Charles T. Sprading

Liberty and the Great Libertarians




In the Introduction to Liberty and the Great Libertarians Sprading clarifies the meaning of a series of terms and, in doing so, introduces to the main themes and practices of the libertarians in the course of their long history. This represents then a good first approach to the ideas and aspirations of the lovers of freedom known as libertarians or anarchists.



The history of civilized man is the history of the incessant conflict between liberty and authority. Each victory for liberty marked a new step in the world's progress; so we can measure the advance of civilization by the amount of freedom acquired by human institutions.

The first great struggle for liberty was in the realm of thought. The Libertarians reasoned that freedom of thought would be good for mankind; it would promote knowledge, and increased knowledge would advance civilization. But the Authoritarians protested that freedom of thought would be dangerous; that people would think wrong; that a few were divinely appointed to think for the people, that these had books which contained the whole truth, and that further search was unnecessary and forbidden. The powers of Church and State were arrayed against the Libertarians; but, after the sacrifice of many great men, freedom in thought was won.

The second momentous contest was for the liberty to speak. The enemies of liberty, those possessing power and privilege, opposed freedom of speech, just as they had opposed freedom of thought. The Church said it was perilous to permit people to speak their minds; - they might speak the truth. The State said free speech was dangerous; it was not the duty of citizens to think and speak, but to obey. After much persecution the Libertarians were victorious, although such authoritarian institutions as the Catholic Church and the Spanish and Russian States do not even now concede freedom of thought and speech.

The third contest was for liberty of the press. The same old enemies who had so much to conceal opposed it, and their repressive measures added a long list of martyrs to the cause of freedom. Like free thought and free speech, free press has proved to be a powerful factor in human progress. It still has its enemies as of old, but their number and influence are dwindling.

The fourth struggle was for the liberty of assembly. Here again Libertarians met the same old enemies using the same old arguments. The people could not be permitted to assemble freely because they might come together and discuss matters relating to Church or State or plan treason and revolution. But again liberty was victorious, and free assembly has been found to be beneficial to the people, if not to some institutions.

The fifth important contest for liberty was in the field of religion. The Libertarians argued that freedom was as necessary and desirable in religion as in other human relations; that man should be free to worship at any shrine he pleased, or at no shrine; to worship as his reason and conscience dictated, or even not to worship at all. An infallible church could never permit fallible human beings to choose their own religion, but a succession of conflicts opened the gates of religious liberty.

In these five important spheres of human action there have been, against a sea of ignorance and tradition, five great victories for freedom. Liberty, wherever applied, has proved a benefit to the race; furthermore, the most important steps in human progress would have been impossible without it; and if civilization is to advance, that advance can come only as a result of a broader and more complete freedom in all human relations. A principle that has proved its workability in five such important and vital phases of social evolution should prove desirable in all the affairs of man.

And here is the difference between the Libertarians and the Authoritarians: the latter have no confidence in liberty; they believe in compelling people to be good, assuming that people are totally depraved; the former believe in letting people be good, and maintain that humanity grows better and better as it gains more and more liberty. If Libertarians were merely to ask that liberty be tried in any one of the other fields of human expression they would meet the same opposition as their pioneer predecessors; but such is their confidence in the advantages of liberty that they demand, not that it be tried in one more instance only, but that it be universally adopted.

Their demand is for equal liberty, which denies all privileges and permits no other restrictions than those imposed by social conditions. As it is their relation to their fellowmen with which they are concerned, Libertarians seek to promote equal liberty, and not absolute liberty. "Absolute liberty" means that liberty which disregards the liberty of others. Some extreme individualists like Nietzsche believe in it; but absolute liberty, as the word implies, is unsocial, because it is unrelated. If there is an absolute, it is not a social law, for all social laws are relative. Equal liberty is bounded by the like liberty of all.

Mere equality does not imply equal liberty, however, for slaves are equal in their slavery. Equal opportunity to rob others is not equal liberty, but its violation; it abridges "liberty to possess", and the "liberty to produce and to own the product." These liberties are implied by equality of liberty, just as equal opportunity is; equal robbery or equal slavery have no relation to equal liberty, but are its opposite. There are but two positions from which to choose, equal liberty or unequal liberty. Most persons believe in liberty for themselves, but not for others. Some Christians believe in hell for others, but not for themselves. Libertarians are not like either, for they demand the same liberty for others that they ask for themselves.

