Page:Instead of a Book, Tucker.djvu/351

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335
Land and rent.

a householder's wealth by stealth. But Egoist repudiates this supposition (though he does not follow the logic of his repudiation), and I must take him at his word. He thus lays himself open to a retort which I could not otherwise have made. In his previous letter he criticised me for making sentiment a factor in the estimation of value. Whether or not this was a transgression, on my part, of the limits of economic discussion, he certainly has transgressed them much more seriously in making force such a factor. Exchange implies liberty; where there is no liberty there is no exchange, but only robbery; and robbery is foreign to political economy. At least one point, however, is gained. Between Egoist and myself all question of any superior equitable right of the community is put aside forever. Equity not considered, we agree that the land belongs to the man or body of men strong enough to hold it. And for all practical purposes his definition of "ownership" suits me, though I view ownership less as the "result of the ability of the community to maintain possession" and an application of this result "for the benefit of individuals," than as a result of the inability of the community to maintain itself in peace and security otherwise than by the recognition of only such relations between man and wealth as are in harmony with the law of equal liberty. In other words, ownership arises not from superiority of the community to the individual, but from the inferiority of the community to the facts and powers of nature.

(2) This would depend upon whether such domination would prove profitable or disastrous to Egoist. I contend that it would prove disastrous, and that experience would lead him to abandon such a policy if foresight should not prevent him from adopting it.

(3) Here we have an acknowledgment of a principle of equity and a contemplation of its observance by the mighty, which goes to sustain my original supposition, despite Egoist's protest. It implies an abandonment by the mighty of their right of domination and a willingness to contract with the weak. Now, I agree that the contracts thus entered into will not lead to serious results, unless they create inequitable relations between individuals. But the first of all equities is not equality of material well-being, but equality of liberty; and if the contract places the former equality before the latter, it will lead to serious results, for it logically necessitates the arbitrary levelling of all material inequalities, whether these arise from differences of soil or differences of skill. To directly enforce

equality of material well-being is meddlesome, invasive, and