Monday, May 15, 2006

Bolton Hall, "The Deliverance from Bondage"

It's been almost a year since I put together the bibliography of Bolton Hall's book-length works, and now I'm finally getting the first of them online. Hall was a libertarian single-taxer and Tolstoyan, founder of Free Acres, and a prime mover in the "enclave" movement within Georgeism. (Just in case you missed it the first time, don't miss: Bolton Hall, single tax anarchist - the song!) I'll be posting a couple of teasers from Things as They Are (1st ed., 1899), the volume I'm currently editing for the Labyrinth. Like a number of Hall's works, the volume is split between essays and parables or "fables." "The Deliverance from Bondage" is a nice specimen of the first. I'll post three fables, featuring Snap, the philosopher dog, a bit later.

VI. THE DELIVERANCE FROM BONDAGE.
Suffering a part of our school course.—Not to be relieved by force.—The divine end and means and method.—Development hindered by outside interference.—Compelling children to be "good."—Experience of ill teaches self-restraint.—The charity palliative of suffering, ineffectual and injurious.—Leave charity to the uninitiated.—Its selfishness and stupidity.—The temperance palliative.—The advance in humanity.—Abandonment of restrictions.—The process.—The growing desire for justice; that is, for love.—Trust to the natural growth.

"No man is wise enough or good enough to govern another;" yet, the wronger and more narrow-minded men are, the more determined they are to force others to walk in their ways.

As we become more enlightened, we cease to despise or hate those who do not like, nor even see, what we admire. "A liberal education" is one which makes us liberal; that is, free as to our minds.

Perhaps, when we become as wise as gods, we shall cease to make laws at all, and leave, as God does, every one to the natural and inevitable consequences of his own deeds.

Suffering teaches the sufferer the effects of actions: our efforts to relieve it teach us the causes of the suffering.

To one who understands that suffering is not an accident, but a consequence, the Call is to show the sufferers its origin and to teach them to avoid that, whether caused by themselves or by others. They must suffer and suffer, in spite of, and even because of, all we can do, until they and we learn the causes of suffering. When they and we learn its causes, and set ourselves to removing them, the suffering becomes tolerable to them and to us.

We may think, perhaps, that persons have no right to bring into the world children for whom they cannot provide. To refrain from so doing, may cause greater evils; but, if we think that is a cause of misery, let us tell the people so. We shall get good thereby. If that really be a cause, and you and I merely relieve the unfortunate children, unless we make the people understand, there will be still more destitute children in the next generation. But, having shown the cause of pain, the proper method is, not to alleviate the pain, but to let the wrong-doers feel it, till they are desirous of removing its cause. Then help them. If, after they have recognised the cause, they still wish to retain it, let them retain it. By no means try to alleviate the pain by making laws restraining them by force from the full gratification of their desires

It has not been fouid by experience that force has prevented wrong. In England, when they hung for sheep-stealing, sheepstealing kept increasing. The reverse was the case when they ceased. In many cases force increases the evil.

Says Mr. William Alexander Smith: "The 'evil' I see in prize fighting is that prize fighters, like prostitutes and saloon keepers, are the perpetual victims of uniformed blackmailers. As in trade and commerce, there should be absolutely free competition in prize fighting, and that class of sport would become a 'drug on the market.' We would have Corbett and Fitzsimnmons contesting for the championship for the pennies we would toss to them, as we do to the hurdygurdy artists."

Comstock, Gerry & Company should be urged to carry out what they believe in every detail. They will soon find that they cannot correct things by force. Indirectly, undoubtedly, they do great good by showing their inability to do the good they had in mind, which is a false good, a sham, or to do any good directly. If they succeeded, it would only be in making hypocrites and weaklings. They say, in effect, "Poor God, with no one to help him rule the world." They have not yet learned, with Æschylus, that "the gods, for what they care for, care enough."

