Volume IV June, 1909 No.4
Freedom in America. Poem. Walter Crane .. 97
Observations and comments . . . . . . . . . . . 98
The Movement for Free Speech . . . . . . . . . 103
A Demand for Free Speech . . . . . . . . . . . 107
Our Friends, the Enemy. . . . . . . . 110
A Visit to Yonkers. H. Kelly . . . . . 111
The French Revolution. Hippolyte Havel. 116
A Scientist on a Scientist? D.M. Kider 119
What We Did to Bernard Carlin. Grace Potter 121
The Release of Michael Costello. Voltairine de Cleyre 125
EMMA GOLDMAN . . . . . . . . . . . . PUBLISHER
ALEXANDER BERKMAN . . . . . . . . . EDITOR
Office: 210 East 13th Street, New York City
Price, 10 Cents per Copy One Dollar per Year
Dance and Ice Cream Party
Will be given by
Saturday Eve, September 18th, 1909
at Terrrace Lyceum, 206 East Broadway
Ticket, 20 Cents Hat Check,10 Cents
The Terror in Russia
By PETER KROPOTKIN
A BOOK OF FACTS, containing valuable and reliable information about the present conditions in Russia.
Price, 15 Cents
Mother Earth, 210 E. 13th St., New York
By Edward H. Guillaume
Great word, that fill'st my mind with calm delight,
I love to feel, but cannot hope to tell,
How, like the noonday sun, thou dost dispel
The mists of error that impede our sight!
What noble dreams, what yearning hopes excite!
What memories, too, awake at the sound of thee,
Like a myriad ripples on a wind-swept sea!
How full and irresistible thy might!
Thou casuist to grow pale the tyrant's cheek;
Thou art the knell that loud proclaims the fall
Of despots and of priests, and those who seek
To crush the human mind beneath their thrall:
Thou dost avenge all wrong, make strong the weak --
Nobility and heritage of all.
OBSERVATIONS AND COMMENTS
"Where ignorance is bliss, 'tis folly to be wise"
Was the cant they handed slaves in long ago.
Where ignorance is hell, ' tis cowards who disguise
The things that every freeman ought to know.
Again and again it is being demonstrated by history and experience that the truest reality is -- the ideal.
The Timid, Lacking hope or vision, lose themselves in fear, discourage magnify difficulties, and shrink back in terror from possible danger.
The bold, inspired by the ideal, courageously face apparently insurmountable obstacles, defy danger, dare and do, and ultimately conquer.
Numerous are the instances of this eternal truth. the present revolution in Spain is a case in point. It is comparatively recently that the Anarchists have initiated their anti-militarist propaganda. Scornfully the world smiled at their lilliputian effort Even alleged radicals, when not directly antagonistic, shook their wise heads, pityingly: "Visionaries ! An Impossible task."
But timidity lacks the power to discourage the social pioneer, whose wagon is hitched to a star. His vision armors him with determination and perseverance. His faith makes him impressnable to scorn or ridicule. THe visionary, the impractical idealist -- he is the inevitable conqueror.
Arduous labor, his; and dangerous. But the sympathy of fellow workers, the understanding of congenial spirits is a powerful sustainer. Gradually he forges on and on, courageously and confidently, step by step he paves his way, he rises, falls and rises again, and forward and upward he strives, ever beholding his beckoning star. And then, lo! thousands are following him, and the whole country rings with the cry, Down with War !
And then again he labors. The owls hoot, the wolves give chase. But on and on he goes. Now parrying, now attacking, yet never lured into by-ways. He carries the banner of Liberty. Anarchy is his ideal. Revolution his road. Along his way he sows the seeds of discontent and plants the trees of Better Things. Woods and valleys he traverses, the song of Life and Joy on his lips, and over hill and mountains floats the echo of his voice, "The General Strike." On and on he goes, hated, jeered, driven. An enemy of society -- a dangerous lunatic -- an impractical visionary --
Then, lo! Behold Belgium, France, Russia, Spain, Sweden.
And on he goes, carrying the banner of Liberty. Anarchy is his ideal, Revolution his road.
* * *
THE Legal farce of "judging" the Hindu student, Madar Lal Dhingra, forcibly reminds one of the circumstances attending the judicial murder of Robert Emmet. Indeed, the comparison is highly appropriate, since British rule in India to-day is, in all essentials, an exact replica of the condition of Ireland in emmet's time.
But a whole century has passed since the hanging of the leaders of the "United Irishmen"; in the perspective of the decades the world celebrates Robert Emmet as a great patriot and noble martyr. But Dhingra is "a common murderer." The difference is merely one of time. Indeed, the Indian student has but trodden in the foot-steps of the great Irishman; the very spirit of Robert Emmet vibrates in the Hindu's dying words, " What I whale done, you would expect every true Englishman to do. If the Germans have no right to take possession of England, neither has England the right to take possession of India, oppressing and tyrannizing my country-men."
Prophetically Dhingra foresees the time that will justify him and his act. His clear vision inspires him with the challenge to his judges, "I am proud to receive the honor you have thus bestowed upon me!" Full Well he knows that history repeats itself, and that in his case, as in Emmet's, posterity will see in his present judges the real and only criminals, and that its voice will echo the brave words of Krishnavarma and all sincere revolutionists, "Political assassination is no crime."
* * *
ANOTHER Judas Is carrot unmasked in the person of "General Harting"; Russian peasants flogged to death for inability to pay exorbitant taxes; the prisons overcrowded; politicals tortured; the hangman busy at his trade; an unbroken line of Russia's noblest sons and daughters stretching across the snow of Siberia -- such is the prelude to the Tsar's visit to England.
Acclaimed by the international flunkeys in and out of uniform, Nicholas goes a-visiting, proclaiming the gospel of good-will and peace. Civilized mankind stands aghast at the spectacle: his mouth runs honey, while his hands drip blood, each drop the life of a tortured, murdered innocent.
Very timely, indeed, is the exposure of the terrible conditions prevailing in Russia, as set forth in facts and figures by Peter Kropotkin in his latest work. "The Terror in Russia." The data contained in the book form the basis of the speech delivered by Comrade Kropotkin on the occasion of the meeting of welcome to Vera Figner, the venerable Russian revolutionist who septa twenty-three years in the schlüsselburg fortress. Kropotkin's speech delivered June 23rd, at the South Place Institute, London, is reproduced, in part, in this issue.
