William O. Reichert, "The Philosophical Anarchism of Adin Ballou," The Huntington Library Quarterly, Vol. 27, No. 4. (Aug., 1964), pp. 357-374.

The Philosophical Anarchism of Adin Ballou

By William O. Reichert

Few figures in the history of American radicalism have been more seriously neglected than Adin Ballou, inspiration and guiding spirit of the Hopedale Community. At his death in 1890 only a handful of his contemporaries were aware of the valuable contribution Ballou had made to the peace movement of his day. As Tolstoy observed, the public, finding its complacency disturbed by Ballou's ideas, seemed determined to dismiss them by erecting a "wall of silence around them!'1 Fortunately, that neglect has not been complete, and Ballou's writings have from time to time won praise from those individuals who have stumbled upon them.2

Adin Ballou, born in 1803 in the town of Cumberland, Rhode Island, traced his ancestry to Maturin Ballou, a coproprietor with Roger Williams in the first settlement of Providence. He has often been mistaken for the son of Hosea Ballou, the renowned Universalist, who was actually his father's third cousin. As a youth, he developed a strong inclination to learning and showed promise of becoming an exceptional student. Unfortunately his family was unable to provide him with a university education, and he was forced to fall back on his own resources in an attempt to satisfy his thirst for knowledge. His Autobiography reveals something of the intense religious feelings he experienced during his youth. In his nineteenth year, as he tells us there, he awoke from a deep sleep to find the vision of a deceased brother hovering over his bed; the apparition commanded him to preach the gospel of Christ to his fellow men or suffer the consequences of having "the blood of their souls" on his hands.

It was this event which first led him to the ministry and a lifetime devoted to the quest for religious truth.

As he grew older, Ballou's religious convictions became more intense, though progressively less conventional. In his thirtieth year he was possessed by an idea that was seriously to alter his thoughts concerning politics and his place in society.3 Searching his soul, he found there no clearly defined prejudice against color nor any feeling of caste superiority; yet more and more the conviction grew that he, along with the rest of his countrymen, was personally responsible for the system of chattel slavery that existed at the time. This responsibility had, he felt, hitherto been obscured for him by the "thick veil of patriotism" through which he viewed things. As a youth he had been taught to idolize the laws and constitution of his country as something too sacred to be criticized. Having at last realized the full anguish of the slave who struggled against his chains, Ballou could never again wink at injustice or shirk his responsibility for evil, even when the agent responsible for these wrongs was the nation itself. Now that he understood the logic of abolition, however, he had yet to ascertain what changes in his personal life and actual conduct this new faith would demand of him. Should he refuse to cooperate in any way with his government, or must he continue to pay his taxes to the state, even when the money extracted from him was used to forge the shackles of the slave?

Early in 1838, Ballou wrote, "my attention was called to the claims of the cause of peace as opposed to the great war system of the world, in the more radical form it had lately assumed under the name of 'Non-Resistance!" The specific movement he referred to was the New England Non-Resistance Society, a radical outgrowth of the American Peace Society which had been founded a decade earlier. Among the charter members of the New England group, in addition to Ballou, were William Lloyd Garrison, Amasa Walker, and Henry C. Wright. The society never claimed more than two hundred actual members, but what it lacked in size it made up in enthusiasm.4

The basic outlook of the New England Non-Resistance Society was that of philosophical anarchism. Though acknowledging that some authority may be essential to collective social life, its members agreed that this should come from within the individual rather than from without and that the use of force was to be completely avoided in the maintenance of social order. In its Declaration of Sentiments, which was largely written by Garrison, the Non-Resistants pronounced themselves to be opposed to all human law and government, which they proposed to replace with a spontaneous social order founded upon a pure love of God and the Golden Rule. This goal was to be achieved through nonviolent resistance. Despite the fact that almost every one of its members professed deep religious convictions, the society quickly gained the reputation of being an atheistic movement. The attack on the group came from all sides, including abolitionists, social reformers, and even some individual Quakers.

In 1849 the New England Non-Resistance Society held its last official annual meeting. There can be little doubt that one of the major reasons for its demise as an active force for peace was the excessively violent language employed by some of its more aggressive members, such as Henry C. Wright and Stephen Foster, as they struggled to make themselves clear on the questions of emancipation, social reform, and morals. Ballou, it would appear, was particularly disturbed by the violent arguments Wright engaged in.5 As the debate over the issue of slavery became increasingly bitter, Ballou found himself in increasing disagreement with the more militant members of the Non-Resistance Society. Though he continued to remain loyal to the basic principle of nonviolence, they abandoned it when they adopted a bellicose attitude toward the slave owners of the South. One by one the Non-Resistants broke ranks to take up arms in the crusade against slavery; the only one to remain completely loyal to his pacifistic convictions was Ballou.