If it is true that men learn by suffering for errors, as much as by rejoicing in success, then laws intended to discourage improvident or illegitimate births, or otherwise to compel goodness, are little better than devices to prevent experience,—plans to keep a certain number of spirits from getting the education which they need. Were we to let people alone, whether drunk or sober, until they interfere with the liberty of another, and to leave drunkenness and the sale of liquor entirely unrestricted, the intemperate would soon drink themselves to death, and thereby cease to propagate their like. This seems harsh. But would it involve more misery than is implied in endless generations of the weak and imbecile half-restrained victims of excess that are kept by force from learning that error is destruction? "But, if we removed the restrictions which make liquor so dear, your poor boy would kill himself with drink"? Why should he not kill himself? My sorrowful sister, is it not better so than that, perhaps, crowds of your descendants through him, should fill the brothels and the jails?

When we see a person spending his money foolishly, getting drunk, or conducting himself in other ways that we think wrong, we are inclined to stop him. We say, "If I were you, or if I were in your place, I would not do so." But, if we had the same knowledge and desires as he, we would do the same. He is spending his money in the way which pleases him. If he were not allowed to do so, he would feel unsatisfied, and would think that .satisfaction would come only when he would be allowed to gratify his appetites. If he so believes, he can never find out that it is not true, until he tries it.

In the same way we ourselves have done something which has resulted badly. We did what we at that time thought would be for our welfare. We did what we wished to do. If we regret it, we are wasting our sentiment; for we knew no better then. Now we know better, and would not repeat that course.

"Why did I do that? I ought to have done otherwise." You are simply putting yourself, with your present experience, in the place of the person who has not yet gotten it. You are like a child who should blame himself because he could not recite his lesson before he had read it in the school-book. Although you made your free choice, as your mind inclined, you did not then know enough to refrain: you know now.

If you call yourself a fool, it shows only that you are still nuch of a fool. We should not, then, subject others to restraint from without, for their own benefit or for the benefit of others whom we think we shall thereby relieve; for that is simply to interrupt the lesson.

It is equally injurious to relieve a man of the consequences of his folly, unless they have already made him wise. Ross Winans said, "I have picked up a great many lame ducks in the course of my life, but all of them were lamer when I put them down, than when I took them up." If a man came to me with the gout, do you think I would heal him? Not at all. I would show him that he ate too much and worked too little, and that, as long as he lives that way, he "has a right" to have the gout. This is not a recipe, but a principle, and applies to all the relations of men and women and children, though, because children are helpless, we hardly yet admit that they have any rights. But they have.

When you see a furious man beating his horse, you do not inquire whether the horse was naughty or not. You say, "That is brutal, " and threaten to report him for cruelty to animals. Your children, however, are beaten at home by angry parents; and it is not reported. Nobody calls it "assault and battery." No. You and I tell the children, "whose angels do always behold the face of their Father which is in heaven," that they are wicked, and that God will punish them. Then, lest God should make some mistake, we punish them ourselves.

Consider what an arrogation of divine wisdom and denial of divine justice it is to punish any one. Not even nature attempts to graduate the suffering to fit the crime. A11 that she decrees is that the appropriate consequence shall follow every violation of law. And this penalty, and the violation, too, is part of the necessary education of the sufferer and of others. Besides, it is a part of law, and happens in accordance with law,—law of which we see or understand little or nothing, but which exists nevertheless.

This is as one should expect. If there is an order in nature, then we may be sure that whatever we do contrary to that order will work wrong and cause suffering, both for ourselves and others. To deny this, to say that the evil tree will bring forth good fruit, is an infidelity no less in the eyes of the scientist than in those of the devout. "I knew," says Ruskin, "that the fool had said in his heart, 'there is no God;' but to hear him declare openly with his lips, 'There is a foolish god,' was something for which my art studies had not prepared me."

