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Freeland by Theodor Hertzka

Part 6 out of 9

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has to be paid to the saver for sparing the community, by his voluntary
thrift, the necessity of making thrift compulsory. What I now wish to know
is, what were your reasons for forbidding the payment of interest? Or are
you in Freeland of opinion that it is unjust to give to the saver a share
of the fruits of his saving?'

'We are not of that opinion,' answered the director. 'But first I must
assure you that you have started from an erroneous assumption. We _forbid_
the payment of interest as little as we "forbid" the undertaker's profit or
the landlord's ground-rent. These three items of income do not exist here,
simply because no one is under the necessity of paying them. If our workers
needed an "undertaker" to organise and discipline them for highly
productive activity, no power could prevent them from giving up to him what
belonged to him--namely, the profit of the undertaking--and remaining
satisfied themselves with a bare subsistence. Nothing in our constitution,
and no one among us, would interfere with such an undertaker in the
peaceable enjoyment of his share of the produce. If the land needed--'

'Pardon my interruption,' said Sir B----. '"If our workers needed an
undertaker to organise and discipline them, no power could prevent them
from giving up to him the whole of the produce"--these were your words. In
the name of heaven, do not your workers need such a man? Do they need none
over them to organise, discipline, guide, and overlook the process of
production? And when I hear you so coolly and distinctly assert that such a
man has a right to the produce, and that neither for God's sake nor in the
name of justice need he leave to the worker more than a bare subsistence, I
am compelled to ask myself whether you, an authority in Freeland, are
pleased to jest, or whether what we have hitherto seen and heard here rests
upon a mere delusion?'

'Forgive me for not having expressed myself more plainly,' answered the
director to Sir B---- and to the rest of us who, like him, had shown our
consternation at the apparent contradiction between the last words of our
informant and the spirit of Freeland institutions. 'I said, "If our workers
needed an _undertaker_": I beg you to lay emphasis upon the word
"undertaker." A man or several men to arrange, organise, guide the work,
they certainly need; but such a man is not an undertaker. The difference
between our workers and others consists in the fact that the former allow
themselves to be organised and disciplined by persons who are dependent
upon them, instead of being their masters. The conductors of our
associations are not the masters, but the officials--as well as
shareholders--of the working fellowship, and have therefore as little right
to the whole produce as their colleagues abroad. The latter are appointed
and paid by the "owner" of what is produced; and in this country this owner
is the whole body of workers as such. An undertaker in the sense of the old
industrial system, on the other hand, is a something whose function
consists in nothing but in being master of the process of production; he is
by no means the actual organiser and manager, but simply the owner, who, as
such, need not trouble himself about the process of production further than
to condescend to pocket the profits. That the undertaker at the same time
bears the risks attendant upon production has to be taken into account when
we consider the individual undertaker, but not when we consider the
institution as such, for we cannot speak of the risk of the body of
undertakers as a whole, I called the undertaker, not a man, but a
something, because in truth it need not be a man with flesh and blood. It
may just as well be a scheme, a mere idea; if it does but appropriate the
profits of production it admirably fulfils its duty as undertaker, for as
such it is nothing more than the shibboleth of mastership. Let us not be
misled by the fact that frequently--we will say, as a rule--the undertaker
is at the same time the actual manager of the work of production; when he
is, he unites two economic functions in one person, that of the--mental or
physical--labour and that of the undertakership. Other functions can just
as well be associated together in him: the undertaker can be also
capitalist or landlord; nevertheless, the undertaker, as economic subject,
has no other function than that of being master of other men's labour and
of appropriating to himself the fruits of the process of production after
subtracting the portions due to the other factors in production.

'And this master, whose function consists simply of an abstract mastership,
is an inexorable necessity so long as the workers are servants who can be
disciplined, not by their enlightened self-interest, but only by force. To
throw the blame of this exclusively or only mainly upon "capital" was a
fatal error, which for a long time prevented the clear perception of the
real cause--the servile habits and opinions that had grown stronger and
stronger during thousands of years of bondage. Capital is indispensable to
a highly developed production, and the working masses of the outside world
are mostly without capital; but they are without it only because they are
powerless servants, and even when in exceptional cases they possess capital
they do not know how to do anything with it without the aid of masters. Yet
it is frequently the capital of the servants themselves by means of
which--through the intervention of the savings-banks--the undertaker
carries on the work of production; it none the less follows that he pockets
the proceeds and leaves to the servants nothing but a bare subsistence over
and above the interest. Or the servants club their savings together for the
purpose of engaging in productive work on their own account; but as they
are not able to conceive of discipline without servitude, cannot even
understand how it is possible to work without a master who must be obeyed,
because he can hire and discharge, pay and punish--in brief, because he is
master; and as they would be unable to dispose of the produce, or to agree
over the division of it, though this might be expected from them as
possessors of the living labour-power,--they therefore set themselves in
the character of a corporate capitalist as master over themselves in the
character of workmen. In these productive associations, which the workers
carry on with money they have saved by much self-denial or have involved
themselves in worry and anxiety by borrowing, they remain as workers under
a painful obligation to obey, and the slaves of wages; though certainly in
their character of small capitalists they transform themselves into masters
who have a right to command and to whom the proceeds of production
belong--that is, into undertakers. The example of these productive
associations shows, more plainly than anything else can, that it was
nothing but the incapacity of the working masses to produce without masters
that made the undertaker a necessity. We in Freeland have for the first
time solved the problem of uniting ourselves for purposes of common
production, of disciplining and organising ourselves, though the proceeds
of production belonged to us in our character of workers and not of
capitalists. And as the experiment succeeded, and when undertaken by
intelligent men possessing some means must succeed, we have no further need
of the undertaker.

'But undertakership is not forbidden in Freeland. No one would hinder you
from opening a factory here and attempting to hire workers to carry it on
for wages. But in the first place you would have to offer the workers at
least as much as the average earnings of labour in Freeland; and in the
second place it is questionable if you would find any who would place
themselves under your orders. That, as a matter of fact, no such case has
occurred for the past eighteen years--that even our greatest technical
reformers, in possession of the most valuable inventions, have without
exception preferred to act not as undertakers, but as organisers of free
associations--this is due simply to the superiority of free over servile
labour. It has been found that the same inventors are able to accomplish a
great deal more with free workers who are stimulated by self-interest, than
with wage-earners who, in spite of constant oversight, can only be induced
to give a mechanical attention to their tasks. Moreover, the system of
authoritative mastership was as repugnant to the feelings of the masters as
to those of the men under them, and both parties found themselves
uncomfortable in their unfamiliar _rles_--as uncomfortable as formerly in
the _rles_ of absolutely co-equal associates in production. So
considerable was this mutual feeling of discomfort, and so evident was the
inferiority of the servile form of organisation, that all such attempts
were quickly given up, though no external obstacle of any kind had been
placed in their way. Certainly it must not be overlooked that every
undertaker who needs land for his business is in constant danger of having
claims made by others upon the joint use of the land occupied by him, for,
of course, we do not grant him a privilege in this respect; neither he nor
anyone else in Freeland can exclude others from a co-enjoyment of the
ground. Nevertheless, as we have plenty of space, it would have been long
before the undertaker would have had to strike his sail on this account.
That the few who in the early years of our history made such attempts
quickly transformed themselves into directors of associations, was due to
the fact that, in spite of any advantages which they might possess, they
could not successfully compete with free labour. Three of these undertakers
failed utterly; they could fulfil their obligations neither to their
creditors nor to their workmen, and must have had to submit to the disgrace
of bankruptcy if their workmen, distinctly perceiving the one defect from
which the undertakings suffered, had not taken the matter in hand. Since
the inventions and improvements for the introduction of which these three
undertakers had founded their businesses, were valuable and genuine, and
the masters had during their short time of mastership shown themselves to
be energetic and--apart from their fancy for mastership--sensible men, the
workers stepped into the breach, constituted themselves in each case an
association, took upon themselves all the liabilities, and then, under the
superintendence of the very men who had been on the brink of ruin, carried
on the businesses so successfully that these three associations are now
among the largest in Freeland. Four other several individuals--also notable
industrial inventors--avoided a threatened catastrophe only by a timely
change from the position of undertakers to that of superintendents of
associations; and they stand at present at the head of works whose workers
are numbered by thousands, and have since realised continuously increasing
profits, high enough to satisfy all their reasonable expectations. Thus, as
I have said, undertakership is not forbidden in Freeland; but it cannot
successfully compete with free association.'

Sir B---- and the others declared themselves perfectly satisfied with this
explanation, and begged the bank director to proceed with his account which
they had interrupted. 'You were saying,' intimated my father, 'that in
Freeland interest was no more forbidden than undertaker's gains and
ground-rent. As to undertaker's gains we now understand you; but before you
proceed to the main point of your exposition--to interest--I would like to
ask for fuller details upon the question of ground-rent. How are we to
understand that this is not forbidden in Freeland?'

'How you are to understand that,' was the answer, 'will best be made plain
to you if I take up my train of thought where I left off. If, in order to
labour productively, we required the undertaker, no power in heaven or
earth could save us from giving up to him what was due to him as master of
the process of production, while we contented ourselves with a bare
subsistence--that is what I said. I would add that we should also be
compelled to pay the tribute due to the landlord for the use of the ground,
if we could not till the ground without having a landlord. For property in
land was always based upon the supposition that unowned land could not be
cultivated. Men did not understand how to plough and sow and reap without
having the right to prevent others from ploughing and sowing and reaping
upon the same land. Whether it was an individual, a community, a district,
or a nation, that in this way acquired an exclusive right of ownership of
the land, was immaterial: it was necessarily an _exclusive_ right,
otherwise no one would put any labour into the land. Hence it happened, in
course of time, that the individual owner of land acquired very
considerable advantages in production over the many-headed owner; and the
result was that common property in land gradually passed into individual
ownership. But this distinction is not an essential one, and has very
little to do with our institutions. With us, the land--so far as it is used
as a means of production and not as sites for dwelling-houses--is
absolutely masterless, free as air; it belongs neither to one nor to many:
everyone who wishes to cultivate the soil is at liberty to do so where he
pleases, and to appropriate his part of the produce. There is, therefore,
no ground-rent, which is nothing else than the owner's interest for the use
of the land; but a prohibition of it will be sought for in vain. In the
fact that I have no right to prohibit anything to others lies no
prohibition. It cannot even be said that I am prohibited from prohibiting
anything, for I may do it without hindrance from anyone; but everybody will
laugh at me, as much as if I had forbidden people to breathe and had
asserted that the atmospheric air was my own property. Where there is no
power to enforce such pretensions, it is not necessary to prohibit them; if
they are not artificially called forth and upheld, they simply remain
non-existent. In Freeland no one possesses this power because here no one
need sequestrate the land in order that it may be tilled. But the magic
which enables us to cultivate ownerless land without giving rise to
disputes is the same that enables us to produce without undertakers--free

'Just as little do we forbid interest. No one in Freeland will prevent you
from asking as high a rate of interest as you please; only you will find no
one willing to pay it you, because everyone can get as much capital as he
needs without interest. But you will ask whether, in this placing of the
savings of the community at the disposal of those who need capital, there
does not lie an injustice? Whether it is not Communism? And I will admit
that here the question is not so simple as in the cases of the undertaker's
gains and of ground-rent. Interest is charged for a real and tangible
service essentially different from the service rendered by the undertaker
and the landowner. Whilst, namely, the economic service of the two latter
consists in nothing but the exercise of a relation of mastership, which
becomes superfluous as soon as the working masses have transformed
themselves from servants working under compulsion into freely associated
men, the capitalist offers the worker an instrument which gives
productiveness to his labour under all circumstances. And whilst it is
evident that, with the establishment of industrial freedom, both undertaker
and landowner become, not merely superfluous, but altogether
objectless--_ipso facto_ cease to exist--with respect to the capitalist,
the possessor of savings, it can even be asserted that society is dependent
upon him in an infinitely higher degree when free than when enslaved,
because it can and must employ much more capital in the former case than in
the latter. Moreover, it is not true that service rendered by capital--the
giving wings to production--is compensated for by the mere return of the
capital. After a full repayment, there remains to the worker, in proportion
as he has used the capital wisely--which is his affair and not the
lender's--a profit which in certain circumstances may be very considerable,
the increase of the proceeds of labour obtained by the aid of the capital.
Why should it be considered unreasonable or unjust to hand over a part of
this gain to the capitalist--to him, that is, to whose thrift the existence
of the capital is due? The saver, so said the earlier Socialists, has no
right to demand any return for the service which he has rendered the
worker; it costs him nothing, since he receives back his property
undiminished when and how he pleases (the premium for risk, which may have
been charged as security against the possible bad faith or bankruptcy of
the debtor, has nothing to do with the interest proper). Granted; but what
right has the borrower, who at any rate derives advantage from the service
rendered, to retain all the advantage himself? And what certainty has he of
being able to obtain this service, even though it costs the saver nothing
to render it, if he (the borrower) does not undertake to render any service
in return? It is quite evident that the interest is paid in order to induce
the saver to render such a friendly service. How could we, without
communistic coercion, transfer capital from the hands of the saver into
those of the capital-needing producer? For the community to save and to
provide producers with capital from this source is a very simple way out of
the difficulty, but the right to do this must be shown. No profound thinker
will be satisfied with the communistic assertion that the capital drawn
from the producers in one way is returned to them in another, for by this
means there does not appear to be established any equilibrium between the
burden and the gain of the individual producers. The tax for the
accumulation of capital must be equally distributed among all the
producers; the demand for capital, on the other hand, is a very unequal
one. But how could we take the tax paid by persons who perhaps require but
little capital, to endow the production of others who may happen to require
much capital? What advantage do we offer to the former for their compulsory

'And yet the answer lies close at hand. _It is true that in the exploiting
system of society the creditor does not derive the slightest advantage from
the increase in production which the debtor effects by means of the
creditor's savings; on the other hand, in the system of society based upon
social freedom and justice both creditor and debtor are equally
advantaged._ Where, as with us, every increase in production must be
equably distributed among all, the problem as to how the saver profits from
the employment of his capital solves itself. The machinist or the weaver,
whose tax, for example, is applied to the purchase or improvement of
agricultural machines, derives, with us, exactly the same advantage from
this as does the agriculturist; for, thanks to our institutions, the
increase of profit effected in any locality is immediately distributed over
all localities and all kinds of production.

