We Go on, Freedom

By Albert (Libertad) Joseph

We donít have faith, we have absolutely no confidence in our success: we are certain that we have neglected nothing, that we have made all our efforts in order to be on the correct road.

We are not certain that we will succeed: we are not certain that we are right.

We donít know, it is not possible for us to know if success will be at the end of our efforts, if it will be the reward; we try to act so that, logically, we should arrive at the result that interests us.

Those that envision the goal from the first steps, those that want the certitude of reaching it before walking never arrive.

Whatever the task undertaken may be, if the completion is near, who can say theyíve seen the end? Who can say: I will plentifully reap that which I sow; I will live in this house which I build, I will eat the fruits of the tree which I plant?

And therefore, one throws the wheat on the ground, one arranges the stones one by one, one surrounds the fruit-tree with care.

Because one does not know for certain, for sure, for whom, how, when the result will be, will one neglect oneís efforts for that which will be possibly good? Will one throw the grain on the hard rock or mix it with the tares? Will one arrange the stones without the square and the plumb-line? Will one put the seedling at the crossroads of the four winds?

The joy of the result is already in the joy of effort. He who makes the first steps in a direction that he has every reason to believe good, already arrives at the goal, thatís to say, at the reward of this labor.

We donít need to know if we will succeed, if men will come to live in a great enough harmony to assure the complete development of their individuality, we have to do the deeds for that which may be, to go in the direction that both our reason and our experience aptly decide.

We donít say: "Men are born good, they should therefore harmonize their relations" We say "Logically, it will be in the interest of men to obtain with the least effort the greatest sum of well being; not from the point of view of eliminating effort, but of always using it for betterment. It is thus necessary to show them where our interest is. The understanding between individuals is the best means to come to assure human happiness. Lets try to make him understand it."

The idea of a meteor collision with the earth, a collapse of the sun, a great fire being able to interrupt our show or our experience, cannot hinder all of us from beginning. Likewise, the misunderstanding of our ideas and practice by the majority of men, be it due to cretinism or perversity would not be a reason to stop us from thinking and critiquing.

All work begun is on its way to completion, whatever the resistance of the attacked group may be. It is not a question of speculating about the magnificence or the proximity of the goal to reach, but rather of convincing oneself with a constant critique with which one proceeds handsomely, and doesnít get lost in digressions.

We go on with ardor, with strength, with pleasure in such a direction determined because we are aware of having done everything and of being ready to do anything so that this is in the right direction. We bring to the study the greatest care, the greatest attention, and we give the greatest energy to action. While we direct our activity in a given direction, itís not a matter of telling ourselves: "Work is hard; statist society is solidly organized; the foolishness of men is considerable", it would be better to show us that we are heading in the wrong direction. If one reached it, we would use the same force, in another direction, without faltering. Because we donít have faith in such a goal, the illusion of such a paradise, but in the certitude of using our effort in the best direction.

It would not be worthwhile to concern ourselves with an immediate, tangible result, if it obstructs, diverts our exact path. The bait of reforms attracting the mass of men would not be able to hinder us.

To accelerate our march, we donít need mirages showing us the closest end, within our handís reach. It will be enough for us to know that we go on and that, if we sometimes stamp around the same spot, we do not go astray.

The mirage calls us to the right and to the left, diverts you, and , if one succeeds in returning to the correct road, this is weakened and diminished by lost illusion. The intoxication of words and illusions resembles that of alcohol, it can throw the multitudes into an impassioned movement, towards the closest goal: but the sobered multitudes pause.

They pause discouraged by the emptiness of the empty result. The perseverance of courage is not in the act of arriving, but in the certitude of being right.

We donít need a sign-post to show us that we have traveled a third, a fourth, a hundredth of the way; nothing measures the quantity of our effort and such markings have no relation to our effort as a whole. We please ourselves to know that we give, according to our strengths and in the direction that we believe is best, all that we can give.

We believe in a constant evolution, we therefore know that there is no end. It is enough for us to always go forward, always on the correct path. And the packs may bark after us, and we may be the crazy ones, the bad ones, the majority may stand in our way, atavism, heredity may want to impose its ineluctable laws, the group may defend itself harshly, though the end may be far, very far, these things do not concern us.