Its enemies deride liberty as an abstraction. It is abstract, but so are most of the sciences. Mathematics, for instance, is abstract, but we find that this abstraction fits every concrete fact in the universe. So it is with abstract liberty. It will fit every concrete social fact; it will solve every social ill.

Liberty has its positive and its negative side - it negates authority and tyranny, but it affirms equity and justice; that is, it negates the bad and affirms the good. Destruction is necessary, but construction is equally so; it is essential to tear away the old building in order to erect the new in its place, but before consenting to its demolition the occupant may demand to know what is to take its place, and the architect should furnish him specifications of the proposed structure. There are those who are most successful in tearing down the old building, who, however, may not have the abstract idea of the new structure in their minds, while there are others who excel in building up the new. Both are essential. It is absurd to say that clearing the ground is sufficient, for tomorrow's weeds will grow where they are cleared today. How often is one superstition overthrown only to be replaced by a different one! Truth must be substituted for error, - and this is the work of the positive side of liberty. Liberty means freedom to construct the new as well as freedom to destroy the old. A society of Libertarians will destroy the old, but they will also build the new, and whatever ground they clear of weeds will be sown with seeds of progress.


Rights. - The word "Right" has many meanings; and unfortunately it has two contradictory ones - legal rights and ethical right - that lead to much confusion of thought. Legal rights are: "Any power or privilege vested in a person by the law;" "A claim or title to or interest in anything whatsoever that is enforceable by law;" "A franchise - a specific right or privilege granted or established by governmental authority;" "A capacity or privilege the enjoyment of which is secured to a person by law, hence the interest or share which anyone has in a piece of property, title, claim, interest." It will be seen from these accepted definitions that legal right is synonymous with power; whoever or whatsoever has the power, has the right. Now, governments have most power, therefore have most rights. If individuals have any legal rights, it is because governments have granted them in the way of "franchise," "privilege," etc. Legal right means to take, to have and to hold. There is no sentiment in legal right; it is the offspring of power only - "Might is right!"

Right in its ethical sense is defined thus: "Right is in accordance with equity;" "Conformity to the standard of justice;" "Right is identical with the good, not deviating from the true and just;" "Freedom from guilt." A comparison of these two conceptions of right will disclose the fundamental disagreement between them. Although the legal and ethical definitions of right are the antithesis of each other, most writers use them as synonyms. They confuse power with goodness, and mistake law for justice.

Ethical right is largely abstract; legal right is mostly concrete. Ethical right the just man wishes to be established; legal right is already established. Ethical right and legal right mutually exclude each other; where one prevails, the other cannot endure. One is founded on power, on might; the other on justice, on equality. One appeals to the sword to settle matters, the other appeals to the judgment of men. For illustration: Governments have the right to do wrong; that is, they have the power, the legal right, to do anything they choose, regardless of whether it is good or bad - and their choice is usually bad from the ethical standpoint. Governments can and do invade nations, rob the people of their property, enslave or kill the inhabitants; all in perfect accord with legal rights, but in gross violation of ethical right. Let it be understood that the right of a government is coextensive with its power; it has not the right to invade, enslave or kill the people of a stronger nation or government, for it lacks the power on which this right is based; but, having the power, it has the right to commit these acts against a weaker nation. Let us not mistake things as they are for things as they ought to be.

It is absurd to speak of the slave having the "right" to liberty. It is a curious sort of right that could in no way be exercised during the thousands of years in which slavery existed; surely not a legal right, for slavery was legal then. Neither had the slave an ethical right; for ethical right means "justice", "equity," "liberty," the very things he did not have: it is even doubtful if many of the slaves had the least idea of justice and liberty. It is only correct to say that they should have had such a right. To say they had it, is like saying one already has a fortune that one is hoping to acquire.


