Front Page Titles (by Subject) APPENDIX. By J. H. LEVY. - Taxation and Anarchism: A Discussion between the Hon. Auberon Herbert and J.H. Levy
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APPENDIX. By J. H. LEVY. - 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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In the foregoing discussion, the terms Anarchism, Individualism, Socialism, have frequently been used; and their meaning has, I hope, been tolerably clear. Let me, however, endeavour to give further definiteness to them. Political discussion is rendered confused and sterile, not merely by faulty inductions and bad ratiocination, but in the preliminary processes of naming and classification.
When we look over the earth’s surface, we see various bodies of human beings, each of which bodies occupies a definite geographical area; and within each such area persons are coerced into co-operation for certain purposes. These purposes differ from area to area, and from time to time within the same area. They differ also from person to person. In areas separated only by a narrow sea, or even by an artificial boundary line, there may be the widest differences in this respect; and, in the same area, there may have been a flux of usage affecting, in the most important manner, the people of that area. There is not, and never has been, any general consensus of conviction among men as to what should be the objects and limits of this coercive co-operation.
Some, whom we will call Anarchists, have contended that it should not exist at all—that the wisest course would be to get rid of it, and to substitute voluntary co-operation wherever necessary for defence of freedom. Others, whom we will call Socialists, hold that compulsion is a “blessed word”—that coercive co-operation (“government” as it is called) may not only be made beneficent in its effects beyond the defence of freedom, but that there are no assignable limits to its profitable employment.* They would use it especially in the production and distribution of wealth, vesting all capital in the bodies, central and local, by which this compulsory co-operation is administered.
Between these two is a third body of opinion, Individualism, which differs from both of them—from the former in asserting that compulsory co-operation is good up to the point at which freedom is maximized, from the latter in contending that it is harmful when pushed beyond that point. It affirms that government can promote happiness only by maintaining the widest practicable liberty, which it regards as the political—as distinguished from the ethical—summum bonum; and it judges all political measures by their tendency to promote or impede the attainment of this end.
Some years ago, Freedom, the organ of one section of the Anarchists, issued a reply to the Manifesto of the Joint Committee of Socialist Bodies. With the bulk of that reply I am in no way concerned; but the following extract may well be made a text for the clearing up of the meaning of some of the most important political terms:—
In the late Manifesto of a Joint Committee of three London Socialist bodies, Anarchism is represented as being only apparently revolutionary, in fact, reactionary—theoretically the antithesis of, practically an obstacle to Socialism. One peculiarity of this latter-day attitude of English Social Democrats towards Anarchism is their apparent effort to confound, in spite of our repeated remonstrances, two different and opposite kinds of Anarchism—Communist (or Socialist) and Individualist. Communist Anarchists claim as the basis of the new social order common property, whereas Individualists defend private property as the necessary foundation of society. This distinction is, to say the least, as important as the distinction which Social Democrats draw between themselves and mere Radicals advocating, like themselves, free education, payment of members, and annual parliaments. Nor is that the only difference between Communist and Individualist Anarchists. Communist Anarchists maintain that the necessary accompaniment of private property is government; a government of some kind, whether a parliamentary one, or a sort of East India Company, or a Pinkerton Police Force salaried by the capitalists. And as to the “voluntary” taxation and other “voluntary” things advocated by Individualists, we fail to see how, in a society based on private property and individual competition, the people who “voluntarily” submit to a tax could be prevented from shifting the burden on to their neighbours; or how those who join in a Defence Association would be prevented from using this organized force against others than themselves. Finally, Individualists are strongly opposed to revolutionary action. Consequently, although of course we cannot forbid to Individualists the use of the word Anarchy, we have reasonable grounds to deny that they take it in its true sense.
Freedom need have no alarm that Individualists, properly so-called, will dub themselves Anarchists; though some Anarchists call themselves Individualists—probably for the same reason that some Agnostics call themselves Unitarians. That Individualistic Anarchists claim, not only that they are Anarchists, but that they are the unique and rightful proprietors of that title, is not only well-known but what one might expect; and that Communist Anarchists retort, as above, that they are the sole genuine Anarchistic article, is equally in accordance with what Sam Slick would call “human nature.” Viewing the matter in that cool, calm light which alone befits the purposes of the student of political philosophy, it seems to me that neither of these sections is entitled to bar the other from the Anarchistic fold. They are both opposed to the existence of government; and, though they differ as to what should be done when the State had been got rid of, and would probably be at each other’s throats the moment the authority which they both assail was removed, the range of their agreement entitles them equally to the general designation of Anarchists.
The scheme of classification on the next page will perhaps aid in forming a clear notion of this branch of political terminology.
As a matter of strict classification, the varieties of Anarchism should not come into this diagram; for directly it is decided that the State shall not exist, what takes place afterwards is a matter of no political concern: the varieties of Anarchism are not varieties of State functioning. Moreover, these varieties are not formally exhaustive, and constitute, therefore, no real classification. But, as persons have these schemes of extra-political action in their minds while the State yet flourishes, and as the desire of each of them to abolish it is bound up with his hope to substitute for its rule his particular plan of social life, it is well to take into consideration these variations in the Anarchist ideal at the same time as we think out the general question of the function of the State.
The respective attitudes of these three sorts of Anarchists are well illustrated by their position with regard to the land. The Conservative Anarchist would retain private property in land very much as it is in England at the present day, merely abolishing the obstacles to its free sale and purchase. The Individualist Anarchist would laugh at this pretension to sell or let land, and would recognize only the right of the squatter to the land in his use or productive occupation. The Communist Anarchist would decline to recognize any rights of property in land—or aught else.
The Systematic Socialists are well represented in this country by the Social Democratic Party and the Fabian Society—Mr. Hyndman and Mr. Sidney Webb. The Empirical Socialist is a “moderate” man. He is in favour of liberty and many other good things; but does not think they should be carried to “extremes.” Not that he does or can give you any general rule as to how far they should be sanctioned; but he is quite certain that they should be maintained in “so far as it is good,” and that they should “not be carried too far.” In fact he is “not a doctrinaire.” He is a “practical man,” and judges every question “on its merits.” He has many newspapers devoted to his enlightenment, and is abundantly represented in Parliament. The present House of Commons consists of Empirical Socialists with a small sprinkling of Systematic Socialists. As Empirical Socialism is the only political creed which will enable a politician to choose, from time to time, the exact nuance which is favourable to his acceptance by a constituency of heterogeneous opinions, it is naturally favoured by men who desire to write M.P. after their names.
It may be argued that political terminology cannot grow out of theories of State Function only; but must also depend on questions of State Structure. This is true; but the classifications should be separate, and the problem of State Function is the fundamental one. That which the State should constructively be must turn upon what we want it to do. It is quite possible, no doubt, that persons who agree as to State Function may differ as to State Structure; for while the general question of State Function is one of theory, and can be worked out with all the rigidity and exactitude of an economic formula, questions of State Structure are largely matters of art and the minor expediencies. But, after all, the crucial question is the political end. To that the political means must necessarily be shaped.
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[* ] See Mill’s Principles of Political Economy, Book V., Chap. I., § 2, last paragraph.