We go on... employing all means, in turn persuasive and violent. We are ready to come together with anyone and with everyone for the attainment of universal happiness and for the normal development of the unique.

We go on...Each effort brings joy in itself and every day sees its stopping place, even if advancement is slight.

We go on...We are not sure to arrive , we are mindful that we have done everything and to be ready to do anything to be right, and hence to arrive.

And it is this that makes us the strongest...that we are never weary.

We go on...

* * *

Many think that it is a simple dispute over words that makes some declare themselves libertarians and others anarchist. I have an entirely different opinion.

I am an anarchist and I hold to the label not for the sake of a vain garnishing of words, but because it means a philosophy, a different method than that of the libertarian.

The libertarian, as the word indicates, is an adorer of liberty. For him, it is the beginning and end of all things. To become a cult of liberty, to write its name on all the walls, to erect statues illuminating the world, to talk about it in season and out, to declare oneself free of hereditary determinism when its atavistic and encompassing movements make you a slave...this is the achievement of the libertarian.

The anarchist, referring simply to etymology, is against authority. Thatís exact. He doesnít make liberty the causality but rather the finality of the evolution of his Self. He doesnít say, even when it concerns merest of his acts. "I am free." but "I want to be free". For him, freedom is not an entity, a quality, something that one has or doesnít have, but is a result that he obtains to the degree that he obtains power.

He doesnít make freedom into a right that existed before him, before human beings but a science that he acquires, that humans acquire, day after day, to free themselves of ignorance, abolishing the shackles of tyranny and property.

Man is not free to act or not to act, by his will alone. He learns to do or not to do when he has exercised his judgement, enlightened his ignorance, or destroyed the obstacles that stand in his way. So if we take the position of a libertarian, without musical knowledge in the front of his piano, is he free to play? NO! He wonít have this freedom until he has learned music and to play the instrument. This is what the anarchists say. He also struggles against the authority that prevents him from developing his musical aptitudes-when he has them-or he who withholds the pianos. To have the freedom to play, he has to have the power to know and the power to have a piano at his disposition. Freedom is a force that one must know how to develop within the individual; no one can grant it.

When the Republic takes its famous slogan: "Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite." does it make us free, equal or brothers? She tells us "You are free" these are vain words since we do not have the power to be free. And why donít we have this power? Principally because we do not know how to acquire the proper knowledge. We take the mirage for reality.

We always await the freedom of a State, of a Redeemer, of a Revolution, we never work to develop it within each individual. What is the magic wand that transforms the current generation born of centuries of servitude and resignation into a generation of human beings deserving of freedom, because they are strong enough to conquer it?

This transformation will come from the awareness that men will have of not having freedom of consciousness, that freedom is not in them, that they donít have the right to be free, that they are not all born free and equal...and that it is nevertheless impossible to have happiness without freedom. The day that they have this consciousness they will stop at nothing to obtain freedom. This is why anarchists struggle with such strength against the libertarian current that makes one take the shadow for substance.

To obtain this power, it is necessary for us to struggle against two currents that threaten the conquest of our liberty: it is necessary to defend it against others and against oneself, against external and internal forces.

To go towards freedom, it becomes necessary to develop our individuality-When I say: to go towards freedom, I mean for each of us to go toward the most complete development of our Self-. We are not therefore free to take any which road, it is necessary to force ourselves to take the correct path. We are not free to yield to excessive and lawless desires, we are obliged to satisfy them. We are not free to put ourselves in a state of inebriation making our personality lose the use of its will, placing us at the mercy of anything; letís say rather that we endure the tyranny of a passion that misery of luxury has given us. True freedom would consist of an act of authority upon this habit, to liberate oneself from its tyranny and its corollaries.

I said, an act of authority, because I donít have the passion of liberty considered a priori. I am not a libertarian. If I want to acquire liberty, I donít adore it. I donít amuse myself refusing the act of authority that will make me overcome the adversary that attacks me, nor do I refuse the act of authority that will make me attack the adversary. I know that every act of force is an act of authority. I would like to never have to use force, authority against other men, but I live in the 20th century and I am not free of from the direction of my movements to acquire liberty.

