A Bulletin which accompanied the magazine.
The Mother Earth Bulletin
March 1913 Vol 8 No 1
Vol. VIII. March, 1913 No. 1
To Our Eighth Birthday 1
Observations and Comments 3
In Memoriam of John Most, Stephen Daniels 10
As It Was In the Beginning, Hallett Abend 14
The Troubles of Socialist Politicians, M. B. 15
Victims of Morality, Emma Goldman 19
Dialogue in Heaven, Harry Kemp 25
Anarchist Activity 26
Emma Goldman's Tour 29
Emma Goldman Publisher
Alexander Berkman Editor
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The Modern Menace to Capitalism
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Vol. VIII. March, 1913 No. 1
TO OUR EIGHTH BIRTHDAY
IT is often more difficult to destroy than to build. Socially, especially, does this hold true. Building the New upon the Old is ephemeral, confusing and often corrupting. The only true process of new building is through the destruction of the old. A most difficult task. It is comparatively easy to graft new ideas and opinions upon the surface of the existing—easy and as futile. But the true revaluation of dominant values necessitates the complete destruction of the latter: the total eradication of hoary tradition, prejudice and indolent acceptance that hold the average mind in the bondage of philistine satisfaction and apathy.
To destroy, to root up must be the main work of every pathfinder. To blaze the way into untrodden paths is his mission. Such destruction is in the truest sense the most constructive effort—and this is the work that has ever inspired MOTHER EARTH and those connected with it
And now that the magazine enters upon its eighth year, we are determined to continue unabated this constructive destruction. What the coming year may bring none can tell At best, the labor of the pathfinder is a thankless mission, full of struggle and hardship. We are not deceived in our possibilities. We know that a publication that has neither a political party to boost it, nor is in any other way subsidized, must needs find the road difficult to travel.
Nor are we conceited enough to believe that our magazine has always been at its best, always as insistent and determined in its march forward, as it could have been but for the lack of interest and cooperation of those who might have helped.
However, we begin the eighth year with renewed vigor and courage, with faith in the understanding and active interest of our growing numbers of comrades and friends, who seek new paths and burn behind them the bridges of an outlived past.
With their aid we shall strive to broaden the reach of the magazine for the coming year, and to increase its revolutionary and educational value. We are planning a series of articles of more than usual worth and interest, among them
the publication of the lectures delivered by Comrade Emma Goldman during the last tour: "The Victims of Morality," "The Failure of Christianity," "The Danger of the Growing Power of the Church," "Art and Revolution," "Sex—the Great Element of Creative Work," etc.
We also have in preparation a number of comprehensive reviews of the work of great writers and dramatists like Dostoyevsky, Hauptmann, Strindberg, Synge, and other moderns, as well as a series of essays dealing with the vital questions of the labor movement—Syndicalism, Direct Action, Sabotage.
Our friends and readers who want to help us materialize
these plans will considerably aid us by increasing the number of MOTHER EARTH readers. Can we count on you, friends, to interest wider circles in our work and procure for the magazine new subscribers? Our offer of a premium of Emma Goldman's work, ANARCHISM AND OTHER ESSAYS, paper cover, with every new subscription or renewal, holds good till April 1. Besides, our friends can help us directly by renewing their subscriptions in advance. With every 2-year renewal we offer, free, a copy of CONQUEST OF BREAD, by Peter Kropotkin; with a subscription for 3 years, a copy of Brieux's THREE PLAYS; while for every
5-year subscription the premium will be a copy of PRISON MEMOIRS OF AN ANARCHIST, by Alexander Berkman, together with a copy of Brieux's THREE PLAYS.
We are confident that you who appreciate our efforts and value the work of MOTHER EARTH will not delay in aiding our labors.
Observations and Comments:
WHEN our heart is heavy and the mind skeptically whispers to us that tyranny is constantly finding new ways and more effective methods to further its purpose; that men are growing more slavish and weaker in their resistance to oppression, then a
glance at the history of revolutions—those oases in the desert of man's humiliation—never fails to cheer and gladden our spirit.
We find there the assurance and certainty that the
advance toward social justice and liberty can never be
checked for long, and that the means and aims of realizing it are gaining in clarity and strength with every new uprising and revolt.
In old Rome the slaves, led by Spartacus, rose in rebellion seventy years before the Christian era. Badly armed and provisioned, a chaotic conglomerate from the whole realm, they yet triumphed over the trained legions of the Roman State, and the safety of Rome itself was threatened by their determined onslaughts. Unfortunately friction arose among the various tribes and nationalities, the difficult situation still further aggravated by the spies of Rome, who industriously sowed discord in the army of rebellion, finally to hand it over to the power of Rome, that employed the most barbaric methods to wipe out the uprising.
The Middle Ages witnessed the revolution flame
through the various countries of Europe, under the guise of religious movements. But whatever their particular form, the common purpose of them all was the conquest of bread and liberty.
Similarly was this the aim of the French peasants in the jacquerie movement of the 14th century. They rebelled against the theft of their lands by the robber
knights of the court and of the nobility, and took up arms against the chains of serfdom. They made common cause with the poorer classes of the city population, whom greedy taxation and usury stole the last crust from their very mouths. Thousands were sacrificed in this struggle, and it was only by means of the great
French Revolution that the peasant of France finally freed himself from the yoke of feudalism.
Bread and Freedom! Again it was the cry of the 100,000 British peasants who rose on Black heath Common, near London, under the leadership of Wat Tyler,
setting the whole country round aflame with the fire of the insurrection, the rebels successfully attacking the capital of England and holding it in their possession for
three weeks. But the treachery of the king and his parliament in holding out empty promises to the rebels, and the murder of Wat Tyler by a courtier, broke down the rebellion.
Tremendous were the peasant uprisings a century later
in Germany, Austria, Holland, and Switzerland. The castles and estates of the nobles, without number, were sacked and burned, the red flag waving at the head of many a rebel army.
This time treachery came from the religious reformer, Martin Luther, who at first sided with the peasants, but later craftily made peace with the rulers and vehemently advocated the most cruel treatment of the rebels.
The power of the nobility was finally broken by the French Revolution at the end of the 18th century, to which the Revolution of the American Colonies against England was the prelude. But the poor people of the large cities were already beginning to realize that it was not enough to abolish feudalism; that though the bourgeoisie fought to secure for itself political liberty, it was at the same time determined to continue the social and economic oppression of the masses by wage slavery and usury, even with greater intensity and more effectually than was the case under feudalism. Men like Marat, Hebert, and particularly Babeuf understood to some extent the situation. Babeuf headed a conspiracy, whose aim was to proclaim Communism. But the movement was not successful, and Babeuf, with a number of his comrades, was guillotined.
The tendencies of social revolution from then on manifested themselves with greater clarity and consciousness, in contrast with the mere political changes which in spite of all representation and franchise brought no radical improvement in the lot of the masses of labor. Social revolutionary tendencies came into strong relief in the June revolution of i848, but still more definitely in the Paris Commune, proclaimed by the people of the French capital on March 18th, 1871,—in memory of which event these lines are written.
The Commune was defeated two and a half months later by the united international reaction, that slaughtered 30,000 men and women, and imprisoned and banished 10,000 more.
The Commune was an heroic attempt toward a successful Social Revolution. But the social ideas of that time were not sufficiently strong to wipe away the old
political traditions. Thus, for example, instead of taking effective revolutionary measures—providing for the needs of the people by throwing open the warehouses
where food and other necessaries were stored; by expropriating and getting possession of the national treasury; by organizing production and distribution in co-
operative leagues of the people—instead of all these absolutely vital measures, an election was ordered, which carried into power a number of politicians and weak compromisers, who would have remained quite insignificant if the revolution had been energetically carried to its logical conclusion. Such social measures would have inspired the people with confidence and courage; the rebellious proletariat would have realized that this time they were not to sacrifice their lives and shed their
blood in vain; that it was not to be a mere change of political constellations, but that it was in all truth a real Social Revolution.
These mistakes of the Paris Commune were fatal. But from them the revolution of the future, which is so fast gathering strength in Europe and America, will learn a valuable lesson. This brief review of the revolutions of the past justifies the hope that the coming Social Revolution will not content itself with superficialities: its first aim will be to secure bread for the people, and to deprive the State, Capital, and Private Property of the material means of existence.
THE leaders of the Garment Workers' Strike in New York seem to have taken the great military generals for their model. After the workers had heroically fought their long fight with the bosses, scabs, police, and the courts—a fight involving much privation for the strikers, numerous arrests, brutalities, and prison sentences—their leaders arose in their might and formed a "peace" treaty with the manufacturers—over the heads of the strikers. They covered themselves with the laurels of victory, loudly mouthed about "great triumph," while their treacherous settlement secured nothing for the workers but sham concessions. The "victory" consisted chiefly in the proviso that the main demands of the strikers should be turned over to an arbitration committee, composed of outsiders, priests, rabbis, and similar ilk. Full well the workers know the role of the arbitration fakes, the industrial cemetery where the demands and grievances of labor are quickly buried.
This disgraceful retreat was especially manipulated by Abe Cahan, editor of the Jewish Socialist daily, the Forward, aided by the official leaders of the strike, al-
most all prominent Socialists. "Garment Workers," they vociferated, "you are brave and heroic. Your brother workers throughout the land look with admiration upon your determination and courage. But heroism alone is not enough. Under the circumstances it is best for you to accept the terms as the most favorable that you can secure now. Therefore, return to work."
Thus ran the hypocritical cant. Impotence was represented and glorified as strength. But the diplomats strove in vain. The workers rebelled and demonstrated
against their treacherous leaders; they justly felt themselves betrayed, and were even on the point of lynching some of them. It would, perhaps, have gone hard with the Forward and its representatives, had they not sent in a hurried call for police protection.
A new strike movement has begun, which—it is earnestly to be hoped—will not end as disgracefully as the former. The workers will have to learn that they themselves must lead their struggles, and that the diplomats, politicals, and rabbis are not only superfluous in the labor movement, but that they are a most detrimental factor.
OF the twelve Italian coal handlers tried at Hackensack, N. J., for the alleged killing of a railroad detective, five were condemned to brutal prison terms, two being doomed to 15-30 years, two others to i0-30, and the fifth to 8-30 years in the penitentiary. The trial was brief, for the defendants had neither money nor influence. For this reason it was obvious from the very beginning that the accused workers had no chance whatever to present their case in a more or less favorable to them light. Only money and influence makes a good impression upon the justice of to-day.
In the Italian Chamber of Deputies a member severely attacked the railroading of the five coal workers to prison. The Secretary of Foreign Affairs declined to discuss the subject, on the ground that "Italy is on friendly terms with the United States"!
Surely, plutocracy and governmental tyranny always make common cause internationally, when it is a question of terrorizing rebellious workers and keeping labor in subjection. But the time is coming when the solidarity of reaction will have to face the determined conscious solidarity of international labor.
IT would require long pages even merely to mention the numerous places and cities in the United States where there are taking place at present various struggles between labor and the hirelings of organized capital. In the coal district of West Virginia the plutocracy has even proclaimed martial law to drown the strike in blood, for the civil authorities are evidently not sufficiently drastic and murderously effective to suit the will of the mine owners. The prisons are filled with workers, among them the brave old fighter Mother Jones, all of whom are facing numerous charges of murder.