The "divine right" of parents to rule is as ridiculous as the "divine right" of kings, and much more injurious. The Declaration of our Independence says that "governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed." Have your children consented that you should be their policeman, judge, and jailer every time you get into a bad temper? Truly, "ignorance, neglect, and contempt of human rights" are responsible for as much of the miseries of childhood as of society.

"But it is necessary to punish children," you say. Necessary, but not right That is equivalent to saying either that there is no God or that his law will not work. You are not God yourself, and to punish is to assume more than divine wisdom; for there are no punishments in the divine order of nature, only inevitable consequences. Remember that scarcely omniscience could measure out punishment suited exactly to the offence. Harmony, consequence, law, —that is the message of the Infinite; and when you secrete the candy-box, lest the child should over-indulge, you deprive him of his birthright of opportunity for selfrestraint. I daily see a child who will play with candy all day long and never touch a bit, except under her mother's advice. She says, "It would not be good for me. " She has learned that faith that is justified by its works.

The nature of things is a school in which one learns to rule his own spirit, to control himself. Then are we to counteract the discipline of the school?

Of course, it takes more time and trouble to teach children than it does to whack them; but have you anything better worth the time and trouble—except to go to afternoon teas? If you must beat your little ones, beat them with a club. That will not destroy their self-respect

Love, patience, experience,—these, and not slippers, are the divine means of teaching; for bruising can teach a child nothing but that you are a bruiser, which he would learn soon enough without your pains. But your bruising does lead a child to think that, if you are not there to punish wrong-doing, it will go unpunished, and that whatsoever the child soweth, that shall he not also reap, but something else,—the only real infidelity.

But, my lazy, dear friend, the world is so made that it really pays to work towards righteousness. "Godliness is profitable for all things," such is the goodness and the severity of eternal law; and you will be surprised to find how even the young barbarian, whon, you have brought forth and developed, will respond to kindness. He is not really worse than the boys at the Elmira Reformatory or than Dr. Arnold's Rugby boys. If the appeal to reason and righteousness succeeds with them, it might with your little child; and, if you must treat him as a mere animal, it is because you have brought him up as a mere brute, and not as a reasonable soul. Experience is a severe teacher, but there is no other for him or for us. The most we can do is to repeat, explain, and illustrate her lessons. To constantly stand in her way is the only "sparing of the rod" that can really spoil the child.

A baby sat next its father at breakfast as soon as it was able to sit up, and was consumed with a desire to reach the silver kettle of hot water. The father carefully explained by signs that it would burn.

Nevertheless, baby sensibly concluded to try for itself. All right.—It did burn. Papa was wiser than baby thought, and could safely be trusted again. Also baby could be trusted near the kettle. If the child had trusted without trying, it would have been a little fool; and, if the father had forced it to, he would have been a big one.

If the child has eaten enough, make him understand that; and, if he will then eat more, let him have indigestion, and let him understand the cause and the consequent discomfort. "But most of the discomfort and care will fall upon me," you say. True; thank goodness for that. We can somewhat bear one another's burdens. Besides, thereby you may get some of the education yourself.

Your little boy sees you take out a knife, curious, shining, and cut a stick in two. He feels the faculty in himself also to work such miracles as that, if he only had the knife. But you tell him not to touch it.

Being wiser than you, he does touch it. If no evil happens, you are convicted of error. If he cuts his fingers, does not that hurt? Then why do you box his ears? It only makes him think you are stupid or revengeful (he is only a child). Better far to let him try, explain to him its dangers, protect him in the trial, and, as soon as he has learned them, let him have a knife.

Thereby you have fulfilled the highest mission of man. What is the good of you and of me except to show the right and warn against the wrong? To the extent that we do those things, we are the prophets of the Lord. "There is one God, and every man is his prophet," joyously, if willingly: otherwise, with pain.

A girl whose education has been by experience will not, like nearly all young girls, run out in the wet with thin shoes, merely because mamma is not there to say no; nor will she clandestinely marry a good-looking "count."

