A PICTURE OF CIVILIZATION AT THE CLOSE OF THE NINETEENTH CENTURY.
JOHN HENRY MACKAY
THE CHAMPIONS OF LIBERTY.
AUBAN jumped, up.
There was a rap at the door. The bar-boy who came every Sunday thrust his head through the door: "Sir?" He might call again in half an hour.
Auban looked at his watch. He had again been musing away a whole hour. . . . It was almost five o'clock. It was already getting dark, and Auban lit a large lamp which illuminated the whole room from the mantlepiece. Then he stirred up the fire to a fresh glow; pushed the table with an effort towards the window, so that there was a large space before the fireplace; and finally placed a number of chairs round the latter in a semicircle. Now there was room for about eight or nine persons.
He surveyed the room which, now that the curtains were drawn, warmed by the blazing fire and illumined by the mild light, gave the appearance almost of comfort.
But how different it used to be: in the two small rooms in Holborn, when his wife was still living, --- his wife who knew so well how to make things comfortable for everybody in the Sunday afternoon hours: how to prevail upon the most timid to speak his thoughts, the babbler to check his tongue, the bashful to join in the conversation, the phrasemonger to think, without their noticing it.
It was not a rare thing at that time for women to attend these gatherings. But the tone had always remained perfectly natural and free from all conventional constraint.
Her brief illness had suddenly interrupted the gatherings; her death left the greatest gap in the circle. Auban could not give up the idea of these afternoons which had originated with her.
They again came to him. She was never mentioned, although every one who had known her felt her loss.
How many had come and gone in these two years: surely a hundred persons! They were all more or less in the international movement of Socialism. Their ideals were as different as the paths along which they pursued them.
But all were suffering from the pressure of present conditions and longed for better ones. . . . That was the only bond which in a loose way united them in these hours.
Many thought ill of Auban for opening his doors to so many different characters. Some regarded it even as disloyalty. "To whom?" he asked them, smilingly. "I own no bodily or spiritual master to whom I have sworn loyalty. How can I have become disloyal?"
So the political talkers, the party men, and the orthodox fanatics remained away: all those who fancied they could enjoy the heaven of liberty only after their ideal of liberty had become the ideal of all.
Again and again the few came --- Auban's personal friends --- whom the experiences of their lives had taught that liberty is nothing but independence of one another: the possibility for each of being free in his own fashion.
The conversation was usually carried on in French. But not infrequently also in English, when the presence of English friends made it necessary.
Of late, strangers were again coming and going more frequently. Auban asked no one to come again; but everybody felt by the pressure of his hand with which he took leave that he would be just as welcome next week.
All had the right of introducing their friends, which they sometimes exercised to such a degree that there were more persons than chairs. But often, too, Auban was alone with one or two of his friends.
It was mostly some issue of the day which formed the centre of the common conversation. Or a discussion arose, separating the gathering into talkers and listeners. But it also happened that small groups were formed, when two or three different languages filled the room.
Once a man came, no one knew whence, who sometime later proved to be a decoy. The lust of ferreting out some conspiracy had led him to this place, too. But when he saw that there was no talk here about dynamite, about bombs, about the "black hand," executive committees, and secret societies, but that scientific and philosophical questions which he did not understand were being discussed, he disappeared as he had come, after he had been unspeakably bored for several hours.
A similar disappointment awaited several youthful Hotspurs who imagined that the throwing of a bomb was a greater deed and would, more speedily abolish all social misery than the laborious examination into the causes of this misery. The contempt with which they henceforth spoke of this "philosophical Anarchism," which was entirely fruitless and had nothing in the least to do with the liberation of starving humanity, was as sovereign as it was easily to be explained.
Auban usually held aloof from the discussions. But he did not like to see them depart from the firm ground of reality and degenerate into a useless war of words, alike without end and aim.
But to-day --- urged by his friends and not held back by his own feelings --- he wished to set forth in all their sharp contrast the outlines of two philosophies, whose illogical intermingling had produced a night of contradiction and confusion. . . .
To-day he wished to destroy the last misunderstanding about himself and his position, and thereby enter upon a conflict to which he was firmly resolved for a long time to devote his best powers. . . .
He was just looking, somewhat impatiently, at his watch, when he heard a rap at the door. But the visitor was an entire stranger to him. He was a man of forty, who walked up to him, introduced himself, and handed him a letter.
Auban ran through it after they had both taken seats. It was a recommendation of the bearer, in an easy, bright style, and it came from a man with whom, in years past in Paris, Auban had often stood on the same platform in defence of the rights of labor, but who was now on the editorial staff of a great opposition paper of the day, and much feared on account of his predatory pen.
Half excuse, half jest, the letter toyed back and forth between unforgotten memories and the delight in present achievement. . . . It recommended to the good will of Auban a friend who felt himself attracted by the study of the social movement as "the butterfly by the flame," and who was especially desirous of gaining some information about the obscure region of Anarchism during his short stay in London, regarding which Auban would surely prove a better guide to him than the writer, "who lived too much in the charmed circle of the day, to be still allured by a forlorn future. . . ." Then he felicitated Auban upon his publisher's success, jested once more over their common follies, which "experience had deprived of their last bloom," and made a ceremonious bow.
Auban asked a few questions, to enable him to complete the picture of this changed man. Then in a friendly manner he said that he was ready to give any information which might be desired of him. He was delighted by the tones of his mother-tongue; he was secretly delighted by this visit which brought an odor of Paris into his room. . . .
This stranger was sympathetic to him: his plain dress, his calm, confident manner, his serious face.
He began with a question.
"You wish me to explain to you the teachings of Anarchism. Would you first tell me what you have hitherto taken Anarchy to mean?"
"Certainly. But I confess that I have no clear picture of it before me. The opposite rather: a bloody and smoking chaos, a heap of ruins of all existing things, a complete loosening and severance of all ties that have hitherto bound men together: marriage, the family, the Church, the State, unbridled men and women no longer held in order by any authority, and mutually devouring each other.
Auban smiled at this description, which he had heard a thousand times.
"That is indeed the picture most people nowadays still form of Anarchy," he said.
"It is represented so on every occasion by the press, the political parties, in our encyclopædias, by the professional teachers of political economy, by all. However, I have always taken it for the conscious misrepresentation of enemies and for the unconscious, parrot-like talk of the masses."
"You were right," said Auban.
"But I further confess that the opposite ideal, --- the simple, peaceable, undisturbed community life of mankind, where each constantly sacrifices voluntarily his interests in favor of his neighbor and the general welfare, --- I confess that such an ideal of a 'free society' appears to me wholly incompatible with the real nature of man."
