HOME ABOUT ONLINE LIBRARY NEWS ANTI-COPYRIGHT GET INVOLVED INDUSTRIAL RADICAL DONATE/SHOP DISCUSSION GROUP


The State: Its Origin; Its Nature, and Its Abolition (1895)

by Albert Tarn, BSc (c. 1862-?)



[Thanks to Jonathan Martindale for originally transcribing this text.]


SIO.1

“All available authority is mystic in its conditions, and comes ‘by the grace of God.’”



The State

Its Origin

SIO.2 [3] The word state is used with two different meanings. Sometimes it expresses the Government of a country, and sometimes it is applied to the country or nation which is subject to one Government.
SIO.3 In this pamphlet we shall use the term as applied to the institution, that is to say the Executive Government, which is the outward expression of national union, and shall proceed to enquire into the origin and nature of this institution, and also investigate the question of abolishing it.
SIO.4 The institution called the state involves the principles of authority on the one hand and submission on the other. Times were when there was but little civilisation, much less than there is now. Actual brute force reigned paramount, and trade and social intercourse could not, on that account, be carried on in the comparatively peaceful manner in which they are conducted to-day. There was a love of tyranny and power abroad, and those who possessed sufficient power were a continual menace to the more peaceable and honest men and women. Protection of some kind was therefore essential in order that the necessaries of life might be produced and exchanged; and the labouring classes were therefore obliged to seek protection of one strong man to defend them against others; just as among schoolboys to-day, a weaker lad will fag for a stronger on condition of being defended against stronger ones.
SIO.2 So the toilers of the earth became here and there collectively subjected to the strong, and these latter appreciated the arrangement [4], for it gave them their heartís desire, the power over their fellow-men which they eagerly sought. They were, of course, above all law except that of might, and could extort from the people the necessaries and luxuries of life as payment for protection against others of their kind.
SIO.6 The social power thus acquired gave rise to various other developments, to laws, to forms of courtesy, to religions. The idea of God indeed has always been associated with social power, and is still to-day, the middle and upper classes always instinctively feeling that Atheism is closely aligned with sedition. Hence the chief obstacle the advocates of Freethought have to contend against is not the stupidity but the “respectability” of the middle and upper classes. Among these classes to-day a man may indeed have almost any religion he likes, so long as he has some, but to accept no religion is the unpardonable sin.
SIO.7 Hence Government and Marriage are Divine, both resting upon social power acquired in an age of brute force. The strong man was deified, and hence you will never find monarchy unsupported by religion. Thus Mr. Herbert Spencer tells us that “among early aggregations of men, before yet social observances existed, the sole forms of courtesy known were the signs of submission to the strong man. The sole law was his will, and the sole religion was the awe of his supposed supernaturalness”. [Online editor’s note: “Manners and Fashion,” Westminster Review, April 1854. – RTL]
SIO.8 To have to submit to any strong man at all was of course at best an inevitable, and was very frequently anything but a voluntary act. The strong men who had gained the upper hand were naturally anxious to try their strength with one another, and sought to extend their power, and from their ambitious desires have arisen all the bloody struggles which have marked the history of the human race, and distinguished it from that of any other race of beings on the earth. Indeed from earliest times it has been true of most wars that they have not arisen so much from enmity between the peoples as from the ambition of the rulers.
SIO.9 The great question indeed which the people have been seeking to solve ever since Political Society was established has been this: “How can we defend ourselves against our defenders?” This struggle has made the history of this and other nations; nor is the [5] struggle ended yet. The advantages which the institution of government has afforded men for acquiring power and reaping benefits for themselves at the expense of the whole nation have been so great that one class after another has struggled for a share of that power.
SIO.10 Thus the barons who had become subjected to the king took the first opportunity which the accession of a weak monarch afforded to limit his power and obtain a share in it themselves. Then the various sections of the middle-classes successively strove for a share of this power, and by the might of their numbers and their power in the commercial world have obtained for themselves many advantages. Yet all the time while these various sections of the nation have been struggling for power, the poor people, the democracy, have been compelled to submit to the burdens which these others have imposed upon them.
SIO.11 But it seems inevitable that in the course of time even the power of the middle-class will decay, and there are on all sides evident signs of the growing strength of the people, who, after many a struggle to shake off the chains that fetter them will doubtless at length triumphantly emerge to the enjoyment of freedom and happiness and the founding of a new, a more peaceful and permanent social order, one founded not on the power of class but on the eternal foundations of liberty and equity. It will be impossible for such a true “civilisation” to decay, unless the people unmindful of the value of liberty should again establish tyrannical institution, or allow themselves to become one more subjected.

