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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 56

The Free Mind in the Free Body: A Statement of Principles and Measures

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The Free Mind in the Free Body.

Printed and Published by the Women's Printing Society, Limited, Great College Street, Westminster, S.W. 1885.

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The Free Mind in the Free Body.

"The liberty of each, limited alone by the like liberty of all."

Herbert Spencer.

"Over himself, over his own body and mind the individual is sovereign."

J S. Mill.

Political Principles.—1. That every man and woman are the only true owners and directors of their own Selves and their own faculties.

2. That, as no person can be free to exercise his faculties, unless he be also free to enjoy such advantage as he can secure for himself from their exercise, therefore the complete rights of acquiring, possessing, exchanging, and bequeathing property (without power on the part of the dead man to impose conditions on the living man) should be guaranteed to all under the protection of the law.

3. That as no man or body of men can possibly be possessed of any moral right to use physical force, except for the one purpose of repelling physical force, there is therefore no rightful title in any King, Parliament, or Majority to use the machinery of law-making for enforcing their own ideas, for taking possession of the bodies or minds of others, or for any purpose whatsoever, excepting the one purpose of restraining aggressions upon those rights of free action, that are common to all men.

Social Aims As Regards the Individual.—To lead men to possess a far higher respect for the Self that is in them and in all others; to respect, above all possessions and interests, their own free intelligence, their own free choice, and free action, and the free intelligence, the free choice, and free action of others; to find for themselves, and to help others to find, their own true development in their own fashion; to learn to individualise their own opinions; to favour differences of life and thought; to favour the tolerance that springs from strength of conviction, and rejoices to see the same strength of conviction in others; to favour fearlessness in withstanding for conscience-sake all forms of public opinion; to dread possession of all forms of power over each other; to distrust their own fitness for it; to cherish and strengthen and extend faith in the influence of the moral forces—the forces of knowledge, of discussion, of sympathy, of example,-as the only forces that can act, or are worthy to act, upon the free Self, and steadily to oppose, wherever and whenever the separate and independent convictions of men are disregarded, all great and dominating systems, all universal fashions, all party discipline and organisation, all claims of authority and all attempts to compel some men to accept either goodness or happiness in obedience to the ideas of others.

Social Aims as Regards the Group.—The great developments of voluntary association during the last half-century (principally owing, as we may believe, to the preparation through which a large part of the people in this country and in the States of America had already passed by having to organise their own systems of religion) the Joint Stock Companies, the Cooperative undertakings, the Trades Unions and Benefit Societies, are sufficient to shew us what services voluntary association will be able to perform for the good and happiness of men, as the practical intelligence of the people increases under the stimulus of their wants, and they become better fitted in character page 3 to act together. We may be well assured that that which has been already called into existence is but the promise of that which is to be. Looking back on what has been attempted and what has been achieved, making more than full allowance for failures, disappointments and new forms of old evils that have shewn and must shew themselves, we can see that a people, gifted, like our own, with the gift of voluntary association, will in the future not only find in such association the almost perfect remedy as regards the material wants or dangers that surround them, want of employment in times of depression of trade, sickness, accidents, old age, the restricted distribution of land and property, the rebuilding and improvement of their homes, new forms of labour partnership, but also as regards the higher purposes of life, the gaining of knowledge, the cultivation of the love of what is beautiful, the spreading of religious and moral ideas, the search into the mysteries of existence, the organised help of others. Only do not let us fail to perceive that this future perfecting of the great instrument that is now in our own hands must depend upon our observing certain conditions. And these conditions are:—

1. That we can persuade the people to cast utterly from their minds the idea of compulsory, or State, association, as the instrument of progress. So long as men look to compulsory association directed by the State for help out of their troubles, so long voluntary association must remain an imperfect and undeveloped art. It is against our knowledge of human nature to believe that men will rouse themselves to make the voluntary effort that is necessary, so long as they imagine that simply by the easy process of casting their votes the work which has to be done will to-morrow or the day after to-morrow be taken out of their hands and straightway performed under the fiat of a beneficent power outside them. The very shadow of State interference destroys the possible development of voluntary association.