Auban smiled again: "I confess the same."
The other was surprised. "What?" he said. "And yet this is the ideal of Anarchy?"
"No," answered Auban; "on the contrary, it is the ideal of Communism."
"But --- both have one aim."
"They are opposed to each other as day and night, as truth and illusion, as egoism and altruism, as liberty and slavery."
"But all Anarchists of whom I have heard are Communists?"
"No; the Communists whom you know call themselves Anarchists."
"Then there are no Anarchists among us in France, none in Europe?"
"As far as I know, none; at any rate, only in small numbers here and there. However, every consistent Individualist is an Anarchist."
"And the whole, daily changing movement of Anarchism which causes so much talk?"
"Is Anti-Individualistic, and therefore Anti-Anarchistic; is, as I have already said, purely Communistic."
Auban noticed what a surprise his words caused. The former had wished to be informed by him concerning the nature, distance, and aim of a road, and now he had shown him that the guide-board on the road bore a false inscription. . . .
He saw the serious, thoughtful expression in the features of his visitor, and was now convinced that it was indeed his interest in the solution of a doubtful question which had brought him here.
There was a short pause, during which he quietly waited until the other had completed his train of thought and resumed the conversation.
"May I now ask you to tell me what you understand by Anarchy?"
"Gladly. You know that the word An-archy, is derived from the Greek language, and means, in literal rendering, 'no authority.'
"Now the condition of no authority is identical with the condition of liberty: if I have no master, I am free.
"Anarchy is consequently liberty.
"It is now necessary to define the conception 'liberty,' and I must say that it is impossible for me to find a better definition than this one: liberty is the absence of aggressive force or coercion."
He stopped a moment as if to enable his listener to carefully note each one of his slowly and clearly spoken words. Then he continued: ---
"Now, the State is organized force. As force constitutes its essential nature, robbery is its privilege; so the robbery of some for the benefit of others is the means of its support.
"The Anarchist sees therefore in the State his greatest, yes, his only, enemy.
"It is the fundamental condition of liberty that no one shall be deprived of the opportunity of securing the full product of his labor. Economic independence is consequently the first demand of Anarchism: the abolition of the exploitation of man by man. That exploitation is made impossible: by the freedom of banking, i.e. liberty in the matter of furnishing a medium of exchange free from the legal burden of interest; by the freedom of credit, i.e. the organization of credit on the basis of the principle of mutualism, of economic solidarity; by the freedom of home and foreign trade, i.e. liberty of unhindered exchange of values from hand to hand as from land to land; the freedom of land, i.e. liberty in the occupation of land for the purpose of personal use, if it is not already occupied by others for the same purpose; or, to epitomize all these demands: the exploitation of man by man is made impossible by the freedom of labor."
Here Auban stopped, and there was again a pause.
"It seems to me you are approaching the laissez-faire, laissez-aller of the champions of free competition."
"The reverse is true: the Manchester men are approaching us. But they are far behind us. However, a consistent advance along the lines they have chosen must unfailingly lead them to where we are standing. They claim to champion free competition. But in reality they champion competition only among the despoiled, while with the assistance of the State they remove capital from competition, monopolize it. We, on the other hand, wish to popularize it, to make it possible for every one to become a capitalist, by making it accessible to all by means of the freedom of credit and by forcing it to enter competition, like all other products."
"These ideas are very new."
"They are not quite so new, but they have become so again to-day, to-day when people look for their deliverance to the ruling powers, and when they refuse to understand that the social question cannot be solved in any other way than by the initiative of the individual who finally resolves to assume the administration of his affairs himself instead of placing it in the hands of others."
"I have not been able to discern the full meaning of each of your words; but if I understand you rightly, you said that you do not recognize any duty of submission to the will of another or any right whatever compelling the observance of a foreign will?"
"I claim the right of free control over my person," replied Auban, emphatically. "I neither demand nor expect of the community a bestowal of rights, and I consider myself under no obligations to it. Put in place of the word 'community' whatever you wish: 'State,' 'society,' 'fatherland,' 'commonwealth,' 'mankind,' --- it is all the same."
"You are daring!" exclaimed the Frenchman; "you deny all history."
"I deny the past," said Auban. "I have profited by it. Only a few can say as much. I deny all human institutions which are founded on the right of force. I am of greater importance to myself than they are to me!"
"But they are stronger than you."
"Now. Some day they will no longer be so. For in what does their power consist? In the folly of the blind."
Auban had risen. His large features shone with the expression of a free, calm pride.
"So you believe in the progress of mankind towards liberty?"
"I do not believe in it. Woe unto him who believes! I see it. I see it as I daily see the sun." . . .
The visitor had also risen. But Auban held him back.
"If you like and have time, stay here. I expect some friends to-day, as usual on Sundays. Especially to-day the conversation will turn on many points that may interest you."
The invitation was accepted with evident pleasure.
"It would indeed not be agreeable to me to be obliged to rise from a repast of which I have hardly finished the first course."
Auban again inquired about Paris, about some of the celebrities of the day, about many things that the newspapers did not tell him.
Then came the guests. First, Dr. Hurt, an Englishman, a physician, who had treated his wife, and who had since become a regular attendant at Auban's gatherings. He was curt, taciturn, without phrases, without sentimentality, a character whose prominent features a keen observer could easily recognize: an inflexible will, a strong tendency to ridicule, and an analytical incredulity.
Auban valued him exceedingly. There was none among his friends with whom he liked to talk so well as with this sceptical Englishman, whose courage was equal to his logic.
For awhile the conversation was now carried on in English, which the Frenchman understood. The doctor occupied the second place by the fire, his favorite place, and warmed his broad back, while he cursed that London where the fog and smoke covered everything with a sticky crust of disease germs. . . .
He was interrupted by Mr. Marell, the American, who was accompanied by a young man of twenty, who --- evidently struggling between embarrassment and curious interest --- shook Auban's hand only with diffident reserve.
"How do you do, Mr. Marell?"
"Well, I bring you a young student of social science, a German poet; I think you have already seen him at the meeting of protest in Finsbury Hall; he would like to make your acquaintance."
Auban smiled. Again a new acquaintance. Where and how the old man made them was a puzzle to him. But a natural goodness of heart did not only not permit him to ever deny a request; it enabled him in kindly sympathy to instantly anticipate it. That may have been the case here too.
Almost always travelling between England and the States, he was on both sides personally acquainted with nearly everybody connected with the social movement, and nearly everybody, no matter what his opinions, knew and loved him. He brought most of the guests to Auban, who extended a cordial welcome to all alike.
