Thursday, April 29, 2010

Mutual aid updates

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Proudhon Seminar for 2010?

I've been thinking, off and on, about running the What is Property? seminar again this summer -- and continuing it on past the First Memoir to some of the material that has been translated since the first seminar. The notion has become increasingly appealing in recent days, as I have found a number of places where it seems to me Tucker's translations could be significantly improved upon.

So I'm curious -- is there interest in wading into -- or back into -- Proudhon's property writings, in a semi-formal setting? with a "textbook" edition of the writings, highlighting some of the significant issues? Having done the thing once, I would undoubtedly structure it differently, with a little more formal "syllabus" and such. I'm thinking that, even so, a free/donation basis, with print copies of the texts available through Corvus, would probably be workable. Let me know if you're interested...

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Individualities and Collectivities - Rights and Strengths

In War and Peace, Proudhon defined "rights" in this way:
RIGHT, in general, is the recognition of human dignity in all its faculties, attributes and prerogatives. There are thus as many special rights as humans can raise different claims, owing to the diversity of their faculties and of their exercise. As a consequence, the genealogy of human rights will follow that of the human faculties and their manifestations.

The right of force is the simplest of all and the most basic: it is the homage rendered to man for his strength. Like every other right, it exists only under the condition of reciprocity. Just as the recognition of the superior force in no way implies the negation of the inferior, the right which belongs to the first does not destroy that of the second. If the earth is attracted by the sun, the sun is in its turn attracted by the earth and the other planets: by virtue of this double attraction, the center of the whirl is not at the center of the sun, but at a distance proportional to the power of reciprocal attraction of the sun and the planets.
This is obviously not any of the conventional theories of rights, and, ultimately, the question of "human rights" is just one aspect—though obviously a critically important one for us—of a larger question of the rights of individualities.

If that phrase—"the rights of individualities"—sounds like nonsense to you, then you face a dilemma: You can either make sense of it, on Proudhon's terms, or go find other reading material. Attempting to shoehorn one set of definitions into a system built on an entirely different set is a common enough practice, but not a particularly useful one.

For Proudhon, recall, JUSTICE meant BALANCE, and the various forms of justice formed a SERIES, starting with balances of physical strength and cunning—force and fraud, ultimately. The emergence of cunning as a balance to physical strength initiated not just a change in the criterion of justice, but an increase of complexity, a multiplication of criteria. In the bad old days, when the "equals" or 'heroes" hardly extended between the strongmen and the con-men (according to Proudhon's account), we already see the possibility of a multiplication of recognizable strengths. Division of labor—a two-edged sword, like most of Proudhon's concepts, but not the pure negative of some anti-capitalist theory—opened the possibility for the recognition of additional strengths, and thus the striking of more complex balances. Most importantly, it opened the possibility for a more complete participation by more individuals, or individualities,—all of them (all of us) "differently abled" (as they say)—in the general balancing associated with justice.

Justice was a balance—or a level—and Right (droit) was not much more than a straightedge, a means of plotting the straight or right line of individual development—whether of faculties, or human individuals, or collective individualities. For Proudhon, after all, every individual was a group, and every group with sufficient unity of action to be worthy of the name could be identified by its organizing LAW or principle. So that a concern for Right was a concern with "the recognition of human dignity in all its faculties, attributes and prerogatives"—but in a thoroughly mutualist fashion, so that the recognition could not be limited to a single scale. To say that "the state has its rights," or to focus on the level of faculties or attributes, is obviously to use a different sort of language and argument than is generally used in the debates on "human rights." As close as Proudhon gets to identifying something like "natural rights," he remains essentially descriptive in his treatment, and, of course, multiplies those potential rights—"...dignity in all its faculties, attributes and prerogatives"—in a manner that escapes easy normative judgments.

Indeed, the normative component of Proudhon's system doesn't extend far beyond the Golden Rule—the principle of RECIPROCITY—and the commitment to progress and the process of perfection-by-experiment or approximation. "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" (sometimes in the negative form, "don't do to others what you wouldn't want done to you")—and then do better, and better, and.... I've argued that the positive form of the injunction imposes the sort of uncertainty that forces the conscientious mutualist to "aim high," which amount to paying close attention to those "dignities" that we might miss if we're too wrapped up in our own present perceptions of what constitutes (our) dignity.

This careful regard isn't—or isn't justother-directed. The Proudhonian individual subject is a player on a variety of scales-of-being. It marks a particular intersection of the lawful unfolding of multiple individualities on these multiple scales. (We could say the individual is a product/producer of a polycentric system of natural laws—if the apparent familiarity of the language didn't pose its own problems...) If we were to take up the question of "property" in the same, mostly descriptive manner that Proudhon applied to justice, law, and rights, we're probably going to come up with a similarly complex, polycentric system, on multiple scales, where individual property may not be "private" or exclusive—or where "private property" emerges as a result of a general gift-economy. Again, Leroux's notion of "property rights in the other" or Whitman's "every atom of me as good belongs to you" are useful signposts in this realm.

[For those current readers who weren't in on the discussions of Leroux in 2008, here's a key passage: "The life of man then, and of every man, by the will of his Creator, is dependent upon an incessant communication with his fellow beings, and with the universe. That which we call his life, does not appertain entirely to him, and does not reside in him alone; it is at once within him and out of him; it resides partially, and jointly, so to speak, in his fellows and the surrounding world. In a certain point of view therefore it may be said, that his fellow beings and the world appertain also to him. For, as his life resides in them, that portion of it which he controls, and which he calls Me, has virtually a right to that other portion, which he cannot so sovereignly dispose of, and which he calls Not Me."]

The obvious problem of a primarily descriptive system—particularly one where "justice" describes nothing more than balance, "right" means something like "orderly expression," "property" simply describes the present extent of a given individuality, etc., is that it doesn't give us much guidance. Even the law of reciprocity seems one possible response cobbled together in a situation where no response is either imposed or adequate to the circumstances.

There's no dodging the difficulties. It seems clear that Proudhon sees ethics as something we have to build for ourselves. And a large part of his writings is an attempt to show, through social science, why taking reciprocity as a model is a smart choice. He portrays much of his argument as a historical account. It may or may not be good history, but it's a pretty good illustration of how a mutualist ethics might develop by experiment.