The horrors of the Tsar's rule, as depicted in "The Terror of Russia." will shock the civilized world. The tortures of the Spanish Inquisition fade into insignificance as compared with the terrible brutality of the Cossack régime. We recommend the book to the thoughtful consideration of all friends of Russia. May it prove a clarion call to awaken the conscience of the world to the imperative necessity of wiping off the curse of official Russia from the face of the earth.
* * *
Not since the historic days of Homestead has Pennsylvania witnessed such a momentous clash of capital and labor as in the present strike of the employees of the Pressed Steel Car Company at McKee's Rocks.
This struggle once more proves the infamy of the business elements and the servility of the press. The strikers have been almost unanimously condemned for "disturbing business" and interfering with the gathering of profits. And that in view of the admitted fact that the Pressed Steel works are a veritable shambles, that the strikers were forced to slave for the most pitiable wages and were treated with indescribable arrogance and brutality by the officials of the car company.
Driven to desperation, the workingmen declared a strike, demanding a living wage and more decent treatment. Little enough, indeed. Yet the company promptly refused the demand, and a prominent Pittsburg daily commented, editorially: "People that strike from any cause hardly ever deserve much sympathy. But when they interfere with business and disturb order they must be brought to terms by all means, rather than be negotiated with."
The Process of bringing the strikers to terms "by all means" then began. President Hoffstott, of the Pressed Steel Car Company, proved himself a worth disciple of the notorious Frick, of Homestead-Pinkerton fame. With the aid of the State constabulary he introduced a reign of blood, resorting to the vilest plutocratic methods of eviction, arrest, and indiscriminate shooting down, with the single object of terrorizing the strikers into submission.
But the spirit of intelligent revolt is not to be broken so easily. Unorganized though the strikers were, they made a brave and determined resistance. Whipped into unity by their terrible condition, they formed a force that the combined strength of capital and state have so far found impossible to overcome.
Gradually, yet surely, the intelligent co-operation and manly stand of the McKee's Rocks "foreign strikers" are compelling the respect of the country. Whatever the result of the strike may be, those underpaid and persecuted workers have already won a great moral victory.
* * *
THERE are signs of a tardy awakening in at least one direction. The police, the detectives, and all that monstrous army for which the grinding of the criminal condemnation mill means place and profit, have so overplayed their part that the storm is rising. Books such as "The Turn of the Balance" and "9009" have been published, and by their obvious veracity and tense indignation are compelling the attention of a hitherto indifferent public. Periodical literature is beginning to bristle with the subject, and this is a sure sign, for the men who make their living by writing for our magazines have an unerring nose for the topic that is really alive.
Here and there a man escapes from prison — one among thousands, or rather tens of thousands — who has the capacity and the powerful position that enables him to talk, and talk with some chance of being heard. They have a man of that type in California, Griffith J. Griffith, who, as luck would have it, is a man of means, a speaker, and a trained writer by profession. He has been telling stories of his experiences in San Quentin — the scene of "9009" — and is making the good, easy citizens of California sit up.
They have formed a Prison Reform League there, which is endeavoring to arouse the entire country to our treatment of crime and criminals. It is issuing syndicate letters and much other literature denouncing that treatment as founded on revenge and worthy only of the Dark Ages. It is adding its mite to the exposure of the conditions prevailing in southern convict camps — a crime of international proportions — and is doing what it can to throw light on the mediaeval tortures applied to helpless prisoners among communities that fancy they are civilized.
Probation leagues have sprung up — we note their formation in Chicago and St. Paul, and others may have escaped us. They voice the same general complaint: that this society is manufacturing criminals wholesale; that it is actuated solely by the fiendish policy of revenge; that its deterrent punishments do not deter; that it gives men no chance, and that so long as it continues in that folly it will be tearing itself to pieces. We may think the work of many of these leagues and writers insufficient; we may feel that they have not yet struck the root of the evil; but they are doing a great work as stirrers of discontent. They are making people think, and to make them think is to make them disgusted with affairs as they are run at present by our unspeakable politicians and their henchmen.
We Anarchists have good cause to know how true is the proverb that when you want to hang a dog, you must give him a bad name. The literature that is being born from these prison revelations will go far toward shaking that national self-complacency which has been the hardest of all enemies to combat. A good many highly respectable gentlemen are going to get the worst of names, and the entire machinery for the administration of what, with an irony never equalled in history, is known as "Justice" is destined to find itself in the foulest of odor before many years have passed. Thus the harvest ripens, and the dawn of a new era grows brighter on the old horizon.
* * *
A RATHER expedient, if not ingenious, defence has been advanced by the United States Senator, who, charged with assaulting a negro dining-car waiter, justified his act by declaring, "I did not strike a man. I slapped a nigger." The judge proved his respect for the law and its makers by agreeing with the Senator.
This case is by no means an isolated one. Nor is the attitude of the senatorial pugilist towards the negro exclusively southern, as some are inclined to believe. The argument that "slapping a nigger" is not "striking a man" holds good practically throughout the country. But few white people in this enlightened land have risen to the level of recognizing in the negro a fellow-man, a social equal. To the great majority a difference of color is, per se, an evidence of inferiority. Even some radicals are not entirely free from this most stupid of prejudices. And yet, impartially speaking, the spirit which sees in the colored man "only a nigger" is itself convincing proof of a mental kink, of intellectual immaturity.
* * *
THE recent grant of old-age pensions in Great Britain has called forth much discussion of the perennial question of poverty. As is usual, the newspaper philosophers are more voluminous than illuminative. Especially is common sense at a premium in the learned disquisitions. As to originality, it is terra incognita. Exploded theories of fatalistic, religious, pseudo-Malthusian, etc., conceptions of poverty are rehashed with an air of self-satisfied finality. None, evidently, dare analyze the vital relation of poverty to capitalist economics. One publication, however, suggests in a spirit of bantering levity, the various "possibilities" that would result if the hundred thousand unemployed of New York decided to steal rather than starve.