"That's right," he said, as usual; "the poets have ever been the friends of liberty, and the German poets above all. When I had not yet quite forgotten my German, I used to read Freiligrath's splendid poems --- ah, how magnificent they are! 'The Revolution' and the poem of the 'Dead to the Living' --- is it not so?"
"Yes," said the German, with eyes beaming with joy, "and the 'Battle at the Birch Tree.'"
"They are a strange people, those Germans," said Dr. Hurt, "the land of Individualism, and yet that servile cringing. I cannot understand how an upright man can live there among those obsequiously bent necks."
"Well, there are not a few who emigrate. How many come even to America," the Yankee interrupted him.
Again the door opened.
It was Trupp, who, serious as ever, greeted those present with a nod; a Russian Nihilist, whose name no one knew, but of whose work in the propaganda his comrades talked a great deal; and finally, a follower of the New York "Freiheit" school, whose visits always gave Auban special pleasure, notwithstanding that on many questions he was still farther from an agreement with him than with Trupp.
Following upon their heels came the last visitor for the afternoon, --- a giant in stature, whose blonde hair and blue eyes at once betrayed the Norseman. He was a Swede, who belonged to the young Social-Democratic party of his country, but who inclined strongly towards Anarchism, and always claimed that there was but one difference between the latter and his party, a difference of policy: what the Social Democrats sought to achieve by the way of political reforms, the Anarchists sought to accomplish by force; and as the former course seemed too long, he was inclined to choose the latter. He was entirely what is usually described as a "sentimental Socialist."
They formed a semicircle round the fire. The bar-boy came, and went from one to the other, taking orders. By thus relieving himself of the trouble and care of furnishing and offering refreshments, Auban secured to each the liberty of individual choice. The comfortableness of his guests justified him.
The conversation soon grew lively.
Auban avoided the ceremonious introduction of his guests. But he had a fine way of indirectly --- in the course of the conversation --- making one acquainted with another. And so on this afternoon it was not long before each of his eight guests knew who the other was, if he had not already met him on former occasions. They did not all talk with each other. Dr. Hurt kept perfectly silent, but listened attentively. Everybody knew these characteristics. The Russian also did not join in. Thoughtfully looking before him, he allowed none of the words spoken in the room to escape him, seeking and finding behind each a deeper and more special meaning than was intended. It was the fourth time that he had been present; and he had come the first time four weeks ago.
But the kindliness of the old American, whose serious simplicity never changed, and Auban's calm unconcern, never allowed a feeling of uneasiness to rise or the conversation to flag.
Most of them smoked. In half an hour the room was filled with smoke: its white streaks curled like wreaths round those heads so variously shaped by nature, round those manly, serious brows, and then floated away towards the ceiling, where they disappeared. . . .
After a pause, and after the glasses had been filled again, Auban, who was sitting between his French visitor and the young German of whom the American had said that he was a poet, bent forward and said in French: ---
"Trupp and myself would like to ask you, gentlemen, the favor of an hour for a discussion of the question: What is Anarchism? this afternoon. And not, as usual, for a discussion of some special and sharply defined question, but for a discussion of the fundamental principles of Anarchism itself. For both of us feel that such an interchange of opinions has become necessary."
He waited to see if the meeting would assent to his proposition. The conversation had ceased. They nodded to him, and he continued: ---
"'What?' --- some of you will ask, 'what? --- a discussion on the fundamental principles of Anarchy? Why, have not these principles been established long ago and so placed beyond all doubt?'
"Whereupon I answer. No! Notwithstanding fifty years have almost passed since the word 'Anarchism' --- in opposition to the view still prevalent that Anarchy is nothing but the disorder of chaos --- was for the first time employed to designate a state of society; notwithstanding that in these fifty years Anarchism has in all civilized countries of the earth become a part of contemporary history; notwithstanding it has already laid the indestructible foundation of its own history; notwithstanding there are thousands of persons to-day who call themselves 'Anarchists' (here in Europe from ten to twenty thousand, and in America probably as many more); notwithstanding all that, I say that there is but a very small number of individuals who have thoroughly mastered the idea of Anarchism.
"I will say right here who these few in my opinion are. They are the thinkers of Individualism who were consistent enough to apply its philosophy to society. They are --- in the most intellectual and cultured city of the American continent, in Boston --- a few courageous, strong, and thoughtful men wholly independent of all the current movements of the age, --- in the same city where Anarchism found its first and till now only organ. They are, finally, scattered in all directions, the disciples of Proudhon, to whom this giant is not dead, even if Socialism in ridiculous conceit fancies it has buried him. . . ."
"I believe you may add," said Dr. Hurt, "that there are a few among the great monopolists of capital who have come to understand what it is that maintains their enormous fortunes and enables them to steadily increase, and who have therefore not remained wholly ignorant of their greatest enemy."
"So we, the workingmen, we who have always honored the name despite all persecutions, we are no Anarchists? What?" began Trupp, excitedly.
"In the first place, the question of Anarchism is not the concern of a single class, consequently also not of the laboring class, but it is the concern of every individual who values his personal liberty. But then," --- Auban rose, advanced a little towards the centre, and stretched his thin figure, while he continued in a louder voice, --- "but then I say that you --- those whom you just had in mind, Otto, when you spoke of the workingmen --- are indeed no Anarchists. And in oder to prove that, I have asked you to-day to listen to me for a half-hour."
"Speak first," said Trupp, apparently calm. "I will answer you after you are through."
"I can say that I have always wanted only one thing: liberty. Thus I came to the threshold of so many opinions; thus I also came into the movement of socialism. Then I withdrew from everything, devoted myself to entirely new investigations, and I feel that I have now arrived at the last result of all study: myself!
"I no longer like to talk to many people. The times are past when the words came readily to me while thoughts were wanting, and I no longer lay claim to this privilege of youth, women, and Communists. But the time has come for firmly and strongly opposing those foolish attempts at uniting principles in theory which are practically as different as day and night. "
We must choose sides: here or there. For the one, and thereby against the other. For or against liberty!
"Better honest enemies than dishonest friends!" The decided tone of these words made an impression on all present. By the earnestness with which Auban had spoken them every one felt that a crisis was at hand.
Every one, therefore, manifested the deepest interest in Auban's further remarks, and gave his undivided attention to the discussion which followed between him and Trupp, only occasionally offering a suggestion or asking a question.
Word after word fell from Auban's lips without any sign of emotion. He spoke with unvarying precision that allowed of no misapprehension, but emphasized more strongly one or the other of his arguments, the fundamental axioms of a relentless philosophy.
Trupp spoke with the whole warmth of a heart thirsting for justice. Where his reason came to an obstacle, he raised himself above it on the wings of his imperturbable hope.
