relationship with Marie Dähnhardt was also dissolved by mutual agreement, after the fortune of the young wife was used up and various literary and other pursuits, among them a milk business, had gone wrong. She went at first to Australia, came to know need and misery, and then went to London. There she died at an advanced age in 1902, completely in the arms of the “only true church”, embittered and no longer entirely lucid mentally.

Her husband continued to exist in his usual modest lifestyle — a good cigar was his only luxury. It was going badly for him too. He moved from one address to another and at times ran into extreme need, so that he twice came to know debtor’s prison. But then, protected from the worst through an agreement on the sale of his stepfather’s house in Kulm, he found two cheerful rooms and good care with a Madame Weiss in Philippstrasse. Death came to him quickly and unexpectedly. On 25 June 1856, at age 50, Max Stirner died of a nervous fever brought on by a carbuncle in his neck (and probably also as a result of wrong medical treatment).

Only a few old friends followed his coffin as he was buried on 28 June in the Sophienkirchhof. The heir of his meager belongings was his aged mother, who had suffered from an “idée fixe” for many years, certainly since 1835, and had been admitted to the Berlin Charité [the hospital associated with the university]. His book — and he with it — were already forgotten by then. The rebirth of both began only when, having read it and recognized its true significance, I began in 1889 my arduous researches into the forgotten life, researches that were rich in unexpected incidents and yet so infinitely interesting. I set down the results in my biography eight years later, having no hope of further discoveries. I must refer to it anyone who wishes to know more about the “unique one” than I am able to crowd into this brief introduction. Today the name Max Stirner is no longer unknown to any educated person. The houses where he was born and where he died, as well as his grave, all bear signs commemorating him, and his book, translated into all languages of the civilized world, stands there, “after a long night of thinking and believing”, at the beginning of a new and hopefully better time, illuminated by the glory of immortality.

John Henry Mackay


Vices Are Not Crimes: A Vindication Of Moral Liberty by Lysander Spooner


Vices are those acts by which a man harms himself or his property.

Crimes are those acts by which one man harms the person or property of another.

Vices are simply the errors which a man makes in his search after his own happiness. Unlike crimes, they imply no malice toward others, and no interference with their persons or property.

In vices, the very essence of crime — that is, the design to injure the person or property of another — is wanting.

It is a maxim of the law that there can be no crime without a criminal intent; that is, without the intent to invade the person or property of another. But no one ever practises a vice with any such criminal intent. He practises his vice for his own happiness solely, and not from any malice toward others.

Unless this clear distinction between vices and crimes be made and recognized by the laws, there can be on earth no such thing as individual right, liberty, or property; no such things as the right of one man to the control of his own person and property, and the corresponding and coequal rights of another man to the control of his own person and property.

For a government to declare a vice to be a crime, and to punish it as such, is an attempt to falsify the very nature of things. It is as absurd as it would be to declare truth to be falsehood, or falsehood truth.


Every voluntary act of a man’s life is either virtuous or vicious. That is to say, it is either in accordance, or in conflict, with those natural laws of matter and mind, on which his physical, mental, and emotional health and well-being depend. In other words, every act of his life tends, on the whole, either to his happiness, or to his unhappiness. No single act in his whole existence is indifferent.

Furthermore, each human being differs in his physical, mental, and emotional constitution, and also in the circumstances by which he is surrounded, from every other human being. Many acts, therefore, that are virtuous, and tend to happiness, in the case of one person, are vicious, and tend to unhappiness, in the case of another person.

Many acts, also, that are virtuous, and tend to happiness, in the case of one man, at one time, and under one set of circumstances, are vicious, and tend to unhappiness, in the case of the same man, at another time, and under other circumstances.


To know what actions are virtuous, and what vicious — in other words, to know what actions tend, on the whole, to happiness, and what to unhappiness — in the case of each and every man, in each and all the conditions in which they may severally be placed, is the profoundest and most complex study to which the greatest human mind ever has been, or ever can be, directed. It is, nevertheless, the constant study to which each and every man — the humblest in intellect as well as the greatest — is necessarily driven by the desires and necessities of his own existence. It is also the study in which each and every person, from his cradle to his grave, must necessarily form his own conclusions; because no one else knows or feels, or can know or feel, as he knows and feels, the desires and necessities, the hopes, and fears, and impulses of his own nature, or the pressure of his own circumstances.

It is not often possible to say of those acts that are called vices, that they really are vices, except in degree. That is, it is difficult to say of any actions, or courses of action, that are called vices, that they really would have been vices, if they had stopped short of a certain point. The question of virtue or vice, therefore, in all such cases, is a question of quantity and degree, and not of the intrinsic character of any single act, by itself. This fact adds to the difficulty, not to say the impossibility, of any one’s — except each individual for himself — drawing any accurate line, or anything like any accurate line, between virtue and vice; that is, of telling where virtue ends, and vice begins. And this is another reason why this whole question of virtue and vice should be left for each person to settle for himself.


Vices are usually pleasurable, at least for the time being, and often do not disclose themselves as vices, by their effects, until after they have been practised for many years; perhaps for a lifetime. To many, perhaps most, of those who practise them, they do not disclose themselves as vices at all during life. Virtues, on the other band, often appear so harsh and rugged, they require the sacrifice of so much present happiness, at least, and the results, which alone prove them to be virtues, are often so distant and obscure, in fact, so absolutely invisible to the minds of many, especially of the young, that, from the very nature of things, there can be no universal, or even general, knowledge that they are virtues. In truth, the studies of profound philosophers have been expended — if not wholly in vain, certainly with very small results — in efforts to draw the lines between the virtues and the vices.

If, then, it became so difficult, so nearly impossible, in most cases, to determine what is, and what is not, vice; and especially if it be so difficult, in nearly all cases, to determine where virtue ends, and vice begins; and if these questions, which no one can really and truly determine for anybody but himself, are not to be left free and open for experiment by all, each person is deprived of the highest of all his rights as a human being, to wit: his right to inquire, investigate, reason, try experiments, judge, and ascertain for himself, what is, to him, virtue, and what is, to him, vice; in other words: what, on the whole, conduces to his happiness, and what, on the whole, tends to his unhappiness. If this great right is not to be left free and open to all, then each man’s whole right, as a reasoning human being, to” liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” is denied him.


We all come into the world in ignorance of ourselves, and of everything around us. By a fundamental law of our natures we are all constantly impelled by the desire of happiness, and the fear of pain. But we have everything to learn, as to what will give us happiness, and save us from pain. No two of us are wholly alike, either physically, mentally, or emotionally; or, consequently, in our physical, mental, or emotional requirements for the acquisition of happiness, and the avoidance of unhappiness. No one of us, therefore, can learn this indispensable lesson of happiness and unhappiness, of virtue and vice, for another. Each must learn it for himself. To learn it, he must be at liberty to try all experiments that commend themselves to his judgment. Some of his experiments succeed, and, because they succeed, are called virtues; others fail, and, because they fail, are called vices. He gathers wisdom as much from his failures as from his successes; from his so-called vices, as from his so-called virtues. Both are necessary to his acquisition of that knowledge — of his own nature, and of the world around him, and of their adaptations or non-adaptations to each other — which shall show him how happiness is acquired, and pain avoided. And, unless he can be permitted to try these experiments to his own satisfaction, he is restrained from the acquisition of knowledge, and, consequently, from pursuing the great purpose and duty of his life.


A man is under no obligation to take anybody’s word, or yield to anybody authority, on a matter so vital to himself, and in regard to which no one else has, or can have, any such interest as he. He cannot, if he would, safely rely upon the opinions of other men, because be finds that the opinions of other men do not agree. Certain actions, or courses of action, have been practised by many millions of men, through successive generations, and have been held by them to be, on the whole, conducive to happiness, and therefore virtuous. Other men, in other ages or countries, or under other condition, have held, as the result of their experience and observation, that these actions tended, on the whole, to unhappiness, and were therefore vicious. The question of virtue or vice, as already remarked in a previous section, has also been, in most minds, a question of degree; that is, of the extent to which certain actions should be carried; and not of the intrinsic character of any single act, by itself. The questions of virtue and vice have therefore been as various, and, in fact, as infinite, as the varieties of mind, body, and condition of the different individuals inhabiting the globe. And the experience of ages has left an infinite number of these questions unsettled. In fact, it can scarcely be said to have settled any of them.