Justice. - Some of the accepted definitions of Justice are: "Conformity to truth, fact or right reason; fairness; rightfulness; truth; impartiality;" "The rendering to everyone his due or right; just treatment;" "To do justice to; to treat with fairness or according to merit; to render what is due to;" "Rightfulness; uprightness; equitableness, as the justice of a cause." These definitions are accepted by Libertarians, who believe that justice is that which ought to be done by one to another. But what is the true criterion of the conduct we expect from another? How are we to know it is just? By what standard is justice to be judged? Authorities on law answer, "Custom": whatever is customary is just. Therefore the lawyer looks for "precedents." No lawyer will declare, "My client broke this law, and he did right, for it is a bad law": that would be in violation of custom and precedent, and he dare not say it; but he will ransack the maze of law for a precedent - and will find one, too!

To quote only one of the great authorities on law: James Coolidge Carter in his Law: Its Origin, Growth and Function, page 163, says, "Justice consists in the compliance with custom in all matters of difference between men," and he tells us on the same page that "This accords with the definition of the Roman law." But custom and precedent are defective as a basis for that conception of justice which recognizes good acts only; for custom and precedent can be found for all kinds of acts, good, bad and indifferent. Some of our savage ancestors had the habit, or "custom," of eating their dead parents; so, by proving the precedent or custom, we can prove that cannibalism is just! Custom may suffice as the basis of law, but is inadequate as the basis of justice. Tyranny, not liberty, has been the custom in the past; and so Libertarians reject custom as a guiding principle, just as they reject power or might. They know that justice is not something that was, or is, but that is to be. Pascal saw the absurdity of law and justice that have their source in custom, for he says: "In the just and unjust we find hardly anything which does not change its character in changing its climate. Three degrees of elevation of the pole reverse the whole of jurisprudence. A meridian is decisive of truth, or a few years of possession. Fundamental laws change! Right has its epochs! A pleasant justice that, which a river or a mountain limits! Truth on this side the Pyrenees, error on the other!"

And who can know what the law really is? In the United States we have over 50,000 laws, most of which conflict with each other, and to interpret them we employ an army of lawyers and judges, who disagree as to the intent or applicability of every law. The writers on the theory of law are equally perplexed. Sir Henry Maine says: "There is much widespread dissatisfaction with existing theories of jurisprudence, and so general a conviction that they do not really solve the questions they pretend to dispose of, as to justify the suspicion that some line of inquiry necessary to a perfect result has been incompletely followed or altogether omitted by their authors." Perceiving, like Sir Henry Maine and other honest writers on law and justice, the "widespread dissatisfaction with existing theories of jurisprudence," Libertarians reject them altogether as the basis of justice.


Law. - Some writers on this subject have made justice the basis of law, while others have made law the basis of justice; but, as a matter of fact, statute law did not have its source in justice nor is justice the outcome of such law. Lawmakers are not imbued with the idea of arriving at justice. The motive most prevalent among them is that of personal or class benefit, benefit to the makers of law or to the makers of the lawmakers. Benefit to them means property-getting. They find that the State is of great assistance both in this property-getting and in the property-holding part of the game, so they seize the State and use it as their instrument in acquiring and defending property. These lawmakers believe that the law should reflect their interests; and as they enact nearly all laws they see to it that the law represents their desires and not the ideas of equity.

If all men had the same interests, there would be less harm in permitting a part of the people to legislate for all; but this is not the case. There is a great conflict of interests between the possessed and the dispossessed, between the poor and the rich, between the weak and the strong, between the ruler and the ruled, between the worker and the shirkers, between the producer and the appropriator, which is apparent in existing laws, always made by those powerful enough to take advantage of the State and of the law-abiding sentiment of the people. That their laws conflict with justice is no concern of theirs, for profit and not justice is their object. The object is legitimate because they make it legitimate. The game they play is lawful because they make the law to uphold their game; but they raise a hue and cry for "law and order" if they find any game conflicting with theirs, and declare it unlawful. It is easy to see that laws thus enacted are unjust, for to be just a law must be enacted for the benefit of all; thus it is in no wise logical to presume that the "legal" is the just.