[6]

Its Nature

SIO.12 The state, as we have seen, has had its origin in power acquired in an age when brute force ruled, and always has been an instrument of coercion whereby one portion of the nation has benefitted itself at the expense of the rest. At the present day, however, it presents a curious spectacle. The governing classes have had ever greater difficulty throughout the century in contending with the ever-growing power of democracy, and in order to appease the people have ever and again thrown them sops in the form of extended franchise, thus giving them the “liberty” to vote who shall rule them. The people delighted with this gift have sought to use the franchise for the purpose of forcing all kinds of fads down one another’s throats, so that government is fast tending to answer to Bastiat’s definition, the great fiction whereby everybody seeks to live at everybody else’s expense.
SIO.13 All this coercion is to little or no avail. An apparent advantage gained in one direction is counteracted by disadvantages in other directions, and yet the more State interference the people have obtained the more they invoke, although their economic position is still as bad as ever, or if it is improved at all that improvement can be traced to repeals of Acts of Parliament and diminished state interference more than to any other cause.
SIO.14 Plainly Freedom of Trade in its widest sense is of primary importance to the welfare of the people, and can alone give them any steady and remunerative employment. The inequitable distribution of wealth is plainly due to certain economic causes, which are not touched by Educational Acts, Employers’ Liability Acts, Eight Hours’ Bills, or the like, and all these forms of interference tend [7] to increase the irritation of Society, and in no way to solve the social question.
SIO.15 The principles of liberty as a true basis for social order seem to be in a fair way to being altogether lost sight of. So many artificial crimes have been created of late years that men can hardly understand what is Natural Right and Wrong.
SIO.16 It is plain that although the State may have altered in form, yet in principle it is the same, for there is but one principle of government, just as there is one principle of submission. I am equally compelled to support the central institution at Westminster whether it be Monarchic, Aristocratic, Plutocratic or Democratic. It still claims my submission, and although I am graciously allowed to vote for a ten- thousandth part of one of the law-makers, I have not the liberty to say whether I shall submit to that institution or not. My liberty, in fact, much resembles that of a lamb who is allowed to vote on whether he will be devoured by the wolf or the lion. The liberty to live however, the liberty to be a true man and do whatever I choose, so long as I do not trespass on the equal liberty of others, that has nothing to do with the liberty to vote.
SIO.17 I think I may therefore say that Government implies the over-riding of individual judgement. When a collector for any voluntary association or an agent for any private firm calls, I may talk to him as one free man to another and say whether I intend to support that institution or patronise the firm, but can I feel the same freedom when the rate collector calls, however many votes I may have been given? May I say to him with manly freedom and civility, “Thank you very much for calling, but I do not use your institutions and do not require them, so that I do not intend to support them anymore.” If I may not speak thus, why not? Because of the fear of tyranny.
SIO.182 The institution of government is also generally supposed to be necessary to maintain order; and its antithesis, Anarchy, is generally associated with disorder and violence. In one sense this is true. Government is necessarily to maintain a certain stereotyped “order” of things, in which one class is excessively rich and another [8] excessively poor. Such an order of things could not exist without government, and the sudden breaking down political institutions consequently leads to a reaction, the poorer classes making straight away for the property of the rich and using as much force to equalise wealth as the state has previously used to create the inequalities.
SIO.19 But as far as true social order, based on peace and equity is concerned, Government is always opposed to it, and indeed it cannot be realised so long as government lasts, for no Government can be maintained except by privilege. It must have the privilege to steal, it must have the privilege to forcibly enter our homes, it must have the privilege to forcibly open our letters and our luggage, in short the state official is privileged to commit acts which in a private individual would be considered most reprehensible if not criminal. The question therefore must naturally arise: “Are peace and civility the best foundations of social order, or violence, incivility and privilege?” If the former then government is opposed to true social order.
SIO.20 And it matters not whether the State be monarchic, aristocratic or democratic, it is equally impossible for a consistent man to defend to privileges of Government. The only reason why the people maintain the institution of Government is because they have not yet got rid of the superstitious belief in Divine Right connected therewith. Acts that they dared not do themselves they think they are justified in getting State Officials to do for them. For instance there are few men who would come to me and ask me to help pay for the education of their children. Yet I know numbers who would do it through the agency of the rate collector. Few teetotallers dare come to me and prevent me from drinking a glass of ale, yet the sneaking humbugs will prevent me through the agency of the State.