Murderers charge the workers with murder, and use the law for the purpose. Since many months the lords of capital have been slaughtering the miners of West Virginia, attacking their women, driving families from their homes, and hunting whole settlements into the mountain wilderness. The situation is daily approaching nearer to the point where the workers will have to rebel, whether they want it or not.
THE wise solons of Pennsylvania have taken much trouble legally to suppress the red flag, as a symbol of Anarchy.
They missed the mark. If misery and desperation will continue to grow as fast as they have in recent years, the coming storm, that may wipe the Pennsylvania and other legislatures off the earth, will flutter to the breeze the black flag.
PATERSON, the silk weaving centre of New Jersey, has again become the arena of police terror and stupidity that repeats itself there every time when the
workers declare a strike. Then Police Chief Bimson feels that the good name of his city is endangered, and that the masters look at him askance because he has
failed, in spite of all his slavish obedience, to ukase strikes out of existence from this country, or at least from Paterson.
The fellow has now run amuck with his gang of uniformed thugs. He is trying his best to convince the manufacturers that he really deserves the honor of serving as their watchdog. He causes peaceful meetings to be broken up, the audiences brutally assaulted, the speakers and organizers thrown into jail, the pickets maliciously attacked and persecuted, and then proclaims, "Look at all my best efforts to restore the good name of Paterson, whom the outside agitators seek to bring into disgrace!"
Paterson is indeed in disgrace—the shame that it is possible for such a brutal and ignorant man as Bimson to be in a position of importance instead of being driven from his post and city. But the stupid persecution of the strikers has not failed to do good in so far as it has served to unite all the employees of the silk weaving industry in Paterson, and to solidify their ranks in the determined struggle against the common enemy.
WHAT has so far transpired in connection with the new upheaval in Mexico bears all the earmarks of a treacherous military uprising rather than of a popular revolution. Generals, grafters, pretenders—adventurers eager for spoils, men without the least vestige of social purpose—have made an attempt to grasp the Presidency. They are straining every fiber to evict each other with the aid of their respective armies, to the very limit of the hereafter, to whose bourne they have already dispatched Madero in advance. Between them stand the Mexican people, serving as the target for all the warring camps, the duped target drunk with patriotic phrases which are even cheaper than powder.
The United States government is apparently inclined to favor that despot as the fittest ruler of Mexico who will most drastically establish peace with an iron hand in that country. Washington holds that General Huerta must be given time and opportunity to bring order out of the Mexican chaos. Verily a most fitting man—did he not initiate his career as President with treachery and murder? The Federal government echoes the opinion of Ambassador Wilson, the sponsor of Huerta. What if the latter has conspired for the overthrow of "an established government, with which this country is in friendly relations?" Huerta is enthusiastically supported by the American "interests," eager for greater concessions than they were able to secure from the Madero regime. This financial species, whose loyal representative in Mexico is Ambassador Wilson, will favor for the Presidency of that country the most successful wholesale murderer who will offer them the greatest opportunity for unlimited exploitation.
But the real revolutionists of Mexico will not be deluded by any political chicanery and change. They will continue their brave and determined struggle for the social and economic emancipation of the oppressed people of Mexico, whatever the hue of the chameleon of State.
ONE of the first official acts of President Wilson was to congratulate the Tsar upon the tercentenary of the Romanov family as the beneficent rulers of all the Russians. Quite appropriately. The Chief of the plutocratic Cossacks extends the hand of brotherhood across the sea to the Chief of the royal Cossacks.
In connection with the tercentenary some radical and revolutionary papers expressed the hope that an amnesty for political prisoners would be issued, and that, among others, the beloved old Babushka ("little grandmother") would be returned from exile. Exhausted and ill, she drags out her last days in the misery of a Siberian exile's existence.
The reports of the amnesty so far do not justify the expectations. The Tsar seems to have ordered the liberation only of those prisoners who were convicted for
offences committed as officials in the government service. There is no indication that the amnesty is to include important revolutionists—prisoners.
It would be too optimistic to expect a real act of justice and humanity from the royal monster whose hands are red with the blood of the innocents slaughtered wholesale on Bloody Sunday.
October 1917 Vol 1 No 1
Freedom of Criticism and Opinion
Under the "Trading With the Enemy Act," the Postmaster General has become the absolute dictator over the press. Not only is it impossible now for any publication with character to be circulated through the mails, but every other channel, such as express, freight, newstands, and even distribution has been stopped. As MOTHER EARTH will not comply with these regulations and will not appear in an emasculated form, it prefers to take a long needed rest until the world has regained its sanity.
The MOTHER EARTH BULLETIN has been decided upon largely as a means of keeping in touch with our friends and subscribers, and for the purpose of keeping them posted about our movements and activities.
This is the wee Babe of Mother Earth. It was conceived during the greatest human crisis -born into a tragic, disintegrating world. To give it life, Mother Earth had to choose death, yet out of Death must come Life again. The Babe is frail of body, but it comes with a heritage of strength, determination and idealism to be worthy of her who gave it birth.
To bring a child into the world these days is almost an unpardonable luxury. But the child of Mother Earth comes to you for a share of the beautiful love and devotion you gave its mother. Assured of that, it will make a brave effort to Live and to Do. -E.G.
"Mother Earth" has been suppressed, but how strikingly its position and ideas have been vindicated!
In two particulars, especially, has our propaganda been justified by the events.
First, our insistence on free expression is the foundation of all progress. "Mother Earth" was a voice in the wilderness when it first raised the cry for the imperative need of a determined and for free speech and free press. From the very beginning of our publication -now over ten years ago -and ever since we have persistently emphasized, over and over again, how imperative it was for all radicals to resist every encroachment upon the liberty of assembly and press, whoever the victim.
But as long as only Anarchist meetings were stopped, or Anarchist publications suppressed, no one cared much except the Anarchists. Yet repeatedly we warned the liberal elements at large that the most fundamental principle was at stake, and that the suppression of Anarchists was but the entering wedge.
Now the whole block is split, or almost so. Only the blind can fail to see that it is but a matter of weeks or days before the last critical word will be stilled by the hand that has gained practice as well as arrogant assurance through our lack of vigilance and co-operation in the past.
Nor is the evil temporary only. Some rules and laws may disappear with the war, but the tendencies no dominant, and the habits acquired, will persist long after their immediate stimuli have ceased to operate.
Similarly has the Anarchist opposition to forcible authority and centralization of power been vindicated by recent history.
The essence of authority is invasion, the impostion of a superior will -generally superior only in point of physical force. The menace of man-made authority is not in its potential abuse. That may be guarded against. The fundamental evil of authority is its use. The more paternal its character or the more humanistic its symbols and mottoes, the greater its danger. No slavery so deep-rooted and stable than the subtle hypnotism of Democracy's phraseology. It is mesmerizing to watch the girations of a balloon labelled "Liberty." The required optical intensity only too often lulls to forgetfulness even those vaguely conscious that the proudly soaring balloon holds nothing but gas -a child's toy with no substance.
The democratic authority of majority rule is the last pillar of tyranny. The last, but the strongest. It is at the base of this pillar that the Anarchist ax has been hewing. The autocracy of the minority is too patent an imposition to promise long life in modern days. The temple of Romanoff falls like a house of cards at the touch of a will-full Samson. But the despotism that is invisible because not personified, shears Samson of his passion and leaves him will-less.
Woe to the people where the citizen is a sovereign whose power is in the hands of his masters! It is a nation of willing slaves.
San Francisco's Sixth Victim
When Governor Stephens, of California, signed the requisition papers for Alexander Berkman (although he had solemnly promised a delegation of labor men and a body of women from the Civic League of San Francisco to give them a hearing before signing the papers), District Attorney Fickert rushed into print with the following statement: "Weinberg's case will now be postponed and we will try Berkman at once; he is more important."
Fickert reminds one of the milkmaid who, with the pail of milk balanced on her head, became so enthused over the prospective profits from it, that she began dancing with glee, and spilled the milk. Mr. Fickert, too, jumped with glee at the prospect of getting Berkman into his clutches. Had he not tried hard for a whole year to involve Alexander Berkman in the San Francisco frame-up? First, during the Billings trial; then again, during the farce of Tom Mooney's trial; finally, when Rena Mooney battled for her life. Each time District Attorney Fickert impressed it upon the jurors that Alexander Berkman was the principal villain in the play; each time this faithful servant of the Chamber of Commerce came nearer to the point where he felt sure of roping Berkman into his noose. And when the indictment was finally handed down, Fickert felt near his goal.
In his imagination he already saw Berkman tried, convicted, sentenced and executed. But lo and behold, down came the pail of milk with all of Fickert's calculations.
Having played fast and loose with his victims in San Francisco, Fickert could not imagine the difficulties that would confront him when he called for the indictment of Alexander Berkman. How was a man of Fickert's mentality to know Berkman's position among the workers of the East, and especially in New York City? How was he to know the love, esteem and devotion Berkman has gained during the twenty-seven years of his activity in behalf of the masses? Much less could Fickert realize Berkman's importance as an international figure in the revolutionary movement, and the protest and indignation his indictment would arouse!
Well, Mr. Fickert did not have to wait long. First of all came the enthusiastic response of the United Hebrew Trades and other radical organizations. The delegation that went to Albany to argue before Governor Whitman against the extradition of A.B., was a significant tribute to the man who had for twenty-seven years unreservedly given his ability and devotion to the cause of humanity. It certainly must have impressed the Governor or he would not have held up his signature to the extradition.
Then came President Wilson's order for a Federal investigation into the San Francisco frame-up, and right on its heels the glorious demonstration in Petrograd for Alexander Berkman. All this because of the indictment against a mere Anarchist! Who ever heard of such a thing? Fickert was frantic, but to save his face he wired Governor Whitman that Berkman's extradition "would not be pressed for the present." How magnanimous of the man who has all along used the vilest means to dispose of his victims!
Needless to say, we are not foolish enough to believe that Governor Whitman will not in the end sign Berkman's extradition. Nor do we bank too much on the outcome of the Federal Investigation. There is no doubt but that the Commission will have to brand as criminals the Chamber of Commerce of San Francisco and its District Attorney. But what of this? Washington is not likely to declare war upon California because of the American lives endangered there and the frightfulness committed by District Attorney Fickert and his Huns. There are only two forces which will effectually put Fickert out of his criminal business: first, the continued protest in Russia; secondly, the solid front labor in this country must make. Already hundreds of organizations have come to the fore, morally and financially. But more is needed; we must awaken all of labor. Nothing must be left undone to stay the murderous hand ready to slay six innocent victims.
Thursday, October 11, Alexander Berkman could have walked out a free man; the legal extradition limit of thirty days had expired. The warden of the Tombs prison was not only ready but anxious to let Berkman go; he knew he had no legal power to hold him. But it takes a revolutionist to live up to his promise, even if made by his attorneys. So Alexander Berkman signed himself back into the Tombs prison for another thirty days. However, an attempt is now being made to get A.B. out on bail. He is entitled to it, especially in view of the fact that he is already under $25,000 bail on the Federal conviction.