2. That the freest competition be allowed between all voluntary systems of doing work, whether it be done individually or by association. In some cases the individual capitalist may be the best instrument for satisfying the wants of society; in some the joint-stock company; in some the co-operative association. We must have perfect freedom, in order firstly that each system may act as a stimulus to other systems, and secondly that the better forms as they disclose themselves may replace the less efficient forms.

3. That for all the higher purposes of association, in which men take their place according to their aims and sympathies, the groups represent more faithfully the individual Selves of which they are composed. So long as a man's Self, his convictions and his aims, mean but little to him, so long as he forms one in some group,—be it a religious, political, or social association,—in which his Self is half cancelled by the Self of others, his convictions set aside, his energies repressed, there cannot be the full measure of force either in the individual or in the group. We need truer grouping of men in the groups to which they belong. We need that the group should be as the enlarged Self of the man who is contained in it; and this can only become possible as the individual gains greater devotion to his own convictions, leans less upon others, and refuses to be employed, as a half-conscious being, by the great systems that exist round him. Truth to Self means harmony in the group, and harmony in the group means the development of an immeasurable force for conquering the evils and difficulties of the world.

Political Measures for Securing the Greatest Amount of Individual Liberty.—The Central Government to undertake no services but those of restraining injuries to person and property; of defending the country and its dependencies; of carrying on diplomatic intercourse with other nations.

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Class A.—Removal of Burdens of Taxation.—Examples: Complete Free Trade in all things. Repeal of all import and excise duties and assessed taxes. All Government revenues (whether Central or Local) to be derived from voluntary not compulsory payments. Payment as early as possible of national debt by sale of all such ecclesiastical property as may be adjudged to belong equitably to the nation, by sale of other national property, and by special fund raised by voluntary contributions; with mortgage of all remaining national property to holders of debt, until payment is completed. Abolition and reduction of State departments and officials. Abolition of State pensions after life of present holders.

Class B.—Abolition of Monopolies and Restraints Which prevent the people from gaining the full benefits of free Trade.—Examples.—Abolition of all legislation creating a monopoly in the liquor traffic; of State-regulation of the professions of Law and Medicine, with its resulting monopoly in each case; of legal impediments restraining the free sale of land; of the State Post Office and Telegraph services. Such changes in the law of libel as would allow the freest discussion to accompany all the developments of free trade, whilst leaving men responsible for the truth of their statements. Free trade must remain incomplete and imperfect as a system, unless, in addition to free buying and selling, men can discuss freely all that is done in trade. The freer that is the habit of discussion, the greater will be the protection to the consumer, and the advantage to the honest and enterprising trader.

Class C.—Abolition of Services Done by the State which if performed by those immediately concerned would result in:—I. greater independence of character and greater sense of justice, as regards placing burdens upon the shoulders of others; 2. greater intelligence and enterprise and greater fitness for voluntary associationExamples.—Abolition of all State Education, of Established Church, of Poor Laws, of State inspection or regulation of factories, mines, railways, ships, &c. [It should be observed that when taxes were converted into voluntary contributions, the great objection that applies to some of these undertakings, the injustice of compelling some to pay for others-would be removed; and when once this was the case, a State Education or Poor Law system might be continued for a time until the people of each district bad organised their own systems for dealing with these great matters. But apart from the objection to compulsory taxation, we have to perceive that no universal system directed by an external [and often remote] authority can continue healthy or capable of sustained and continuous improvement. There is therefore a great need that any uniform and universal direction (even as regards local areas) should gradually give place to the voluntary association of men working in their own self-chosen groups.]

Class D.—Abolition of Restraints Which Give A Character of Infallibility to the State, Prevent the people from Using Individually Their Own free judgment as regards their own conduct and duties, and by the sterilising effect of physical and external force prevent the development of self-protecting qualities and the influences of moral force.—Examples.—Repeal of laws enforcing vaccination; directing the compulsory removal of the sick; imposing regulations as regards the labour or education of children on the whole class of parents; (any person, whether parent or not, physically injuring a child either by overwork, or in any other manner, should be punishable in ordinary legal course); exacting political or religious oaths from members of Parliament; persecuting and impeding those who believe in or would examine the facts of spiritualism: attempting to prevent vicious habits; forbidding gambling; suppressing brothels; giving the Police power to arrest women on the charge of page 5 prostitution, or any other powers, as regards the people, of harassing interference; forbidding vivisection; enforcing special observance of the Sunday; interfering with the Stage and other amusements of the people; restricting or forbidding the liquor traffic; preventing divorce at the desire of either husband or wife; or enabling Government (whether Central or Local) to take property compulsorily.