In the midst of this endless variety of opinion, what man, or what body of men, has the right to say, in regard to any particular action, or course of action, “We have tried this experiment, and determined every question involved in it? We have determined it, not only for ourselves, but for all others? And, as to all those who are weaker than we, we will coerce them to act in obedience to our conclusion? We will suffer no further experiment or inquiry by any one, and, consequently, no further acquisition of knowledge by anybody?”

Who are the men who have the right to say this? Certainly there none such. The men who really do say it, are either shameless impostors and tyrants, who would stop the progress of knowledge, and usurp absolute control over the minds and bodies of their fellow men; and are therefore to resisted instantly, and to the last extent; or they are themselves too ignorant of their own weaknesses, and of their true relations to other men, to be entitled to any other consideration than sheer pity or contempt.

We know, however, that there are such men as these in the world. Some of them attempt to exercise their power only within a small sphere, to wit, upon their children, their neighbors, their townsmen, and their countrymen. Others attempt to exercise it on a larger scale. For example, an old man at Rome, aided by a few subordinates, attempts to decide all questions of virtue and vice; that is, of truth or falsehood, especially in matters of religion. He claims to know and teach what religious ideas and practices are conducive, or fatal, to a man’s happiness, not only in this world, but in that which is to come. He claims to be miraculously inspired for the performance of this work; thus virtually acknowledging, like a sensible man, that nothing short of miraculous inspiration would qualify him for it. This miraculous inspiration, however, has been ineffectual to enable him to settle more than a very few questions. The most important to which common mortals can attain, is an implicit belief in his (the pope’s) infallibility! and, secondly, that the blackest vices of which they can be guilty are to believe and declare that he is only a man like the rest of them!

It required some fifteen or eighteen hundred years to enable him to reach definite conclusions on these two vital points. Yet it would seem that the first of these must necessarily be preliminary to his settlement of any other questions; because, until his own infallibility is determined, he can authoritatively decide nothing else. He has, however, heretofore attempted or pretended to settle a few others. And he may, perhaps, attempt or pretend to settle a few more in the future, if he shall continue to find anybody to listen to him. But his success, thus far, certainly does not encourage the belief that he will be able to settle all questions of virtue and vice, even in his peculiar department of religion, in time to meet the necessities of mankind. He, or his successors, will undoubtedly be compelled, at no distant day, to acknowledge that he has undertaken a task to which all his miraculous inspiration was inadequate; and that, of necessity, each human being must be left to settle all questions of this kind for himself. And it is not unreasonable to expect that all other popes, in other and lesser spheres, will some time have cause to come to the same conclusion. No one, certainly, not claiming supernatural inspiration, should undertake a task to which obviously nothing less than such inspiration is adequate. And, clearly, no one should surrender his own judgment to the teachings of others, unless he be first convinced that these others have something more than ordinary human knowledge on this subject.

If those persons, who fancy themselves gifted with both the power and the right to define and punish other men’s vices, would but turn their thoughts inwardly, they would probably find that they have a great work to do at home; and that, when that shall have been completed, they will be little disposed to do more towards correcting the vices of others, than simply to give to others the results of their experience and observation. In this sphere their labors may possibly be useful; but, in the sphere of infallibility and coercion, they will probably, for well-known reasons, meet with even less success in the future than such men have met with in the past.


It is now obvious, from the reasons already given, that government would be utterly impracticable, if it were to take cognizance of vices, and punish them as crimes. Every human being has his or her vices. Nearly all men have a great many. And they are of all kinds; physiological, mental, emotional; religious, social, commercial, industrial, economical, &c., &c. If government is to take cognizance of any of these vices, and punish them as crimes, then, to be consistent, it must take cognizance of all, and punish all impartially. The consequence would be, that everybody would be in prison for his or her vices. There would be no one left outside to lock the doors upon those within. In fact, courts enough could not be found to try the offenders, nor prisons enough built to hold them. All human industry in the acquisition of knowledge, and even in acquiring the means of subsistence, would be arrested: for we should all be under constant trial or imprisonment for our vices. But even if it were possible to imprison all the vicious, our knowledge of human nature tells us that, as a general rule, they would be far more vicious prison than they ever have been out of it.


A government that shall punish all vices impartially is so obviously an impossibility, that nobody was ever found, or ever will be found, foolish enough to propose it. The most that any one proposes is, that government shall punish some one, or at most a few, of what he esteems the grossest of them. But this discrimination an utterly absurd, illogical, and tyrannical one. What right has any body of men to say, “The vices of other men we will punish; but our own vices nobody shall punish? We will restrain other men from seeking their own happiness, according to their own notions of it; but nobody shall restrain us from seeking our own happiness, according to our own notions of it? We will restrain other men from acquiring any experimental knowledge of what is conducive or necessary, to their own happiness; but nobody shall restrain us from acquiring an experimental knowledge of what is conducive or necessary to our own happiness?”

Nobody but knaves or blockheads ever thinks of making such absurd assumptions as these. And yet, evidently, it is only upon such assumptions that anybody can claim the right to punish the vices of others, and at the same time claim exemption from punishment for his own.


Such a thing as a government, formed by voluntary association, would never have been thought of, if the object proposed had been the punishment of all vices, impartially; because nobody wants such an institution, or would voluntarily submit to it. But a government, formed by voluntary association, for the punishment of all crimes is a reasonable matter; because everybody wants protection for himself against all crimes by others, and also acknowledges the justice of his own punishment, if he commits a crime.


It is a natural impossibility that a government should have a right to punish men for their vices; because it is impossible that a government should have any rights, except such as the individuals composing it had previously had, as individuals. They could not delegate to a government any rights which they did not themselves possess. They could not contribute to the government any rights, except such as they themselves possessed as individuals. Now, nobody but a fool or an impostor pretends that he, as an individual, has a right to punish other men for their vices. But anybody and everybody have a natural right, as individuals, to punish other men for their crimes; for everybody has a natural right, not only to defend his own person and property against aggressors, but also to go to the assistance and defence of everybody else, whose person or property is invaded. The natural right of each individual to defend his own person and property against an aggressor, and to go to the assistance and defence of every one else whose person or property is invaded, is a right without which men could not exist on the earth. And government has no rightful existence, except in so far as it embodies, and is limited by, this natural right of individuals. But the idea that each man has a natural right to decide what are virtues, and what are vices — that is, what contributes to that neighbors happiness, and what do not — and to punish him for all that do not contribute to it; is what no one ever had the impudence or folly to assert. It is only those who claim that government has some rightful power, which no individual or individuals ever did, or could, delegate to it, that claim that government has any rightful power to punish vices.

It will do for a pope or a king — who claims to have received direct authority from Heaven, to rule over his fellow-men — to claim the right, as the vicegerent of God, to punish men for their vices; but it is a sheer and utter absurdity for any government, claiming to derive its power wholly from the grant of the governed, to claim any such power; because everybody knows that the governed never would grant it. For them to grant it would be an absurdity, because it would be granting away their own right to seek their own happiness; since to grant away their right to judge of what will be for their happiness, is to grant away all their right to pursue their own happiness.


We can now see how simple, easy, and reasonable a matter is a government is for the punishment of crimes, as compared with one for the punishment of vices. Crimes are few, and easily distinguished from all other acts; and mankind are generally agreed as to what acts are crimes. Whereas vices are innumerable; and no two persons are agreed, except in comparatively few cases, as to what are vices. Furthermore, everybody wishes to be protected, into his person and property, against the aggressions of other men. But nobody wishes to be protected, either in his person or property, against himself; because it is contrary to the fundamental laws of human nature itself, that any one should wish to harm himself. He only wishes to promote his own happiness, and to be his own judge as to what will promote, and does promote, his own happiness. This is what every one wants, and has a right to, as a human being. And though we all make many mistakes, and necessarily must make them, from the imperfection of our knowledge, yet these mistakes are no argument against the right; because they all tend to give us the very knowledge we need, and are in pursuit of, and can get in no other way.