Whatever the ultimate outcome of it all, District Attorney Fickert is likely to spend many sleepless nights and restless moons before he can get Alexander Berkman, and even if he does get him in the end, Fickert's troubles will only then begin. To set the background for that momentous event, we need the help of all our friends and all those who have been aroused to the scandal, the shame and the outrage of the San Francisco frame-up. For that purpose defense councils must be organized in every city, mass meetings arranged, and the whole case given the widest possible publicity for which, of course, a substantial campaign capital is indispensible. Radical labor and the friends of Alexander Berkman have already come to the rescue most generously, but we must ask for further aid, which we know the friends of Mother Earth will not withhold.
Justice is not settled by legislators and laws -it is in the soul; it can not be varied by status any more than love, pride, the attraction of gravity can. -Walt Whitman.
To the Postmaster
EXCERPTS FROM A LETTER
September 22, 1917
Third Assistant Postmaster General,
Outside of the technical ground which you may have for removing the second class mail privileges of "Mother Earth," I suppose we are justified in assuming that the only real reason you have for denying us the use of these privileges is that "Mother Earth" is an Anarchist magazine, Emma Goldman its publisher, and that "Mother Earth" has always maintained a vigorous anti-war attitude. I don't suppose it is within the jurisdiction of your department, nor have you the time or the inclination, to argue on the merits of the war, or the meaning of free press. But I do hope that you have the time and the interest to get our point of view.
A certain section of the American people, whose numbers are growing daily (whether for good or for evil), are anxious, desirous and determined to read radical literature, such as is contained in our magazine. It is too late to change their taste for such reading matter. "Mother Earth," "The Masses," "The Jeffersonian," "The Rebel," "The Free Press," "The International Socialist Review," and other papers that the Government is attempting to suppress, have become the Bible for millions of people living in America. These magazines are not only the favorite literature of these citizens, but their gospel as well. They are determined to have them and, if I know anything about history, it looks to me as though they would get them one way or another.
You are aware, of course, that censorship of the press is not new -is more than one hundred years old. I think it is as old as the printing press. Rigid Germany, autocratic Russia, temperamental France and our favorite ally England, have suppressed thousands of publications, but they still exist in large numbers. The law of suppression may be formulated as follows: The more a government suppresses a paper that the people really want, the more it is read with reverance, and the more powerful the paper becomes in its influence in the community. I do not think it is an exaggeration to say that suppressed publications were one of the largest factors in the recent Russian Social Revolution.
I trust you will realize the importance of this issue to our mighty Government. I know full well the Government's power and its ability to jail or hang anyone who attempts to thwart its desire. I simply wish to call your attention to an undisputed historical and psychological fact, and remind you that in Belgium, where the Iron Hand of Germany rules, the determined Belgians are getting out their own papers in spite of the Kaiser's censors. In Russia, prior to the revolution, there was a despotism and a censorship of publication such as the world never before witnessed, yet millions of copies of papers and leaflets found their way into the hands and hearts of the workers and soldiers. It is not news to you, I am sure, that even in the trenches of Europe suppressed papers are being published. Please don't think that we are attempting to intimidate or bluff you when we say that if you do not permit "Mother Earth" and other publications to continue their mission in the open, someone will find a way of continuing the work and getting out the message of liberty to the American people. I suppose you are aware, through the newspapers or from the Secret Service Department, that dozens of underground presses have already been established, and with widespread education and the printing facilities which can be found in any city, hamlet and village in these great United States, there is every reason to believe that for each publication you suppress, underground presses will be established, and as fast as they are discovered and stopped, still others will take their place. For another great law of history reads: Thinking men and women who have a greievance or a message for the world will find a way to get their ideas to the people, and suppressing, jailing and hanging won't stop it. Five thousand years of history back this statement.
Does this mean that we want the right to be treasonable? No! We ask for our constitutionally guaranteed right to voice our grievances and to help build a world without tyranny, injustice and exploitation. Some of the radicals want to change the laws; others believe that governments are wrong, harmful and unnecessary, and that we can live and carry on production and distribution and do the right thing by our fellowmen and have a very beautiful world, without any laws or governments. Now we want to do propaganda in the open. We are willing to abide by the Constitution, provided that the authorities will obey the law and respect human rights, and that no judge or post office official will take it upon himself to decide what is or is not free press. In other words, if the Post Office really takes President Wilson seriously and wants to make the world safe for democracy, we are willing to cooperate, and I feel we will bring much intelligence and genuine interest for a democracy, such as Paine, Jefferson and the framers of the Constitution hoped for.
I understand that these are trying times, and the Government is in no mood to temporize with radicals and theorists. But unless America and the Post Office department, especially, respect the rights and needs of millions of her inhabitants who are feeling, thinking, struggling and desirous of maintaining constitutional democracy in a way which may be a little different from that desired by a small group of senators, legislators or officials -then America may have to pass through the experiences that we are now witnessing in Russia.
Yours very sincerely,
BEN L. REITMAN.
The highest form of despotism, falsehood and violence is the establishment by some people of a law which must not be discussed by the other people and which must be accepted by them. -Tolstoy.
Russia and Elsewhere
The Russian Revolution is now affording every journalistic ignoramus the fertile opportunity of displaying -at so much per line -the depth of his socio-political wisdom and the fullness of his historical erudition.
Not a newspaper or a magazine in America but that has compared the Russian upheaval with the French Revolution and learnedly pointed to the "striking analogies" and drew the "inevitable" conclusions of débacle with that Karma finality that but illy hid the smirk of bourgeois satisfaction.
Vain fools! As if their penny minds could even conceive of the primal cosmic forces that have broken the bondage of centuries and are about to change the very course of the whole gamut of human experience.
For Russia is not going through a mere revolution. Comparisons with historical analogies, the tracing of superficial evolutionary "laws" are the veriest lilliputian efforts in the face of the titanic elements commanding untrammeled expression.
Never since the dawn of time has the world been pregnant with the mighty spirit that is now rocking Russia in the throes of a new birth -a new life, a new humanity, a new earth. It is the Messiah come, the Social Revolution.
The most tragic part of Russia's rebirth is the pity dished out to her by American editors. No doubt in many instances their ill-humored attitude merely cloaks the haunting fear that "the dictatorship of the proletariat" might indeed become a fact -and such things are terribly catching! What if the will of the proletariat should march across the borders of Russia and sweep the rest of the world in its compelling desire! Woe to all that's well established, parasites and all.
Hence the mad ravings against the Bolsheviki, the real pioneers of the Social Revolution. If journalistic assassination at long distance were effective, the Bolsheviki would all be dead by now. They are persistently misrepresented in the American press as the scum of the earth, criminals, Anarchists, a mere handful of malcontents who should be given the shortest shrift. It never enters the solid pate of the good American "news"-eater to inquire how it is possible for a handful of malcontents to keep such a vast country like Russia "in an uproar," and to influence a nation of almost two hundred million population.
Informed people know that the Bolsheviki are the majority elements in both the Social Revolutionary and the Social Democratic parties. "Bolshe," in Russian, means "more." Hence, Bolsheviki -the majority. And though the Bolsheviki of the Social Revolutionists in various matters disagree with the Social Democratic Bolsheviki, yet the plain truth of the Russian situation is that the overwhelming majority of the Russian people, the industrial and agrarian population, stand solidly behind the Bolsheviki, the true revolutionists who will not permit the Revolution to be exploited into a victory of the bourgeoisie. That is the fundamental difference between the Social Revolution in Russia and the French Revolution. The past martyrdom of Russia shall not be used as a stepping stone to capitalist domination. Russia must be free -from industrial despotism no less than from the tyranny of Tsardom.
On December 10th, the Supreme Court of the United States will decide the fate of three men and one woman, who took an active stand against the war -Alexander Berkman, Louis Kramer, Morris Becker and Emma Goldman.
By the first of the new year, unless a miracle happens and the judges of the Supreme Court can conquer the war hysteria with reason and justice, Emma Goldman will find herself back in the confines of the Jefferson City prison; Berkman will be behind the iron bars of the Federal Penitentiary at Atlanta, and Kramer and Becker will remain in that institution where they are at the present time. The sentence is two years and a fine of $10,000 and deportation to Russia in the cases of Emma Goldman, Alexander Berkman and Louis Kramer. The latter is also to serve one year in the Mercer County, N.J., Prison. The sentence of Morris Becker is twenty months in Atlanta.
Ordinarily a case taken to the highest judicial tribunal in the United States must wait at least a year before it is argued before that body. But now the newspaper clamor for immediate condemnation of everyone opposed to war is responsible for the anti-draft cases being among the first to be presented at the first session of the Federal Supreme Court.
Miracles happened frequently in earlier days, so the Bible tells us. But they occur very rarely in these times, and so we cannot imagine that the Supreme Court will declare the draft-law unconstitutional. Indeed, if that should happen the whole war policy would be shattered. We can only have a faint hope -and it is a very faint one -that the decision of the lower court in the anti-draft cases will be reversed on the grounds of error. And although there were enough errors in the trials, men are blind and afraid to see justice when they are stricken with the war mania.
But unfortunately for the human race, no matter how many publications the censors may suppress, or how many agitators and propagandists may be lynched, hanged or jailed, the struggle for Liberty will go on. And "Mother Earth" activities will continue as far as possible. We need your assistance more than ever. So far the arrest and trial of Emma Goldman, Alexander Berkman and the anti-draft cases, have already cost over $5,000. The printing of the briefs and minutes alone cost more than half of this amount. Our attorney, Harry Weinberger, has been working night and day, and has accomplished almost the impossible. If we are to make a favorable showing when the case comes up, December 10, we will have to have more funds for publicity and other expenses involved in the fight.
So great is the number of radicals in jail to-day that one almost has to offer an apology when he is at liberty. And although most of the cases of revolutionists in jail or undergoing trial for anti-war propaganda offer scant hope for victory on the side of justice and light, it is encouraging to know that in the case of Louis C. Fraina and Ralph Cheney one point of victory has at least been scored.
The two men were charged with conspiracy and with interfereing with the draft. Louis D. Boudin, attorney for the defendants was successful, however, in emphasizing to Judge Robert T. Ervin in the United States District Court that the indictment was false. Motion of the dismissal was made by Boudin on the ground that the section of the act refers to incitement, to insurrection or insubordination among those already in the armed forces of the government, and not one of those who attended the meeting on September 27, at the labor Temple, was in the Government's military service.
Long prison terms await these two comrades, nevertheless. They are still to be tried on the charge of conspiracy.
Shall 1887 Be Repeated?
It is nearly forty years since the Knights of Labor began their agitation for a national eight-hour day. Ridiculed at first, they next caused alarm among the employers, and this alarm soon developed into an active campaign of oppression and suppression.
The strike against the McCormick Harvester Co. was projected into the situation in the spring of 1886. Members of the Knights of Labor took an active part in the organization of the strikers and gave active support and counsel in their fight against what was then one of the greatest industrial concerns of the West.
