Anarchism and Other Essays
Part 2 out of 4
Patrick Henry, of Thomas Paine, are denied and sold by their
posterity. The mass wants none of them. The greatness and courage
worshipped in Lincoln have been forgotten in the men who created the
background for the panorama of that time. The true patron saints of
the black men were represented in that handful of fighters in Boston,
Lloyd Garrison, Wendell Phillips, Thoreau, Margaret Fuller, and
Theodore Parker, whose great courage and sturdiness culminated in
that somber giant, John Brown. Their untiring zeal, their eloquence
and perseverance undermined the stronghold of the Southern lords.
Lincoln and his minions followed only when abolition had become a
practical issue, recognized as such by all.
About fifty years ago, a meteor-like idea made its appearance on the
social horizon of the world, an idea so far-reaching, so
revolutionary, so all-embracing as to spread terror in the hearts of
tyrants everywhere. On the other hand, that idea was a harbinger of
joy, of cheer, of hope to the millions. The pioneers knew the
difficulties in their way, they knew the opposition, the persecution,
the hardships that would meet them, but proud and unafraid they
started on their march onward, ever onward. Now that idea has become
a popular slogan. Almost everyone is a Socialist today: the rich
man, as well as his poor victim; the upholders of law and authority,
as well as their unfortunate culprits; the freethinker, as well as
the perpetuator of religious falsehoods; the fashionable lady, as
well as the shirtwaist girl. Why not? Now that the truth of fifty
years ago has become a lie, now that it has been clipped of all its
youthful imagination, and been robbed of its vigor, its strength, its
revolutionary ideal--why not? Now that it is no longer a beautiful
vision, but a "practical, workable scheme," resting on the will of
the majority, why not? With the same political cunning and
shrewdness the mass is petted, pampered, cheated daily. Its praise
is being sung in many keys: the poor majority, the outraged, the
abused, the giant majority, if only it would follow us.
Who has not heard this litany before? Who does not know this
never-varying refrain of all politicians? That the mass bleeds, that
it is being robbed and exploited, I know as well as our vote-baiters.
But I insist that not the handful of parasites, but the mass itself
is responsible for this horrible state of affairs. It clings to its
masters, loves the whip, and is the first to cry Crucify! the moment
a protesting voice is raised against the sacredness of capitalistic
authority or any other decayed institution. Yet how long would
authority and private property exist, if not for the willingness of
the mass to become soldiers, policemen, jailers, and hangmen. The
Socialist demagogues know that as well as I, but they maintain the
myth of the virtues of the majority, because their very scheme of
life means the perpetuation of power. And how could the latter be
acquired without numbers? Yes, power, authority, coercion, and
dependence rest on the mass, but never freedom, never the free
unfoldment of the individual, never the birth of a free society.
Not because I do not feel with the oppressed, the disinherited of the
earth; not because I do not know the shame, the horror, the indignity
of the lives the people lead, do I repudiate the majority as a
creative force for good. Oh, no, no! But because I know so well
that as a compact mass it has never stood for justice or equality.
It has suppressed the human voice, subdued the human spirit, chained
the human body. As a mass its aim has always been to make life
uniform, gray, and monotonous as the desert. As a mass it will
always be the annihilator of individuality, of free initiative, of
originality. I therefore believe with Emerson that "the masses are
crude, lame, pernicious in their demands and influence, and need not
to be flattered, but to be schooled. I wish not to concede anything
to them, but to drill, divide, and break them up, and draw
individuals out of them. Masses! The calamity are the masses. I do
not wish any mass at all, but honest men only, lovely, sweet,
accomplished women only."
In other words, the living, vital truth of social and economic
well-being will become a reality only through the zeal, courage, the
non-compromising determination of intelligent minorities, and not
through the mass.
THE PSYCHOLOGY OF POLITICAL VIOLENCE
To analyze the psychology of political violence is not only extremely
difficult, but also very dangerous. If such acts are treated with
understanding, one is immediately accused of eulogizing them. If, on
the other hand, human sympathy is expressed with the ATTENTATER,* one
risks being considered a possible accomplice. Yet it is only
intelligence and sympathy that can bring us closer to the source of
human suffering, and teach us the ultimate way out of it.
* A revolutionist committing an act of political violence.
The primitive man, ignorant of natural forces, dreaded their
approach, hiding from the perils they threatened. As man learned to
understand Nature's phenomena, he realized that though these may
destroy life and cause great loss, they also bring relief. To the
earnest student it must be apparent that the accumulated forces in
our social and economic life, culminating in a political act of
violence, are similar to the terrors of the atmosphere, manifested in
storm and lightning.
To thoroughly appreciate the truth of this view, one must feel
intensely the indignity of our social wrongs; one's very being must
throb with the pain, the sorrow, the despair millions of people are
daily made to endure. Indeed, unless we have become a part of
humanity, we cannot even faintly understand the just indignation that
accumulates in a human soul, the burning, surging passion that makes
the storm inevitable.
The ignorant mass looks upon the man who makes a violent protest
against our social and economic iniquities as upon a wild beast, a
cruel, heartless monster, whose joy it is to destroy life and bathe
in blood; or at best, as upon an irresponsible lunatic. Yet nothing
is further from the truth. As a matter of fact, those who have
studied the character and personality of these men, or who have come
in close contact with them, are agreed that it is their
super-sensitiveness to the wrong and injustice surrounding them which
compels them to pay the toll of our social crimes. The most noted
writers and poets, discussing the psychology of political offenders,
have paid them the highest tribute. Could anyone assume that these
men had advised violence, or even approved of the acts? Certainly
not. Theirs was the attitude of the social student, of the man who
knows that beyond every violent act there is a vital cause.
Bjornstjerne Bjornson, in the second part of BEYOND HUMAN POWER,
emphasizes the fact that it is among the Anarchists that we must look
for the modern martyrs who pay for their faith with their blood, and
who welcome death with a smile, because they believe, as truly as
Christ did, that their martyrdom will redeem humanity.
Francois Coppee, the French novelist, thus expresses himself
regarding the psychology of the ATTENTATER:
"The reading of the details of Vaillant's execution left me in a
thoughtful mood. I imagined him expanding his chest under the ropes,
marching with firm step, stiffening his will, concentrating all his
energy, and, with eyes fixed upon the knife, hurling finally at
society his cry of malediction. And, in spite of me, another
spectacle rose suddenly before my mind. I saw a group of men and
women pressing against each other in the middle of the oblong arena
of the circus, under the gaze of thousands of eyes, while from all
the steps of the immense amphitheatre went up the terrible cry, AD
LEONES! and, below, the opening cages of the wild beasts.
"I did not believe the execution would take place. In the first
place, no victim had been struck with death, and it had long been the
custom not to punish an abortive crime with the last degree of
severity. Then, this crime, however terrible in intention, was
disinterested, born of an abstract idea. The man's past, his
abandoned childhood, his life of hardship, pleaded also in his favor.
In the independent press generous voices were raised in his behalf,
very loud and eloquent. 'A purely literary current of opinion' some
have said, with no little scorn. IT IS, ON THE CONTRARY, AN HONOR TO
THE MEN OF ART AND THOUGHT TO HAVE EXPRESSED ONCE MORE THEIR DISGUST
AT THE SCAFFOLD."
Again Zola, in GERMINAL and PARIS, describes the tenderness and
kindness, the deep sympathy with human suffering, of these men who
close the chapter of their lives with a violent outbreak against our
Last, but not least, the man who probably better than anyone else
understands the psychology of the ATTENTATER is M. Hamon, the author
of the brilliant work, UNE PSYCHOLOGIE DU MILITAIRE PROFESSIONEL, who
has arrived at these suggestive conclusions:
"The positive method confirmed by the rational method enables us to
establish an ideal type of Anarchist, whose mentality is the
aggregate of common psychic characteristics. Every Anarchist
partakes sufficiently of this ideal type to make it possible to
differentiate him from other men. The typical Anarchist, then, may
be defined as follows: A man perceptible by the spirit of revolt
under one or more of its forms,--opposition, investigation,
criticism, innovation,--endowed with a strong love of liberty,
egoistic or individualistic, and possessed of great curiosity, a keen
desire to know. These traits are supplemented by an ardent love of
others, a highly developed moral sensitiveness, a profound sentiment
of justice, and imbued with missionary zeal."
To the above characteristics, says Alvin F. Sanborn, must be added
these sterling qualities: a rare love of animals, surpassing
sweetness in all the ordinary relations of life, exceptional sobriety
of demeanor, frugality and regularity, austerity, even, of living,
and courage beyond compare.*
* PARIS AND THE SOCIAL REVOLUTION.
"There is a truism that the man in the street seems always to forget,
when he is abusing the Anarchists, or whatever party happens to be
his BETE NOIRE for the moment, as the cause of some outrage just
perpetrated. This indisputable fact is that homicidal outrages have,
from time immemorial, been the reply of goaded and desperate classes,
and goaded and desperate individuals, to wrongs from their fellowmen,
which they felt to be intolerable. Such acts are the violent recoil
from violence, whether aggressive or repressive; they are the last
desperate struggle of outraged and exasperated human nature for
breathing space and life. And their cause lies not in any special
conviction, but in the depths of that human nature itself. The whole
course of history, political and social, is strewn with evidence of
this fact. To go no further, take the three most notorious examples
of political parties goaded into violence during the last fifty
years: the Mazzinians in Italy, the Fenians in Ireland, and the
Terrorists in Russia. Were these people Anarchists? No. Did they
all three even hold the same political opinions? No. The Mazzinians
were Republicans, the Fenians political separatists, the Russians
Social Democrats or Constitutionalists. But all were driven by
desperate circumstances into this terrible form of revolt. And when
we turn from parties to individuals who have acted in like manner, we
stand appalled by the number of human beings goaded and driven by
sheer desperation into conduct obviously violently opposed to their
"Now that Anarchism has become a living force in society, such deeds
have been sometimes committed by Anarchists, as well as by others.
For no new faith, even the most essentially peaceable and humane the
mind of man has yet accepted, but at its first coming has brought
upon earth not peace, but a sword; not because of anything violent or
anti-social in the doctrine itself; simply because of the ferment any
new and creative idea excites in men's minds, whether they accept or
reject it. And a conception of Anarchism, which, on one hand,
threatens every vested interest, and, on the other, holds out a
vision of a free and noble life to be won by a struggle against
existing wrongs, is certain to rouse the fiercest opposition, and
bring the whole repressive force of ancient evil into violent contact
with the tumultuous outburst of a new hope.