In the face of this early dissension among the Non-Resistants, Ballou sought to associate himself more closely with other men who shared his intense Christian enthusiasm. Thus there came into being the Restoration Movement, a Massachusetts sect which sought to practice the philosophy of pure love developed by the Christian community of Christ's own time.6 At a conference held at Mendon, Massachusetts, in 1839, Ballou and six other members of the group, while still retaining nominal membership in the New England Non-Resistance Society, drafted a "Standard of Practical Christianity" which contained the basic tenets and beliefs of the Restoration Movement.7 "Our religion is love," they proclaimed, and their primary object "the restoration of man, especially the most fallen and friendless!" Declaring themselves unwilling to be bound by the will of man rather than the will of God, the Restorationists stated their intention to remain detached from the actual governments of this world. They could, they asserted, take no part in politics, nor in the administration or defense of government. Hence they would not vote, hold office, or assist the state in taking vengeance against its enemies. Neither would they fight under its banners, seek justice in its courts, claim the state's protection against violence, nor obey its "unjust requirements!' Nevertheless, they stated:

We will quietly pay the taxes levied upon us, conform to all innocent laws and usages, enjoy all righteous privileges, abstain from all civil commotions, freely express our opinion of governmental acts, and patiently endure whatever penalties we may for conscience sake incur.8

In 1841, under Ballou's leadership, the Restorationists withdrew entirely from the world, setting up the Hopedale Community as a refuge from the violence and corruption of conventional society.9

Since Ballou's energy was primarily responsible for the vigor of the movement, it is to his writings that we must turn if we would understand the philosophy of Restorationism.

The basis of his political theory was a profound Christian faith and a deep piety. But his Christianity was far from orthodox, for it combined traditional Christian precepts and beliefs with ideas derived from a broad humanistic philosophy. He, too, regarded the universe as the product of a benevolent and all-powerful creator. "We are to recognize as essentially divine" he wrote, "the sublime order of the world, the laws and forces of the material universe, the moral government of rational and responsible beings. . . ."10 Yet he did not believe that God stands behind every human action, causing men to act out their lives according to some highly deterministic master plan. On the contrary, he thought of human nature in essentially individualistic terms, arguing that men are autonomous moral agents, solely and fully responsible for every aspect of their personal conduct.

Reflecting the Calvinism of his New England background, Ballou regarded spiritual regeneration as essential to the Christian life. Unlike many of his Calvinistic neighbors, however, he viewed the process as something one worked out for oneself rather than a force one could not control. True regeneration, he held, is not something that is imposed on the individual from outside or above; it is wholly voluntary and internal. The regenerate individual bears no mark or sign that distinguishes him from the unregenerate. While regeneration may figuratively be described as a change in heart, Ballou asserted, it is basically an intellectual process, for it comes as a consequence of a fundamental transformation in attitude and understanding. Without reason, the human passions, appetites, desires, and propensities are apt to lead man astray. The Christian must, therefore, make the search for rational truth a primary vital concern.11

According to Ballou, man finds himself involved in an unending moral struggle to overcome his selfish animal propensities. But he can never control his nature until he effects a basic change within himself; he must raise his consciousness from the animal level to the spiritual plane, where his aspirations and loves flow from God.12 Motivated by carnal self-love, the unregenerate man misuses his intellectual faculties in self-gratification. The regenerate man, on the other hand, has discovered and developed the germ of spiritual life within himself and has begun the hard, laborious climb out of the state of sin. Christianity, Ballou wrote, "contemplates human nature as struggling through a long and severe deliverance from its frailty, error, sin, and misery!'13 The spiritual mind is locked in struggle with the carnal mind; truth, light, love, right, and good must vie with error, darkness, selfishness, wrong, and evil. As man progressively learns true reverence for the divine and spiritual power he discovers on all sides, he gains a clearer insight into his own nature. He becomes increasingly capable of contrition, humility, gratitude, adoration, and worship. Recognizing in himself a rational and moral agent, as he becomes more and more spiritually developed he also comes to see how weak and sinful he is. "He bows himself in the dust before the Highest. He submits himself to the majesty of the Almighty. He melts into penitence and contrition!'14