Then came the Haymarket tragedy, the exact responsibility for which has not yet been placed. A bomb was thrown among a platoon of policemen which killed and wounded some of them. At once the cry was raised that the Knights of Labor was directly responsible for the affair, and a hunt was begun for the leaders. The charge was so flimsy and so absolutely without foundation that those in Chicago, who had been active in the councils of the strikers, thought there would be no difficulty in proving their innocence, and they walked boldly into the courts. But they reckoned without the power of blood money, as was proven on November 11, 1887.
At the time the veneration of the American people for judicial pronouncements was so great that, after the hanging of the so-called Anarchists on that fatal November day, the Knights of Labor rapidly declined in number and influence, and it has taken a generation for the workers of America to overcome the effects of that crime against them.
For twelve years the Industrial Workers of the World has carried a message of improved conditions on the jobs for all workers, of which the eight-hour day is but one of the demands. Ignored at first, then ridiculed, they soon caused alarm among the employing class, and this alarm has resulted in a campaign of oppression and suppression that is almost unbelievable in extent. It has been reliably reported that a campaign fund of several million dollars was subscribed by the employers to crush the I.W.W., and that amount of money can purchase oppression almost beyond belief.
The arrest of hundreds of members of the I.W.W., in all parts of the United States, and the cruel treatment that has been meted out to them can hardly be looked upon as disconnected events. They must be viewed, in the light of their similarity, and widely separated points, as parts of one comprehensive campaign that is directed with a definite purpose in view. Also the recent indictments against 166 members of the I.W.W. must be viewed in the same light.
At present there are nearly one hundred of those indicted who are under arrest, and the charges against them are so absolutely silly that many people are making light of the arrests. It is just this flimsy nature of the charges, and the perfect confidence of the accused in their innocence, that constitute the great danger in the present cases. We must take into consideration the power of the prosecution and the ferocity of those behind the prosecution. These cases must be tried by an aroused and enlightened public opinion.
If we are to prevent a repetition of the tragic crime of 1887, we must act vigorously and at once. It is not the charges that are placed against those who are indicted that constitute their menace, it is the gigantic slush fund that has been raised by the various employers' association throughout the country for the purpose of crushing all effective labor organization, that we must combat. And the way in which it must be met is by an aroused public sentiment. Organized labor dare not let the crime of 1887 be repeated. -Solidarity.
Send funds for the General Defense to I.W.W. Headquarters, 1001 West Madison Street, Chicago, Ill. And funds for The Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, Arturo Giovannitti, Carlo Tresca Defense, who are fighting extradition, to Helen Marot, 206 West 13th Street, New York City
Chicago, Ill., Oct. 14, 1917.
I am in receipt of your letter and am very glad to hear from you. Friend, talking about reaction these days is absolutely unnecessary, for we all know what's going on nearly every day in every city of this free America and land of democracy.
I think you are well acquainted with the happening in Milwaukee on the ninth of September. While our Italian comrades were coming out of their clubroom, walking toward their homes, on the corner of Bishop and Patters Avenues, they met a preacher by the name of A. Juliani, holding a revival meeting. He had organized a scheme, together with the policemen, to provoke trouble and land our comrades in jail. And he did. As soon as they were discovered the snake told those criminals, under policemen's uniform, that the Anarchists were coming. Nothing else -our comrades were attacked.
Of course they tried to defend themselves. You can imagine the result. Tony Fornasieri lived only a few minutes. August Maimelli died after five days' of agony, and Bortholo Testolini received a wound on one of his shoulders from the back. The others were all arrested -about twelve of them. While this was going on, one of the fanatic followers of the preacher tore the American flag and that made it harder for our comrades. I think you can conceive the struggle we are going through.
There is another big job on hand. The lawyer wants $3,000 to take up their defense, $1,500 before the trial and the remainder afterwards. To tell the truth I have lost faith even in the lawyer, for I have found out it is just as bad to trust him as it is to trust bankers, in fact the lawyers are nothing by blood-suckers.
The war not only means that, among many others, the "Mother Earth" Magazine has been silenced, but also that Emma Goldman has been gagged. That cut off one of the most important avenues of resources. Although it is almost a certainty that Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman will have to return Jefferson and to Atlanta respectively, not for one minute must the fight lag. We must not for one instant lay down our arms and allow free speech to be utterly wiped out in the United States. Free press is practically in its grave, but the voice of Liberty must not be strangled. You, comrades, are the only ones who can win our rights to express our opinions and to blaze the trail toward a free society where men and women and children can live and love and be happy together, a world without war, without exploitation, without tyranny and hatred.
Although "Mother Earth" has been suppressed, our activities will be continued and our new publication, "Mother Earth" Bulletin, will appear every month and will contain important news vital to the movement, as well as a report of proceedings of the various trials in the draft propaganda. "Mother Earth" Bulletin ought to have a large circulation. If your former subscription to "Mother Earth" has run out, won't renew at once? If possible order some extra copies to give away. For $1.00 we will send you twenty copies.
If you want to be of genuine aid to us and to the struggle we are making, help us circulate our literature. We have just issued a new edition of Emma Goldman's "Anarchism and Other Essays," containing a biographical sketch of the author together with twelve propaganda lectures on Anarchism, labor, sex and other vital problems. The book sells for $1.00. We will send you six copies for $5.00.
In order to thoroughly familiarize yourself with the now famous Emma Goldman-Alexander Berkman draft case, we urge you to read their remarkable speeches made in court. We have issued "Trial and Speeches" in a paper edition at 40 cents; three copies for $1.00. We also have a handsome leather bound edition for $1.00. These speeches will live long after their authors. You cannot afford to be without them.
November 1917 Vol 1 No 2
Miracles Do Happen
Alexander Berkman has been released from the Tombs Prison without bail. On November 10th, the second thirty-day extradition period had expired. Again our friend had to go through the farce of signing himself back into the Tombs. It was even a more painful procedure than last month, in view of the fact that the motion for bail had been denied.
The group of faithful friends who had gathered in the court room on the morning of the 10th and who were given a chance to visit Alexander Berkman, with heavy hearts saw him go back to jail. Our gloom increased when we were told two days later that there was no legal ground for bail and that we had better make up our minds that Berkman must remain in the Tombs until he is sent back to Atlanta Prison.
Then on Tuesday, November 13th, came the marvelous news which was conveyed to our Attorney, Harry Weinberger, by the District Attorney of Albany representing California; District Attorney Fickert temporarily withdrew the request for the extradition of Alexander Berkman until the appeal in the anti-draft case is decided. Harry Weinberger immediately got on the job to get A.B. released. But the red tape of the law robbed our friend of another day. Finally, Wednesday, November 14th, at noon, Alexander Berkman walked out a free man.
What caused the miracle? Did District Attorney Fickert have a change of heart? Did he wake up to the realization that for the last eighteen months he had been engaged in a black crime against innocent human beings? Did he wish to make good by letting Berkman go free, to be followed by the release of the others? That would have indeed been a miracle of the kind that never happens.
No, Fickert is still on the job holding on to his victims who had the misfortune to fall into his clutches. But there is the Federal Commission looking into his crooked cards. There, too, is his recall staring him in the face. There is the big movement which sprung up into being to save Alexander Berkman from the fate of Mooney and the others.
Last, but not least, there is the fact that as a Federal prisoner, A.B. would not have been turned over to San Francisco so easily. Anyway, District Attorney Fickert after a heart-breaking struggle decided not to insist for the present on the extradition of his sixth victim.
Well, our Comrade is free -free to go about, free to visit his friends, free to enjoy the glorious weather we are having in New York now. But let no one be deceived as to the safety of Alexander Berkman. So long as Billings is languishing in Folsom prison with his last chance of a new trial denied, so long as the gallows is awaiting Mooney, and Rena is still in jail, so long as Weinberg is being put through the same hideous farce of a trial, and Nolan is to come next, A.B. is not safe. Our work, then, must not stop for one single moment. There is too much danger ahead.
How Wars Are Made
The loud little handful -as usual -will shout for the war. The pulpit will -wearily and cautiously -object -at first; the great, big, dull bulk of the nation will rub its sleepy eyes and try to make out why there should be a war, and will say, earnestly and indignantly, "It is unjust and dishonorable, and there is no necessity for it." Then the handful will shout louder. A few fair men on the other side will argue and reason against the war with speech and pen, and at first will have a hearing and be applauded; but it will not last long; those others will outshout them, and presently the anti-war audiences will thin out and lose popularity. Before long you will see this curious thing, the speakers stoned from the platforms, and the free speech strangled by hordes of furious men who in their secret hearts are still at one with those stoned speakers -as earlier -but do not dare to say so. And now the whole nation -pulpit and all -will take up the war-cry and shout itself hoarse and mob any honest man who ventures to open his mouth; and presently such mouths will cease to open. Next the statesmen will invent cheap lies, putting the blame upon the nation that is attacked, and every man will be glad of those conscience-soothing falsities, and will diligently study them and refuse to examine any refutations of them; and thus he will by and by convince himself that the war is just, and will thank God for the better sleep he enjoys after this process of grotesque self-deception." -Mark Twain, in "The Mysterious Stranger."
The Boylsheviki Spirit and History
Some day the finger of history will point out the truth concerning the Boylsheviki of Russia and the tremendous significance of that movement. Nor need the time be long postponed, for the essential features of the Maximalist Revolution stand out in bold relief on the darkened horizon of Russia, all wilful and malicious press disfigurement notwithstanding.
A brief synopsis of recent Russian events may clear the view.
The dethronement of the Tsar and his clique came over night, and almost bloodlessly. The most powerful and feared autocrat of the world passed like a shadow, leaving hardly a trace of his existence. The régime of brutality and slavery had thoroughly undermined its own foundation, and the intensive revolutionary propaganda finally swept away the tottering pillars. A puff, and the whole structure was gone.
But the Constitutional Democrats, risen to power, had absolutely nothing to offer to the people. Representing the upper end middle business classes -the Russian bourgeoisie -the only raison d'être the cadets had, politically, was the protection of the interests of the landowners and commercial elements. Aside of paper constitutions and hollow "reforms" they could afford no relief to long-suffering Russia. But the people, the great proletariat of field and factory, was clamoring for the fruit of the Tsar's fall. It demanded Land and Well-being. The Cadets could not serve two masters, as no one can. The political representatives of Russian capitalism, they could not satisfy the need of the masses. The Cadets had to go.
The Kerensky government realized the situation. It knew that the people must have something more concrete than "Liberty" blazoned from the Winter Palace. Kerensky, the social revolutionist, began with a drastic measure -the famous Military Order No. 1, proclaiming the equality of soldiers and officers as common tovarishchi (comrades) of the Revolution. Differences in rank were virtually abolished, the soldier was not required to salute his officers, and the rank and file organized their own committees which chose officers for command. This endeared Kerensky to the army. It was the outward symbol of real Liberty to come, the first significant gesture of the Social Revolution. And Kerensky felt safe in the saddle.