'If anyone would ask what right a community based upon the free
self-control of the individual, and strongly antagonistic to Communism, has
to coerce its members to exercise thrift, the answer is that such coercion
is in reality not employed. The tax out of which the capitalisation is
effected is paid by everyone only in proportion to the work he does. No one
is coerced to labour, but in proportion as a man does labour he makes use
of capital. What is required of him is merely an amount proportional to
what he makes use of. Thus both justice and the right of self-control are
satisfied in every point.

'You see, it is exactly the same with interest as with the undertaker's
gains and with ground-rent: the guaranteed right of association saves the
worker from the necessity of handing over a part of the proceeds of his
production to a third person under any plea whatever. Interest disappears
of itself, just like profit and rent, for the sole but sufficient reason
that the freely associated worker is his own capitalist, as well as his own
undertaker and landlord. Or, if one will put it so, _interest, profit, and
rent remain, but they are not separated from wages, with which they combine
to form a single and indivisible return for labour_.'

And with this, good-night for the present.



Eden Vale: Aug. 11, ----

What we learnt from the director of the Freeland Central Bank occupied the
thoughts of my father and myself for a long time. As this high functionary,
who was a frequent visitor at the house of the Neys, dined with our hosts
the next day, the table-talk ran mainly upon the Freeland institutions. My
father began by asking whether the circumstance that the rest of the world,
from which Freeland did not--and, in fact, in this matter could
not--isolate itself, paid interest for loans, did not induce Freeland
savers to seek foreign investments for their money; or whether at least
some artificial means had not to be adopted to prevent this.

'There is nothing, absolutely nothing,' answered Mr. Clark, 'to prevent
Freeland savers from investing their capital abroad; in fact, at present--I
have quite recently been referring to the statistics upon this point
regularly published by our central bank--some two and a-half milliards
(2,500,000,000) are invested partly in the large foreign banks, partly in
European and American bonds. For example, a good half of your Italian
national debt is in the hands of Freelanders. But what are such figures in
comparison with the gigantic amounts of our savings and capital? We cannot
prevent, and have no reason whatever to prevent, many Freelanders from
being induced by foreign interest to accumulate more capital than is needed
here at home on the one hand, and more than they consider necessary to
insure themselves against old age on the other. For what is required for
these two purposes cannot go abroad.'

'And is not this last-mentioned fact a disadvantage to the Freeland saver?'
I asked.

'A Freelander who thought so,' said Mr. Ney, 'must have a very imperfect
knowledge of what is to his own advantage. The interest paid by foreign
debtors can in no respect compare with the advantages offered by employment
of the money in Freeland, those advantages being, as you know, equably
distributed among all the members of our commonwealth. At the end of last
year we had altogether thirty-four milliards sterling invested. The
calculated profit of these investments amounted to seven milliards;
therefore, more than twenty per cent. Moreover, thanks to these same
investments, every Freelander enjoys gratuitously the electric light,
warming, the use of railways and steamships, &c., advantages the total
value of which would very nearly equal the remunerative production effected
by our investments. Anyone can now calculate how much more profitable
Freeland investments of capital are than foreign ones. Moreover, the two
and a-half milliards, of which friend Clark spoke, is a large sum in
European and American financial operations, and it has actually contributed
towards very considerably lowering from time to time the rate of interest
in all the foreign money-markets; but when this amount is compared with
Freeland finances, the investment of it abroad is seen to be simply an
insignificant and harmless whim. This large sum brings in, at the present
rate of interest--you will understand that Freeland savers invest merely in
the very best European or American bonds--about thirty-four millions
sterling; that is, not quite the two-hundredth part of the national revenue
of Freeland. And there can be no doubt that this whim will--for us--lose
much of even its present importance as Freeland continues to grow; for the
competition of our capital has already reduced the rate of discount of the
Bank of England to one and a-quarter per cent., and raised the price of the
One and a-Half per cent. Consols to 118; hence there can be no doubt that a
large flow of Freeland savings to Europe and America must, in a near
future, reduce the rate of interest to a merely nominal figure. That this
whim of investing capital abroad will altogether vanish as soon as foreign
countries adopt our institutions is self-evident.'

I now addressed to Mr. Clark the question in what way the Freeland
commonwealth guarded against the danger of _crises_, which, in my opinion,
must here be much more disastrous than in any other country.

'Crises of any kind,' was the answer, 'would certainly dissolve the whole
complex of the Freeland institutions; but here they are impossible, for
lack of the source from which they elsewhere spring. The cause of all
crises, whether called production-crises or capital-crises, lies simply in
over-production--that is, in the disproportion between production and
consumption; and this disproportion does not exist among us. In fact, the
starting-point of the Freeland social reform is the correct perception of
the essential character of over-production arrived at twenty-six years ago
by the International Free Society. Until then--and in the rest of the world
it is still the case--the science of political economy found in this
phenomenon an embarrassing enigma, with which it did not know how better to
deal than to deny its existence. There was no real over-production--that
is, no general non-consumption of products--so taught the orthodox
political economists; for, they contended, men labour only when induced to
do so to supply a need, and it is therefore impossible in the nature of
things that more goods should be produced than can be consumed. And, on our
supposition, to which I will refer presently, this is perfectly correct.
Everyone will use what he produces to meet a certain need; he will either
use his product himself or will exchange it for what another has produced.
It matters not what that other product is, it is at any rate something that
has been produced; the question never need be what kind of product, but
only whether some product is asked for. Let us assume that an improvement
has taken place in the production of wheat: it is possible that the demand
for wheat will not increase in proportion to the possibility of increasing
its production, for it is not necessary that the producers of wheat should
use their increased earnings in a larger consumption of wheat. But then the
demand for something else would correspondingly increase--for example, for
clothing, or for tools; and if this were only known in time, and production
were turned in that direction, there would never be a disturbance in the
exchange-relations of the several kinds of goods. Thus the orthodox
doctrine explains crises as due not to a surplus of products in general,
not to a mere disproportion between production and consumption, but to a
transient disturbance of the right relation between the several kinds of
production; and it adds that it is simply paradoxical to talk of a
deficient demand in view of the misery prevailing all over the world.

'In this, in other respects perfectly unassailable reasoning, only _one_
thing is forgotten--the fundamental constitution of the exploiting system
of society. Certainly it is a cruel paradox to speak of a general lack of
demand in view of boundless misery; but where an immense majority of men
have no claim upon the fruits of their labour, this paradox becomes a
horrible reality. What avails it to the suffering worker that he knows how
to make right, good, and needful use of what he produces, if that which he
produces does not belong to him? Let us confine ourselves to the example of
the increased production of wheat by improved methods of cultivation. If
the right of disposal of the increased quantity of grain belonged to the
agricultural producers, they would certainly eat more or finer bread, and
thus themselves consume a part of the increased production; with another
part they would raise the demand for clothing, and with another the demand
for implements, which would necessarily be required in order that more
grain and clothing might be produced. In such a case it would really be
merely a question of restoring the right relation between the production of
wheat, of clothing, of implements, which had been disturbed by the
increased production of one of these--wheat; and increased production, a
condition of greater prosperity for all, would, after some transient
disturbances, be the inevitable consequence. But since the increased
proceeds of wheat-cultivation do not belong to the workers, since those
workers receive in any case only a bare subsistence, the progress which has
been made in their branch of production does not enable them to consume
either more grain or more clothing, and therefore there can exist no
increased demand for implements for the production of wheat and textile

'But,' I objected, 'though this increased product is withheld from the
workers, it is not ownerless--it belongs to the undertakers; and these too
are men who wish to use their gains to satisfy some want or other. The
undertakers will now increase their consumption; and after all one might
suppose it would be impossible that a general disproportion should exist
between supply and demand. Certainly it would now be commodities of another
kind, the production of which would be stimulated in order to restore an
equilibrium between the several branches of labour. If the increase
belonged to the workers, then would more grain, more ordinary clothing, and
more implements be required; but since it belongs to a few undertakers
there will be an increased demand only for luxuries--dainties, laces,
equipages--and for the implements requisite to produce these luxuries.'

'Exactly!' said David, who here joined in the conversation. 'Only the
undertakers are by no means inclined to apply, in any considerable degree,
the surplus derived from increased production to an additional consumption
of luxuries; but they capitalise most of it--that is, invest it in
implements of production. Nay, in some circumstances--as we heard
yesterday--the "undertaker" is no man at all possessing human wants, but a
mere dummy that consumes nothing and capitalises everything.'

'So much the better,' I said, 'wealth will increase all the more rapidly;
for rapidly growing capital means rapidly increasing production, and that
is in itself identical with rapidly increasing wealth.'

'Splendid!' cried David. 'So, because the working masses cannot increase
their consumption, and the undertakers will not correspondingly increase
theirs, and consequently there can be no increased consumption of any
commodity whatever, therefore the surplus power of production is utilised
in multiplying the means of production. That is, in other words, no one
needs more grain--so let us construct more ploughs; no one needs more
textile material--so let us set up more spinning-mills and looms! Are you
not yet able to measure the height of absurdity to which your doctrine

I think, Louis, you, like myself, will admit that there is simply no reply
to reasoning so plain and convincing. An economic system which bars the
products of human industry and invention from the only use to which they
should finally be applied--namely, that of satisfying some human
requirement--and which is then astonished that they cannot be consumed,
narrowly escapes idiocy. But that such is the character of the system which
prevails in Europe and America must in the end become clear to everyone.

'But, in heaven's name, what becomes of the productive power among us which
thus remains unemployed?' I asked. 'We are, on the whole, as advanced in
art, science, and technical skill as you are in Freeland; I must therefore
suppose that we could become as rich, or nearly so, as you, if we could
only find a use for all our production. But we do not actually possess a
tenth of your wealth, and yet there is twice as much hard work done among
us as there is here. For though among you everyone works, and among us
there are several millions of persons of leisure who live simply upon the
toil of others, yet this is counterbalanced by the circumstance that our
working masses are kept at their toil ten hours or more daily, whilst here
an average working day is only five hours. Certainly among us there are
millions of unemployed workers; but that also is more than compensated for
by the labour of women and children, which is unknown among you. Where
then, I repeat, lies the immense difference between the utilisation of our
powers of production and of yours?'

'In the equipment of labour,' was the answer. 'We Freelanders do not work
so hard as you do, but we make full use of all the aids of science and
technics, whilst you are able to do this only exceptionally, and in no case
so completely as we do. All the inventions and discoveries of the greatest
minds are as well known to you as to us; but as a rule they are taken
advantage of only by us. Since your aristocratic institutions prevent you
from enjoying the things the production of which is facilitated by those
inventions, you are not able to take advantage of the inventions except in
such small measure as your institutions permit.'

Even my father was profoundly moved by this crushing exposition of a system
which he had always been accustomed to honour as the highest emanation of
eternal wisdom. 'Incredible! shocking!' he murmured in a tone audible only
to myself.