SIO.21 The dispositions on the part of faddists to seek to force their fads down other people’s throats through the agency of the State, is one of the worst signs of the times, and if not sturdily resisted will tend to destroy all ideas of Natural Right and Wrong and all faith in the principles of Liberty, for whenever coercion has been established in any matter, the abolition of such restraint always tends in the first instance to give an impulse to license, and [9] consequently disorder. Hence the fear which is always felt when any new step in the direction of liberty is proposed. Such temporary disorder, however, so far from being laid to the door of liberty, is attributable solely to the coercion which had previously existed.
SIO.22 Thus when the law against Trade Unions was first repealed, the working-classes so long subjected to coercion did not at first understand how to use their liberty and rights, and deeds of violence were committed. Nevertheless we now reap the advantages of the additional liberty gained and no one I suppose would advocate the re-enacting of that law. Again were our licensing system abolished and intoxicants sold freely, it is highly probable that drunkenness might temporarily increase, owing to menís power of self-control being destroyed by coercion. But in the end it would doubtless lead to far more general temperance, and indeed it is probably the only way the drunkenness of our towns can be permanently diminished.
SIO.23 Again were the State Protection of Property removed it is possible that thieving might slightly increase owing to the appalling inequalities such protection has brought about; but in the end it would doubtless lead to the most perfect order, equity and honesty that can be attained in human society.
SIO.24 It is unfortunate that the masses have so little leisure, that they know little or nothing of the political history of their country during the past century. Having obtained the “liberty to vote” they naturally think to use it to get the State to cure all the evils to which human flesh is heir. Have they long hours? Call on the State to shorten them. Have they low wages? Call on the state to raise them. Are they uneducated? Call on the state to educate them. And all the while they are ignorant of the final outcome of all this state intervention. They do not know that they are thereby perpetuating the very institution which enslaves them, that by subjecting themselves to the State they are shutting the door of Liberty in their own faces, and they do not know how many Acts of Parliament have been utter failures, defeating their own ends, and what imperfect instruments even the best Acts are, ever calling for more legislation to make up their defects. And still, after all the Acts of Parliament that have been passed [10] during the last 30 years, the economic aspect is no better, the workmen are no surer of their employment, they obtain no better share of the wealth they create, and yet the demand for Acts of Parliament is no less, the cry is “Still they come!”
SIO.25 The fact stands that our bad and unnatural economic arrangements can only be cured by a complete investigation of the questions of Property, Banking and Currency. In the solution of these questions lies the hope of the worker’s emancipation, and it is no wise helped on by meddling and imperfect Acts of Parliament.
SIO.26 Those who defend the institution of the State commonly do so on the ground that it performs certain functions which are “for the common welfare.” This phrase readily goes down with the unthinking many, but it will not bear an investigation. Suppose Jones tells me that the Royal Family are maintained “for the common welfare,” I am inclined to ask that gentleman what he means or how he can know. Has he carefully inquired of all those who support the State whether they consider the maintenance of Royalty to be to their particular welfare? I do not think it is for my welfare, for instance, and other people may think the same, and so when Jones tells me that it is “for the common welfare” I am inclined to think that his interests must somehow be bound up with the maintenance of Royalty and that he wants to force the institution upon everybody else. Plainly before doing so, he should as a truthful and consistent man make careful inquiries of each individual so as to whether they think it is for their welfare. When an institution is stated to be “for the common welfare” it is evident that someone must judge whether it is or no, and who better than the individual called upon to support it? Besides that, even if an institution is for the common welfare, that is no reason why it should be monopolised by the State. For instance tailors’, bakers’, and grocers’ shops are doubtless for the welfare of the inhabitants of a town, but that is no reason why the state should take over these businesses.
SIO.27 The state therefore being an instrument of coercion, based upon principles which are plainly subversive of social order, let us as brave men, without hesitation and fear, proceed to enquire whether we can abolish it, and obtain that liberty which alone can establish and peaceful and permanent order of things.

