"One might succeed in explaining to the dullest of men the most difficult of problems, if he had no previous conception in regard to them; but it is impossible to explain to the cleverest man even the simplest matter, if he is perfectly sure that he knows everything about it" - Tolstoi
When a Brussels police officer was informed that the militant member of the British House of Commons whom he had arrested was not an anarchist but a socialist, he replied that he failed to see the difference. To some apologists of the status quo the mistake of the Belgian official will appear excusable and his action meritorious. To the social reformer the incident will serve as a reminder of the fact that anarchy and socialism, though radically opposed in their methods and ideals, rank together as great schemes of social reconstruction which claim to have discovered a solution of the problems of our age.
The social reformer, if he is in earnest about things, will find other reasons for being interested in anarchy than the fact that it is one of two great theories for the reconstruction of modern society. He will be aware that anarchy, no less than socialism, can boast its acute and original thinkers, its numerous and militant societies, and its multitude of unconscious adherents who, at the very moment that they condemn its central doctrine, are engaged in advocating principles by which that doctrine is justified. He will remember also that anarchy has the merit of being a challenge to ideas of which the eternal validity is apt to be taken for granted - a merit not easily overrated in a world of somnolent conviction and imperious unrest. We are born under government, live and die under it, for the most part without even so much as considering whether government is a good thing or not. But what, it may well be asked, is the good of our interminable discussions about the sphere of the State unless we have clear and consistent ideas of the right of the State to have any sphere at all?
Few of the great causes which have inspired human devotion in the past have suffered so much as anarchy from the uncritical deprecation which confuses essentials with accidental associations. I propose to discuss several examples. Perhaps the most striking relates to the means for bringing new social order into being. To the popular mind, the stiletto and the bomb are the very symbols of anarchy. The means which some anarchists employ for the purpose of achieving the end in view are mistaken for the end itself. The explanation is simple. While the annals of a certain type of crime absorb the popular interest, the abstract treatises on the nature of man and society which explain the type, and may seek incidentally to justify it, are allowed to slumber in the dust of our libraries; and anarchy is regarded, not as a theory of social reconstruction, but as a gospel of violence and crime. So we read in our morning paper of anarchists in India' The fact is overlooked that the native revolutionaries who employ the methods of violence merely desire to substitute one set of political institutions for another.
In part, of course, the anarchists themselves, or some of them, are to blame. He who commits a crime to serve a noble purpose ought not to be surprised if an undiscriminating public overlooks his purpose in its horror of his crime. Many-readers will remember the assassination of Czar Alexander. A bomb had wrecked the carriage in which he was riding; but the Czar leapt to earth apparently unharmed. Someone rushed forward: "Your Majesty is safe?" "Yes, thank God", was the response. "It is too soon to thank God", said an anarchist who threw a second bomb with fatal effect. The blameless President McKinley was shot by a man to whom he had extended his hand in friendly greeting! At Geneva, in the afternoon of Saturday, 10th September 1898, an assassin plunged a stiletto in the heart of a defenceless woman whose only crime was to be an Empress! We cannot forget deeds such as these; nor can we forget that they are promoted by anarchist organisations, and defended by anarchist thinkers of ability and repute. Johannes Most, for example, in a celebrated pamphlet on revolutionary warfare and dynamiters, has won distinction as an exponent of the gentle art of assassination. The International Congress, held at London in July 1881, resolved that all means were permissible for the annihilation of rulers, ministers of State, nobility, the clergy, the most prominent capitalists, and other exploiters; and that accordingly great attention should be given to the study of chemistry and the preparation of explosives!
Those who, under the presence of the end justifying the means, commit or plot murder in cold blood, have much to answer for. Yet we can no more reject anarchy because ill deeds have been done in its name, than we can reject liberty for the same reason; or than we can repudiate Catholicism because of the Inquisition. In actual fact, anarchy did not originate as a theory of violence; and those who have advocated violence have done so as a temporary means and on the ground of an overwhelming necessity. The appeal to violence originated in Russia, where men, opposing force to force, struck in blind fury of protest at a despotism which seemed unassailable by any other weapon. While we repudiate the nihilist and his imitators in other parts of the world, we must remember that the real problem for consideration in relation to anarchy is the practicability and merits of a form of social organisation and not the means proposed by some explosive enthusiasts for bringing that organisation into existence. The absence of any essential connection between anarchy and violence is sufficiently proved by the attitude of many acknowledged exponents. "The kingdom of truth", said Godwin, "comes quietly....I had rather convince men by argument than seduce them by example." "When once ideas have originated", said Proudhon, "the very paving stones will rise of themselves, unless the Government has sense enough to avert this. And if not, then nothing else is of any use." "The social revolution", declares Benjamin Tucker, "must come by passive resistance." Tolstoi, greatest of all the anarchists, looks forward to the realisation of the new order as a result of the gradual recognition of the contradiction between civic institutions and the Christ law.