But "gestures" alone, however revolutionary and unique, could not long still the passionate hunger for Land and Well-being. Nor could the most eloquent speeches of Kerensky and Co. The soldier-peasant took him at his word, literally, with the peasant's splendid naivity. He had real liberty this time, he was told. Liberty meant to him Land, and by the hundred thousand soldiers dropped their guns, and went back, peaceful and happy peasants, to the land, their land at last.
"Why, indeed, continue to fight," the soldier-peasant argued. "It's the Tsar's war, and now we're rid of him and his brood. Let's go home, then."
He did, almost two millions of them.
Kerensky faced a profound dilemma. The people -the city workers and the peasants -demanded the immediate solution of most vital problems: the redistribution of the land, the confiscation of royal, ducal, church, etc., property, and the arrangement of economic and industrial life according to the program of the Social Revolutionary Party, the program propagated by Kerensky for many years.
Gigantic as the task was, it was neither impossible nor impracticable. The bulk of the country expected it; nay, demanded it. The people were ready for it. It was a job for a strong man. But Kerensky, the Hamlet nature, vaccillated between the Social Revolution and the middle classes. He sought to compromise with the latter by inviting Cadets into his Cabinet, and ended by compromising the Revolution.
The Boylsheviki alone have the faith and the strength of actually putting the program of the Social Revolution into operation. All the revolutionary parties of Russia have preached it -the Social Democrats and the Social Revolutionists, the Bundists, Anarchists, Syndicalists and Internationalists. The Boylsheviki are of all these parties, though mainly of the Social Revolutionists and Social Democrats. Their practical program has been repeatedly stated in the writings and speeches of Lenin, Trotsky, Zinoviev and other Maximalists. They are clearly formulated in a pamphlet by Lenin, published some time ago, under the title "Political Parties and the Problem of the Proletariat."
Were the American correspondents in Russia not so densely ignorant of Russian conditions, not so superficial and bourgeois minded, the American press would not teem with the infamous lies and downright forgeries masquerading as "Petrograd news." There could be no more insidious poisoning of the public mind, and conscious falsification of history, than the persistent insinuation and even direct charge that Lenin is an agent of Prussia and the Boylsheviki movement the result of German propaganda. The "special correspondents," male and female, that set afloat and propagate these poison gases will be branded by true history as the usual type of mental prostitutes so prevalent in capitalist journalism.
In the work of Lenin referred to, the demands of the Maximalists -properly the Social Democratic Labor Party, were clearly set forth. They comprised:
(a) A democratic Republic managed by the Sovieti (Councils) of workers', soldiers' and peasants' deputies.
(b) Convocation of the Constitutional assembly at the earliest possible time.
(c) Opposition to all wars waged in the interests of international commerce and exploitation.
(d) Speedy general peace. No indemnities and no annexation. Abolition of all secret treaties. The peoples themselves, through chosen representatives, to hold conferences and make inter-nation agreements.
(e) Return of the land to the peasant population, according to need and actual working ability.
(f) Control of industries by the proletariat.
(g) The formation of an International in all countries for the complete abolition of all monarchies and capitallism, and the establishment of international brotherhood.
The Boylsheviki are now in power in Russia. It is to be expected, of course, that all the conservative and reactionary elements will combine against them. For the program and the will to do of the Boylsheviki threaten every vested interest, every established and prosperous wrong.
Whatever the immediate outcome of the Boylsheviki revolution, the raising of the Maximalist banner is itself the greatest and grandest event of these eventful days. The unbiased and clear-sighted future historian will hail it as the most significant phase of the Russian Revolution, the most inspiring moment of our whole civilization. It is rich with the promise of a true Social Revolution, the first joyous glimpse of which shall nevermore permit the people of Russia to bow to autocracy and capitalism.
Truly has Trotsky said that the Russian Revolution is continuous, permanent, till Liberty, Land and Well-being are in fact the heritage of the people.
The New York Public recently published a very thoughtful essay by David Starr Jordan, on "The Scheme of Pan-Germany." The Pan-German League, made up of the Junker land-holding nobility, iron manufacturers, military leaders, some intellectuals, etc., Professor Jordan correctly characterizes as the chief promoter of the World War and the chief obstacle to World Peace. In the course of the article we meet this significant passage: "The current of feeling against these 'murderers of the state' (to use the words of a German editor) rises higher and higher in Germany as throughout the civilized world. But only the Germans themselves can suppress Pan-Germanism." (Italics are ours).
Ever since the war started, we -the Anarchist internationalists -have been arguing that democracy cannot be shot into people with bullets. We are glad that Professor Jordan, and many others with him, no doubt, have at last realized this. But only if the Germans themselves can suppress Pan-Germanism, Junkerism and autocracy, where, then, is the sense of continuing the war?
They say that war means misery and pauperization, heartaches and death. But certain statistics do not seem to substantiate this notion.
For instance, in the year preceding the beginning of the war, the Steel Trust had a clear profit of the comfortable sum of about $85,000,000. But that is a mere bagatelle compared with present "earnings." The first nine months of 1917 have netted the Steel Trust, over and above all expenditures, just $380,000,000.
The Steel Trust is only e pluribus unum. And surely no one but a maniac would expect the profiteers to kill the goose that lays such golden eggs. No, indeed; they are too good patriots to stand for such treasonable talk.
As we go to press, the news comes of the indictment against the Masses group. It was to be expected that the growing reaction would not stop with the mere suppression of radical publications, but that it will also reach out for the men and women who speak through the published medium. Were it not for this fact, we should feel deeply sorry to have been a contributory cause to the trouble of the Masses.
To speak a sympathetic work for Alexander Berkman and Emma Goldman is now considered a crime. But, then, almost anything that shows independent thinking and kindly feeling is criminal in our days.
Frank Little, a crippled strike leader, taken out of bed in the dead of night and lynched by corporation gunmen in Utah, U.S.A.
President Wilson a few days later proclaims that America must crush barbarism in Prussia.
Dr. Bigelow kidnapped and whipped by vigilantes in Kentucky, U.S.A., for a speech he was about to deliver.
The President issues his Thanksgiving Proclamation, calling upon the people of America to be thankful for the privileges and liberties they enjoy.
Seventeen men -some of them members of the I.W.W. -beaten, tarred and feathered in Tulsa, Okla., and driven half-naked and bleeding into the brush.
Will Washington now issue another proclamation to carry the blessings of American civilization into Germany?
Two prisoners in the cell adjoining mine were having a heated argument.
"Bloody well you know," the Britisher was shouting, "there are things about England much superior to your country."
"T' hell you say!" the Bowery boy retorted.
"You see," the Britisher persisted, "Britain is a monarchy, and you can shame the king into decency, but a democracy has no king and no one to shame."
"Whatcher mean, you pudd'nhead?"
"You see, there is that hunger striker, Alice Paul, in jail in Washington. We in the monarchy didn't let them die. We turned them loose, and, guilty of arson, too, they were. But you people will let her croak, for nothing, too; just carried a banner. Get the point, m'boy?"
There was no reply. We could hear distinctly the muffled steps of the approaching guard.
Why does the superstition persist that we are ruled by majority will, in spite of all the facts to the contrary? To take an illustration of recent events:
Judge Hylan has been elected Mayor of New York City by about 250,000 voters. The population of the city is over five millions, but they will be ruled by a man who is the choice of only one-twentieth part of the inhabitants of New York. Is that majority rule?
Even if we consider only the voting population, then we will also find that the next mayor is not the choice of the majority. The total of ballots cast for Hillquit, Mitchel and Bennett was far greater than the vote in favor of Hylan.
Where, then, does "majority rule" come in? It is a myth.
Samuel Gompers knows that a concerted attack is to be made upon his "policies" at the Buffalo Convention of the American Federation of Labor. He knows and evidently fears it. His betrayal of the workers will be exposed, and his throne might be rudely shaken. But Sammy has learned something by his association with the military men on the War Board. Camouflage is a useful thing on the field of battle -why not also in the A.F. of L. Convention?
Saving thought! Let's get the President of the United States to address the delegates and furnish a fresh luster on the tarnished Labor Czar.
Whoever hesitates to utter that which he thinks the highest truth, lest it should be too much in advance of the time, may reassure himself by looking at his acts from an impersonal point of view.
Let him duly realize the fact that opinion is the agency through which character adapts external arrangements to itself -that his opinion rightly forms part of this agency -is a trait of force, constituting, with other such units, the general power which works out social changes, and he will perceive that he may properly give full utterance to his innermost conviction, leaving it to produce what effect it may.
It is not for nothing that he has in him these sympathies with some principles and repugnance to others. He, with all his capacities and aspirations and beliefs, is not an accident but a product of the time. He must remember that while he is a descendant of the past he is a parent of the future, and that his thoughts are as children born to him, which he may not carelesxsly let die. Not as adventitiousness, therefore, will the wise man regard the faith which is in him. The highest truth he sees he will fearlessly utter.
Knowing that, let what may come of it, he is thus playing his right part in the world, knowing that if he can effect the change he aims at -well; if not -well also; though not so well. -Herbert Spencer.
Chicago, 1887 -San Francisco, 1917
Read this short chapter on two tragic events in the American labor movement, and then consider whether there is any reason to maintain that real justice has made any headway in this country. Do this in memory of August Spies, Albert Parsons, Adolf Fischer, George Engel, who died like heroes on the gallows on the 11th of November, 1887; and of Louis Lingg, who committed suicide in his cell shortly before he was to be led to his death. Also do not forget Tom Mooney, now in prison, under sentence of death, and Warren K. Billings, condemned to life imprisonment. The same sinister forces that demanded the blood of Parsons and his comrades are now at work also in San Francisco, demanding the blood of Tom and Rena Mooney, Weinberg, Billings, Nolan, and Berkman.
On May 4th, 1886, a meeting took place at the Haymarket in Chicago for the purpose of protesting against brutal police assaults upon striking workingmen and their meetings. The assembly was peaceful, and Mayor Harrison, after listening to several speakers, told Police Captain Bonfield to order his reserves to go home. Towards the close of the meeting, when Fielden was speaking, a force of about 180 policemen appeared on the scene in quick step and fighting formation. They made ready for attack, when suddenly a fiery something flew through the air, alighted amongst the police, and exploded. One policeman, E.J. Degan, was killed outright, seven died later, and about fifty received injuries. The few hundred people remaining on the square fled in all directions, pursued by the firing police.
The speakers of the meeting were arrested, except Albert Parsons, who had left Chicago. He presented himself to the court later, when the trial started and danger was near. A reign of white terror began. Labor papers were suppressed, printing plants demolished, spokesmen of the toilers imprisoned for no other reason than that they helped the workingmen to better their conditions. The big daily papers convicted the prisoners on the charge of murder before the trial had even begun.
Who threw the bomb no one knows to this day. The authorities of Chicago did not bother much about that. What they were after was the seizure, conviction and hanging of those labor agitators whom Big Business considered dangerous to its exploitation privileges. The Grand Jury on May 17th indicted August Spies, Michael Schwab, Samuel Fielden, Albert Parsons, Louis Lingg, Adolph Fischer, Geo. Engel, Neebe, Schnaubelt, and Seliger for murder. Schnaubelt could not be found and Seliger turned informer against his former comrades. About 1,000 persons were examined for the jury, of which number not half a dozen belonged to the working class. Most of the prospective jurors declared they had a prejudice against anarchists, communists, and socialists; but according to Judge Gary, who presided, that was no cause to exclude them from the jury.