SIO.28 [11]

Its Abolition

The question of abolishing the State is very different from the mere passing of an Act of Parliament, or an alteration in the arrangements of a political institution. Its abolition can only be effected in the first instance, by altering the ideas of intelligent men and women through the medium for education and argument. The state is the outward expression of certain coercive principles which prevail in society to-day. It is thought desirable that the majority should force as many as possible to abstain from work one day in the week, without taking into consideration whether the natural constitution or social position of the individual demands rest or work on that day. It is thought desirable that the majority should forbid individuals to abstain from selling intoxicating liquors or tobacco, except under certain conditions. It is thought desirable that an idle and dissipated class should be maintained in the possession of land which they do not use themselves. It is thought desirable that the majority should force every father to have his children vaccinated. It is thought desirable that the majority should scorn and shun any couple that refuse to be bound by any bond but the holy tie of love.
SIO.29 And all these forms of social coercion, whether expressed in written or unwritten Law, the State Abolishers or Anarchists have to combat. They have to show by clear argument and by the teachings of experience, that this meddling with the affairs of the individual who is not trespassing on the liberty of others, is antagonistic to true social order and harmony. It is necessary that Anarchists should be able to clearly point out that it is much more desirable that every individual should be allowed the most perfect liberty to obey his own [11] conscience and inclination, so long as he does not trespass on the equal liberty of others, or in any way render himself obviously offensive to them.
SIO.30 To-day indeed we have not to fight against a single tyrant but against a majority of tyrants – against military tyrants, against religious tyrants, against teetotal tyrants, against fanatic tyrants of every kind.
SIO.31
The best way, therefore, in which we can go to work is this.

1. – To shew that liberty is a far sounder basis of social order than coercion

2. – To claim the liberty to perform for ourselves those functions which the State now monopolises