Proudhon starts with a world of ABSOLUTES. Individualities, including human individuals, develop in accordance with their laws, encountering one another as others, antagonistic and incommensurable. Every subject is a hammer, and every object a nail, and everything is both subject and object to every other thing willy-nilly—and, ultimately, the apparent conflict is the manifestation of an absolute law at another level, so all is merely the flux of being—except for FREEDOM. Proudhon distinguishes between "free absolutes" and all others, with the distinction being that the former are self-aware, can say "I," and can, therefore, also be other-aware. The free absolute is lifted out of the general flux into general warfare, by the ability to distinguish self and other. At the point where free absolutes recognize one another as other-selves, as other free absolutes, or fellows in some sense, then ethics becomes possible—and some form of ethics become necessary. Self-knowledge comes in large part from the encounter with the other-like-me, who is presumably another manifestation of the same general law. The problem of the differences among things that are "the same" is the opening to self-knowledge, and self-knowledge begins with the sense that perhaps everything is not fore-ordained for an individual like ourselves. As we explore our individual differences and our collective connections and similarities, we can hardly help but alter both our selves and our relationships. Physical laws still apply at their level, naturally, but their absolute grip on us loosens as we become more adept at seeing difference and possibility, and begin to manipulate them—or our position with regard to them. Much of the Economic Contradictions is an attempt to lay out a logical series by which the unknowns and apparently contradictions present at ever stage of human social development open the door to transformations of human relations. The account has a lot in common with the more deterministic sorts of "universal history," but the emphasis on "contradiction"—on antinomies—is what makes it a specifically libertarian account. For Proudhon, freedom was a quantity inherent in a given individuality, based on the complexity of its organization and the number of its connections to other individualities. Liberty was a manifestation of everything in a given organization that delayed, baffled, or resisted simple determination. If, as he claimed, "the genealogy of human rights will follow that of the human faculties and their manifestations," and, as I have been claiming for some time, the general trend is towards more and more complex "manifestations" and more and more complex recognitions (as the pool of recognized rights-bearers, or potential rights-bearers, grows), we would see, on various social scales, an increase in liberty, and, on the human scale, both an increase in liberty and a potentially alarming increase in the complexity of ethical questions—with no easy way of uncoupling the two phenomena. And this would be as true for the thoroughgoing egoist as for the altruist (though this is an issue I won't attempt to do justice in an already too-long post today...)

[obviously, to be continued, sometime in the near future...]

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Proudhon on Property: Response

Iain McKay has posted another update on What is Property?, the forthcoming Proudhon anthology.You'll find links to excerpts from the Second Memoir on Property and from my translation of the concluding chapter of The Theory of Property, along with commentary by Iain. The commentary is valuable, whether or not you agree with the approach and conclusions. There is a lot to tackle, if we want to make sense of Proudhon's lifetime of work, and the more serious attempts, from different perspectives, the better, from my point of view. Iain's comments, and his nice plug for The Mutualist, suggest he shares some of that perspective, so I feel comfortable that my comments will be taken in the spirit intended, as part of a debate between old comrades.

There's a lot in, or connected to, the new update. The Appendix: On Terminology contains a number of helpful cautions about use of terms. Proudhon's work is, in general, a kind of minefield for anyone prone to quick judgments about what this or that term must mean. Proudhon poses a number of difficulties: 1) There are key terms, such as "possession," which he — by his own testimony — did not adequately define in his early works; 2) there are terms, such as "law" (loi) and "right" (droit) which he seems to have pretty consistently defined much more generally than most political writers would now; 3) there is an important change in strategy with regard to the use of terms like "property," "government," and "religion; and 4) there are some changes in his conclusions about the character of some of the social institutions represented by terms, which is sometimes treated as a change in definition.

The strategic watershed (3) comes between the Second Memoir (1841) and The Philosophy of Progress (1853). In the first, as Iain notes, Proudhon criticizes Pierre Leroux's strategy:
Thus, according to M. Leroux, there is property and property, — the one good, the other bad. Now, as it is proper to call different things by different names, if we keep the name "property" for the former, we must call the latter robbery, rapine, brigandage. If, on the contrary, we reserve the name "property " for the latter, we must designate the former by the term possession, or some other equivalent; otherwise we should be troubled with an unpleasant synonymy.
In the latter, however, he writes:
Many times it has been said to me: Tell it like it is. You are a man of order: do you, or do you not want government? You seek justice and liberty, and you reject the communitarian theories: are you for or against property? You have defended, in every circumstance, morals and the family: do you have no religion?
Well, I maintain completely all my negations of religion, government and property; I say that not only are these negations in themselves irrefutable, but that already the facts justify them; what we have seen burgeon and develop, for several years, under the ancient name of religion, is no longer the same thing that we have been accustomed to understand under that name; that which agitates in the form of empire or caesarism, will sooner or later no longer be empire nor caesarism, nor government; and finally, that which modifies and reorganizes itself under the rubric of property, is the opposite of property.
I add, nonetheless, that I will retain, with the common folk, these three words: religion, government, property, for reasons of which I am not the master, which partake of the general theory of Progress, and for that reason seem to me decisive: first, it is not my place to create new words for new things and I am forced to speak the language of everyone; second, there is no progress without tradition, and the new order having for its immediate antecedents religion, government and property, it is convenient, for the very guarantee of that evolution, to preserve for the new institutions their patronymic names, in the phases of civilization, because there are never well-defined lines, and to want to accomplish the revolution by a jump, that would be beyond our means. 
 It's likely that Proudhon was never quite in control of his own terminology with regard to property, just as he never really elaborated his own theory of a "new order" of property. In 1840, "possession" was one of two forms of "property" (broadly defined), with the other beings simply "property." He had "property" (neutral) and "property" (bad) — and "possession" (not bad, "in the right," but not clearly a solution to the problems he wanted to solve). He was already tangled up in a different version of the confusion he decried in 1841. It's likely that his encounter with Fourierist serial analysis in the early 1840s gave him a little different framework for thinking about terminological developments. His dialectical experiments undoubtedly gave him another. But it's also pretty obvious that he made pretty hard work of his writings on property, in comparison with some of his other work. When he was talking about the development of "justice," he hardly blinked as he demonstrated that "force and fraud" were its earliest forms. He saw "degrees" of everything — series of "approximations." But, with regard to property, he had a hard time developing his basic critical apparatus much beyond its state in 1840.

With regard to claims that Proudhon changed the definitions of "possession" and "property" in his later works, I don't see the evidence in the works. He always maintained that "simple property" was despotic, even when he decided — through an analysis of its "aims" — that it was a useful counterweight to itself and to the sort of "state" institutions that would emerge, even in an anarchist society. The allodial property that he discussed in The Theory of Property was arguably even more absolute than many existing forms of private property — at least for the duration of occupancy and use. When he "embraced" it, it was precisely because of its absolutist character. He took his sweet time defining "possession" explicitly, but he seems to have been fairly consistent about what he meant. His historical research, however, led him to think differently about it. It looks to me like he changed his mind, rather than changing his terms — but we have to be clear about what that change entailed. As Iain emphasizes, the "solution" in The Theory of Property involves a departure from Proudhon's own personal wishes. The text ends with a rant against fences and the line: “If I ever find myself a proprietor, may God and men, the poor especially, forgive me for it!” The obvious difference between Proudhon's aspirations and his final approximation is the primary reason for the project of a "gift economy of property." But, from my perspective, there is no question of attempting to work within the ill-defined terms of 1840. Instead, it seems necessary to reapproach the subjects — property and the family chief among them — which obviously inspired Proudhon's most passionate responses, with the tools he developed when a little less wound up.