The confusion of anarchy with assassination recalls the philosophical theory of the anarchist Stirner. "Might," he declared, "goes before right, and quite rightly....What I have the might to be I have the right to be. I deduce all right and all title from myself; I am entitled to everything that I have might over. I am entitled to overthrow Zeus, Jehovah, or God, if I can; if I cannot, then these gods will always remain in the right and might as against me One gets farther with a handful of might than with a bagful of right." But the theory of Stirner is anything but typical. Anarchism, as ordinarily presented, is a protest against the rule of might. It is an appeal from the might of rulers to the sense of right in the individual; from the coercion of the State to the conscience of the citizen; from the law which is penally enforced to the law which is voluntarily accepted.
The illusion just referred to finds some justification in anarchist literature. So much can scarcely be said of the illusion that anarchy, in rejecting the State, also rejects society and associated effort. Although Godwin, as we are frequently reminded, condemned the orchestral concert as a degrading form of entertainment which must necessarily disappear before the progress of individual independence, we should display a strange lack of discrimination if we regarded the condemnation as more than an interesting revelation of Godwin's musical attainments. Throughout anarchist literature a distinction is drawn between society and the State - between voluntary groups of human beings united by co-operation in promotion of common interests, and the organised State with its agencies for compelling individuals to live according to certain rules whether they approve of them or not. "Society and government are different in themselves, and have different origins. Society is produced by our wants, and government by our wickedness. Society is in every state a blessing; government, even in its best state, but a necessary evil." "Society," says Benjamin Tucker, "is inseparable from the lives of individuals. It has come to be man's dearest possession."
No statement of popular misconceptions about anarchy would be complete without reference to the illusion that anarchy is hostile to law in the sense of rules of conduct generally observed among men. Although some exponents express the strange opinion that men can dispense with rules of conduct, each man doing as he thinks best under the particular circumstances, anarchists in general are not guilty of so puerile an assumption. "Imagine," exclaims Mr Bernard Shaw, "leaving the traffic of Piccadilly or Broadway to proceed on the understanding that every driver should keep to that side of the road which seemed to him to promote the greatest happiness of the greatest number." The protest of anarchy is not against rules of conduct, but against the enforcement of such rules by the might of society without regard to their approval by the individuals upon whom they are enforced. We can only accuse anarchy of lawlessness if we limit the term law to State-enforced rules.
"Dogs," exclaimed the railway porter immortalised in Punch, "is dogs; cats is dogs; rabbits is dogs; but this 'ere tortoise is a hinsect." Some readers will be tempted to challenge my definition of anarchy as no less arbitrary. In point of fact, however, underlying all the divergencies of opinion, the criminalities or the absurdities of isolated anarchists, there is one common and fundamental conviction which is neither criminal nor absurd - the conviction that the best social order is one where men live their lives, not under the compulsory regulation of the State, but in voluntary co-operation.. Both the negative and positive aspects of this conviction call for some explanation.
Negatively, anarchy means the repudiation of the claim of the State to impose its will upon the citizen by force. The right of a society to promote the common good of its members is not called in question; what is denied is the claim of society to force upon individuals its own interpretation of that good. The anarchist is the sworn foe, not of all government, but of government which is not based upon the free and full consent of the individual. The qualified character of the repudiation of the State deserves careful notice. Apart from the Vigilance Committee for dealing with cases of flagrant criminality, most anarchists expressly or implicitly sanction a measure of compulsion in the sphere of contract and property. "Contracts must be kept!" The statement implies a coercive law. As regards property, while some reject the conception altogether, others retain it in one form or another. According to Tucker, every individual is to be guaranteed the product of his labour; according to Bakunin, private property is to be allowed in the objects of consumption; according to Kropotkin, there may be social property, but no private property. What, then, it may be asked, is the distinction between the State, as the term is ordinarily understood, and a social order in which contractual obligation is enforced and some forms of property are protected? The distinction lies in the fact that the State coerces the individual whether he consents to the coercion or not, whilst the anarchist community repudiates all coercion save in so far as the individual must be held to have consented to it; for example, by promising to perform acts or conform to rules, or by voluntarily enrolling himself as a member of a community of whose usages and institutions he approves.