But Mr. Clark proceeded: 'Among us, on the contrary, the theorem of the
so-called classical economics, that a general excess of production is
impossible, has become a truth, for in Freeland consumption and production
exactly tally. Here there can be over-production only temporarily and in
_isolated_ kinds of goods--that is, the equilibrium between different kinds
of production may be temporarily disturbed. But we have no need to be
afraid of even this trifling danger. The intimate connection of all
productive interests springing from the nature of our institutions is an
antecedent guarantee of equilibrium between all branches of production. A
careful examination will show that the whole of Freeland is one great
productive society, whose individual members are independent of one
another, and yet are connected in one respect--namely, in respect of the
proceeds of their labour. Just because everyone can labour where and how he
pleases, but everyone's labour is alike in aiming at the highest possible
utility, so--apart from any incidental errors--it is impossible but that an
equal amount of labour should result in an equal amount of utility. All our
institutions tend towards this one point. At first, as long as our
commonwealth was in its initial stages, it sometimes happened that
considerable inequalities had to be subsequently balanced; the producers
did not always know until the year's accounts were closed what one and the
other had earned. But that was a period of childhood long since outlived.
At present, every Freelander knows, to within such trifling variations as
may be due to little unforeseen accidents, exactly what he and others have
earned, and also what they have every prospect of earning in the near
future. He does not wait for inequalities to arise and then set about
rectifying them; but he takes care that inequalities shall not arise. Since
our statistics always show with unerring accuracy what at the time is being
produced in every branch of industry, and since the demand as well as its
influence upon prices can be exactly estimated from a careful observation
of past years, therefore the revenue not only of every branch of industry,
but of every separate establishment, can be beforehand so reliably
calculated that nothing short of natural catastrophes can cause errors
worth notice. If such occur, then comes in the assistance of the reciprocal
insurance. In fact, in this country, not only are there no crises, but not
even any considerable variations in the different productions. Our
Statistical Department publishes an unbroken series of exact comparative
statistics, from which can at any time be seen where either fresh demand or
excess of labour is likely to arise; our supply of labour is controlled by
these returns, and that is sufficient--with rare exceptions--to preserve a
perfect equilibrium in production. It frequently occurs that here or there
a newly started establishment comes to grief, particularly in the mining
industry. Such a failure must not, however, be regarded as a
bankruptcy--how can undertakers become bankrupt when they have neither
ground-rent, nor interest, nor wages to pay, and who in any case still
possess their highly priced labour-power?--but at the worst as a case of
disappointed expectations. And should the very rare circumstance occur,
that the community or an association loses the loaned capital through the
premature death of the borrower, of what importance is that in the face of
the gigantic sums safely employed in our business? And if a guaranty (_del
credere_) were insisted upon to cover such a loss, it would amount to
scarcely a thousandth part of one per cent., and would not be worth the ink
used in writing it.'

'And do not foreign crises sometimes disturb the calm course of your
Freeland production? Are not your markets flooded, through foreign
over-production, with goods for which there is no corresponding demand?' I

'It certainly cannot be denied that we are considerably inconvenienced by
the frequent and sudden changes of price in the markets of the world caused
by the anarchic character of the exploiting system of production. We are
thereby often compelled to diminish our production in certain directions,
and divert the labour thus set free to other branches of industry, though
there is no actual change in the cost of production or in the relative
demand. These foreign, sudden, and incalculable influences sometimes make a
diversion of labour from one production to another necessary in order to
preserve an equilibrium in the profits, though the regular and automatic
migration of labour from one industry to another is sufficient to correct
the disturbance in the relations between supply and demand due to natural
causes. But these spasmodic foreign occurrences cannot produce a serious
convulsion in our industrial relations. Just as it is impossible to throw
out of equilibrium a liquid which yields to every pressure or blow, so our
industry is able to preserve its equilibrium by means of its absolutely
free mobility. It may be thrown into fruitless agitation, but its natural
gravity at once restores the harmony of its relations. But, as I have said,
such a disturbance is produced only by a partial over-production abroad.
That this brings about a superabundance of all commodities, we care but
little. Since foreign countries do not send us their goods for nothing, but
demand other goods in return, what those other goods shall be is their
business, not ours. We have no interest-bearing bonds or saleable property
in land; hence our export goods must be the produce of our labour. The fact
that in Freeland every product must find a purchaser is therefore by no
means affected by external trade.'

'That is very clear,' I admitted.

'But,' interposed my father,' why do you not protect yourselves against
disturbance due to foreign fluctuations in production, by a total exclusion
of foreign imports?'

'Because that would be to cut off one's hand in order to prevent it from
being injured,' was Mr. Clark's drastic answer. 'We import only those goods
which we cannot produce so cheaply ourselves. But since, as I have already
taken the liberty of saying, the imported goods are not presented to us,
but must be paid for by goods produced by us, it is of importance that we
should be able to produce the goods with which we make the payment more
cheaply--that is, with less expenditure of labour-power--than we could the
imported goods. For instance, we manufacture scarcely any cotton goods, but
get nearly all such goods from England and America. We could, certainly,
manufacture cotton goods ourselves, but it is plain that we should have to
expend upon their manufacture more labour-power than upon the production of
the corn, gold, machinery, and tools with which we pay for the cotton goods
that we require. If it were not so, we should manufacture cotton goods
also, for there is no conceivable reason for not doing so but the one just
mentioned. If, therefore, our legislature prohibited the importation of
cotton goods, we should have to divert labour from other branches of
industry for the sake of producing _less_ than we do now. We should have
either to put up with fewer goods, or to work more, to meet the same
demand. Hence, in this country, to enact a protective duty would be held to
be pure madness.'

'Then you hold,' said my father, 'that our European and American economists
and statesmen who still in part adhere to the system of protection, are
simply Bedlamites; and you believe that the only rational commercial policy
is that of absolute free trade?'

'Allow me to say,' answered Mr. Clark,' that Europe and America are not
Freeland. I certainly cannot regard protection even abroad as rational, for
the assumptions from which it starts are under all circumstances false. But
neither do I think the foreign free trader is essentially wiser than the
protectionist, for he also starts from assumptions which are baseless in an
exploiting country. The prohibitionists think they are encouraging
production: they are doing the opposite, they are hindering and hampering
production; and the free traders, in so far as they insist upon this fact,
are perfectly correct. Both parties, however, fail to see that in an
exploiting society, which is never able to utilise more than a small part
of its power to produce, the influence of legislative interference with
trade upon the good or the bad utilisation of productive power is a matter
of very little importance. Of what advantage is it to the free traders that
a nation under the domination of their commercial system _is able_ to make
the most prolific use of their industrial capacities, so long as the
continuance of industrial servitude prevents this nation from enjoying more
than enough to satisfy the barest necessities of life? More than is
consumed cannot, under any circumstances, be produced; and consumption
among you abroad is so infinitely small, that it is verily ridiculous to
dispute over the question whether this or that commodity can be produced
better at home or abroad.

'What alone interests us in this controversy among the foreign commercial
politicians is that neither party has the slightest suspicion that what the
free traders rightly reproach the protectionists with, and what the latter
wrongly defend, is the very thing that gains so many adherents to
protection--namely, the hindering and hampering of production. The
protectionists have a right to boast that they compel their people to apply
two day's labour or a double amount of capital to the production at home of
a thing which, by means of external trade, might have been exchanged for
things that are the product of merely half as much expenditure of home
labour. We, who work in order to enjoy, would have a good right to treat as
insane any persons among us who proposed such a course as an "encouragement
of home labour"; but among you, where labour and enjoyment are completely
dissevered, where millions cry for work as a favour--among you, the
hampering of labour is felt to be a benefit because it makes more toil
necessary in order to procure an equal amount of enjoyment. Among you it is
also a somewhat dangerous narcotic, for protection has a Janus head: it not
merely increases the toil, it at the same time still more diminishes the
consumption by raising the price of the articles in demand, the rise in
price never being followed immediately by a rise in wages; so that, in the
end, in spite of the increased difficulty in production, no more labour and
capital are employed than before. But the intimate relation between these
things is as a book sealed with seven seals to both protectionists and free
traders. Had it been otherwise, they must long since have seen that the
cure for industrial evils must be looked for not in the domain of
commercial politics, but in that of social politics.'

'Now I begin to understand,' I cried out, 'the widespread growth of
economic reaction against which we Western Liberals are waging a ridiculous
Quixotic war with all our apparently irrefutable arguments. We present to
the people as an argument against protection exactly that after which they
are--unconsciously, it is true--eagerly longing. Protective tariffs, trade
guilds, and whatever else the ingenious devices of the last decades may be
called, I now understand and recognise as desperate attempts made by men
whose very existence is threatened by the ever growing disproportion
between the power to produce and consumption--attempts to restore to some
extent the true proportion by curbing and checking the power to produce.
Whilst the protectionist is eager to put fetters upon the international
division of labour, to keep at a distance the foreigner who might otherwise
save him some of his toil, the advocate of trade-guilds fights for
hand-labour against machine-labour and commerce. And when I look into the
matter, I find all these people are in a certain sense wiser than we
Liberals of the old school, who know no better cure for the malady of the
time than that of shutting our eyes as firmly as possible. It is true, our
intentions have been of the best; but since we have at length discovered
how to attain what we wished for, we should at once throw off the fatal
self-deception that political freedom would suffice to make men truly free
and happy. Political freedom is an indispensable, but not the sole,
condition of progress; whoever refuses to recognise this condemns mankind
afresh to the night of reaction. For if, as our Liberal economics has
taught, it were really contrary to the laws of nature to guarantee to all
men a full participation in the benefits of progress, then not only would
progress be the most superfluous thing imaginable, but we should have to
agree with those who assert that the eternally disinherited masses can find
happiness only in ignorant indifference. Now I realise that the material
and mental reaction is the logically inevitable outcome of economic
orthodoxy. If wealth and leisure are impossible for all, then it is
strictly logical to promote material and mental reaction; whilst it is
absurd to believe that men will perpetually promote a growth of culture
without ever taking advantage of it. I now see with appalling distinctness
that if our toiling masses had not been saved by their social hopes from
sharing our economic pessimism, we Liberals would long since have found
ourselves in the midst of a reaction of a fearful kind: it is not through
_us_ that modern civilisation has been spared the destruction which
overwhelmed its predecessors.'

After dinner, Mr. Ney invited us to accompany him to the National Palace,
where the Parliament for Public Works was about to hold an evening session
in order to vote upon a great canal project. He thought the subject would
interest us. We accepted the invitation with thanks.

The Parliament for Public Works consists of 120 members, most of whom, as
David--who was one of the party--told me, are directors of large
associations, particularly of associations connected with building; but
among the members are also professors of technical universities, and other
specialists. The body contains no laymen who are ignorant of public works;
and the parliament may be said to contain the flower and quintessence of
the technical science and skill of all Freeland.

The project before the house was one which had been advocated for above a
year by the directors of the Water and Mountain-Cultivation Associations of
Eden Vale, North Baringo, Ripon, and Strahl City, in connection with two
professors of the technical university of Ripon. The project was nothing
less than the construction of a canal navigable by ships of 2,000 tons
burden, from Lake Tanganika, across the Mutanzige and Albert Nyanza, whence
the Nile could be followed to the Mediterranean Sea; and from the mouth of
the Congo, along the course of that river, across the Aruwhimi to the
Albert lake; thence following several smaller streams to the Baringo lake,
along the upper course of the Dana, and thence to the Indian Ocean. The
project thus included two water-ways, one of which would connect the great
lakes of Central Africa with the Mediterranean Sea, and the other, crossing
the whole of the continent, would connect the Atlantic with the Indian
Ocean. Since a part of the immense works involved in this project would
have to be carried through foreign territories--those of the Congo State
and of Egypt--negotiations had been opened with those States, and all the
necessary powers had been obtained. The readiness of the foreign
governments to accede to the wishes of the Eden Vale executive is explained
by the fact that Freeland did not propose to exact any toll for the use of
its canals, thus making its neighbours a free gift of these colossal works.
In connection with this project, there was also another for the acquisition
of the Suez Canal, which was to be doubled in breadth and depth and
likewise thrown open gratuitously to the world. The English government,
which owned the greater part of the Suez Canal shares, had met the
Freelanders most liberally, transferring to them its shares at a very low
price, so that the Freelanders had further to deal with only holders of a
small number of shares, who certainly knew how to take advantage of the
situation. The British government stipulated for the inalienable neutrality
of the canal, and urged the Freelanders to prosecute the work with vigour.