Iain's post raises a number of other interpretive issues, which I'll return to in another post.

Amant ou mari?

Proudhon (in)famously wrote, in What is Property?:
On distingue dans la propriété : 1° la propriété pure et simple, le droit dominal, seigneurial sur la chose, ou, comme l'on dit, la nue propriété ; 2° la possession. « La possession, dit Duranton, est une chose de fait, et non de droit. » Toullier : « La propriété est un droit, une faculté légale; la possession est un fait. » Le locataire, le fermier, le commandité, l'usufruitier, sont possesseurs ; le maître qui loue, qui prète à usage; l'héritier qui n'attend pour jouir que le décès d'un usufruitier, sont propriétaires. Si j'ose me servir de cette comparaison, un amant est possesseur, un mari est propriétaire. 
That is (in Tucker's translation):
There are different kinds of property: 1. Property pure and simple, the dominant and seigniorial power over a thing ; or, as they term it, naked property. 2. Possession. "Possession," says Duranton, " is a matter of fact, not of right." Toullier: "Property is a right, a legal power ; possession is a fact." The tenant, the farmer, the commandité, the usufructuary, are possessors; the owner who lets and lends for use, the heir who is to come into possession on the death of a usufructuary, are proprietors. If I may venture the comparison : a lover is a possessor, a husband is a proprietor.
It's a strange passage, in a number of ways. Marriage and the family were, of course, constant — and controversial — touchstones for Proudhon. Arguably, he had stronger opinions about love, sex and the institution of the family than he did about most of the social institutions he discussed — and for this very reason found it hard to treat the forms he preferred as "approximations" subject to improvement.

I was drawn back to take a closer look at the passage by an odd set of circumstances. I've been meaning for some time to take a closer look at the passages where Proudhon distinguishes the two "different kinds of property: 1. Property pure and simple, the dominant [dominal] and seigniorial power over a thing ; or, as they term it, naked property. 2. Possession." There is little difficulty in knowing what he meant by "naked property," but a clear definition of "possession" is elusive. In The Theory of Property, Proudhon admitted that he "had not defined" that principle. In the Second Memoir, he said, "it is not my purpose here to pass upon the theory of the right of possession. I discuss no dogmas." In late works (both Theory of Property and Political Capacity...), he used "possession" and "fief" more or less synonymously, and said, "Possession, indivisible, untransferable, inalienable, pertains to the sovereign, prince, government, or collectivity, of which the tenant is more or less the dependent, feudataire or vassal." Ultimately, all of these statements are at least potentially consistent. We know that he kept his terms fairly consistent. He reversed himself on the utility of calling future, mutualized versions of existing property relations "property." But it isn't clear that this was ultimately all that important since he shifted his analysis of simple property from an examination of its origins and present action to an examination of its aims — at roughly the same time that his historical researches led him to be less enthusiastic for simple possession as a model.

Anyway, as I started to work through the Tucker translation of What is Property? I began to check the original French for some passages — and found that Tucker had chosen to use "possession" to translate the French possession, but also, in some instances, jouissance. Parts of Proudhon's argument seem to make better sense if what is at stake is "enjoyment" — or if the racier connotations of possession and enjoyment are at least acknowledged. But that acknowledgment also opens a pretty substantial can of worms involving the kinds of sexualized language that Proudhon sometimes used to describe proprietorship and its "abuses."

I'll be posting the chapter on property from the System of Economic Contradictions in the near future, which includes, among other things, a sly dig at the "solitary enjoyments" of the proprietors. And I'm afraid I'll be coming back to this passage, as well, because there's something rather puzzling about the analogy it contains — a puzzle which may contain a clue to why Proudhon chose to solve the problem of property in the way that he did in his late works.

"A lover is a possessor, a husband is a proprietor." Anarchists fairly consistently assume, in part because he told us so, that his sympathies — even after his pragmatic embrace of allodial property — were with the possessors against the proprietors. But in a choice between lovers and husbands...?

Saturday, April 17, 2010

DIY Paper: Blending blue jeans, and other thorny details

There's been quite a bit of interest in this project, so here's an update:

So far, so good. After just a couple of tries I'm getting sheets of paper attractive enough to start thinking about doing some binding with them. I'm doing simple "blender paper," starting with fiber I know is acid- and lignin-free. Having built the mold by stretching window-screen over a cheap wooden frame, with a matching frame for a deckle, it's really just a matter of blending bits of fiber-source down to the constituent fibers, mixing the mash with water in a tub, dipping out a sheet, stacking and pressing the sheets, and letting them dry. There's a nice set of videos here that show how to do it all, assuming you have some better equipment than the dollar-store rig. There are also some other descriptions of how to make denim-fiber paper without a professional beater, but think twice before you try to just throw denim squares in a blender. I really like the way the cotton fibers from denim work for papermaking, and the random un-pulverized threads give some nice texture and character to the sheets. Plus, I had a lot of old blue jeans around. So, after nearly destroying my blender following directions, I persisted experimentally. If you want to try using denim fiber, I suggest grabbing three or four of the mesh washer/dryer bags. Cut the jeans into small (like 3/4" small) squares, put them in one of the mesh bags, and then put that bag inside two or three more, so the fibers are less likely to escape. Toss the nested bags into your wash, and let the washer and dryer be your beater. Each pass through will free some fibers. Some fine bits will end up as dryer lint. Save that - it's good stuff. Blend loose threads, lint and free fiber in small batches, with the blender half-full of water. Start on low settings, and pull out anything that looks like it's matting up. Cut the matted fiber up with kitchen scissors, and reblend it. Try higher settings when you're pretty sure the clumps are gone. With a little care, you can get the fiber/water mix all the way up to "Liquify" (or whatever your high setting is.) Blend paper scraps with the denim if you want. If you want a little "confetti" look, then throw a few scraps of interesting paper in at the end, and don't quite liquify them.

Next week, I'll start working with botanicals, yard and kitchen waste, and paper scraps that need treatment to be acid- and lignin-free.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Help Corvus help the Kate Sharpley Library

I've got a lot to say, sometime soon, about mutual-aid economies and the power of small, periodic support for small projects, but, for once, let's get the practice out there in front of the theory. Despite my tendency to be into a bit of everything all the time, the heart of my personal project is still to try to make widely available those potentially important radical texts which just aren't going priority for many other people to archive or translate. (There are, of course, some other people, and it is my privilege to call a number of them friends.) I'm pretty good at sifting through the stuff that other people consider "better you than me" material. But one of the problems of focusing on the marginal is that, well, it's marginal, and much less likely than other texts to have been preserved someplace handy. That means acquisition is usually on the open market, rather than in a library, and that can be expensive. The factors that make this stuff hard to acquire for a scholar or publisher apply for radical archives as well, so there is a class of very interesting material that tends to remain pretty hard to access.