From the positive point of view, anarchy means self-government. "Why speak of anarchism?" asks Egidy. "Why not say at once self-discipline?" "Civilisation," says Tucker, "consists in teaching men to govern themselves by letting them do it." The logical kinship of such views to the theory of the early Protestants will be apparent; but the claim is more comprehensive. Although Luther, in The Babylonish Captivity, went so far as to urge the central dogma of anarchy that no man should be ruled save by his own consent, the early reformers generally were only concerned with self-government as a means to spiritual freedom. They were content to substitute the priesthood of the believer for the priesthood of the Church. The anarchist takes a wider view; he seeks to realise freedom in general. While the early Protestant proclaimed the right of the individual to worship God according to the dictates of his own conscience, the modern anarchist proclaims the innate and imprescriptable right of the individual to govern himself in all the affairs of life.
Thus, in the kingdom which the anarchist seeks to establish, law is self-imposed, and all associated effort is the result of voluntary co-operation. I pass to the arguments by which this conception of social life is justified. It would be superfluous to warn the reader against regarding my statement of these arguments as adequate. Apart from the fact that each anarchist has his own intellectual armoury, the exceeding difficulty of doing justice to opinions which challenge a long-established order of things will be readily admitted by anyone who has made a serious effort in this direction. The conviction that political institutions are a part of the eternal order of nature is so deeply rooted in all our ideas about social life that an adequate statement of the case for the anarchist would imply a comprehensive treatise. I shall only attempt to give the merest outline of the subject, stating what appear to me to be the more important arguments as clearly and as forcibly as I can.
I shall begin with a subject about which most people are likely to be in agreement - the failure of human governments to secure social justice. In theory, the State exists to promote the general interest; in historical fact, governments have sought to promote, first and foremost, the interests of a governing class. Even where they have aimed at the common good, their view of the nature of that good has been determined by class institutions and prejudices. Although- under modern democracies there exists a clearer appreciation of the ends which governments ought to serve, the ignorance and self-interest of rulers, the empire of traditional conceptions over the minds of the multitude, the ambitions of some and the general inertia of many, so affect the course of legislation as to suggest the disturbing question whether government is not responsible for more evil than it prevents. How many individuals are there, even in the most democratic communities, who can be trusted not to employ their political power in the interests of themselves or their class? If we are to judge an institution by its fruits, what shall be said of human government when we regard impartially its most distinctive product - our system of property? When Paley, surely one of the least revolutionary of philosophers, began his defence of that system, he wrote in a famous passage: "If you should see a flock of pigeons in a field of corn, and if (instead of each picking where and what it liked, taking just as much as it wanted, and no more) you should see ninety-nine of them gathering all they got into a heap; reserving nothing for themselves but the chaff and the refuse; keeping this heap for one, and that the weakest, perhaps the worst, pigeon of the flock; sitting round, and looking on, all the winter, whilst this one was devouring, throwing about, and wasting it; and if a pigeon, more hardy or hungry than the rest, touched a grain of the hoard, all the others instantly flying upon it, and tearing it to pieces; if you should see this, you would see nothing more than what is every day practiced and established among men."
To some this analogy may seem wholly remote from fact. I do not think the impartial historian would so regard it. "I contend," said Thorold Rogers, "that from 1563 to 1824, a conspiracy, concocted by the law, and carried out by parties interested in its success, was entered into to cheat the English workman of his wages, to tie him to the soil, to deprive him of hope, and to degrade him into irremediable poverty." "We have been able," he adds in a later chapter, "to trace the process by which the condition of English labour had been continuously deteriorated by the acts of the Government. It was first impoverished by the issue of base money. Next it was robbed of its guild capital by the land thieves of Edward's Regency. It was next brought into contact with a new and more needy set of employers, the sheepmasters, who succeeded the monks. It was then with a presence, and perhaps with the intention of kindness, subjected to the quarter sessions amendment, mercilessly used in the first half of the seventeenth century, the agricultural labourer being still further impoverished by being made the residuum of all labour. The agricultural labourer was then further mulcted by the enclosures, and the extinction of those immemorial rights of pasture and fuel which he had enjoyed so long. The poor law professed to find him work, but was so administered that the reduction of his wages to a bare subsistence became an easy process and an economical expedient.