Later, in an affidavit included in a motion for a new trial, it was sworn that the official bailiff, Henry Rice, had said to well-known men in Chicago that "he was managing the case and that he knew what he was about; that those fellows should hang as sure as hell, and that he was only summoning such men as jurors as would not be acceptable to the defendants."
The most important witnesses for the State were Waller, Schrader and Seliger, all former comrades of the prisoners, now turned informers from fear of the gallows or hope of gain promised them by the police. The testimony of this trio was highly suspicious and very flimsy. The police had in some cases to admit payments of moneys to the witnesses. They contradicted each other in a compromising way, and disappointed even the prosecution by their hesitation and confusion. It was clear the State could not prove that the accused had instigated or advised or even known of the bomb throwing. But they had committed a crime that was in the eyes of the rich and influential people worse than bomb throwing. They had written and spoken against the tyranny of capital and State against exploitation and suppression. That was the real issue.
On the 20th of August the eight accused men were condemned, seven of them to die on the gallows, and Oscar Neebe to be sent to the penitentiary for fifteen years. The sentence against Schwab and Fielden was commuted to life imprisonment.
In the name of the law, murder had been committed. A few years after the crime had been consummated, the Chicago Herald, after investigation, published some interesting data. About three hundred leading American capitalists had met secretly to plan the destruction of Anarchy. They formed themselves into The Citizens' Association, and subscribed $100,000 in a short time. A like sum, it was stated, was guaranteed to the police and their agents every year, but some years later, about 1892, the payments stopped.
The wrongs and legal lynchings committed in this infamous trial against the Chicago Anarchists, the Governor of Illinois, John P. Altgelt, summed up and set forth when he made public his reasons for setting free Fielden, Schwab, and Neebe in the year 1893. In this document the mask was torn off the face of capitalistic justice, showing how pliable it is in the hands of those classes of society that accumulate power and wealth out of the labor and the misery of the masses.
If one changed the names, dates, and location one might just as well use the foregoing short account of the corrupt methods used in the Haymarket trial for the characterization of the shameful proceedings that have been carried on in the Preparedness Parade bomb case. But now the rich and influential people are better organized. Their organization in San Francisco is called the Chamber of Commerce. They did not start out with a measly $100,000 to lure on graft, bribery, and perjury. They were ready to sacrifice a whole $1,000,000 for that noble purpose. Also it may be said that the prosecution in the San Francisco cases excels the Grinnels and Bonfields of Chicago in the fine art of lying and conspiring to murder innocent workers. But these are only external dissimilarities. In principle both cases are alike. A bomb explosion, the perpetrator of which is not known, is made the excuse for murder charges against labor agitators obnoxious to Big Business, by using every form of deception and dastardly scheme to have them hanged.
But in Chicago these murderous schemes became known too late. The victims of a prostituted justice lay buried in their graves for years. It is different in San Francisco. There deception and corruption stare in the face of everyone who cares to look. The whole construction of the frame-up crumbles piece by piece, and Labor is aroused to the terrible conspiracy. The hope may be expressed that Tom and Rena Mooney, Billings and Weinberg, Nolan and Berkman may yet be torn out of the cluches of the legal murderers, to live and work with us for many years to come.
December 1917 Vol 1 No 3
VOL.I. DECEMBER,1917 NEW YORK NO.3.
The lights had gone out, and I lay on my iron cot. But I could not sleep. The words of the Indian lifer, my cellmate, kept ringing in my ears. "Are those fool people worth it," he had said, "that you should waste your life in prison? Ah, you don't know how sweet liberty is! Just let me get out once. You won't catch ME going to prison‑hell for anyone else."
How often I had heard that! The refrain has rung its sharp scorn throughout the ascent of life. As a youth, I remember, my bourgeois uncle gloated over my helpless discomfiture as he thrust the eternal sword at me, "Why do you always butt in? Let those darn kids light their own battles. You'll get nothing but blows for helping them."
At school, in the factory, in prison --- everywhere sounded the old refrain. It followed me from Atlanta to the Tombs, as it followed the social protestant since Socrates emptied the cup of Hemlock for his beloved Greece. With the prisoner's eagerness I tore open my first letter in jail, and I read: "Are those stupid workers, really worth all your sacrifice?"
Dear friends, near and far --- you, my comrades, known and unknown, you whose glorious devotion filled my dark cell with the brightest of sunshine; you, men and women, aye, and the children that worked so restlessly in my behalf; you who gave so heartily of the meager earnings of constant toil; to you all, and to the world at large and to all the disheartened ones I would fain about in the ecstacy of the wonderful, glorious comradeship you have given me,
It is worth it! Worth it a thousand times, worth all the pain and the sacrifice of a dozen lives!
The Russian Revolution
Shortly after the European cataclysm swept over the world, American correspondents and magazine writers told glowing stories about the marvelous unity which existed in Russia between the people and the Tsar. They would have the world believe that the struggle of well‑nigh one hundred years against Tsarism had ceased over night, to give way to perfect harmony between the Russian autocracy and the people. They told marvelous tales about the kindness and humanity of the Russian officers to soldiers who had hitherto known nothing but the knout from their superiors. They described in glowing colors how the persecuted, exploited workers, and the flogged, famished peasants, were as one with their government, imbued with one passion in the great war.
Barely three years after these shameful lies of the war unity in Russia, the Revolution swept Tsarism into the gutter, and dispelled the myth that the Russian people wanted the war, that they were eager to die in the trenches for their Babushka. In one mighty voice the people thundered from every nook and corner of Russia for peace, for fraternization with the people of Germany and with all their oppressed and disinherited brothers. That was their reply to the willful misrepresentations which had been sent broadcast to Western Europe and America about the unity of the people with their governing class.
To understand the Revolution one must trace its beginnings to the heroic movement which had for nearly a hundred years carried on an incessant battle against the dark forces of Russian autocracy. During that period the blood of the Russian martyrs had nurtured the seed of idealism and rebellion in the womb of the Russian soil. The hosts that had been done to death in the Peter and Paul Fortress, in Schluesselburg, in Siberia, by the knout and the scaffold, have come to life in the Russian Revolution. The message of the men and woman with the white hands‑the intellectuals‑the Petroshevskis and Tchernishevskis, the Sofia Perovskayas and Helfmans, the Alexander Herzens, Vera Fignera, Spiridonovas, Babushkas, and thousands of others, had borne fruit. Their message was: Death to tyranny, and Life to the people. Human brotherhood and social well‑being was their slogan.
Through a slow and painful process, and at the expense of the best and finest of the Russian generations, this message was carried to the hearts and minds of the people, the peasants, the workers. It became their hope, their dream, their pean song. In the face of the great sacrifice the people often despaired of realizing their dream. Then new forces were sent into the villages to reassure the people, to strengthen their faith, to inspire them with new hope, for no message conceived in pain and nourished by blood and tears can ever be lost.
On the very eve of Russia's entry into the war, she was seething with revolution. The General Strike spread like wildfire in the industrial centers. Discontent and rebellion imbued the slow peasant and rejuvenated him to action. It is not at ill unlikely that war was welcomed by autocracy as a check on the rising revolutionary tide.
Blind to the tendencies of the time, autocracy, even as all other governments, coerced the people into the war, but it was stupid to assume that they would submit very long: that they would so easily betray their martyrs who had died for universal peace and social brotherhood, that they would forget the tortures inflicted upon them, the sufferings and horrors endured at home, and rush off, bayonet in hand, to make Germany safe for democracy.
The Russian Revolution was the culminating expression of all the accumulated longings of the Russian people. It was the breaking point of the hatred for the old regime, and the realization of the great dream, cherished by the people for so long. Coming from the very depths of the Russian soul and spirit, how could anything so deep‑rooted, so overpowering content itself with the overthrow of the Tsar, and his replacement by some cheep liberal regime, embodied in a Milliukof, a Lvof, or even a Kerenski.
Kerenski's regime was a compromise between political Socialism and economic liberalism, both contrary to the revolution and its promise. It seems to have been Kerenski's dream to see "law and order" triumph, while leaving intact the social conditions which the revolution purported to change. Kerenski's regime played the same role as all the provisional governments temporarily washed in by a revolutionary tide. From the very first day of their appearance, they proclaim the end of the revolution. They take possession of power; but power, like all gods, can tolerate no other god beside it. Starting from this autocratic premise, the provisional government in Russia inevitably became reactionary, a new despotism, ready to strangle the revolution before it had made a decisive step.
The powerful revolutionary consciousness of the Russian people could not be stayed by the command of a renegade. The revolution would not stop because the provisional government attempted to check its march. It only struck deeper and went an in its persistent demand. The revolution which managed to overcome the age‑long despotic regime of the Tsar, was not likely to collapse because of the obstacles placed in its way by politicians a la Kerenski. The Russian Revolution has triumphed over prisons, Siberia, and scaffolds. Pogroms have failed to slay it. The knout, cutting deep into its flesh, has been unable to stifle its spirit. How, then, was it to be dominated by a few upstarts of the moment?
To the Russian people the Revolution means a fundamental change in the political and economic arrangements of life. Primarily it means the confiscation of the land and the sources of production how those who had grown rich upon them while keeping the people in poverty. The Russians have begun to realize that mere political liberties are not lasting; that nothing is gained unless a fundamental change has been brought about to sustain the newly achieved political advantages.
All preceding revolutions were in this respect warning and instructive example for the Russian Revolution. They never went much beyond the change of government. The people shed their blood, but received as reward nothing save the old despotism hidden under a new mask of hypocritical liberalism. How easily such a mask can be worn, the Russian people had ample opportunity to learn from the modern bourgeois republics of Europe and America. Yes, even easier than under a monarchy has it proven in republics to enslave the people, mentally and physically.
The new phase, the Boylsheviki Revolution, lifts Russia out of the paralyzing position of a merely political machine into a virile, active economic force. Verily, this new phase shows how inexhaustible the Russian Revolution is. How many times she has already been buried, and yet how many times she has arisen! Nor is it the end, but rather the beginning of the real social Revolution.
The very, fact that such an extreme Marxiam as Lenin, and revolutionists like Trotsky and Kollontay can work together with the vast number of Russians who will not continue to shed their blood and waste their lives for the perpetuation of the world war, proves that they are actuated, not by German money, but by the inner psychic necessity of the Russian Revolution to proclaim the ultimatum of "Universal Peace and the Land to the People" to the rest of the world. Great as the Lenins, the Trotskys and the others may be, they are but the pulse‑beat of the people who, as Lincoln Steffens justly said, are the only heroes in Russia. They are worn and weary with everlasting strife and bloodshed. They want peace as a means of getting back to themselves, of getting back to their land, of reconstructing their beloved Matushka Rossiya.