The class of text I'm thinking of include things like Dyer Lum's "Utah and its Peoples" — a relatively minor text by a major anarchist figure, made a little expensive for most of it because of its Mormon content — or Eliphalet Kimball's "Thoughts on Natural Principles" — the rare-as-hen's-teeth only published collection by the man who said, in 1861, "Anarchy is a good word; it means 'without a head.'" It seems to me that the ideal way to get this sort of text where the curious can see it is to spread the cost around a bit on the front end, and then make sure we spread the results around by the time we're done. After some discussion with friends on Facebook, I've set up a donation option on the Corvus store, to establish a fund with which to purchase material in this "obscure and at risk of disappearing" category. All the items purchased will end up in the Kate Sharpley Library collection. On the way there, I'll scan or photograph them, so that they can be transcribed. They will be posted free online, like all the Corvus texts, and I'm going to be making an extra effort to see that these texts get wide distribution in the various digital archives. I'll also be sending out hard-copy "Thank You editions" of the texts to contributors, and to a couple of other anarchist collections.

I've already had some generous offers to help get this off the ground, but in many ways I would feel more confident if more people would commit to give five or ten bucks once in awhile when they thought about it, or when the research here seems to be taking an interesting turn. Giving a little bit now and then, and making a point of mentioning the projects involved  to sympathetic friends would be as powerful a strategy in the long run as larger sums from the usual suspects. Potentially, we can do some very good things with very little outlay of money or effort by anyone except yours truly — and I've made that sort of effort my main job, so obviously I don't mind.

Militant and Industrial Societies, according to Dyer Lum

A notion that I'll be making use of in the next installment of "Two-Gun Mutualism and the Golden Rule" is Herbert Spencer's division of societies into "militant" and "industrial" types, introduced into the literature of mutualism (as far as I can see so far, at least) in Dyer D. Lum's The Economics of Anarchy. Lum's work is a very interesting attempt at an overview of anarchist economics, well worth the time it takes to read the whole thing. Roderick Long has a nicely annotated version of the text online, and I'm proofing a pamphlet edition for Corvus. I suspect that the Mutualism-to-Come — the "perfection" of the militancies of the present— may actually be a long, harmonian evolutionary step beyond industrial society and the regime of contracts, but the Spencer/Lum distinction certainly seems to point out one of the next mile-posts. Here's the introduction, with Lum's treatment of the militant/industrial distinction:

The Economics of Anarchy

by Dyer D. Lum


All sociologists claim that progress has consisted in departure from compulsory to voluntary co-operation; from the reign of militant measures to what is termed the industrial type, wherein self-reliance and free co-operation directs; from the inequalities of privileged and restricted classes to the equality of equal freedom to natural opportunities; in short, to use the concise statement of Herbert Spencer, “from a regime of status to a regime of contract.” In the social order militancy and industrialism, therefore, represent past and future types; the first wherein war is the normal direction of human activity; the other where peace must prevail for healthful development. Following this guiding principle let us endeavor to group the salient points of progress from militant rule to industrial requirements in order to see more clearly not only in what direction we are tending, but also what methods are not conducive to that end. Starting with the fact that social evolution is chiefly characterized by a transition from warlike to peaceful pursuits, that from generation to generation activity has been turning from conquest over fellowmen to conquest over nature for men, we see at once that methods characterizing an outgrown phase of life are inappropriate to the end toward which progress has been made.

Before, however, applying to all schemes for reform the crucial test: Do they belong to the militant or industrial type? let us obtain a clearer view of their differences. The one being fixity, the other its abrogation, between the two there can be no golden mean without sacrifice of progress, for compromise in principles is ever incipient suicide. With a clear conception of the historical evolution of society we may be spared the folly everywhere attempted by would-be reformers of mixing incongruous principles; such may be compared with those who would seek a happy medium between daylight and darkness in twilight. Having attained this, to the great delight of sentimental lovers and fledgling poets, they flatter themselves in having solved the eternal contradiction in a state of possessing none of the positive nor negative qualities of either, and which, consequently, can be but temporary in duration.

To state in briefest form the essential distinction between militancy and industrialism, it may be said that the one is a scheme of compulsory co-operation, the other the natural outgrowth of voluntary co-operation. If we look at those States where the militant spirit dominates most largely we find the organization essential to an army extended to the concerns of private life. The whole nation virtually becomes a camp under military discipline; industrial life is subordinated to regulation; the individual exists for the State and a regimental uniformity pervades all social relations. The individual is a subject and with his condition, his residence, his family, enregistered. Of ancient Peru we read that officers “minutely inspected the houses, to see that the man, as well as his wife, kept the household in perfect order, and preserved a due state of discipline among their children.” Ancient Egypt furnishes ample evidence of a like regimentation of its inhabitants, who had to report at fixed intervals to account for the most trivial action. How fully the every-day life of the Hebrews was regulated in the most petty manner the pentateuch illustrates. The iron laws of Sparta are not exceptional illustrations. In every State where activities are chiefly military, even now, we see a greater or lesser degree of enforced discipline; patriotism becomes the highest virtue and disloyalty the deepest crime; no domestic tie is valid against the Frankenstein of the State; the assertion of common rights is hardly known. The State dominates the unit, pervades the household, is present at birth, presides at marriages, buries the dead, and the mass of the population endure life for work, instead of working to enjoy life. In every sphere of social co-operation the motive power is compulsion, not naturally evolved, but artificially instituted. Herbert Spencer says, and it cannot be disputed: “It is the law of all organization that as it becomes complete it becomes rigid,” a remark of profound significance which is earnestly commended to the thoughtful attention of Socialist and semi-Socialist reformers who would institute liberty and still preserve plasticity!

Let us beware the militant assumption that man exists for the State, and trust to theoretical brakes to check the momentum of a body moving with increasing velocity. The social aggregate is not something over and above the units which constitute it. When these units are moral, are intelligent, are secure, only then is social life moral, intelligent and secure. The condition of the units is mirrored in the social reflector. To subordinate the parts to the whole is to destroy that individuality by which the social unity has been attained; to place in the whole that which resides in none of its parts; to make an effect a generative cause and bestow upon a shadow the qualities of a substance. An illustration will make this clearer. College classes frequently have composite photographs taken in which the features of each is superimposed upon the others. The result is a face representing the striking characteristics of all, but in which angularities of character are merged into one. Though the class face represents no living original, yet each has contributed to form it. So in social life individual; peculiarities are merged into the composite social life, and the survival of the fittest determines what remains or sinks. In the class face the stronger the individuality the greater the effect upon the composite whole. As social life is but a composite representation of individual characteristics, how idle to hold that the unit is subordinate to the requirements of the composite reflection in which self has been an integral factor. Yet this is the logic of state-socialism and communism, for both rely upon direction from composite reflection, and directly violate the law of progress in seeking to establish a social structure upon uniformity rather than individuality, upon tendency to similarity rather than increasing variance of parts.