French was spoken to-day. There was none among them who did not understand that language.
Auban began again, and he enunciated each of his well-considered words so slowly that it seemed almost as if he read them or had learned them by heart.
"I maintain," he began, "that a great split has arisen in the social movement of the present day, and that it is perceptibly growing larger from day to day.
"The new idea of Anarchism has separated itself from the old one of Socialism. The professors of the one and the followers of the other are concentrating themselves in two great camps.
"As I have said, we are face to face with the alternative of making a choice one way or the other.
"Let us do this to-day. Let us see what Socialism wants, and let us see what Anarchism wants.
"What does Socialism want?
"I have found that it is very difficult to offer a satisfactory answer to this question. For ten years I have been watching the movement in each of its phases, and I have learned to know it in two countries by personal experience. I have followed its rise and growth in the history of the present century, but to this hour I have not succeeded in forming a clear picture of its aims. Otherwise I should perhaps still be a follower of it.
"Wherever I inquired after its ultimate aims, I received two answers.
"The one was: 'It would be ridiculous to already outline the picture of a future which we are only preparing. We leave its formation to our descendants.'
"The other was less reserved. It changed men into angels, pictured with enviable rapidity an Eden of happiness, peace, and liberty, and called that heaven on earth the 'future society.'
"The first answer was made by the Collectivists, the Social Democrats, the State Communists; the second, by the 'free Communists,' who call themselves Anarchists, and those genuinely Christian dreamers who belong to none of the social parties of the present, but whose number is much larger than is commonly believed. Most religious fanatics and philanthropists, for instance, belong to them.
"In this brief presentation, which will strictly keep inside the limits of reality and deal with men only as they are, have always been, and will always be, I must entirely ignore the last-mentioned classes. For the former of these, the free or revolutionary Communists, would never have received any attention in the social movement --- notwithstanding almost every decade of the present century witnessed their rise, growth, and disappearance: from Babúuf and Cabet, via the tailor Weitling and the German-Swiss Communistic movement of the forties, to Bakounine --- had they not championed a policy whose occasional application during the past twelve years has made of the name 'Anarchist,' falsely assumed by them, in the minds of the mentally blind (and these still constitute about nine-tenths of all mankind) a synonym for robbers and murderers; and the latter, the philanthropical Utopians --- well, there have always been such, and we shall presumably have them with us as long as governments shall create misery and poverty by force.
"Ignoring, therefore, all purely ideal Socialists and their Utopian wishes, and concentrating my attention on the aspirations of the first-mentioned classes, which are the only tangible ones, I answer the question: What does Socialism want? --- in their spirit and by their own words thus: ---
"Socialism wants the socialization of all the means of production, and the societarian, systematic regulation of production in the interests of the community.
"This socialization and regulation must proceed in accordance with the will of the absolute majority and through the persons of the representatives elected and designated by it.
"So reads the first and most important demand of the Socialists of all countries, so far as they keep within the limits of reality and deal with the given conditions.
"It is of course impossible to treat here in detail:
"First, of the possibility of the realization of these principles, which is indeed conceivable only by the aid of an unexampled terrorism and the most brutal compulsion of the individual, but in which I do not believe; and second, of the consequences, in no manner to be estimated, which an unlimited --- even if only temporary --- dictatorship of the majority would entail upon the progress of civilization. . . .
"And why should I? I need only point to the present conditions from which we are all suffering: to the privileges, forcibly created and maintained by the State, with which it invests capital in the form of interest, and land in the form of rent, on the one side, and to the useless internecine struggle of the labor dependent on that capital, the struggle in which labor irretrievably devours itself, on the other; I need only point to these abominable conditions, to give all thinking people an idea of how completely null and void must become economic, and consequently all personal, liberty, after these separate monopolies shall have become consolidated in the one, comprehensive, absolute monopoly of the community which is to-day called the State and tomorrow the collectivity.
"I say only so much: ---
"The forcible exploitation of the majority by the minority to-day would become a forcible exploitation, no more justifiable, of the minority by the majority tomorrow.
"To-day: Oppression of the weak by the strong. Tomorrow: Oppression of the strong by the weak.
"In both cases: Privileged power which does as it pleases.
"The best that Socialism might achieve would consequently constitute only a change of rulers.
"Here I put my second question: ---
"What does Anarchism want?
"And starting from what has been said, I answer: ---
"Anarchism wants the absence of all government which --- even if it abolishes 'class rule' --- inevitably separates mankind into the two great classes of exploiters and exploited.
"All government is based on force. But wherever there is force there is injustice.
"Liberty alone is just: the absence of all force and all coercion. Equality of opportunities for all constitutes its basis.
"On this basis of equal opportunities, the free, independent, sovereign individual whose only claim on society is that it shall respect his liberty, and whose only self-given law consists in respecting the liberty of others, --- that is the ideal of Anarchy.
"When this individual awakes to life, the knell of the State has sounded: society takes the place of government; voluntary associations for definite purposes, the place of the State; free contract, the place of statute law.
"Free competition, the war of 'all against all,' begins. The artificially created conceptions of strength and weakness must disappear as soon as the way has been cleared and the perception of the first egoism has struggled into light that the happiness of the one is that of the other, and vice versa.
"When with the State the privileges maintained by it have become powerless, the individual will be enabled to secure the full product of his labor, and the first demand of Anarchism, the one it has in common with Socialism, will be fulfilled.
"When shall I be enabled to secure the full product of my labor?" Auban interrupted himself, as he caught the questioning glance of the Frenchman, and continued: ---
"When I can exchange the product of my labor at its full value and with the proceeds buy back one of equal value, instead of being forced, as at present, to sell my labor below its value, i.e. when I must submit to being robbed of a portion of it by force."
After this explanatory clause, Auban again took up the thread of his address.
"For after the disappearance of force, capital, unable any longer to levy the customary tribute, will find itself compelled to participate in the struggle, i.e.
to lend itself out for a consideration which the competition among the banks themselves in the business of furnishing mediums of exchange will force down to the lowest point, just as it will make impossible the accumulation of new capital in the hands of the few.
"The power of increase of capital is the death of labor: the vampire that sucks its blood. When it is abolished, labor is free.
"When the resources of nature shall no longer be obstructed by the violent arrangements of an unnatural government which is a mockery on all common sense, and which under the pretence of the care of the general welfare, purchases the mad luxury of an insignificant minority at the cost of the misery of an entire population, then only shall we see how bountiful she is, our mother. Then will the welfare of the individual in truth have become identical with the welfare of the community, but instead of sacrificing himself to it, he will have subjected it to himself.