3. – To resist State interference and coercion (especially in the matter of taxation) whenever it is in our power.
SIO.32 The abolition of the State will involve in the first place the abolition of the Monopoly of Physical Force, in the form of standing Army and Navy, Police, and all the various officials whereby the law is enforced. This monopoly abolished the State will be powerless, and it will soon dwindle away into insignificance, and however complicated our systems of law and property may appear to be it must be remembered that they rest solely on the insecure foundation of brute force, and have little that is permanent in their nature.
SIO33 Yes, our system if Property will go, and all those who grow fat on it, landlords, lawyers, parsons and property agents, and others will have to join the ranks of the unemployed, unless they can find some more useful occupation. Endowments, which mean forced contributions, will also fall through, and the Church dignitaries will be reduced to the condition in which their Lord and Master is said to have lived. Not that it is likely or desirable that this change may be suddenly effected. It seems plain, however, that as property can only be maintained by coercion, it is an institution which, however long it many have lasted, is sooner or later doomed to extinction. As long as it lasts, the workers will remain wage-slaves.
SIO.34 It is a curious things that there are numerous people calling themselves Individualists, who are nevertheless in favour of maintaining the State and Property. It is as well to point out that such people [13] are inconsistent. Fancy an individualist in favour of the forcible suppression of individual judgement and liberty!
SIO.35 Again in Huddersfield, my native town, one man, Sir John Ramsden, owns nearly all the land on which the town is built, and by his legal right, can keep people from building on any portions which are lying vacant, although he does not require them himself. Further without any necessary exertion on his part, he has grown immensely rich out of the labour of the inhabitants of the town. So much for Property, which, being Artificial Monopoly, is Natural Theft.
SIO.36 Were the institution of Property abolished, Sir John, like all other landlords, would have to rely (as it is only desirable he should) upon the goodwill of those who maintain him, for his maintenance. He would probably have to take to earning his own living.
SIO.37 The Abolition of Property, i.e., of the State Protection of Possessions is no more likely to lead to disorder than any other step in the direction of liberty.
SIO.38 The abolition of the State would also involve the abolition of another institution which has so long cursed mankind, i.e., the forcible marriage-tie. When such a suggestion is made people generally jump to the conclusion that Anarchists favour wholesale promiscuity; but the extinction of force in the marriage-relationship is no more likely to lead to promiscuity than the extinction of force in the matter of property is likely to lead to communism. On the contrary, just as the abolition of private property is likely to lead to a more widely-diffused private ownership, so the abolition of the forcible marriage-tie is only likely to encourage monogamy so far as it is the arrangement best calculated to bring happiness to man and woman.
SIO.39 Marriage is the grave of Love, for the simple reason that the element of force is introduced. How can Love and Coercion thrive together? Either the woman, knowing the man is now bound to maintain her throughout her life, takes advantage of her position to tyrannise over her husband, or the husband takes advantage of the dependent position of his wife to bully and abuse her.
SIO.40 Indeed, the forcible marriage-tie so far from encouraging monogamy, defeats its own ends and engenders wide-spread prostitution. Only in freedom can Love thrive. If the birds can live happily in their conjugal relationship without the sanction of the priest or State official, why may not human beings? Let the preachers of morality go and read their sermons to the swallows and the tom-tits, and try and convert them from their “sinful” mode of life.
SIO.41 Besides the protection of property and person, the State also undertakes to enforce contracts. This function could certainly be performed far more effectively and far more economically than by the cumbrous machinery of our courts of law. Indeed a more ridiculous and ineffective method than our legal system affords could hardly be devised. I think my readers will generally admit that so far from protecting honest men against knaves, it tends rather to place additional power in knaves’ hands, to say nothing of the number of lawyers and their dependents that grow fat on this system.
SIO.42 The best way to ensure honesty in dealing would be by the natural method of boycotting, not that I would thereby advocate any tyrannical measures or compulsion, but that any man of business who acts dishonourably should have his name published through the agency of a voluntary association or otherwise, so as to warn others against dealing with him. Honesty will be best assured by making it to a manís interest to be honest; and who is prepared to say that our legal system answers this purpose? Drawn up as our laws are by lawyers in lawyer’s language, how can they be expected to apply to every case of grievance that may arise? Plainly the best way to defend our own interests is to join together and make our own rules and establish our own courts of judgement, and thus save lawyers’ fees and the maintenance of courts of law, and also obtain equity in every case that may arise.