One might expect such a profound conviction of human frailty to incline Ballou toward the doctrine of original sin, or at least cause him to modify his view of human rationality. But he uncompromisingly rejected the traditional theory of man's fall from grace and his subsequent sinfulness. Even in its most modified form, he held, the doctrine of original sin is a corruption of the true Christian faith. Christianity, as it was originally taught by Christ, was completely devoid of this moral pessimism. Though Christ and his apostles fully acknowledged man's basic animal nature and carnal disposition of mind, they believed (Ballou argued) that human sin is a condition man determines for himself. The sinful man is the one who, after rationally perceiving what is right and true, turns his back upon God and freely chooses to indulge his carnal appetites in pursuit of his own pleasure.15 The doctrine of endless punishment after death blasphemes God; for Christianity seeks the highest universal good of all mankind, whereas the doctrine of endless punishment rests on a theory of incurable human wickedness which a God of love must ever deplore. Ballou's attitude in this regard stems from his youth, when he became deeply troubled concerning the then popular notion that God will destroy all sinners on the day of judgment. More and more the youth came to doubt the idea until, one day, a voice whispered in his ear that he should fall to his knees and pray. Describing this experience many years later, Ballou wrote:

In a moment the heavens seemed to open above my head; an unexpressibly sweet influence flamed in upon my soul; the whole subject became luminous, every doubt vanished . . . and I have never since felt one serious doubt of the final universal holiness and happiness of all the immortal children of God.16

Though he wrote all his works during the latter half of the nineteenth century, Ballou reflected none of the gnawing religious doubt or unbelief that characterized the late Victorian period. In his opinion, the Christianity taught by Christ and his apostles is not only the highest form of religion ever conceived by mankind, but is indispensable to the perfect holiness and happiness of the human race. He had little personal doubt, moreover, that Christianity would ultimately find universal acceptance among men; but here Ballou completely and irrevocably broke with the conventional Christian viewpoint. Few living Christians, he argued, fully understand the prime object of the church and attempt to lead their lives in accordance with it. This is not to propitiate a vengeful deity, secure God's favors, or maintain religious institutions in support of public order. The corrupted church, both in its Protestant and Catholic forms, has turned worship into a public exhibition, a "popular, pious entertainment calculated to please the senses and imagination" of both those who take part in it and those who observe it from a distance.

But true worship contains nothing of a material nature offered to God. True worship is essentially moral and subjective. The first and only object of the church is to "spiritualize and moralize the worshiper by bringing him into closer communion with the all-perfect Father -- thus rendering him god-like, heavenly minded and happy!'17 Deriving no value from external demonstration or formality, religion is a sacred communion between each individual soul and its maker; it can be judged only by the moral effect it has upon the worshipper as reflected by his character and conduct in this world. Organized religion, Ballou complained, supports a view of morality which is to a great extent based upon convention and is thus indefinite and vacillating. It is not a morality of principle, based upon eternal laws of righteousness. "It rests on speculation, utility, temporary expediency, or respectable and refined selfishness!'18 It pays lip service to the positive ethical precepts of Christ, but it is all too ready to modify and qualify these principles, accommodating them to the selfish ambitions and purposes of men.

The first principle of the social order, Ballou maintained, is the "supreme Fatherhood of God." No other belief or doctrine need be established. Reflecting a pronounced bias in the direction of Unitarianism, Ballou completely rejected the traditional concept of the Trinity. For him no form of plurality was admissible, for there is but one God. In the "original pure doctrine of Christianity" the Holy Spirit was a potent spiritual element created by God out of his own essence. "Unfortunately" he complained, "philosophizing theologians" have gradually ascribed special qualities to the Holy Spirit, thereby giving it the status of a distinct, equal person of the Godhead. Ballou believed this to be a serious theological error because it renders God's essence unintelligible to the Christian and frustrates his attempts to draw close to his maker. According to Ballou, the Holy Spirit is not an esoteric entity but an active force in the world. It was created by God and is communicable in varying intensity to human beings, in order that they may be conscious of the divine presence. In no sense, he argued, can God be thought of as a person, nor must we make the mistake of visualizing him as an esoteric being so complex in nature that any knowledge of his essence is forever forbidden to us. God has not placed himself on a pinnacle outside and above the world as though he were attempting to find a special vantage place from which he might view in a more or less detached manner the trials and tribulations of men as they blindly grope their way toward destruction. God, as spirit, is omnipresent in the finite world; but his presence must remain unknown to us so long as we fail to develop any true knowledge of his nature. Far from having the form or appearance of a being of any sort, God has no existence apart from the actions and attitudes developed toward him by man. To the extent that we realize in our lives the values we associate with his name, we bring ourselves into harmony with his nature. To the extent that we fail to live according to these values, we fail to possess any knowledge of God.19 Thus it is the individual himself who is responsible for the fact that God does not appear to exist. For all of us, according to Ballou, are born with the basic capacity to perfect our individual human nature, and it is thus within our power to bring God's will to fruition. That we fail to realize our potential for good is a tragedy, therefore, from both the personal and collective points of view.