In the midst of the confusion and horrors of war, the Russian Revolution raises, in its mighty arm the torch to illumine the horizon for all the peoples of the world. What irony that the light of real liberty and justice should emanate from a people who until very recently were considered the most primitive, uneducated and uncultured, a half‑Asiatic race. Yet it is well for the Russian Revolution that her people have remained primitive. That is why they can face life and life's problems in a simple, unspoiled and uncorrupted state of mind, with true feeling and sound judgment After all, true intelligence is primitive because it originates within man. It is not brought about through external, mechanical methods of education. It is well for the Revolution that her people are uncultured, uneducated. That means not yet drilled into blind obedience, into automata, into cringing slaves. It were desirable that the peoples of other countries had remained as primitive and uneducated. They would have the courage for independent thinking, and the seal of independent revolutionary action.
The demand of the people for universal peace, as the only basis for the working out of the fulfillment of the revolution, in the greatest victory of the modern times, a victory which will satisfy the yearning not only of the Russian people, but of the rest of the world. Out of it we must drink new hope and strength for the overthrow of the tyranny and oppression which have ruled humanity so long. Out of it must come the new hope of a brotherhood which shall put an end to war and militarism, and give to the world freedom of mind and body, freedom of life, and the joys which come from social harmony and a mutual understanding of the peoples of the earth.
At Home and Abroad
Beneath the helpless rage against the Boylsheviki, shared by the dark forces everywhere, there is noticeable a hidden sense of respect. To think that the Lenins and Trotskys demand no less than --- well, everything! And all for the people, nothing for themselves. Even that most unblushing reactionary and frank champion of capitalism, the New York Times, does not always succeed in masking its secret admiration for the daring genius of the Russian Revolution.
But the Boylsheviki must be destroyed, in spite of everything. They are a menace to privilege and exploitation, such as the world has never seen before. If the landlords are to be dispossessed and the common peasant permitted to till the soil for his own benefit, what will become of profits? And --- worse yet --- if capitalist paper titles should be declared mere scraps of waste, and the industrial producers given the use of their product, the very bulwarks of civilization would be destroyed.
Such things cannot be tolerated. No, not even in Russia, for the example set by those ignorant folk will inevitably have a powerful effect upon the workers of other countries.
Therefore, and quite suddenly, the editorial scribe of The Times resurrects the Internationale. He graciously admits that "that once renowned association was started from the meetings of French workingmen visiting the London exhibition in 1862." But "Internationalism is now dead, save in the United States. It was killed by the French Communists playing directly into the hands of Germany in 1871."
As apiece of subtle assassination, this editorial prostitution of history has no rival. The Paris Communards, slaughtered by the perfidity of the French government, were the only true internationalists of their day. The government of France consented even to open the gates of Paris to the Prussian enemy without, in order to crush the demand for bread and liberty within. The Communards were the unsuccessful predecessors of the triumphant Boylsheviki. No wonder that the scribes of The Times, and the class they speak for, are foaming at the mouth at the very mention of the popular demand for liberty and peace, and of the victory of the INTERNATIONALE in Russia!
* * *
The decision just handed down by the U. S. Supreme Court, ‑ in connection with the litigation of the United Mine Workers and the Virginia coal companies will affect the American Federation of Labor in a most fundamental way.
In essence the decision says that, while unions are perfectly legal, the attempt to organize workers with the intent of a subsequent strike is "malicious and illegal," because calculated to interfere with the accustomed pursuit of business by the employer. In other words, unions are all right as long as they don't unionize.
The decision practically wipes out all organizing effort and paralyzes even defensive labor activities. For no union is of the least benefit to its members unless it can unionize the unorganized in its particular trade, and thus protect itself, so far as possible, against the despotism of the employer, the reduction of wages, etc.
This is apparently the reward Mr. Gompers is receiving as the unofficial member of the President's official family. Gompers suspended the labor struggle during the war. But capital knows no armistice with labor. It rather takes full advantage of the opportunity, offered by the time‑serving attitude of Gompers, to check and disorganize the labor forces to the point of complete ineffectiveness as a labor movement.
It is apparent that Gompers promises more than he can make good. He has pledged the whole labor movement, but he represents only a small part of it, and does not control even that. Strikes have multiplied since Gompers announced that the workers would not strike during the war. The explanation of it is that discontent is wide‑spread among the workers with the conditions in general: besides, the whip of hunger is more compelling than the pleading or even the threats of Gompers & Co. Even drastic decisions of the highest courts are powerless to stay the rising tide.
* * *
The U. S. Supreme Court, we are informed, will not reach the appeal cases of Emma Goldman, Alexander Berkman, Louis Kramer and Morris Fecker before the middle of December. A number of similar cases, involving the constitutionality of the draft law and kindred matters are on the calendar, to be heard in the same week. Our attorney, Mr. Harry Weinberger, is in Washington, D C., ready to present his argument. We have read the brief prepared by him for the Court, and we think it a masterly presentation of the questions at issue. It contains a thorough analysis of the various legal phases, but what appeals most to us is the broad human view taken by Mr. Weinberger in his analysis of the social values, and the fine vision that is the keynote of his argument. Of course, we are only laymen, with minds untrained in legal finesse. Therefore we may be misled into giving undue importance to matters of partly human interest, such as justice and liberty, while perhaps underestimating the more essential need of strict compliance with legal forms and precedents venerable with age.
* * *
Every day almost our friends inquire about the outcome of the appeal in the Cleveland case of Ben Reitman. It was surely not lack of interest which has prevented our writing more often about the matter. It is only that anything connected with Birth Control now seems too insignificant compared with the world conflagration that is devouring human life and spreading disaster everywhere.
We bad been assured by Ben's attorney that his appeal would not be heard before Spring. Two weeks ago the case was suddenly called in the Appellate Court of the State of Ohio. To quote from Ben"s letter, written after the hearing:
"The hearing lasted forty‑five minutes. My attorneys, Mr. Ewing and Mr. Eisler, had just started to go into the testimony when one of the Judges announced that "time is up.' Hostility was apparent from the start."
In other words, our friend having looked into the faces of the judges, seems less hopeful than when he consented to the appeal. It is very likely that a new trial before a judge less antiquated than Judge Cull may result in an acquittal. But even if he were convicted, the sentence would not be so excessive as the present one of six months and one thousand dollars' fine. The attorneys are working hard for a new trial, but nothing definite will be known until the middle of January.
Whatever the outcome, Ben Reitman will meet it bravely. With his usual Christian faith he writes: 'Fate will not permit her chosen ones to reform. Those of us who had any inclination to leave the revolutionary movement know now that the Gods will not permit them."
Not being a Christian, I am not so sure of the intentions of Fate. But this I know: The Courts seem determined to hide from sight every disturbing element, especially is these truly democratic times.
* * *
Things is this country are really coming to a terrible pass. Not enough that the anti-Militarists, anarchists, I. W. W. and other disloyalists are worrying the government with their inconsiderate and ill‑timed talk of such petty matters as high profits, low wages, forced service, soap‑boxing and similar stuff, not to speak of the stubborn strikers who hold up government work because, forsooth! their wives won't Hooverize on coil and eats‑‑as if all that were not enough to try the patience of an angel‑now come the cops of Philadelphia, and declare a strike!
Unheard of! The very men whose business it is to break up assemblies and club strikers into submission, themselves on a strike! When the very guardians of Law and Order begin to act like I. W. W., things may become very serious. Have they caught the spirit of the rabble and are they going to desert the masters? It is ominous. Perhaps, even, they may fraternize with strikers and pickets! Who knows? They may have been reading of those cursed Workers' and Soldiers' Counsels in mad Russia. Perhaps the papers had better not write more about those terrible things. They are catching.
* * *
An illuminating sidelight on the alleged even‑handedness of justice is thrown by two incidents of recent occurrence.
A workman and strike leader, Frank Little, member of the I. W. W., is forcibly dragged from his bed a night and lynched by a patriotic mob. The press of the country comments cynically on the infamous deed, practically condones the outrage, and openly gloats over the salutary effect the murder will have on the the friends and sympathisers of the strike leader.
No one is punished; indeed, no attempt is made by the authorities to discover the masked, but virtually known, vigilantes. Vice‑President Marshall, returning from his Western trip, indulges in the cheap and atrocious pun that "a Little hanging goes a long way" in stabilizing industrial conditions.
Than a bomb, discovered by some passerby near a church in Milwaukee, and carelessly handled in the police station, suddenly explodes, claiming a number of police victims. Immediately every person non grata to the police is arrested in the city, and a veritable man hunt for "Italian dynamiters and Anarchists" started throughout the country. Men by the score are thrown into jail, without rime or reason, and persons are arrested in other cities who by no stretch of the imagination could have any possible connection with the explosion. But the net is spread, the innocent and guilty look alike in police eyes, vengeance is a‑thirst, and victims must be found, so the country will feel properly saved.
Indeed. Justice is blind. It neither sees nor seems to care, so long as the weak are the victims.
* * *
Thirteen Negro soldiers have been hanged by the military authorities is Texas. Not a word had been said about the trial, the evidence --- not a line, until thirteen human bodies were stiff in death, dangling at the end of a rope, and forty‑one others immured in prison for life.
This is the first time in this country, since the Mexican war of 1848, that such a thing has been possible --- under cover of journalistic silence. Not even the terrible Civil War produced such horrors. One wonders what this universal birth of democracy is yet to produce.
ANARCHISM‑ The philosophy of a new social order based on liberty unrestricted by man‑made law; the theory that all forms of government rest on violence, and are therefore wrong and harmful, as well as unnecessary.
* * *
ANARCHIST COMMUNISM‑ Voluntary economic co‑operation of all towards the needs of each. A social arrangement based on the principle: To each according to his needs; from each according to his ability.
* * *
DIRECT ACTION‑ Conscious individual or collective effort to protest against, or remedy social conditions through the systematic assertion of the economic power of the workers.
More of the Frame-Up
The frightfulness and corruption involved in the San Francisco labor cases pass all belief. Every day, almost, brings new disclosures of the devilish plot to hang the militant labor men now on trial in California. The latest development is the sworn confession of Mrs. Allie Kidwell, now in the hands of the Federal Investigation Commission, that District Attorney Fickert forced her to perjure herself, with the threat of exposing her past life and that of her daughter, Estelle Smith, the chief witness of the prosecution. Mrs. Kidwell now reveals that her testimony before the Grand jury was false in every particular; that she had never seen Mooney. Billings or Weinberg till they were pointed out to her in the jail; that her identification of them was staged by the police, and that she and her daughter were promised payment for their part in the conspiracy.
The "honest cattleman," Oxman, "Dopey" McDonald, the ex‑crook Crowley, the two Edeau women, and Estelle Smith --- all important witnesses in the frame‑up --- have long ago been exposed as bribed perjurers. The Kidwell confession merely completes the rotten circle, and stamps the whole case as the most stupendous conspiracy against labor men ever hatched in this country. Indeed, there are only two other instances, of international renown, besides the foul murder of the Chicago Anarchists that are comparable to the San Francisco cabal: the case of Dreifus in France, and that of Beiliss in Russia. Both of these men, victims of race prejudice and persecution, were ultimately exonerated by the power of awakened public sentiment. Is there a sufficient sense of justice in America, in these days of universal war, to liberate the victims of the industrial strife?