"Under miserable conditions of life, any vision of the possibility of
better things makes the present misery more intolerable, and spurs
those who suffer to the most energetic struggles to improve their
lot, and if these struggles only immediately result in sharper
misery, the outcome is sheer desperation. In our present society,
for instance, an exploited wage worker, who catches a glimpse of what
work and life might and ought to be, finds the toilsome routine and
the squalor of his existence almost intolerable; and even when he has
the resolution and courage to continue steadily working his best, and
waiting until new ideas have so permeated society as to pave the way
for better times, the mere fact that he has such ideas and tries to
spread them, brings him into difficulties with his employers. How
many thousands of Socialists, and above all Anarchists, have lost
work and even the chance of work, solely on the ground of their
opinions. It is only the specially gifted craftsman, who, if he be a
zealous propagandist, can hope to retain permanent employment. And
what happens to a man with his brain working actively with a ferment
of new ideas, with a vision before his eyes of a new hope dawning for
toiling and agonizing men, with the knowledge that his suffering and
that of his fellows in misery is not caused by the cruelty of fate,
but by the injustice of other human beings,--what happens to such a
man when he sees those dear to him starving, when he himself is
starved? Some natures in such a plight, and those by no means the
least social or the least sensitive, will become violent, and will
even feel that their violence is social and not anti-social, that in
striking when and how they can, they are striking, not for
themselves, but for human nature, outraged and despoiled in their
persons and in those of their fellow sufferers. And are we, who
ourselves are not in this horrible predicament, to stand by and
coldly condemn these piteous victims of the Furies and Fates? Are we
to decry as miscreants these human beings who act with heroic
self-devotion, sacrificing their lives in protest, where less social
and less energetic natures would lie down and grovel in abject
submission to injustice and wrong? Are we to join the ignorant and
brutal outcry which stigmatizes such men as monsters of wickedness,
gratuitously running amuck in a harmonious and innocently peaceful
society? No! We hate murder with a hatred that may seem absurdly
exaggerated to apologists for Matabele massacres, to callous
acquiescers in hangings and bombardments, but we decline in such
cases of homicide, or attempted homicide, as those of which we are
treating, to be guilty of the cruel injustice of flinging the whole
responsibility of the deed upon the immediate perpetrator. The guilt
of these homicides lies upon every man and woman who, intentionally
or by cold indifference, helps to keep up social conditions that
drive human beings to despair. The man who flings his whole life
into the attempt, at the cost of his own life, to protest against the
wrongs of his fellow men, is a saint compared to the active and
passive upholders of cruelty and injustice, even if his protest
destroy other lives besides his own. Let him who is without sin in
society cast the first stone at such an one."*
* From a pamphlet issued by the Freedom Group of London.
That every act of political violence should nowadays be attributed to
Anarchists is not at all surprising. Yet it is a fact known to
almost everyone familiar with the Anarchist movement that a great
number of acts, for which Anarchists had to suffer, either originated
with the capitalist press or were instigated, if not directly
perpetrated, by the police.
For a number of years acts of violence had been committed in Spain,
for which the Anarchists were held responsible, hounded like wild
beasts, and thrown into prison. Later it was disclosed that the
perpetrators of these acts were not Anarchists, but members of the
police department. The scandal became so widespread that the
conservative Spanish papers demanded the apprehension and punishment
of the gang-leader, Juan Rull, who was subsequently condemned to
death and executed. The sensational evidence, brought to light
during the trial, forced Police Inspector Momento to exonerate
completely the Anarchists from any connection with the acts committed
during a long period. This resulted in the dismissal of a number of
police officials, among them Inspector Tressols, who, in revenge,
disclosed the fact that behind the gang of police bomb throwers were
others of far higher position, who provided them with funds and
This is one of the many striking examples of how Anarchist
conspiracies are manufactured.
That the American police can perjure themselves with the same ease,
that they are just as merciless, just as brutal and cunning as their
European colleagues, has been proven on more than one occasion. We
need only recall the tragedy of the eleventh of November, 1887, known
as the Haymarket Riot.
No one who is at all familiar with the case can possibly doubt that
the Anarchists, judicially murdered in Chicago, died as victims of a
lying, bloodthirsty press and of a cruel police conspiracy. Has not
Judge Gary himself said: "Not because you have caused the Haymarket
bomb, but because you are Anarchists, you are on trial."
The impartial and thorough analysis by Governor Altgeld of that
blotch on the American escutcheon verified the brutal frankness of
Judge Gary. It was this that induced Altgeld to pardon the three
Anarchists, thereby earning the lasting esteem of every liberty
loving man and woman in the world.
When we approach the tragedy of September sixth, 1901, we are
confronted by one of the most striking examples of how little social
theories are responsible for an act of political violence. "Leon
Czolgosz, an Anarchist, incited to commit the act by Emma Goldman."
To be sure, has she not incited violence even before her birth, and
will she not continue to do so beyond death? Everything is possible
with the Anarchists.
Today, even, nine years after the tragedy, after it was proven a
hundred times that Emma Goldman had nothing to do with the event,
that no evidence whatsoever exists to indicate that Czolgosz ever
called himself an Anarchist, we are confronted with the same lie,
fabricated by the police and perpetuated by the press. No living
soul ever heard Czolgosz make that statement, nor is there a single
written word to prove that the boy ever breathed the accusation.
Nothing but ignorance and insane hysteria, which have never yet been
able to solve the simplest problem of cause and effect.
The President of a free Republic killed! What else can be the cause,
except that the ATTENTATER must have been insane, or that he was
incited to the act.
A free Republic! How a myth will maintain itself, how it will
continue to deceive, to dupe, and blind even the comparatively
intelligent to its monstrous absurdities. A free Republic! And yet
within a little over thirty years a small band of parasites have
successfully robbed the American people, and trampled upon the
fundamental principles, laid down by the fathers of this country,
guaranteeing to every man, woman, and child "life, liberty, and the
pursuit of happiness." For thirty years they have been increasing
their wealth and power at the expense of the vast mass of workers,
thereby enlarging the army of the unemployed, the hungry, homeless,
and friendless portion of humanity, who are tramping the country from
east to west, from north to south, in a vain search for work. For
many years the home has been left to the care of the little ones,
while the parents are exhausting their life and strength for a mere
pittance. For thirty years the sturdy sons of America have been
sacrificed on the battlefield of industrial war, and the daughters
outraged in corrupt factory surroundings. For long and weary years
this process of undermining the nation's health, vigor, and pride,
without much protest from the disinherited and oppressed, has been
going on. Maddened by success and victory, the money powers of this
"free land of ours" became more and more audacious in their
heartless, cruel efforts to compete with the rotten and decayed
European tyrannies for supremacy of power.
In vain did a lying press repudiate Leon Czolgosz as a foreigner.
The boy was a product of our own free American soil, that lulled him
to sleep with,
My country, 'tis of thee,
Sweet land of liberty.
Who can tell how many times this American child had gloried in the
celebration of the Fourth of July, or of Decoration Day, when he
faithfully honored the Nation's dead? Who knows but that he, too,
was willing to "fight for his country and die for her liberty," until
it dawned upon him that those he belonged to have no country, because
they have been robbed of all that they have produced; until he
realized that the liberty and independence of his youthful dreams
were but a farce. Poor Leon Czolgosz, your crime consisted of too
sensitive a social consciousness. Unlike your idealless and
brainless American brothers, your ideals soared above the belly and
the bank account. No wonder you impressed the one human being among
all the infuriated mob at your trial--a newspaper woman--as a
visionary, totally oblivious to your surroundings. Your large,
dreamy eyes must have beheld a new and glorious dawn.
Now, to a recent instance of police-manufactured Anarchist plots.
In that bloodstained city, Chicago, the life of Chief of Police
Shippy was attempted by a young man named Averbuch. Immediately the
cry was sent to the four corners of the world that Averbuch was an
Anarchist, and that Anarchists were responsible for the act.
Everyone who was at all known to entertain Anarchist ideas was
closely watched, a number of people arrested, the library of an
Anarchist group confiscated, and all meetings made impossible. It
goes without saying that, as on various previous occasions, I must
needs be held responsible for the act. Evidently the American police
credit me with occult powers. I did not know Averbuch; in fact, had
never before heard his name, and the only way I could have possibly
"conspired" with him was in my astral body. But, then, the police
are not concerned with logic or justice. What they seek is a target,
to mask their absolute ignorance of the cause, of the psychology of a
political act. Was Averbuch an Anarchist? There is no positive
proof of it. He had been but three months in the country, did not
know the language, and, as far as I could ascertain, was quite
unknown to the Anarchists of Chicago.
What led to his act? Averbuch, like most young Russian immigrants,
undoubtedly believed in the mythical liberty of America. He received
his first baptism by the policeman's club during the brutal
dispersement of the unemployed parade. He further experienced
American equality and opportunity in the vain efforts to find an
economic master. In short, a three months' sojourn in the glorious
land brought him face to face with the fact that the disinherited are
in the same position the world over. In his native land he probably
learned that necessity knows no law--there was no difference between
a Russian and an American policeman.
The question to the intelligent social student is not whether the
acts of Czolgosz or Averbuch were practical, any more than whether
the thunderstorm is practical. The thing that will inevitably
impress itself on the thinking and feeling man and woman is that the
sight of brutal clubbing of innocent victims in a so-called free
Republic, and the degrading, soul-destroying economic struggle,
furnish the spark that kindles the dynamic force in the overwrought,
outraged souls of men like Czolgosz or Averbuch. No amount of
persecution, of hounding, of repression, can stay this social
But, it is often asked, have not acknowledged Anarchists committed
acts of violence? Certainly they have, always however ready to
shoulder the responsibility. My contention is that they were
impelled, not by the teachings of Anarchism, but by the tremendous
pressure of conditions, making life unbearable to their sensitive
natures. Obviously, Anarchism, or any other social theory, making
man a conscious social unit, will act as a leaven for rebellion.
This is not a mere assertion, but a fact verified by all experience.
A close examination of the circumstances bearing upon this question
will further clarify my position.
Let us consider some of the most important Anarchist acts within the
last two decades. Strange as it may seem, one of the most
significant deeds of political violence occurred here in America, in
connection with the Homestead strike of 1892.
During that memorable time the Carnegie Steel Company organized a
conspiracy to crush the Amalgamated Association of Iron and Steel
Workers. Henry Clay Frick, then Chairman of the Company, was
intrusted with that democratic task. He lost no time in carrying out
the policy of breaking the Union, the policy which he had so
successfully practiced during his reign of terror in the coke
regions. Secretly, and while peace negotiations were being purposely
prolonged, Frick supervised the military preparations, the
fortification of the Homestead Steel Works, the erection of a high
board fence, capped with barbed wire and provided with loopholes for
sharpshooters. And then, in the dead of night, he attempted to
smuggle his army of hired Pinkerton thugs into Homestead, which act
precipitated the terrible carnage of the steel workers. Not content
with the death of eleven victims, killed in the Pinkerton skirmish,
Henry Clay Frick, good Christian and free American, straightway began
the hounding down of the helpless wives and orphans, by ordering them
out of the wretched Company houses.
The whole country was aroused over these inhuman outrages. Hundreds
of voices were raised in protest, calling on Frick to desist, not to
go too far. Yes, hundreds of people protested,--as one objects to
annoying flies. Only one there was who actively responded to the
outrage at Homestead,--Alexander Berkman. Yes, he was an Anarchist.
He gloried in that fact, because it was the only force that made the
discord between his spiritual longing and the world without at all
bearable. Yet not Anarchism, as such, but the brutal slaughter of
the eleven steel workers was the urge for Alexander Berkman's act,
his attempt on the life of Henry Clay Frick.