The whole course of modern history has been a perpetual struggle against direction in social relations. Motley calls the Fourteenth century an “Age of Revolt.” Europe everywhere displayed social life under paternal guidance. The very clothes that a man must wear, hours of work and of repose, the time for which a mechanic should be retained, the number of sheep a tenant might keep, limitations upon travel, restrictions upon diet, the hierarchy of ranks, rules regulating social intercourse, the very thoughts one must think,—were all matters for legislative direction in Merrie England. In philosophy, religion, politics and industry law established the standard for belief and action. The crusades by changing vast bodies of men from the narrow boundaries which had heretofore confined their vision, by opening to them new scenes and civilizations, by emancipating multitudes of serfs, by introducing Eastern arts and luxuries; all of which may be summed up in Sismondi’s phrase: “the geography of the pilgrims;” and above all by sowing broadcast the seeds of unbelief;—led to an awakening of intellect that shook the old foundations of social life to their center. Jack Cade and Wickliffe in England, the Artaveldes in Holland, Marcel and the jacquerie in France, the risings of the Swiss cantons, Rienzi at Rome, the Hanseatic League in Germany, and countless sporadic insurrections against authority in philosophy, in religion, in political and economic relations, all testify to the opening of a new era wherein individual sovereignty was posited against collective control. Industry felt the new breath and became arrayed against oppression. The communal struggles in France and the alliance of the Hanse Towns in Germany illustrated the new spirit wherein arms were only resorted to for defence against aggression, a contest wherein feudalism was wounded unto death and its history henceforth but the record of its dying struggles. The renaissance in thought and art, the Protestant revolution in religion, the English, American, and French revolutions in State policies, logically led to the extension of the assertion of the sovereignty of the individual to economic relations, a struggle which essentially characterizes the Nineteenth century. Every step forward has been at the expense of authority by increasing the area of voluntary actions; voluntary co-operation has invariably risen to supply needs as compulsory co-operation was removed. Authority has been shorn of its strength in philosophy and religion and Anarchy therein admitted to be in the line of progress; in the State its sphere has been continually narrowed by the growth of freedom to contract to achieve given ends. Nor have we yet reached the term of progress whatever may be the wishes of militant reactionists or the schemes of twilight reformers. The lines of progress have been so marled that we cannot doubt the ultimate result will be the extinction of all compulsory direction and the triumph of voluntary co-operation in every phase of social intercourse.

The theological age is of the past and we are yet in what may be termed the metaphysical age, in which names are taken for things. The industrial age has yet to come; we linger in the transition period in which old methods are laboriously hashed with the new and presented to twilight adorers as the Mecca of their hopes. Although we may already discern the dawn and hasten its progress by understanding the requirements of equal freedom, and hence equal rights, than which there are no other, it is still neither day nor night; happily however, a state of hazy twilight is unorganizable. The industrial type of social life, based on the law of equal freedom, demands the emancipation of the individual and establishes the desired synthetic harmony of individual and social forces by the removal of legislative interference. Out of this is naturally evolved free co-operation, for social interests being a permanent factor, it will be this seen to be best furthered; in other words, under individual freedom to contract self-interest will be seen to be identical with mutual interest. Only under equal freedom has individuality full scope, unchecked by restrictive interference and in joint concurrence of action where needed social and individual interests will be woven together in harmony, without the conflicts now incident upon their enforced separation. “Society” only then will become a social providence—not to dole out benefits to needs, and thus encourage mediocrity by weakening initiative, but to store the fruits of application, of co-operative effort; and in securing under equal opportunities to each the full reward of all deeds, find wherein to satisfy all needs. Then, and only then, will self-interest find its highest realization in the widely diffused benefits of morality, intelligence, and security.

The history of nations shows us that enforced “law and order” has prevailed largest where there existed similarity of interests. The irruption of the barbarians into Europe destroyed the unity that Rome had so laboriously established by causing diversity of aims between conquering and conquered peoples. Such countries as England and France attained partial equilibrium long before Spain with its mixture of Basque, Celtic, Gothic, Moorish and Jewish subjects, and in whom both religion and natural traits kept alive diversity, which while the result of militancy became the cause of its continuance to preserve the conquerors amid warring factions. Where interests were so diametrically opposite and each seeking vantage ground, where the strong hand could alone preserve the semblance of order by the subordination of all individual interests to those of the State, peace—the condition of industrial progress—could not obtain. Fusion by conquest could not obliterate distinctive characteristics founded in race. Might could silence, but not eradicate them. Discontent might not find expression, but the embers were kept smouldering beneath the ashes.

In the present form of society we find diversity, but of classes rather than of races. While we have no State-created class of priests nor nobles, while all men are theoretically declared “equal before the law,” we see unmistakeable evidence of radical diversity of interests leading to internecine strife, a diversity that manifests itself in countless ways provoking discord and struggle. This strife is no longer either religious or political in its nature; those issues are of the past, our records report no Praise-God-Barebones’ parliaments nor constitution-maker Sieyes’ conventions; those issues were long since threshed. The contest of the present is industrial, and it behooves every thoughtful person to seek out the causes and ponder over the character of the remedies so freely advertised for its cure. Progress requires diversity, but order can never result save as adapted to, not checking, progress. “Progress and Order,” rather than “Law and Order,” is the demand of the industrial type of civilization.

Reliance upon militant measures, trying to curb industrial discontent by legislative coercion, is reactionary in character. However disguised in twilight mixtures it is the spirit of the old regime seeking to dominate the new; as vain as seeking to check an exhaustless flow of water by damming the stream. The remedy cannot lie in enactments, in the organization of systems, in return to simplicity of structure, for industrial civilization demands plasticity of forms which “the law of equal freedom” alone gives, while organization, on the other hand, ever tends to rigidity. As in the physiological realm hybridity ever characterizes unlike organisms, so in sociology no successful progeny has ever resulted from compulsory intermingling of diverse classes; but where, as in sociology, the diverse classes are such because of chartered privileges, involving correlative restrictions, abolition can alone prove remedial. The sacerdotal and noble classes were destroyed as ruling classes, but to-day they stand behind the burgher class animating it with their inherited antagonism to plebeian interests. When Cæsar conquered Greece, he subjugated Olympus, and the gods now measure tape behind counters with Christian decorum. It is useless to seek to domesticate conquered classes for reproductive purposes; it is only in their extinction, the equalization of opportunities by which divers classes cease to exist, that relief can come. Privilege, though not symbolized by tiara and crown, still survives and is the soul of the prevailing economic system, a new incarnation of the ancient fetich. Hence the present contest.