The suggestion may be worthy of serious consideration. What would society do with a hundred thousand "criminals" determined to eat rather than die of hunger? And suppose the unemployed all over the country were to follow the example of their New York brothers. The prisons could not hold one-fiftieth of the number. What would then happen if the poor, the underfed, the starving decided that it is as senseless as it is disgraceful to hunger amidst plenty?
They would eat and grow strong and forever forget that things are more sacred than lives.
* * *
THE sight of a woman riding astride has so shocked the virtuous sensibilities of a Georgia legislator that he hastened to introduce a bill, making the practice a felony. If the bill is to become a law, it will be as criminal for a woman to ride in a natural and comfortable manner as it is to live so.
The Georgia Solon is no doubt consistent. Woman cannot be suffered to discard the shackles of hoary custom that have from time immemorial kept her the submissive slave of man. Riding astride, for a woman, is an open defiance of established usage, hence immoral. Encouragement in this particular would doubtlessly lead to woman's gradual emancipation from other accepted facts. What would then become of the supremacy of men like our virtuous Solon ?
* * *
A BRIGHT little magazinelet, Freeland, has reached this office. It contains 64 pages, the contents of which are thus characterized in the publisher's prospectus: "Devoted to economics and politics, critical in basis, libertarian in tendency, and constructive in method, favoring the largest individual development within the bounds of the law of equal freedom."
Address Alexander Horr, Station Box 2010, San Francisco, Cal.
By B. RUSSELL HERTS.
THERE is a feeling in the heart of man to-day which has swayed the course of history for near a thousand years, which has established empires, dethroned monarchs and popes, built up continents, forced friends and families into separation; which has given birth to sorrow and rejoicing, love and hatred, cruelty, crime, and inspiration for ten centuries, and which is now one of the greatest ethical, psychological, and sociological influences upon the mind of the twentieth-century man.
Here in America is the spirit of Patriotism especially powerful, for it has been the cause and explanation of our conduct ever since the memorable days nearly a century and a half ago, when our first patriots cried out for "freedom" and "representation." It is in great measure responsible for all of our noble deeds, for our speeches, our sacrifices, our panics, bloodshed, and crimes. And through the decades as our country grew and prospered, it has grown and prospered, until to-day there is a kinship of national reverence between all the Europeans, Asiatics, and Negroes within the land, and the presence of Patriotism in one's soul is taken as one of the fundamental tests of character. So far has this proceeded that he who does not hasten to rise and uncover at the opening strains of the national melody, who does not believe and claim America to be capable of all things, who does not deem it a sacred duty to go forth, if called, and crush his brother-being upon the battlefield, is gazed upon, for the most part, with fear and hatred, mingled with a touch of scorn.
In this centennial year of our greatest president, when thousands of speeches have been sounding in every corner of the land, when thousands more of written works plentifully decorated with the words "heroism," "Patriotism," "American," are circulated and read in every home, is it not well to cease our impassioned declaiming, our joyous singing, even our loving reverence, for a moment, and give ourselves to the task of verifying the absoluteness, the fundamentality, the value of the glorious Patriotism which impels us to all these exhibitions?
Whence comes it? Is it eternal? And, if not, what is its cause and origin, and more especially, in this pragmatic age, why does it exist? What is its contribution to human happiness and progress?
In judging present matters, or preparing for those of the future, we have only our knowledge of the past as a foundation for assumptions. Let us review and employ what economics has taught us, and that we may reach the fundamental, let us revert to the borderland of the pre-historic.
At the earliest times which we have thus far been enabled to study, man presents himself to us in a state of what has been called "individual economy." His chief cares were the finding of food, and the securing of protection against the ravages of beasts, the encroachments of neighboring men, and the terrors of nature. To this stage succeeded that in which the family became the typical economic entity, when man began to realize the pleasure and usefulness of domestic life, and to protect against his enemies not only himself and his personal belongings, but also his home and all the kinsmen who gathered thereabout. Thus came the clan into being, and man's love became inclusive of his relatives.
Gradually the more civilized sections of mankind retired from their nomadic existence and settled into groups, each occupying a definite territorial district. The necessity for some scheme for the production and distribution of goods, and for the insurance of government and protection, became immediately apparent. The formation of the town or city was the result. In order to render this organization secure and powerful, it was necessary for the individual to pledge himself to protect his city in times of danger, and to assist it in the acquirement of wealth and authority. Thus was a measure of the love and loyalty, formerly lavished upon the family, transferred to the community.
During medieval times men unconsciously began to realize that geographical, linguistic, and other features contributed to render desirable the formation of larger units than that of the town. So we find extensive territories, each containing many cities, the people of which speak the same language, possess substantially the same political point of view, and dwell within certain barriers difficult of passage, each held together by the love and loyalty of their inhabitants. City warfare ceases and allegiance is transferred from the smaller to the larger group.
The nation being a recent development, it is clear that national feeling has had but a limited existence. But, it may be answered, the sentiment of which Patriotism is an outgrowth has been man's ever since we know of his presence on earth. The contention must be admitted: the quality in which we so greatly delight is directly traceable to the self-love of the savage. Broadened, extended, it is, but only because the economic unit is more embracing now than ever before. Egotism for the nation is but an extension of personal egotism, and the national selfishness which prompts a man to seek the aggrandizement of one people at the expense of another is but the descendent of primitive man's lust for power and mastery.
The world is now divided into nations, and national feeling is universally respected. Yet is the nation anyless arbitrary, any more fundamental, a division, than was the family or the city? Has our reverence for the typical, temporary economic group, having passed through many stages at last reached its fixed and final form?
Let one gaze guardedly into the future and he perceives a stage beyond: a stage when material barriers shall disappear, and race hatreds be no more; when national prejudices, national egotism, national selfishness, even national love shall be swallowed up in a new spirit — the spirit of humanitarianism, the only possible Patriotism in a state of international economy.