The record of European acts of political violence affords numerous
and striking instances of the influence of environment upon sensitive
The court speech of Vaillant, who, in 1894, exploded a bomb in the
Paris Chamber of Deputies, strikes the true keynote of the psychology
of such acts:
"Gentlemen, in a few minutes you are to deal your blow, but in
receiving your verdict I shall have at least the satisfaction of
having wounded the existing society, that cursed society in which one
may see a single man spending, uselessly, enough to feed thousands of
families; an infamous society which permits a few individuals to
monopolize all the social wealth, while there are hundreds of
thousands of unfortunates who have not even the bread that is not
refused to dogs, and while entire families are committing suicide for
want of the necessities of life.
"Ah, gentlemen, if the governing classes could go down among the
unfortunates! But no, they prefer to remain deaf to their appeals.
It seems that a fatality impels them, like the royalty of the
eighteenth century, toward the precipice which will engulf them, for
woe be to those who remain deaf to the cries of the starving, woe to
those who, believing themselves of superior essence, assume the right
to exploit those beneath them! There comes a time when the people no
longer reason; they rise like a hurricane, and pass away like a
torrent. Then we see bleeding heads impaled on pikes.
"Among the exploited, gentlemen, there are two classes of
individuals: Those of one class, not realizing what they are and what
they might be, take life as it comes, believe that they are born to
be slaves, and content themselves with the little that is given them
in exchange for their labor. But there are others, on the contrary,
who think, who study, and who, looking about them, discover social
iniquities. Is it their fault if they see clearly and suffer at
seeing others suffer? Then they throw themselves into the struggle,
and make themselves the bearers of the popular claims.
"Gentlemen, I am one of these last. Wherever I have gone, I have
seen unfortunates bent beneath the yoke of capital. Everywhere I
have seen the same wounds causing tears of blood to flow, even in the
remoter parts of the inhabited districts of South America, where I
had the right to believe that he who was weary of the pains of
civilization might rest in the shade of the palm trees and there
study nature. Well, there even, more than elsewhere, I have seen
capital come, like a vampire, to suck the last drop of blood of the
"Then I came back to France, where it was reserved for me to see my
family suffer atrociously. This was the last drop in the cup of my
sorrow. Tired of leading this life of suffering and cowardice, I
carried this bomb to those who are primarily responsible for social
"I am reproached with the wounds of those who were hit by my
projectiles. Permit me to point out in passing that, if the
bourgeois had not massacred or caused massacres during the
Revolution, it is probable that they would still be under the yoke of
the nobility. On the other hand, figure up the dead and wounded on
Tonquin, Madagascar, Dahomey, adding thereto the thousands, yes,
millions of unfortunates who die in the factories, the mines, and
wherever the grinding power of capital is felt. Add also those who
die of hunger, and all this with the assent of our Deputies. Beside
all this, of how little weight are the reproaches now brought against
"It is true that one does not efface the other; but, after all, are
we not acting on the defensive when we respond to the blows which we
receive from above? I know very well that I shall be told that I
ought to have confined myself to speech for the vindication of the
people's claims. But what can you expect! It takes a loud voice to
make the deaf hear. Too long have they answered our voices by
imprisonment, the rope, rifle volleys. Make no mistake; the
explosion of my bomb is not only the cry of the rebel Vaillant, but
the cry of an entire class which vindicates its rights, and which
will soon add acts to words. For, be sure of it, in vain will they
pass laws. The ideas of the thinkers will not halt; just as, in the
last century, all the governmental forces could not prevent the
Diderots and the Voltaires from spreading emancipating ideas among
the people, so all the existing governmental forces will not prevent
the Reclus, the Darwins, the Spencers, the Ibsens, the Mirbeaus, from
spreading the ideas of justice and liberty which will annihilate the
prejudices that hold the mass in ignorance. And these ideas,
welcomed by the unfortunate, will flower in acts of revolt as they
have done in me, until the day when the disappearance of authority
shall permit all men to organize freely according to their choice,
when we shall each be able to enjoy the product of his labor, and
when those moral maladies called prejudices shall vanish, permitting
human beings to live in harmony, having no other desire than to study
the sciences and love their fellows.
"I conclude, gentlemen, by saying that a society in which one sees
such social inequalities as we see all about us, in which we see
every day suicides caused by poverty, prostitution flaring at every
street corner,--a society whose principal monuments are barracks and
prisons,--such a society must be transformed as soon as possible, on
pain of being eliminated, and that speedily, from the human race.
Hail to him who labors, by no matter what means, for this
transformation! It is this idea that has guided me in my duel with
authority, but as in this duel I have only wounded my adversary, it
is now its turn to strike me.
"Now, gentlemen, to me it matters little what penalty you may
inflict, for, looking at this assembly with the eyes of reason, I can
not help smiling to see you, atoms lost in matter, and reasoning only
because you possess a prolongation of the spinal marrow, assume the
right to judge one of your fellows.
"Ah! gentlemen, how little a thing is your assembly and your verdict
in the history of humanity; and human history, in its turn, is
likewise a very little thing in the whirlwind which bears it through
immensity, and which is destined to disappear, or at least to be
transformed, in order to begin again the same history and the same
facts, a veritably perpetual play of cosmic forces renewing and
transferring themselves forever."
Will anyone say that Vaillant was an ignorant, vicious man, or a
lunatic? Was not his mind singularly clear, analytic? No wonder
that the best intellectual forces of France spoke in his behalf, and
signed the petition to President Carnot, asking him to commute
Vaillant's death sentence.
Carnot would listen to no entreaty; he insisted on more than a pound
of flesh, he wanted Vaillant's life, and then--the inevitable
happened: President Carnot was killed. On the handle of the stiletto
used by the ATTENTATER was engraved, significantly,
Santa Caserio was an Anarchist. He could have gotten away, saved
himself; but he remained, he stood the consequences.
His reasons for the act are set forth in so simple, dignified, and
childlike manner that one is reminded of the touching tribute paid
Caserio by his teacher of the little village school, Ada Negri, the
Italian poet, who spoke of him as a sweet, tender plant, of too fine
and sensitive texture to stand the cruel strain of the world.
"Gentlemen of the Jury! I do not propose to make a defense, but only
an explanation of my deed.
"Since my early youth I began to learn that present society is badly
organized, so badly that every day many wretched men commit suicide,
leaving women and children in the most terrible distress. Workers,
by thousands, seek for work and can not find it. Poor families beg
for food and shiver with cold; they suffer the greatest misery; the
little ones ask their miserable mothers for food, and the mothers
can not give them, because they have nothing. The few things
which the home contained have already been sold or pawned. All they
can do is beg alms; often they are arrested as vagabonds.
"I went away from my native place because I was frequently moved to
tears at seeing little girls of eight or ten years obliged to work
fifteen hours a day for the paltry pay of twenty centimes. Young
women of eighteen or twenty also work fifteen hours daily, for a
mockery of remuneration. And that happens not only to my fellow
countrymen, but to all the workers, who sweat the whole day long for
a crust of bread, while their labor produces wealth in abundance.
The workers are obliged to live under the most wretched conditions,
and their food consists of a little bread, a few spoonfuls of rice,
and water; so by the time they are thirty or forty years old, they
are exhausted, and go to die in the hospitals. Besides, in
consequence of bad food and overwork, these unhappy creatures are, by
hundreds, devoured by pellagra--a disease that, in my country,
attacks, as the physicians say, those who are badly fed and lead a
life of toil and privation.
"I have observed that there are a great many people who are hungry,
and many children who suffer, whilst bread and clothes abound in the
towns. I saw many and large shops full of clothing and woolen
stuffs, and I also saw warehouses full of wheat and Indian corn,
suitable for those who are in want. And, on the other hand, I saw
thousands of people who do not work, who produce nothing and live on
the labor of others; who spend every day thousands of francs for
their amusement; who debauch the daughters of the workers; who own
dwellings of forty or fifty rooms; twenty or thirty horses, many
servants; in a word, all the pleasures of life.
"I believed in God; but when I saw so great an inequality between
men, I acknowledged that it was not God who created man, but man who
created God. And I discovered that those who want their property to
be respected, have an interest in preaching the existence of paradise
and hell, and in keeping the people in ignorance.
"Not long ago, Vaillant threw a bomb in the Chamber of Deputies, to
protest against the present system of society. He killed no one,
only wounded some persons; yet bourgeois justice sentenced him to
death. And not satisfied with the condemnation of the guilty man,
they began to pursue the Anarchists, and arrest not only those who
had known Vaillant, but even those who had merely been present at any
"The government did not think of their wives and children. It did
not consider that the men kept in prison were not the only ones who
suffered, and that their little ones cried for bread. Bourgeois
justice did not trouble itself about these innocent ones, who do not
yet know what society is. It is no fault of theirs that their
fathers are in prison; they only want to eat.
"The government went on searching private houses, opening private
letters, forbidding lectures and meetings, and practicing the most
infamous oppressions against us. Even now, hundreds of Anarchists
are arrested for having written an article in a newspaper, or for
having expressed an opinion in public.
"Gentlemen of the Jury, you are representatives of bourgeois society.
If you want my head, take it; but do not believe that in so doing you
will stop the Anarchist propaganda. Take care, for men reap what
they have sown."
During a religious procession in 1896, at Barcelona, a bomb was
thrown. Immediately three hundred men and women were arrested.
Some were Anarchists, but the majority were trade unionists and
Socialists. They were thrown into that terrible bastille, Montjuich,
and subjected to most horrible tortures. After a number had been
killed, or had gone insane, their cases were taken up by the liberal
press of Europe, resulting in the release of a few survivors.
The man primarily responsible for this revival of the Inquisition was
Canovas del Castillo, Prime Minister of Spain. It was he who ordered
the torturing of the victims, their flesh burned, their bones
crushed, their tongues cut out. Practiced in the art of brutality
during his regime in Cuba, Canovas remained absolutely deaf to the
appeals and protests of the awakened civilized conscience.
In 1897 Canovas del Castillo was shot to death by a young Italian,
Angiolillo. The latter was an editor in his native land, and his
bold utterances soon attracted the attention of the authorities.
Persecution began, and Angiolillo fled from Italy to Spain, thence to
France and Belgium, finally settling in England. While there he
found employment as a compositor, and immediately became the friend
of all his colleagues. One of the latter thus described Angiolillo:
"His appearance suggested the journalist rather than the disciple of
Guttenberg. His delicate hands, moreover, betrayed the fact that he
had not grown up at the 'case.' With his handsome frank face, his
soft dark hair, his alert expression, he looked the very type of the
vivacious Southerner. Angiolillo spoke Italian, Spanish, and French,
but no English; the little French I knew was not sufficient to carry
on a prolonged conversation. However, Angiolillo soon began to
acquire the English idiom; he learned rapidly, playfully, and it was
not long until he became very popular with his fellow compositors.
His distinguished and yet modest manner, and his consideration
towards his colleagues, won him the hearts of all the boys."
