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IX.—: By AUBERON HERBERT. - Auberon Herbert, Taxation and Anarchism: A Discussion between the Hon. Auberon Herbert and J.H. Levy 
Taxation and Anarchism: A Discussion between the Hon. Auberon Herbert and J.H. Levy (London: The Personal Rights Association, 1912).
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By AUBERON HERBERT.
I will take up Mr. Levy’s points separately:—
(1). Whilst I assert that compulsory taxation = Socialism, can I rightly say, at the same time, that the difference between Mr. Levy and myself is simply a difference between two Individualistic schools? Certainly. That which is not Individualistic is Socialistic (what else can it be?* ); and Individualists who hold to compulsory taxation have a remnant of Socialism still clinging to them. They may be two-thirds or three-quarters Individualist, but they are not perfect in the faith. When they were dipped in the river Styx, there was a heel, or a foot, or a limb that remained unbathed.
(2). Mr. Levy seems to quarrel with my basis for Individualism, “the separate mind and separate body,” because it is “in the region of ‘high priori’ mediævalism.” No reproach should be cast at our mediæval friends or any other persons for using à priori reasoning. As long as the human mind lasts, men will use it, and must use it. I have not the book by me, and, therefore, cannot refer to it; but I think (I am not sure about the reference) if Mr. Levy turns to the introduction of Lewes’s “History of Philosophy,” he will see that Mr. Lewes insists upon this truth. It is not the use of à priori reasoning which to-day discredits mediæval reasoning, but the assuming of certain metaphysical conceptions (which could not be verified) as a basis for conclusions which were founded upon them. Do I act in the same manner? Is the separateness, the individuality, of human beings an unverifiable assumption? If there is one thing on which we can safely build, it is the great natural fact that each human being forms with his or her body and mind a separate entity—from which we must conclude that the entities belong to themselves and not to each other. As I have said, no other deduction is possible. If the entities do not belong to themselves, then we are reduced to the most absurd conclusion. A or B cannot own himself; but he can own, or part own C or D. I hardly think many people will be heroic enough to embrace that hypothesis; on the other hand, if A and B own themselves, the controversy is at an end.
(3). Does self-ownership imply or carry with it the right of defence against aggression? I think so. If it is granted that I own something as a right, no other person can take that something from me without committing a wrong; and if he is allowed so to act, a state of right is exchanged for a state of wrong. It does not, I think, invalidate this position to say it may be “better not to resist the evil.” So it may be, if we employ the term “better” to mean wiser, or more generous, or more forgiving. All this may be the case, and often is, without doing away with the right to repair an invaded right. Our choice is, shall A lose something of what belongs to him, and B have more than belongs to him; or shall the unrighteous balance be redressed?
(4). Am I right in saying that a man has forfeited his own rights (to the extent of the aggression he has committed) in attacking the rights of others? Again, I think so—the words which I now insert in brackets limiting and designating the amount of right which the aggressor loses. It may be very difficult to translate into concrete terms the amount of aggression, and of resulting restraint; but all just law seems to be the effort to do this. We punish a man in a certain way if he has inflicted an injury which lays me up for a day; in another way if he takes my life. No doubt the law of every country is most imperfect, being swayed to the right or left by capricious estimation of crime; but there is generally underlying it the view (which is, I think, true) that the punishment or redress—both in civil and criminal matters—should be measured by the amount of aggression; in other words that the aggressor—after a rough fashion—loses as much liberty as that of which he has deprived others. Mr. Levy writes as if I had said that a criminal forfeits all his rights. I did not say or mean that; though I ought to have prefixed some qualifying words to the expression “rights.” But, when he denies that a criminal loses any of his rights, then either we have no right to put him in prison, or else we have the right to put any person—the just man and the criminal alike—into prison. Which position will Mr. Levy choose?