There is, indeed, considerable evidence that this transition is soon actually to be consummated. The improvements of the last half-century in transportation have destroyed the importance of national geographical barriers, while the proposed universal language may remove the present national linguistic differences; the peace conferences are gradually imposing upon us a recognition of the desirability of uprooting national hatreds, while the recent advancement of such countries as Japan is teaching us the absurdity of national self-satisfaction. Moral, social, and political questions of world-significance are everywhere usurping the place in men's minds previously occupied by interest in national affairs, so that now, in the discussions of scientists, Anarchists, capitalists, unionists, Socialists, nationality is practically a negligible quantity.
Many deplore this condition. To them the gradually waning sentiment is a symbol of all that is great and noble in an accomplishment of modern times. They see that Patriotism has been essential to man's uplifting, and so they insist that it is still desirable. They demand the continuation of war because, in the past, man has lost, and therefore enobled, his personality through deeds of valor. They are like those who would restore the Church to its place of power, and re-establish its tyrannies and extravagances, because long ago on account, or in spite, of these, a Bramante, a Rafael, a Michael Angelo has been nursed in its bosom. Is it their serious belief that those lips must be wet with new-sucked blood from which the breath of inspiration is to come, or that the meadows must be manured with lies and wretchedness and crime, on the produce of which genius is to be reared? Six thousand years, at least, it was, before mankind could mould a Michael Angelo; if this hypothesis were true, one might well wish six thousand times as long to pass before such another were given to the world.
But man is confident that it is not so. Religion was alone in its inspiration, the Church alone in its patronage of artists, because thought and activity were over-shadowed by these forces. Man's creative capacity demands material to mould: these themes were at hand, and all else was forbidden. It has been the same with war. So long as war exists as a significant and spectacular element in modern life, it will continue to be a theme of poets and painters. But does this import that its withdrawal will mean the death of the inspiration which gave birth to the poems and pictures which deal with war? Would it not simply signify the transference of this to another field — perhaps to one of the many fields as yet unrecognized as fit for the purposes of art? In the work of the moderns do we not already see the puffing, plunging engine with its newly-realized harmony of creaks and crashings; the stern, pale steamship clearing the stormiest sea with perfect precision, the mud-, or soot-, or grease-begrimed laborer cognizant of the nobility, because of the usefulness, of his task — do we not daily see these and a hundred such subjects usurping the places of the discarded topics of past decades? For the purposes of art physical strife between men has served its term — man is moving to a music vibrant, powerful, inspiring far beyond the clash of arms.
Then there be those who tell us that, while war is waging its death struggle, nationality is a youth newly-awakened to his power. They would destroy what has become apparently repellent to them, but at the same time retain the economic and political conditions from which this has arisen. The thing is impossible. The existence of nationality signifies the continuance in each nation of the desire for its own aggrandisement. Such a competition implies conflict, and harmony is, and must be, the aim of those who would annihilate war. Conflict has existed and thrived under every state of society thus far known to history. There is but one condition conceivable to the mind of man under which war cannot exist — that in which no final economic group is recognized.
Every change through which man has passed has made him more humanitarian: the love of family being less selfish and personal than the love of self, that of city than that of family, and the fleeting feeling of to-day a step still in advance; so that the state of internationality is the logical and natural outcome. This appears to be the final, fundamental form, for we can imagine nought beyond, Desired or repugnant to us as the change may be, it yet remains inevitable — imminent.
We are told that as long as honor and self-respect live among peoples, so long will war persist. History itself confutes this. In the evolution of the ages even honor is subject to mutation. We remember that the abolition of duelling was opposed, and for many years retarded by the supremacy of the feeling of personal honor — under the name of chivalry. Now we find the destruction of national duelling opposed by the appeal to national honor under the name of Patriotism. Duelling has been over-thrown and chivalry is but remembered. National duelling, war, will be abolished, and for the accomplishment of this Patriotism must perish. There can be only one fatherland for the man whom it is the most divine task of civilization to produce: the world; and his Patriotism will not evince itself in the stolid love of self, family, city, or State, but in the sacrifice of all for humanity!
THE SPANISH UPRISING
By Emma Goldman
WITHIN the last two weeks organized authority has been shaken to its very foundations by the revolutionary uprising in Spain.
To think that neither the influence of religion, with its power to dull the human mind, nor the army with its lead and iron methods, no longer serves as a safeguard against revolution! Moreover, the rebels, once having thrown off the bridle, know no bounds. They actually "burn churches and outrage nuns." What beasts! What brutes!
In view of the fact that these blood-curdling stories emanate from a servile and prostitute press, ever ready to malign and misrepresent the least revolt against tyranny, one will do well to carefully weigh and measure these reports. But even if they were true, if the Spanish people really burned churches and maltreated the cuervos negros* what of it? Has not the Catholic Church, especially in Latin countries, driven the people to despair; has it not for centuries lived off their sweat and blood; has it not used every means to lash them into submission and rob them of their energies and manhood ? Were the people of Spain to retaliate a million-fold, it would sink into insignificance compared with the countless crimes and black terror of the Catholic Church.
Politicians and vote hucksters only can maintain the lie that religion is a "private affair." Revolutionists the world over have realized long ago that religion is one of the greatest obstacles to the emancipation of mankind, hence the strongest support of tyranny and oppression.
The most striking feature of the present uprising does not consist in what has or has not been done to churches and nuns. Much rather it is to be found in the tremendous anti-military spirit and the recognition of that most effective weapon, the General Strike.
While it is true that the Moroccan war — a struggle for the enrichment of a handful of speculators — has fanned the spark of popular discontent into fire, it is much more true that the anti-militarist agitation, carried on in Latin countries for years, has paved the way for the present revolt.
Militarism, like the church, is one of the strongest bulwarks of our present system. This has become particularly apparent during recent years. Governments employ armies not merely to subdue weaker nations and conquer territory, but to silence the slightest cry of discontent at home. Realizing this, the revolutionary elements in every land have inaugurated a wide-spread agitation against militarism. The present Spanish uprising — the most heroic and inspiring revolutionary event of recent years — is the direct result of those efforts. And the General Strike?
True, a leading German Socialist not long ago declared the General Strike to be general nonsense; and when asked if the workers of the world should prevent the possible coalition of European powers against the Russian Revolution by the declaration of a General Strike, he scornfully ridiculed the suggestion. How foolish the "Sage of Berlin" must feel in face of the fact that the General Strike has since proved such a tremendous weapon in the hands of labor.