Let your children and your fellows know the truth, and they will trust to it and you. Appeal always to the divinity in men, and not to the beast. If something necessarily disagreeable must be done (there are few such things), explain the reasons, if you see any. I,et the pupil know just how much in it may have to undergo, and accustom it to "do what is wise." If it sometimes refuses to do it, the mischief is less than to run the risk of "breaking its will." It were as well to break a child's back as break its will Where deadly peril threatens, do for your child what you ought to do for your neighbour. You have no right to do more or less. If you see a man ignorantly run in front of the cars, you pull him back. If he but goes out in the rain, you only warn him. So you may do with your child.

You may advise with your superior intelligence: you must not substitute your mind for another's. You may guide by your greater knowledge, but you cannot improve nature with a club. Above all things, do not condemn: "Judge not, that ye be not judged, " for your judgment will probably be wrong.

So that force, even with children, does little good and much harm, as might be expected. "By no process can coercion be made equitable. The freest form of government is only the least objectionable form. The rule of the many by the few, we call tyranny. The rule of the few by the many is tyranny also, only of the less intense kind." (Herbert Spencer, in Social Statics.)

Still less can be hoped from the "power of money," even if wisely spent,—for instance, in charity.

Charity attracts to the cities a large number who, if left in the country, would support themselves somehow. They come to the city, assured that, if they find nothing to do, there are at least plenty of places where they can get shelter. After the panic of 1873 the citizens' relief committee appointed ex-Mayor Hewitt, Reverend Dr. John Hall, and other gentlemen trusted by the public, to see what should be done to relieve the distress of the city. After a full investigation, they decided that the best thing to do was to leave the matter alone, because special efforts would create as much distress as they relieved by attracting into the city those who might make out a living in the country.

We have made no progress in the relief of poverty for eighteen hundred years: we have not fewer paupers, we have not less distress.

Robert Treat Paine says:—

"In spite of all we do, the great fact stares us in the face, that pauperism is steadily gaining ground. More paupers each year, more money wanted, larger almshouses building or to be built."

Nor do most of our efforts even tend to lessen distress or pauperism. Model tenement houses increase the crowding about them, because, holding fewer tenants than the buildings they supplant, they take up as much room; and, in addition, their superior character increases the land value and raises rents, by attracting more inhabitants to the district. Free or subsidised cheap feeding interferes with small restaurants and caterers, and does not in the long run furnish as economical or as good a food supply. But, worse than all this, where there are two men competing for one job, the man who will work the cheapest will get the job, and the man who can live the cheapest will work the cheapest, so that the more you supply charitable "aid of wages," whether by housing, feeding, clothing, or even amusing the workman, the more you reduce his wages. That this factor is indirect makes it none the less powerful. We do the same thing directly and consciously in our charitable institutions by making garments at prices with which the independent worker cannot possibly compete and live in decency, the loss coming out of the pockets of "all such as are religiously and devoutly disposed." It is sad, but undeniable, that our charities are nearly all destroyers of unselfishness by the paid or perfunctory performance of what ought to be done directly from love, and are besides actual factories of paupers.

"Whatever exception you may have encountered, you know that the rule is that those who receive relief are, or soon become, iclle, intemperate, untruthful, vicious, or at least quite shiftless and improvident. You know that the more relief they have, as a rule, the more they need. You know that it is destructive to energy and industry, and that the taint passes from generation to generation, and that a pauper family is more hopeless to reform than a criminal family." (Mrs. Josephine Shaw Lowell, in Outdoor Relief.)

We are told to help the poor to help themselves. The help they really need is help to get rid of us and of our charities, which are devices for keeping us astride of their necks.

Many will not assent to this. Many who do assent will not see clearly, nor act logically if they do see. They also are compassionate. Let them support the charities.