SIO.43 [15] The state also undertakes to stamp certain pieces of gold, silver, and bronze, to be used as a medium of exchange. Money as it is called, is supposed to be made for the purpose of enabling people to obtain bread and butter, clothes, furniture, and other necessaries, but as Sir Thos. More opines, is probably the very thing that prevents people from attaining these things. Money, as a fact, is manufactured rather to serve the interests of a class, and if we really do want to obtain the necessaries of life that are exposed in our markets, it would be quite easy by voluntary associations and Mutual Banks to produce the necessary supply of tickets or claims upon the goods, which would enable the holders to obtain them. This arrangement would answer the purpose much more better than pieces of gold, silver, or bronze, and also be much more economical.
SIO.44 The Post Office Monopoly also could be broken down with advantage. The reason why the State has made a monopoly of letter-carrying in this and other civilised countries, is simply in order to be able to find out whether anyone is conspiring against its authority. The act first establishing the Monopoly in Cromwellís times states that it is “lfor the benefit of commerce, for the carrying of Government dispatches, and for the discovery of wicked designs and conspiracies against the Commonwealth.” This practically means that the Government wanted to be able to find out when the people were conspiring against it, but did not want the people to find out when it was conspiring against them. The Government made a considerable revenue in times past, and has had to forcibly surpass any attempts to compete with it. As early as 1683 a penny post was established in London, by one Robert Murray, but was seized by the Government and converted into two-penny post.
SIO.45 There are plenty of people who imagine that the Government is rendering the people a great service in monopolising the Post Officer, and even some so simple to imagine that were it not for this institution, letter-carrying would be in a most backward condition. It never occurs to them to reflect that with very little Government interference, our railways are in a most forward condition, and that there is steady improvement in their management. Besides that, how can one tell whether the Post Office is managed as well as it might be, if we are forbidden to test for ourselves? We cannot [16] apply the natural test, free competition, because we are not allowed to.
SIO.46 As to the objection that there would be a greater liability for our letters to be opened if public companies conveyed them, the objection is hardly worth considering, seeing that the Government maintains the monopoly for the purpose of opening letters when it desires to, declines to be responsible for their safe delivery unless an extra fee is charged, and cases in which officials have been convicted of opening letters for long periods with impunity are of daily occurrence.
SIO.47 There is one standing objection to the monopoly of any fraction by Government, namely the absence of that steady improvement competition forces upon private concerns. When any improvement is introduced, it is an experiment affecting the interests of the whole nation at once and therefore has to be made with the greatest care. Government has had a great difficulty in accommodating itself to natural supply and demand, and private enterprise is generally free from this objection.
SIO.48 The difficulty of obtaining any improvement in a Governmental department is specially seen in the case of the Currency. So intimately are the interests of trade bound up with the supply of money that the Government dare not try any experiment in the matter lest it should bring disaster on the whole nation simultaneously. Consequently it is futile to demand that the Government should take up this or that proposed reform. Any new idea on the subject should be tried experimentally by private enterprise or voluntary association.
SIO.49 Another important question which is involved in the abolition of the State is that of Crime and its Punishment. “How”, it may be asked, “will you punish crime in the absence of the State?” To this we may reply, that the abolition of the State can only be accomplished by a complete change in the ideas of intelligent men and women, for the State itself is merely the outward expression of those ideas, the machinery whereby they are carried into effect. Those who succeed in repudiating the State, will do so as a consequence of the new faith that possess their minds. Amongst other reasons, they will abolish the State, because they believe that the Governmental method of dealing with crime is a foolish one, because they believe that crime has its causes and that [17] prevention is better than cure. It therefore behoves the Anarchists to shew how clumsy and brutal are our present methods of treating criminals, to shew, further, that the State (i.e. the coercive principle) is the chief cause of crime, and that the greatest criminals are thereby protected and maintained.
SIO.50 The husband and the wife, tied to one another for life by social custom and legal bond, whether they love one another or not, fall to bickering and quarrelling. The husband tyrannises over the wife, or the wife over the husband, and intense animosity and mutual hatred are stirred up. Their physical constitutions may not suit and one or other must find gratification elsewhere. Intrigues arise, and secret poisons are resorted to as a means of effecting the wished for separation. Anything to be free from the bond which coercive social custom forces upon them.