I have quoted the opinions of a philosopher and of an historian, neither of whom can be suspected of a bias towards anarchy. Those opinions may be read with advantage in the light of the facts of our time as narrated in journals which represent the classes who are supposed to be most interested in the maintenance of the existing order. A recent article in the Times has dealt with the social and economic conditions which prevail in the most advanced of modern republics. The United States, with its highly developed industrial organisation, its vast resources, and its colossal fortunes, possesses in fairly prosperous years not less than 4,000,000 paupers! If we divide the entire population into three thousand parts, one of these parts will own more than a fifth of the total wealth of the whole country! In other words, twenty per cent of the nation's wealth is owned by less than one-thirtieth per cent of the population! In New York City, with its brilliant society, its boundless luxury and profligate extravagance, two-thirds of the inhabitants live in tenement houses which have no windows, no ray of sunlight ever enters! One person in every ten of its citizens receives a pauper's burial! In 1903, in the borough of Manhattan alone, 60,000 families were evicted from their homes!
We are all more or less familiar with the existence of such facts as I have quoted - too familiar perhaps to feel the shock of them. Our sensibility is so dulled by their frequent repetition that we are only too inclined to take them for granted and pass on our way. If we are so far affected as to feel uncomfortable, we perhaps seek an anodyne in pious reflection on the mysterious dispensations of Providence, or acclaim the inexorable character of natural laws. But, however disagreeable may be the facts to which I have referred, I must ask the reader to consider them fairly without shifts or evasions. It is only in this way that we can hope to understand the anarchist point of view. "We know", said Reclus, "that we are defending the cause of the poor, the disinherited and the suffering." I need not say that the language of anarchist attack is often extreme; but rhetorical exaggeration is a frailty to which all reformers are liable. The question for consideration is not whether the language of censure is wholly true, but whether it is sufficiently near the truth to explain a deep antipathy to existing civic institutions.
A few extracts will serve to illustrate the view which is taken by anarchists with respect to the institution of private property as it has developed in modern states. "What men aim at in life," says Tolstoi, "is not to do what they think good, but to call as many things as possible 'mine' It is a crime that tens of thousands of hungry, cold, deeply degraded human beings are living in Moscow, while I with a few thousand others have tender loin and sturgeon for dinner and cover horses and floors with blankets and carpets." "The ignorant," wrote Reclus, quoting Mahabarata, "are not the friends of the wise; the man who has no cart is not the friend of him who has a cart. Friendship is the daughter of equality; it is never born of inequality" "Laws," exclaims Proudhon, "are cobwebs for the powerful and rich; chains which no steel can break for the little and the poor; fishers'nets in the hands of the Government". "We enact many laws that manufacture criminals," protests Tucker, "and then a few that punish them." "In the nineteenth century," exclaims Dr Leete in Bellamy's story, "fully nineteen-twentieths of the crime, using the word broadly to include all sorts of misdemeanours, resulted from the inequality in the possessions of individuals: want tempted the poor; lust of greater gains, or the desire to preserve former gains, tempted the well-to-do. Directly or indirectly, the desire for money, which then meant every good thing, was the motive of all this crime, the taproot of a vast poison growth, which the machinery of law courts and police could barely prevent from choking civilisation outright."
The anarchist attacks government on other grounds than the inequities of our existing system of property. He shows how large is the part which has been played in the history of political institutions by force, violence, fraud, and class interest; he dwells upon the corrupting influence of power upon those who possess-it; and he asserts the inevitable tendency of rulers to magnify their office, to enlarge their competence, and to displace the self-government of the individual by the coercion of law.