Yet another cause, no doubt, aided in preparing the Spanish uprising — the memory of Montjuich, that hell of the modern Spanish Inquisition.
Twelve years ago a bomb exploded during a religious procession at Barcelona. Immediately three hundred workingmen were arrested and tortured in the most fiendish manner: hot irons, the thumbscrew, and rack were employed to extort confessions. When, finally, the majority of the victims perished, and a cry of indignation arose all over Europe, the few survivors of the torture were released. Perchance among the participants in the present revolt are friends and relatives of those victims. This, together with the unspeakable oppression, exploitation, and forced military service suffered by the Spanish people, sufficiently explains the present revolution.
I am not optimistic enough to hope that the heroic and self-sacrificing efforts of our Spanish brothers will forever abolish torture and tyranny. But as a forerunner of a greater and more effective storm they are wonderfully encouraging and invigorating. Those who have the revolutionary spirit can learn from Spanish events the great power of anti-militarism and the General Strike.
*Black Crows -- popular expression of scorn for the black clergy.
THE PRESENT CONDITION OF RUSSIA*
By PETER KROPOTKIN.
NEVER were the conditions of Russia so desperately bad as they are now. Neither during the depressing years of the reign of Alexander III., nor during the wild reaction of the last years of Alexander II., nor even during the mad despotism of Nicholas I., did the orgies of the defenders of autocracy reach the climax they have attained now. Even that little, that microscopically little, that had been obtained in Russia for some protection of the individual from the bureaucracy, is now wiped off from life as something unworthy, useless, harmful.
From the very first day of his accession to the throne, Nicholas II. permitted himself, In virtue of his own personal will, surreptitiously to alter the established Constitution of Finland. In his very first manifesto, issued on the day of his father's death, he ordered the words, "Grand Duke of Finland," to be taken out of the title of the Emperor of Russia. By a stroke of his pen he thus abolished the ninety-year old autonomy of a nation which peacefully followed its own development; he tore to pieces the treaties of annexation of Finland; he gave the lie to the oath taken by his father and grandfather.
His first act was to put himself above the binding laws of the country. And now, for fourteen years in succession, he patronizes those who trample under foot all the concessions that give however slight a guarantee to the individual's personal safety against the outrageous attacks of the rulers of Russia — the gangs of hooligans who find their immunity by entering the ranks of the present rulers of Russia. undertaken the rooting out of all the best forces of the Russian nation. Such a bacchanalia of savagery and cruelty Russia has not seen since the times of the half- mad Tsar, John IV. — also surrounded by fortune-tellers — the murderer of his own son. Thus it is that in the twentieth century Russia has again to live through that shameful page of her history.
The abolition of the old-established rights of the nationalities allied with Russia in the Caucasus and Finland; the sending of hundreds of students as soldiers to Port Arthur, as a punishment for disturbances; the surrender of the schools into the hands of the illiterate priests, church cantors, and bell ringers; the bribing of the army by doubling the pay of the officers in those parts of the Empire where the state of siege was introduced; the surrender of the most vital parts of the State organization to all sorts of adventurers, like Bezobrazoff and Stoessel, provided they would grovel at the feet of "our father the Tsar" and "our mothers the Empresses"; and finally, the handing over of all the life of Russia to the adventurer Von Plehve and his secret agents, because that man had promised Nicholas II. in 1903 to maintain autocracy by secret police rule for another ten years — this is what Russia got during the first ten years of his reign from Nicholas II., whom the plunderers of Russia now call their father.
And now, after the defeat of the first efforts of the Revolution, Russia has been given up to a band of thieves, murderers, and criminals against all the moral conceptions of mankind. The prisons are overcrowded; many of them contain three and four times more inmates than they were built for. And such an overcrowding is bound to continue, because the present rulers of Russia are prosecuting now, before their packed courts, thousands of persons, for all they have done and said during the years of relative liberty, 1905 and 1906. All that was considered then as necessary and desirable for the renovation of Russia, is prosecuted now. A book issued at that time, a meeting convoked to discuss the strike which compelled Nicholas II. to make his first concessions, a speech delivered at a meeting, or even in court by a lawyer, or in the Duma by a Deputy — all this is now prosecuted. And in these prosecutions they have returned to the ways and habits that were dear to the mad Tsar John and his pet, B'asmanoff — they have reintroduced torture.
Yes, they torture now in Russia — it is an established fact; and when a court in Warsaw, in Riga, or in South Russia has condemned, no matter how mildly, some of these torturers to imprisonment, it is sufficient for one of the modern pets of the present Tsar — that is, for Dr. Dubrovin, the president of the Union of Russian Men — to ask Nicholas II. to pardon the condemned torturers, and these wild beasts are pardoned at once; and the Prime Minister is not ashamed to hurry to wire to the respective Governor this new token of the Tsar's solicitude for his subjects.
Friends, these are not tales that I tell you! This is what stands in black upon white in all the daily papers published in Russia itself. This is said openly in the Duma; this is the matter of decisions of the Russian Courts. Just quite lately it has been disclosed before a court in Finland that the murderers of the two members of the Duma, Hertzenstein and Yollos, both, please mark, most pacific men, whose great crime was to be specialists in financial matters and matters concerning the misery of the Russian peasants — it appears now that the murderers of these two men were members of the secret police staff, and at the same time were in the service of that same Union of Russian Men whose badge the Tsar has been wearing till quite lately, whom he declared to be his most loyal subjects. The president of that Union, that same Dr. Dubrovin whom Nicholas II. receives personally, and to whom he lately again handed £1,000, is now prosecuted by a Finnish court — the murder of Hertzenstein took place in Finland — as an accomplice to the murder and as the paymaster for it; and his accomplice Kraskovsky has already been arrested a few days ago in Russia. These are the men whom the Tsar describes as his only loyal subjects.
The prisons are overcrowded. Typhus — hunger typhus, eruptive and recurrent typhus — ravages the prisons of thirty-five provinces, and there from spreads amongst the soldiers of the garrison and the warders in the cities. In the Lukoyanoff prison, 2,500 prisoners have already died from typhus, 1,300 in the main Kieff prison, and so on all over Russia. These are the official figures. Persons ill with typhus, with wandering minds, and a temperature of 104 degrees, are brought to court — there were three such cases — and the jurors are compelled to refuse to act, and the president of the court-martial says to the prosecutor: "But look yourself at the man; you will see he cannot be tried!"