Industrialism means the direction of human activities to conquest over nature, and only by the complete eradication of the militant theorem can the ideal ever become real. From compulsion, artificially induced, to voluntary co-operation, naturally evolved, the star of progress leads and no method of reform embodying any of the elements of the first will answer the end, for in so far as it does it contains the seeds which lead to fixity and choke plasticity. It is not by looking backward to regimentation, but forward to free contract, that the goal will be seen. Whether it be a Bismarck granting State pensions to aged workmen, France and England extending collective control over industrial activities, twilight schemes for instituting liberty by shifting tax burdens, or an appeal to a count of noses by which political alchemy will transform diffused ignorance into concrete wisdom, it is ever putting new wine into old bottles, an attempt to retard day by organizing morning twilight as a permanent condition for ever-varying needs. Voluntary co-operation needs no “direction”; self-interest alone will determine its rise and adaptation, for where the social demand is the supply then must follow. No matter how “advanced” a project may be vaunted to be, in so far as it incorporates militant direction, denies individual secession, forbids ignoring the State be it of what form it may, just so far is such project looking backward when tested by the law of progress, and consequently in disagreement with the requirements of the future. Free contract (once declared utopian in all relations) either is or is not the ideal of industrial civilization. If it is, there can be no permanent halting place between these antagonistic lines notwithstanding metaphysical doctors attempt it in Single Tax and Nationalism. Statecraft may dictate the straddling policy of Ensign Stebbins who announced that he was “in favor of prohibition, but agin’ its enforcement;” or priestcraft direct attention from present ills by preaching resignation coupled with post obit drafts on the Bank of New Jerusalem; but the social student should ever keep his gaze on the ideal end and with voice and pen only advocate such measures as will not only tend thitherward, bit which will remove rather than preserve obstructions. Neither in plethoric nor emasculated tariffs, prohibition, inspection of factories, mines, ships, houses, bakeries, and markets; not in compulsory education nor vaccination, use of ballot prayer-mills, etc., lies the remedy. These, and countless others are but makeshifts to reconcile the new with the old, twilight propositions of those whose eyes do not perceive the beauties daylight alone can fully reveal. They are based on the retained superstition that State authority has no assignable limit, and demanding for it blind faith; it is a survival of past forms of thought, a diluted phase but lineal descendant of the old dogma that “the king can do no wrong”, and involving the fiction of “divine right” in the maxim: “vox populi, vox dei” spread out to cover half the whole plus one! Power no more resides in a definite number than in one, and all alleged “reforms” based upon this superstition derive their weapons from the armories of militancy, from the Bismarckian right wing down to the collectivist left wing of Tax-shifters and Nationalists.

So far we have endeavored to show that the course of progress in social affairs is from the militant type to the industrial, from regnant authority to individual sovereignty, from compulsion to voluntary agreement, from fixity to plasticity. If this be the goal, and this is the foundation stone of Anarchy, we must ascertain why obstacles meet us at every turn, why the law of equal freedom is inoperative, why abstract equity is summoned to give way to concrete privilege, in what forms militant measures still reign. We must seek where privilege still lingers entrenched, in what their correlative restrictions consist, and how they promote discord requiring the exercise of arbitrary force to preserve things as they are and thus subordinate progress to uniformity. We should always seek to first determine what is equitable, then the nature of the difficulties to be overcome, and the desirability rather than the feasibility of attaining such ends. The “practical man” is not the temporary adjustor of relations on false bases. When demands are aligned with progressive development, when ideas are based upon fundamental principles of social rectitude, we may well leave fears of their application to the time-serving crowd whose vision cannot penetrate the twilight. If history shows that in all social evolution ideas have ever worked down from the brain f the thinker to the muscles of the restricted, if the John Browns have always followed the Garrisons, shall we denounce the ideas or the obstacles which prevented their application? Or favor the ideas and be “agin” their realization? Let us consider what these obstacles are. And here we are brought to the consideration of Economics, which dominates the thought of the century and determines the nature of all systems, of all laws, of all institutions.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Echoes and Fragments: Collective Egoism

One of the elements of Proudhon's social theory which sometimes strikes people as odd or objectionable is his emphasis on "collective force" and his insistence on the existence of collective beings or individuals. I've had some understandably skeptical responses to my claim that Proudhon's philosophy is essentially a philosophy of individualism—but encompassing individuals at every conceivable scale. That is, of course, a bit of a simplification—even a simplism—if we neglect to mention that, for Proudhon, individualism had a tendency to lead into socialism, and vice versa. Recall, for instance, that he expected an absolutely free and individualistic society, based on "complete insolidarity," to lead more-or-less straight to communism. The theory of collective individuals is among the elements that have not been developed much by mutualists after Proudhon (although some of his French followers did pursue the question), but one of the assumptions of the "two-gun" rereading of the tradition is that very little of the original mutualist synthesis was lost, however much it may have been fragmented and scattered among the various anarchist and libertarian schools. That assumption is, of course, not a priori, but is based on having discovered those various threads, sometimes in the most seemingly unlikely places.

Consider, for example, this treatment of the egoism of collectives, from The Philosophy of Egoism, by James L. Walker (Tak Kak.)


Beside individuals we encounter groups variously cemented together by controlling ideas; such groups are families, tribes, states and churches. The more nearly a group approaches the condition of being held together by the interest of its members without constraint of one exercised over other members, the more nearly does the group approximate to the character of an Ego, in itself. Observation and reflection show that the group, or collectivity, never yet composed wholly of enlightened individuals joining and adhering in the group through individual accord, has always fallen short of the approximation which is conceivable for the group to the independent Egoistic character. The family, tribe, state and church are all dominated physically or mentally by some individuals therein. These groups, such as they have been known in all history, never could have existed with the disproportionate powers and influence of their members but for prevailing beliefs reducible to ignorance, awe and submission in the mass of the members.

With this explanation and corresponding allowance, the group may be spoken of as approximately Egoistic in its character. Even when least swayed by individual members, the family, the nation and the church are thoroughly selfy. These composite individualities, as it is the fancy of some writers to consider them, are appealed to in vain to furnish an exception to the Egoistic principle. When Jack imposes upon the ignorance of Jill or upon habits acquired during mutual aid, and Jill is too trusting to trace the transaction back to fundamental elements and calculations of mutual benefit, the matter is readily laid to Jack’s selfishness, which of course lauds its victim’s welcome compliance; but when the family demands a heavy sacrifice of each member, attention is mostly drawn by Moralists to the advantage of the family and the need of such sacrifices, never to the phenomenon of a ruthless form of Egoism in the family, imposing upon its members who have felt some of the advantages and then yielded to pretensions which will not bear analysis, or tracing back in an actual account of loss and gain. Thus it is said to the man that he needs a wife, to the woman that she needs a husband, and to the children that they needed parents and will need obedience from their own children by and by. On the strength of these views various sacrifices of the happiness of man, woman and youth may be effected while they do not inquire precisely what they do need individually and how they can get it at least cost of unhappiness.