When we compare the laws made today and the method and purpose of their making, with those of the past, we find them to be in perfect harmony. It was the law and custom of the past to provide for a class of idlers, it was customary for the powerful to enslave the weak, for the rich to rob the poor, for the unscrupulous to make laws in their own interests, even as it is the law and custom today. Surely it must be evident that law does not have its basis in justice, but rather in custom. To both law and custom, justice is a total stranger.

When we know the source of law, we cease to wonder at the conduct of those who accept law as a guiding principle; we understand why they conduct themselves so badly from the standpoint of justice and still keep out of jail; we also understand why some who have violated no rule of justice go to jail. Most people accept law as their guide to conduct; they find it to be more profitable than following the rules of justice. They are always asking, "What is the law?" "Can I do that and not be arrested?" To them anything within the law is right; yet we know that the greatest injustices are committed within the law. They would see nothing wrong in murder, if it was lawful; but murder is lawful only to the makers of law, to the State or the Government, which indulges its own murderous inclinations, legitimately, by capital punishment and by war.


Equal Liberty. - The Law of Equal Liberty is the principle that is offered by Libertarians as a substitute for these conflicting and unjust customs of the past. This law has been well formulated by that great philosopher and sociologist, Herbert Spencer. Here it is in brief: "That every man may claim the fullest liberty to exercise his faculties compatible with the possession of like liberty by every other man." This gives us a basis for justice in perfect harmony with the idea of equity. Equal liberty is the essence of equity, and is not equity just? If there are to be laws in a free society, they must be based upon equal liberty or they will be unjust.


Natural Law and Statute Law. - Some authorities on law hold that statute law is based on natural law and therefore in perfect harmony with it, but this will not bear analysis. The natural law of evolution, of development, is variation, differentiation; statute law is intended to produce similarity and uniformity. The first depends upon dynamic forces, the second upon customs of the dead. The first is the law of the new; the second, the law of the old. The first does its own enforcing; the second needs to be enforced. The first cannot be suspended; the second is changed to suit the lawmakers. The law of variation has guided us in the path of progression, while statute law has tended only toward retrogression.

In the animal world, when the law of variation produces an animal differing somewhat from its kind, whether it be in different physical characteristics, to more perfectly adapt it to its environment, or in the addition of new organs to adapt it to a different environment, it is permitted by others of its species to live and propagate its kind, and often produces an entirely new and higher type of animal. But how do upholders of statute law act toward those who differ from them? Let the treatment accorded a Jesus, a Bruno, a Ferrer, be the answer. Statute law is not based on natural law; they are the antithesis of each other.


Government. - The greatest violator of the principle of equal liberty is the State. Its functions are to control, to rule, to dictate, to regulate, and in exercising these functions it interferes with and injures individuals who have done no wrong. The objection to government is, not that it controls those who invade the liberty of others, but that it controls the non-invader. It may be necessary to govern one who will not govern himself, but that in no wise justifies governing one who is capable of and willing to govern himself. To argue that because some need restraint all must be restrained is neither consistent nor logical.

Governments cannot accept liberty as their fundamental basis for justice, because governments rest upon authority and not upon liberty. To accept liberty as the fundamental basis is to discard authority; that is, to discard government itself; as this would mean the dethronement of the leaders of government, we can expect only those who have no economic compromise to make to accept equal liberty as the basis of justice.

If a person accepts the standard of might or power as the correct guiding principle, as the State does, then he can have no reasonable complaint against the unjust conditions that prevail, for they are the logical outcome of the existing principle of government. One must not complain against powerful corporations, for they are the acme of power; by the power of the State they have been granted special "privileges," such as franchises, large land grants, the use and control of public utilities, etc., all of which add to their power by adding to their wealth. In order to oppose logically this inequitable condition, it is necessary to adopt a different standard from that of might or power.