Ballou's view of Christian doctrine was conditioned by the perspective of history he had worked out for himself. Reflecting the bias of radical protestantism, he turned back to the early Christian community that remained after Christ's death, in search of the essence of "pure Christianity." The Christian, he concluded, is required by the principles of his religion to adopt the basic attitude of Christ in regard to the world and his fellow men. The fundamental moral value of Christianity, that is to say, is love. "Perfect love to God and man -- the grand mainsprings of piety and morality -- are enforced by the fundamental truth, that God Himself is love toward His creatures, even 'the unthankful and evil! "20 Divine revelation teaches us, Ballou asserted, that God is perfectly good and that his essence is pure love. "Who asks me to prove this? It is too obviously declared to need proof. Who will presume to assert the contrary?" The essence of Christianity and of the religious life in general is trust in God. Christianity requires that the individual give complete assent to the idea that he is a child of God. And genuine love for God requires that the individual Christian take upon himself the responsibility of meeting certain definite and unchanging moral requirements, primary among which is the moral imperative to love one's neighbor as oneself and to refrain from hating one's enemies.

In urging his contemporaries to adopt the way of Christian love, Ballou wisely cautioned them not to confuse love with sentimentality. Those who would practice Christian nonviolence, he urged, must base their actions not on love stemming from sentimental passion but on love practiced as a conscientious principle. Love which rests on sentimental passion is, when analyzed, largely without substance, for man's love for man is an extremely precarious thing. Christian nonviolence, as Ballou conceived it, must proceed from "all perfect love." This is not a love that rests on the mere natural affection of one man for another; it contains nothing vain or transient. It is a "pure, enlightened, conscientious principle. It is a divine spring of action. . . ."21 Christian love is the love of God, resting on the precept of the "Golden Rule J' which is the essence of Christ's teachings.22 The Christian is exhorted to love his fellow man not for any personal attributes he may possess but because it is his Christian duty to do so. Nor can he exclude from this rule those for whom he has a deep personal dislike. To return kindness for kindness, favor for favor, is not enough. The Christian must love even his enemies.

In Ballou's opinion, the early Christian church was the first organized expression of nonviolence the world has ever known. Attempting to explain how Christianity came to abandon its early pacifism, Ballou's Primitive Christianity and Its Corruptions established the thesis that early Christianity showed signs of moral degeneration in the second century, when certain forces within the church instituted a hierarchy of clerical officers. From this point on the Christian community became progressively divided. On the one hand stood the small "over-ruled, ostracized, trampled-down" minority which clung tenaciously to the ideal of primitive simplicity that had originally characterized the entire church. On the other stood the vast majority of church members who "sank rapidly from one degree of demoralization to another" (III, 96-98). Both of these groups adhered to positions which were consistent with the basic sociological context of Christianity. For as Ernest Troeltsch points out, Christianity has a dual effect upon social life, leading either to an idealistic anarchism and the communion of love or a general attitude of social resignation which permits its adherents to accept the world largely as they find it.23

As time went on, the church more and more incorporated the principle of authority into its organization and theology and thus destroyed the tradition of individual perfectionism which had formerly been the primary value of all Christians. Even more destructive to the early Christian ethic was the conversion of Constantine to Christianity. In 313 Constantine joined Licinius in issuing the Edict of Milan, which extended toleration to all religions, including Christianity. Having at last offered respectability to Christianity, the state could now expect that Christians would conform to the world and its ways. As Geoffrey E Nuttall puts it, "when the State accepted the Church and as a consequence the Church accepted the State, in large measure the Church also accepted the world and the ways of the world."24 By the fifth century, church and state had so completely identified themselves with each other that the Christian objection to war was almost totally forgotten. Only the monastic orders and the many heretical sects within Christendom remained true to the pa-cifistic ideal during the centuries to follow.