The following were the preliminary expenses:

South-North Canal (total length 3,900 miles) 385,000,000
East-West Canal (total length 3,400 miles) 412,000,000
Suez Canal (purchase and enlargement) 280,000,000
Total 1,077,000,000

It was estimated that the whole would be completed in six years, and that
therefore a round sum of 180,000,000 would be required yearly during the
progress of the work. The Freeland government believed that they were
justified by their past experience in expecting that the national income
would in the course of the coming six years increase from seven
milliards--the income of the past year--to at least ten and a-half
milliards, giving a yearly average of eight and a-half milliards for the
six years. The cost of construction of the projected works would therefore
absorb only two and one-eighth per cent. of the estimated national income,
and would be covered without raising the tax upon this income above its
normal proportion. The estimated cost was accompanied by detailed plans,
and also by an estimate of the profits, according to which it was
calculated that in the first year of use the canals would save the country
32,000,000 in cost of transport; and therefore, taking into account the
presumptive growth of traffic, the canals would, in about thirty years, pay
for themselves in the mere saving of transport expenses. Moreover, these
future waterways were to serve in places as draining and irrigating canals;
and it was calculated that the advantage thus conferred upon the country
would be worth on an average 45,000,000 a year. Thus the whole project
would pay for itself in fourteen years at the longest, without taking into
account the advantages conferred upon foreign nations.

As the whole of the proposals and plans had been in the hands of the
members for several weeks, and had been carefully studied by them, the
discussion began at once. No one offered any opposition to the principle of
the project. The debate was confined chiefly to two questions: first,
whether it was not possible to hasten the construction; and secondly,
whether an alternative plan, the details of which were before the house,
was not preferable. With reference to the first question, it was shown
that, by adopting a new system of dredging devised by certain experienced
specialists, quite six months could be saved; and it was therefore resolved
to adopt that system. As to the second question, after hearing the
arguments of Mr. Ney, it was unanimously decided to adhere to the plan of
the central executive. After a debate of less than three hours, the
government found itself empowered to spend 1,077,000,000, something more
than the cost of all the canals in the rest of the civilised world. This
amount was to be spent in five and a-half years, in constructing works
which would make it possible for ocean steamers to cross the African
continent from east to west, to pass from the Mediterranean as far as the
tenth degree of south latitude, and to remove every obstacle and every toll
from the passage of the Suez Canal.

I was absolutely dumfounded by all this. 'If I had not already resolved to
strike the word "impossible" out of my vocabulary, I should do it now,' I
remarked to Mr. Ney on our way home. I must add that in the Freeland
parliaments all the proceedings take place in the presence of the public,
so that I had an opportunity of making a hasty examination of the details
of the project which had just been adopted. You know that I understand such
things a little, and I was therefore able to gather from the plans that the
two central ship canals crossed several watersheds. One of these watersheds
I accidentally knew something of, as we had passed a part of it on our
journey hither, and a part of it we had seen in some of our excursions. It
rises, as I reckon, at least 1,650 feet above the level of the canal. I
asked Mr. Ney whether it was really proposed to carry a waterway for ships
of 2,000 tons burden some 1,650 feet up and down--was it not impossible
either to construct or to work such a canal?

'Certainly!' he replied, with a smile. 'But if you look at the plan more
carefully, you will see that we do not _go over_ such watersheds by means
of locks, but _under_ them by means of tunnels.'

I looked at him incredulously, and my father's face expressed no little

'What do you find remarkable in that, my worthy guests? Why should it be
impracticable to do on canals what has so long and extensively been done on
railways, which could be much more easily carried _over_ hills and
valleys?' asked Mr. Ney. 'I admit that our canal tunnels are very costly;
but as, in working, they spare us what is the most expensive of all things,
human labour-time, they are the most practical for our circumstances.
Besides, in several cases we had no alternative except to dispense with the
canals or to construct tunnels. The watershed you speak of is not the most
considerable one: our greatest boring--connecting the river system of the
Victoria Nyanza with the Indian Ocean--is carried, in one stretch of ten
and a-half miles, 4,000 feet below the watershed; and altogether, in our
new project, we have not less than eighty-two miles of tunnelling. Such
tunnels are, however, not quite novelties. There are in France, as you
know, several short water-tunnels; we possess, in our old canal system,
several very respectable ones, though certainly they cannot compare either
in length or in size with the new ones, by means of which large ocean
vessels--with lowered masts, of course--will be able to steam through the
bowels of whole ranges of mountains. The cost is enormous; but you must
remember that every hour saved to a Freeland sailor is already worth eight
shillings, and increases in value year by year.'

'But,' said my father, 'what, after all, is inconceivable to me is the
haste, I might almost say the _nonchalance_, with which milliards were
voted to you, as if it was merely a question of the veriest trifle. I would
not for a moment question the integrity of the members of your Parliament
for Public Buildings; but I cannot refrain from saying that the whole
assembly gave me the impression of expecting the greatest personal
advantage from getting the work done as speedily and on as large a scale as

'And that impression was a correct one,' replied Mr. Ney. 'But I must add
that every inhabitant of Freeland will necessarily derive the same personal
profit from the realisation of this canal project. Just because it is so,
just because among us there truly exists that solidarity of interests which
among other peoples exists only in name, are we able to expend such immense
sums upon works which can be shown to promise a utility above their cost.
If, among you, a canal is constructed which increases the profitableness of
large tracts of land, your recognised economics teaches you that it adds to
the prosperity of all. But this is correct only for the owners of the
ground affected by the canal, whilst the great mass of the population is
not benefited in the least by such a canal, and perhaps the owners of other
competing tracts of land are actually injured. The lowering of the price of
corn--so your statesmen assert--benefits the non-possessing classes; they
forget the little fact that the rate of wages cannot be permanently
maintained if the price of corn sinks. Against this there is certainly to
be placed as a consolation the fact that the non-possessing masses will not
be permanently injured by the increased taxes necessitated by such public
works; for he who earns only enough to furnish a bare subsistence cannot
long be made to pay much in taxes. Therefore, in your countries, the
controversy over such investments is a conflict of interests between
different landowners and undertakers, some of whom gain, whilst others gain
nothing, or actually lose. Among us, on the contrary, everyone is alike
interested in the gains of profitable investments in proportion to the
amount of work he does; and everyone is also called upon to contribute to
the defraying of the cost in proportion to the amount of work he does:
hence, a conflict of interests, or even a mere disproportion in reaping the
advantage, is among us absolutely excluded. The new canals will convert
17,000,000 acres of bog into fertile agricultural land. Who will be
benefited, when this virgin soil traversed by such magnificent waterways
annually produces so many more pounds sterling per acre than is produced by
other land? Plainly everyone in Freeland, and everyone alike, whether he be
agriculturist, artisan, professor, or official. Who gains by the lowering
of freights? Merely the associations and workers who actually make use of
the new waterways for transport? By no means; for, thanks to the unlimited
mobility of our labour, they necessarily share with everyone in Freeland
whatever advantage they reap. Therefore, with perfect confidence, we commit
the decision of such questions to those who are most immediately interested
in them. They know best what will be of advantage to them, and as their
advantage is everybody's advantage, so everybody's--that is, the
commonwealth's--treasury stands as open and free to them as their own. If
they wish to put their hands into it, the deeper the better! We have not to
inquire _whom_ the investment will benefit, but merely _if_ it is
profitable--that is, if it saves labour.'

'Marvellous, but true!' my father was compelled to admit. 'But since in
this country there exists the completest solidarity of interests, I cannot
understand why you require the repayment of the capital which the
commonwealth supplies to the different associations.'

'Because not to do so would be Communism with all its inevitable
consequences,' was the answer. 'The ultimate benefit of such gratuitously
given capital would certainly be reaped by all alike; but, in that case,
who could guarantee that the investment of the capital should be
advantageous and not injurious? For an investment of capital is
advantageous only when by its help more labour is saved than the creation
of the capital has cost. A machine that absorbs more labour than it takes
the place of is injurious. But we are now secured against such wasteful
expenditure, at least against any known waste of capital. The commonwealth,
as well as individuals, may be mistaken in its calculations; both may
consider an investment profitable which is afterwards proved to be
unprofitable--that is, which does not pay for the labour which it costs.
Nevertheless, the _intention_ in all investments can only be to save the
expenditure of energy, for both the commonwealth and individuals must bear
the cost of their own investments. If, however, the commonwealth had to be
responsible for the investments of individuals--that is, of the
associations--then the several associations would have no motive to avoid
employing such mechanical aids as would save less labour than they cost.
The necessary consequence of this liberality on the part of the
commonwealth would therefore be that the commonwealth would assume a right
of supervision and control over those who required capital; and this would
be incompatible with freedom and progress. All sense of personal
responsibility would be lost, the commonwealth would be compelled to busy
itself with matters which did not belong to it, and loss would be
inevitable in spite of all arbitrary restraints from above.'

'That, again,' said my father, 'is as plain and simple as possible. But I
must ask for an explanation of one other point. In virtue of the solidarity
of interests which prevails among you, everyone participates in all
improvements, wherever they may occur; this takes place in such a manner
that everyone has the right to exchange a less profitable branch of
production, or a less profitable locality, for a more profitable one. Then
what interest has the _individual_ producer--that is, the _individual_
association--to introduce improvements, since it must seem to be much
simpler, less troublesome, and less risky, to allow others to take the
initiative and to attach oneself to them when success is certain? But I
perceive that your associations are by no means lacking in push and
enterprise: how is this? What prompts your producers to run risks--small
though they may be--when the profit to be gained thereby must so quickly be
shared by everybody?'

'In the first place,' replied Mr. Ney, 'you overlook the fact that the
amount of the expected profit is not the only inducement by which
working-men, and particularly our Freeland workers, are influenced. The
ambition of seeing the establishment to which one belongs in the van and
not in the rear of all others, is not to be undervalued as a motive
actuating intelligent men possessing a strong _esprit de corps_. But, apart
from that, you must reflect that the members of the associations have also
a very considerable _material_ interest in the prosperity of their own
particular undertaking. Freeland workers without exception have very
comfortable, nay, luxurious homes, naturally for the most part in the
neighbourhood of their respective work-places; they run a risk of having to
leave these homes if their undertaking is not kept up to a level with
others. In the second place, the elder workmen--that is, those that have
been engaged a longer time in an undertaking--enjoy a constantly increasing
premium; their work-time has a higher value by several units per cent. than
that of the later comers. Hence, notwithstanding the solidarity of
interest, the members of each association have to take care that their
establishment is not excelled; and since the risk attending new
improvements is very small indeed, the spirit of invention and enterprise
is more keenly active among us than anywhere else in the world. The
associations zealously compete with each other for pre-eminence, only it is
a friendly rivalry and not a competitive struggle for bread.'

By this time it had grown late. My father and I would gladly have listened
longer to the very interesting explanations of our kind host, but we could
not abuse the courtesy of our friends, and so we parted; and I will take
occasion also to bid you, Louis, farewell for to-day.



Eden Vale: Aug. 16, ----

In your last letter you give expression to your astonishment that our host,
with only a salary of 1,440 as a member of the government of Freeland, is
able to keep up such an establishment as I have described, to occupy an
elegant villa with twelve dwelling-rooms, to furnish his table, to indulge
in horses and carriages--in a word, to live as luxuriously as only the
richest are able to do among us at home. In fact, David was right when he
promised us that we should not have to forego any real comfort, any genuine
enjoyment to which we had been accustomed in our aristocratic palace at
home. Our host does not possess capital the interest of which he can use;
nor is Mrs. Ney a 'blue-stocking'--as you surmise--who writes highly paid
romances for Freeland journals; nor does the elder Ney draw upon his son's
income as artist. It is true that Mrs. Ney once possessed a large fortune
which she inherited from her father, one of the leading speculators of
America; but she lost this to the last farthing in the great American
crisis of 18--, soon after her marriage. The domestic habits of the Neys
were not, however, affected in the least by this loss; for since her
migration to Freeland she had never made any private use of her fortune,
but had always applied its income to public purposes. This does not prevent
Mr. Ney from spending--over and above the outlay you mention--very
considerable sums upon art and science and in benevolence: the last of
course only abroad, for here no one is in need of charity. As it is not
considered indiscreet in Freeland to talk of such matters, I am in a
position to tell you that last year the Neys spent 92 for objects of art,
75 for books, journals, and music, 120 in travelling, and 108--the
amount that remained to their credit after defraying all the other
expenses--in foreign charities and public institutions. Thanks to the
marvellous organisation of industry and trade, everything here is
fabulously cheap--in fact, many things which consume a great deal of money
in Europe and America do not add in the least to the expenses of a Freeland
household, as they are furnished gratuitously by the commonwealth, and paid
for out of the tax which has been subtracted in advance from the net income
of each individual. For example, in the cost of travelling, not a farthing
has to be reckoned for railway or steamship, since--as you have already
learnt from my former letters--the Freeland commonwealth provides free
means of personal transport. The same holds, as I think I have already told
you, of the telegraphs, the telephones, the post, electric lighting,
mechanical motive-power, &c. On the other hand, the Freeland government
charges the cost of the transport of goods by land and water to the owners
of the goods. I will take this opportunity of remarking that almost every
Freeland family spends on an average two months in the year in travelling,
mostly in the many wonderfully beautiful districts of their own land, and
more rarely in foreign countries. Every Freelander takes a holiday of at
least six, and sometimes as much as ten weeks, and seeks recreation,
pleasure, and instruction, as a tourist. The highlands of the Kilimanjaro,
the Kenia, and the Elgon, of the Aberdare range and the Mountains of the
Moon, as well as the shores of all the great lakes, swarm at all
seasons--except the two rainy seasons--with driving, riding, walking,
rowing, and sailing men, women, and children, in full enjoyment of all the
delights of travel.