Angiolillo soon became familiar with the detailed accounts in the
press. He read of the great wave of human sympathy with the helpless
victims at Montjuich. On Trafalgar Square he saw with his own eyes
the results of those atrocities, when the few Spaniards, who escaped
Castillo's clutches, came to seek asylum in England. There, at the
great meeting, these men opened their shirts and showed the horrible
scars of burned flesh. Angiolillo saw, and the effect surpassed a
thousand theories; the impetus was beyond words, beyond arguments,
beyond himself even.
Senor Antonio Canovas del Castillo, Prime Minister of Spain,
sojourned at Santa Agueda. As usual in such cases, all strangers
were kept away from his exalted presence. One exception was made,
however, in the case of a distinguished looking, elegantly dressed
Italian--the representative, it was understood, of an important
journal. The distinguished gentleman was--Angiolillo.
Senor Canovas, about to leave his house, stepped on the veranda.
Suddenly Angiolillo confronted him. A shot rang out, and Canovas was
The wife of the Prime Minister rushed upon the scene. "Murderer!
Murderer!" she cried, pointing at Angiolillo. The latter bowed.
"Pardon, Madame," he said, "I respect you as a lady, but I regret
that you were the wife of that man."
Calmly Angiolillo faced death. Death in its most terrible form--for
the man whose soul was as a child's.
He was garroted. His body lay, sun-kissed, till the day hid in
twilight. And the people came, and pointing the finger of terror and
fear, they said: "There--the criminal--the cruel murderer."
How stupid, how cruel is ignorance! It misunderstands always,
A remarkable parallel to the case of Angiolillo is to be found in the
act of Gaetano Bresci, whose ATTENTAT upon King Umberto made an
American city famous.
Bresci came to this country, this land of opportunity, where one has
but to try to meet with golden success. Yes, he too would try to
succeed. He would work hard and faithfully. Work had no terrors
for him, if it would only help him to independence, manhood,
Thus full of hope and enthusiasm he settled in Paterson, New Jersey,
and there found a lucrative job at six dollars per week in one of the
weaving mills of the town. Six whole dollars per week was, no doubt,
a fortune for Italy, but not enough to breathe on in the new country.
He loved his little home. He was a good husband and devoted father
to his BAMBINA, Bianca, whom he adored. He worked and worked for a
number of years. He actually managed to save one hundred dollars out
of his six dollars per week.
Bresci had an ideal. Foolish, I know, for a workingman to have an
ideal,--the Anarchist paper published in Paterson, LA QUESTIONE
Every week, though tired from work, he would help to set up the
paper. Until later hours he would assist, and when the little
pioneer had exhausted all resources and his comrades were in despair,
Bresci brought cheer and hope, one hundred dollars, the entire
savings of years. That would keep the paper afloat.
In his native land people were starving. The crops had been poor,
and the peasants saw themselves face to face with famine. They
appealed to their good King Umberto; he would help. And he did.
The wives of the peasants who had gone to the palace of the King,
held up in mute silence their emaciated infants. Surely that would
move him. And then the soldiers fired and killed those poor fools.
Bresci, at work in the weaving mill at Paterson, read of the horrible
massacre. His mental eye beheld the defenceless women and innocent
infants of his native land, slaughtered right before the good King.
His soul recoiled in horror. At night he heard the groans of the
wounded. Some may have been his comrades, his own flesh. Why, why
these foul murders?
The little meeting of the Italian Anarchist group in Paterson ended
almost in a fight. Bresci had demanded his hundred dollars. His
comrades begged, implored him to give them a respite. The paper
would go down if they were to return him his loan. But Bresci
insisted on its return.
How cruel and stupid is ignorance. Bresci got the money, but lost
the good will, the confidence of his comrades. They would have
nothing more to do with one whose greed was greater than his ideals.
On the twenty-ninth of July, 1900, King Umberto was shot at Monzo.
The young Italian weaver of Paterson, Gaetano Bresci, had taken the
life of the good King.
Paterson was placed under police surveillance, everyone known as an
Anarchist hounded and persecuted, and the act of Bresci ascribed to
the teachings of Anarchism. As if the teachings of Anarchism in its
extremest form could equal the force of those slain women and
infants, who had pilgrimed to the King for aid. As if any spoken
word, ever so eloquent, could burn into a human soul with such white
heat as the life blood trickling drop by drop from those dying forms.
The ordinary man is rarely moved either by word or deed; and those
whose social kinship is the greatest living force need no appeal to
respond--even as does steel to the magnet--to the wrongs and horrors
If a social theory is a strong factor inducing acts of political
violence, how are we to account for the recent violent outbreaks in
India, where Anarchism has hardly been born. More than any other old
philosophy, Hindu teachings have exalted passive resistance, the
drifting of life, the Nirvana, as the highest spiritual ideal. Yet
the social unrest in India is daily growing, and has only recently
resulted in an act of political violence, the killing of Sir Curzon
Wyllie by the Hindu, Madar Sol Dhingra.
If such a phenomenon can occur in a country socially and individually
permeated for centuries with the spirit of passivity, can one
question the tremendous, revolutionizing effect on human character
exerted by great social iniquities? Can one doubt the logic, the
justice of these words:
"Repression, tyranny, and indiscriminate punishment of innocent men
have been the watchwords of the government of the alien domination in
India ever since we began the commercial boycott of English goods.
The tiger qualities of the British are much in evidence now in India.
They think that by the strength of the sword they will keep down
India! It is this arrogance that has brought about the bomb, and the
more they tyrannize over a helpless and unarmed people, the more
terrorism will grow. We may deprecate terrorism as outlandish and
foreign to our culture, but it is inevitable as long as this tyranny
continues, for it is not the terrorists that are to be blamed, but
the tyrants who are responsible for it. It is the only resource for
a helpless and unarmed people when brought to the verge of despair.
It is never criminal on their part. The crime lies with the
* THE FREE HINDUSTAN.
Even conservative scientists are beginning to realize that heredity
is not the sole factor moulding human character. Climate, food,
occupation; nay, color, light, and sound must be considered in the
study of human psychology.
If that be true, how much more correct is the contention that great
social abuses will and must influence different minds and
temperaments in a different way. And how utterly fallacious the
stereotyped notion that the teachings of Anarchism, or certain
exponents of these teachings, are responsible for the acts of
Anarchism, more than any other social theory, values human life above
things. All Anarchists agree with Tolstoy in this fundamental truth:
if the production of any commodity necessitates the sacrifice of
human life, society should do without that commodity, but it can not
do without that life. That, however, nowise indicates that Anarchism
teaches submission. How can it, when it knows that all suffering,
all misery, all ills, result from the evil of submission?
Has not some American ancestor said, many years ago, that resistance
to tyranny is obedience to God? And he was not an Anarchist even.
I would say that resistance to tyranny is man's highest ideal. So
long as tyranny exists, in whatever form, man's deepest aspiration
must resist it as inevitably as man must breathe.
Compared with the wholesale violence of capital and government,
political acts of violence are but a drop in the ocean. That so few
resist is the strongest proof how terrible must be the conflict
between their souls and unbearable social iniquities.
High strung, like a violin string, they weep and moan for life, so
relentless, so cruel, so terribly inhuman. In a desperate moment the
string breaks. Untuned ears hear nothing but discord. But those who
feel the agonized cry understand its harmony; they hear in it the
fulfillment of the most compelling moment of human nature.
Such is the psychology of political violence.
PRISONS: A SOCIAL CRIME AND FAILURE
In 1849, Feodor Dostoyevsky wrote on the wall of his prison cell the
following story of THE PRIEST AND THE DEVIL:
"'Hello, you little fat father!' the devil said to the priest.
'What made you lie so to those poor, misled people? What tortures of
hell did you depict? Don't you know they are already suffering the
tortures of hell in their earthly lives? Don't you know that you and
the authorities of the State are my representatives on earth? It is
you that make them suffer the pains of hell with which you threaten
them. Don't you know this? Well, then, come with me!'
"The devil grabbed the priest by the collar, lifted him high in the
air, and carried him to a factory, to an iron foundry. He saw the
workmen there running and hurrying to and fro, and toiling in the
scorching heat. Very soon the thick, heavy air and the heat are too
much for the priest. With tears in his eyes, he pleads with the
devil: 'Let me go! Let me leave this hell!'
"'Oh, my dear friend, I must show you many more places.' The devil
gets hold of him again and drags him off to a farm. There he sees
workmen threshing the grain. The dust and heat are insufferable.
The overseer carries a knout, and unmercifully beats anyone who falls
to the ground overcome by hard toil or hunger.
"Next the priest is taken to the huts where these same workers live
with their families--dirty, cold, smoky, ill-smelling holes. The
devil grins. He points out the poverty and hardships which are at
"'Well, isn't this enough?' he asks. And it seems as if even he, the
devil, pities the people. The pious servant of God can hardly bear
it. With uplifted hands he begs: 'Let me go away from here. Yes,
yes! This is hell on earth!'
"'Well, then, you see. And you still promise them another hell.
You torment them, torture them to death mentally when they are
already all but dead physically! Come on! I will show you one more
hell--one more, the very worst.'
"He took him to a prison and showed him a dungeon, with its foul air
and the many human forms, robbed of all health and energy, lying on
the floor, covered with vermin that were devouring their poor, naked,
"'Take off your silken clothes,' said the devil to the priest, 'put
on your ankles heavy chains such as these unfortunates wear; lie down
on the cold and filthy floor--and then talk to them about a hell that
still awaits them!'
"'No, no!' answered the priest, 'I cannot think of anything more
dreadful than this. I entreat you, let me go away from here!'
"'Yes, this is hell. There can be no worse hell than this. Did you
not know it? Did you not know that these men and women whom you are
frightening with the picture of a hell hereafter--did you not know
that they are in hell right here, before they die?'"
This was written fifty years ago in dark Russia, on the wall of one
of the most horrible prisons. Yet who can deny that the same applies
with equal force to the present time, even to American prisons?
With all our boasted reforms, our great social changes, and our
far-reaching discoveries, human beings continue to be sent to the
worst of hells, wherein they are outraged, degraded, and tortured,
that society may be "protected" from the phantoms of its own making.
Prison, a social protection? What monstrous mind ever conceived such
an idea? Just as well say that health can be promoted by a
After eighteen months of horror in an English prison, Oscar Wilde
gave to the world his great masterpiece, THE BALLAD OF READING GOAL:
The vilest deeds, like poison weeds,
Bloom well in prison air;
It is only what is good in Man
That wastes and withers there.
Pale Anguish keeps the heavy gate,
And the Warder is Despair.
Society goes on perpetuating this poisonous air, not realizing that
out of it can come naught but the most poisonous results.
We are spending at the present $3,500,000 per day, $1,000,095,000 per
year, to maintain prison institutions, and that in a democratic
country,--a sum almost as large as the combined output of wheat,
valued at $750,000,000, and the output of coal, valued at
$350,000,000. Professor Bushnell of Washington, D.C., estimates the
cost of prisons at $6,000,000,000 annually, and Dr. G. Frank Lydston,
an eminent American writer on crime, gives $5,000,000,000 annually as
a reasonable figure. Such unheard-of expenditure for the purpose of
maintaining vast armies of human beings caged up like wild beasts!*
* CRIME AND CRIMINALS. W. C. Owen.