The object aims at in the punishment of crimes, therefore, is not only wholly different from, but it is directly opposed to, that aimed at in the punishment of vices.

The object aimed at in the punishment of crimes is to secure,to each and every man alike, the fullest liberty he possibly can have — consistently with the equal rights of others — to pursue his own happiness, under the guidance of his own judgment, and by the use of his own property. On the other hand, the object aimed at in the punishment of vices, is to deprive every man of his natural right and liberty to pursue his own happiness, under the guidance of his own judgment, and by the use of his own property.

These two objects, then, are directly opposed to each other. They are as directly opposed to each other as are light and darkness, or as truth and falsehood, or as liberty and slavery. They are utterly incompatible with each other; and to suppose the two to be embraced in one and the same government, is an absurdity, an impossibility. It is to suppose the objects of a government to be to commit crimes, and to prevent crimes; to destroy individual liberty, and to secure individual liberty.


Finally, on this point of individual liberty: every man must necessarily judge and determine for himself as to what is conducive and necessary to, and what is destructive of, his own well-being; because, if he omits to perform this task for himself, nobody else can perform it for him. And nobody else will even attempt to perform it for him, except in very few cases. Popes, and priests, and kings will assume to perform it for him, in certain cases, if permitted to do so. But they will, in general, perform it only in so far as they can minister to their own vices and crimes, by doing it. They will, in general, perform it only in so far as they can make him their fool and their slave. Parents, with better motives, no doubt, than the others, too often attempt the same work. But in so far as they practise coercion, or restrain a child from anything not really and seriously dangerous to himself, they do him a harm, rather than a good. It is a law of Nature that to get knowledge, and to incorporate that knowledge into his own being, each individual must get it for himself. Nobody, not even his parents, can tell him the nature of fire, so that he will really know it. He must himself experiment with it, and be burnt by it, before he can know it.

Nature knows, a thousand times better than any parent, what she designs each individual for, what knowledge he requires, and how he must get it. She knows that her own processes for communicating that knowledge are not only the best, but the only ones that can be effectual.

The attempts of parents to make their children virtuous generally little else than attempts to keep them in ignorance of vice. They are little else than attempts to teach their children to know and prefer truth, by keeping them in ignorance of falsehood. They are little else than attempts to make them seek and appreciate health, by keeping them in ignorance of disease, and of everything that will cause disease. They are little else than attempts to make their children love the light, by keeping them in ignorance of darkness. In short, they are little else than attempts to make their children happy, by keeping them in ignorance of everything that causes them unhappiness.

In so far as parents can really aid their children in the latter’s search after happiness, by simply giving them the results of their (the parents’) own reason and experience, it is all very well, and is a natural and appropriate duty. But to practise coercion in matters of which the children are reasonably competent to judge for themselves, is only an attempt to keep them in ignorance. And this is as much a tyranny, and as much a violation of the children’s right to acquire knowledge for themselves, and such knowledge as they desire, as is the same coercion when practised upon older persons. Such coercion, practised upon children, is a denial of their right to develop the faculties that Nature has given them, and to be what Nature designs them to be. It is a denial of their right to themselves, and to the use of their own powers. It is a denial of their right to acquire the most valuable of all knowledge, to wit, the knowledge that Nature, the great teacher, stands ready to impart to them.

The results of such coercion are not to make the children wise or virtuous, but to make them ignorant, and consequently weak and vicious; and to perpetuate through them, from age to age, the ignorance, the superstitions, the vices, and the crimes of the parents. This is proved by every page of the world’s history.

Those who hold opinions opposite to these, are those whose false and vicious theologies, or whose own vicious general ideas, have taught them that the human race are naturally given to evil, rather than good; to the false, rather than the true; that mankind do not naturally turn their eyes to the light; that they love darkness, rather than light; and that they find their happiness only in those things that tend to their misery.


But these men, who claim that government shall use its power to prevent vice, will say, or are in the habit of saying, “We acknowledge the right of an individual to seek his own happiness in his own way, and consequently to be as vicious as be pleases; we only claim that government shall prohibit the sale to him of those articles by which he ministers to his vice.”

The answer to this is, that the simple sale of any article whatever — independently of the use that is to be made of the article — is legally a perfectly innocent act. The quality of the act of sale depends wholly upon the quality of the use for which the thing is sold. If the use of anything is virtuous and lawful, then the sale of it, for that use, is virtuous and lawful. If the use is vicious, then the sale of it, for that use, is vicious. If the use is criminal, then the sale of it, for that use, is criminal. The seller is, at most, only an accomplice in the use that is to be made of the article sold, whether the use be virtuous, vicious, or criminal. Where the use is criminal, the seller is an accomplice in the crime, and punishable as such. But where the use is only vicious, the seller is only an accomplice in the vice, and is not punishable.


But it will be asked, “Is there no right, on the part of government, to arrest the progress of those who are bent on self-destruction?”

The answer is, that government has no rights whatever in the matter, so long as these so-called vicious persons remain sane, compos mentis, capable of exercising reasonable discretion and self-control; because, so long as they do remain sane, they must be allowed to judge and decide for themselves whether their so-called vices really are vices; whether they really are leading them to destruction; and whether, on the whole, they will go there or not. When they shall become insane, non compos mentis, incapable of reasonable discretion or self-control, their friends or neighbors, or the government, must take care of them, and protect them from harm, and against all persons who would do them harm, in the same way as if their insanity had come upon them from any other cause than their supposed vices.

But because a man is supposed, by his neighbors, to be on the way to self-destruction, from his vices, it does not, therefore, follow that he is insane, non compos mentis, incapable of reasonable discretion and self-control, within the legal meaning of those terms. Men and women may be addicted to very gross vices, and to a great many of them — such as gluttony, drunkenness, prostitution, gambling, prize-fighting, tobacco-chewing, smoking, and snuffing, opium-eating, corset-wearing, idleness, waste of property, avarice, hypocrisy, &c., &c. — and still be sane, compos mentis, capable of reasonable discretion and self-control, within the meaning of the law. And so long as they are sane, they must be permitted to control themselves and their property, and to be their own judges as to where their vices will finally lead them. It may be hoped by the lookers-on, in each individual case, that the vicious person will see the end to which he is tending, and be induced to turn back. But, if he chooses to go on to what other men call destruction, be must be permitted to do so. And all that can be said of him,so far as this life is concerned, is, that he made a great mistake in his search after happiness, and that others will do well to take warning by his fate. As to what maybe his condition in another life, that is a theological question with which the law, in this world, has no more to do than it has with any other theological question, touching men’s condition in a future life.

If it be asked how the question of a vicious man’s sanity or insanity is to be determined? The answer is, that it is to be determined by the same kinds of evidence as is the sanity or insanity of those who are called virtuous; and not otherwise. That is, by the same kinds of evidence by which the legal tribunals determine whether a man should be sent to an asylum for lunatics, or whether he is competent to make a will, or otherwise dispose of his property. Any doubt must weigh in favor of his sanity, as in all other cases, and not of his insanity.

If a person really does become insane, non compos mentis, incapable of reasonable discretion or self-control, it is then a crime, on the part of other men, to give to him or sell to him, the means of self-injury.[1] There are no crimes more easily punished, no cases in which juries would be more ready to convict, than those where a sane person should sell or give to an insane one any article with which the latter was likely to injure himself.


But it will be said that some men are made, by their vices, dangerous to other persons; that a drunkard, for example, is sometimes quarrelsome and dangerous toward his family or others. And it will be asked, “Has the law nothing to do in such a case?”

The answer is, that if, either from drunkenness or any other cause, a man be really dangerous, either to his family or to other persons, not only himself may be rightfully restrained, so far as the safety of other persons requires, but all other person — who know or have reasonable grounds to believe him dangerous — may also be restrained from selling or giving to him anything that they have reason to suppose will make him dangerous.

But because one man becomes quarrelsome and dangerous after drinking spirituous liquors, and because it is a crime to give or sell liquor to such a man, it does not follow at all that it is a crime to sell liquors to the hundreds and thousands of other persons, who are not made quarrelsome or dangerous by drinking them. Before a man can be convicted of crime in selling liquor to a dangerous man, it must be shown that the particular man, to whom the liquor was sold, was dangerous; and also that the seller knew, or had reasonable grounds to suppose, that the man would be made dangerous by drinking it.