An intelligent and hearty love of nature and natural beauty is a general
characteristic of the Freelanders. They are proprietors in common of the
whole of their country, and their loving care for this precious possession
is everywhere conspicuous. It is significant that nowhere in Freeland are
the streams and rivers poisoned by refuse-water; nowhere are picturesque
mountain-declivities disfigured by quarries opened in badly selected
localities. No such offences against the beauty of the landscape are
anywhere to be met with. For why should these self-governing workers rob
themselves of the real pleasure afforded by healthy and beautiful natural
scenes, for the sake of a small saving which must be shared by everybody?
Naturally, this intelligent regard for rural attractions benefits tourists
also. Everywhere both the roads and the railways are bordered by avenues of
fine palms, whose slender branchless trunks do not obscure the view, whilst
their heavy crowns afford refreshing shade. In consequence of this simple
and effective arrangement, one suffers far less from heat and dust here
under the equator than in temperate Europe, where in the summer months a
several hours' journey by rail or road is frequently a torture. At all the
beautiful and romantic spots, the Hotel and Recreation Associations have
employed their immense resources in providing enormous boarding-houses, as
well as many small villas, in which the tourists may find every comfort,
either in the company of hundreds or thousands of others, or in rural
isolation, for hours, days, weeks, or months.

If you are astonished at the luxury in the house of the Neys, what will you
say when I tell you that in this country every simple worker lives
essentially as our hosts do? The villas merely have fewer rooms, the
furniture is plainer; instead of keeping saddle-horses of their own, the
simple workers hire those belonging to the Transport Association; less
money is spent upon objects of art, books, and for benevolent purposes:
these are the only differences. Take, for instance, our neighbour Moro.
Though an ordinary overseer in the Eden Vale Paint-making Association, he
and his charming wife are among the intimate friends of our host, and we
have already several times dined in his neat and comfortable seven-roomed
house. Even 'pupil-daughters' are not lacking in his house, for his wife
enjoys--and justly, as I can testify--the reputation of possessing a
special amount of mental and moral culture; and, as you know,
pupil-daughters choose not the great house, but the superior housewife. And
if it should strike you as remarkable that such a Phoenix of a woman should
be the wife of a simple factory-hand, you must remember that the workers of
Freeland are different from those of Europe. Here everybody enjoys sound
secondary education; and that a young man becomes an artisan and not a
teacher, or a physician, or engineer, or such like, is due to the fact that
he does not possess, or thinks he does not possess, any _exceptional_
intellectual capacity. For in this country the intellectual professions can
be successfully carried on only by those who possess exceptional natural
qualifications, since the competition of _all_ who are really qualified
makes it impossible for the imperfectly qualified to succeed. Among
ourselves, where only an infinitely small proportion of the population has
the opportunity of studying, the lack of means among the immense majority
secures a privilege even to the blockheads among the fortunate possessors
of means. The rich cannot all be persons of talent any more than all the
poor can. Since we, however, notwithstanding this, supply our demand for
intellectual workers--apart, of course, from those exceptional cases which
occur everywhere--solely from the small number of sons of rich families, we
are fortunate if we find one capable student among ten incapables; of which
ten--since the one capable student cannot supply all our demand--at most
only two or three of the greatest blockheads suffer shipwreck. Here, on the
contrary, where everyone has the opportunity of studying, there are, of
course, very many more capable students; consequently the Freelanders do
not need to go nearly so low down as we do in the scale of capacity to
cover their demand for intellectual workers. It does not necessarily follow
that their cleverest men are cleverer than ours; but our incapables--among
the graduates--are much, much more incapable than the least capable of
theirs can possibly be. What would be of medium quality among us is here
far below consideration at all. Friend Moro, for instance, would probably,
in Europe or America, not have been one of the 'lights of science,' nor 'an
ornament to the bar'; but he would at least have been a very acceptable
average teacher, advocate, or official. Here, however, after leaving the
intermediate school, it was necessary for him to take a conscientious
valuation of his mental capacity; and he arrived at the conclusion that it
would be better to become a first-rate factory-overseer than a mediocre
teacher or official. And he could carry out this--perhaps too
severe--resolve without socially degrading himself, for in Freeland manual
labour does not degrade as it does in Europe and America, where the
assertion that it does not degrade is one of the many conventional lies
with which we seek to impose upon ourselves. Despite all our democratic
talk, work is among us in general a disgrace, for the labourer is a
dependent, an exploited servant--he has a master over him who can order
him, and can use him for his own purpose as he can a beast of burden. No
ethical theory in the world will make master and servant equally
honourable. But here it is different. To discover how great the difference
is, one need merely attend a social reunion in Freeland. It is natural, of
course, that persons belonging to the same circle of interests should most
readily associate together; but this must not be supposed to imply the
existence of anything even remotely like a breaking up of society into
different professional strata. The common level of culture is so high,
interest in the most exalted problems of humanity so general, even among
the manual labourers, that _savants_, artists, heads of the government,
find innumerable points of contact, both intellectual and aesthetic, even
with factory-hands and agricultural labourers.

This is all the more the case since a definite line of demarcation between
head-workers and hand-workers cannot here be drawn. The manual labourer of
to-day may to-morrow, by the choice of his fellow-labourers, become a
director of labour, therefore a head-worker; and, on the other hand, there
are among the manual labourers untold thousands who were originally elected
to different callings, and who have gone through the studies required for
such callings, but have exchanged the pen for the tool, either because they
found themselves not perfectly qualified intellectually, or because their
tastes have changed. Thus, for instance, another visiting friend of the
Neys successfully practised as a physician for several years; but he now
devotes himself to gardening, because this quiet calling withdraws him less
than his work as physician from his favourite study, astronomy. His
knowledge and capacity as astronomer were not sufficient to provide him
with a livelihood, and as he was frequently called in the night from some
interesting observation reluctantly to attend upon sick children, he
determined to earn his livelihood by gardening, so that he might devote his
nights to an undisturbed observation of the stars. Another man with whom I
have here become acquainted exchanged the career of a bank official for
that of a machine-smith, simply because he did not like a sedentary
occupation; several times he might have been elected by the members of his
association on the board of directors, but he always declined on the plea
of an invincible objection to office work. But there is a still larger
number of persons who combine some kind of manual labour with intellectual
work. So general in Freeland is the disinclination to confine oneself
_exclusively_ to head-work, that in all the higher callings, and even in
the public offices, arrangements have to be made which will allow those
engaged in such offices to spend some time in manual occupations. The
bookkeepers and correspondents of the associations, as well as of the
central bank, the teachers, officials, and other holders of appointments of
all kinds, have the right to demand, besides the regular two months'
holiday, leave of absence for a longer or a shorter time, which time is to
be spent in some other occupation. Naturally no wages are paid for the time
consumed by these special periods of absence; but this does not prevent the
greater part of all those officials from seeking a temporary change of
occupation for several months once in every two or three years, as
factory-hands, miners, agriculturists, gardeners, &c. An acquaintance of
mine, a head of a department of the central executive, spends two months in
every second year at one or other of the mines in the Aberdare or the
Baringo district. He tells me he has already gone practically through the
work of the coal, the iron, the tin, the copper, and the sulphur mines; and
he is now pleasantly anticipating a course of labour in the salt-works of

In view of this general and thorough inter-blending of the most ordinary
physical with the highest mental activity, it is impossible to speak of any
distinction of class or social status. The agriculturists here are as
highly respected, as cultured gentlemen, as the learned, the artists, or
the higher officials; and there is nothing to prevent those who harmonise
with them in character and sentiment from treating them as friends and
equals in society.

But the women--elsewhere the staunchest upholders of aristocratic
exclusiveness--in this country are the most zealous advocates of a complete
amalgamation of all the different sections of the population. The Freeland
woman, almost without exception, has attained to a very high degree of
ethical and intellectual culture. Relieved of all material anxiety and
toil, her sole vocation is to ennoble herself, to quicken her understanding
for all that is good and lofty. As she is delivered from the degrading
necessity of finding in her husband one upon whom she is dependent for her
livelihood, as she does not derive her social position from the occupation
of her husband, but from her own personal worth, she is consequently free
from that haughty exclusiveness which is to be found wherever real
excellences are wanting. The women of the so-called better classes among us
at home treat their less fortunate sisters with such repellent arrogance
simply because they cannot get rid of the instinctive feeling that these
poorer sisters would have very well occupied their own places, and _vice
vers_, had their husbands been changed. And even when it is not so, when
the European 'lady' actually does possess a higher ethical and intellectual
character, she is obliged to confess that her position in the opinion of
the world depends less upon her own qualities than upon the rank and
position of her husband--that is, upon another, who could just as well have
placed any other woman upon the borrowed throne. Schopenhauer is not
altogether wrong: women are mostly engaged in one and the same
pursuit--man-hunting--and it is the envy of competition that lies at the
bottom of their pride. Only he forgets to add, or rather he does not know,
that this pursuit, which is common to all women, and which he lashes so
unmercifully, is, with all its hateful evil consequences, the inevitable
result of their lack of legal rights, and is in no way indissolubly bound
up with their nature.

The women here, who are free and endowed with equal legal rights with the
men in the highest sense of the words, exhibit none of this pride in the
external relations of life. Even when the calling or the wealth of the
husband might give rise to a certain social distinction, they would never
recognise it, but allow themselves to be guided in their social intercourse
simply by personal characteristics. It is the most talented, the most
amiable woman whose friendship they most eagerly seek, whatever may be the
position of the woman's husband. Hence you can understand that Mrs. Moro
could select her husband without having to make the slightest sacrifice in
her relation to Freeland 'society.'

Whilst we are upon this subject, let me say a few words as to the character
of society here. Social life here is very bright and animated. Families
that are intimate with each other meet together without ceremony almost
every evening; and there is conversation, music, and, among the young
people, not a little dancing. There is nothing particular in all this; but
the very peculiar, and to the stranger at first altogether inexplicable,
attraction of Freeland society is due to the prevailing tone of the most
perfect freedom in combination with the loftiest nobility and the most
exquisite delicacy. When I had enjoyed it a few times, I began to long for
the pleasure of these reunions, without at first being able to account for
the charm which they exercised upon me. At last I arrived at the conviction
that what made social intercourse here so richly enjoyable must be mainly
the genuine human affection which characterises life in Freeland.

Social reunions in Europe are essentially nothing more than masquerades in
which those present indulge in reciprocal lying--meetings of foes, who
attempt to hide under courtly grimaces the ill-will they bear each other,
but who nevertheless utterly fail to deceive each other. And under an
exploiting system of society this cannot be prevented, for antagonism of
interests is there the rule, and true solidarity of interests a very rare
and purely accidental exception. To cherish a genuine affection for our
fellow-men is with us a virtue, the exercise of which demands more than an
ordinary amount of self-denial; and everyone knows that nine-tenths of the
wearers of those politely grinning masks would fall upon each other in
bitter hatred if the inherited and acquired restraints of conventional good
manners were for a moment to be laid aside. At such reunions one feels very
much as those miscellaneous beasts may be supposed to feel who are confined
together in a common cage for the delectation of the spectacle-loving
public. The only difference is that our two-legged tigers, panthers,
lynxes, wolves, bears, and hyenas are better trained than their four-legged
types; the latter glide about fiercely snarling at each other, with
difficulty restraining their murderous passions as they cast side-glances
at the lash of their tamer, whilst the ill-will lurking in the hearts of
the former is to be detected only by the closest observer through some
malicious glance of the eye, or some other scarcely perceptible movement.
In fact, so complete is the training of the two-legged carnivora that they
themselves are sometimes deceived by it; there are moments when the hyenas
seriously believe that their polite grinning at the tiger is honestly
meant, and when the tiger fancies that his subdued growls conceal a genial
affection and friendship towards his fellow-beasts. But these are only
fleeting moments of fond self-deception; and in general one cannot get rid
of the sensation of being among natural enemies, who, but for the external
restraints, would fly at our throats. The Freelanders, on the contrary,
feel that they are among true and honourable friends when they find
themselves in the company of other men. They have nothing to hide from one
another, they have no wish either to take advantage of or to injure one
another. It is true that there is emulation between them; but this cannot
destroy the sentiment of friendly comradeship, since the success of the
victor profits the conquered as well. Genial candour, an almost childlike
ingenuousness, are therefore in all circumstances natural to them; and it
is this, together with their joyous view of life and their intellectual
many-sidedness, which lends such a marvellous charm to Freeland society.