Christianity may well be accused of having failed to live up to its claims, but Ballou contended that the world's rejection of its spiritual heritage is an evasion of reality. It is impossible, he maintained, to wipe away the past, pretending that it never existed or that it ought not to exist. The fact that man's knowledge of God is faulty or that he is unable to live up to the ideals he professes does not prove God non-existent. Judging Christianity by utilitarian standards, modern man finds it difficult to believe that it has any value or that it is capable of increasing man's happiness. But it is not Christianity that has failed, Ballou argued; it is the standards man uses to judge by that are in error.

In order to extricate ourselves from the "insanity of history" in which we are hopelessly ensnared, Ballou asserted, we must break the vicious circle of politics, and there is no way to do this short of a total renunciation of power. The employment of power involves at some point the resort to violence; and violence, in the Christian context of things, is a wholly impossible means. Christianity demands, according to Ballou, that its adherents employ the powerful forces of truth and love in order to achieve their ends; brute force and violence must be completely abjured.25 Reality, he asserted, does not rest on what men do, nor truth on what the majority of men vaguely believe to be right. Truth can only be derived from what men are capable of becoming. When he first reaches consciousness of his own nature, man has only a relative conception of truth. He can transcend his imperfect nature and avoid the relativity that clouds his vision only through the love of God, the source of absolute and eternal truth. Ballou argued that men, starting out as animals, must develop their innate potential for good to the point that they assume the qualities of mature moral beings. And this they can only do if they recognize some standards that are higher than their own natural desires—some standards that are permanent and objective.

This, according to Ballou, is the true value of Christianity as a way of life, for it furnishes man with just such a set of personal moral standards by which he may guide his actions. The true Christian is committed to a definite hierarchy of values, primary among which is the injunction to treat his fellow men in such a way that his actions will bring no harm to them. This compulsion, Ballou believed, stems from a universal, irresistible law of our human nature, the "law of natural harmony or consistency!' Man is by nature a moral agent. He delights in the "harmony of things—the consistency and agreement of one thing with another—and of parts of things with their whole!' On the other hand, contradictions, incongruities, and the incompatibility of one thing with another cause him to become restless, disturbed, and dissatisfied. He is thus constrained to keep his own house in order and to cooperate with his fellow men in the never-ending task of reforming the religious and moral institutions of mankind. Our finite natures, of course, set definite limits to our ability to construct what ought to be; but men can at least modify or destroy what ought not to be.26 If Christianity does not encourage people to live together on a more elevated plane than that of the existing order of civil society, then Christianity is "theoretically and practically false and worthy only of being ignored and reprobated."27 The suggestion that the Golden Rule is inapplicable to human society seemed absurd to Ballou, for a God who would base his creation upon a false principle would be guilty of supreme folly.28 It is not Christianity that has failed to create the conditions of world peace, he maintained, but the individual men who have taken upon themselves the privilege of calling themselves Christians.

One of the most frequent criticisms made of pacifism, Ballou pointed out, is that its followers, in refusing to fight against evil, are somehow responsible for the wrongdoings perpetrated by the unrestrained aggressor. But Christian pacifism, as he defined it, is guiltless of this charge. For him, non-resistance does not imply absolute passivity to evil. "I claim the right" he declared, "to offer the utmost moral resistance, not sinful, of which God has made me capable, to every manifestation of evil among mankind."29 Christian pacifism, according to this view, is not abject submission to evil and injustice. The advocate of this theory is not to stand idly by while vicious men run wild, inflicting harm on the innocent. Christian pacifism merely requires that its followers refrain from using any kind of injurious force that harms the mind, body, or spirit of any human being or interferes with the attainment of the highest good or happiness an individual as a social being may be capable of enjoying.30 The Christian must never countenance evil even when it is committed by an intimate friend or an honored member of his immediate family. "If our brother commit sin, we are to reprove him, either by word or significant action!' But evil must never be rebuked with physical force intended to hurt the mind, body, or soul of the evildoer. If the Christian attempts to meet violence with violence, hatred with hatred, or vindictiveness with vindictiveness, he becomes an evildoer himself and in no sense can claim to be a Christian. The Christian, Ballou insisted, must remain within the spirit of his religion, in which all opposition to evil flows from love and is intended to serve the highest good of him that is being rebuked.31 Opposition to wrongdoing must never be met with its kind. "Evil must be resisted and can be overcome only with good!' The end does not justify the means. However noble the goal of an action may be, wrong cannot be employed to make a right. Guile must never be resorted to under the pretense of furthering the general welfare, nor must injustice be employed for righteousness' sake.32