So, I consider the Revolution as an act of authority of some against others, individual revolt as an act of authority of some against others. And therefore I find these means logical, but I want to exactly determine the intention. I find them logical and I am ready to cooperate, if these acts of temporary authority have the removing of a stable authority and giving more freedom as their goal; I find them illogical and I thwart them if their goal isnít removing an authority. By these acts, authority gains power: she hasnít done anything but change name, even that which one has chosen for the occasion of its modification.

Libertarians make a dogma of liberty; anarchists make it an end. Libertarians think that man is born free and that society makes him a slave. Anarchists realize that man is born into the most complete of subordinations, the greatest of servitudes and that civilization leads him to the path of liberty.

That which the anarchists reproach is the association of men-society-which is obstructing the road after having guided our first steps. Society delivers hunger, malignant fever, ferocious beasts -evidently not in all cases, but generally- but she makes humanity prey to misery, overwork, and governments. She puts humanity between a rock and a hard place. She makes the child forget the authority of nature to place him under the authority of men.

The anarchist intervenes. He does not ask for liberty as a good that one has taken from him, but as a good that one prevents him from acquiring. He observes the present society and he declares that it is a bad instrument, a bad way to call individuals to their complete development.

The anarchist sees society surround men with a lattice of laws, a net of rules, and an atmosphere of morality and prejudices without doing anything to bring them out of the night of ignorance. He doesnít have the libertarian religion, liberal one could say but more and more he wants liberty for himself like he wants pure air for his lungs. He decides then to work by all means to tear apart the threads of the lattice, the stitches of the net and endeavors to open up free thought.

The anarchistís desire is to be able to exercise his faculties with the greatest possible intensity. the more he improves himself, the more experience he takes in, the more he destroys obstacles, as much intellectual and moral as material, the more he takes an open field, the more he allows his individuality to expand, the more he becomes free to evolve and the more he proceeds towards the realization of his desire.

But I won't allow myself to get carried away and Iíll return more precisely to the subject.

The libertarian who doesnít have the power to carry through an explanation, a critique which he recognizes as well founded or that he doesnít even want to discuss, he responds "I am free to act like this." The anarchist says: " I think that I am right to act like this but come on." And if the critique made is about a passion which he doesnít have the strength to free himself from, he will add: " I am under the slavery of this atavism and this habit." This simple declaration wonít be without cost. It will carry its own force, maybe for the individual attacked, but surely for the individual that made it, and for those who are less attacked by the passion in question.

The anarchist is not mistaken about the domain gained. He does not say "I am free to marry my daughter if that pleases me- I have the right to wear a high style hat if it suits me" because he knows that this liberty, this right are a tribute paid to the morality of the milieu, to the conventions of the world; they are imposed by the outside against all desires, against all internal determinism of the individual.

The anarchist acts thus not due to modesty, or the spirit of contradiction, but because he holds a conception which is completely different from that of the libertarian. He doesnít believe in innate liberty, but in liberty that is acquired. And because he knows that he doesnít possess all liberties, he has a greater will to acquire the power of liberty.

Words do not have a power in themselves. They have a meaning that one must know well, to state precisely in order to allow oneself to be taken by their magic. The great Revolution has made a fool of us with its slogan: "Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite" the liberals have sung us above all the tune of their "laisser-faire" with the refrain of the freedom of work; Libertarians delude themselves with a belief in a pre-established liberty and they make critiques in its honor...Anarchists should not want the word but the thing. They are against authority, government, economic religious and moral power, knowing the more authority is diminished the more liberty is increased.

It is a relation between the power of the group and the power of the individual. The more the first term of this relation is diminished, the more authority is diminished, the more liberty is increased.

What does the anarchist want? To reach a state in which these two powers are balanced, where the individual has real freedom of movement without ever hindering the liberty of movement of another. The anarchist does not want to reverse the relation so that his freedom is made of the slavery of others, because he knows that authority is bad in itself, as much for he who submits to it as for he who gives it.

To truly know freedom, one must develop the human being until one makes sure that no authority has the possibility of existing.