But nowhere is the anarchist indictment on surer ground than when attacking the militancy of governments. A budget, the memory of a disastrous war, the novels of a Zola or a Tolstoi, enable us to realise something of the evils of warfare - the cost in blood and money, the armaments for which the fear of war is responsible, and the stimulus to national hate which is afforded by wars, the possession of vast armaments, and the pursuit of a "vigorous foreign policy". What most of us fail to realise is the extent to which the ingenuity of governments is directed to the aggravation of such evils. Intoxicated by the sense of power, fascinated by the lure of foreign conquest, they are restrained from war less by a desire for peace than by the fear of defeat. "By far the greater proportion of the debt of Europe," writes Mr Charles Booth, "has been contracted for munitions of war." In the year 1908 of the Christian era, when British politicians were wrangling about a proposal to set apart six million pounds for the purpose of providing pensions for the veterans of industry, the net expenditure for the army and navy was just under the enormous sum of sixty million pounds! According to the anarchist, such things should be regarded an inevitable result, less of the frailties of average human nature, than of political institutions which affect to exist in order to promote peace and goodwill while engaged in a policy of fomenting national distrust and hate.
No one will question that a multitude of wars can only be attributed to the incompetence, the corruption, the ambition, or the greed of governments. One government may wish to avoid war and the burden of great armaments; but it is powerless to give effect to that wish in a world of governments armed to the teeth. Even if there were a real desire among most nations to achieve reform in these directions, the greed of a single government sets the pace to others. "It is the nature of a government," writes Tolstoi, "not to be ruled, but to rule. And as it derives its power from the army, it will never give up the army; nor will it ever renounce that for which the army is designed - war." Rulers, he maintains, are less interested in the condition of the people than in the glory of foreign conquest, and deliberately thwart demands for domestic reform by diverting national enthusiasm into the channel of international conflict. The facts of the present, no less than the history of the past, make this charge difficult to disprove. The reform movement in Germany of today finds itself confronted by a court and a bureaucracy which are neither ignorant of, nor indisposed to profit b' the fact that the most effective check to domestic reform is the pursuit a vigorous foreign policy. I suppose no one will question that the recent war of Russia and Japan, with its terrific slaughter, its devastation of territory, and its frightful exploitation of national resources, was the work of the Russian Government, not of the Russian people. If w think of the- condition of Europe today, if we think of the enormous sums spent annually on armaments while multitudes at home starve c perish, we can understand why the anarchist regards such a condition] of things as a more powerful indictment of government than could b' written by the hand of man.
Moltke defended war as a means of emancipating the human spirit from the bondage of materialism. Less distinguished apologists hay' maintained the same line of defence. Even expounders of the Christian faith have taught us how to reconcile that faith with a gospel of enmity "So!" exclaims Tolstoi, quoting Maupassant, "assembling in herds b: the hundred thousand, marching night and day without rest, with no time for thought or for study, never to read, learning nothing, of no use whatsoever to any living being, rotting with filth, sleeping in the mud, living like a wild beast in a perennial state of stupidity, plundering cities, burning villages, ruining whole nations; then to encounter another mountain of human flesh, rush upon it, cause rivers of blood to flow, and strew the fields with the dead and the dying, all stained with the muddy and reddened soil, to have one's limbs severed, one's brain scattered as wanton waste, and to perish in the corner of a field while one's aged parents, one's wife and children, are dying of hunger at home - this is what it means to be saved from falling into the grossest materialism!
...To invade a country, to kill the man who defends his home because he wears a blouse and does not wear a kept, to burn the dwellings of starving wretches, to ruin or plunder a man's household goods, to drink the wine found in the cellars, to violate the women found in the street, consume millions of francs in powder, and to leave misery and cholera in their track. This is what they mean by saving men from the most shocking materialism!"
Two counts in the anarchist indictment have been considered - the social injustice of which governments are guilty, and the militancy which they seem expressly designed to foster. It would not be difficult to show that these perversions of the ends of government are peculiar to no age or people; and that the social problem as we call it today is no new problem, but existed in Greece and in Rome, and has existed in every developed State of which we have any knowledge. Wherever political institutions are to be found we can trace the debasing influence of power upon those who exercise it; we can see governments false to the purposes they profess to serve; we can see individuals exploiting legal institutions for selfish ends; we can see many suffering in poverty while a few revel in profligate extravagance. If we escape from the commonplace rut of taking traditional institutions for granted, if we reflect seriously upon the injustice and wrong which has everywhere accompanied political institutions like an attendant spectre, we can understand, if we do not share, that distrust of government to which the anarchist of our day gives effective expression. Although the facts which explain that distrust are familiar to everyone who has thought about the subject at all, the anarchist may claim to be more sensible of their existence, if not more anxious to discover a means for effecting their remedy, than the respectable members of society who regard his indictment as exaggerated and his remedy as impossible.