"For it is this and nothing else that Anarchism wants: the removal of all artificial obstructions which past centuries have piled up between man and his liberty, between man and his intercourse with his fellow-men, always and everywhere in the forms of Communism, and always and everywhere on the basis of that colossal lie, designed by some in shrewd and yet so stupid self-infatuation, and accepted by others in equally stupid self-abasement: that the individual does not live for himself, but for mankind! . . .
"Trusting in the power of reason, which has begun to clear away the confusion of ideas, I calmly look into the future. Though liberty be ever so distant, it will come. It is the necessity towards which, through the individual, mankind is ever moving.
"For liberty is not a condition of rest; it is a condition of vigilance, just as life is not sleep, but wakefulness from which death only can absolve us.
"But liberty raises its last claim in the name of Anarchism by demanding the sovereignty of the individual. Under this name it will fight its last battle in every individual who revolts against the compulsion of his person by the Socialistic world that is forming to-day. No one can hold aloof from this struggle; each must take a position for or against. . . .
"For the question of liberty is an economic question!"
Auban's words had long ago lost their deliberate judicial tone. He had spoken his last sentences rapidly, with a voice full of emotion. But with his hearers the effect of his words varied with the individual.
No one rose to reply at once.
Then Auban added: ---
"I have taken my position in the last two years, and I have told you where I stand. Whether I have made myself clear and whether you have understood me --- I do not know. But I do know that my place is outside all current movements. Whom I am seeking and whom I shall find is, the individual; you --- and you --- and you, --- you who in lonely struggles have come to the same perception. We shall find each other, and when we shall have become strong enough, the hour of action will have come for us also. But enough."
He ceased, and stepping back, took his old seat.
Several minutes passed, during which various opinions were exchanged in low voices before Trupp began his reply. During Auban's address he had been sitting bent forward, his chin resting on his hand, and his arm on his knee, and had not allowed a word to escape him.
He spoke tersely and as one convinced of what he says, after he had once more surveyed the audience with his keen eye.
"We have just been told of two different Anarchisms, of which the one, we are assured, is none at all. I know but one; that is Communistic Anarchism, which has grown among workingmen into a party, and which alone is known in 'larger circles,' as we say. It is as old, yes, older than the present century: Babúuf already preached it. Whether a few middle-class liberals have invented a new Anarchism is entirely immaterial to me, and does not interest me any more than any other workingman. As regards Proudhon, to whom comrade Auban again and again refers, he has long ago been disposed of and forgotten even in France, and his place has everywhere been taken by the revolutionary, Communistic Anarchism of the real proletariat.
"If the comrades wish to know what this Anarchism wants, which has risen in opposition to the State Communists, I will gladly tell them in a few words.
"Above all, we do not see in the individual a being separate from society, but we regard him as the product of this very society from which he derives all he is and has. Consequently, he can only return, even if in a different form, what in the first place he received from it.
"For this reason, too, he cannot say: this and that belong to me alone. There can be no private property, but everything that has been and is being produced is social property, to which one has just as much right as another, since each one's share in the production of wealth can in no manner be determined. For this reason we proclaim the liberty to consume, i.e. the right of each to satisfy his wants free and unhindered.
"Consequently we are Communists.
"But, on the other hand, we are also Anarchists. For we want a system of society where each member can fully realize his own 'self,' i.e. his individual talents and abilities, wishes, and needs. Therefore we say: Down with all government! Down with it even in the form of administration. For administration always becomes government. We likewise oppose the whole swindle of the suffrage and declare the leaders who have presumed to place themselves at the head of the workingmen as humbugs.
"As Communists we say; ---
"To each according to his needs!
"And as Anarchists: ---
"From each according to his powers.
"If Auban says such an ideal is impossible, I answer him that he does not yet know the workingmen, although he might know them, for he has associated with them long enough. The workingmen are not such sordid egoists as the bourgeois
--- after they have had their day of reckoning with them, after the last revolution has been fought, they will very well know how to arrange things.
"I believe that after the expropriation of the exploiters and the confiscation of the bank, they will place everything at the disposal of all. The deserted palaces will quickly enough find occupants, and the well-stocked warehouses soon enough customers. We need not cudgel our brains about that!
"Then when each one shall be sufficiently supplied with food, clothing, and shelter, when the hungry shall be fed and the naked clothed, --- for there is enough for all for the present, --- they will form groups; will, impelled by the instinct of activity, produce in common and consume according to needs.
"The individual will at best receive more, never less, from society than he has given it. For what should the stronger who produces more than he can consume do with the excess of his labor except give it to the weaker?
"And that is not liberty? They will not ask how much or how little each produces and each consumes; no, each will carry his finished work to the warehouses and take therefor in return what he needs for his support. According to the principle of fraternity --- "
Here Trupp was interrupted by a shout of laughter from Dr. Hurt. A general commotion arose. Most of them did not know what to think. Auban was angry.
"To me it is not a matter for mirth, but a matter for tears, doctor, when men rush into their destruction with open eyes," he said.
Trupp rose. Every fibre of his whole solid figure was in a state of tension. He was not offended, for he did not feel himself attacked, but his idea.
"With people like you we shall indeed make short work!" he exclaimed.
But Dr. Hurt, who had suddenly also become serious, entirely ignored these words.
"Where do you live?" he asked brusquely. "On the earth or on the moon? What kind of people do you see? Are you never going to be sensible?"
And turning away, he again broke out in laughter.
"One must hear such things in order to believe them! Two thousand years after Christ, after two thousand years of the saddest experience in the following out of a creed which has caused all the misery, still the same nonsense, in the same unchanged form!" he exclaimed.
At one blow the spirit of the gathering had changed. In the place of calm listeners who were recovering themselves from their astonishment at this interruption, excited participants took sides for or against.
Trupp shrugged his shoulders.
The success of his words with the majority had been unmistakable. Auban saw it with an uneasy surprise: what he himself had said had been strange and cold reasoning to them. They longed for the perfection of happiness --- Trupp offered it to them.
Is it possible? This question came to none.
There is something evil about hope, thought Auban and Hurt, and their thoughts greeted each other silently in a glance, --- it despises reason, which laboriously indeed and only gradually, but with unfailing certainty, removes stone after stone and story after story from the giant structure of illusion. . . .
With glistening eyes the young German had hung on the lips of Trupp. Still an entire stranger to the movement, the description of the ideal just heard filled him with enthusiasm. O surely, here was all that was good, noble, true! . . . He now stretched out his hand to Trupp and said: "Let me be your comrade!"
The Russian was sitting motionless. Not a line of his gloomy, youthful, and yet so manly face changed. The workingman who had come with him was waiting for an opportunity to speak.