"Let the dead bury their dead." Let those who are dead to the real knowledge of social needs hack at the branches of evil, for they know no better. Nay, by stinted means, compel them to apply themselves to find the most efficacious methods of relief and to seek the roots of misery and destitution. If you yourself do not know what is the matter, or are too lazy to think, why, then, give to the charities. On a business basis, charity is an excellent investment for the rich. All charities are excellent investments; they are so recommended, even from the pulpit. They make taxes high, but we get it all back out of our pay-rolls. They are very cheap and, ethically, utterly worthless.

"System" takes all the good, moral and material, out of charity. Let us feel the evil, see the difficulties, know the poor, and try to raise them, because they are our friends and our brothers. So we shall give and get love, that which alone makes life endurable or heaven desirable.

Temperance appeals more to reason, and not less to sympathy; yet the efforts of temperance reformers are among the chief causes that the present condition of things is tolerated at all. They have impressed upon the public the evils of drink, so that the morally, mentally, or physically lazy soothe themselves with the idea that intemperance is the chief cause of pauperism. It is not the chief cause: it is the chief effect. (See fable, "Incorruptible Inheritance," p 244 )

So much for those tvho think that the gift of God, which is moral elevation, can be bought with silver or gold.

It is hopeless to make men good by law. All that can be done is to give them freedom, and let them work out their own salvation. To this the world tends.

Notwithstanding the Armenian massacres, the persecution of the Doukhobortsis, the subjection of Finland, the Dreyfus case, the massacres in Italy, the Filipino freebooting expedition, and the Coeur d'Alene "bull pen," we have no reason to think that there ever was in the world so much freedom as to-day.

We hear much about Greek liberty and intelligence lost to mankind; but this compares the most advanced aristocrat of one age, the Greek citizen, with the mass of men of our own age. It would have been more absurd to refer questions of art to "the people of Greece," including the vast majority who were "helots," upon whose labours the few lived, than it would be to refer them to our own ignorant helots, who have at least intelligence enough to make comparisons. Of course, the dominant class got whatever it wanted then, just as our dominant classes get what they want now, and will continue to get it until our helots learn to care for one another's interests.

In the times of Greek "liberty " only a few of the "people" of Greece got any of it; while, in most of the world, the idea of freedom had not yet dawned.

We read of the independence of the Pilgrim Fathers, who owned slaves and denied even votes to women. It has only just dawned on the world that slavery, chattel, economic, or sexual, for any being, is wrong.

We hear a great deal about the increasing drift toward State regulation of industry. This supposed tendency is a trouble to Mr. Herbert Spencer. Investigation will show, however, that in reality no such drift exists: the current seems rather to be setting the other way. What looks like such a tendency in legislation is simply an attempt to meet new conditions by a partial application of old specifics. It is not necessary to examine our own legislation in detail, as a few words on Spencer's essays on The New Toryism and The Coming Slavery will illustrate the point. Spencer refers with grief to fifteen English acts passed from 1860 to 1864, being two extensions of the Factories Act to include certain trades, acts regulating prices of gas, truancy, two for vaccination, hire of public conveyances, drainage, employment of women in coal mines, authorised pharmacopoeia, two for local improvement in bake-houses, and inspection of food. These are fair types of "socialistic" legislation everywhere.

All these, except those for the hire of conveyances, employment of women, for coal mines, bake-houses, and inspection of food, are applicable to conditions which were not dreamed of a hundred years ago; and even these five appear to have been intended to correct abuses which have become serious only on account of the nineteenthcentury crowding of cities and growth of factory life.

From 1880 to 1883 Spencer finds eleven "socialist" acts of Parliament. They are for regulating advance notes on sailors' wages, for the safety of ships, compulsory education, excise, trade reports, electricity, public baths, lodgings, cheap trains, payment of wages, and further inspection of bake-houses.