Worse than that. Men wandering in mind from typhus are brought to the scaffold in that state and hanged, under the very windows of one of the Duma Deputies detained at Moscow, who has described it in full in a letter to the Duma. As to the scenes that take place at the executions, of which they need such a number to maintain their scandalous rule — and for which they hire assassins in the prisons — these scenes are so horrible that I will not describe them. Tolstoi has told some of them to the world. Have these horrors been stopped by M. Stolypin or his master ? No! They continue! They have grown worse!
Friends, it is with a bleeding heart that I describe to you these horrors. They are not mere horrors for me. They tell me the tale of how low Russia has sunk to tolerate them — to find men to give them support. But I will ask you, Has ever anything worse happened in Turkey while it was under the rule of that man whom Gladstone had the courage to call in the eyes of Europe, "the Assassin"?
Turkey has shaken off the rule of the assassin. That will be done in Russia as well.
It certainly will. It is a fact that Russia is no more what it was before the movement of 1905-6. You will not find now at St. Petersburg 70,000 men willing to go to the Tsar with a petition, carrying his portrait and ikons, as they did on Bloody Sunday, when for a whole week before it everything was organized, with the full knowledge of Nicholas II., by his uncle and cousins, to massacre thousands of these much too confiding men. Now you will not find, even in the remotest villages, men so simple as to trust the Tsar.
That has been won by our martyrs.
A new Russia has been born during these three or four years, a Russia which has tasted liberty and will never more return under the old yoke. It looks very quiet now; but it is no more in the circles of the intellectuals, it is in the factories, it is especially in the villages amidst the peasants, that the spirit of revolt is growing. That spirit they will not kill by hangings and shootings. By the blood they make flow, they only prepare rivers of blood; and surely the day is not far off when not only the "loyal" subjects from Dubrovin's gangs, but all those who are supporting the present regime by their slavish attitude or indifference, will have to repent their present slavishness or their indifference.
*Part of a speech delivered June 23rd at the South Place Institute at a meeting of welcome to Vera Figner. Reprinted from the London Freedom.
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SOCIALISTS AND POLITICS
By H. KELLY.
IF man were not so divinely inconsistent, the world would be a dull and uninteresting place to live in; which is an excellent reason why we should extol consistency.
Socialists all over the world advocate the "conquest of political power" as the one and only method of destroying capitalism and the inauguration of the Cooperative Commonwealth. It is true Socialists differ in their methods of electioneering, some indulging in phrases sweet to the ear, as "voting a means of gauging their strength," "serving notice on the capitalist," and so on, to differentiate them from their — to them — less revolutionary brethren; but as the needle turns to the pole, so do all Marxian's in the end turn to the "conquest of political power" by parliamentary methods. And here let us say that by "political" methods the Socialists really mean parliamentary methods. Acts of regicide, General Strike, or armed uprising may be, and usually are, political in character, but they are decidedly not parliamentary. It may safely be assumed that not more than one per cent, of the Socialists mean anything but electioneering when they speak of the conquest of political power, as a visit to their meetings or perusal of their publications will prove.
The strength of the Socialist movement is computed at eleven million, which means that in countries where there is full or partial suffrage eleven million adults voted for Socialist candidates for office. With this in mind, we are sometimes amused, but more often impatient, at their fulminations against the inevitable result of their tactics, the case of N. Briand being the latest in point.
The advent of N. Briand, former revolutionary Socialist and anti-militarist, to the place of Prime Minister of France is not surprising and should not give rise to congratulation or condemnation. It was the natural and logical conclusion of a policy and that thing the Socialists dilate on so strongly — environment. It is true, M. Lepine, Prefect of Police of Paris, will still continue to suppress, wherever possible, revolutionary demonstrations; anti-militarists will be condemned by "Comrade" Briand as by his capitalistic predecessors; private plunder protected with due diligence; in short, things will continue precisely as they did under the "red republican" and former revolutionist M. Clemenceau. Why? The answer is obvious. France is still a prey to the fetich of property, church, government, patriotism, and other superstitions, and M. Briand accepts office with the tacit, if not outspoken, recognition of this fact and an informal promise to his employers not to run counter to them. In this respect he is no different from any man elected or appointed to office. While a member of the Combes Cabinet, Clemenceau brought a storm of censure upon his head for temporizing with strikers and marching under the red flag. He did temporize with them, and if his previous struggles for liberty count for anything in our estimation of his character, he was doubtlessly quite sincere in his promises to try and remedy the strikers' grievances. The strikers had been tricked so often they declined to accept his promises. Thus he was face to face with two problems, resign from office or call out the troops to crush them. He chose the latter, with results well known. It was the same with Millerand, when he ordered out troops to suppress strikers, and we assume he will act the same as a member of Briand's Cabinet as of Wedlock-Rousseau's. The same with John Burns in his attack on the unemployed. When a man is elected or appointed to a governmental office, his position is analogous to the man hired by a private capitalist. His business is to look after the interests of his employer. The Socialists see this quite clearly as long as it relates merely to what may be defined as a cabinet of a capitalistic government; but they cannot see it from any other angle. If a Socialist were elected governor of New York State in November he would be expected to obey the laws; if he did not, he would be impeached. If called on for troops to suppress strikers, he would be compelled to furnish them or prove they were not needed. It's true, Altgeld refused to call out troops in the Pullman strike, but his reasons were those of any honest man, a believer in capitalism. That is, they were not needed because the strikers were not committing acts of violence. The action of Briand, Viviani, and Millerand in entering a "Republican Cabinet" is no more and no less inconsistent than any Socialist Mayor in France — there are a number of them — who is at present defending capitalistic interests by enforcing capitalistic laws on behalf of property and sending people to jail for disobeying those laws. Parliamentarians are aware that Socialism will never hinge on one bill in Congress or the Legislature; and until such time as they would be in full power, and able and willing to change the laws they found on the statute books, they would be supposed to enforce them. If a Socialist were elected Mayor of New York it would be his duty to jail (through his Commissioner of Police) hungry women who stole bread, and strikers who "slugged" "scabs" for taking their jobs; and in this respect he would be no worse than those who enter a "capitalistic cabinet." Life is a compromise, true enough; but if a modicum of purity and self-respect is to be maintained, politics must be eschewed. It is as certain as anything can be that the Socialists now denouncing Briand — and rightly so — as a traitor, for cooperating with capitalists in the formation of a Republican cabinet, will at the next election make promises equally dishonest because equally impossible of realization. It may be honest and to the best interests of Socialism to flirt with Prohibition and restriction of immigration; but in the light of the Communist Manifesto they make strange bed-fellows, and we have no doubt many a Socialist will have to wrestle with his conscience before swallowing the platform, adopted by the last Socialist convention. Our own opinion of platforms was voiced by Horace Greely, who said: "Platforms were made to spit on."