Yet crimes are on the increase. Thus we learn that in America there
are four and a half times as many crimes to every million population
today as there were twenty years ago.
The most horrible aspect is that our national crime is murder, not
robbery, embezzlement, or rape, as in the South. London is five
times as large as Chicago, yet there are one hundred and eighteen
murders annually in the latter city, while only twenty in London.
Nor is Chicago the leading city in crime, since it is only seventh on
the list, which is headed by four Southern cities, and San Francisco
and Los Angeles. In view of such a terrible condition of affairs, it
seems ridiculous to prate of the protection society derives from its
The average mind is slow in grasping a truth, but when the most
thoroughly organized, centralized institution, maintained at an
excessive national expense, has proven a complete social failure, the
dullest must begin to question its right to exist. The time is past
when we can be content with our social fabric merely because it is
"ordained by divine right," or by the majesty of the law.
The widespread prison investigations, agitation, and education during
the last few years are conclusive proof that men are learning to dig
deep into the very bottom of society, down to the causes of the
terrible discrepancy between social and individual life.
Why, then, are prisons a social crime and a failure? To answer this
vital question it behooves us to seek the nature and cause of crimes,
the methods employed in coping with them, and the effects these
methods produce in ridding society of the curse and horror of crimes.
First, as to the NATURE of crime:
Havelock Ellis divides crime into four phases, the political, the
passional, the insane, and the occasional. He says that the
political criminal is the victim of an attempt of a more or less
despotic government to preserve its own stability. He is not
necessarily guilty of an unsocial offense; he simply tries to
overturn a certain political order which may itself be anti-social.
This truth is recognized all over the world, except in America where
the foolish notion still prevails that in a Democracy there is no
place for political criminals. Yet John Brown was a political
criminal; so were the Chicago Anarchists; so is every striker.
Consequently, says Havelock Ellis, the political criminal of our time
or place may be the hero, martyr, saint of another age. Lombroso
calls the political criminal the true precursor of the progressive
movement of humanity.
"The criminal by passion is usually a man of wholesome birth and
honest life, who under the stress of some great, unmerited wrong has
wrought justice for himself."*
* THE CRIMINAL, Havelock Ellis.
Mr. Hugh C. Weir, in THE MENACE OF THE POLICE, cites the case of Jim
Flaherty, a criminal by passion, who, instead of being saved by
society, is turned into a drunkard and a recidivist, with a ruined
and poverty-stricken family as the result.
A more pathetic type is Archie, the victim in Brand Whitlock's novel,
THE TURN OF THE BALANCE, the greatest American expose of crime in the
making. Archie, even more than Flaherty, was driven to crime and
death by the cruel inhumanity of his surroundings, and by the
unscrupulous hounding of the machinery of the law. Archie and
Flaherty are but the types of many thousands, demonstrating how the
legal aspects of crime, and the methods of dealing with it, help to
create the disease which is undermining our entire social life.
"The insane criminal really can no more be considered a criminal than
a child, since he is mentally in the same condition as an infant or
* THE CRIMINAL.
The law already recognizes that, but only in rare cases of a very
flagrant nature, or when the culprit's wealth permits the luxury of
criminal insanity. It has become quite fashionable to be the victim
of paranoia. But on the whole the "sovereignty of justice" still
continues to punish criminally insane with the whole severity of its
power. Thus Mr. Ellis quotes from Dr. Richter's statistics showing
that in Germany, one hundred and six madmen, out of one hundred and
forty-four criminal insane, were condemned to severe punishment.
The occasional criminal "represents by far the largest class of our
prison population, hence is the greatest menace to social
well-being." What is the cause that compels a vast army of the human
family to take to crime, to prefer the hideous life within prison
walls to the life outside? Certainly that cause must be an iron
master, who leaves its victims no avenue of escape, for the most
depraved human being loves liberty.
This terrific force is conditioned in our cruel social and economic
arrangement. I do not mean to deny the biologic, physiologic, or
psychologic factors in creating crime; but there is hardly an
advanced criminologist who will not concede that the social and
economic influences are the most relentless, the most poisonous germs
of crime. Granted even that there are innate criminal tendencies, it
is none the less true that these tendencies find rich nutrition in
our social environment.
There is close relation, says Havelock Ellis, between crimes against
the person and the price of alcohol, between crimes against property
and the price of wheat. He quotes Quetelet and Lacassagne, the
former looking upon society as the preparer of crime, and the
criminals as instruments that execute them. The latter find that
"the social environment is the cultivation medium of criminality;
that the criminal is the microbe, an element which only becomes
important when it finds the medium which causes it to ferment; EVERY
SOCIETY HAS THE CRIMINALS IT DESERVES."*
* THE CRIMINAL.
The most "prosperous" industrial period makes it impossible for the
worker to earn enough to keep up health and vigor. And as prosperity
is, at best, an imaginary condition, thousands of people are
constantly added to the host of the unemployed. From East to West,
from South to North, this vast army tramps in search of work or food,
and all they find is the workhouse or the slums. Those who have a
spark of self-respect left, prefer open defiance, prefer crime to the
emaciated, degraded position of poverty.
Edward Carpenter estimates that five-sixths of indictable crimes
consist in some violation of property rights; but that is too low a
figure. A thorough investigation would prove that nine crimes out of
ten could be traced, directly or indirectly, to our economic and
social iniquities, to our system of remorseless exploitation and
robbery. There is no criminal so stupid but recognizes this terrible
fact, though he may not be able to account for it.
A collection of criminal philosophy, which Havelock Ellis, Lombroso,
and other eminent men have compiled, shows that the criminal feels
only too keenly that it is society that drives him to crime. A
Milanese thief said to Lombroso: "I do not rob, I merely take from
the rich their superfluities; besides, do not advocates and merchants
rob?" A murderer wrote: "Knowing that three-fourths of the social
virtues are cowardly vices, I thought an open assault on a rich man
would be less ignoble than the cautious combination of fraud."
Another wrote: "I am imprisoned for stealing a half dozen eggs.
Ministers who rob millions are honored. Poor Italy!" An educated
convict said to Mr. Davitt: "The laws of society are framed for the
purpose of securing the wealth of the world to power and calculation,
thereby depriving the larger portion of mankind of its rights and
chances. Why should they punish me for taking by somewhat similar
means from those who have taken more than they had a right to?" The
same man added: "Religion robs the soul of its independence;
patriotism is the stupid worship of the world for which the
well-being and the peace of the inhabitants were sacrificed by those
who profit by it, while the laws of the land, in restraining natural
desires, were waging war on the manifest spirit of the law of our
beings. Compared with this," he concluded, "thieving is an honorable
* THE CRIMINAL.
Verily, there is greater truth in this philosophy than in all the
law-and-moral books of society.
The economic, political, moral, and physical factors being the
microbes of crime, how does society meet the situation?
The methods of coping with crime have no doubt undergone several
changes, but mainly in a theoretic sense. In practice, society has
retained the primitive motive in dealing with the offender; that is,
revenge. It has also adopted the theologic idea; namely, punishment;
while the legal and "civilized" methods consist of deterrence or
terror, and reform. We shall presently see that all four modes have
failed utterly, and that we are today no nearer a solution than in
the dark ages.
The natural impulse of the primitive man to strike back, to avenge a
wrong, is out of date. Instead, the civilized man, stripped of
courage and daring, has delegated to an organized machinery the duty
of avenging his wrongs, in the foolish belief that the State is
justified in doing what he no longer has the manhood or consistency
to do. The majesty-of-the-law is a reasoning thing; it would not
stoop to primitive instincts. Its mission is of a "higher" nature.
True, it is still steeped in the theologic muddle, which proclaims
punishment as a means of purification, or the vicarious atonement of
sin. But legally and socially the statute exercises punishment, not
merely as an infliction of pain upon the offender, but also for its
terrifying effect upon others.
What is the real basis of punishment, however? The notion of a free
will, the idea that man is at all times a free agent for good or
evil; if he chooses the latter, he must be made to pay the price.
Although this theory has long been exploded, and thrown upon the
dustheap, it continues to be applied daily by the entire machinery of
government, turning it into the most cruel and brutal tormentor of
human life. The only reason for its continuance is the still more
cruel notion that the greater the terror punishment spreads, the more
certain its preventative effect.
Society is using the most drastic methods in dealing with the social
offender. Why do they not deter? Although in America a man is
supposed to be considered innocent until proven guilty, the
instruments of law, the police, carry on a reign of terror, making
indiscriminate arrests, beating, clubbing, bullying people, using the
barbarous method of the "third degree," subjecting their unfortunate
victims to the foul air of the station house, and the still fouler
language of its guardians. Yet crimes are rapidly multiplying, and
society is paying the price. On the other hand, it is an open secret
that when the unfortunate citizen has been given the full "mercy" of
the law, and for the sake of safety is hidden in the worst of hells,
his real Calvary begins. Robbed of his rights as a human being,
degraded to a mere automaton without will or feeling, dependent
entirely upon the mercy of brutal keepers, he daily goes through a
process of dehumanization, compared with which savage revenge was
mere child's play.
There is not a single penal institution or reformatory in the United
States where men are not tortured "to be made good," by means of the
blackjack, the club, the straightjacket, the water-cure, the "humming
bird" (an electrical contrivance run along the human body), the
solitary, the bullring, and starvation diet. In these institutions
his will is broken, his soul degraded, his spirit subdued by the
deadly monotony and routine of prison life. In Ohio, Illinois,
Pennsylvania, Missouri, and in the South, these horrors have become
so flagrant as to reach the outside world, while in most other
prisons the same Christian methods still prevail. But prison walls
rarely allow the agonized shrieks of the victims to escape--prison
walls are thick, they dull the sound. Society might with greater
immunity abolish all prisons at once, than to hope for protection
from these twentieth century chambers of horrors.
Year after year the gates of prison hells return to the world an
emaciated, deformed, willless, ship-wrecked crew of humanity, with
the Cain mark on their foreheads, their hopes crushed, all their
natural inclinations thwarted. With nothing but hunger and
inhumanity to greet them, these victims soon sink back into crime as
the only possibility of existence. It is not at all an unusual thing
to find men and women who have spent half their lives--nay, almost
their entire existence--in prison. I know a woman on Blackwell's
Island, who had been in and out thirty-eight times; and through a
friend I learn that a young boy of seventeen, whom he had nursed and
cared for in the Pittsburg penitentiary, had never known the meaning
of liberty. From the reformatory to the penitentiary had been the
path of this boy's life, until, broken in body, he died a victim of
social revenge. These personal experiences are substantiated by
extensive data giving overwhelming proof of the utter futility of
prisons as a means of deterrence or reform.