The old American addressed himself to Dr. Hurt. He was trembling with deep emotion.
"Believe me, dear sir, Socialism is an affair of the heart. The ethical foundations of morality --- "
But the incorrigible doctor interrupted him also, without respect for his white hair.
"I know nothing about the foundations of ethics, sir. I am a materialist. But a hard and bitter life has taught me that the question of my liberty is nothing but a question of my reckless power, and that sentimentality is the greatest of all vices!"
The excitement was perceptibly increasing. Talking back and forth, each wished to give expression to the surging thoughts within him. A circle had formed round Trupp, composed of the young German who wrote social poems, Mr. Marell, the American, the Swede who had trouble with the foreign, language, and Trupp's German comrade. They listened to him as he continued to picture the future in ever more seductive colors.
Dr. Hurt and the Frenchman were again speaking together.
The Russian looked at Auban as if he wished to fathom him. But the latter thought to himself as he studied those eight heads in their restless moving:
What a picture for a painter!
The gentle profile of the old white-bearded American and the soft, smooth features of the young German . . . the pale, gloomy face of the Russian, his brow overshadowed by his shaggy hair, and the bright face of the Frenchman with the modern half-beard . . . Dr. Hurt's narrow head, his brow protruding as by ceaseless mental labor, the head of a logician, of a Roman imperator, and the hair-crowned head of the Norseman, with the childlike blue eyes and their confiding expression, which did not change during the heated discussion. . . .
What a difference there is between us men! he thought further; and we should be able to submit to a common law of compulsion? No; liberty now and forever, in the least as in the greatest. . . .
Prevailing on the group round Trupp to resume their former places, he said in a loud voice: ---
"I am sorry that you were interrupted. Otto."
But Trupp said quickly: ---
"I had said what I had to say."
"Well, so much the better. But shall we not attempt to bring out our opinions somewhat more in detail? Let us look more closely at special points."
The calm attention of awhile ago soon returned. But it was now forced, not natural as before. Several persons took part in the discussion.
Auban began anew, turned towards Trupp:
"I will attempt to prove that the philosophies of Communism and of Anarchism are also irreconcilably opposed to each other in their conclusions.
"You want the autonomy of the individual, his sovereignty, and the right of self-determination. You want the free development of his natural stature. You want his liberty. We agree in this demand.
"But you have formed an ideal of a future of happiness which corresponds most nearly to your own inclinations, wishes, habits. By naming it 'the ideal of humanity' you are convinced that every 'real and true man' must be just as happy under it as you. You would fain make your ideal the ideal of all.
"I, on the contrary, want the liberty which will enable each to live according to his ideal. I want to be let alone, I want to be spared from any demands that may be made in the name of 'the ideal of humanity.'
"I think that is a great difference.
"I deny only. You build anew.
"I am purely defensive. But you are aggressive.
"I battle exclusively for my liberty. You battle for what you call the liberty of others.
"Every other word. you speak is abolition. That means forcible destruction. It is also my word. Only I mean by it: dissolution.
"You talk about the abolition of religion. You want to banish its priests, extirpate its teachings, persecute its followers.
"I trust to the steadily increasing perception which puts knowledge in the place of faith. It is economic dependence that forces most people nowadays into recognizing one of the many still existing churches, and prevents them from leaving them.
"After the chains of labor have fallen, the churches will of themselves become deserted, the teachers of a delusive faith and folly will no longer find listeners, and their priests will be forsaken.
"But I should be the last to approve of the crime against the liberty of individuals which would by force seek to prevent a man from adoring God as the creator, Christ as the saviour, the pope as infallible, and Vitzliputzli as the devil, so long as he did not trouble me with his nonsense and demand tribute from me in the name of his infallible faith."
They laughed: perplexed, amused, irritated, pitying such weakness in dealing with the enemy.
But Auban continued unconcerned, for he was firmly resolved, now he had begun, to say the best that he had to say.
"You want free love, like myself.
"But what do you understand by free love?
"What else can you understand by it, if you are consistent enough to apply the principle of brotherhood --- as you represent it in the devotion to and renunciation of labor --- also to that field than: That it is the duty of every woman to yield to the desire of every man, and that no man has the right to withdraw himself from the desire of any woman; that the children resulting from those unions belong to human society, and that this society has the duty of educating them; that the separate family, like the individual, must disappear in the great family of humanity: is it not so?
"I shudder when I think of the possibility that this idea might ever prevail.
"No one hates marriage more than I. But it is only the compulsion of marriage which induces men and women to sell themselves to each other, which affects and obstructs free choice, which makes difficult, and for the most part impossible, a separation, which creates a state of misery from which there is no deliverance except death, --- it is only this compulsion of marriage that I loathe. Never should I dare raise an objection to the free union of two people who are brought together by their free choice and whom free choice keeps together for life.
"But just as well as the free union of two persons do I understand the inclination of many people to change in the object of their love; and unions for a night, for a spring time --- they must be as free as the marriages for life, which alone are sanctioned by public opinion to-day.
"The commands of morality appear ridiculous to me, and to have arisen from the morbid desires of narrow men for regulating natural relations.
"And finally, you throw overboard private property with the same royal ease and such a superficiality of thought as we find only in Communism.
"You say the State must fall in order that property shall fall, for the State protects it.
"I say the State must fall in order that property may exist, for the State suppresses it.
"It is true you do not respect property: your own property you do not respect; otherwise you would not allow it to be taken from you day after day. Expel illegitimate property, i.e. that which is not really property, but alienism. But expel it by becoming proprietors yourselves. That is the only way in which to really 'abolish' it, the only reasonable and just way, and at the same time the way of liberty.
"Down with the State in order that labor may be free, which alone creates property! So I exclaim also.
"When money shall be freed from all forcibly protected privileges --- "
But now Trupp's patience was at an end.
"What?" he cried, indignant, "even money is to remain, wretched money which has corrupted, debased, and enslaved us all?"
Auban shrugged his shoulders. He was about to become vexed, but then he laughed.
"Allow me a counter-question. Would it make you indignant to be an employer and employee at the same time? A receiver and a payer of wages, and, as a co-operator, master of the capital instead of as at present only its slave? I think not. What arouses our indignation is only the fact that in consequence of forcible robbery it is possible at present to get something without work."
"But what, according to your opinion, is to determine the value of labor?"
"Its utility in free competition, which will determine its value of itself. All fixing of value by authority is unjust and nonsensical. But I know very well that Communism solves this question, too, without much trouble: it simply lumps everything."
"But free competition prevails to-day!" cried Trupp.
