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No! As long as party faces party, and the great struggle for power goes on, the rank and file, however intelligent, however well-educated, must be content to think with the party. They can't think for themselves, for if they did they would think differently; and if they thought differently, they could not act together; so they must be content to be just war material, very like the masses of conscripts which foreign governments occasionally employ to hurl against each other. If they were anything else, it would be a very poor fighting show that our political parties would make on their battlefield. The great struggle for power would die out, would come naturally to its end, when the suppression of self and the making of the ciphers had ceased to be.

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If I let my sewage drain itself into another man's well, I thereby commit a damage upon his property by poisoning the water and making him incur the risk of illness. Now, a man's property is the result of the exercise of his faculties; is an inseparable part of himself and his faculties: and therefore, whenever his property is injured, his faculties are interfered with, and his will about himself, his faculties, his actions, and his property, constrained.

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It is the same if I pour out noxious vapors into the air. The air which is polluted must be either private or public property, and in either case (I am supposing that the noxious vapors are created in the immediate neighborhood of others, and not in the center of my own ground) I have injured that which does not belong to me and have interfered with and constrained the faculties of those who are obliged to breathe the poisoned air against their own consent.

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Please choose your words more carefully. It matters.

This article appeared in the Fortnightly Review for July 1850.

I used the expression, the forced contributions of the rich. There are some persons who hold that the more money you can extract by legislation from the richer classes for the benefit of the poorer classes the better are your arrangements. I entirely dissent from such a view. It is fatal to any clear perception of justice. Justice requires that you should not place the burdens of one man on the shoulders of another man, even though he is better able to bear them. In plainer words, that you should not make one set of men pay for what is used by another set of men. If this law be once disregarded it simply reduces politics to a universal scramble, in which the most selfish will have the most success. It turns might into right, and proclaims that each man may rightfully possess whatever he can vote into his pocket. Whoever is intent on justice must be as just to the rich man as to the poor man; and because so-called national education is not for the children of the rich man, it is simply not just to take by compulsion one penny from him. No columns of sophistry can alter this fact. And yet, when once the obligation disappears, and the grace of free-giving is restored, it is a channel in which the money of the richer classes may most worthily flow. Whatever the faults are of our richer classes, there is no lack amongst them of generous giving. Take any newspaper and you will find that although by unwise legislation we are closing many of the great channels existing for their gifts, yet the quality persists. The endowment of colleges at one period, the endowment of grammar schools at another period, gifts to religious institutions, and the support given to that narrow, partial, vexatious, and official-minded system of education which prevailed up to 1870, are all evidence of what the richer people are ready to do as long as you do not withhold the opportunities. It may, however, be said, “Do not rich gifts bring obligations, and with them their mischievous consequences?” It is plain that the most healthy state of education will exist when the workmen, dividing themselves into natural groups according to their own tastes and feelings, organize the education of their children without help, or need of help, from outside. But between obligatory and voluntary contributions there is the widest distinction. There is but slight moral hurt to the giver or receiver in the voluntary gift, provided only that the spirit on both sides be one of friendly equality. It is the forced contribution, bringing neither grace to the giver nor to the receiver, which has the evil savor about it, and brings the evil consequence. The contribution taken forcibly from the rich is justified on the ground that the thing to be provided is a necessity for which the poorer man cannot pay. Thus the workman is placed in the odious position of putting forward the pauper's plea, and two statments equally deficient in truth are made for him: one, that book education is a necessity of life–a statement which for those who look for an exact meaning in words that are used is simply not true–and the other, that our people cannot provide it for themselves if left to do so in their own fashion.

A collection of scholarly works about individual liberty and free markets.

“And the drift of his other work?”

Strive also to make this great empire of ours an instrument of help and usefulness and friendliness for the whole world. It is a great world trust placed in our hands, that we must interpret in no selfish and narrow, in no boastful and vainglorious spirit. Cast away all the tawdry and sordid dreams of an empire stronger than all other nations; but let it rest on the one true foundation of peace and friendship, and as far as lies with you of free intercourse between all nations—an empire of equal generous rights, with no privileges reserved for any of us. So, and only so, shall this great empire endure, saved from the fate that has so justly swept away all the other great empires, that were founded on meaner and more selfish conceptions. Have nothing to do with this pitiful cowardly un-English war against the aliens. Even if your interests should seem to suffer for a while—which there is strong reason for believing would not be the case—we ask you to make this sacrifice for the sake of the liberty of all, even the poorest, and for the sake of the proud traditions of our race. Unswerving, disinterested devotion to the principle of universal liberty, and to those noble traditions that have always opened the gates of this country to the suffering and oppressed, will far, far outbalance any hurt that may for a time result from the presence with us of the suffering and oppressed. Plead always that there should be no unworthy exceptions; all such exceptions are bad in themselves, and have the bad habit of becoming the rule. The temper of timorous selfishness that would exclude any aliens, that would treat any natives as different from our own flesh and blood, is our real danger—the danger that threatens our true greatness. Indulge that temper in any one direction, and you will presently encourage it to become the evil genius of the nation.

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“And taxes, Mr. Markham?” asked Angus.

However, it was even before this intellectual transformation that Herbert had decided, perhaps out of disgust with party politics or uncertainty about his own convictions, not to stand for reelection in 1874. Later, in 1879, he again sought Liberal support to regain a seat from Nottingham. But at that point his uncompromising individualist radicalism was not acceptable to the majority of the Central Council of the Liberal Union of Nottingham. In the interim, 1877, he had organized the Personal Rights and Self-Help association. And in 1878 he had been one of the chief organizers of the antijingoism rallies in Hyde Park against war with Russia. Along with other consistent classical liberals, Herbert repeatedly took anti-imperialist stands. He called for Irish self-determination. He opposed British intervention in Egypt and later opposed the Boer War.