I shall now pass to consider an argument which is more distinctive of anarchist teaching - the argument that government, even if it were enlightened and just, would still be open to the fatal objection that it makes self-government impossible. Self-government implies the rule of each individual by himself; political institutions imply the control of individuals by rulers who, at best, only represent popular majorities. Before stating this argument in greater detail, it may be well to dwell for a moment on the truth - as to which ethical inquirers of very different schools of thought are agreed - that the ideal source of law must be found in man himself. "It is the essence of moral duty," said T.H. Green, "to be imposed by a man on himself. The moral duty to obey a positive law, whether a law of the State of the Church, is imposed not by the author or imposer of the positive law, but by that spirit of man which sets before him the ideal of a perfect life." From this standpoint, perfected manhood implies obedience to laws which, whether divine or human in origin, are set by man to himself. In the case of the child, the necessity for an external control must be admitted; but the object of that control is not to ensure a servile submission to the paternal rule of life but to prepare a child for self- discipline. The wise father, like Hector, wishes for his son:
That men may say, the boy is better far Than was his sire.
Such an ideal is only to be actualised by so training the child that he comes to see what is good for himself, and learns to follow that good because he sees that it is good. If, then, the moral law is only fulfilled when its rule of life is self-imposed, and if parental control should aim at teaching the child to be loyal to the purposes he sees to be just, a practical question arises for consideration: What social system is best adapted to secure self-discipline among men? The answer of the anarchist is simple and emphatic. Self-discipline is to be promoted by allowing the individual to govern himself. "Civilisation," says Tucker, "consists in teaching men to govern themselves by letting them do it." The fact that men cannot live together without exercising a mutual restraint upon one another's actions is not called in question. The existence of such restraint is admitted to be inevitable, and, within limits, useful. But when the social group attempts to induce conformity to type by means of physical force, it is charged with the guilt of destroying that moral autonomy which should be its chief care. "The persuasive influence of public opinion seeks to win men to adopt for themselves the common rule; the employment of physical force saps the foundations of the moral life and substitutes a dead legality for a living morality."
To the anarchist it seems that men in the past have been content to affirm the importance of self- government as a moral ideal while submitting, in fact, to the control of institutions which make the realisation of that ideal impossible. He shows how all existing forms of political society are based upon force, since they imply the coercion of the individual by the Government. Even the most democratic State involves the coercion of the minority by the majority. "Behind the ballot there is the bullet." What is the good, he argues, of talking about self-government as an ideal while denying it as a fact? The compulsion of the individual by an external authority is unnecessary, inexpedient, and morally wrong. (1) It is unnecessary, because experience shows that men are never more ready to obey rules of conduct than when obedience depends upon their individual sense of honour and their social reputation; no debt is more scrupulously regarded than the debt of honour; even today men obey the rules of the State less through fear of the civic penalty than because of the fear of public censure. (2) It is inexpedient, because it violates the fundamental principle which requires that the social system should be subservient to the development of individual character. "Law", says Reclus, "instead of appealing to man's better part, appeals to his worst; it rules by fear." "As long as a man," says Godwin, "is held in the trammels of obedience, and habituated to look to some foreign guidance for the direction of his conduct, his understanding and the vigour of his mind will sleep. Do I desire to raise him to the energy of which he is capable? I must teach him to feel himself, to bow to no authority, to examine the principles he entertains, and render to his mind the reason of his conduct." (3) Finally, the compulsion of the individual by an external authority is morally wrong, because it involves an invasion of the rights of manhood; if one man has no right to tax another man without his consent, then a majority has no right to tax a minority without its consent. No man, no group of men, can impose a rule on another against that other's will. The inviolable sanctity of the individual is, in fact, the very heart and centre of anarchist teaching. Our supreme law, says Proudhon, is justice; and "justice is respect, spontaneously felt and mutually guaranteed, for human dignity In consideration of what do I owe my neighbour this respect? It is not the gifts of nature or the advantages of fortune that make me respect him; it is not his ox, his ass, or his maid-servant, as the decalogue says; it is not even the welfare that he owes to me as I owe mine to him; it is his manhood."