It is the nature of government to invade. It will impose itself upon the non-invasive individual as readily as it will upon the invasive one, It will seize his property through taxation, or otherwise, and use it for purposes of which the individual does not approve - for going to war, for instance, or building warships (things obnoxious to the peaceful man). It makes so many complicated laws that the individual is bound to break some of them. There are innumerable laws on our statute books, and no lawyer or judge pretends that he knows ten per cent of them; yet the layman may be held to a strict obedience of any or all of them, and if he pleads that he did not know the law he is told that ignorance of the law is no excuse for its breach. He is supposed to know ninety per cent more of law than its students, practitioners, and makers. The more laws, the more ignorance of them; the more ignorance of the law, the more the laws are broken; the more the laws are broken, the more criminals there are; and the more criminals, the more policemen, detectives, lawyers, judges, and other officials that go to make up a strong and expensive government. All of this is good for government officials, but bad for the citizens who carry the load. Rulers have always profited by the mistakes of individuals, and have always made conditions such that mistakes were unavoidable.

The State is even more unfair than the law it pretends to enforce. It never enforces the law equitably, but always favors the rich and the powerful. When it so happens that the law conflicts with the interests of the powerful, it is invariably interpreted in their favor.

The protective part of government is greatly exaggerated. It collects taxes on the theory that it renders an equivalent in protection, but if a crime is committed and a poor man is accused, instead of protecting him, it turns all of its machinery against him; instead of presenting both sides, so that justice may be arrived at, it presents one side and leaves it to the unfortunate one to present the other side if he can. It suppresses all evidence in its possession favorable to the individual, and conceals all evidence against him until the day of trial and then presents it; and all under the pretense of protecting the individual! The fact is, the government is a prosecutor and not a defender; it is an invader and not a protector.

The Libertarians say: Let those who believe in religion have religion; let those who believe in government, have government; but also let those who believe in liberty, have liberty, and do not compel them to accept a religion or a government they do not want. It is as unjust to force one's government upon another, as it is unjust to force one's religion upon another. This was done in the past; but we have won religious freedom, and must now work toward political freedom. We no longer believe that it is just for one man to govern two men, but we have yet to outgrow the absurd belief that it is just for two men to govern one man. To govern a man - that is, to control him, to dictate to him, to rule him - is to violate the principle of equal liberty, for there is the same inequality between the governor and the governed, between the dictator and those dictated to, between the ruler and the ruled, that there was between the master and his slave. The power to command and the weakness to obey are the essence of government and the quintessence of slavery.

It is not even just to restrain the invader, but it seems expedient to do so, since he fails to restrain himself. He has violated the principles of justice and liberty, but we are doing likewise when we take his liberty from him. However, it seems necessary to do so for self-protection against an invader who will not recognize the principle of equal liberty. It is like going to war in self-defense: it is not just, but it may be expedient to do so. It is not just, because war of any kind is not just; but in the extreme alternative of going to war or being exterminated, we will choose the lesser of the two evils. So if we are compelled to restrain the invader to prevent invasive acts, why not be honest and admit that it is a bad state of affairs which necessitates it, and one to be dispensed with just as soon as the invader is cured? The principle of equal liberty, which implies equal opportunity, will cure all but the insane.

Humane men look forward to the day when all of the aggressive and violent parts of the government will cease and only the defensive part remain. "But," say men like Tucker, "that will be the end of government." Very well, let what he calls government go. "But how will you abolish it?" will be asked. It may be answered by asking another: How was slavery abolished? Was it abolished by all the people going into the slave-owning business? Certainly not. It was abolished because the people disliked it and opposed it; because they would not support the business and the people in the business. So it will be with government, or that part of it that is not protective, but invasive; when the people withdraw their support from it, when they oppose it and refuse to pay taxes, when they refuse to go to war, refuse to accept office to enforce unjust laws, then the end will come, and a voluntary co-operative society of free people will take its place, and nothing of the invasive nature of the State will remain.


Crimes and Criminals. - Most crimes are offenses against property. The struggle for property leads to depredations and infractions of the principles of equal liberty in various ways. Greed on the one side and poverty on the other, is the cause of so-called crime. To cure crime, it is necessary to remove its cause. The disease of greed may not be curable, but its baneful results can be obviated by destroying special privileges, out of which ensues poverty, that in turn breeds crime.

Economists are agreed that there are four methods by which wealth is acquired by those who do not produce it. These are, interest, profit, rent and taxes, each of which is based upon special privilege, and all are gross violations of the principle of equal liberty.