Now compare these, one by one (to take our samples mostly from incidental mention in the same essays), with the press-gang law, which, up to the middle of this century, enslaved the sailor; with the fifteenth-century law which prohibited captains from setting out in the winter; with the law favouring education by "benefit of clergy"; laws fixing the price and quality of beer; prohibiting the export of gold; with the laws which, up to 1824, forbade the building of factories more than ten miles from the Royal Exchange; regulated the minimum time for which a journeyman might be retained and the number of sheep a tenant might keep; and, finally, those fixing the maximum wages of labourers and the size and price of the loaf. All these laws, of which the type is the fourteenth-century regime restricting diet as well as dress, aimed, like present laws, to correct what seemed to be abuses. They have all passed away, having failed to correct the "abuses."

How unreasonable, then, to pick out a few from over eighteen thousand laws to which New York subjects its citizens, and because, under conditions a hundred times more complicated than those of our ancestors, they restrain personal liberty in various respects or provide for State management, to say that we are advancing in the path of restriction!

The fact is that the growing pressure of misery, the growing perception that monopolies are infringements of the rights of the people and that wealth is unnaturally distributed, lead those who see no better remedy hesitatingly to apply ancient expedients for the cure of evils either new in themselves or newly perceived. Let us look at the truth, although one can only regret if even such socialism is not growing; because, if it were, it would be the first sign of that Berserker rage which is sure to follow upon a universal appreciation of the deep evil of our present social conditions. The real social advance is on broader lines.

There are three stages of moral regeneration: first, to understand that the present state of the world is hell,—that is, injustice; second, to realise that there is a kingdom of heaven,—that is, of justice; and, third, to believe that we can get there. After that comes the knowledge of the way. The desire to get the kingdom is of little value or effect unless it is based on something more than care for self, as distinguished from others.

The majority of men are at present satisfied with things as they are. If they were not, they would change them. But they do not in their hearts desire the coming of any other kingdom but their own, which would be no improvement on the "devil's." If they do not believe in a better state, they will not desire it; or, if they do not desire it, they will not believe in it.

It was not through accident nor through stupid materialism that we took one word "heaven " from the Anglo-Saxon "heafen" that which is lifted up. The higher place is ever the better, except for the lower man.

"A political Utopia would be a physical heaven, concealing a spiritual hell,—a monstrosity. Society cannot be prevented from the externalisation of its interior character by artificial arrangements of its exterior politically, nor be made to present scenes of justice and happiness, when the principle is not in the people."—Stephen ard Mary Maybell.

The rich think that they have about all the good there is, and, finding it a delusion, are discontent with God, and say that the universe is bad. The poor think that, gross as are the inequalities, they have a chance to get on top, and do not want a change until they despair of securing an advantageous place. All social reforms, except prohibition, unite in showing the evils of present economic conditions, in showing that there might be better and that we can get the better ones. So that all those reforms are, for the present, united in their real result.

Now, if, when the three stages are passed, we are to try socialism, we need not complain. It cannot be worse than our kakocracy. The great mass of people to-day have not, nor ever have had, the slightest confidence in freedom. Most persons know that our social system is robbery, but they think they share in the spoils. They think also that men must be restricted, prohibited, and circumscribed in some way, if they are to do right. To call anything "free " is to stamp it with opprobrium. "Free love," "free rum," "free trade," "free thought," even "free press" and "free speech" (though the counting-house and the police make these but names compared to what they ought to be) are regarded as paraphrases for "unbridled license and anarchy." Public schools are called "free schools" in England, and are in corresponding disrepute.

While all this is so to impose upon the people any system which involves freedom would be only to insure its being discredited in repute and perverted in practice by men who care nothing for liberty and who would at once cast about for a means of taking advantage under it. All that improved political conditions can do is to give men the opportunity of doing right, which they cannot have at present.

But the spirit of humanity,—man-liness, as we call it,—which is behind socialism, is increasing. It expresses itself, as it best can, according to its light; and, though we may think the method wrong, we can see that that is of little consequence. " In the warming heart of the world is the hope for social justice." All humane reforms aim at a voluntary co-operation; which is righteousness.

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