Well-meaning persons are now working for a new departure in the
prison question,--reclamation, to restore once more to the prisoner
the possibility of becoming a human being. Commendable as this is, I
fear it is impossible to hope for good results from pouring good wine
into a musty bottle. Nothing short of a complete reconstruction of
society will deliver mankind from the cancer of crime. Still, if the
dull edge of our social conscience would be sharpened, the penal
institutions might be given a new coat of varnish. But the first
step to be taken is the renovation of the social consciousness, which
is in a rather dilapidated condition. It is sadly in need to be
awakened to the fact that crime is a question of degree, that we all
have the rudiments of crime in us, more or less, according to our
mental, physical, and social environment; and that the individual
criminal is merely a reflex of the tendencies of the aggregate.
With the social consciousness awakened, the average individual may
learn to refuse the "honor" of being the bloodhound of the law. He
may cease to persecute, despise, and mistrust the social offender,
and give him a chance to live and breathe among his fellows.
Institutions are, of course, harder to reach. They are cold,
impenetrable, and cruel; still, with the social consciousness
quickened, it might be possible to free the prison victims from the
brutality of prison officials, guards, and keepers. Public opinion
is a powerful weapon; keepers of human prey, even, are afraid of it.
They may be taught a little humanity, especially if they realize that
their jobs depend upon it.
But the most important step is to demand for the prisoner the right
to work while in prison, with some monetary recompense that would
enable him to lay aside a little for the day of his release, the
beginning of a new life.
It is almost ridiculous to hope much from present society when we
consider that workingmen, wage slaves themselves, object to convict
labor. I shall not go into the cruelty of this objection, but merely
consider the impracticability of it. To begin with, the opposition
so far raised by organized labor has been directed against windmills.
Prisoners have always worked; only the State has been their
exploiter, even as the individual employer has been the robber of
organized labor. The States have either set the convicts to work for
the government, or they have farmed convict labor to private
individuals. Twenty-nine of the States pursue the latter plan. The
Federal government and seventeen States have discarded it, as have
the leading nations of Europe, since it leads to hideous overworking
and abuse of prisoners, and to endless graft.
Rhode Island, the State dominated by Aldrich, offers perhaps the
worst example. Under a five-year contract, dated July 7th, 1906, and
renewable for five years more at the option of private contractors,
the labor of the inmates of the Rhode Island Penitentiary and the
Providence County Jail is sold to the Reliance-Sterling Mfg. Co. at
the rate of a trifle less than 25 cents a day per man. This Company
is really a gigantic Prison Labor Trust, for it also leases the
convict labor of Connecticut, Michigan, Indiana, Nebraska, and South
Dakota penitentiaries, and the reformatories of New Jersey, Indiana,
Illinois, and Wisconsin, eleven establishments in all.
The enormity of the graft under the Rhode Island contract may be
estimated from the fact that this same Company pays 62 1/2 cents a
day in Nebraska for the convict's labor, and that Tennessee, for
example, gets $1.10 a day for a convict's work from the Gray-Dudley
Hardware Co.; Missouri gets 70 cents a day from the Star Overall Mfg.
Co.; West Virginia 65 cents a day from the Kraft Mfg. Co., and
Maryland 55 cents a day from Oppenheim, Oberndorf & Co., shirt
manufacturers. The very difference in prices points to enormous
graft. For example, the Reliance-Sterling Mfg. Co. manufactures
shirts, the cost of free labor being not less than $1.20 per dozen,
while it pays Rhode Island thirty cents a dozen. Furthermore, the
State charges this Trust no rent for the use of its huge factory,
charges nothing for power, heat, light, or even drainage, and exacts
no taxes. What graft!
It is estimated that more than twelve million dollars' worth of
workingmen's shirts and overalls is produced annually in this country
by prison labor. It is a woman's industry, and the first reflection
that arises is that an immense amount of free female labor is thus
displaced. The second consideration is that male convicts, who
should be learning trades that would give them some chance of being
self-supporting after their release, are kept at this work at which
they can not possibly make a dollar. This is the more serious when
we consider that much of this labor is done in reformatories, which
so loudly profess to be training their inmates to become useful
The third, and most important, consideration is that the enormous
profits thus wrung from convict labor are a constant incentive to the
contractors to exact from their unhappy victims tasks altogether
beyond their strength, and to punish them cruelly when their work
does not come up to the excessive demands made.
Another word on the condemnation of convicts to tasks at which they
cannot hope to make a living after release. Indiana, for example, is
a State that has made a great splurge over being in the front rank of
modern penological improvements. Yet, according to the report
rendered in 1908 by the training school of its "reformatory," 135
were engaged in the manufacture of chains, 207 in that of shirts, and
255 in the foundry--a total of 597 in three occupations. But at this
so-called reformatory 59 occupations were represented by the inmates,
39 of which were connected with country pursuits. Indiana, like
other States, professes to be training the inmates of her reformatory
to occupations by which they will be able to make their living when
released. She actually sets them to work making chains, shirts, and
brooms, the latter for the benefit of the Louisville Fancy Grocery
Co. Broom making is a trade largely monopolized by the blind, shirt
making is done by women, and there is only one free chain factory in
the State, and at that a released convict can not hope to get
employment. The whole thing is a cruel farce.
If, then, the States can be instrumental in robbing their helpless
victims of such tremendous profits, is it not high time for organized
labor to stop its idle howl, and to insist on decent remuneration for
the convict, even as labor organizations claim for themselves? In
that way workingmen would kill the germ which makes of the prisoner
an enemy to the interests of labor. I have said elsewhere that
thousands of convicts, incompetent and without a trade, without means
of subsistence, are yearly turned back into the social fold. These
men and women must live, for even an ex-convict has needs. Prison
life has made them anti-social beings, and the rigidly closed doors
that meet them on their release are not likely to decrease their
bitterness. The inevitable result is that they form a favorable
nucleus out of which scabs, blacklegs, detectives, and policemen are
drawn, only too willing to do the master's bidding. Thus organized
labor, by its foolish opposition to work in prison, defeats its own
ends. It helps to create poisonous fumes that stifle every attempt
for economic betterment. If the workingman wants to avoid these
effects, he should INSIST on the right of the convict to work, he
should meet him as a brother, take him into his organization, and
WITH HIS AID TURN AGAINST THE SYSTEM WHICH GRINDS THEM BOTH.
Last, but not least, is the growing realization of the barbarity and
the inadequacy of the definite sentence. Those who believe in, and
earnestly aim at, a change are fast coming to the conclusion that man
must be given an opportunity to make good. And how is he to do it
with ten, fifteen, or twenty years' imprisonment before him? The
hope of liberty and of opportunity is the only incentive to life,
especially the prisoner's life. Society has sinned so long against
him--it ought at least to leave him that. I am not very sanguine
that it will, or that any real change in that direction can take
place until the conditions that breed both the prisoner and the
jailer will be forever abolished.
Out of his mouth a red, red rose!
Out of his heart a white!
For who can say by what strange way
Christ brings his will to light,
Since the barren staff the pilgrim bore
Bloomed in the great Pope's sight.
PATRIOTISM: A MENACE TO LIBERTY
What is patriotism? Is it love of one's birthplace, the place of
childhood's recollections and hopes, dreams and aspirations? Is it
the place where, in childlike naivety, we would watch the fleeting
clouds, and wonder why we, too, could not run so swiftly? The place
where we would count the milliard glittering stars, terror-stricken
lest each one "an eye should be," piercing the very depths of our
little souls? Is it the place where we would listen to the music of
the birds, and long to have wings to fly, even as they, to distant
lands? Or the place where we would sit at mother's knee, enraptured
by wonderful tales of great deeds and conquests? In short, is it
love for the spot, every inch representing dear and precious
recollections of a happy, joyous, and playful childhood?
If that were patriotism, few American men of today could be called
upon to be patriotic, since the place of play has been turned into
factory, mill, and mine, while deafening sounds of machinery have
replaced the music of the birds. Nor can we longer hear the tales of
great deeds, for the stories our mothers tell today are but those of
sorrow, tears, and grief.
What, then, is patriotism? "Patriotism, sir, is the last resort of
scoundrels," said Dr. Johnson. Leo Tolstoy, the greatest
anti-patriot of our times, defines patriotism as the principle that
will justify the training of wholesale murderers; a trade that
requires better equipment for the exercise of man-killing than the
making of such necessities of life as shoes, clothing, and houses; a
trade that guarantees better returns and greater glory than that of
the average workingman.
Gustave Herve, another great anti-patriot, justly calls patriotism a
superstition--one far more injurious, brutal, and inhumane than
religion. The superstition of religion originated in man's inability
to explain natural phenomena. That is, when primitive man heard
thunder or saw the lightning, he could not account for either, and
therefore concluded that back of them must be a force greater than
himself. Similarly he saw a supernatural force in the rain, and in
the various other changes in nature. Patriotism, on the other hand,
is a superstition artificially created and maintained through a
network of lies and falsehoods; a superstition that robs man of his
self-respect and dignity, and increases his arrogance and conceit.
Indeed, conceit, arrogance, and egotism are the essentials of
patriotism. Let me illustrate. Patriotism assumes that our globe is
divided into little spots, each one surrounded by an iron gate.
Those who have had the fortune of being born on some particular spot,
consider themselves better, nobler, grander, more intelligent than
the living beings inhabiting any other spot. It is, therefore, the
duty of everyone living on that chosen spot to fight, kill, and die
in the attempt to impose his superiority upon all the others.
The inhabitants of the other spots reason in like manner, of course,
with the result that, from early infancy, the mind of the child is
poisoned with blood-curdling stories about the Germans, the French,
the Italians, Russians, etc. When the child has reached manhood, he
is thoroughly saturated with the belief that he is chosen by the Lord
himself to defend HIS country against the attack or invasion of any
foreigner. It is for that purpose that we are clamoring for a
greater army and navy, more battleships and ammunition. It is for
that purpose that America has within a short time spent four hundred
million dollars. Just think of it--four hundred million dollars
taken from the produce of the PEOPLE. For surely it is not the rich
who contribute to patriotism. They are cosmopolitans, perfectly at
home in every land. We in America know well the truth of this. Are
not our rich Americans Frenchmen in France, Germans in Germany, or
Englishmen in England? And do they not squander with cosmopolitan
grace fortunes coined by American factory children and cotton slaves?
Yes, theirs is the patriotism that will make it possible to send
messages of condolence to a despot like the Russian Tsar, when any
mishap befalls him, as President Roosevelt did in the name of HIS
people, when Sergius was punished by the Russian revolutionists.
It is a patriotism that will assist the arch-murderer, Diaz, in
destroying thousands of lives in Mexico, or that will even aid in
arresting Mexican revolutionists on American soil and keep them
incarcerated in American prisons, without the slightest cause or
But, then, patriotism is not for those who represent wealth and
power. It is good enough for the people. It reminds one of the
historic wisdom of Frederic the Great, the bosom friend of Voltaire,
who said: "Religion is a fraud, but it must be maintained for the
That patriotism is rather a costly institution, no one will doubt
after considering the following statistics. The progressive increase
of the expenditures for the leading armies and navies of the world
during the last quarter of a century is a fact of such gravity as to
startle every thoughtful student of economic problems. It may be
briefly indicated by dividing the time from 1881 to 1905 into
five-year periods, and noting the disbursements of several great
nations for army and navy purposes during the first and last of those
periods. From the first to the last of the periods noted the
expenditures of Great Britain increased from $2,101,848,936 to
$4,143,226,885, those of France from $3,324,500,000 to
$3,455,109,900, those of Germany from $725,000,200 to $2,700,375,600,
those of the United States from $1,275,500,750 to $2,650,900,450,
those of Russia from $1,900,975,500 to $5,250,445,100, those of Italy
from $1,600,975,750 to $1,755,500,100, and those of Japan from
$182,900,500 to $700,925,475.
