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The relationship between the individual and the state

Seeking, then, the elements common to all the institutions to which the name State has been applied, they have found them two in number: That this second element is common to all States, I think, will not be denied,—at least, I am not aware that any State has ever tolerated a rival State within its borders; and it seems plain that any State which should do so would thereby cease to be a State and to be considered as such by any.

The exercise of authority over the same area by two States is a contradiction. That the first element, aggression, has been and is common to all States will probably be less generally admitted.

Nevertheless, I shall not attempt to re-enforce here the conclusion of Spencerwhich is gaining wider acceptance daily,—that the State had its origin in aggression, and has continued as an aggressive institution from its birth. Its growth in importance is but an evidence of the tendency of progress toward the abolition of the State.

Taking this view of the matter, the Anarchists contend that defence is not an essential of the State, but that aggression is. Now what is aggression? Aggression is simply another name for government. The essence of government is control, or the attempt to control. He who attempts to control another is a governor, an aggressor, an invader; and the nature of such invasion is not changed, whether it is made by one man upon another man, after the manner of the ordinary criminal, or by one man upon all other men, after the manner of an absolute monarch, or by all other men upon one man, after the manner of a modern democracy.

This distinction between invasion and resistance, between government and defence, is vital. Without it there can be no valid philosophy of politics.

Upon this distinction and the other considerations just outlined, the Anarchists frame the desired definitions. This, then, is the Anarchistic definition of government: And this is definition of the State: As to the meaning of the remaining term in the subject under discussion, the word individual, I think there is little difficulty.

Putting aside the subtleties in which certain metaphysicians have indulged, one may use this word without danger of being misunderstood. Whether the definitions thus arrived at prove generally acceptable or not is a matter of minor consequence.

I submit that they are reached scientifically, and serve the purpose of clear conveyance of thought. The Anarchists, having by their adoption taken due care to be explicit, are entitled to have their ideas judged in the light of these definitions. What relations should exist between the State and the individual?

The general method of determining these is to apply some theory of ethics involving a basis of moral obligation. In this method the Anarchists have no confidence. The idea of moral obligation, of inherent rights and the relationship between the individual and the state, they totally discard. They look upon all obligations, not as moral, but as social, and even then not really as obligations except as these have been consciously and voluntarily assumed.

If a man makes an agreement with men, the latter may combine to hold him to his agreement; but, in the absence of such agreements, no man, so far as the Anarchists are aware, has made any agreement with God or with any other power of any order whatsoever. The Anarchists are not only utilitarians, but egoists in the farthest and the relationship between the individual and the state sense. So far as inherent right is concerned, might is its only measure. Any man, be his name Bill Sykes or Alexander Romanoffand any set of men, whether the Chinese highbinders or the Congress of the United States, have the right, if they have the power, to kill or coerce other men and to make the entire world subservient to their ends.

This position being subversive of all systems of religion and morality, of course I cannot expect to win immediate assent thereto from the audience which I am addressing to-day; nor does the time at my disposal allow me to sustain it by an elaborate, or even a summary, examination of the foundation of ethics. Those who desire a greater familiarity with this particular phase of the subject should read a profound German work, Der Einzige und sein Eigenthum, written years ago by a comparatively unknown author, Dr.

Caspar Schmidt, whose nom de plume was Max Stirner. Read only by a few scholars, this book is buried in obscurity, but is destined to a resurrection that perhaps will mark an epoch. But, fortunately, it is not a question of right: The history of humanity has been largely one long and gradual discovery of the fact that the individual is the gainer by society exactly in proportion as society is free, and of the law that the condition of a permanent and harmonious society is the greatest amount of individual liberty compatible with equality of liberty.

The average man of each new generation has said to himself more clearly and consciously than his predecessor: My neighbor is not my enemy, but my friend, and I am his, if we would but mutually recognize the fact. We help each other to a better, fuller, happier living; and this service might be greatly increased if we would cease to restrict, hamper, and oppress each other.

Why can we not agree to let each live his own life, neither of us transgressing the limit that separates our individualities? It is by this reasoning that mankind is approaching the real social contract, which is not, as Rousseau thought, the origin of society, but rather the outcome of a long social experience, the fruit of its follies and disasters.