SIO.51 The cause of crime in this case is the coercive principle, the moral code, the religious dogma, whereby everybody seeks to tyrannise over everybody else and will not observe the simple rule to “live and let live.” For it is to be observed, that it is not the impossibility of introducing a freer marriage system, that stands in the way, but the fear of breaking social custom, of being, in short, damned in this world as well as in the next. You are not living as we live, ergo, you are living in “sin”.
SIO.52 The unmarried woman bears a child, doubtless an unfortunate circumstance, if her lover has deserted her. But why not make things as comfortable as possible for her under the circumstances? But “Society” says she has “sinned,” and henceforth will shun her as an outcast. Therefore she conceals the birth, or even kills the child, in which case society, with fiendish delight, seizes her and incarcerates her for life, supplying her with chaplain and priest to teach her penitence.
SIO.53 When a man has acted dishonourably, it is desirable that he should suffer the natural punishment. If A makes a free contract with B and does not adhere to it, it is desirable that B should have some means at hand to publish the fact, and leave it to other individuals to be weary on their dealings with A in the future. Strict adhesion to freely-made contracts is doubtless essential to the peace and order or society, and it is desirable to know whom [18] we can trust and whom we cannot. The man who betrays a woman’s confidence is an example of such an untrustworthy man, although at present “respectable” society, which is devoid of any standard of human character, receives him into its bosom, and he is thereby enabled to repeat his offence with impunity.
SIO.54 Again the state, by military and police coercion, maintains such monstrous inequalities of Wealth, and such monopolies of possessions, that many have no choice between slavery, starvation and thieving. Naturally they choose the latter as the most lucrative and enterprising occupation, and the State, which is itself the biggest of thieves, and which protects thieving on the largest scale, seizes the pickpocket and locks him up, to be maintained at the public expense for a while, and then turned adrift again upon society with no better chance of earning a livelihood than before.
SIO.55 As long as Property lasts, and such appalling contrasts of luxury and wretchedness are maintained by the state, it is impossible to eliminate crime. The herding together of the masses in dens, in courts and in alleys, on the one hand is an inevitable outcome of the institution, and cannot produce any results other than drunkenness, vice, and debauchery; while the maintenance of others in idleness and luxury is equally productive of demoralisation. But the state which protects these latter in their possessions, also protects them in their debauchery. The workman who commits a bestial act, is sentenced to penal servitude and held up as an example of bestiality; but the Prince, the Duke, the Earl, may commit up the same or worse acts, and it is hushed up, or the investigation is carried on in strict privacy. How long will the people submit to this system of law?
SIO.56 But even leaving put out of sight the question of Property as a cause of crime, what advantage can accrue to the mass of the people by having the police and the military under Government control? If officialism is undesirable in the Post Office, in Gas works, in other enterprises; can any one shew it to be advantageous in the matter of police? Are not the evils of officialism and State-control exactly as apparent in one case as in the other? Is the policeman generally at hand when wanted? Do they succeed in catching Jack the Ripper? Do they generally do their work in the most efficacious way imaginable? Ah! But a police force is “for the common welfare.” Perhaps [19] so, just as much as railways, boot-factories, farms, and all those businesses which supply us with the necessities of life.
SIO.57 The fact is there can only be one excuse for the monopoly of Army, Navy and Police-force by Governments. It is not because of the advantages of Officialism, but in order to serve the interests of the privileged few.
SIO.58 The management of Municipal affairs could be best carried on on a voluntary co-operative basis, i.e. on the sensible and honest principle of compelling no one to support institutions he does not want to use, and of generally observing ordinary civility towards oneís fellow citizens, instead of rudely over-riding their judgement, through the agency of the rate-collector or the official. It would probably be best for the inhabitants of each street to have a meeting-hall where they could meet to discuss questions of lighting, paving and draining the street. Such association and co-operation would tend to bring neighbours together, and consequently to promote peace and general goodwill. It is indeed reliance on the State that keeps them apart, and stands in the way of establishing that community of interests which alone can heal the divisions of the nations.


Birmingham: Charles Stocker, 1895









Want to see more classic libertarian and anarchist texts?
Support our online library with a tax-deductible donation.




Back to online library