First, Interest arises from the special privilege granting to a favored few, known as national bankers, the exclusive right of issuing money. The liberty to establish mutual banks or other free systems of issuing money would abolish interest.

Second, Profits arise from such special privileges as copyrights, patent rights, franchises, grants, etc., all of which violate the principle of equal liberty.

Third, Rent arises from the special privilege of land titles, land grants, the right by deed to hold land and compel others to pay for its use. Equal liberty to use land would eliminate rent.

Fourth, Taxation is a special privilege assumed by the ruling class to levy tribute on their subjects, and is a violation of the liberty of those who do not want a ruling class.

Thus it is seen that the four methods of acquiring wealth and producing poverty rest upon special privileges granted by government. Thus government, producing the criminal rich and the criminal poor, is itself the cause of crime, and not its prevention, as stupid people believe. In order to perpetuate itself government must manufacture criminals; it rests on their backs and without them it would fall. If there were no criminals there would be no policemen, no detectives, no lawyers, no judges, no courts, no legislatures, no penitentiaries - no government, in fact. Government would cease without "criminals" to sustain it, and to expect the government to remove its own foundation is idle.

If the cause of crime is removed it will be by Libertarians and not by Authoritarians. It will be by those who hate it, not by those who profit by it.


Majority Rule. - Majority rule, like every other rule, is a violation of the principle of equal liberty. Like all other rules it rests on power. This power is the power of numbers; not the power of extermination by means of the bullet and the war club, as in ages past, but of the same nature, having neither regard for justice nor for reason. For centuries the only means at the disposal of power by which it might acquire its ends was the bullet. All its conquest, its means of securing the subserviency and exploitation of the weak, was by the method of extermination - the bullet. But, finally, the observation that a large army could conquer a small one led to the method of enumeration to settle a dispute instead of the old one of extermination: the ballot instead of the bullet. The ballot is more economical of human life - but to use enumeration as the means of arriving at justice is a poor substitute for reason.

A reasonable action on the part of the majority is very rare, while the evidence of mob stupidity and brutality is overwhelming. The majority in power make laws for their own financial benefit, disregarding the interests of the minority, and when the weak minority, by adding to its numbers, becomes powerful, it, in turn, does the same thing; thus, by appealing to power to settle their conflicting interests, the conflict would go on forever.

Does it not seem a vast waste of valuable human material that the pioneers of thought, those who by their genius dare to clear unknown paths in the arts and sciences and in government, should have to conform to the dictates of that non-creative, slow-moving mass, the majority? An appeal to the majority is a resort to force and not an appeal to intelligence; the majority is always ignorant, and by increasing the majority we multiply ignorance. The majority is incapable of initiative, its attitude being one of opposition toward everything that is new. If it had been left to the majority, the world would never have had the steamboat, the railroad, the telegraph, or any of the conveniences of modern life.

We are required to accept the decision of the majority as final, although the majority does and always has decided against the very things which have proved themselves most useful to society. In fact, every advance in civilization - in the arts, in language, in science, in invention and discovery - has been achieved, not because of the wish of the majority, but by the constant work and urgent demands of a persistent few. It took Voltaire and others of his kind half a century to convince the majority that it was being robbed and enslaved; and when a part of that majority was at last convinced, it did not use the educational method that had convinced them, but resorted to force to convince the rest. War, not logic, is the method of the mob.

If majority rule is right, then we have no just complaint to make against existing conditions, for the majority favors them or it surely would change them. The majority looks to its politicians for guidance. The successful politicians never advance new ideas, knowing that they must stay by the majority, echoing only the sentiment of the majority, or they will lose their jobs. The real educator does his work at his own expense, sows the seed, builds up a movement, perhaps; the politician snatches his idea and reaps the harvest, loudly declaring himself the author of the idea, and the majority accepts his assertion and follows him.

A political convention illustrates the workings of majority rule: If the minority in a party advocate a progressive move which is defeated when put to a vote in the convention, the minority are prohibited from advancing it during the campaign; if this minority refuse to advocate what the convention has decided to be right, they are barred from the platform and press, the cry of majority rule is raised against them, and they are called "traitors to the party;" but if they abandon their progressive ideas and advocate the wishes of the majority they are rewarded with office. Thus majority rule develops the dishonest politician: in order to rule sometime, he consents to being ruled at other times. The desire to rule and the willingness to be ruled ends in degradation; and no one who accepts the principles of equal liberty can indorse majority rule.