In answer to those who condemned the Christian pacifist because his refusal to engage in physical combat allowed the aggressor to destroy life at will, Ballou argued that the accusation was without substantial basis. It is perfectly true, he admitted, that the Christian is often subjected to brutality and suffering; but this does not prove Christianity inefficacious as a means of resisting evil. It merely indicates that man, lacking religious faith, is capable on occasion of brutality and violence. It is often argued that self-defense is a natural law of human nature and that failure to observe it must lead to an increased suffering. But, Ballou retorted, if the employment of force is an adequate method of preserving life, we should expect to find that it has in fact secured mankind from injury on those occasions when it has been used. But consider the millions of lives that have been lost, the homes that have been broken, the blood that has been shed in the wars mankind has fought in defense of false ideas or for the gratification of naked ambition. Who then can deny that the executions and wars men have conducted in the interest of preserving life have been altogether futile, judged by the countless lives these brutal expediences have themselves taken!33

To think only of the victims of war, Ballou maintained, is to misplace one's sympathies. We might better reserve our condolences for those who engage in waging wars. The worst evil for the Christian is not physical pain, but the realization that he has completely abandoned any claim to moral worth. The Christian, laboring under the highly demanding ethic of his religion, might well look forward to a life of pain and suffering. But pain and suffering are inevitable in human existence; all men experience them, whatever their religious or philosophical views may be. Moreover, suffering may on occasion lead to one's personal good, for suffering in a righteous cause often develops spiritual worth and character.34 Over against the physical pain of those who fall innocent victims to war, Ballou argued, we must place the yearning for faith, hope, and love, which are denied to those who turn away from the principles of pure Christianity. Compare this condition of being with the lot of those who are worthy to be called Christians. Who now has suffered the greatest pain?35

In his political theory, Ballou did not at first appear to be basically hostile toward government. Man, he wrote, is a "governmental being by nature." In fact, he has a natural instinct and capacity for law and order of some sort.36 Man's political nature abhors a vacuum, and he can no more do without government than he can do without blood in his veins. Government of one kind or another must be maintained without lapse, even when it is less than ideal. "A poor government is better than no government at all, and a government exceedingly faulty in some things is better than anarchy -- moral and social chaos!' In a very real sense, Ballou argued, all government is divine. God is the author of all things and man is a creature created in God's own image. Like Saint Augustine, Ballou could think of no higher power in the world than God. "Man is always subordinate to God, and can have no right to enact any law, or to exercise any governmental power contrary to the divine law and government."37 Nevertheless, unlike the great father of the church, Ballou did not counsel the Christian to acknowledge the sovereignty of the earthly city under all circumstances. Like Augustine, he clearly understood the human frailty of the magistrate and the impossibility of his thankless task. But he rejected quiescence on the part of the subject, as an inadequate solution to the problem of political obligation.

Despite the amicable attitudes Ballou professed to hold toward civil government, there is implicit in his political theory much of the suspicion which characterizes the anarchist point of view regarding the state and its role. To be sure, he was committed to the Christian idea that force and violence are completely unacceptable means of effecting social change. Following the demands of his religion, moreover, the Christian is required to maintain a generally benign attitude toward civil authority. But this is not to suggest that the Pauline doctrine of the state requires the Christian obey and pay homage to the civil authorities under all circumstances. While the Christian may recognize the state as a necessary institution for the purpose of maintaining a semblance of human order here on earth, he also thinks of himself as being subject to a moral law which is ultimately higher in value than that of the positive law. In his activities as a citizen, the Christian is constrained to obey the civil authorities. But as a moral agent, he need recognize only the prescriptions of his religion. To say that there must be government to regulate the civil affairs of this world is one thing, Ballou argued; to acquiesce in all that one's government does is an entirely different matter. As integral parts of the political system in which they find themselves at birth, men are morally responsible for every action undertaken by the government they have pledged themselves to support. If a constitution authorizes slavery, bloodshed, war, or any other evil, the individual subject who acknowledges and supports that constitution is as responsible for the injustices done under it as if he had himself committed the act. "The army is his army, the gallows his gallows ... all the slaughter, rapine, ravages, robbery, destruction and mischief committed under that declaration are his."38