The military expenditures of each of the nations mentioned increased
in each of the five-year periods under review. During the entire
interval from 1881 to 1905 Great Britain's outlay for her army
increased fourfold, that of the United States was tripled, Russia's
was doubled, that of Germany increased 35 per cent., that of France
about 15 per cent., and that of Japan nearly 500 per cent. If we
compare the expenditures of these nations upon their armies with
their total expenditures for all the twenty-five years ending with
1905, the proportion rose as follows:
In Great Britain from 20 per cent. to 37; in the United States from
15 to 23; in France from 16 to 18; in Italy from 12 to 15; in Japan
from 12 to 14. On the other hand, it is interesting to note that the
proportion in Germany decreased from about 58 per cent. to 25, the
decrease being due to the enormous increase in the imperial
expenditures for other purposes, the fact being that the army
expenditures for the period of 1901-5 were higher than for any
five-year period preceding. Statistics show that the countries in
which army expenditures are greatest, in proportion to the total
national revenues, are Great Britain, the United States, Japan,
France, and Italy, in the order named.
The showing as to the cost of great navies is equally impressive.
During the twenty-five years ending with 1905 naval expenditures
increased approximately as follows: Great Britain, 300 per cent.;
France 60 per cent.; Germany 600 per cent.; the United States 525 per
cent.; Russia 300 per cent.; Italy 250 per cent.; and Japan, 700 per
cent. With the exception of Great Britain, the United States spends
more for naval purposes than any other nation, and this expenditure
bears also a larger proportion to the entire national disbursements
than that of any other power. In the period 1881-5, the expenditure
for the United States navy was $6.20 out of each $100 appropriated
for all national purposes; the amount rose to $6.60 for the next
five-year period, to $8.10 for the next, to $11.70 for the next, and
to $16.40 for 1901-5. It is morally certain that the outlay for the
current period of five years will show a still further increase.
The rising cost of militarism may be still further illustrated by
computing it as a per capita tax on population. From the first to
the last of the five-year periods taken as the basis for the
comparisons here given, it has risen as follows: In Great Britain,
from $18.47 to $52.50; in France, from $19.66 to $23.62; in Germany,
from $10.17 to $15.51; in the United States, from $5.62 to $13.64; in
Russia, from $6.14 to $8.37; in Italy, from $9.59 to $11.24, and in
Japan from 86 cents to $3.11.
It is in connection with this rough estimate of cost per capita that
the economic burden of militarism is most appreciable. The
irresistible conclusion from available data is that the increase of
expenditure for army and navy purposes is rapidly surpassing the
growth of population in each of the countries considered in the
present calculation. In other words, a continuation of the increased
demands of militarism threatens each of those nations with a
progressive exhaustion both of men and resources.
The awful waste that patriotism necessitates ought to be sufficient
to cure the man of even average intelligence from this disease. Yet
patriotism demands still more. The people are urged to be patriotic
and for that luxury they pay, not only by supporting their
"defenders," but even by sacrificing their own children. Patriotism
requires allegiance to the flag, which means obedience and readiness
to kill father, mother, brother, sister.
The usual contention is that we need a standing army to protect the
country from foreign invasion. Every intelligent man and woman
knows, however, that this is a myth maintained to frighten and coerce
the foolish. The governments of the world, knowing each other's
interests, do not invade each other. They have learned that they can
gain much more by international arbitration of disputes than by war
and conquest. Indeed, as Carlyle said, "War is a quarrel between two
thieves too cowardly to fight their own battle; therefore they take
boys from one village and another village; stick them into uniforms,
equip them with guns, and let them loose like wild beasts against
It does not require much wisdom to trace every war back to a similar
cause. Let us take our own Spanish-American war, supposedly a great
and patriotic event in the history of the United States. How our
hearts burned with indignation against the atrocious Spaniards!
True, our indignation did not flare up spontaneously. It was
nurtured by months of newspaper agitation, and long after Butcher
Weyler had killed off many noble Cubans and outraged many Cuban
women. Still, in justice to the American Nation be it said, it did
grow indignant and was willing to fight, and that it fought bravely.
But when the smoke was over, the dead buried, and the cost of the war
came back to the people in an increase in the price of commodities
and rent--that is, when we sobered up from our patriotic spree--it
suddenly dawned on us that the cause of the Spanish-American war was
the consideration of the price of sugar; or, to be more explicit,
that the lives, blood, and money of the American people were used to
protect the interests of American capitalists, which were threatened
by the Spanish government. That this is not an exaggeration, but is
based on absolute facts and figures, is best proven by the attitude
of the American government to Cuban labor. When Cuba was firmly in
the clutches of the United States, the very soldiers sent to liberate
Cuba were ordered to shoot Cuban workingmen during the great
cigarmakers' strike, which took place shortly after the war.
Nor do we stand alone in waging war for such causes. The curtain is
beginning to be lifted on the motives of the terrible Russo-Japanese
war, which cost so much blood and tears. And we see again that back
of the fierce Moloch of war stands the still fiercer god of
Commercialism. Kuropatkin, the Russian Minister of War during the
Russo-Japanese struggle, has revealed the true secret behind the
latter. The Tsar and his Grand Dukes, having invested money in
Corean concessions, the war was forced for the sole purpose of
speedily accumulating large fortunes.
The contention that a standing army and navy is the best security of
peace is about as logical as the claim that the most peaceful citizen
is he who goes about heavily armed. The experience of every-day life
fully proves that the armed individual is invariably anxious to try
his strength. The same is historically true of governments. Really
peaceful countries do not waste life and energy in war preparations,
with the result that peace is maintained.
However, the clamor for an increased army and navy is not due to any
foreign danger. It is owing to the dread of the growing discontent
of the masses and of the international spirit among the workers. It
is to meet the internal enemy that the Powers of various countries
are preparing themselves; an enemy, who, once awakened to
consciousness, will prove more dangerous than any foreign invader.
The powers that have for centuries been engaged in enslaving the
masses have made a thorough study of their psychology. They know
that the people at large are like children whose despair, sorrow, and
tears can be turned into joy with a little toy. And the more
gorgeously the toy is dressed, the louder the colors, the more it
will appeal to the million-headed child.
An army and navy represents the people's toys. To make them more
attractive and acceptable, hundreds and thousands of dollars are
being spent for the display of these toys. That was the purpose of
the American government in equipping a fleet and sending it along the
Pacific coast, that every American citizen should be made to feel the
pride and glory of the United States. The city of San Francisco
spent one hundred thousand dollars for the entertainment of the
fleet; Los Angeles, sixty thousand; Seattle and Tacoma, about one
hundred thousand. To entertain the fleet, did I say? To dine and
wine a few superior officers, while the "brave boys" had to mutiny to
get sufficient food. Yes, two hundred and sixty thousand dollars
were spent on fireworks, theatre parties, and revelries, at a time
when men, women, and children through the breadth and length of the
country were starving in the streets; when thousands of unemployed
were ready to sell their labor at any price.
Two hundred and sixty thousand dollars! What could not have been
accomplished with such an enormous sum? But instead of bread and
shelter, the children of those cities were taken to see the fleet,
that it may remain, as one of the newspapers said, "a lasting memory
for the child."
A wonderful thing to remember, is it not? The implements of
civilized slaughter. If the mind of the child is to be poisoned with
such memories, what hope is there for a true realization of human
We Americans claim to be a peace-loving people. We hate bloodshed;
we are opposed to violence. Yet we go into spasms of joy over the
possibility of projecting dynamite bombs from flying machines upon
helpless citizens. We are ready to hang, electrocute, or lynch
anyone, who, from economic necessity, will risk his own life in the
attempt upon that of some industrial magnate. Yet our hearts swell
with pride at the thought that America is becoming the most powerful
nation on earth, and that it will eventually plant her iron foot on
the necks of all other nations.
Such is the logic of patriotism.
Considering the evil results that patriotism is fraught with for the
average man, it is as nothing compared with the insult and injury
that patriotism heaps upon the soldier himself,--that poor, deluded
victim of superstition and ignorance. He, the savior of his country,
the protector of his nation,--what has patriotism in store for him?
A life of slavish submission, vice, and perversion, during peace; a
life of danger, exposure, and death, during war.
While on a recent lecture tour in San Francisco, I visited the
Presidio, the most beautiful spot overlooking the Bay and Golden Gate
Park. Its purpose should have been playgrounds for children, gardens
and music for the recreation of the weary. Instead it is made ugly,
dull, and gray by barracks,--barracks wherein the rich would not
allow their dogs to dwell. In these miserable shanties soldiers are
herded like cattle; here they waste their young days, polishing the
boots and brass buttons of their superior officers. Here, too, I saw
the distinction of classes: sturdy sons of a free Republic, drawn up
in line like convicts, saluting every passing shrimp of a lieutenant.
American equality, degrading manhood and elevating the uniform!
Barrack life further tends to develop tendencies of sexual
perversion. It is gradually producing along this line results
similar to European military conditions. Havelock Ellis, the noted
writer on sex psychology, has made a thorough study of the subject.
I quote: "Some of the barracks are great centers of male
prostitution. . . . The number of soldiers who prostitute themselves
is greater than we are willing to believe. It is no exaggeration to
say that in certain regiments the presumption is in favor of the
venality of the majority of the men. . . . On summer evenings Hyde
Park and the neighborhood of Albert Gate are full of guardsmen and
others plying a lively trade, and with little disguise, in uniform or
out. . . . In most cases the proceeds form a comfortable addition to
Tommy Atkins' pocket money."
To what extent this perversion has eaten its way into the army and
navy can best be judged from the fact that special houses exist for
this form of prostitution. The practice is not limited to England;
it is universal. "Soldiers are no less sought after in France than
in England or in Germany, and special houses for military
prostitution exist both in Paris and the garrison towns."
Had Mr. Havelock Ellis included America in his investigation of sex
perversion, he would have found that the same conditions prevail in
our army and navy as in those of other countries. The growth of the
standing army inevitably adds to the spread of sex perversion; the
barracks are the incubators.
Aside from the sexual effects of barrack life, it also tends to unfit
the soldier for useful labor after leaving the army. Men, skilled in
a trade, seldom enter the army or navy, but even they, after a
military experience, find themselves totally unfitted for their
former occupations. Having acquired habits of idleness and a taste
for excitement and adventure, no peaceful pursuit can content them.
Released from the army, they can turn to no useful work. But it is
usually the social riff-raff, discharged prisoners and the like, whom
either the struggle for life or their own inclination drives into the
ranks. These, their military term over, again turn to their former
life of crime, more brutalized and degraded than before. It is a
well-known fact that in our prisons there is a goodly number of
ex-soldiers; while on the other hand, the army and navy are to a
great extent supplied with ex-convicts.