But let me go on with the story of my experiences here. Yesterday we saw
for the first time in Freeland a drunken man! We--my father and I--had,
after dinner, been with David for a short walk on the shore of the lake,
where most of the Eden Vale hotels are situated. As we were returning home
we met a drunken man, who staggered up to us and stutteringly asked the way
to his inn. He was evidently a new-comer. David asked us to go the
remaining few steps homewards without him, and he took the man by the arm
and led him towards his inn. I joined David in this kindly act, whilst my
father went home. When we had also got home we found my father engaged in a
very lively conversation with Mrs. Key over this little adventure. 'Only
think,' cried he to me, 'Mrs. Ney says we should think ourselves fortunate
in having seen what is one of the rarest of sights in this country! She has
lived in Freeland twenty-five years, and has seen only three cases of
drunkenness; and she is convinced that at this moment there is not another
man in Eden Vale who has ever drunk to intoxication! You Freelanders'--he
turned now to David--'are certainly no teetotallers; your beer and
palm-wine are excellent; your wines leave nothing to be desired; and you do
not seem to me to be people who merely keep these good things ready to
offer to an occasional guest. Does it really never happen that some of you
drink a little more than enough to quench your thirst?'

'It is as my mother says. We like to drink a good drop, and that not
seldom; and I will not deny that on festive occasions the inspiration
begotten of wine here and there makes itself pretty evident; nevertheless,
a Freelander incapably drunk is one of the rarest phenomena. If you are so
much surprised at this, ask yourself whether well-bred and cultured men are
accustomed to get drunk in Europe and America. I know that happens even
among you only very rarely, although public opinion there is less strict
upon this point than it is here. But in Freeland there are no persons who
are compelled to seek forgetfulness of their misery in intoxication, and
the examples of such persons cannot therefore serve to accustom the public
to the sight of this most degrading of all vices. Many, I know, think that
the disgusting picture afforded by drunken persons is the best means of
exciting a feeling of repugnance towards this vice--a view which is
probably derived from Plutarch's statement that the Lacedemonians used to
make their helots drunk in order to serve as deterring examples to the
Spartan youth. This account may be true or false, but an argument in favour
of the theory that example deters by its disgusting character can be based
upon it only by the most thoughtless; for it is a well-attested fact that
the Spartans--the rudest of all the Greeks--were more addicted to
drunkenness than any other Hellenic tribe. The "deterring" example of the
helots had therefore very little effect. It is because in this country
drunkenness is so extremely rare that it excites such special disgust; and
as, moreover, the principal source of this vice--misery--is removed, the
vice itself may be regarded as absolutely extinct among us. This result has
been not a little assisted by the circumstance that merrymakings and
festivities in Freeland are always largely participated in by women. Since
we honour woman as the embodiment and representative of human enjoyment, as
the loftiest custodian of all that ennobles and adorns our earthly
existence, we are unable to conceive of genuine mirth without the
participation of women. You have seen enough of our Freeland women to
understand that indecorous excesses of any kind in their presence are
wellnigh inconceivable.'

'We are not so much surprised that you Freelanders are proof against this
vice,' replied my father. 'But your respected mother tells us that even
among the immigrants drunkards are as rare as white ravens. Now, I am not
aware that teetotal apostles keep watch on your frontiers. The immigrants,
at any rate many of them, belong to those races and classes which at home
are by no means averse to drinking, and indeed to drunkenness in its most
disgusting forms; what induces these people, when they get here, to become
so persistently abstemious?'

'First, the removal of those things which in Europe and America lead to
drunkenness. Sometimes, during my student-travels in Europe--when I studied
not merely art, but also the manners and customs of your country--I have
gone into the dens of the poor and have there found conditions under which
it would have appeared positively miraculous if those who lived there had
not sought in the dram-bottle forgetfulness of their torture, their shame,
and their degradation. I saw persons to the number of twenty or thirty--all
ages and sexes thrown indiscriminately together--sleeping in one room,
which was only large enough for those who were in it to crowd close
together upon the filthy straw that covered the floor--men who from day to
day had no other home than the factory or the ale-house. And these were not
the breadless people, but persons in regular employ; and not exceptional
cases, but types of the labourers of large districts. That such men should
seek in beastly intoxication an escape from thoughts of their degradation,
of the shame of their wives and daughters--that they should lose all
consciousness of their human dignity, never astonished me, and still less
provoked me to indignation. I felt astonishment and indignation only at the
folly which allowed such wretchedness to continue, as if it were in reality
a product of an unchangeable law of nature. And it seems to me quite as
natural that such men, when they get here--where they regain their dignity
and their rights, where on every hand gladness and beauty smile upon
them--should along with their misery cast away the vices of misery. These
immigrants all gladly and eagerly adapt themselves to their new
surroundings. Most of them cannot expect to become in all respects our
equals: the more wretched, the more degraded, they were before, so much the
more boundless is their delight, their gratitude, at being here treated by
everyone as equals; on no account would they forfeit the respect of their
new associates, and, as these latter universally avoid drunkenness, so the
former avoid it also.'

'You have explained to us why there are no drunkards in this country,' I
said. 'But it appears to me much more remarkable that your principle of
granting a right of maintenance to all who are incapable of working,
whatever may be the occasion of that incapacity, has not overwhelmed you
with invalids and old people without number. Or have we yet to learn of
some provisions made to defend you from such guests? And how, without
exercising a painfully inquisitorial control, can you prevent the lazy from
enjoying the careless leisure which the right of maintenance guarantees to
real invalids? I can perfectly well understand that your intelligent
Freelanders, with their multitudinous wants, will not be content with forty
per cent., when a little easy labour would earn them a hundred per cent.
But among the fresh immigrants there must certainly be many who at first
can scarcely know what to do with the full earnings of their labour, and
who at any rate--so I should suppose--would prefer to draw their
maintenance-allowance and live in idleness rather than engage in what, from
their standpoint, must appear to be quite superfluous labour. Perhaps, with
respect to the right to a maintenance-allowance, you make a distinction
between natives and immigrants; if so, what gives a claim to maintenance?'

'No distinction is made with respect to the right to a
maintenance-allowance, a sufficient qualification for which is a
certificate of illness signed by one of our public physicians, or proof of
having attained to the age of sixty years. The greatest liberality is
exercised on principle in granting the medical certificate; indeed,
everyone has the right, if one physician has refused to grant a
certificate, to go to any other physician, as we prefer to support ten lazy
impostors rather than reject one real invalid. Nevertheless we have among
us as few foreign idlers as native ones. In this matter also, the influence
of our institutions is found to be powerful enough to nip all such
tendencies in the bud. Note, above all, that the strongest ambition of the
immigrant is to become like us, to become incorporated with us; in order to
this, if he is healthy and strong, he must participate in our affairs. They
understand human nature very imperfectly who think that proletarians in
whom there lingers a trace of human dignity would, when they have an
opportunity of taking part in important enterprises as fully enfranchised
self-controlling men, forego that opportunity and prefer to allow
themselves to be supported by the commonwealth. The new-comers are
_anxious_ to participate in all that is to be earned and done in this
country; in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred no other stimulus to work is
needed than this. And the few to whom this stimulus is not sufficient, soon
find themselves, when the novelty of their surroundings has worn off,
compelled by _ennui_ and isolation to turn to some productive activity. We
have here no public-house life in the European sense, no consorting of
habitual idlers: here a man _must_ work if he would feel at ease, and
therefore everyone works who is capable of doing so. The most stubborn
indolence cannot resist for more than a few weeks at the longest the
magical influence of the thought that in order to dare to salute the first
in the land as an equal no other title of honour or influence is necessary
than any honest work. Consequently, even among the immigrants strong
healthy idlers are extremely rare exceptions, which we allow to exist as
cases of mental disease. But even these must not suffer want among us.
Without possessing any recognised right to it, they receive what they need,
and even more than is absolutely necessary according to European ideas.

'As to the question whether the right of maintenance does not attract into
this country all the bodily and mental incapables, the cripples and the old
people, of the rest of the world, I can only answer that Freeland
irresistibly attracts everyone who hears of the character of its
institutions; and that therefore the proportion between the immigrants who
are capable of working and those who are not is dependent simply upon
whether such information reaches the one class more quickly and more easily
than it does the other. We reject no one, and admit the cripple to our
country as freely as the able-bodied worker; but it lies in the nature of
things that the ablest, the most vigorous, offer themselves in larger
numbers than those who are weak in body or in mind.

'From the founding of our commonwealth we have insisted upon the ability to
read and write sufficiently to be able to participate in all our rights.
Freedom and equality of rights assume the possession of a certain degree of
knowledge, from which we _cannot_ exempt anyone. It is true we might resort
to the expedient of exercising guardianship over the untaught; but to do
this would be to open up to the authorities a sphere of influence which we
hold to be incompatible with real freedom, and we therefore treat
illiterate immigrants as strangers, or, if you will, as guests whom it is
everyone's duty to assist as much as possible, and who, so far as they show
themselves capable of doing anything, suffer no material disadvantage in
comparison with the natives, but are not allowed to exercise any political

'But how,' asked my father--'how do you arrive at a knowledge of the mental
condition of your ignorant fellow-countrymen? Have you a special board for
this purpose; and do no unpleasantnesses spring from such an inquisition?'

'We make no inquiry, and no board troubles itself about the knowledge of
the people. At first, in order not to be overwhelmed by foreign ignorance,
we took the precaution of excluding illiterates from gratuitous admission
into Freeland, but for the last nineteen years we have ceased to exclude
any. Everyone, without any exception, has since been free to settle
gratuitously in any part whatever of Freeland. No one asks him what he
knows; he is free to make full use of all our institutions, to exercise all
our rights; only he must do so in the same way as we, and that is
impossible to the illiterate. Whithersoever he goes--to the central bank,
to any of the associations, to the polling-places--he must read and write,
and as a matter of course write with understanding--must be familiar with
printed and written words; in short, he must possess a certain degree of
culture, from the possession of which we cannot exempt him even if we

'Then,' said my father, 'your boasted equality of rights exists only for
educated persons?'

'Of course,' explained Mrs. Ney. 'Or do you really believe that perfectly
uneducated persons possess the power of disciplining themselves? Certainly,
real freedom and equality of rights presuppose some degree of culture. The
freedom and equality of rights of poverty and barbarism can, it is true,
exist among ignorant barbarians, but wealth and leisure are the products of
higher art and culture, and can be possessed only by truly civilised men.
He who would make men free and rich must first give them knowledge--this
lies in the nature of things; and it is not our fault, but yours, that so
many of your compatriots must be educated into freedom.'

'There you are right,' sighed my father. 'And what has been your experience
of these illiterate immigrants?'

'The experience that this exclusion from perfect equality of rights, being
connected with no material disadvantage, operates as an absolutely
irresistible stimulus to acquire as quickly as possible what was left
unacquired in the old home. For the use of such immigrants we have
established special schools for adults; neighbours and friends interest
themselves in them, and the people learn with touching eagerness. They by
no means content themselves with acquiring merely that amount of knowledge
which is requisite to the exercise of all the Freeland rights, but they
honestly endeavour to gain all the knowledge possible; and the cases are
very few in which the study of a few years has not converted such
immigrants into thoroughly cultured men.'

'And as to the immigrants who reach us in a really invalided condition,'
interposed David, 'we fulfil towards them the duty of maintenance as if
they had grown old and weak in Freeland workshops. We have not detected any
considerable increase of our annual expenditure in consequence. It is a
characteristic fact, moreover, that those who reach us as invalids make for
the most part only a partial use of their right to claim a
maintenance-allowance. These pitiable sufferers as a rule take some time to
accustom themselves to the Freeland standard of higher enjoyments, and at
first they have no use for the wealth which streams in upon them.'

