by Auberon Herbert
From Number 45 – August 1990
[The Free Life was an English journal edited by Auberon Herbert from the late 1880’s till the early 1900’s. This excerpt is from the issue of May, 1893.]
Free Life has scanty reverence for Crowns, Governments, official departments, Members of Parliament, County councillors, Party caucuses, or nose-led majorities; it exposes the ridiculous attempt to represent 50,000 different persons by one person on all the great subjects of life; hates the untruthful bribing politician; hates the traffic in votes; hates the Party fight; hates officialism, without hating officials; hates State-made piety of any kind; hates State socialism, land nationalization, unearned-increment superstitions, land courts, State-dictated contracts, and all other unhealthy inventions of the State-worshiping brain; would allow Free Trade, free enterprise, free initiative, free arrangement to develop in every direction; hates the damnable practice of voting property out of one set of pockets into another set of pockets, because it corrupts the public sense of what is fair to each other, because it teaches the hypocritical doctrine that it is wrong to bludgeon and rob your neighbor on the highroad, but right to knock him down with majority-vote, and pillage him by Act of Parliament, because it magnifies the office and exalts the horn of the politician, – who should be reduced to the lowest point of insignificance, – because it supplies that worthy gentlemen with exactly what he wants most, a bribery-fund to secure reputation, place, aand power for himself, because it makes Parliament into a little god, inflated with conceit and believing itself supreme over all persons and all things, and because it creates the most hopeless confusion as regards the exertions by which the industrious have to gain competence and wealth. Free Life resolutely defends private property, as inseperably connected with liberty or self-ownership (since the free self, its free exercise of faculties, its freedom to acquire, to produce, to exchange, in the open markets of the world, form one inviolable whole), and as far more productive of happiness and contentment than those sham forms of property, which being placed under a State lock and key, are subject to no real control or enjoyment on the part of the individual. Free Life believes that only in Liberty – Liberty in thinking, acting, acquiring, and enjoyment – is salvation to be found; and labours to help forward a future, in which men and women, unspoilt by nursery government, erect and self-confident, bowing the knee neither to power nor fashion nor tradition, accustomed to use their own senses instead of the senses either of the crowd or of the politicians, minding their own business, finding their own happiness, after their own liking, making their mistakes and learning from them, ready to co-operate in friendly temper with each other because uncoerced, and able to submit themselves voluntarily – whenever needful – to discipline, shall agree to reject compulsion in every form equally for themselves and for all others. …
It is in no selfish spirit that Free Life preaches Voluntaryism. It wishes no individual to wrap himself up in his own special interests; it wishes no part of the nation to retreat from any true duties which fall upon it, either within or without the borders of this country. But it denies that any good or lasting work can be built upon the compulsion of others, be they rich or poor; it denies that either by those who compel or from those who are compelled, can the peaceful and happy society of the future be built. It invites all men to abandon the barren problems of force, and to give themselves up to the happy problems of liberty and friendly co-operation; to join in thinking out – whilst first and foremost we give to the individual those full rights over himself and over whatever is his, without which all effort is vain – how we can best carry on a common life, and manage public property; how we can best assist each other in the perfection of education, in the spreading of sanitary knowledge, in improving the conditions of labour, in attacking poverty, in purifying and beautifying the life of our towns, in organizing voluntary defence, in helping distant communities that are related to us or partly dependent on us; how we can do all these things, – without at any point touching with the least of our fingers the hateful instrument of an aggressive and unjustifiable compulsion.