It is in his radicalism and his refusal to compromise his fundamental moral principles that Ballou's intellectual vigor shows itself most clearly. Ballou, like Tolstoy, adopted as fundamental the assumption that society is thoroughly corrupt and that the individual, insofar as he wishes to refine and develop his moral nature, must put himself in opposition to that society's demands. Ballou was aware that any individual who might attempt to escape the moral degradation of existing society would be impeded in his flight by the masses of men who, lacking his vision of reality, would completely misunderstand his motives. But, as he pointed out, "Nothing can be more ignoble than to join a company or go with the multitude to do evil, or to maintain any doctrine, custom, or institution known to be contrary to the truths and requirements of Primitive Christianity."39 The only feasible course of action open to any intelligent and honest man is to remain loyal to his own integrity, accepting the events of life with good cheer. For man, as a moral agent, has an obligation to value truth for its own sake and not for any supposed benefits it might bring as a by-product.

There are many people who argue, Ballou continued, that a state erected within a Christian community must be supported without fail, because it somehow preserves the religious values of its subjects. But the idea that the actual governments of this world can be Christian is a vicious delusion. As Tolstoy was to argue somewhat later, the notion of a Christian state is a contradiction in terms. All existing governments, Ballou emphatically pointed out, conduct their affairs not according to the sacred religious principles of Christianity or any other religion, but by what they consider to be the highest human expediency. Governments make war and peace with one another as best they can in pursuance of their mutual interests. They make laws regulating the morals of their citizens, declaring what is right and wrong. They inflict punishments, including the death penalty, upon their subjects, as a normal means of maintaining law and order. All this they do in the name of what is good for the state, not what is right or just according to higher law. Civil governments are always ready to "inflict vengeful punishment upon offenders; to repel insults and invasions by fire and sword; to appeal to selfish ambition to maintain supremacy; to keep alive the spirit of warlike enthusiasm!'40 Many apparently intelligent people, Ballou exclaimed, absurdly call upon governments to act on the highest principles of peace and good will, as if this were within the realm of political possibility. It is as much their basic nature to use force to accomplish their aims as it is for a wild beast to devour its prey after cornering it. Ballou was highly critical of the religious leaders of his age who, starting out with rational persuasion directed toward the understanding, ended up by attempting to solve all human problems by calling on the state to use its police power for this end. In fact, he maintained, the ministers and laymen of the various branches of the Christian church are foremost among those who champion the use of brute force and the "vast complex enginery of bloodshed and death" to maintain civil order. However enthusiastic they may appear in extolling the moral virtues of Christianity and in glorifying the great Prince of Peace in their formal religious professions, they have little regard for the principles of Christian love and brotherhood.

. . . in the momentous crises which from time to time come to men and to nations, they deem [Christ's] spirit of perfect love inadequate and pitiably weak, trample his most sacred precepts and principles in the dust as unworthy of practical consideration, and postpone an application of his teaching touching human brotherhood and the treatment of enemies to some future time that never comes.41

This inability to remain true to the fundamental principles of Christianity, according to Ballou, is the most injurious form of idolatry known to man. Brute force, the destruction of enemies, vindictive punishment, physical violence, and warlike heroism are false gods at whose feet almost the entire human race slavishly worships. When reasons of state take precedence over God's will, when devotion to church, state, nation, family, or party supersedes loyalty to God, what are we but idolaters? In Ballou's opinion, the Christian who attempts to justify warfare as a means of attaining human justice is guilty of abandoning his religion.


l "The Kingdom of God Is within You," The Works of Lyof N. Tolstoi, XVI (New York, 1922), 19. Ballou's essay Christian Non-Resistance was published in 1846, whereas Tolstoy's The Kingdom of God Is within You was not published until 1893. Tolstoy indicated in this work that he had read Ballou's writings on nonviolence and was in substantial agreement with his viewpoint. Ballou, however, did not return the compliment and wrote in rather critical terms of Tolstoy's religious and pacifistic views in his Autobiography. Ballou criticized Tolstoy principally for maintaining that the individual must be passive in the face of all violence (including that of the insane), whereas Ballou felt this was carrying the idea of nonresistance too far.