The family, attempting to become an Ego, treats its members as an Ego naturally treats available organic or inorganic matter. The supine become raw material. The person has the power to resign self-care and allow himself to be seized upon and worked up as material by any of the other real or would-be Egos that are in quest of nutriment and of bases of operations. The greater would-be Ego, the “social organism,” reinforces the family demand with persuasion that hesitates at no fallacy, but first plies the individual with some general logic as to our need of each other, then with flattery, how it will repay him for inconvenience by praise, external and internal, all the while exerting a moral terrorism over every mind weak enough to allow it, and all to subjugate the real Ego to the complex would-be but impossible Ego. For not the good of the family, but of itself, is the object of the state and of the “social organism.” The state prates of the sacredness of the family, but treats it with scant courtesy when its own interest conflicts with the family interest. The “social organism” reinforces the family against the individual and the state against the family, this already threatening the family, and obviously it will next threaten the state so far as this can be distinguished from the community; that is, the “social organism” will have no permanent use for separate nations.

But in speaking thus we should not forget that the group, or collectivity, reflects the will of some master minds, or at the widest the will of a large number under the influence of certain beliefs. Either one or two or three horses may draw a plow, and its motions will be different. The complexity of motion from three horses is certainly a phenomenon to be studied, but the way is not to disregard the elementary motive forces which form the result by their combination; and so it is with society. Its phenomena will be according to conditions of information and to circumstances which determine the direction of personal desires. The certainty of desire and aversion as motives, founded in self-preservation, is found in the nature of organic as distinguished from inorganic existence. All desires and dislikes, acting and counteracting, make the so-called social will,—a more convenient than accurate abstraction. To make of it an entity is a metaphysical fancy. Unity of will is the sign of individuality. The semblance of a social self, apart from individuals, obviously arises from the general concurrence of wills. They could not do otherwise than run along parallel lines of least resistance, but the intellectual prism separates the blended social rays.

The church is an important group, under the theological belief. The primitive character of its dominant idea finds its complementary expression in the simple and transparent Egoism of its immediate motives. A personal ruler, judge and rewarder existing in belief, commands and threatens. The person sacrifices part of his pleasure to propitiate this master because he fears his power. Habits supervene and the investigating spirit is terrorized both by personal belief and the fear of other fear-stricken believers, watchful and intolerant. The hope of heaven and fear of punishment are of the simplest Egoism. Morality on the same plane includes the fear of man and hope of benefit from man, complicated with belief in reciprocal enforcement of ecclesiastical duties, and this as a duty. Becoming metaphysical it is doubtless more difficult of analysis, but this secondary or transition stage of mind is already disposed of as a whole by philosophy, so that the evolutionist predicts the passage of its phenomena and their replacement by positive ideas of processes. The metaphysical stage will pass away though its formulas be entirely neglected by the advancing opposition. In fact, spell-bound and mystified man is freed by courage to break off from the chain of phantasies which has succeeded to the chain of theological fear. In this progress example counts suggestively and even demonstratively, and new habits of positive, specific inquiry give the intellect mastery of itself and of the emotions which had enslaved it.

To sum up this part of the subject, let those who preach anti Egoistic doctrines in the name of deity, society or collective humanity, tell us of a deity who is not an Egoistic autocrat, or who has worshipers who do not bow down to him because they think it wisest to submit; of a family which sacrifices itself to the individuals and not the individuals’ hopes and wishes to itself; of a community or political or social state which departs from the rule of self-defence and self-aggrandizement; of any aggregation, pretending to permanence, that is not for itself and against every individuality that would subtract from its power and influence; of a collective humanity that is not for itself, the collectivity, though it were necessary to discourage and suppress any individual freedom which the collectivity did not think to be well disposed toward the collectivity or at least certain to operate to its ultimate benefit. Self is the thought and aim in all. Selfiness is their common characteristic. Without it they would be elemental matter, unresisting food for other growths.

DIY: Paper

As part of the process of developing my workflow for Corvus, I've been trying to find the best way to handle the fairly considerable amount of scrap paper which is generated by the publishing process. Printing errors, test printings, failed experiments, unused corners and ends--all of this stuff piles up, and there is a lot more of it as I start to experiment with handbinding and with formats other than the 8.5x5.5 pamphlet. I'm fortunate to have very good recycling options here, so presumably nothing need go to waste. But an awful lot of what is piling up in the work area these days is also pretty high-quality scraps, full of interesting fiber from various sources. Some problems are solved easily. For example, the larger pieces of palm paper left from "Whisper-Song of the Catbird" can be bound together as notepads. For the rest, I'm trying an experiment in onsite recycling, making new paper from my paper scraps--and whatever other interesting fiber happens to be handy. I have built two very simple sets of molds and deckles in the last week, and experimented with the acid-free fibers closest to hand. A first set of four 8.5 x 11" sheets--made with paper scraps, pulverized denim from some old blue jeans, and a bit of dryer lint; dipped from too small a tub, and not terribly well pressed--proved it could be done, and pretty easily. I headed from the local dollar store yesterday, and put together a deckle, mold and press for roughly 6 x 9" sheets--all for under $10. All the parts are the sort of cheap Chinese goods that probably wouldn't exist in a sane economy, but I really wanted to see if I could actually improve my makeshift rig with the sort of thing likely to be floating around in a thrift store. Two mirrors and some window screen (already purchased for the first set, for less than $2 a yard) made the mold and deckle. Two cheap towels, a few sheets of craft felt, some handi-wipes, two small C-clamps and two of the ugliest laminate-on-particleboard "paintings" I have ever seen made a workable press. A couple of minutes' work with my much-abused blender, and a few more to dip out a half-dozen sheets, then into the press while I made breakfast--and I have a batch of much nicer paper-sheets set out to dry.

All the instructions were on the internet. I read very elaborate directions, and watched videos that involved $1000 pulp-beaters, and then read the shortest, simplest stuff I could find--and finally scaled things to my needs and pocketbook. Adding fiber from yard waste, or botanicals from the local woods, will only require a couple of added steps, and the purchase of a few common chemicals to neutralize acid and lignins. I should, ultimately, be able to cover the boards for the scrap-paper notepads with homemade paper, or even to print on what I've made (though this requires a couple more small increases in sophistication.) Of course, this stuff is worth doing just for the pleasure of getting to know something directly about paper, which is such an important part of my world. I encourage others to try the experiment.

[I'll make a fuller report later, and will document the whole process in a forthcoming pamphlet.]