No account of anarchy would be adequate unless it dealt with a question to which I will now refer. What is to be done with a criminal in anarchist society? Though some crimes would disappear with the abolition of our system of property, others are certain to remain unless it be possible, as Edigy naively suggests, " to leave the old Adam outside"! How is the criminal to be dealt with? Many anarchists advocate the stern measures of the Vigilance Committee. But Tolstoi bases his answer, as indeed his whole doctrine of anarchy, upon the express commands of Christ. Those commands, he urges, indicate that forgiveness, not violence, is the weapon by which wrong in the world is to be overcome. No part of anarchist teaching is more deserving of sympathetic examination. For, in the first place, although all men do not agree in regarding Christ as divine, all acknowledge his claims as a prophet and teacher. And, in the second place, no careful student of Tolstoi's writings will deny that this prophet of the latter days has shown a rare capacity for assimilating and expressing the spirit of Christ's teaching. He has that which most men find so difficult to air-Christ's sense of moral values. He does not put a church first, or religious ordinances first. Nor is he enslaved by the traditional conceptions which often lead even good men to place an entirely wrong emphasis upon the relative value of different moral rules. For him, as for the Master, Love is the supreme law. I remember, on one occasion, being privileged to hear a paper on the value of religious ordinances. The paper concluded with this remarkable admission: "I do not wish to underestimate the importance of the duty of charity. If I met beggar in need of help, I should feel it my duty to assist him-provided, of course, he was baptised!" I quote these words, not because I am so foolish to suppose that they are typical of the modern clerical attitude, but because they serve to illustrate in an extreme form a failure in moral perspective which is more common in the literature of the orthodox Christianity than in the writings of Tolstoi. I cannot doubt that this excommunicated sinner understands Christ better, and is more actively concerned to fulfil the law of Christ, than the dignified ecclesiastics who have denied him the rites of the Church.
I have endeavoured to state the case for the anarchist. A critical examination of that case would take me far beyond the limits of a single article; and to most readers it would seem superfluous. But although little is to be gained by dwelling upon the defects of a scheme of social regeneration which is in absolute disaccord with the trend of modern life, I believe we should do well to dwell for a moment upon those truths which underlie anarchist doctrine and give to it a present power and value. At the risk of wearying the reader by reiteration, I shall conclude this article by a brief statement of these truths as they appear to me. Their importance, not their novelty, shall be my excuse. In the first place, although the anarchist may be wrong in his remedy for existing social ills, he is fundamentally right in insisting upon the reality and gravity of those ills. Our wars, our armaments, the character of our foreign policies, the inequities of our system of property, and the abiding tragedy of the proletariat--these are grave and significant facts which constitute the strongest of the anarchist's weapons. They cannot be denied; and they are capable of making a strong appeal to the popular imagination. They need to be met by action rather than by argument. In the second place, although the anarchist may be wrong in thinking that men can afford to dispense with the controlling influence of the State, he is fundamentally right in insisting upon the importance of self-government. Political institutions may be necessary as a means to realising the conditions through which the better self can become conscious and operative among men; but this end can only be attained when the institutions are so framed as to enable and teach men to govern themselves. When the anarchist bids us to resist all forms of tyranny, and to think for ourselves instead of taking our rule of life from the State or public opinion, he is declaring a message of which our generation stands much in need.
Finally, although the-matter concerns us more as private individuals than as citizens, we might borrow with advantage something of the anarchist's faith in man's responsiveness to the call of the good. For it is this faith which underlies that aspect of Christ's teaching which Tolstoi has presented with the genius of an artist and the outlook of a saint. While we recognise to the full the necessity for the stern discipline of civic institutions in the interests of good and bad alike, we can yet as individuals realise far more than we do the spirit of the Christian ethic which bids men return love for hate if they would overcome evil in the world. When, in the great story of Victor Hugo, Jean Valjean steals the silver of the Bishop who had trusted him, the Bishop asks, "Why did you not take the silver candlesticks? These also I have given you." Before this final proof of goodwill the ex-convict is overwhelmed. For long dark years of wavering struggle towards the light, he hears still the voice, sees still the face of the one who had trusted and loved him. The Bishop had given two candlesticks; he had reclaimed a human soul. If his example cannot be recommended for universal and indiscriminate acceptance, it stands nevertheless for ideas which have their value for all ages and peoples--for the patriot not less than for the anarchist.
W. JETHRO BROWN, Professor of Law, at the University of Adelaide,
in the Hibbert Journal, July 1910.