2 Clarence Marsh Case describes Ballou's efforts as the most thorough and systematic statement of nonviolent theory he has been able to discover. Non-Violent Coercion (New York, 1923), p. 219.

3 Autobiography of Adin Ballou, ed. William S. Heywood (Lowell, Mass., 1896), pp. 307-308.

4 Its official organ (until 1842, when it failed to appear) was the Non-Resistant, edited by Garrison, Maria Chapman, and Edmund Quincy. In 1843 Ballou was chosen president of the society; in 1845 he decided to resume publication of the organization's journal, which after 1848 was called The Non-Resistant and Practical Christian. For a detailed account of the movement, see Eunice Minette Schuster, "Native American Anarchism: A Study of Left-Wing American Individualism!' Smith College Studies in History, XVII, Nos. 1-4 (1931-1932). See also Merle Curti, The American Peace Crusade (Durham, 1929).

5Merle Curti, "Non-Resistance in New England" The New England Quarterly, II O929), 53-

6 Ballou was apparently the most active member; he served, 1831-39, as editor of the Independent Messenger, the official publication of the Restoration Movement, and in 1840 became editor of the Practical Christian.

7 Ballou, History of the Hopedale Community, ed. William S. Heywood (Lowell, Mass., 1897), pp. 4-6. See also John Humphrey Noyes, A History of American Socialisms (Philadelphia, 1870), pp. 119-132.

8 Ballou, History of the Hopedale Community, pp. 4-6.

9 Prospective members were asked before admittance to "assent" to a "Declaration" which read in part: "I hold myself bound never, under any pretext whatsoever, to kill, assault, beat, torture, enslave, rob, oppress, persecute, defraud, corrupt, slander, revile, injure, envy, or hate any human being, even my worst enemy; . . . never to serve in the army, navy, or militia of any nation ...; never to bring an action of law, hold office, vote ... or ask governmental interposition, in any case involving a final authorized resort to physical violence. . . ." History of the Hopedale Community, p. 28.

10 Primitive Christianity and Its Corruptions, ed. William S. Heywood (Boston, 1870-Lowell, 1900), III, 215.

11 Primitive Christianity, II, 260-262.

12 Primitive Christianity, III, 193.

13 Practical Christian Socialism (Hopedale, Mass., 1854), p. 88.

14 Practical Christian Socialism, p. 114.

15 Primitive Christianity, I, 227.

16 Autobiography, p. 85.

17 Primitive Christianity, II, 47.

18 Primitive Christianity, I, 73.

19 For a recent statement of the idea of God as value, see Julius W Friend and James Feibleman, The Unlimited Community (London, 1936), p. 340.

20 Primitive Christianity, I, 290.

21 Christian Non-Resistance (Philadelphia, 1846), p. 28.

22 For discussion of the Christian pacifist point of view, see G. H. C. MacGregor, The New Testament Basis of Pacifism (New York, 1936), p. 35.

23 The Social Teaching of the Christian Churches, trans. Olive Wyon, I (New-York, 1931), p. 82.

24 Christian Pacifism in History (Oxford, 1958), pp. 5-6. See also Ernest William Barnes, The Rise of Christianity (London, 1947).

25 Primitive Christianity, II, 40.

26 Christian Non-Resistance, p. 84.

27 History of the Hopedale Community, p. 71.

28 For a recent statement of this idea, see Benjamin F. Trueblood, The Development of the Peace Idea and Other Essays (Boston, 1932), p. 34.

29 Christian Non-Resistance, p. 11.

30 Autobiography, p. 308.

31 Practical Christian Socialism, p. 142.

32 Primitive Christianity, III, 241.

33 Christian Non-Resistance, p. 11. It is interesting to note that C. J. Cadoux later was to make the same argument, although it does not appear that he knew of Ballou's writings. See Christian Pacifism Re-examined (Oxford, 1940), p. 107.

34 For a sound discussion of this point, see G. J. Heering, The Fall of Christianity: A Study of Christianity, the State, and War, trans. J. W Thompson (New York, 1943), p. 139.

35 Primitive Christianity, III, 80.

36 Primitive Christianity, II, 192.

37 Christian Non-Resistance, p. 84.

38 Christian Non-Resistance, p. 26.

39 Primitive Christianity, II, 424.

40 Primitive Christianity, III, 51.

41 Primitive Christianity, 304.