[It should be observed that the thing in question may be in the judgment of many of us a wrong thing, and vet at the same time one which cannot rightly be forbidden by an arbitrary decree of the State. Personally I object strongly to such vivisection, as involves serious pain to animals, but my dislike to it gives me no moral authority to forbid it. Moreover to suppress forcibly an evil is not to conquer it. That can only be done by possessing sufficient energy and faith in one's own views to influence the minds of men. It should be added that some of the interferences with liberty mentioned in this Class [D] are matters rather of Local than Central Government.]

Class E.—Abolition of Restraints Placed Upon Some for the Benefit Of Others.—Examples.—Abolition of all special contracts forced upon either Employers or Employed, or Landlord and Tenant, in the interest of either party.

Class F.—Constitutional and Administrative Changes.—Examples.—Abolition of privileges depending on birth. Abolition of House of Lords; conversion of Monarchy after present reign and in due course of time into a Republic of the simplest type. [This great political change should be carried out patiently and forbearingly, and not be forced on a large and unwilling minority. The appointment of the then reigning Sovereign as President for life, with no rights of succession, would probably soften and disarm much of the opposition.]

Manhood and womanhood suffrage. Ballot permissive individually. Proportional representation. Reference of measures passed by Parliament to the people, according to the Swiss plan.

Every effort to render the system of Law simple, speedy, and equitable' Separation of Indian and Home armies. Abolition of military life in barracks by placing soldiers on same footing as police. Commissions to be gained by service in the ranks, by service as volunteers, and by passing special (qualifying not competitive) examinations. Development of Volunteer system.

Class G.—I—reland.—Ireland to choose its own Government. The N.E. part to stay with England if it wishes to do so. Loan to be raised by Irish Government to buy out at fair price such landowners as desire to leave the country.

Class H.—Colonies, India, Egypt,—Foreign Countries.—Closer drawing together of Mother Country and Colonies for purposes of foreign policy and defence. In all cases either a loyal and vigorous discharge of obligations resting upon us, or a frank renunciation of such obligations. India to be ruled with a view to its own approaching self-government, without any attempt at developing its civilisation according to British ideas and through taxation imposed by British force. No State expenditure except that which is necessary for preserving peace and order. Egypt to choose her own form of Government under our protection for the time. Arabi and the exiles to be immediately released. Abroad a strictly non-aggressive policy. Our own assumed interests not to be placed before the rights of any people. Support of principle of international agreement in distinct and defined cases; but no wholesale placing of our national judgment and action into the hands of unknown keepers. Influence of the nation to be steadily but peacefully thrown on the side of those struggling for independence; and against annexations made in disregard of the will of the people.

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Local or Municipal Government.—The Local Governments to exercise such power of defending person and property and of preventing the molestation of one individual by another as may be given to them by general Acts of Parliament. To have no power of compulsorily taking property, of levying a compulsory rate, or of compelling any person to take water, gas, etc., whether provided by the Municipality or by a Company. To have power to regulate property of which they arc the owners; provision being made (on the ad refer endium principle) for submitting any regulation to those possessing the local franchise. [If municipalities are to be owners of property (for example, of the streets) the impartiality and tolerance of such regulations, as they make, must in a great measure depend upon the constant vigilance and love of liberty of the citizens; and it would probably be better for the Central Government to impose no hard and fast rules upon Local Governments, as regards the management of property that is in their hands, but leave to the people of each district the duty of watching over their own liberties in these matters. Great battles for individual liberty have to be fought at present in the municipalities. All attempts to restrict rights of meeting and rights of procession, whether of the Salvation army or of any others; to enlarge the powers of the police; to harass the people in their homes; to make sanitary matters an excuse for arbitrary regulation must be steadily and unflinchingly resisted. The ad referendum principle should be at once demanded by those locally governed as regards all regulations made by the local authority.]