War. - War is a violation of the principle of liberty as well as of justice. It is founded on force; its method is violence: its theory is "Might is right;" its purpose is to conquer or destroy. Its greatest heroes are those who have slaughtered the greatest number of people; its Alexanders, its Napoleons. Napoleon said that "God is always on the side of the strong battalions." When differences between nations are settled by appeals to force, and not to justice, the stronger nations soon demonstrate that they are right. While the majority of men have outgrown the notion that a pugilist is in the right and an invalid is in the wrong because the former can thrash the latter, an analogous opinion is still entertained by those nations that rely solely on arms to vindicate the right.

Wars have been profitable to the military class and some of the capitalist class. The military class obtain salaries, positions and honors; the capitalist class receive interest on war debts, and profits from making guns and battleships and furnishing supplies. But the great body of a nation does not profit by war. A nation that conquers another by invasion never receives an indemnity equal to the expense of the war, or the conquering nation would have no war debt; and the victorious nations have the largest war debts, while the conquered nations have the smallest war debts. The nations that have the largest armies and make the most conquests have less wealth per capita than the nations which have small armies or none at all. This proves that war is not profitable to nations, and it also proves that in going to war nations do not act from motives of "economic interests," as is claimed by those who try to explain all human phenomena by "economic interests." It is only a few who profit by war; "economic interests" do not control the majority, or there would have been no war.

One of the favorite arguments in this country in defense of war is that we owe to it the freeing of the slaves. But such is not the case. Thirty years before the war William Lloyd Garrison, Wendell Phillips, and a few co-workers, without money or followers, in 1830 started the abolition movement, which gathered force by years of work until, in 1860, about half the people of the United States were converted to their cause. When abolition was in the air, when it was very apparent that it was to be accomplished by the educational method, that happened which has always happened in great world movements: the military class rushed in and said, We will settle this question with the sword; we will convert the other half of the people, not by arguments, as was the first half, but by force; if any are killed they will not need to be converted. It is reasonable to infer that if the same process that had converted the first half of the nation had been permitted to continue, it would have converted the rest of the people or enough to assure the success of the abolition of slavery without war. The educational work of Garrison, Phillips and others did not cost the nation a dollar, but the war cost thousands of lives and incurred a war debt of millions of dollars, the interest on which our children's children will pay forever.

How is war to be abolished? By going to war? Is bloodshed to be stopped by the shedding of blood? No; the way to stop war is to stop going to war; stop supporting it and it will fall, just as slavery did, just as the Inquisition did. The end of war is in sight; there will be no more world wars. The laboring-man, who has always done the fighting, is losing his patriotism; he is beginning to realize that he has no country or much of anything else to fight for, and is beginning to decline the honor of being killed for the glory and profits of the few. And those who profit by war, those who own the country, will not fight for it; that is, they are not patriotic if it is necessary for them to do the killing or to be killed in war. In all the wars of history there are very few instances of the rich meeting their death on the battlefield.

Soon there will be no poor so foolish as to go to war; not because it has become unprofitable, for it has never been profitable; but because social consciousness has been developed by the teachings of the great Libertarians, who have always stood for peace. Liberty leads to peace, while authority necessarily leads to war. Lovers of liberty are willing to compare the lives of those who stood for liberty with those who have stood for authority, of those who have tried to save with those who have tried to destroy.


Industrial vs. Militant Type. - Those who would rather fight than work are of the Militant type; those who would rather work than fight are of the Industrial type, and now outnumber the former more than a hundred to one. Savagery and barbarism developed the Militant type; civilization introduced the Industrial type. Herbert Spencer has traced the origin, development, functions and decline of the Militant type; he has described the origin, development and functions of the Industrial type, and the evidences of its ultimate supremacy. There was a time when most men were warriors; but as industry developed, fewer and fewer went to war, until only a small minority did so, and governments were forced to draft men to serve; and of late years governments have to instill ideas of war into the plastic minds of school children in order to keep alive the dying embers of militancy. The United States government spends millions of dollars yearly in luring, - by means of advertisements in newspapers, on billboards and moving pictures, - young men to enlist in sufficient numbers to keep its standing army fully recruited.

