W. J. Sidis
Mimeographed newsletter, 4 pages, found in Helena Sidis's files in 1977.
"We shall probably have occasion to use the word "libertarian" plenty of times from now on (page 4)."
No. 2 June, 1938
Issued by the Successors of
THE PAST IS THE KEY TO THE PRESENT
A journal of current events presented on the basis of the theory of social continuity.
We attempt to explain rather than to advocate.
Temporary mailing address, c/o Parker Greene, 905 Central Sq. Bldg., Cambridge, Mass.
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A bill recently introduced in the legislature of the Canadian province of Quebec called for the annexation of Escourt. This is a five-square-mile corner of Maine that does not even show on many detailed maps of Maine, but which does appear on the official highway map of Quebec.
It appears that Escourt is a village populated by about a hundred French Canadians, on Quebec's highway system, but separated from the rest of Maine by miles of forest, and, as the boundary runs at present, separated by a customs barrier from Canada. The inhabitants themselves apparently petitioned to be annexed. Nothing, however, has been done about it so far, and there seems to be little chances of a war between United States and Canada over little Escourt―though such would probably have been the result had Escourt been located on a national frontier on the other side of the ocean.
Diplomatic negotiations will probably settle this question without any fuss. Possibly the administration will be glad of an excuse to deprive Maine of some territory.
This question goes back to an ambiguity in the treaty of 1783 which ended the American War for independence, and left a stretch of disputed territory in the Aroostook Valley, claimed by both Maine and Canada. In 1838 the dispute reached the point of violence at Madavaska and a few more places in the disputed ground, to be settled by diplomatic treaty in 1842 by a rather arbitrary process of "splitting the differences." And now, just after the hundredth anniversary of the "Aroostook War," this little remnant of the old dispute crops up―another survival of old continuities.
It is interesting to note that the Aroostook War originally flared up during a depression period as a result of Federal distribution of relief funds in 1838, which Canadian authorities took as evidence of the United States trying to bribe the inhabitants of the disputed region away from British alliances.
A southern member of Congress recently made a speech back home to his
constituents on the wage-and-hours bill, giving all sorts of explanations why
wages should be lower in the South than in the North. A heckler interrupted the
speech to ask:
"Does that mean you want your salary reduced below what the Northern Congressman are getting?"
A new third party attempt was made recently in Wisconsin, on the theory that
such a party stands more chances of succeeding if not started in a presidential
year. It was named the National progressive Party.
Something may come of it, but so far it looks like another fiasco. There are immense numbers of people in the United States forming a rising tide of opposition against concentration in government, which are left so far without any means of political expression, and anyone who can definitely express this particular tendency―the old American continuity of the traditions of individual liberty, federate structure, and limited government―could probably start something. But the National Progressives have failed to do this.
The failure seems to be in the fact that the National Progressive Party agrees with the New Deal in unlimited and concentrated governmental power and proposes much the same type of social reforms as the New Deal. The main body of popular opposition―a rising tide which, properly organised, could be a landslide―consists mainly of people who still believe that individual rights and limitation of governmental powers is much more important than any reform legislation that could be put through by a man or a clique given dictatorial powers. The National Progressives cannot draw any support from this, the great body of the anti-New-Dealers; and, of course, the New-Dealers will not go over to them when they have a strong organisation of their own already; so it apparently leaves the National Progressive Party without any considerable source of prospective recruits.
THE FREE SPEECH FRONT―AROUND NEW YORK
The espionage system that is strangling all semblance of civil rights in Jersey City under the administration of
"Franco" Hague has extended into new ramifications, as the fight against it by outside
"liberals" has proved to be grossly misdirected. Great public demonstrations have been organised in Journal Square, on a scale to be compared with those ordered by Hitler and Mussolini in their respective countries, to prevent any attempts to express opinions labeled "un-American" by the city's Dictator. It is true that one indoor Socialist meeting was allowed, at Fairmount Hall; but all attempts before and since have
failed―partly because they have attempted to deal with public speeches instead of the more fundamental issue of private espionage, an issue wherein the self-appointed defenders of free speech have left the citizens of Jersey City completely undefended.
Congressman Jerry J. O'Connell of Montana, who once gave up an attempt to speak in Jersey City, returned at a later date and attempted to take possession of Pershing Field, a municipal athletic field, for the purpose of making a speech. "Franco" Hague succeeded in drowning out his voice with a municipal band, after which the Congressman was deported from the Dictator's dominions by force, and with some allegation that at a "third degree" was used on him.