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Taking Wing...Once Again

It's been an up-and-down ride for Corvus Editions, in its first, exploratory year. But a combination of my growing confidence in the general soundness of the project and my growing dissatisfaction with the options have finally pushed me to "quit the day job" at Borders, and give Corvus another year—this time as a full-time business. I know things have been rather quiet on that front, as I've been reinventing myself and the business in a variety of ways. But I've been working steadily at new pamphlets, attending book-fairs, finding new supplier and honing some new skills. I expect the full transformation of the project to be complete around June 1, but in the meantime a lot of new features will be evident. The pamphlets will be almost entirely printed on 100% recycled paper—Eco Paper "Cane Fields" (75% bagasse (sugar-cane waste), 25% farm-raised eucalyptus) or New Leaf 100% post-consumer waste—with 100% recycled cover papers incorporating agricultural waste (banana, palm, mango, lemon and coffee), also from Eco Paper and New Leaf. A few projects will use other non-tree papers (hemp, lokta, mulberry, elephant dung(!), etc.) as I match up the right papers to the right projects.

The most exciting and demanding element of the reinvention has been my long-promised and much-delayed entry into hand-binding. The 4 & 20 Blackbirds line—all hand-bound in editions of 24 copies—is now a reality, with the release of Mme. Oscine's Songbird #1: "The Whisper-Song of the Catbird." The Songbirds will all be writings by radical writers, on subjects we don't usually pay much attention to. This first issue collects an exchange in Bird-Lore magazine, inspired by J. William Lloyd, who had a question about the "melancholy" song of a catbird, and elicited a really remarkable collection of responses. Anarchist bird-watching is certainly a niche interest, but, so far, there's been a lot of enthusiasm for the project. Future Songbirds will cover 19th-century aviation theory, library cataloging schemes, etc. And 4 & 20 Blackbirds releases of a little more conventional sort will start to appear in the new future, beginning with an edition of Emile Pouget's Sabotage.

I've been redesigning covers, correcting texts, and adding titles to the catalog. Check out the Corvus Shop to see what's new.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Echoes and Fragments: Edward Carpenter's progressive philosophy

With the most unappealing of the nominally "progressive" schools in the limelight, it's sometimes hard to recall any of the others, but, of course, mutualism, as the "anarchism of approximations," is another claimant to the label (and there has been some overlap of the traditions in figures like Golden Rule Jones.) I've been arguing that the original mutualist project of "synthesizing" or "harmonizing" individualism and socialism was replaced by a wide spectrum of less comprehensive approaches, all of which addressed some part of the larger project, and which therefore have something to say to anyone attempting to take up that original task. One of the necessities at this stage of my project is to start to show some of those lines of development. With regard to "progress," and the relation of the "old" and the "new," it might, for example, be interesting to compare this passage from Edward Carpenter's "Civilisation: It's Cause and Cure" with the dynamic laid out in Proudhon's "Contradictions" and "Philosophy of Progress."
Men often ask about the new Architecture—what, and of what sort, it is going to be. But to such a question there can be no answer till a new understanding of life has entered into people’s minds, and then the answer will be clear enough. For as the Greek Temples and the Gothic Cathedrals were built by people who themselves lived but frugally as we should think, and were ready to dedicate their best work and chief treasure to the gods and the common life; and as to-day when we must needs have for ourselves spacious and luxurious , villas, we seem to be unable to design a decent church or public building; so it will not be till we once more find our main interest and life in the life of the community and the gods that a new spirit will inspire our architecture. Then when our Temples and Common Halls are not designed to glorify an individual architect or patron, but are built for the use of free men and women, to front the sky and the sea and the sun, to spring out of the earth, companionable with the trees and the rocks, not alien in spirit from the sunlit globe itself or the depth of the starry night—then I say their form and structure will quickly determine themselves, and men will have no difficulty in making them beautiful. And similarly with the homes or dwelling places of the people. Various as these may be for the various wants of men, whether for a single individual or for a family, or for groups of individuals or families, whether to the last degree simple, or whether more or less ornate and complex, still the new conception, the new needs of life, will necessarily dominate them and give them form by a law unfolding from within.

In such new human life then—its fields, its farms, its workshops, its cities—always the work of man perfecting and beautifying the lands, aiding the efforts of the sun and soil, giving voice to the desire of the mute earth—in such new communal life near to nature, so far from any asceticism or inhospitality, we are fain to see far more humanity and sociability than ever before: an infinite helpfulness and sympathy, as between the children of a common mother. Mutual help and combination will then have become spontaneous and instinctive: each man contributing to the service of his neighbor as inevitably and naturally as the right hand goes to help the left in the human body—and for precisely the same reason. Every man—think of it!—will do the work which he likes, which he desires to do, which is obviously before him to do, and which he knows will be useful, without thought of wages or reward; and the reward will come to him as inevitably and naturally as in the human body the blood flows to the member which is exerting itself. All the endless burden of the adjustments of labour and wages, of the war of duty and distaste, of want and weariness, will be thrown aside—all the huge waste of work done against the grain will be avoided; out of the endless variety of human nature will spring a perfectly natural and infinite variety of occupations, all mutually contributive; Society at last will be free and the human being after long ages will have attained to deliverance.

This is the Communism which Civilisation has always hated, as it hated Christ. Yet it is inevitable; for the cosmical man, the instinctive elemental man accepting and crowning nature, necessarily fulfils the universal law of nature. As to External Government and Law, they will disappear; for they are only the travesties and transitory substitutes of Inward Government and Order. Society in its final state is neither a Monarchy, nor an Aristocracy nor a Democracy, nor an Anarchy, and yet in another sense it is all of these. It is an Anarchy because there is no outward rule, but only an inward and invisible spirit of life; it is a Democracy because it is the rule of the Mass-man, or Demos, in each unit man; it is an Aristocracy because there are degrees and ranks of such inward power in all men; and it is a Monarchy because all these ranks and powers merge in a perfect unity and central control at last. And so it appears that the outer forms of government which belong to the Civilisation-period are only the expression in separate external symbols of the facts of the true inner life of society.

And just as thus the various external forms of government during the Civilisation-period find their justification and interpretation in the ensuing period, so will it be with the mechanical and other products of the present time; they will be taken up, and find their proper place and use in the time to come. They will not be refused; but they will have to be brought into subjection. Our locomotives, machinery, telegraphic and postal systems; our houses, furniture, clothes, books, our fearful and wonderful cookery, strong drinks, teas, tobaccos; our medical and surgical appliances; high-faluting sciences and philosophies, and all other engines hitherto of human bewilderment, have simply to be reduced to abject subjection to the real man. All these appliances, and a thousand others such as we hardly dream of, will come in to perfect his power and increase his freedom; but they will not be the objects of a mere fetish-worship as now. Man will use them, instead of their using him. His real life will lie in a region far beyond them. But in thus for a moment denying and “mastering” the products of Civilisation, will he for the first time discover their true value, and reap from them an enjoyment unknown before.