"No; we have the competition of labor, but not in the same way the competition of capital. I repeat: You see the pernicious effects of that one-sided competition and of property forcibly invested with privileges, and you exclaim: 'Down with private property!' You do not see that it is this very property which makes us independent, and you do not see that it is therefore only necessary to remove the obstacles in the way of acquiring it in order to abolish the false relation of masters and servants. Believe me, the organization of free credit, i.e.
the possibility of each coming into possession of the means of production --- this bloodless, thorough-going and greatest of all revolutions --- will be followed by a change of all the conditions of life which no one can adequately picture to himself to-day."
He stopped and saw how coolly his words were received. Only Dr. Hurt sat collected, logically examining word after word, calculating. To the majority a revolution was only a chaos of corpses and ruins, and they shook their heads at Auban's words. Therefore he tried to make his meaning clearer.
"Do you know what effect the abolition of interest, and thereby of usury, would have? A steady demand for human labor; the equilibration of supply and demand; the reduction of prices to the lowest point, and consequently an enormous increase of consumption; the exact exchange of equivalents, and consequently the most equitable distribution of wealth possible. But as a result of this great economic revolution, the country as well as the individual growing more prosperous daily." . . .
Trupp laughed, indignant and irritated.
"A fine revolution! And you want to make us workingmen believe in these crack-brained fancies? Did I not see you before me, I should think I was listening to a bourgeois economist. No, dear friend, the revolution that we shall some day make will reach the goal more quickly than all your economic evolutions! We will make shorter work: come and take back what has been stolen from us by open force and scientific cunning!"
"If only the bourgeoisie do not make still shorter work of you!" remarked Dr. Hurt. "Exempla docent! That is: Learn from history!"
That was his answer to Trupp's previous threat, which he had apparently neglected.
The excitement produced by these words subsided only gradually. They saw in them a defence of the bourgeoisie, and showered replies to them.
The German, who occupied the ground of the New York "Freiheit" and the "Pittsburg Proclamation," and who was a member of the "Communistic Workingmen's Educational Society," now took the floor.
"Nothing has so far been said of the real Anarchism which was in existence before anything was known of the Boston middle-class liberalism advocated by Manchester men fifty years behind their times, or of the eccentric cavilling of the 'Autonomists'" --- he aimed at Auban and Trupp --- "and which still has the most numerous following. It wants the Communism of free society based on the cooperative organization of production. It does not deny the duty of labor, for it declares: No rights without duties. It demands, moreover, the exchange of equivalent products by the productive associations themselves, without middle-men and profit-takers, and that the communes shall regulate all public affairs by means of free contract. But in a free society, so organized, in which the majority will feel very comfortable, the State will be useless."
"Then you grant the majority the right of establishing its will by force?"
"Yes. The individual must give way before the general welfare, for that is higher."
"That, is a position. one of the two which I have described. You are on the road to Socialism."
"A fine position for an Anarchist!" said Trupp. "And what becomes of the liberty of the individual? It is nothing but the centralistic Communism which we have left far behind." The flame of dissension which some time ago had broken up the clubs and led to the founding of a new paper, threatened to blaze forth again. "It is my belief, and I stand by it, that in the coming society each will perform his share of labor voluntarily."
The Frenchman now asked him courteously: ---
"But assuming the case that men will not labor voluntarily as you expect, what then becomes of the rights to satisfy their wants?"
"They will. Rely on it," was Trupp's answer.
"I think it is better not to rely on it."
"You don't know the workingmen."
"But the workingmen become bourgeois as soon as they acquire property, and then they will be the first to oppose the expropriation of their property. You ignore human nature, sir; egoism is the spring of all action. Remove that spring, and the machine of progress will cease to operate. The world would fall into ruins. Civilization would have reached its end. The earth would become a stagnant pool; but that is impossible as long as human beings inhabit it."
"Why do you not take the initiative, and demonstrate the possibility of realizing your theories in practice?" Trupp was further asked.
He evaded this question by asking it himself. It was Auban who at once replied: ---
"Because the State has monopolized the circulating medium, and would prevent us by force from furnishing one ourselves. Therefore, our attacks are primarily directed against the State, and only against the State."
The discussion between Auban and Trupp seemed to have come to an end, and threatened to entirely break up. Then Auban. made a last attempt to force back upon the ground of reality what vague wishes had raised into the empty spaces of phantasy.
"One last question, Otto," sounded his loud and hard voice, --- "only this one: ---
"Would you, in the system of society which you call 'free Communism,' prevent individuals from exchanging their labor among themselves by means of their own medium of exchange? And further: Would, you prevent them from occupying land for the purpose of personal use?"
Like Auban, everybody was anxious to hear his answer.
Auban's question was not to be escaped. If he answered. "Yes!" he admitted that society had the right of control over the individual and threw overboard the autonomy of the individual which he had always zealously defended; if, on the other hand, he answered "No!" he admitted, the right of private property which he had just denied so emphatically.
He said, therefore: ---
"You view everything with the eyes of the man of to-day. In the future society, where everything will be at the free disposal of all, where there can be no trade consequently in the present sense, every member, I am deeply convinced, will voluntarily abandon all claim to sole and exclusive occupation of land."
Auban had again risen. He had become somewhat paler, as he said: ---
"We have never been dishonest towards each other, Otto. Let us not become so to-day. You know as well as I do that this answer is an evasion. But I will not let go of you now: answer my question, and answer it with yes or no, if you wish me ever again to discuss a question with you."
Trupp was evidently struggling with himself. Then he answered --- and it was a look at his comrade who had just attacked him, and against whom he would never have violated the principle of personal liberty, that impelled him to say: ---
"In Anarchy any number of men must have the right of forming a voluntary association, and so realizing their ideas in practice. Nor can I understand how any one could justly be driven from the land and house which he uses and occupies." . . .
"Thus I hold you and will not let go of you!" exclaimed Auban. "By what you have just said you have placed yourself in sharp opposition to the fundamental principles of Communism, which you have hitherto championed.
"You have admitted private property, in raw materials and in land. You have squarely advocated the right to the product of labor. That is Anarchy.
"The phrase --- everything belongs to all --- has disappeared, destroyed by your own hands.
"A single example only, to avoid all further misunderstanding: I own a piece of land. I capitalize its product.
"The Communist says: That is robbery committed against the common property.
"But the Anarchist Trupp --- for the first time now I call him so --- says: No. No earthly power has any other right, except that of force, to drive me from my possessions, to lessen the product of my labor by even a penny.
"I close. My purpose is accomplished.
