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The Cynosure

  Michael Bakunin
  William Godwin
  Emma Goldman
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  Errico Malatesta
  Pierre-Joseph Proudhon
  Max Stirner
  Murray Bookchin
  Noam Chomsky
  Bright but Lesser Lights
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  First International
  Paris Commune
  Haymarket Massacre
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be infinitely less destructive of individual opportunities, and therefore infinitely less dangerous and detrimental to human welfare, than is the institution of property in abstract things. For it is easy to see that, even should we accept the rather startling hypothesis that a single ear of corn is continually and permanently consumable, or rather inconsumable, by an indefinite number of persons scattered over the surface of the earth, still the legal institution of property in concrete things that would secure to the sower of the grain of corn the exclusive use of the resultant ear would not, in so doing, deprive other persons of the right to sow other grains of corn and become exclusive user of their respective harvest; whereas the legal institution of property in abstract things not only secures to the inventor, say, of the steam engine the exclusive use of the engines which he actually makes, but at the same time deprives all other persons of the right to make for themselves other engines involving any of the same ideas. Perpetual property is ideas, then, which is the logical outcome of any theory of property in abstract things, would, had it been in force in the lifetime of James Watt, have made his direct heirs the owners of at least nine tenths of the existing wealth of the world; and, had it been in force in the lifetime of the inventor of the Roman alphabet, nearly all the highly civilized peoples of the earth would be today the virtual slaves of that inventor's heirs, which is but another way of saying that, instead of becoming highly civilized, they would have remained in the state of semi-barbarism. It seems to me that these two state-


ments, which in my view are incontrovertable, are in themselves sufficient to condemn property in ideas forever.

If, then, the four monopolies to which I have referred are unnecessary denials of liberty, and therefore unjust denials of liberty, and if they are the sustaining causes of interest, rent, and monopolistic profit, and if, in turn, this usurious trinity is the cause of all vast accumulations of wealth, for further proof of which propositions I must, because of the limitations of my time, refer you to the economic writings of the Anarchistis school, --it clearly follows that the adequate solution of the problem with which the trusts confront us is to be found only in abolition of these monopolies and the consequent guarantee of perfectly free competition.

The most serious of these four monopolies is unquestionably the money monopoly, and I believe that perfect freedom in finance alone would wipe out nearly all the helpful. Mr. Bryan told a very important truth when he declared that the destruction of the money trust would at the same time kill all the other trusts. Unhappily, Mr. Bryan does not propose to destroy the money trust. He wishes simply to transform it from a gold trust into a gold and silver trust. The money trust cannot be destroyed by the remonetization of silver. That would be only a mitigation of the monopoly, not the abolishment of it. It can be abolished only by monetizing all wealth that has a market value, -- that is, by giving to all wealth the right right of representation by currency, and to all currency the right to circulate wherever it can on its own merits.


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