It is obvious that this contract, this social law, developed to its perfection, excludes all aggression, all violation of equality of liberty, all invasion of every kind. Considering this contract in connection with the Anarchistic definition of the State as the embodiment of the principle of invasion, we see that the State is antagonistic to society; and, society being essential to individual life and development, the conclusion leaps to the eyes that the relation of the State to the individual and of the individual to the State must be one of hostility, enduring till the State shall perish.

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The Anarchists answer that the abolition of the State will leave in existence a defensive association, resting no longer on a compulsory but on a voluntary basis, which will restrain invaders by any means that may prove necessary. But that is what we have now, is the rejoinder. You really want, then, only a change of name? Not so fast, please.

Can it be soberly pretended for a moment that the State, even as it exists here in America, is purely a defensive institution? Surely not, save by those who see of the State only its most palpable manifestation,—the policeman on the street-corner. And one would not have to watch him very closely to see the error of this claim. Why, the very first act of the State, the compulsory assessment and collection of taxes, is itself an aggression, a violation of equal liberty, and, as such, vitiates every subsequent act, even those acts which would be purely defensive if paid for out of a treasury filled by voluntary contributions.

And, if this is an outrage, what name shall we give to such confiscation when the victim is given, instead of bread, a stone, instead of protection, oppression? To force a man to pay for the violation of his own liberty is indeed an addition of insult to injury. But that is exactly what the State is doing. To be governed, says Proudhonis to be watched, inspected, spied, directed, law-ridden, regulated, penned up, indoctrinated, preached at, checked, appraised, seized, censured, commanded, by beings who have neither title nor knowledge nor virtue.

  • It is the total complex of human relationships;
  • On discovery it was found that she could not walk or speech and was indifferent to people around her.

To be governed is to have every operation, every transaction, every movement noted, registered, counted, rated, stamped, measured, numbered, assessed, licensed, refused, authorized, indorsed, admonished, prevented, reformed, redressed, corrected.

To be governed is, under pretext of public utility and in the name of the general interest, to be laid under contribution, drilled, fleeced, exploited, monopolized, extorted from, exhausted, hoaxed, robbed; then, upon the slightest resistance, at the first word of complaint, to be repressed, fined, vilified, annoyed, hunted down, pulled about, beaten, disarmed, bound, imprisoned, shot, mitrailleused, judged, condemned, banished, sacrificed, sold, betrayed, and, to crown all, ridiculed, derided, outraged, dishonored.

How thoughtless, then, to assert that the existing political order is of a purely defensive character instead of the aggressive State which the Anarchists aim to abolish! Is it not such treatment as has just been described that is largely responsible for his existence?

I have heard or read somewhere of an inscription written for a certain charitable institution: They are filled with criminals which our virtuous State has made what they are by its iniquitous laws, its grinding monopolies, and the horrible social conditions that result from them.

We enact many laws that manufacture criminals, and then a few that punish them. Is it too much to expect that the new social conditions which must follow the abolition of all interference with the production and distribution of wealth will in the end so change the habits and propensities of men that our jails and prisons, our policemen and our soldiers,—in a word, our whole machinery and outfit of defence,—will be superfluous?

It sounds Utopian, but it really rests on severely economic grounds.

The Relationship Between State and Individual Responsibility for International Crimes

Simple as such a step would seem, from it all the rest would follow. If I have outlined the argument intelligibly, I have accomplished all that I expected. But, in the hope of impressing the idea of a true social contract more vividly upon your minds, in conclusion I shall take the liberty of reading another page from Proudhon, to whom I am indebted for most of what I know, or think I know, upon this subject.

Contrasting authority with free contract, he says, in his: The voice of the angel commands the People, prostrate at the foot of Sinai: The Eternal is alone sovereign, alone wise, alone worthy; the Eternal punishes and rewards. It is in the power of the Eternal to render you happy or unhappy at his will. The Hebrew commands in the future, the Latin in the imperative, the Greek in the infinitive.

  • Besides, the relationship between individual and society can be viewed from another three angles;
  • The Eternal is alone sovereign, alone wise, alone worthy; the Eternal punishes and rewards;
  • A private society is essentially the second model as realized in the actual world;
  • This changing system, we call society and it is always changing [1].

The moderns do not otherwise. The tribune of the parliament-house is a Sinai as infallible and as terrible as that of Moses; whatever the law may be, from whatever lips it may come, it is sacred once it has been proclaimed by that prophetic trumpet, which with us is the majority.