'I must ask you to remove yet one other difficulty, and one that seems to
me to be the greatest of all. What of the criminals, against whose
immigration you are not protected? To me it seems most strange that, with
the millions of your Freeland population, you can dispense with both police
and penal code; and I am utterly at a loss to understand how you dispose of
those vagabonds and criminals who are sure to be drawn hither, like wasps
by honey, by your enticing lenity, which will not punish but merely reform
the bad? It is true you have told us that the justices of the peace
appointed to decide civil disputes have authority in the first instance in
criminal cases also, and that an appeal is allowed from these to a higher
judicial court; but you added that these judges had all of them as good as
nothing to do, and that only very rare cases occurred in which the
reformatory treatment adopted in this country had to be resorted to. Have
your institutions such a strong ameliorating power over hardened

'Certainly,' answered Mrs. Ney. 'And if you carefully consider what is the
essential and ultimate source of all crime, you will find this is quite
intelligible. Do not forget that justice and law in the exploiting form of
society make demands on the individual which are directly opposed to human
nature. The hungry shivering man is expected to pass by the abundance of
others without appropriating that which he needs to satisfy the imperative
demands of nature--nay, he must not indulge in envy and ill-will towards
those who have in plenty what he so cruelly lacks! He is to love his
fellow-man, though just where the conflict of interests is the most bitter,
because it is waged around the very essentials of existence--just there,
where his fellow-man is his rival, his tyrant, his slave, in every case his
enemy, from whose injury he derives gain and from whose gain injury accrues
to him! That for thousands of years all this has been inevitable cannot be
denied; but it would be foolish to overlook the fact that the same cruel
sequence which made the exploitation of man by man--that is, injustice--the
necessary antecedent to the progress of civilisation, also called into
existence crime--that is, the rebellion of the individual against the order
which is both horrible in itself and yet indispensable to the welfare of
the community. The exploiting system of society requires the individual to
do what harms him, because the welfare of the community demands it, and
demands it not as a specially commendable and pre-eminently meritorious
act, which can be expected of only a few noble natures in whom public
spirit has suppressed every trace of egoism, but as something which
everyone is to do as a matter of course, the doing of which is not called a
virtue, though the not doing of it is called a crime. The hero who
sacrifices his life to his fatherland, to mankind, subordinates his own to
a higher interest, and never will the human race be able to dispense with
such sacrifices, but will always demand of its noblest that love of wife
shall conquer love of self; nay, it may be stated as a logical consequence
of progressive civilisation that this demand shall grow more and more
imperative and meet with an ever readier response. But the name of this
response is 'heroism,' its lack involves no crime; it cannot be enforced,
but it is a voluntary tribute of love paid by noble natures. But in the
economic domain a similar, nay, more difficult, heroism is required
especially from the lowest and the most wretched, and must be required of
such as long as society is based upon a foundation of exploitage, and
'criminal' must be the name of all those who show themselves to be less
great than a Leonidas, or a Curtius, or a Winkelried on the battle-field,
or than those generally nameless heroes of human love who have fearlessly
sacrificed themselves in the conflict with the inimical powers of nature at
the bidding of the holy voice within them--the voice of human love.

'But we in Freeland ask from no one such heroism as our right. In economic
matters we require of the individual nothing that is antagonistic to his
own interests; it follows as a matter of course that he never rebels
against our laws. That which under the old order could be asserted only by
self-complacent thoughtlessness, is a truth among us--namely, that economic
morality is nothing but rational egoism. You will therefore find it
intelligible that _reasonable_ men cannot break our laws.

'But you ask, further, how does it happen that those unfortunates who in
other countries are driven into crime, not by want, but by their evil
disposition--and it cannot be denied that there are such--do not give us
any trouble? Here also the question suggests its own answer. This hatred
towards society and its members is not natural, is not innate in even the
worst of men, but is the product of the injustice in the midst of which
these habitual criminals live. The love of wife and of one's fellows is
ineradicably implanted in every social animal--and man is such an animal;
but its expression can be suppressed by artificially excited hatred and
envy. It is true that long-continued exercise of evil instincts will
gradually make them so powerfully predominant as to make it appear that the
social nature of man has been transformed into that of the beast of prey,
no longer linked to society by any residuum of love or attachment. But it
only _seems_ so. The most hardened criminal cannot long resist the
influence of genuine human affection; hatred and defiance hold out only so
long as the unfortunate sees himself deprived of the possibility of
obtaining recognition in the community of the happy, as one possessed of
equal rights with the others. If this hope is held out to him all defiance

'I question if there has ever been a large percentage of men of criminal
antecedents among the immigrants into Freeland. As my son has already said,
the proportion in which different categories of men have come hither
depends not upon the greater or less degree of misery, but upon the
intelligence of the men. Since the criminal classes in the five parts of
the world know relatively less of Freeland than do the honest and
intelligent workers, I am convinced that relatively fewer of them have come
hither. At any rate, we have seen very few signs of their presence here. We
have a few dozen incorrigibly vicious persons in the country, but these are
without exception incurable idiots. How these reached us I do not know; but
of course, as soon as their mental unsoundness was ascertained, they were
placed in asylums.'

This point being cleared up, my father asked for a final explanation. He
said he could perfectly understand that the Freeland institutions, being
nothing else but a logical carrying out of the principle of economic
justice, were thoroughly capable of meeting every fair and reasonable
demand. He nevertheless expressed his astonishment at the perfect
satisfaction which the people universally exhibited with themselves and
their condition. Did not _unreasonable_ party agitations create
difficulties in Freeland? Particularly he wished to know if Communism and
Nihilism, which were ever raising their heads threateningly in Europe, gave
no trouble here. 'In the eyes of a genuine Communist,' he cried, 'you are
here nothing but arrant aristocrats! There is not a trace of absolute
equality among you! What value can your boasted equality of _rights_ have
in the eyes of people who act upon the principle that every mouthful more
of bread enjoyed by one than is enjoyed by another is theft; and who
therefore, to prevent one man from possessing more than another, abolish
all property whatever? And yet there are no police, no soldiers, to keep
these Bedlamites in order! Give us the recipe according to which the
nihilistic and communistic fanaticism can be rendered so harmless.'

'Nothing easier,' answered Mrs. Ney. 'Supply everyone to satiety, and no
one will covet what others have. Absolute equality is an hallucination of
the hunger-fever, nothing more. Men are _not_ equal, either in their
faculties or in their requirements. Your appetite is stronger than mine;
perhaps you are fond of gay clothing, I would not give a farthing for it;
perhaps I am dainty, while you prefer a plain diet; and so on without end.
What sense would there be in attempting to assimilate our several needs? I
do not care to inquire whether it is possible, whether the violence
necessary to the attempt would not destroy both freedom and progress; the
idea itself is so foolish that it would be absolutely inconceivable how
sane men could entertain it, had it not been a fact that one of us is able
to satisfy neither his strong nor his weak appetite, his preference neither
for fine nor for quiet clothing, neither for dainties nor for plain food,
but must endure brutal torturing misery. When to that is added the mistake
that my superfluity is the cause of your deficiency, it becomes
intelligible why you and those who sympathise with you in your sufferings
should call for division of property--absolutely equal division. In a word,
Communism has no other source than the perception of the boundless misery
of a large majority of men, together with the erroneous opinion that this
misery can be alleviated only by the aid of the existing wealth of
individuals. This view is inconceivably foolish, for it is necessary only
to open one's eyes to see what a pitiful use is made of the power which man
already possesses to create wealth. But this foolish notion was not hatched
by the Communists; your orthodox economists gave currency to the doctrine
that increased productiveness of labour cannot increase the already
existing value--it was they, and not the Communists, who blinded mankind to
the true connexion between economic phenomena. Communists are in reality
merely credulous adherents of the so-called "fundamental truths" of
orthodox economy; and the only distinction between them and the ruling
party among you is that the Communists are hungry while the ruling classes
are full-fed. When it is perceived that nothing but perfect equality of
rights is needed _in order to create more than enough for all_, Communism
disappears of itself like an evil tormenting dream. You may require--even
if you do not carry it out--that all men shall be put upon the same bread
rations, so long as you believe that the commonwealth upon which we are all
compelled to depend will furnish nothing more than mere bread, for we all
wish to eat our fill. To require that the same sorts and quantity of roast
meats, pastry, and confections shall be forced upon everyone, when it is
found that there is enough of these good things for all, would be simply
puerile. Hence there is and can be no Communist among us.

'For the same reason Nihilism is impossible among us, for that also is
nothing more than an hallucination due to the despair of hunger, and can
flourish only on the soil of the orthodox view of the world. Whilst
Communism is the practical application which hunger makes of the thesis
that human labour does not suffice to create a superfluity for all,
Nihilism is the inference drawn by despair from the doctrine that culture
and civilisation are incompatible with equality of rights. It is orthodoxy
which has given currency to this doctrine; certainly, as the spokesman of
the well-to-do, it holds no other inference to be conceivable than that the
eternally disinherited masses must submit to their fate in the interests of
civilisation. But the party of the hungry turn in foaming rage against this
civilisation, the very defenders of which assert that it can never help the
enormous majority of men, and therefore can do nothing more for them than
make them increasingly conscious of their misery. We have demonstrated that
civilisation is not merely compatible with, but is necessarily implied in,
the economic equality of rights. Hence Nihilism also must be unknown among

'Then you think,' I said, 'that equality of actual income has nothing to do
with equality _of rights_? For my part, I must admit that that useless
heaping up of superfluous riches, which we have occasion to observe in our
European society, has grown to be a very objectionable thing, even though I
am convinced that the misery is not, in the slightest degree, caused by
this accumulation of wealth in the hands of a few, and would not be
materially alleviated by a general distribution of it. A social system that
does not prevent this excessive accumulation in a few hands must remain
imperfect, whatever provision it may make in other directions for the
welfare of all.'

'And I cannot altogether get rid of the same feeling,' said my father. 'But
my opinion is that in this revolt against inequality in itself we need see
nothing more than the moral repulsion which every impartial thoughtful man
feels against what have hitherto been the _causes_ of the inequality. Among
us at home, we see that large fortunes are very seldom acquired by means of
pre-eminent individual talent, but are, as a rule, due to the exploitation
of other men; and, when acquired, they are sure to be employed in further
exploitation. This it is that arouses our indignation. If a fortune,
however great, were acquired merely by pre-eminent talent, and employed to
no other end than the heightening of the owner's personal enjoyment--as is
the case in Freeland--the repugnance we now feel would soon pass away. What
does our amiable hostess think upon this point?'

'The repugnance to excessively large fortunes,' replied Mrs. Ney, 'is not,
in my opinion, based upon any injustice in their origin or use, but has a
deeper cause--namely, the fact that, apart from very rare exceptions, the
difference of capacity in men is not so great as to justify such enormous
differences of fortune. Most of the wealth of a highly civilised society
consists of what was bequeathed by the past; and the portion actually
produced by existing individuals is so relatively small that a certain
degree of equality--not merely of rights, but also of enjoyment and
use--possesses a basis in fact and is a requirement of justice. Every
advance in civilisation is synonymous with a progressive diminution of the
differences. Carry your thoughts back to primitive conditions, when the
individual, in his struggle for existence, was almost entirely shut up to
the use of his congenital appliances, and you will find the differences
were very great: only the strong, the agile, the cunning could hold their
own; the less gifted were compelled to give way. As the growth of
civilisation added to men's appliances, so that even the less gifted was
able to procure what was necessary to his subsistence, the difference in
the achievements of different individuals at first remained very great. The
skilful hunter gets a far richer booty than the less skilful one; the
strong and nimble agriculturist achieves with the spade a manifold greater
result than the weak and the slow. The invention of the plough very
materially reduces this difference, and--so far as the difference depends
upon physical capacity--the invention of the power-machine reduces it
almost to _nil_. Machinery more and more takes the place of the energy of
human muscles; and, at the same time, the results of the talent and
experience of previous generations accumulate and, in a growing ratio,
exceed the invention of the actual living generation. It is true that in
intellectual matters the individual differences do not diminish so
completely as in matters dependent upon the corporal powers; but even the
intellectual differences do not justify the colossal inequality suggested
to the mind by the words "a large fortune." The man who drives a
steam-plough may be either a giant or a dwarf, but he gets through the same
amount of work. Quick-wittedness and discretion in conducting the process
of production will considerably increase the result; but in the present day
an achievement which shall exceed the average a hundredfold or a
thousandfold in value is possible only to genius, and it is only to genius
that our sense of justice would accord it.