Hague also put on political pressure to force the eviction of the Jewish Community Center from their synagogue building at Bergen Avenue, mainly because the rabbi had appeared as character witness for a political opponent of Hague.
It is becoming painfully clear that Mayor Hague of Jersey City is supported by the protection of the White House, without which the Hague Terror could not operate. The Department of Justice has washed its hands of all criminal complaints made against Hague on the score of his violation of constitutional rights; and so has the President, who, in spite of his persistent muscling in on fields constitutionally reserved for individual rights or for State action has found the Hague Terror to be a purely local matter. The President has emphasized his support of Hague's policy by granting him the reward of obedient servants of the New Deal machine, an unusually large slice of public appropriation. The Jersey City Medical Center on Montgomery Street, already consisting of a skyscraper group capable of handling the needs of Chicago, is to get WPA appropriations to cover the building of a new 10-story unit. Frank P. Hague seems to be expecting enough casualties for a good-sized war.
Across the marshes in Newark, there have been a couple of similarly arranged riots on the attempt of a Socialist speaker (who had a permit) to speak on Military Park, a spot which is very central, though not as central as it was when the Hudson Tube terminal was located there up to last year. This speaker was refused a permit to speak there again, but was allowed one to speak in Washington Park, not over a block from Military Park; he was, however, particular about it, and refused to accept the substitute.
The Federal court for New Jersey being in Newark, it is there that an equity case is pending, applying for an injunction against Hague of Jersey City to stop him from interfering with civil rights in his bailiwick. Hague himself has freely testified to the extent of his repressive activities, resulting in his testimony being quoted with enthusiasm by German papers across the ocean, to whom it gives some hopes of America going dictatorial; while this was followed up in Rome by a joyful editorial in the "Giornale d'Italia" quoting Hague's testimony to prove that democracy is slipping.
Slightly more optimistic news is reported from little Manhattan Island, across the river from these cities. A man named Edmondson was arrested last year by order of Mayor Fiorello La Guardia on a criminal libel charge for printing and distributing a pamphlet criticizing the Jewish religion. On May 11, this charge was dismissed in a judicial opinion that re-affirmed the freedom of speech, of the press, and of religion, and stated that courts cannot be arbiters of religious truth. But it does remain true that New York's city administration shows an anti-Gentilism as strong as any anti-Semitism (so-called) ever was, and only America's tradition of limitation of governmental powers has prevented New York from being a city where none but Jews dare speak.
THE FREE SPEECH FRONT―NEW ENGLAND
In Boston a committee of the State legislature came out with a report on
allegedly subversive activities in the State, and had a few repressive measures to recommend to the legislature as the conclusion of a voluminous report. The hearing on this was a furious
one, as hearing on such subjects always are in New England. One minister, who came forward to speak in favor of the free speech, when asked his name gave the name "Benito Adolf France." On the other side of the question, a social envoy was sent to Boston by plans from
no less a person than the President's No. 2 henchman Frank P. Hague, dictator of Jersey City, to watch what was going on; this envoy, a
Lieut. Foley of the Jersey City police, appeared to spend most of his time
pussy-footing around―to such an
extent that a Boston paper commented that Hague's emissary need not be afraid in Boston,
as he will be allowed to speak his mind fully.
In Woonsocket, R.I., a city has been recently torn by considerable industrial disputes, Police Commissioner McLaughlin has issued an order forbidding all Communist meetings, public or private. A commotion has been raised over this in "Little Rhody", for, while few people sympathise with the Communists, still fewer want censorship. McLaughlin has been dubbed in Providence "the Hague of Woonsocket."
In Lynn the school committee was frustrated over a high-school girl of 10 being allowed to read in class a parody of one of the Psalms criticising the President, and an investigation will be held over why she was allowed to criticise our rulers. At the risk of being deemed seditious ourselves, we quote the piece recited.
Mr. Roosevelt is my shepherd.
THE FREE SPEECH FRONT―THE SOUTH
In London, Ky., a federal criminal procedure is going on against a number of
deputies of "bloody Harlan" county for numerous acts of repression committed over a period of time that established a reign of terror in the county. This is done under a revival of the Conspiracy Act of
1870, an act of the Reconstruction period following the Civil War, penalising any conspiracy to deprive any citizen of constitutional rights. However, we
note that only small fry such as Harlan deputy sheriffs get caught in that net; the
mine-owners responsible for the conspiracy are let alone, and so are other persons
complained of on similar grounds, such as a certain North Atlantic mayor who has recently been
prominently in the public eye for similar repressive acts, but she enjoys the personal protection of
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. The revival of this old-time enactment, however, is
interesting in itself, as something of the kind is badly needed everywhere in
America against all elements, left or right, who take it on themselves to suppress or nullify civil rights.