The presumption of law is,in all cases, that the sale is innocent; and the burden of proving it criminal, in any particular case, rests upon the government. And that particular case must be proved criminal, independently of all others.

Subject to these principles, there is no difficulty convicting and punishing men for the sale or gift of any article to a man, who is made dangerous to others by the use of it.


But it is often said that some vices are nuisances (public or private), and that nuisances can be abated and punished.

It is true that anything that is really and legally a nuisaance (either public or private) can be abated and punished. But it is not true that the mere private vices of one man are, in any legal sense, nuisances to another man, or to the public.

No act of one person can be a nuisance to another, unless it in some way obstructs or interferes with that other’s safe and quiet use or enjoyment of what is rightfully his own.

Whatever obstructs a public highway, is a nuisance, and may be abated and punished. But a hotel where liquors are sold, a liquor store, or even a grog-shop, so called, no more obstructs a public highway, than does a dry goods store, a jewelry store, or a butcher’s shop.

Whatever poisons the air, or makes it either offensive or unhealthful, is a nuisance. But neither a hotel, nor a liquor store, nor a grog-shop poisons the air, or makes it offensive or unhealthful to outside persons.

Whatever obstructs the light, to which a man is legally entitled, is a nuisance. But neither a hotel, nor a liquor store, nor a grog-shop, obstructs anybody’s light, except in cases where a church, a school-house, or a dwelling house would have equally obstructed it. On this ground, therefore, the former are no more, and no less, nuisances than the latter would be.

Some persons are in the habit of saying that a liquorshop is dangerous, in the same way that gunpowder is dangerous. But there is no analogy between the two cases. Gunpowder is liable to be exploded by accident, and especially by such fires as often occur in cities. For these reasons it is dangerous to persons and property in its immediate vicinity. But liquors are not liable to be thus exploded, and therefore are not dangerous nuisances, in any such sense as is gunpowder in cities.

But it is said, again, that drinking-places are frequently filled with noisy and boisterous men, who disturb the quiet of the neighborhood, and the sleep and rest of the neighbors.

This may be true occasionally, though not very frequently. But whenever, in any case, it is true, the nuisance may be abated by the punishment of the proprietor and his customers, and if need be, by shutting up the place. But an assembly of noisy drinkers is no more a nuisance than is any other noisy assembly. A jolly or hilarious drinker disturbs the quiet of a neighbor-hood no more, and no less, than does a shouting religious fanatic. An assembly of noisy drinkers is no more, and no less, a nuisance than is an assembly of shouting religious fanatics. Both of them are nuisances when they disturb the rest and sleep, or quiet, of neighbors. Even a dog that is given to barking, to the disturbance of the sleep or quiet of the neighborhood, is a nuisance.


But it is said, that for one person to entice another into a vice, is a crime.

This is preposterous. If any particular act is simply a vice, then a man who entices another to commit it, is simply an accomplice in the . He evidently commits no crime, because the accomplice can certainly commit no greater offence than the principal.

Every person who is sane, compos mentis, possessed of reasonable discretion and self-control, is presumed to be mentally competent to judge for himself of all the arguments, pro and con, that may be addressed to him, to persuade him to do any particular act; provided no fraud is employed to deceive him. And if he is persuaded or induced to do the act, his act is then his own; and even though the act prove to be harmful to himself, he cannot complain that the persuasion or arguments, to which he yielded his assent, were crimes against himself.

When fraud is practised, the case is, of course, different. If, for example, I offer a man poison, assuring him that it is a safe and wholesome drink, and he, on the faith of my assertion, swallows it, my act is a crime.

Volenti non fit injuria, is a maxim of the law. To the willing, no injury is done. That is, no legal wrong. And every person who is sane, compos mentis, capable of exercising reasonable discretion in judging of the truth or falsehood of the representations or persuasion to which be yields his assent, is “willing,” in the view of the law; and takes upon himself the entire responsibility for his acts, when no intentional fraud has been practised upon him.

This principle, that to the willing no injury is done, has no limit, except in the case of frauds, or of persons not possessed of reasonable discretion for judging in the particular case. If a person possessed of reasonable discretion, and not deceived by fraud, consents to practise the grossest vice, and thereby brings upon himself the greatest moral, physical, or pecuniary sufferings or losses, he cannot allege that he has been legally wronged. To illustrate this principle, take the case of rape. To have carnal knowledge of a woman, against her will, is the highest crime, next to murder, that can be committed against her. But to have carnal knowledge of her, with her consent, is no crime; but at most, a vice. And it is usually holden that a female child, of no more than ten years of age, has such reasonable discretion, that her consent, even though procured by rewards, or promises of reward, is sufficient to convert the act, which would otherwise be a high crime, into a simple act of vice. [2]

We see the same principle in the case of prize-fighters. If I but lay one of my fingers upon another man’s person, against his will, no matter how lightly, and no matter how little practical injury is done, the act is a crime. But if two men agree to go out and pound each other’s faces to a jelly, it is no crime, but only a vice.

Even duels have not generally been considered crimes, because each man’s life is his own, and the parties agree that each may take the other’s life, if he can, by the use of such weapons as are agreed upon, and in conformity with certain rules that are also mutually assented to.

And this is a correct view of the matter, unless it can be said (as it probably cannot), that “anger is a madness” that so far deprives men of their reason as to make them incapable of reasonable discretion.

Gambling is another illustration of the principle that to the willing no injury is done. If I take but a single cent of a man’s property, without his consent, the act is a crime. But if two men, who are compos mentis, possessed of reasonable discretion to judge of the nature and probable results of their act, sit down together, and each voluntarily stakes his money against the money of another, on the turn of a die, and one of them loses his whole estate (however large that may be), it is no crime, but only a vice.

It is not a crime, even, to assist a person to commit suicide, if he be in possession of his reason.

It is a somewhat common idea that suicide is, of itself, conclusive evidence of insanity. But, although it may ordinarily be very strong evidence of insanity, it is by no means conclusive in all cases. Many persons, in undoubted possession of their reason, have committed suicide, to escape the shame of a public exposure for their crimes, or to avoid some other great calamity. Suicide, in these cases, may not have been the highest wisdom, but it certainly was not proof of any lack of reasonable discretion.[3] And being within the limits of reasonable discretion, it was no crime for other persons to aid it, either by furnishing the instrument or otherwise. And if, in such cases, it be no crime to aid a suicide, how absurd to say that, it is a crime to aid him in some act that is really pleasurable, and which a large portion of mankind have believed to be useful?


But some persons are in the habit of saying that the use of spirituous liquors is the great source of crime; that “it fills our prisons with criminals;” and that this is reason enough for prohibiting the sale of them.

Those who say this, if they talk seriously, talk blindly and foolishly. They evidently mean to be understood as saying that a very large percentage of all the crimes that are committed among men, are committed by persons whose criminal passions are excited, at the time, by the use of liquors, and in consequence of the use of liquors.

This idea is utterly preposterous.

In the first place, the great crimes committed in the world are mostly prompted by avarice and ambition.

The greatest of all crimes are the wars that are carried on by governments, to plunder, enslave, and destroy mankind.

The next greatest crimes committed in the world are equally prompted by avarice and ambition; and are committed, not on sudden passion, but by men of calculation, who keep their heads cool and clear, and who have no thought whatever of going to prison for them. They are committed, not so much by men who violate the laws, as by men who, either by themselves or by their instruments, make the laws; by men who have combined to usurp arbitrary power, and to maintain it by force and fraud, and whose purpose in usurping and maintaining it is by unjust and unequal legislation, to secure to themselves such advantages and monopolies as will enable them to control and extort the labor and properties of other men, and thus impoverish them, in order to minister to their own wealth and aggrandizement.[4] The robberies and wrongs thus committed by these men, in conformity with the laws, — that is, their own laws — are as mountains to molehills, compared with the crimes committed by all other criminals, in violation of the laws.