'I believe that in this respect also our Freeland institutions have hit the
mark. Among us inequality exists only so far as the difference of capacity
justifies it; and we have seen that, in proportion as wealth increases, the
distribution of it becomes automatically more and more equal. As in this
country everything is controlled by a competition which is free in fact,
and not in name merely, it follows as a necessary result that every kind of
capacity is better paid the rarer it is. When we first founded our
commonwealth knowledge and experience in business were rare--that is, the
demand was greater than the supply; they were therefore able to command a
higher price than ordinary labour. This is no longer the case; thanks to
the general improvement in culture and the intensive participation of all
in all kinds of business, head-work, as such, has lost its claim to
exceptional wages. Only when superior intellectual gifts are connected with
knowledge and experience in business can the man who performs head-work
expect to obtain higher pay than the manual labourer. Yet even here there
is to be seen a _relative_ diminution of the higher pay. In the early years
of Freeland a specially talented leader of production could demand six
times as much as the average earnings of a labourer; at present three times
as much as the average is a rare maximum, which in the domain of material
production is exceeded only in isolated cases of pre-eminent inventors. On
the other hand, the earnings of gifted authors and artists in this country
have no definite limits; as their works are above competition, so the
rewards they obtain bear no proportion to those obtainable in ordinary

'But in this way, I think, the most delicate sense of equality can be
satisfied. Economic equality of rights never produces absolute and
universal equality; but it is really accompanied by a general levelling of
the enjoyments of all, and leaves unaffected only such incongruities as the
most fastidious sense of justice will recognise as having their basis in
the nature of things.'

Here ended this conversation, which will ever be a memorable one to me,
because it confirmed my decision to become a Freelander.


Eden Vale: Aug. 20, ----

In your last you say you think it very strange that in my letters I make no
further mention of the young ladies who for the past six weeks have been
under the same roof with me. When a young Italian--so argues your
inexorable logic--has nothing to say about pretty girls with whom he
associates, and among whom there is one whose first glance--according to
his own confession--threw him into confusion, he has either been rejected
by the lady in question or contemplates giving her an opportunity of
rejecting him. Your logic is right, Louis: I am in love--indeed I was from
the first sight I had of Bertha, David's splendid sister; and I have even
had a narrow escape of being rejected. Not that my beloved has not returned
my affection; as soon as I could summon courage to propose to her, Bertha
confessed, with that undisguised candour which is charming in her--more
correctly, in all the women of Freeland--that on the very first evening of
our acquaintance she felt she should either marry me or marry no one. And
yet, on my first wooing her, I had to listen to a 'No' of the most
determined character. The fact was that Bertha could not make up her mind
to become an Italian duchess; and my father, who--hear it and be
astounded!--pleaded for me, had as a matter of course insisted that she
should go to Italy with me, reside on our ducal estates there, weave the
ducal diadems into her locks--they are of a ravishing blonde--and make it
her life's duty to continue the noble race of the Falieri. My desire to
settle in Freeland as a Freelander was regarded by my father as a foolish
and extravagant whim. You know his views--a strange medley of honest
Liberalism and aristocratic pride: rather, these were his views, but here
in Freeland the democratic side of his character has considerably broadened
and strengthened. Indeed, he became quite enthusiastic in his admiration of
the Freeland institutions. If there were but another branch of the Falieri
to which could be committed the transmission of the ducal traditions, _per
Bacco!_ my father would have at once assented to my wish, and, as he loves
me tenderly, he would not hesitate long before he followed my example. But
his enthusiasm, noble and sincere as it is, would not permit me to lay the
axe at the root of the genealogical tree of a house whose ancestors had
fought among the first Crusaders, and had later, as petty Italian princes,
filled the world with deeds (of infamy). Against my loving Bertha he made
no objection--really and truly, my dear friend, not the least. On the
contrary, he was not a little proud of me when, in answer to his question
whether I was sure of the maiden's love in return, I replied with a
confident 'Yes.' 'Lucky dog you are,' cried he, 'to win that splendid
creature so quickly! Who can match us Falieris!' Bertha had captivated my
father as she had me; and as he entertained the greatest respect for the
Freeland women in general, he had no objection whatever to a _bourgeoise_
daughter-in-law. But only on condition that I gave up the 'insane' idea of
remaining here. 'The girl has more sense in her little finger than you have
in your whole body,' said he; 'she would little relish seeing her lover
cast a shattered ducal crown at her feet. It is very fine to be a Freeland
woman--but, believe me, it is much finer to be a duchess. Besides, these
two very agreeable qualities can easily be united. Spend the winter and
spring in our palaces at Rome and Venice; summer and autumn you could enjoy
freedom on your lake and among your mountains--in my company, if you had no
objection. Let it stand so: I will get Bertha for you, but not another word
about a permanent settlement here.'

This did not please me. I assure you I had not formed the intention of
becoming a Freelander for the sake of my beloved; but I could not think of
her either in a ducal diadem or in the state rooms of our castles.
Nevertheless, I was fain to submit for a while to the will of my father;
and I did not really know whether Bertha and her relatives would show
themselves so insensible to the attractions of a title and of princely
wealth as would be necessary in order that I might have them as
confederates against my father. In short, my father pleaded my case with
Mr. Ney, and in the presence of Bertha and myself asked her parents for the
hand of their daughter for his son, the Prince Carlo Falieri, adding that
immediately after the wedding he would hand over to me his estates in the
Romagna, Tuscany, and Venice, as well as the palaces at Rome, Florence,
Milan, Verona, and Venice; and would retain for himself merely our Sicilian
possessions--as a reserve property, he jestingly said. The elder Neys
received these grandiose proposals with a chill reserve that gave me little
hope. After a silence of some minutes, and after having thrown at me a
searching and reproachful glance, Mr. Ney said, 'We Freelanders are not the
despots, but simply the counsellors, of our daughters; but in _this_ case
our child does not need counsel: if Bertha is willing to go with you to
Italy as the Princess Falieri, we will not prevent her.'

With a proud and indignant mien Bertha turned--not to me, but--to my
father: 'Never, never!' she cried with quivering lips. 'I love your son
more than my life; I should die if your son discarded me in obedience to
you; but leave Freeland--leave it as _princess_!--never, never! Better die
a thousand times!'

'But, unhappy child,' replied my father, quite horrified at the unexpected
effect of his proposal, 'you utter the word "princess" as if it were to you
the quintessence of all that is dreadful. Yes, you should be princess, one
of the richest, proudest of the princesses of Europe--that is, you should
have no wish which thousands should not vie with each other in fulfilling;
you should have opportunities of making thousands happy; you should be
envied by millions--' 'And cursed and hated,' interposed Bertha with
quivering lips. 'What! You have lived among us six weeks, and you have not
learned what a free daughter of Freeland must feel at the mere suggestion
of leaving these happy fields, this home of justice and human affection, in
order, afar off in your miserable country, not to wipe away, but to extort
the tears of the downtrodden--not to alleviate the horrors of your slavery,
but to become one of the slave-holders! I love Carlo so much above all
measure that I should be ready by his side to exchange the land of
happiness for that of misery if any imperative duty called him thither; but
only on condition that his hands and mine remained free from foreign
property, that we ourselves earned by honest labour what we needed for our
daily life. But to become _princess_; to have thousands of serfs using up
their flesh and blood in order that I might revel in superfluity; to have
thousands of curses of men tortured to death clinging to the food I eat and
the raiment I wear!' As she uttered these words she shuddered and hid her
face in her hands; then, mastering herself with an effort, she continued:
'But reflect--if you had a daughter, and some one asked you to let her go
to be queen among the cannibal Njam-Njam, and the father of her bridegroom
promised that a great number of fat slaves should be slaughtered for
her--what would she say, the poor child who had drunk in with her mother's
milk an invincible disgust at the eating of human flesh? Now, see: we in
Freeland feel disgust at human flesh, even though the sacrifice be slowly
slaughtered inch by inch, limb by limb, without the shedding of blood; to
us the gradual destruction of a fellow-man is not less abhorrent than the
literal devouring of a man is to you; and it is as impossible for us to
exist upon the exploitation of our enslaved fellows as it is for you to
share in the feasts of cannibals. I cannot become a princess--I _cannot_!
Do not separate me from Carlo--if you do we shall both die, and--I have not
learnt it to-day for the first time--you love not only him, but me also.'

This appeal, enforced by the most touching glances and a tender grasping of
his hands, was more than my father could resist. 'You have verily made me
disgusted with myself. So you think we are cannibals, and the only
difference between us and your amiable Njam-Njam is that we do not slay our
sacrifices with one vigorous blow and then devour them forthwith, but we
delight in doing it bit by bit, inch by inch? You are not far wrong; at any
rate, I will not force upon you the privileges of a position as to which
you entertain such views. And my son appears in this point to share your
tastes rather than those which have hitherto been mine. Take each other,
and be happy in your own fashion. For myself, I will consider how I may to
some extent free myself from the odour of cannibalism in my new daughter's

Bertha flew first to me, then to my father, then in succession to her
parents and brothers and sisters, and then again fell upon my father's
neck. Her embrace of her father-in law was so affectionate that I was
almost inclined to be jealous. My father became at once so eager for our
wedding that he asked the Neys forthwith to make all the necessary
arrangements for this event. He expected to be obliged to return to Europe,
provisionally, in about a month, and he should be pleased if we could be
married before he went. Mrs. Ney, however, asked what further preliminaries
were necessary? We had mutually confessed our love, the blessing of the
parents on both sides was not lacking; we might, if agreeable to ourselves,
start off somewhere that very day, by one of the evening trains, on our
wedding-tour--perhaps to the Victoria Nyanza, on whose shores she knew of a
small delightfully situated country house.

I myself was somewhat surprised at these words, though they were evidently
anticipated by my bride. But my father was utterly at a loss to know what
to make of them. Of course his delicacy of feeling would not have allowed
him to declare plainly that he thought it scandalous in the highest degree
for a couple of lovers to start off on a journey together only a few hours
after their betrothal, and that he could not conceive how a respectable
lady could suggest what would bring such disgrace upon her house. There was
a painful pause, until Mr. Ney explained to us that in Freeland the
reciprocal declaration by two lovers that they wished to become husband and
wife was all that was required to the conclusion of a marriage-contract.
The young people had nothing further to do than to make such an express
declaration, and they would be married.

'That is, indeed, extremely simple and charming,' said my father, shaking
his head. 'But if the State or the commonwealth here has nothing to do with
the marriage-contract, how does it know that such a contract has been
entered into, and how can it give its protection to it?'

'Of course the marriage-contract is communicated to the Statistical
Department as quickly as possible, but this enrolment has nothing to do
with the validity of the contract; and as to the protection of the
marriage-bond, we know of no other here than that which is to be found in
the reciprocal affection of the married pair,' said Mrs. Ney.

My father thereupon began to ventilate the question whether it was not
advisable on many grounds to attach to the marriage-contract some more
permanent guarantee; but this suggestion was met, particularly on the part
of Bertha, with such an evident and--to him--quite inexplicable resentment
that he dropped the subject. Later, when we men were by ourselves, he
inquired what the ladies found so offensive in the idea of giving to
marriage some kind of protection against the changing fancies of the wedded
pair? It was easy to see that the conversation had left upon him the
impression that the women of Freeland held views upon this subject which
were altogether too 'free.' But Mr. Ney gradually succeeded in convincing
him--I had understood the matter from the beginning--that the reverse was
the case; that the horror at the thought of being _compelled_ to belong to
a man who was not loved was not merely quite compatible with inviolable
conjugal fidelity, but was a logical outcome of the highest and purest
conception of marriage. At first he held out. He would not deny the ethical
justness of the Freeland principle that marriage without love was
objectionable; only he questioned whether this principle could be strictly
applied to practical life without opening the door to licentiousness. The
fact that in Freeland divorces were quite unknown did not at once suffice
to convince him. Mrs. Ney, who surprised us in the midst of this
discussion, gave the finishing touch.

'If you take a comprehensive view of the whole complex of our economic and
social institutions,' said she to my father, 'you will see why in Freeland
man and wife must regard each other with different eyes than is the case in
Europe or America. All your scruples will vanish, for the logical
connection of economic justice with conjugal fidelity and honour lies as
plain and open as does its connection with honour in questions of _meum_
and _tuum_. That well-to-do intelligent men do not steal and rob, that in a
highly cultivated society which guarantees to everyone the undiminished
product of his own labour no one touches the fruits of another man's
industry--this is not more self-evident than it is that the same principle
of economic justice must smother in the germ all longing for the wife or
the husband of another. For man is by nature a monogamous and monandrous
being; polygamy and polyandry are inconsistent with the fundamental
characteristics of his nature; they are diseases of civilisation which
would vanish spontaneously with a return to the healthy conditions of
existence. Sexual honour and fidelity, like honesty in matters of property,
are rare "virtues" only where they impose upon the individual the exercise
of a self-denial which is not reconcilable with the instinct of
self-preservation; where, as among us, a harmony of interests is
established even in this domain, where everyone gets the whole of what is
his own, and no one is expected to forego in the common interest of the
community what belongs to himself--here even this virtue is transformed
into a rational self-interest which every accountable person exhibits
spontaneously and without any compulsion from without, as something that he
owes to himself. We are all faithful because faithfulness does not impose
upon any one of us the renunciation of his individuality.'

'I admire this sentiment,' answered my father, 'and do not wish to dispute

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