his good actions)—that man's nature was bad, bad, irretrievably bad, and therefore that his fellows should treat him with the brutality inherent in their own brutal natures and so richly deserved by the brutal nature of himself. But, friends, I find this is a lie, a fiendish falsehood, a slander on humanity. I find that the man is what his circumstances make him. That great reformer, Robert Owen, was right when he said that ‘the character is not made by but for the individual.’ If you put me in bad circumstances, you make me a bad man. If you enslave me, I learn in to rejoice in slavery. If you treat me brutally, you encourage brutality in my nature, and I act brutally to you. If in this land, which naturally belongs to all you who live upon it, you give me a special privilege to the ownership of this land, you make me a tyrant, and I cannot help but act like a tyrant; and you make yourselves my serfs and cowardly cringing curs willing to lick my feet in truly slave-like fashion, that I may graciously afford you permit to toil on the land I have deprived you of. Then you hate me, because I am your master; and I hate you because you are my slave. We pretend to love each other to win each other's favors, but in our hearts we love each one himself and eye the other with suspicion and mistrust. So it is throughout all society. All true morality is forbidden by the very laws under which we are associated. The landlord, despite his higher sentiments of love and justice, must rack the rents from starving toilers lest he become a toiler and wear out his life's blood for others. The remorseless usurer must stifle his conscience, and forge the yoke of Mammon round the neck of the proletaire that he may extort, by interest, the product of their toil, lest he someday perform that endless, fruitless toil himself. The legislator, offered bribes of wealth and power, dare not be true to manhood and refuse those bribes, lest he lose all his power and join the toiling proletaires who waste their wretched lives in others' gain. No, friends, we have fought on wrong lines. We have hoped to achieve fraternity by creating bitter antipathy. Our preachers have called on men to he honorable, while supporting all the institutions which compel us to be dishonorable. Every so-called ‘revolution’ has been a failure, because all the evil conditions were allowed to remain and new tyrants were created out of old institutions. The cannibal, with his chiefs and warriors, makes war upon his brother cannibal and eats him. The civilized man, with his rulers and their subordinates, makes war also upon his civilized brother, and he too devours him, but he devours him with the law instead of with his teeth. All those men,—cannibal or civilized,—are the creatures of their conditions, the victims of power and plunder. But, fortunately for the human race, there are exceptions to the general rule of mutual theft and destruction. The Doukhoborys, the Masinkers, the Veddahs, and others who lack our civilized customs of law and disorder, have shown us that man is moral when the conditions of his existence are such as necessitate morality. They have shown us that when man lives on his own efforts, instead of on his neighbor, that he daily enjoys the noble virtues of universal friendship, health and contentment that we only dream of; and that they who have no laws over them are ‘a law unto themselves,’ and that self-instructing law invariably teaches them that as
Page:Melbourne Riots (Andrade, 1892).djvu/36
This page has been validated.
THE MELBOURNE RIOTS.