But, thirdly, there are vast numbers of frauds, of various kinds, committed in the transactions of trade, whose perpetrators, by their coolness and sagacity, evade the operation of the laws. And it is only their cool and clear heads that enable them to do it. Men under the excitement of intoxicating drinks are little disposed, and utterly unequal, to the successful practice of these frauds. They are the most incautious, the least successful, the least efficient, and the least to be feared , of all the criminals with whom the laws have to deal.

Fourthly. The professed burglars, robbers, thieves, forgers, counterfeiters, and swindlers, who prey upon society, are anything but reckless drinkers. Their business is of too dangerous a character to admit of such risks as they would thus incur.

Fifthly. The crimes that can be said to be committed under the influence of intoxicating drinks are mostly assaults and batteries, not very numerous, and generally not very aggravated. Some other small crimes, as petty thefts, or other small trespasses upon property, are sometimes committed, under the influence of drink, by feebleminded persons, not generally addicted to crime. The persons who commit these two kinds of crime are but few. They cannot be said to “fill our prisons”; or, if they do, we are to be congratulated that we need so few prisons and so small prisons, to hold them.

The State of Massachusetts, for example, has a million and a half of people. How many of these are now in prison for crimes — not for the vice of intoxication, but for crimes — committed against persons or property under the instigation of strong drink? I doubt if there be one in ten thousand, that is, one hundred and fifty in all; and the crimes for which these are in prison are mostly very small ones.

And I think it will be found that these few men are generally much more to be pitied than punished, for the reason that it was their poverty and misery, rather than any passion for liquor, or for crime, that led them to drink, and thus led them to commit their crimes under the influence of drink.

The sweeping charge that drink “fills our prisons with criminals” is made, I think, only by those men who know no better than to call a drunkard a criminal; and who have no better foundation for their charge than the shameful fact that we are such a brutal and senseless people, that we condemn and punish such weak and unfortunate persons as drunkards, as if they were criminals.

The legislators who authorize, and the judges who practise, such atrocities as these, are intrinsically criminals; unless their ignorance be such — as it probably is not — as to excuse them. And, if they were themselves to be punished as criminals, there would be more reason in our conduct.

A police judge in Boston once told me that he was in the habit of disposing of drunkards (by sending them to prison for thirty days — I think that was the stereotyped sentence) at the rate of one in three minutes!, and sometimes more rapidly even than that; thus condemning them as criminals, and sending them to prison, without merry, and without inquiry into circumstances, for an infirmity that entitled them to compassion and protection, instead of punishment. The real criminals in these cases were not the men who went to prison, but the judge, and the men behind him, who sent them there.

I recommend to those persons, who are so distressed lest the prisons of Massachusetts be filled with criminals, that they employ some portion, at least, of their philanthropy in preventing our prisons being filled with persons who are not criminals. I do not remember to have heard that their sympathies have ever been very actively exercised in that direction. On the contrary, they seem to have such a passion for punishing criminals, that they care not to inquire particularly whether a candidate for punishment really be a criminal. Such a passion, let me assure them, is a much more dangerous one, and one entitled to far less charity, both morally and legally, than the passion for strong drink.

It seems to be much more consonant with the merciless character of these men to send an unfortunate man to prison for drunkenness, and thus crush, and degrade, and dishearten him, and ruin him for life, than it does for them to lift him out of the poverty and misery that caused him to become a drunkard.

It is only those persons who have either little capacity, or little disposition, to enlighten, encourage, or aid mankind, that are possessed of this violent passion for governing, commanding, and punishing them. If, instead of standing by, and giving their consent and sanction to all the laws by which the weak man is first plundered, oppressed, and disheartened, and then punished as a criminal, they would turn their attention to the duty of defending his rights and improving his condition, and of thus strengthening him, and enabling him to stand on his own feet, and withstand the temptations that surround him, they would, I think, have little need to talk about laws and prisons for either rum-sellers or rum-drinkers, or even any other class of ordinary criminals. If, in short, these men, who are so anxious for the suppression of crime, would suspend, for a while, their calls upon the government for aid in suppressing the crimes of individuals, and would call upon the people for aid in suppressing the crimes of the government, they would show both their sincerity and good sense in a much stronger light than they do now. When the laws shall all be so just and equitable as to make it possible for all men and women to live honestly and virtuously, and to make themselves comfortable and happy, there will be much fewer occasions than now for charging them with living dishonestly and viciously.


But it will be said, again, that the use of spirituous liquors tends to poverty and thus to make men paupers, and burdensome to the taxpayers; and that this is a sufficient reason why the sale of them should be prohibited.

There are various answers to this argument.

1. One answer is, that if the fact that the use of liquors tends to poverty and pauperism, be a sufficient reason for prohibiting the sale of them, it is equally a sufficient reason for prohibiting the use of them; for it is the use, and not the sale, that tends to poverty. The seller is, at most, merely an accomplice of the drinker. And it is a rule of law, as well as of reason, that if the principal in any act is not punishable, the accomplice cannot be.

2. A second answer to the argument is, that if government has the right, and is bound, to prohibit any one act — that is not criminal — merely because it is supposed to tend to poverty, then, by the same rule, it has the right, and is bound, to prohibit any and every other act — though not criminal — which, in the opinion of the government, tends to poverty. And, on this principle, the government would not only have the right, but would be bound, to look into every man’s private affairs and every person’s personal expenditures, and determine as to which of them did, and which of them did not, tend to poverty; and to prohibit and punish all of the former class. A man would have no right to expend a cent of his own property, according to his own pleasure or judgment, unless the legislature should be of the opinion that such expenditure would not tend to poverty.

3. A third answer to the same argument is, that if a man does bring himself to poverty, and even to beggary — either by his virtues or his vices — the government is under no obligation whatever to take care of him, unless it pleases to do so. It may let him perish in the street, or depend upon private charity, if it so pleases. It can carry out its own free will and discretion in the matter; for it is above all legal responsibility in such a case. It is not, necessarily, any part of a government’s duty to provide for the poor. A government — that is, a legitimate government — is simply a voluntary association of individuals, who unite for such purposes, and only for such purposes, as suits them. If taking care of the poor — whether they be virtuous or vicious — be not one of those purposes, then the government, as a government, has no more right, and is no more bound, to take care of them, than has or is a banking company, or a railroad company.

Whatever moral claims a poor man — whether he be virtuous or vicious — may have upon the charity of his fellow-men, he has no legal claims upon them. He must depend wholly upon their charity, if they so please. He cannot demand, as a legal right, that they either feed or clothe him. And he has no more legal or moral claims upon a government — which is but an association of individuals — than he has upon the same, or any other individuals, in their private capacity.

Inasmuch, then, as a poor man — whether virtuous or vicious — has no more or other claims, legal or moral, upon a government, for food or clothing, than he has upon private persons, a government has no more right than a private person to control or prohibit the expenditures or actions of an individual, on the ground that they tend to bring him to poverty.

Mr. A, as an individual, has clearly no right to prohibit any acts or expenditures of Mr. Z, through fear that such acts or expenditures may tend to bring him (Z) to poverty, and that he (Z) may, in consequence, at some future unknown time, come to him (A) in distress, and ask charity. And if A has no such right, as an individual, to prohibit any acts or expenditures on the part of Z, then government, which is a mere association of individuals, can have no such right.

Certainly no man, who is compos mentis, holds his right to the disposal and use of his own property, by any such worthless tenure as that which would authorize any or all of his neighbors — whether calling themselves a government or not — to interfere, and forbid him to make any expenditures, except such as they might think would not tend to poverty, and would not tend to ever bring him to them as a supplicant for their charity.

Whether a man, who is compos mentis, come to poverty, through his virtues or his vices, no man, nor body of men, can have any right to interfere with him, on the ground that their sympathy may some time be appealed to in his behalf; because, if it should be appealed to, they are at perfect liberty to act their own pleasure or discretion as to complying with his solicitations.

This right to refuse charity to the poor — whether the latter be virtuous or vicious — is one that governments always act upon. No government makes any more provision for the poor than it pleases. As a consequence, the poor are left, to a great extent, to depend upon private charity. In fact, they are often left to suffer sickness, and even death, because neither public nor private charity comes to their aid. How absurd, then, to say that government has a right to control a man’s use of his own property, through fear that he may sometime come to poverty, and ask charity.