The distinguishing characteristic of the militant class is parasitism: the power and ability to destroy, to wage war and levy tribute, to impose arbitrary restrictions and collect taxes, to take and to consume; in short, to govern.

For countless ages the industrial class has been oppressed and despoiled by the militant class, but now it is coming into its own, and holds the future of the race in its hands. The industrial class possesses one power that is distinctively and exclusively its own: it is an economic power: the industrial class produces all, builds all, exchanges all. The realization of its irresistible power and the knowledge of how to use it will bring its emancipation.

When the workingman realizes that war does not benefit him, but robs him, the militant class will not be able to hire him or force him to go to war; and if the industrial class refuses to use its economic power for the benefit of the militant parasites, one of these classes must disappear - and it will not be the industrial! Only so long as the militant class can induce the industrial class to support it will it survive. When the worker learns that he belongs to the industrial class and not to the militant class, that his power is economic and not military, the economic problem will be solved.

The laboring-men who still prattle of revolution, meaning by that term warfare, and those labor "leaders" who imagine they can gain something for their cause by violence, are half a century behind the times. Can they not see that violence is the game of their oppressors? and do they hope to beat them at their own game? They might be able to throw a few dynamite bombs by hand, but the war-machines of the soldiers can throw them at the rate of twenty per second. The industrial class cannot compete with the military class in the art of war; if it could, it would cease to be industrial and become militant.

Individuals may do this, but the race has passed that period of its development. The man who thinks the industrial class can progress by any other then industrial methods does not understand economic forces; he is in the wrong class; he should join the army; he is betraying the laboring class when he advocates militant measures. In this country not one workingman in a hundred can handle a gun as well as a soldier can, and yet some labor leaders insist on war talk and the singing of war songs like the "Marseillaise" and "The Bed Flag."


Flags. - A flag is an emblem of warfare; when unfurled, it is a challenge  to combat. Are the labouring-men able and willing to defend a war emblem on the battlefield? If so, then they are of the Militant type and not of the Industrial type. But the fact is they cannot successfully defend their flag in battle. They must cure themselves of this war disease, and learn to use their industrial power instead. The economic or industrial power is sufficient if intelligently used. It is industrial freedom that the laboring man needs, not military despotism, and industrial freedom must come from industrial action and not from military action.

The Mexican Revolution is an attempt by many of the dispossessed to regain the lands taken from them by their government and given or sold cheaply to big corporations. Their cause is just, but their method of war is the worst that could be chosen, for if it succeeds it will only convert an agricultural class into a military class, without any gain to the working-man. Just follow the history of these military movements. Porfirio Diaz by military power overthrew the ruler before him, and continued his reign by this power; then Francisco Madero overthrew Diaz by military power, and the laboring-man was as bad off as before; then Madero was overthrown by Felix Diaz by military power; and thus the game would go on forever if the deluded laboring-man would continue to furnish the wealth and lives necessary to play it.

On the other hand, a few wise laboring-men in Mexico have used the industrial or economic method, and if anything is gained in this revolution, it will be due to this small peaceable minority. They have taken possession of land, and refused to pay rent for it. This is the passive method, so effective in the hands of intelligent men. It is the opposite of the military method, which is active. The passive method is suitable to the Industrial type, but is fatal to the Militant type; the difference in method arises from the difference in type. The military class can take, but cannot give; it can consume, but it cannot produce; it can destroy, but it cannot build; it can kill, but it cannot create. The industrial class possesses the economic power to produce, to create, to build. The laboring-man must realize that his only power is industrial, and rely on it to win his cause.

War will cease, and this will be due to intellectual development and the acceptance of the principle of liberty, which leads to justice. The humane spirit is at last coming uppermost, and the men who have brought this about are the great educators of the race - the great Libertarians whose arguments constitute this book, and whose names will live as long as men love liberty.


[Home] [Top]