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So it is always. You strike blindly, like a child in its passion, with your weapons of force, at some vice, at some social habit, at some teaching you consider dangerous, and you disarm your own friends who would fight your battle for you—were they allowed to do so—in the one true way of discussion and persuasion and example. You prevent discussion, and the expression of all healthier opinion, you disarm the reformers and paralyze their energies—the reformers who, if left to themselves, would strive to move the minds of men, and to win their hearts, but who now resign themselves to sleep and to indifference, fondly believing that you with your force have fought and won their battle for them, and that nothing now remains for them to do. But in truth you have done nothing; you have helped the enemy. You may have made the outside of things more respectable to the careless eye, you may have taught men to believe in the things that seem, and in reality are not; but you have left the poisonous sore underneath to work its own evil undisturbed, in its own way and measure. The evil, whatever it was, was the result of perverted intelligence or perverted nature; and your systems of force have left that intelligence and that nature unchanged; and you have done that most dangerous of all things—you have strengthened the general belief in the rightfulness and usefulness of employing force. Do you not see that of all weapons that men can take into their hands force is the vainest, the weakest? In the long dark history of the world, what real, what permanent good has ever come from the force which men have never hesitated to use against each other? By force the great empires have been built up, only in due time to be broken into pieces, and to leave mere ruins of stones to tell their story. By force the rulers have compelled nations to accept a religion—only in the end to provoke that revolt of men's minds which always in its own time sweeps away the work of the sword, of the hangman and the torture table. What persecution has in the end altered the course of human belief? What army, used for ambitious and aggressive purposes, has not at last become as a broken tool? What claim of a church to exercise authority and to own the souls of men has not destroyed its own influence and brought certain decay on itself? Is it not the same today, as it has been in all the centuries of the past? Has not the real prosperity, the happiness, the peace of a nation increased just in proportion as it has broken all the bonds and disabilities that impeded its life, just in proportion as it has let liberty replace force; just in proportion as it has chosen and established for itself all rights of opinion, of meeting, of discussion, rights of free trade, rights of the free use of faculties, rights of self-ownership as against the wrongs of subjection? And do you think that these new bonds and restrictions in which the nations of today have allowed themselves to be entangled—the conscription which sends men out to fight, consenting or not consenting, which treats them as any other war material, as the guns and the rifles dispatched in batches to do their work; or the great systems of taxation, which make of the individual mere tax material, as conscription makes of him mere war material; or the great systems of compulsory education, under which the state on its own unavowed interest tries to exert more and more of its own influence and authority over the minds of the children, tries—as we see especially in other countries—to mold and to shape those young minds for its own ends—“Something of religion will be useful—school-made patriotism will be useful—drilling will be useful”—so preparing from the start docile and obedient state material, ready-made for taxation, ready-made for conscription—ready-made for the ambitious aims and ends of the rulers—do you think that any of these modern systems, though they are more veiled, more subtle, less frank and brutal than the systems of the older governments, though the poison in them is more thickly smeared with the coating of sugar, will bear different fruit, will work less evil amongst us all, will endure longer than those other broken and discredited attempts, which men again and again in their madness and presumption have made to possess themselves of and to rule the bodies and minds of others? No! one and all they belong to the same evil family; they are all part of the same conspiracy against the true greatness of human nature; they are all marked broad across the forehead with the same old curse; and they will all end in the same shameful and sorrowful ending. Over us all is the great unchanging law, ever the same, unchanged and unchanging, regardless of all our follies and delusions, that come and go, that we are not to take possession of and rule the body and mind of others; that we are not to take away from our fellow beings their own intelligence, their own choice, their own conscience and free will; that we are not to allow any ruler, be it autocrat, emperor, parliament, or voting crowd, to take from any human being his own true rank, making of him the degraded state material that others use for their own purposes.