4. Still a fourth answer to the argument is, that the great and only incentive which each individual man has to labor, and to create wealth, is that he may dispose of it according to his own pleasure or discretion, and for the promotion of his own happiness, and the happiness of those whom he loves.[5]

Although a man may often, from inexperience or want of judgment, expend some portion of the products of his labor injudiciously, and so as not to promote his highest welfare, yet he learns wisdom in this, as in all other matters, by experience; by his mistakes as well as by his successes. And this is the only way in which he can learn wisdom. When he becomes convinced that he has made one foolish expenditure, he learns thereby not to make another like it. And he must be permitted to try his own experiments, and to try them to his own satisfaction, in this as in all other matters; for otherwise he has no motive to labor, or to create wealth at all.

Any man, who is a man, would rather be a savage, and be free, creating or procuring only such little wealth as he could control and consume from day to day, than to be a civilized man, knowing how to create and accumulate wealth indefinitely, and yet not permitted to use or dispose of it, except under the supervision, direction, and dictation of a set of meddlesome, superserviceable fools and tyrants, who, with no more knowledge than himself, and perhaps with not half so much, should assume to control him, on the ground that he had not the right, or the capacity, to determine for himself as to what he would do with the proceeds of his own labor.

5. A fifth answer to the argument is, that if it be the duty of government to watch over the expenditures of any one person — who is compos mentis, and not criminal — to see what ones tend to poverty, and what do not, and to prohibit and punish the former, then, by the same rule, it is bound to watch over the expenditures of all other persons, and prohibit and punish all that, in its judgment, tend to poverty.

If such a principle were carried out impartially, the result would be, that all mankind would be so occupied in watching each other’s expenditures, and in testifying against, trying, and punishing such as tended to poverty, that they would have no time left to create wealth at all. Everybody capable of productive labor would either be in prison, or be acting as judge, juror, witness, or jailer. It would be impossible to create courts enough to try, or to build prisons enough to hold, the offenders. All productive labor would cease; and the fools that were so intent on preventing poverty, would not only all come to poverty, imprisonment, and starvation themselves, but would bring everybody else to poverty, imprisonment, and starvation.

6. If it be said that a man may, at least, be rightfully compelled to support his family, and, consequently, to abstain from all expenditures that, in the opinion of the government, tend to disable him to perform that duty, various answers might be given. But this one is sufficient, viz.: that no man, unless a fool or a slave, would acknowledge any family to be his, if that acknowledgment were to be made an excuse, by the government, for depriving him, either of his personal liberty, or the control of his property.

When a man is allowed his natural liberty, and the control of his property, his family is usually, almost universally, the great paramount object of his pride and affection; and he will, not only voluntarily, but as his highest pleasure, employ his best powers of mind and body, not merely to provide for them the ordinary necessaries and comforts of life, but to lavish upon them all the luxuries and elegancies that his labor can procure.

A man enters into no moral or legal obligation with his wife or children to do anything for them, except what he can do consistently with his own personal freedom, and his natural right to control his own property at his own discretion.

If a government can step in and say to a man — who is compos mentis, and who is doing his duty to his family, as he sees his duty, and according to his best judgment, however imperfect that may be — “We (the government) suspect that you are not employing your labor to the best advantage for your family; we suspect that your expenditures, and your disposal of your property, are not so judicious as they might be, for the interest of your family; and therefore we (the government) will take you and your property under our special surveillance, and prescribe to you what you may, and may not do, with yourself and your property; and your family shall hereafter look to us (the government), and not to you, for support” — if a government can do this, all a man’s pride, ambition, and affection, relative to this family, would be crushed, so far as it would be possible for human tyranny to crush them; and he would either never have a family (whom he would publicly acknowledge to be his), or he would risk both his property and his life in overthrowing such an insulting, outrageous, and insufferable tyranny. And any woman who would wish her husband — he being compos mentis - — to submit to such an unnatural insult and wrong, is utterly undeserving of his affection, or of anything but his disgust and contempt. And he would probably very soon cause her to understand that, if she chose to rely on the government, for the support of herself and her children, rather than on him, she must rely on the government alone.


Still another and all-sufficient answer to the argument that the use of spirituous liquors tends to poverty, is that, as a general rule, it puts the effect before the cause. It assumes that it is the use of the liquors that causes the poverty, instead of its being the poverty that causes the use of the liquors.

Poverty is the natural parent of nearly all the ignorance, vice, crime, and misery there are in the world.[6] Why is it that so large a portion of the laboring people of England are drunken and vicious? Certainly not because they are by nature any worse than other men. But it is because, their extreme and hopeless poverty keeps them in ignorance and servitude, destroys their courage and self-respect, subjects them to such constant insults and wrongs, to such incessant and bitter miseries of every kind, and finally drives them to such despair, that the short respite that drink or other vice affords them, is, for the time being, a relief. This is the chief cause of the drunkenness and other vices that prevail among the laboring people of England.

If those laborers of England, who are now drunken and vicious, had had the same chances and surroundings in life as the more fortunate classes have had; if they had been reared in comfortable, and happy, and virtuous homes, instead of squalid, and wretched, and vicious ones; if they had had opportunities to acquire knowledge and property, and make themselves intelligent, comfortable, happy, independent, and respected, and to secure to themselves all the intellectual, social, and domestic enjoyments which honest and justly rewarded industry could enable them to secure — if they could have had all this, instead of being born to a life of hopeless, unrewarded toil, with a certainty of death in the workhouse, they would have been as free from their present vices and weaknesses as those who reproach them now are.

It is of no use to say that drunkeness, or any other vice, only adds to their miseries; for such is human nature — the weakness of human nature, if you please — that men can endure but a certain amount of misery, before their hope and courage fail, and they yield to almost anything that promises present relief or mitigation; though at the cost of still greater misery in the future. To preach morality or temperance to such wretched persons, instead of relieving their sufferings, or improving their conditions, is only insulting their wretchedness.

Will those who are in the habit of attributing men’s poverty to their vices, instead of their vices to their poverty — as if every poor person, or most poor persons, were specially vicious — tell us whether all the poverty within the last year and a half [7] have been brought so suddenly — as it were in a moment — upon at least twenty millions of the people of the United States, were brought upon them as a natural consequence, either of their drunkenness, or of any other of their vices? Was it their drunkenness, or any other of their vices, that paralyzed, as by a stroke of lightning, all the industries by which they lived, and which had, but a few days before, been in such prosperous activity? Was it their vices that turned the adult portion of those twenty millions out of doors without employment, compelled them to consume their little accumulations, if they had any, and then to become beggars — beggars for work, and, failing in this, beggars for bread? Was it their vices that, all at once, and without warning, filled the homes of so many of them with want, misery, sickness, and death? No. Clearly it was neither the drunkenness, nor any other vices, of these laboring people, that brought upon them all this ruin and wretchedness. And if it was not, what was it?

This is the problem that must be answered; for it is one that is repeatedly occurring, and constantly before us, and that cannot be put aside.

In fact, the poverty of the great body of mankind, the world over, is the great problem of the world. That such extreme and nearly universal poverty exists all over the world, and has existed through all past generations, proves that it originates in causes which the common human nature of those who suffer from it, has not hitherto been strong enough to overcome. But these sufferers are, at least, beginning to see these causes, and are becoming resolute to remove them, let it cost what it may. And those who imagine that they have nothing to do but to go on attributing the poverty of the poor to their vices, and preaching to them against their vices, will ere long wake up to find that the day for all such talk is past. And the question will then be, not what are men’s vices, but what are their rights?


[1]^ To give an insane man a knife, or other weapon, or thing, by which he is likely to injure himself, is a crime.

[2]^ The statute book of Massachusetts makes ten years the age at which a female child is supposed to have discretion enough to part with virtue. But the same statute book holds that no person, man or woman, of any age, or any degree of wisdom or experience, has discretion to be trusted to buy and drink a glass of spirits, on his or her own Judgement! What an illustration of the legislative wisdom of Massachusetts!