ANARCHISM AND MALTHUS
By C. L. JAMES.
REFUTATIONS continue to rain, however. Of these criticisms which show only the writer's limited acquaintance with his subject (and they are the immense majority) it is unnecessary to say more. There are, however, two kinds not uncommonly heard from persons who know what they are talking about. One disputes the validity of the geometric and arithmetical ratios. A sufficient reply was given by Mill. The increase of unchecked population is geometrical. That of food may be more than arithmetical. But what is the use of talking about increase of food when geometrical increase of population, if it did not bring back the Positive Check in other ways, as, of course, it would, must soon restore that Check in the inexorable form of crowding? The other criticism, much more practical, is perhaps intended only as a criticism, not a refutation; but if this be meant the critic sought to say so, — first, in order to clear themselves of identification with the Sadlers, Godwins, Coleridges, De Quinceys, Georges, and others whose refuted refutations ring hollow down the corridors of time; secondly, that they may avoid exercising a pernicious influence upon readers less informed than themselves. The criticism is based on the obvious fact that since Malthus wrote, wealth, at least in England, has increased much faster than population — a fact from whose significance the one word emigration takes a great deal — but here become possible suggestions which make this criticism a phase of the others — we do not know what intenser cultivation may effect — the actual habits of mankind are not such as to bring in the Positive Check, etc., etc." Speak unto us smooth things; prophesy unto us deceits!" We do know that intenser cultivation will never banish need for the Prudential Check: and the habits of mankind are such as to invite the Positive when they are such as to invite wars for a harbor or a diamond mine every few years. I am sorry to say that Kropotkin's Fields, Factories and Workshops, contains passages which are adapted (I cannot believe intended) to encourage in careless readers the loose idea that "everything is lovely" except certain human institutions (which, saving only the subjection of women, are not causes but effects).
To conclude the story of Malthus. One of the lies is that he had thirteen children! He had three, of whom only two survived him. His wife came from a part of England which he is known to have visited many years before. It is probable there was a long engagement. Malthus certainly was a good deal older at marriage than the average. His life and teachings appear, therefore, to have been entirely consistent. Among the many attempts to refute him one was by suggesting that man in his developed state might be above the desire of sex, and that the need for propagation might be superseded by terrestrial immortality! Malthus treated this fully as respectfully as it deserved. He said that, while bondage to the desire was a potent source of vice and misery, the desire itself was a principal source of the moral virtues and of happiness, with which it would be by no means desirable, if it were credible, that mankind in general should dispense. The effect of these discussions on Godwin's active imagination may be seen on comparing his famous novels. Caleb Williams (1794) gives no hint of anything supernatural. It is a powerful arraignment of "Things As They Are." In St. Leon (1832) the hero attains terrestrial immortality, and, like the Wandering Jew, finds it the greatest of all imaginable curses; but, pervading the story is the sub thought of Godwin's invincible Optimism — a Salathiel, a St. Leon, would not be miserable in a world where all the people were immortal. The time which Godwin chose for his attempt at refuting Malthus is also significant — it was in 1820, when Ricardo was deducing from the Malthusian theory corollaries whose legitimacy no one then seems to have disputed except Malthus himself. Malthus died, from disease of the heart, in 1834, the sixty-eighth year of his age. Godwin followed on the 7th of April, 1836. Of the two, Malthus had best maintained his philosophic dignity. The Anarchist Godwin stooped to accept a sinecure office from the Liberal administration of Earl Grey. Malthus declined the tardy favor offered by government to him. "In their death," says the best biographer of Malthus, "they were still divided; but, si quis piorumanimis locus, they are divided no longer, and think hard thoughts of each other no more."
Before the eyes of both there was growing up a power unobserved of either, but predestined to solve their problem. Commerce could never cheapen itself out of existence while population, varying with cheapness of food, kept up the struggle for existence: nor, though commerce which cannot do that teaches solidarity, could it prevent recurrence of those crises when "the eyeless I howls in darkness." But increase of the Prudential Check on population has always kept up with, or rather it has gone before and been the source of, economic progress. Its increase has depended on that of hope, this on increase of liberty, increase of liberty on those "accidents" by which Providence has from time to time interfered to give men intent on enslaving each other and themselves another call to reflection. If, then, there be a tendency in the bourgeois system which brings liberty and hope to women; from that we really may expect revolutionary changes. For the female is the less amorous sex. The last proposition, which certainly does sound rather like a stock assertion, may have been unknown to both Godwin and Malthus. But no reader of Darwin can help knowing that it has been demonstrated by exhaustive application to every animal species and been found the clue to progress through heredity. Women have never chosen to breed food for gun powder. They have submitted to do so only because they could not help themselves. Now there is in the bourgeois system a tendency which, by bringing liberty and hope to women, promises far more energetic restraint on propagation than the world has ever known, — a tendency which capitalists view with indifference; reactionaries, and Socialists, not infrequently, with alarm; judicious friends of humanity, with unmixed satisfaction. The wages paid directly to women in the factories first afforded to proletarian women, unprotected by settlements and other contrivances of the rich, a means to live which was not easily taken from them. True to the maxim that it is not misery but hope which works improvement, they, who till now had been well enough content not to own themselves, became refractory the moment the had something to lose. The entire modern movement for the property rights of married women, equality of pay with men for all working women, opening of all the trades to women, political equality of the sexes, easy divorce, began with employment of women as bread-winners, which came in as a necessity of the bourgeois situation. That complete emancipation of women, defect in food for gunpowder, cessation of war, the down-fall of those appliances for plunder which war created, are all threatened by this movement, there can be no occasion for me to prove. Mr. Roosevelt will show you that — and afterwards gnash his teeth.