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As regards the labor question, recognizing to the full the right of any and all laborers peacefully to withhold their labor, if so they choose, at every hour of every day of every year, and even—should they so elect—to starve into submission—if they can—any number of their fellow-men by such withholding of their labor, free life yet urges them to seek their ends through peace instead of war, and to do away with the terrible waste and other evils that result from employing their savings as a war fund. Believing that it is most hurtful to the true interests of labor, as well as morally unjust, to attempt to prevent any fellow laborer from taking the place which another laborer has thought right to resign; believing that each man has the right to give or withhold his own labor, as he chooses, but not in any way to interfere with the bargain which some other man may make about himself, it urges upon all workmen: (1) Where they are discontented with their conditions of employment not to strike in a body (which means almost necessarily the compulsion of some of their own number, means acting upon the instincts of a crowd instead of acting as reasonable individuals, means the danger of acquiescing—when once a struggle is entered upon—in some form of violence and intimidation), but to assist in removing those, who individually wish to be removed, to other factories and workshops, thus peacefully draining away, where the terms of employment are unsatisfactory, the best and most adventurous hands, while as a matter of right and justice they offer no impediment of any kind to the taking on of new hands by the employer; (2) To trust in such cases far more than at present to friendly negotiation, and to the increasing power of publicity and free discussion for the improvement of the conditions under which they give their labor; (3) To make their unions instruments for amassing large corporate property, to turn them from fighting machines into organizations for constructive purposes, such as the establishing of courses of education during periods when trade is depressed, the investing of their savings fund in solid bricks and mortar, in homes, which might become the property of the individual members, in lodging houses, halls, reading and recreation rooms, farms in the country, which would be held collectively, in shares of existing productive enterprises, and, as opportunity arose, in trade enterprises conducted by themselves; (4) To cultivate far more friendly and intimate relations with employers; to place employers under no vexatious rules or restrictions, especially restrictions invented by a central body; to make their conduct of business as easy as possible; to get rid of factory laws, and in their place to cooperate with employers to promote far better sanitary conditions and other conditions affecting the comfort of those who labor than those existing at present; to encourage every system under which they would become partners in the concerns in which they work; and instead of placing themselves under any universal discipline of limited hours, to favor differences as regards time and manner of work at different factories or mines, so that each class of workers—the youngest and strongest, the oldest and least strong—may gradually find that which suits them best; (5) To abandon every attempt to enforce one fixed rate of payment throughout a trade, as necessarily driving out of employment old, young, and second-rate workers, and as certain to prolong the existence of great war organizations and great war funds on the part both of employers and workmen—each side wasting more and more of its resources in the effort to be stronger than its rival, and thus imitating on a small scale the disastrous example of Germany and France; and in the same way to abandon every attempt to restrict the number of those who enter their own trade, or to turn their trade into a monopoly.


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Now let us see the mischief that arises when you make the existence of indirect compulsion a ground for employing direct compulsion. First, when you do so you at once destroy the immense safeguard that exists so long as one man cannot be compelled to accept another man's view as regards his own life or happiness–that is to say, that the person who knows most about his interest and cares most about it–I mean the man's own self–must give his consent to every action that he does; and you establish a system, founded on very puzzle-headed ideas, under which each man is not to be his own special guardian, but is to be put instead under the guardianship of (say) 10,000,000 of his countrymen and countrywomen. Second, observe, that in opposing such indirect force, as is tyrannously used, by the weapon of direct force, you fall into the same mistake as those do, who try to repress a crime by methods more brutal than the crime itself; or as those do who would forcibly repress teaching, such as that of the Roman Catholic religion, because they believe that the claim to possess infallibility tends to an intolerant use of power, whenever power and this claim happen to be joined in the same persons. But could such people have their way, they would immensely increase the intolerance that exists in the world by inducing all the tolerant–as well as the intolerant–persons to fight for their opinions by intolerant means. In exactly the same way he who uses direct force to combat indirect force only restrains one injury by inflicting another of a graver kind, places the fair-minded people as well as the unfair-minded people on the side of oppression, and, by thus equalizing the actions of the good and bad, indefinitely delays the development of those moral influences to which we can alone look as the solvent of that temper that makes men use harshly the indirect power resting in their hands. Do we wish to make men juster in their daily intercourse with each other? We shall certainly not succeed by acting more unjustly in return, for however unjustly a man may use the indirect power that he possesses, his injustice will always be surpassed by those who violate the universal rights of men by applying force directly.