"I have demonstrated what I wished to demonstrate: that there can be no reconciliation between the two great antagonisms in which human society moves, between Individualism and Altruism, between Anarchism and Socialism, between liberty and authority.
"I had claimed that all attempts at uniting the irreconcilable must leave behind the solid ground of reality, and disappear in the clouds of Utopianism, and that every serious man must declare himself: for Socialism, and thereby for force and against liberty, or for Anarchism, and thereby for liberty and against force.
"After Trupp has long sought to evade this alternative, I have compelled him by my last question to explain himself. I might repeat the experiment with each one of you. It is infallible.
"Trupp has decided himself for liberty. He is, indeed, --- what I should never have believed, --- an Anarchist."
Auban ceased. Trupp added: ---
"But we will practically carry out the principles of Communism in Anarchy, and our example will so thoroughly convince you of the possibility of realizing our principles that you will accept them as we do, and voluntarily abandon your private property."
Auban did not say anything in response.
He knew very well that this external conciliation was only a fresh and last attempt on the part of his friend to bridge over the deep chasm that had long ago separated them inwardly, as it separated the new from the old, and assigned them outwardly their respective positions.
"Neither I nor anybody else can save any one from his own doom," . . . he thought to himself. From this time forth he joined in the conversation only when he was directly asked. It grew exceedingly lively.
Never had they remained so long as to-day. It was long past eight o'clock, and still no one thought of leaving except Dr. Hurt and the Frenchman.
When the doctor took leave of Auban, he said in a low voice: "I am not going to come again to your Sundays, dear friend. Anything that is right. But the performances that I am asked to attend must not be too crazy. Your 'comrade' jumped with both feet straight into heaven. That's too high for me."
Saying which he went, and Auban looked after him, smiling. The Frenchman also rose, once more expressing his thanks. But Auban said deprecatingly: ---
"We have only driven in the posts and erected the bare scaffolding. But it was impossible to do more to-day."
"You will have a hard battle to fight, which you might make easier for yourself if you would drop that word which frightens away innumerable persons who are otherwise near you, yes, who entirely agree with you."
"The word Anarchy describes precisely what we want. It would be cowardly and imprudent to drop it on account of the weaklings. Whoever is not strong enough to study its true meaning and to understand it, he is not strong enough either to think or to act independently."
"I shall return to Paris, in a few days. May I convey your good wishes to our friend, Monsieur Auban?"
"Yes. Tell him he is a poor egoist, because he has become a traitor to himself. He has assumed a great responsibility. But the true egoist dreads every responsibility except that for his own person." . . .
The stranger took his leave with a courteous bow.
"Who was that?" asked Trupp.
Auban mentioned his name.
"He arrived shortly before you and was here to-day for the first and the last time."
"Then you do not know him?" Trupp shook his head disapprovingly.
"No, nothing more about him."
"You should have told me that at once!"
But Auban replied sharply: ---
"We have no secrets here. We are not Freemasons. What we have said anybody may hear who wishes!"
He took Dr. Hurt's vacant seat by the fire, and held his head in his hands. All spoke now, even the Russian. The variously pitched voices struck his ear as from a distance. . . .
From what was being said he heard of Trupp's victory and of his own defeat.
Then rose the enthusiastic voice of the Swede: ---
"It may be that there will be fewer geniuses. That is no misfortune. There will be more talents. Each will be a hand and brain worker at the same time. Capacities will be distributed instead of concentrating themselves. On the average, they will be greater."
"And a thousand donkeys will be wiser than ten wise men. Why? Because they are a thousand!" Auban added to himself.
They had forgotten him. While he had been speaking, the cool breath of reason had descended on them. Now it was warm again: the warmth of a future, winterless, paradisean life. And they rivalled each other in the description of that life; their words intoxicated them; they forgot where they were. . . .
Auban continued to hear.
They ridiculed the eternal question of their opponents: who would do the dirty and disagreeable work in the future? There would be enough volunteers for everything, remarked one; and another: There would no longer be any such work to do; machines would be invented for everything.
Never had Auban been more strongly convinced than at the present moment that most people are themselves their greatest enemies, and never had he more strongly felt that the authority of love would prove to be vastly more terrible than was the authority of hate.
He was striving to destroy privilege. But these Communists denied with the excellences also all values, even the value of labor. His warfare was directed against men and what they had established in folly and ignorance --- victory was inevitable; but their warfare was directed against nature itself --- victory was forever impossible!
The chasm went deeper, far deeper than it lay uncovered before him to-day. It was a battle between an old and a new philosophy. And the old was Christianity in all its forms!
The greatest criminal against mankind had been he who had pretended to love it most. His creed of self-sacrifice --- it had produced those who renounce: the misery that was now clamoring for deliverance. . . .
God must fall in every shape! . . .
They remained together for more than an hour longer. The conversation gradually drifted to the events of the day: Chicago and serious riots in London were at hand. It was agreed to suspend the meetings at Auban's for several weeks.
When the American rose, and thereby gave the signal for a general breaking up, most of them were surprised to see how late it was.
Auban shook hands with each one; that of Trupp he held a moment longer than usual, with a firm pressure, as if he wished to say once more: Choose! choose! For he had indeed a high opinion of him.
The young German was evidently not satisfied with Auban, and did not attempt to conceal the fact, either. Auban only smiled thereat. Mr. Marell was the more friendly.
"Well, Auban," he said, and took both his hands, "you are a strange man. There is a good deal of sense in everything you say; but what you teach is icy and cold, icy and cold; the heart gets nothing."
"Oh, no, Mr. Marell, liberty is warm like the sun. Cold alone are the walls of the prison. The heart will have richer treasures to bestow when it no longer beats and keeps silent in conformity with commands. But it should never take from reason the guidance of our lives --- only to-day did we see again how incapable it is of following reason in the domain of economics."
Auban was alone. He opened both windows. While the smoke fled in dense clouds from the room and the waiter behind him removed the glasses, he leaned against the window-sill and looked down upon the street. Now while the evening air was cooling his brow, he felt how warm he had become, and how deeply the talk had affected him.
And for that your youth! --- he thought to himself. The sacrifice seemed again, as so often, too great for the perception it had given him. Yes, it was cool and bitter, this perception, as the American had said. But had it not been like a refreshing iron bath after the enervating half life of faith in hope without deeds?
And he remembered how young he still was, and how much there was yet before him to do, and even if his work should prove apparently as useless as the attempt which he had made to-day in a small circle, --- nevertheless, he was filled by a great power and a great joy, and, re-entering his room, he said aloud: ---
"Yes, for this perception of liberty your youth!" And the walls, terrified by the sudden silence after the noise of the discussion, gave back his words: ---
"Yes, for that your youth!"