[3]^ Cato committed suicide to avoid falling into the hands of Caesar. Who ever suspected that he was insane? Brutus did the same. Colt committed suicide only an hour or so before he was to be hanged. He did it to avoid bringing upon his name and his family the disgrace of having it said that he was hanged. This, whether a wise act or not, was clearly an act within reasonable discretion. Does any one suppose that the person who furnished him with the necessary instrument was a criminal?

[4]^ An illustration of this fact is found in England, whose government, for a thousand years and more, has been little or nothing else than a band of robbers, who have conspired to monopolize the land, and, as far as possible, all other wealth. These conspirators, calling themselves kings, nobles, and freeholders, have, by force and fraud, taken to themselves all civil and Military power; they keep themselves in power solely by force and fraud, and the corrupt use of their wealth; and they employ their power solely in robbing and enslaving the great body of their own people, and in plundering and enslaving other peoples. And the world has been, and now is, full of examples substantially similar. And the governments of our own country do not differ so widely from others, in this respect, as some of us imagine.

[5]^ It is to this incentive alone that we are indebted for all the wealth that has ever been created by human labor, and accumulated for the benefit of mankind.

[6]^ Except those great crimes, which the few, calling themselves governments, practise upon the many, by means of organized, systematic extortion and tyranny. And it is only the poverty, ignorance, and consequent weakness of the many, that enable the combined and organized few to acquire and maintain such arbitrary power over them.

[7]^ That is, from September 1, 1873, to March 1, 1875.

No Treason by Lysander Spooner


Number One
Number Two: The Constitution
Number Six: The Constitution of No Authority

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Individual Liberty by Benjamin Tucker


Publisher's Note
Editor's Foreword
I. State Socialism and Anarchism: How far they agree, and wherein they differ.
II. The Individual, Society, and the State
The Relation of the State to the Invididual
Liberty's Declaration of Purpose
Anarchism and the State
Resistance to Government
Liberty and Organization
Liberty and Taxation
Anarchism and Crime
Liberty and Politics
Liberty and Prohibition
Anarchism and Capital Punishment
Liberty and Property
Anarchism and Force
Passive Resistance
The Futility of the Ballot
Voluntary Cooperation a Remedy
I. Money and Interest
Capital, Profits and Interest
Free Money First
Free Banking
The Abolition of Interest
Necessity for a Standard of Value
The Redemption of Paper Money
Government and Value
Henry George and Interest
Various Money Schemes
II. Land And Rent
Land for the People
Economic Rent
Liberty, Land, and Labor
Property Under Anarchism
Occupancy and Use Versus the Single Tax
George and the Single Tax
Refusal to Pay Rent
III. Trade and Industry
The Attitude of Anarchism Toward Industrial Combinations
Strikes and Force
Labor and its Pay
The Post Office and Private Mail Service
Liberty or Authority
Liberty and Labor
Competition and Cooperation
Liberty and the Boycott
Anarchism and Copyright

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Individualist or Philosophical Anarchism by Victor Yarros

The individualistic or philosophical anarchists favor the abolition of ‘the State’ and government of man, by man. They seek to bring about a state of perfect freedom of anarchy.

Definition and Statement

To comprehend the precise import of this statement it is essential to grasp and bear in mind the definitions given by the anarchists to the terms employed in their expositions. The current misconceptions of the anarchistic doctrines are chiefly due to the persistent, though largely unconscious habit of interpreting them in the light of the popular definitions of the terms ‘State’, ‘government’, etc., instead of in the light of their own technical use of these terms.

The average man, on being told that the anarchist would abolish all governmental restraints, not unnaturally concludes that the proposition involves the removal of the restrictions upon criminal conduct, the relinquishment of organized defence of life, liberty and property.

Those who are familiar with the doctrine of nonresistance to evil, preached by the early Christians and by the modern Tolstoians, generally identify anarchism with it.

But such interpretations are without any foundation. The anarchists emphatically favor resistance to and organized protection against crime and aggression of every kind; it is not greater freedom for the criminal, but greater freedom for the noncriminal, that they aim to secure; and by the abolition of government they mean the removal of restrictions upon conduct intrinsically ethical and legitimate, but which ignorant legislation has interdicted as criminal.

The anarchistic principle of personal liberty is absolutely coincident with the famous Spencerian ‘first principle of human happiness,’ the principle of ‘equal freedom’, which Mr. Spencer has expressed in the formula, ‘Every man is free to do what he wills, provided he infringes not the equal freedom of any other man.’

It is, in fact, precisely because the anarchist accepts this principle without reservations and insists on the suppression and elimination of all aggression or invasion all conduct incompatible with equality of liberty that he declares war upon the ‘State’ and ‘government’. He defines ‘State’ as ‘the embodiment of the principle of invasion in an individual or band of individuals, assuming to act as representatives or masters of the entire people within a given area.’ (The definitions here given are those formed and consistently used by Benjamin R. Tucker, the editor of Liberty, the organ of the philosophical anarchistic movement.)

Government he defines as ‘the subjection of the noninvasive individual to an external will’; and ‘invasion’ as conduct violative of equal freedom.


Perhaps the clearest way of stating the political program of the anarchists will be to indicate its relation to other better known theories of government. The anarchists agreeing with the view of the true Jeffersonian Democrats; that the best government is that which governs least, sympathizing with the position of the old Manchester individualists and laissezfaireists, who believed in a minimum of government interference, as well as with the less value doctrines of the more radical modern individualists of the Spencerian school, who would limit the State to the sole function of protecting men against external and internal invaders, go a step farther and demand the dissolution of what remains of ‘government’ viz., compulsory taxation and compulsory military service. It is no more necessary, contend the anarchists, that government should assume the protective military and police functions, and compel men to accept its services, than it is that government should meddle with production, trade, banking, education, and other lines of human activity.

By voluntary organization and voluntary taxation it is perfectly possible to protect liberty and property and to restrain crime.

It is doubtless easy to imagine a society in which government concerns itself with nothing save preservation of order and punishment of crime, in which there are no public schools supported by compulsory taxation, no government interference with the issue of currency and banking, no customhouses or duties on foreign imports, no government postal service, no censorship of literature and the stage, no attempt to enforce Sunday laws, etc.

The laissezfaireists of the various schools have familiarized the thinking public with such a type of social organization. Now the anarchists propose to do away with the compulsory feature of the single function reserved for government by the radical laissezfaireists. In other words, they insist on the right of the non-aggressive individual to ‘ignore the State’, to dispense with the protective services of the defensive organization and remain outside of it. This would not prevent those who might desire systematic and organized protection from combining to maintain a defensive institution, but such an institution would not be a government, since no one would be compelled to join it and pay toward its support. Anarchy therefore, may be defined as a state of society in which the noninvasive individual is not coerced into cooperation for the defense of his neighbors, and in which each enjoys the highest degree of liberty compatible with equality of liberty.

With regard to the question of putting down aggression, the jurisdiction of the voluntary defensive organization would of course extend to outsiders, and not be limited by its membership. The criminals are not to secure immunity by declining to join defensive associations. As the freedom of each is to be bounded by the equal freedom of all, the invader would be liable to punishment under anarchism no less than under government. Criminals would still be tried by juries and punished by executive officers. They would not be allowed to set up ethical standards for themselves and to do what is right in their own eyes.”

Such a doctrine involves not the abolition of government but the widest possible extension of it. It repudiates all ethical principles and abandons all attempts at enforcing justice and protecting rights. Every man is allowed under it to govern his fellows, if he has the will and the power, and the struggle for existence in the simplest and crudest form is revived.

Anarchism, on the other hand, posits the principle of equal liberty as binding upon all, and only insists that those who refrain from violating it should not be interfered with in any way, either by individual governors or combinations of would be rulers.

Anarchists reject governmentalism because they find no ethical warrant and no practical necessity for it. It appears to them self-evident that society, or the community, can have no greater claims upon the individual than the component members of it have. The metaphysical and misleading analogies between society and organism, upon which is usually founded the governmentalist’s theory of the prerogatives of the State, anarchists reject with undisguised contempt.