Results—The Cheapest Markets in the World, with all articles of consumption at the lowest possible price, and no great burdens of taxation.

The Most Active and Enterprising People in Industrial Matters, with no official routine, restraints, inspections, and interferences to impede trade; and with the full natural rewards of skill, enterprise, and discovery guaranteed to all.

The Most Contented and Independent People, because the least accustomed to look for State direction, and the most accustomed to provide for their wants through their own voluntary associations.

The Most Prosperous People, because not wasting time, energy, and good feeling in fighting over political redistributions of land and other property, but doing out of hand for themselves what their own comfort and well-being demand.

The Most Clear-Sighted and Most Intelligent People, because not living at the mercy of the great rhetoricians, nor believing in any Government-conjuring systems, or in any party Popery, or in any infallible rulers, whether Tory, Whig, Radical, or Socialist.

The Most Progressive People, because not hindered and repressed by great uniform systems, but giving the freest play to new thought and new experiment.

The Most Just Minded People, because not seeking to have services done for them for which others are compulsorily taxed.

The Most Provident People, because living face to face daily with the consequences of their own actions.

The Most Friendly People Among Themselves, because no longer organised in two great parties, each seeking to obtain power, by any and every means, over the other, and to compel the acceptance of its own views.

The Most Generous People, because not interpreting their duties to each other according to the narrow letter of official regulations or State-prescribed charities,

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I have only to add that I have tried to avoid in this short sketch all that is of a fanciful or arbitrary character. Given as a moral principle, the widest possible liberty of the individual, these or very similar political applications must, as I believe, result. The defence of person and property can only be placed in the hands of Government on one plea, namely, that of self-preservation. On that plea an individual man may rightly defend himself against those who attack his person or property, and on that plea a Government [which is merely the individual in mass, and can therefore possess no larger rights than the individual] may also defend all persons and properties against attack. But on that plea neither may the individual nor the Government interfere with the rights of free action. The plea allows us to repel a wrong; it cannot allow us to inflict a wrong.

All persons interested in the matter are requested to write to me, marking the outside of their letters I. L. (in case of my absence from home) at

Ashley Arnewood Farm, Lymington, S. Hants;

and for the present, until other arrangements are made, I shall be glad myself to supply the following Leaflets and Papers, as soon as ready, at the pi ices named below.

Anti-Force Leaflets. (Separate Series), No. I.—"Some Sayings about Liberty "published by Women's Printing Society, Great College Street, Westminster.

  • Price on card per post Id. each, per dozen by post 8d.
  • On paper by post single copy—half;d.
  • On paper by post per dozen 3d.

Anti-Force Leaflets, (Summaries), No. I.—"The Free Mind in the Free Body,"published by Women's Printing Society.

  • Price on card per post Id. each; per dozen by post 8d.
  • On paper by post single copy ½d.
  • On paper by post per dozen, 3d.

Anti-Force Papers, No. I.—"The Free Mind in the Free Body"published by Women's Printing Society.

Short statement of principles of The Party of Individual Liberty and Measures to give efl'ect to them. This paper is summarised in Leaflet, No. I. (Summaries.)

  • Pamphlet, price per post, Id. single copy.
  • Pamphlet, price per post, per dozen, 8d.

Anti-Force Papers No. II.—"The Right and Wrong of Compulsion by the State "published by Williams and Norgate.

  • Bound in Cloth, per post per single copy, IId.
  • As Pamphlet, 2d. post per single copy, IId.

Other Papers and Leaflets will be ready presently.

I would also ask all such persons to read the following books of Mr. Herbert Spencer (to whom we owe the greatest of all possible debts in this matter.) "The Man v. The State"1/- "Data of Ethics"8/-, Education 2/6, "Social Statics"106, published by Williams and Norgate, London. "Study of Sociology 5/- published by Kegan Paul, London. Mill "On Liberty"¼ and'"Representative Government"published by Longmans, London, and the last chapter of"A Politician in trouble about his Soul"by Auberon Herbert, published by Chapman and Hall, London.

A. H.