Of all the evil results, I have just described, none seems to me so
detrimental to human integrity as the spirit patriotism has produced
in the case of Private William Buwalda. Because he foolishly
believed that one can be a soldier and exercise his rights as a man
at the same time, the military authorities punished him severely.
True, he had served his country fifteen years, during which time his
record was unimpeachable. According to Gen. Funston, who reduced
Buwalda's sentence to three years, "the first duty of an officer or
an enlisted man is unquestioned obedience and loyalty to the
government, and it makes no difference whether he approves of that
government or not." Thus Funston stamps the true character of
allegiance. According to him, entrance into the army abrogates the
principles of the Declaration of Independence.
What a strange development of patriotism that turns a thinking being
into a loyal machine!
In justification of this most outrageous sentence of Buwalda, Gen.
Funston tells the American people that the soldier's action was a
"serious crime equal to treason." Now, what did this "terrible
crime" really consist of? Simply in this: William Buwalda was one of
fifteen hundred people who attended a public meeting in San
Francisco; and, oh, horrors, he shook hands with the speaker, Emma
Goldman. A terrible crime, indeed, which the General calls "a great
military offense, infinitely worse than desertion."
Can there be a greater indictment against patriotism than that it
will thus brand a man a criminal, throw him into prison, and rob him
of the results of fifteen years of faithful service?
Buwalda gave to his country the best years of his life and his very
manhood. But all that was as nothing. Patriotism is inexorable and,
like all insatiable monsters, demands all or nothing. It does not
admit that a soldier is also a human being, who has a right to his
own feelings and opinions, his own inclinations and ideas. No,
patriotism can not admit of that. That is the lesson which Buwalda
was made to learn; made to learn at a rather costly, though not at a
useless, price. When he returned to freedom, he had lost his
position in the army, but he regained his self-respect. After all,
that is worth three years of imprisonment.
A writer on the military conditions of America, in a recent article,
commented on the power of the military man over the civilian in
Germany. He said, among other things, that if our Republic had no
other meaning than to guarantee all citizens equal rights, it would
have just cause for existence. I am convinced that the writer was
not in Colorado during the patriotic regime of General Bell. He
probably would have changed his mind had he seen how, in the name of
patriotism and the Republic, men were thrown into bull-pens, dragged
about, driven across the border, and subjected to all kinds of
indignities. Nor is that Colorado incident the only one in the
growth of military power in the United States. There is hardly a
strike where troops and militia do not come to the rescue of those in
power, and where they do not act as arrogantly and brutally as do the
men wearing the Kaiser's uniform. Then, too, we have the Dick
military law. Had the writer forgotten that?
A great misfortune with most of our writers is that they are
absolutely ignorant on current events, or that, lacking honesty, they
will not speak of these matters. And so it has come to pass that the
Dick military law was rushed through Congress with little discussion
and still less publicity,--a law which gives the President the power
to turn a peaceful citizen into a bloodthirsty man-killer, supposedly
for the defense of the country, in reality for the protection of the
interests of that particular party whose mouthpiece the President
happens to be.
Our writer claims that militarism can never become such a power in
America as abroad, since it is voluntary with us, while compulsory in
the Old World. Two very important facts, however, the gentleman
forgets to consider. First, that conscription has created in Europe
a deep-seated hatred of militarism among all classes of society.
Thousands of young recruits enlist under protest and, once in the
army, they will use every possible means to desert. Second, that it
is the compulsory feature of militarism which has created a
tremendous anti-militarist movement, feared by European Powers far
more than anything else. After all, the greatest bulwark of
capitalism is militarism. The very moment the latter is undermined,
capitalism will totter. True, we have no conscription; that is, men
are not usually forced to enlist in the army, but we have developed a
far more exacting and rigid force--necessity. Is it not a fact that
during industrial depressions there is a tremendous increase in the
number of enlistments? The trade of militarism may not be either
lucrative or honorable, but it is better than tramping the country in
search of work, standing in the bread line, or sleeping in municipal
lodging houses. After all, it means thirteen dollars per month,
three meals a day, and a place to sleep. Yet even necessity is not
sufficiently strong a factor to bring into the army an element of
character and manhood. No wonder our military authorities complain
of the "poor material" enlisting in the army and navy. This
admission is a very encouraging sign. It proves that there is still
enough of the spirit of independence and love of liberty left in the
average American to risk starvation rather than don the uniform.
Thinking men and women the world over are beginning to realize that
patriotism is too narrow and limited a conception to meet the
necessities of our time. The centralization of power has brought
into being an international feeling of solidarity among the oppressed
nations of the world; a solidarity which represents a greater harmony
of interests between the workingman of America and his brothers
abroad than between the American miner and his exploiting compatriot;
a solidarity which fears not foreign invasion, because it is bringing
all the workers to the point when they will say to their masters, "Go
and do your own killing. We have done it long enough for you."
This solidarity is awakening the consciousness of even the soldiers,
they, too, being flesh of the flesh of the great human family. A
solidarity that has proven infallible more than once during past
struggles, and which has been the impetus inducing the Parisian
soldiers, during the Commune of 1871, to refuse to obey when ordered
to shoot their brothers. It has given courage to the men who
mutinied on Russian warships during recent years. It will eventually
bring about the uprising of all the oppressed and downtrodden against
their international exploiters.
The proletariat of Europe has realized the great force of that
solidarity and has, as a result, inaugurated a war against patriotism
and its bloody spectre, militarism. Thousands of men fill the
prisons of France, Germany, Russia, and the Scandinavian countries,
because they dared to defy the ancient superstition. Nor is the
movement limited to the working class; it has embraced
representatives in all stations of life, its chief exponents being
men and women prominent in art, science, and letters.
America will have to follow suit. The spirit of militarism has
already permeated all walks of life. Indeed, I am convinced that
militarism is growing a greater danger here than anywhere else,
because of the many bribes capitalism holds out to those whom it
wishes to destroy.
The beginning has already been made in the schools. Evidently the
government holds to the Jesuitical conception, "Give me the child
mind, and I will mould the man." Children are trained in military
tactics, the glory of military achievements extolled in the
curriculum, and the youthful minds perverted to suit the government.
Further, the youth of the country is appealed to in glaring posters
to join the army and navy. "A fine chance to see the world!" cries
the governmental huckster. Thus innocent boys are morally shanghaied
into patriotism, and the military Moloch strides conquering through
The American workingman has suffered so much at the hands of the
soldier, State, and Federal, that he is quite justified in his
disgust with, and his opposition to, the uniformed parasite.
However, mere denunciation will not solve this great problem. What
we need is a propaganda of education for the soldier: anti-patriotic
literature that will enlighten him as to the real horrors of his
trade, and that will awaken his consciousness to his true relation to
the man to whose labor he owes his very existence.
It is precisely this that the authorities fear most. It is already
high treason for a soldier to attend a radical meeting. No doubt
they will also stamp it high treason for a soldier to read a radical
pamphlet. But then, has not authority from time immemorial stamped
every step of progress as treasonable? Those, however, who earnestly
strive for social reconstruction can well afford to face all that;
for it is probably even more important to carry the truth into the
barracks than into the factory. When we have undermined the
patriotic lie, we shall have cleared the path for that great
structure wherein all nationalities shall be united into a universal
brotherhood,--a truly FREE SOCIETY.
FRANCISCO FERRER AND THE MODERN SCHOOL
Experience has come to be considered the best school of life. The
man or woman who does not learn some vital lesson in that school is
looked upon as a dunce indeed. Yet strange to say, that though
organized institutions continue perpetrating errors, though they
learn nothing from experience, we acquiesce, as a matter of course.
There lived and worked in Barcelona a man by the name of Francisco
Ferrer. A teacher of children he was, known and loved by his people.
Outside of Spain only the cultured few knew of Francisco Ferrer's
work. To the world at large this teacher was non-existent.
On the first of September, 1909, the Spanish government--at the
behest of the Catholic Church--arrested Francisco Ferrer. On the
thirteenth of October, after a mock trial, he was placed in the ditch
at Montjuich prison, against the hideous wall of many sighs, and shot
dead. Instantly Ferrer, the obscure teacher, became a universal
figure, blazing forth the indignation and wrath of the whole
civilized world against the wanton murder.
The killing of Francisco Ferrer was not the first crime committed by
the Spanish government and the Catholic Church. The history of these
institutions is one long stream of fire and blood. Still they have
not learned through experience, nor yet come to realize that every
frail being slain by Church and State grows and grows into a mighty
giant, who will some day free humanity from their perilous hold.
Francisco Ferrer was born in 1859, of humble parents. They were
Catholics, and therefore hoped to raise their son in the same faith.
They did not know that the boy was to become the harbinger of a great
truth, that his mind would refuse to travel in the old path. At an
early age Ferrer began to question the faith of his fathers. He
demanded to know how it is that the God who spoke to him of goodness
and love would mar the sleep of the innocent child with dread and awe
of tortures, of suffering, of hell. Alert and of a vivid and
investigating mind, it did not take him long to discover the
hideousness of that black monster, the Catholic Church. He would
have none of it.
Francisco Ferrer was not only a doubter, a searcher for truth; he was
also a rebel. His spirit would rise in just indignation against the
iron regime of his country, and when a band of rebels, led by the
brave patriot, General Villacampa, under the banner of the Republican
ideal, made an onslaught on that regime, none was more ardent a
fighter than young Francisco Ferrer. The Republican ideal,--I hope
no one will confound it with the Republicanism of this country.
Whatever objection I, as an Anarchist, have to the Republicans of
Latin countries, I know they tower high above the corrupt and
reactionary party which, in America, is destroying every vestige of
liberty and justice. One has but to think of the Mazzinis, the
Garibaldis, the scores of others, to realize that their efforts were
directed, not merely towards the overthrow of despotism, but
particularly against the Catholic Church, which from its very
inception has been the enemy of all progress and liberalism.
In America it is just the reverse. Republicanism stands for vested
rights, for imperialism, for graft, for the annihilation of every
semblance of liberty. Its ideal is the oily, creepy respectability
of a McKinley, and the brutal arrogance of a Roosevelt.
The Spanish republican rebels were subdued. It takes more than one
brave effort to split the rock of ages, to cut off the head of that
hydra monster, the Catholic Church and the Spanish throne. Arrest,
persecution, and punishment followed the heroic attempt of the little
band. Those who could escape the bloodhounds had to flee for safety
to foreign shores. Francisco Ferrer was among the latter. He went
How his soul must have expanded in the new land! France, the cradle
of liberty, of ideas, of action. Paris, the ever young, intense
Paris, with her pulsating life, after the gloom of his own belated
country,--how she must have inspired him. What opportunities, what a
glorious chance for a young idealist.
Francisco Ferrer lost no time. Like one famished he threw himself
into the various liberal movements, met all kinds of people, learned,
absorbed, and grew. While there, he also saw in operation the Modern
School, which was to play such an important and fatal part in his
The Modern School in France was founded long before Ferrer's time.
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