Mr. Levy goes on to say that putting the aggressor into prison has nothing to do with the question of rights, but rests “on the necessity of restraining him, if the maximum of ‘self-ownership’ is to be attained.” Heaven and Powers of Heaven defend us! Here we are straight back into the language and spirit of Socialism. In the same fashion it is “the necessity” of transferring all property to the State, of regulating all labour, of allowing no man to enter the employment of his fellow man, which the Socialist pleads, “if the maximum of ‘self-ownership,’ ” &c. How, then, am I to judge between Mr. Levy and the Socialist? How am I to tell which is the true necessity? They both disclaim rights, and they both insist on “necessities.” Why should I follow one more than the other?
And then I come to another difficulty. A few lines above, Mr. Levy was very eloquent on the subject of rights. “I deny that the aggressor forfeits one iota of his rights. No violence on his part, or on that of others, can destroy them. They stand immovable as a rock amid the winds of passion and the waves of crime. The gates of hell shall not prevail against them.” And yet, in face of this eloquent language, and without regard to it, the aggressor is to be carried off to prison, because of “the necessity” of restraining him, if the rights of “self-ownership,” &c. It may be that the gates of hell have not prevailed against him, but the gates of “necessity”—as it exists in Mr. Levy’s mind—have undoubtedly done so; unless, indeed, I am to ccnclude that Mr. Levy does not count amongst the rights—which he describes with real eloquence—the right of not being carried off to prison.
Let me try to explain why a man who aggresses on others loses a part of his own rights. That he does so practically, is very clear, as even Mr. Levy sends him off to prison. Why is it? It is, I think, because a human right depends in part upon its correlative, the rational acceptance of it; I mean that a right can only exist where there is sufficient intelligence to accept and sanction it. The right which an English mind sanctions may not exist for dwellers in Central Africa, and the right that exists in Central Africa does not exist for lions and tigers. A right implies the intellectual and moral recognition of the right; and, therefore, each right only comes into existence as men rise to such recognition of it. If, therefore, in a society which generally recognizes the right of a man to lead his own life without interference, there are a certain number of persons who forcibly interfere with others, then these men are not in possession of rights which they do not recognize and do not observe. Such men have not yet passed out of the region of force into the region of reason; and so long as they themselves live in the region of force, and use force towards others, they cannot claim on their own behalf the protection of the law of reason which in their own lives they disallow. The right is not yet born for them; it only comes into existence as they themselves are able to perceive it and act in conformity with it.
(5). I won’t go into the case of using force vindictively, when no good purpose whatever can be attained by it. Neither Mr. Levy nor myself love force so much as to use it for its own sake.
(6). My position cannot be reasonably described as Anarchist. As I understand the Anarchist, he would not retain a definite organization to repress aggression or crime. I would do so; but I would not compel both those who approved and those who disapproved of such an organization to pay for its support. Mr. Levy would compel both; and the probability is that, as Individualism spreads, he will find half his time taken up, not in coercing criminals, but in coercing those who have committed no crime except that of freely judging his organization and declining to pay compulsory taxes for what they disapprove.
(7). I had charged Mr. Levy with leaving in the hands of the majority the full power of taxing the minority for any purpose up to any amount. Mr. Levy’s defence is that he does his best to persuade the majority not to use this power. So he does, and very ably and well; but that seems hardly sufficient. If Mr. Levy condemns State education, and State vaccination, and other State interferences, why should he distinguish between condemning the things themselves and condemning the tax that is taken on their behalf? Surely it is rather a fine distinction to say: “I do not recognize your right to establish State education; but I recognize your right to make people pay for it.” Surely, it is simpler and plainer and more consistent to say: “I do not recognize your right to establish State education (if it involves compulsion in any form) and, therefore, I do not recognize your right to take taxes for it.” What end is gained by telling a man he is wrong to do a certain thing, but that, all the same, he may rightfully possess the power of taking by force the funds necessary for paying for the wrong thing?
Now, this last argument does not apply to compulsory taxation for purposes of defence, which Mr. Levy recognizes, as I do, as a legitimate State function. Surely, therefore, his position would be stronger and more consistent if he threw overboard all compulsory taxation, except that levied for purposes of defence. At present his position is that of the man who says to another: “I do not recognize your right to thrash me, but I recognize your right to make me pay for the stick with which I am to be thrashed.”
[* ] Anarchistic.—J. H. L.