The Malthusian Theory is the fatal objection to every form of Socialism, even if called Anarchism, which encourages man to think that he can enslave women and escape the most righteous retribution of being a slave him-self. It is the strongest possible argument for that kind of Socialism or Anarchism which proposes, through complete emancipation of women, to abolish the fundamental tyranny from whence all others spring.
*To illustrate again the facility with which these things may be misunderstood, dependent on the complexity of that relation which some try to evade by calling it a truism — I have said here, in the name of Malthus, too, that what enables a high rate of propagation to go on is increase of the death-rate. But the death-rate, from all causes and in all places of statistical census taken together, has decreased notably since we began to have reliable returns (which is only since about 17o0 A. D.); and what little we know about earlier times indicates that the death-rate has always decreased, on the whole, since men emerged from the grazing state of savagery, where the average duration of life is said to be only thirteen years. How do these statements agree? Simply enough. Who said propagation had gone on un slackened? The reasoning of Malthus, and mine, has all been to the effect that the Prudential Check has gained on the Positive almost continuously since men emerged from utter barbarism, except where increased facility of living has, for a time, caused it to be neglected. Wherever that happens — as when a prairie changes into a Chicago — we may see that the death rate does increase as soon as that facility of living which relaxed the Prudential Check encourages propagation sufficiently to recall the Positive.
* * *
By E. G.
OF all the forces that help to enslave man, that of habit is the most pernicious. Not a superstition or prejudice ran compare in its binding and fettering influence on human action with the power of habit.
Take, for instance, the police of New York or other cities. For years they have practiced the habit of stop-ping meetings, clubbing audiences, bullying speakers and hall keepers. Had they met with any real opposition, interference might never have become a habit.
After all, the police are not interested in whatever a speaker may say; nor is their official zeal so very intense that they would go out of their way to annoy people. It is simply the habit of annoying or interference, that's all.
It is also the force of habit that will make the people submit, meekly, to police bullying.
The public has endured arbitrary, brutal treatment so long, until it has gotten quite used to it. The inevitable result is that the police invade the people's rights, sup-press free speech, act brutally, because of the same reason that makes the public cringe and bow and submit; namely, the force of habit.
Sometimes, however, two habits may clash and then it will depend on the strength of either as to who shall remain the victor.
The habit of rebellion, for instance, has overcome the most deeply rooted habit of submission. True, there are not many with whom rebellion becomes a habit. Most people are inspired by the moment and then slink back into the old indifferent state. But there are a few whose very blood nurtures rebellion into a habit; and though they meet with a thousand obstacles, they will continue to rebel, even if their lives were at stake. Such must have been the force that gave birth to the Free Speech Committee. If it were not for the habit of rebellion, the men and women who formed themselves into that fighting body could never have undertaken such a task. First, there was the time-worn habit of the police to grow violently mad at the "red sounding" term of Anarchism and Emma Goldman.
Second, there was the habit of inconsistency on the part of many radicals, who stand for free speech, with a "but" dangling at free speech.
Third, the Committee realized that the interest in principles is not so great as to induce many people to part with some of their worldly goods; yet money was needed. But, habit came along and cried, Onward. What else was there to do but heed?
On May 23rd the police habit of interference reached its culminating point in the breaking up of a literary meeting, the forcible eviction of an audience, and the impudent police declaration that Emma Goldman will never again be allowed to speak in New York.
Two months later Emma Goldman, did speak in a public meeting, and what is more, not a single uniformed officer was present.
How wonderful! Nothing so very wonderful, except the clash of habits in open battle with the habit of rebellion carrying off the victory.
No doubt, the change in the police department of New York City may have had something to do with the new methods of the police. New York is too cosmopolitan and advanced a city to stand for a military regime. Bingham, while a tin soldier, was nevertheless possessed by the military spirit. What he could not suppress with iron methods, he would make impossible with lies and meanness. The new Commissioner probably has more brains, is therefore amenable to reason. At any rate, we welcome the change. But it is not that alone that has helped to disperse the cloud of despotism that made every Anarchist public utterance in New York impossible.
The credit is due chiefly to the strenuous efforts of the Free Speech Committee.
The demand for free speech, signed by a hundred public-spirited men and women and circulated all over the country, worked like magic.
The protest meeting at Cooper Union aroused a great deal of enthusiasm, while the broad-minded attitude of the Chicago Public and the St. Louis Mirror contributed towards the enlightenment of some "good" people as to the real status of free speech. But most of all it was the unceasing energy of a few optimistic spirits who persevered in exercising "hypnotic influence" on police headquarters.
Thus it came to pass that free speech could be re-established in New York City, partially at least, and that Newark, Jersey City, and Brooklyn have also been rescued from the habit of police invasion.
All this, however, should lead no one astray. So long as free speech must go knocking at the doors of every chief or captain, it is nowhere at home and there fore never safe.
The Free Speech Committee realizes this; it is there-fore determined to continue in its habit of opposition to invasion until free speech can assert itself without special privileges.
There are scores of cities in America where free speech has been thrown upon the dust-heap. The Free Speech Committee means to carry its fight into these benighted towns. Philadelphia, Providence, Worcester, Buffalo, Chicago, Indianapolis are to be treated to a dose of the rebellious habit until free speech becomes a reality.
Ours is a material world, and while the spirit is one of the greatest assets for a good fight, material aid is needed. If the readers of MOTHER EARTH, too, have the habit of rebellion, they will feel impelled to send part of it in the form of a check to our valued Chairman, Leonard Abbott, 41 W. 25th Street, New York City.
The habit of being a target for the police is quite strong with me. I do not mind it a bit, as they are poor shots, and therefore can inflict no vital wound.
I shall therefore go right on to every place in the land and leave it only when I have established free speech as a right, and not as a privilege.