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Beverley naidoo the other side of truth analysis essay

Strongly as we are opposed to the protectionists, who whitewash their creed under the name of tariff reform, it is fair to remember one plea on their behalf. They have one true grievance. As long as the present extravagant spending goes on in its compulsory fashion they may fairly complain that the income tax payers are likely to be unjustly treated. The remedy does not lie in extending our compulsory system of taking from the public but in limiting it, and presently transforming it into voluntary giving. Under our compulsory system free trade will never be a safe possession. It is with us today, it will be tomorrow. If we were pushed again to a war, as we were pushed headlong into the Boer War, just because one statesman got into a temper, shut his eyes and put his head down, and another statesman looked sorrowfully on, like the gods of Olympus, smiling at the follies of the human race, we should at once hear the double cry ringing in our ears for conscription and protection—conscription to force us to fight with our conscience or against our conscience; protection to force us to pay for what we might look on as a crime and a folly. You may be sure that free trade will sooner or later be swept away, unless we go boldly forward in its own spirit and in its own direction and destroy the compulsory character of taxation. There lies the stronghold of all war and strife and oppression of each other. As long as compulsory taxation lasts—in other words giving power to some men to use other men against their beliefs and their interests—liberty will be but a mocking phrase. Between liberty and compulsory taxation there is no possible reconciliation. It is a struggle of life and death between the two. That which is free and that which is bound can never long keep company. Sooner or later one of the two must prevail over the other. If a war came, Conservative ministers would see their great opportunity, and with rapture of heart would fasten round us the two chains that they dearly love, conscription and protection. Liberal ministers would sorrowfully shake their heads, wring their hands, utter a last pathetic tribute to liberty and free trade, and with handkerchiefs to their eyes would take the same course. If you mean to secure the great victory just gained for free trade you must go boldly and resolutely on in the same good path. Dangers lie strewn around you on every side. There is no security for what you have gained, but in pressing forward. There is one and only one way of permanently saving free trade, and that is to sweep away all the compulsory system in which we are entangled.

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I will answer as plainly and truthfully as I can. I do not think that it is possible to find a perfect moral foundation for the authority of any government, be it the government of an emperor or a republic. They are all of the nature of a usurpation, though I think when of a justifiable usurpation. I see that each man is, by virtue of that wonderful self which is in him, the owner of certain faculties and energies. I see that he, and none other, has the rightful direction and control of these faculties and energies. They are vested in him as an inseparable, inalienable part of himself; and I can see no true way in which they can be taken forcibly from him and owned by another. But I see that the exercise of these energies and faculties depends upon the observance of the universal law that no man shall by force restrain another man in the use of his faculties. The men who do so restrain their neighbor, who, being stronger than he is, break into his house, tie his hands behind his back, take from him what belongs to him, or compel him against his own consent to do certain actions, are men who disallow this universal law, and therefore lose the rights which they themselves possess under it. I can see in presence of such acts of physical violence that men are driven to band themselves together, and to form what are called governments, to restrain those who violate this law, and who, having disregarded it in the case of others, can no longer themselves claim to live under its protection. But it is also necessary to see plainly that governments, if they are to possess any moral justification whatever for their actions, can only use power over those who have thus lost their own rights; and that the justification which underlies this use of their power is solely that of self-preservation. Now, self-preservation is a plea of great authority, but an authority strictly limited by certain conditions. It justifies an action that is wrong in itself (as the employment of force) only because of the wrong which has been already committed in the first instance by some other person. I may preserve my life by taking the life of him who has attacked me, but I have no right to preserve my life by taking the life of him who is innocent of all wrongdoing toward me. And this is the position of all governments. Just as the individual has rights of self-preservation, as regards the special man who commits a wrong against him, so has a government–which is the individual in mass–exactly the same rights, neither larger nor smaller, as regards the whole special class of those who employ violence. We can justify the use of force by a government, its interference with the energies and faculties of those men who have themselves interfered with the energies and faculties of others, on the ground of our common self-preservation; but we cannot justify on this ground any interference on its part with the energies and faculties of innocent men, I mean, of those who have remained within their own rights. When governments do so act, when they interfere with the energies and faculties of innocent men–as the fact of their being a government cannot possibly place them in a different position from individuals as regards the universal laws of right and wrong–they simply join themselves to the already swollen ranks of the users of violence and the despisers of rights; and they lose all true title to be obeyed or respected by men. I would therefore say that where men commit acts of violence against each other, there lies in us all, whether, acting on our own behalf, or organized into a society, on the ground of self-preservation, the right to resist violence by violence; and that the most convenient form of such resistance is to make a government, elected by the whole people, the instrument of our resistance; but just as individually, for the sake of our own self-preservation, we have no right to sacrifice in any particular an innocent man, so also must the action of a government, which is merely built up from individuals, be bounded by exactly the same limits. It cannot aggress upon the rights of any innocent man; it can only restrain aggression upon such rights.