In a waterfront strike in New Orleans, acts of violence have arisen on both sides, and the police are being used to break the strike. The CIO has been raising the charges of Haguism against New Orleans authorities, but the issue of civil rights does not appear so far to be involved directly, and there is certainly no indication of espionage over private citizens―which is doing well for a city recently come out of the iron heel of Huey Pierce Long. The issue in dispute appears to be purely the usual labor bargaining, and it will not be the first time―or the last―that such an argument leads to blows on both sides. An organisation is hardly justified in crying repression merely because somebody is taking the opposite side; and possibly the rights and wrongs of it will never be straightened out, except for blind partisans on both sides who are the real repressors.
Last month we asked for suggestions for a new name for government with limited powers, such as the American continuity demands. The suggestions we made were justly criticised as strange and unfamiliar, and we have as yet to
no term to cover the particular ground. However, another term that may partly fill the need has been coming into use―the word
This word is coming into use to denote advocacy of the supremacy of individual liberties and rights, including the proposition that no government must be allowed to exceed these limits. A libertarian government is essentially a limited government limited by individual rights; the definition not only does not imply majority rule, but definitely implies that all rule, whether majority or minority, is strictly limited to the field of preventing transgressions on the rights of any individuals whatever. This is in opposition to "authoritarian," which implies that the government, whether it represents a majority or not, is supreme and must be obeyed regardless. The idea of authoritarianist democracy, as opposed to libertarianism, is the one current in official circles, who believe that a "head of government," once elected, must not be opposed by anything whatever. The idea is more tersely expressed by Macauley:
"Then choose we a Dictator,
We shall probably have occasion to use the word "libertarian" plenty of times from now on. But the more general idea of limited government is still without a good name. The word "democracy" is useless because abused.
The administration is going right ahead with punishing Maine and Vermont. The
Congress, just before adjournment, passed a flood-control bill which authorised
the Federal government to seize title to lands needed for
"flood-control" dams to be used for power, thereby vetoing an
agreement already reached between the New England states regarding flood control―probably
because most of the headwaters to be controlled are in Maine and Vermont.
As wet weather continues to threaten New England's industrial regions, effective flood control is a vital thing; and anyone who has watched the power dams in New England rivers knows that a dam usable for power is worthless for flood control, because a power dam must be kept full and is therefore no protection against flood. To punish Maine and Vermont for independence in voting, the administration is threatening the farmers, workers, and industries of six states with drowning. The effect seems likely to be to create in the other four states some sympathy for the feeling of the two states that are "in the doghouse."
Under the peculiar party system that the United States has
developed in the past sixty years, whereby elections are run in semifinals and
finals, the semifinals being in two divisions called parties, but which have
nothing in common among themselves except being semifinals, we are going through
a season of the semifinal elections called primaries.
So far, these points seem to be general trends of primary results: (1) an increase in votes cast in Republican primaries, in many instances far exceeding the Democratic primaries; (2) in the Democratic primaries, official administration approval of a candidate is a slight handicap to winning the primary, and labor union endorsement is nearly fatal, even in sections where unions are strong. The first tendency is the normal American swing-back resulting from resistance to encroachment by governments on the field of powers reserved against interference; the second is also part of the American continuity tending to resist interference with freedom of choice in elections.
Why not have a discussion group? Get your friends together to meet once a month and discuss current events, with Continuity News as a text. See first page of this issue for special rates to discussion groups; write us for further information. Liberty History Groups also offers a choice of other subjects for discussion groups; we will be glad to send information about that too.
As a sequel to last year's supreme court argument, we have received as an anonymous contribution a suggestion for a constitutional amendment to create a fourth government department to regulate (only in so far as concerning preventing constitutional infringements) President, Congress, and courts alike.
Continuity News, whatever may be the faults of its attempts to describe and explain, does not attempt to advocate any action to be taken; so we cannot use this contribution. But the suggestion has the advantage of handling the issue from the angle of reviving forms that grew up in the American Revolution and adapting them to later issues. If enough readers think it of value as a matter of information, please let us know, we may be able to arrange to get it out separately.
Continuity News has been criticised from some sources for confining itself almost entirely to American news. There are certainly those who work themselves into almost an apoplectic stroke crying "But European affairs affect us!" These same people, though, get a worse conniption if a bit of American news appears, so they evidently care little about what affects us; their feet may be in America, but their head is [illegible]. We still think it best to mention Eastern Hemisphere affairs [illegible] far as incidental to American news.