Arguments for Anarchism

The community’, or ‘the State,’ is an abstraction, and an abstraction has neither rights nor duties. Individuals, and individuals only, have rights. This proposition is the cornerstone of the anarchistic doctrine, and those who accept it are bound to go the full length of anarchism.

For if the community cannot rightfully compel a man to do or refrain from doing that which private and individual members thereof cannot legitimately force him to do or forego, then compulsory taxation and compulsory cooperation for any purpose whatever are wrong in principle, and government is merely another name for aggression. It will not be pretended that one private individual has the right to tax another private individual without his consent; how, then, does the majority of the members of a community obtain the right to tax the minority without its consent?

Government Aggression

Having outgrown the dogma of the divine right of kings, democratic countries are unconsciously erecting the dogma of the divine right of majorities to rule. The absurdity of such a belief is apparent. Majorities, minorities, and other combinations of individuals are entitled to insist on respect of their rights, but not on violating the rights of others. There is one ethical standard, not two; and it cannot be right for government to do that which would be criminal, immoral, when committed by individuals.

Laws of social life are not made at the polls or in legislative assemblies; they have to be discovered in the same way in which laws of other sciences are discovered. Once discovered, majorities are bound to observe them no less than individuals.

As already stated, the anarchists hold that the law of equal freedom, formulated positively by Spencer and negatively by Kant, is a scientific social law which ought to guide men in their various activities and mutual relations. The logical deductions and corollaries of this law show us at once our rights and our duties. Government violates this great law not only by the fact of its very existence but in a thousand other ways.

Government means the coercion of the noninvasive, the taxation of those who protest at being forced to join the political organization set up by the majority. It enacts statutes and imposed restraints which find no sanction in the law of equal freedom, and punishes men for disobeying such arbitrary provisions.

It is true that governments profess to have the public welfare in view and to enforce nothing save what morality and justice dictate. Justice, however, is invariably confounded by governments with legalism, and by the enforcement of justice they often mean the enforcement of the very laws which they enact in violation of justice. Thus laws in restraint of trade and of exchange are enforced in the name of justice, whereas justice demands the fullest freedom of trade and exchange.

Strictly speaking, the enforcement of justice cannot be undertaken by government at all, since a government that should attempt to enforce justice would have to begin by signing its own death warrant.

A government that would enforce equal freedom and let the inoffensive alone would be, not a government, but a voluntary association for the protection of rights.

In republican countries men loosely speak of their ‘free government’, their ‘government by consent’. In reality there is no such thing as government by consent. Majorities rule, and the minorities are forced to acquiesce.

The principle of consent is clearly fatal to governmentalism, for it implies the right of the noninvasive to ignore the State and decline to accept its services. Ethically a man has a perfect right to do this, for the mere refusal to join the political organization (which is merely an insurance association) is not a breach of the principle of equal freedom.

Our ‘free governments’ deny this right, hence they are immoral. They cannot become moral except by ceasing to be governments and becoming purely voluntary associations for defence.

Apart from the question of compulsory taxation and compulsory military service, on the abolition of which anarchists alone lay stress (although they readily admit that the police functions of government will be the last to disappear), there is little, if any, difference between anarchists and Spencerian individualists on the question of government interference. The cessation of such interference with economic relations — with the issue of money, banking, wages, trade, production etc. is advocated on the ground that the solution of the social problems is to be found in liberty rather than in regulation, in free competition rather than in State monopoly. On the subject of public education, postal service, poor laws, sanitary supervision, etc., anarchists, in common with advanced individualists, hold that government interference is as pernicious practically as it is unwarranted ethically. Corruption and inefficiency are evils inseparable from government management, and there is nothing which government does that could not be done better by private enterprise under free competition.

In short, the anarchists object to governmentalism because it is unethical, as well as unnecessary and inexpedient.

Government is either the will of one man or the will of a number of men, large or small. Now, the will of one or many is not a criterion of right and justice, while for the adjustment of the conflicting interests of the members of society such a criterion is an absolute necessity.

Majority Rule Discredited

Majority rule, and even the rule of a despot, may be, under certain conditions, preferable to a state of civil chaos; but as men advance and study the facts of their own development, they begin to realize the truth that there is no relation whatever between right and numbers, justice and force. Majority rule is discredited along with despotic rule, and ethical science becomes the sole guide and authority. The social laws require to be applied and enforced as long as predatory instincts and invasive tendencies continue to manifest themselves in human relations, and this necessitates the maintenance of associations for the protection of freedom and the punishment of aggressive. But the governmental method is not adapted to the promotion of this end. Government begins by coercing the noninvasive individual into cooperation for defense and offense, regardless of the fact that a benevolent despotism is not a whit more defensible than a selfish despotism.


In general it may be stated that any methods, not in themselves invasive, are regarded as legitimate by the anarchists in the furtherance of their cause. But they rely chiefly, if not entirely, on the methods of education — theoretical propaganda of their views — and of passive resistance to government. In violence, so-called propaganda by deed and subterranean plotting against existing institutions, they do not believe. Political changes may be brought about by revolutions, and possibly also such economic changes as are contemplated by the State socialists. But freedom can rest only on ideas and sentiments favorable to it, and revolutionary demonstrations can never abolish ignorance and the spirit of tyranny.

Freedom cannot be forced on those who are not fit for it. The emancipation of the people from the aggression of government must come through their own deliberate choice and effort. Anarchists can but disseminate true political teachings and expose the nature and essence of governmentalism. Anarchists, however, do not believe that it is necessary to convert the whole people in order to carry their principles into practice. A strong and determined minority could, while remaining passive, successfully resist the attempt of government to tax them and otherwise impose its will upon them. Public opinion would not approve of a government campaign of violence against a number of intelligent and perfectly honest individuals banded together for the sole purpose of carrying on their legitimate activities and asserting their right to ignore injunctions and prohibitions having no authority from an ethical point of view.

“Even if anarchists believed in the use of violent methods, and if they thought that violent resistance to government would hasten their emancipation they would certainty resort to it since it is not immoral or invasive to use force against invaders, there would be one important difference between them and other schools of reformers. Anarchists would not prevent others from living under government side by side with them, while other reformers seek to impose their schemes on the whole community in which they live. Thus the State socialists, in pursuance of their program of State monopoly of capital, intend to suppress all competition and all rivalry on the part of individual owners of capital. The anarchists, on the other hand, if allowed to remain outside of the governmental organization, would force no one to join them or follow their example. Still, as a matter of fact, anarchists abjure violence even in their own interests, vividly realizing the truth that the progress of justice and freedom is arrested in a state of war. Peace is an essential condition to the spread of rational ideas and the growth of the sentiment of toleration. Appealing, as they do, to the ideas and feelings of justice, it would be suicidal for anarchists to encourage violence and excite the lowest passions of men by revolutionary tactics.

To reform by ordinary political methods the anarchists are also opposed, at least under present conditions. As they do not seek any new positive legislation, they can expect nothing from politics. They demand the repeal of the legislation which improperly restricts men’s freedom of action, and such repeal they cannot secure while being in a minority. Whether they would cooperate with other parties in attempting to carry specific measures of repeal, would depend largely on circumstances. It is to be remembered that, while the anarchists are strenuous in their opposition to every vestige of government, they do not expect to realize their entire program at one stroke. They are prepared for very slow and gradual reform, and would welcome the success of any single libertarian proposal. They would rejoice in the triumph of the free-trade idea, the repeal of the laws perpetuating land monopoly and monetary monopoly, and the abolition of special privileges. If they do not form themselves into a political party for the purpose of attaining one or more of these objects, it is because they can do more by other methods.

Moreover, to enter into the political arena is to recognize, by implication, the principle of government. To vote is to coerce or to threaten coercion. Behind the ballot is the bullet of the soldier ready to force the defeated minority into submission. The voter does not merely assert his right to self-government; he sets up a claim to govern others. The anarchist cannot employ a method which would put him in such a false light.

Thus the anarchist is neither a government bomb-thrower nor a revolutionary bomb-thrower. He objects to the use of violence by the government as well as against it. He restricts himself to the method of education and such passive resistance as is exemplified by a refusal to pay taxes or rent or import duties on commodities purchased in foreign countries.