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Such are the fruits of power and the strife for power. It must be so. Set men up to rule their fellow-men, to treat them as mere soulless material with which they may deal as they please, and the consequence is that you sweep away every moral landmark and turn this world into a place of selfish striving, hopeless confusion, trickery and violence, a mere scrambling ground for the strongest or the most cunning or the most numerous. Once more we repeat—don't be deluded by the careless everyday talk about majorities. The vote of a majority is a far lesser evil than the edict of an autocrat, for you can appeal to a majority to repent of its sins and to undo its mistakes, but numbers—though they were as the grains of sand on the seashore—cannot take away the rights of a single individual, cannot turn man or woman into stuff for the politician to play with, or overrule the great principles which mark out our relations to each other. These principles are rooted in the very nature of our being, and have nothing to do with minorities and majorities. Arithmetic is a very excellent thing in its place, but it can neither give nor take away rights. Because you can collect three men on one side, and only two on the other side, that can offer no reason—no shadow of a reason—why the three men should dispose of the lives and property of the two men, should settle for them what they are to do, and what they are to be: that mere rule of numbers can never justify the turning of the two men into slaves, and the three men into slave owners. There is one and only one principle, on which you can build a true, rightful, enduring and progressive civilization, which can give peace and friendliness and contentment to all differing groups and sects into which we are divided—and that principle is that every man and woman should be held by us all sacredly and religiously to be the one true owner of his or her faculties, of his or her body and mind, and of all property, inherited or—honestly acquired. There is no other possible foundation—see it wherever you will—on which you can build, if you honestly mean to make this world a place of peace and friendship, where progress of every kind, like a full river fed by its many streams, may flow on its happy fertilizing course, with ever broadening and deepening volume. Deny that principle, and we be- come at once like travelers who leave the one sure and beaten path and wander hopelessly in a trackless desert. Deny that self-ownership, that self-guidance of the individual, and however fine our professed motives may be, we must sooner or later, in a world without rights, become like animals, that prey on each other. Deny human rights, and however little you may wish to do so, you will find yourself abjectly kneeling at the feet of that Old World god Force—that grimmest and ugliest of gods that men have ever carved for themselves out of the lusts of their hearts; you will find yourselves hating and dreading all other men who differ from you; you will find yourselves obliged by the law of the conflict into which you have plunged, to use every means in your power to crush them before they are able to crush you; you will find yourselves day by day growing more unscrupulous and intolerant, more and more compelled by the fear of those opposed to you, to commit harsh and violent actions, of which you would once have said, Is thy servant a dog that she should do these things? You will find yourselves clinging to and welcoming Force, as the one and only form of protection left to you, when you have once destroyed the rule of the great principles. When once you have plunged into the strife for power, it is the fear of those who are seeking for power over you that so easily persuades to all the great crimes. Who shall count up the evil brood that is born from power—the pitiful fear, the madness, the despair, the overpowering craving for revenge, the treachery, the unmeasured cruelty? It is liberty alone, broad as the sky above our heads, and planted deep and strong as the great mountains, that allows the better and higher part of our nature to rule in us, and subdues those passions that we share with the animals.

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