The acquittal of Israel Weinberg was a rude jolt to Prosecutor Fickert. The blow was the more painful because the jury, with the passionate demand of the prosecutor for the blood of Weinberg still ringing in their ears, unanimously agreed on the acquittal of Weinberg WITHIN THREE MINUTES. They congratulated each other, smoked a cigar, and announced their verdict to the Court in less than 25 minutes after they had retired to consider the "evidence."
As a matter of fact, the perjured witnesses of the Billings and Mooney trials having been discredited, no evidence was forthcoming against Weinberg. The whole case fell to pieces at the first touch of the critical hand. No wonder the prosecution spent all of its time in bitter invective and denunciation of the "enemies of the country," pleading with the jury to wreak their patriotism on Weinberg. But the citizens of San Francisco seem to be sick of this kind of camouflage: they refused to save the country of Fickert and of his Chamber of Commerce masters by sending an innocent man to the gallows.
The Fickert beast, however, shows no signs of letting up. Whoever the gods want to destroy, they first make mad. The labor crushers of San Francisco are going right ahead with their program, they have announced that Ed Nolan is to be put on trial shortly. And Weinberg and Rena Mooney are still in jail, Judge Dunn refusing to permit them bail, in spite of their acquittal.
The backbone of the Frame‑up is broken. But the claws of the vampire are tenacious, and it will require a stiff and long fight before the beast is foreced to give up its prey. As the case stands now, Billings is in the penitentiary at Repress, Cal., serving a life sentence; Tom Mooney is sentenced to hang; Rena Mooney and Israel Weinberg have been acquitted, but the prosecution threatens to try them again, and again, if necessary, on nine charges of murder; the demand for extradition of Alexander Berkman has been withdrawn, but ONLY TEMPORARILY and subject to renewal; Ed Nolan is to be placed on trial in the near future.
This means that the fight is by so means won or ended. Eternal vigilance, continued agitation and efforts are necessary to save our friends from the Chamber of Commerce hangmen.
The fate of our San Francisco prisoners also depends, to a large degree, on the result of the recall movement instituted against Fickert.
The special election, which is to take place on the 18th inst., will decide whether the voters of San Francisco approve of his methods and want him to remain in office. If Fickert is recalled, the citizens will have voiced their protest against perjury, bribery and the framing of labor men. Some means will then have to be devised of liberating Mooney and Billings. The report of the Federal investigators, if it will expose the frame‑up, will considerably help is this matter. But if the dark forces of San Francisco succeed in reelecting Fickert as District Attorney, the people will have to do more than pass resolutions if the lives of Mooney et al. are to be saved. The decent citizenship of tin Francisco is opposed to Fickert and his infamous procedure, But the denizens of the underworld, including the Chamber of Commerce and Roosevelt, are very active. At Fickert's request, Roosevelt wired him "full support in his patriotic fight against disloyalists." As usual, patriotism is the last resort of the Fickerts. Roosevelt, when his own friends informed him of the true situation in San Francisco, and asked him to withdraw his misinformed statement and pledge to support Fickert, refused to do so.
The reactionary forces have pooled their strength in San Francisco as the allies of Fickert, filth and frame-ups. They are determined to crush labor on the Pacific Coast. But Labor will have the last word, ultimately.
A Woman Martyr
German frightfulness and a sincere desire to make the world safe for democracy have forced us into the European brawl. Washington says so, the press says so, the pulpit says so, and the man in the street is beginning to say so. Whether it is really true, no one can or dare discuss. No matter what people think, they are obeying the law and keeping their mouths shut.
The most astounding thing is how those who point to German frightfulness, and who sincerely feel called upon by Providence to make the world safe for democracy, can reconcile their high motives in the war with the frightfulness at home. To be sure: President Wilson in his Buffalo speech before his faithful brother workers did protest against frightfulness of lynching, whipping, etc., but he had in mind lawless frightfulness. What about the perfectly lawful frightfulness occurring in every court and committed by numerous judges? What about them?
In Iowa a man who dared to exercise his democratic right to disagree, D. Wallace, was given twenty years in prison. And now comes a judge in Seattle who goes his Iowa colleague one better in loyalty. He has sentenced a woman to forty‑five years for opposing conscription. The name of this judge is Neterer; that of his victim, Louise Olivereau. We quote from a letter from our friend, Minnie Rimer, of Seattle:
"I have just come from the courtroom, where I heard the judge pass the 'merciful' sentence upon Louise Olivereau, sending her to the state prison at Canyon City. Colo. She was convicted on six counts. The judge gave her ten years on each of three counts, and five years each on the other three. Then he said he was being lenient and was passing sentence in the name of liberty and justice. He told her that she declared herself an Anarchist and that the Anarchist was against organized society, and therefore dangerous to the country and the flag, which stood for liberty and justice. He added, however, that Anarchism was not the issue.
"Louise conducted her own case and did it magnificently. She took her sentence bravely and quietly. I am trying to get enough money together to get the Court transcript of Louise's ease. It is mighty good stuff."
What have the haters of German frightfulness and the lovers of democracy for the world to say to this barbarous frightfulness at home? And what have the radicals to say? Will they content themselves with lobbying in Washington while Louise Olivereau wastes her young life in Canyon City prison? Or will they rally to her support, help with the appeal, arouse public interest to make a reversal of the "lenient" sentence possible? Write to Minne Rimer, 516 Third Avenue, West Seattle, Wash., at once. Send money for the appeal.
The lack of understanding for fundamentals on the part of most American writers is quite amazing. It does not matter whether it in drama, fiction, or the ordinary newspaper article wherein social aspects are portrayed: always one is impressed with the superficiality of the approach, and with the inability to bring the matter to a logical conclusion. It must be that these writers feel in relation to the great problems of our social complains, like the tired business man on a visit to Greenwich Village. The bring to it the spirit of slumming, the desire for some ticklish sensation. They go from cafe to cafe but get no further than the stuffy air, the pretense, the gaudy display. The struggling, starving, aspiring artist and that which makes life tragic to him, the slummer never sees.
Our writers are in the same position. They touch the social problems only on the surface. Occasionally they may mean to dig deep into the very foundation of it all, but before very long they grow bewildered by the wealth of material --- or is it that they dare not face it?
The New York Evening Post sent its representative, Mr. Robert W. Bruere to Arizona to investigate the so‑called I.W.W. troubles, which resulted in the brutal deportation of hundreds of workers. Mr. Bruere, by the way, is a very able investigator and has written a series of brilliant reports which ought to be read by everyone. To those of us who have gone through the horrors of San Diego, in 1910, there is nothing very startling in the methods employed by the hirelings of the copper magnates in Arizona. Beating and deporting the I.W.W., or those suspected of being such, has been done so often, it has become almost a daily sport for the respectable mob all through the country.
Mr. Bruere may be forgiven for indulging in the commonplace error of calling the criminal practices of the propertied class "anarchy," but when he winds up big able report with the following superficial conclusion, he shows either lack of understanding or lack of courage to face fundamental social facts:
Thus are "Wobblies" made, and thus are their evangelists scattered, like the seed of the thistle, broadcast throughout the country. Victims of lawlessness, they disparage the law of collective agreements; their strikes broken by violence, the preach sabotage --- the furtive strike on the job
No, Mr. Bruere, it in not lawlessness which brought the I. W. W. into being, it is the conservatism, the snobocracy the ineffectiveness of the Americas Federation of Labor and the corrupt methods of its leaders, which made the I. W. W. --- the conservatism which persists that there is something in common between the lamb and the wolf; the snobocracy, which looks down upon unskilled labor as something less that the poor dependent dub who makes $2.50 a day; the inadequacy which automatically excludes large groups workers because of its exorbitant initiation fees and dues; and finally, the corruption of the leaders who betray the workers for money, power, or became of cowardice, as the occasion may require.
That and certain economic factors, foremost among them, the realisation that craft unionism has outlived its time and purpose, have created the I.W.W. And what is more, they have come to stay, deportation, whipping, lynching, and imprisonment not withstanding.
We are not in agreement with the theoretic reasoning of the I.W.W., but we realize that these hounded, persecuted, outraged and misunderstood people represent the worth-while revolutionary spirit in the desert of organized labor in America. That is why the I.W.W. are so hated and feared.
Crimes of Charity 310 721 0619
A Book Review By Leonard D. Abbot
Even in time of war, stress, struggle and persecution, a careful perusal of Konrad Bercovici's "Crimes of Charity"* is worth while. The book indicts organized charity in New York. John Reed, in an introduction, calls it "a sort of epic of our City of Dreadful Day." It is warm, throbbing, and carries on every page evidences of the author's fierce indignation against oppressors of the poor and helpless. The stench of slums, the sorbid life of tenements, the pitiful struggle of weak men and women to keep their heads above the waters of the industrial whirlpool, have all gone into the making of this remarkable book. Bercovici speaks with admiration of Marguerite Audoax's "Marie‑Claire," and he quotes Charles Lamb's classic description of the blind beggars of London. His own writing has something of their sincerity and simplicity.
A "nutty scribbler" the children of the streets called Bercovici when they saw him making notes of his experiences. An "anarchist" is the accurate designation that some of his associates gave him. It seems that Bercovici was employed for a time as an investigator for a charitable institution in New York. He hoped, at the beginning, that he could really do some good. He was soon disillusioned. He saw the system from the inside. And he vowed that he would tell the world what he saw. The report that he makes is an appalling indictment of organizations that set out, ostensibly, to help the poor and that have ended by battening on them.
Bercovici's arraignment is two‑fold. He attacks, first of all, the administration of Organized Charity and declares that it is rotten through and through. He attacks, in the second place, the contributors to Organized Charity, and points out that capitalists affiliate themselves with charitable institutions because they recognize that Organized Charity gives them indispensable help as slave‑drivers.
The charity organizations, as at present carried on, depend upon an elaborate system of "investigations." The "investigators" are all women, and their work consists in probing into the private lives of applicants for relief. Bercovici thinks it almost impossible for investigators to remain human beings. The milk of human kindness is squeezed out of them by their daily experiences. They have to make a living, like the poor wretches that come to them for assistance. The one unforgivable sin is to be "too tender‑hearted."
Investigation, as it works out in practice, means a denial of all privacy. The sanctity of the home is destroyed. "It is," says Bercovici, "as though the family were living in some one else's --- in the charities' --- home. The investigator comes into the house unannounced any time of the day or night, questions anybody she finds in the house, criticizes the meals, the curtains; goes around to the grocery, to the neighbors, looking for a 'clue' that will give to the institution the right to cease helping the particular 'case,' to 'cut her' as they say." No wonder that this system has created a class of professional paupers who meet inhumanity from above by deception and wiles from below.
The motives of those who contribute to the support of Organized Charity tend to become equally inhuman and machinelike. Bercovici tells of manufacturers who affix to the outside of their office doors signs carrying the words, "Members of the Organized Charities," simply because it saves them trouble and serves to drive away the hungry and needy. In many cases, Bercovici charges, the employment bureau of a charity institution is little better than a strike‑breaking agency. When he protested against the sending of men to a factory in time of strike, he was told, quite frankly, that charitable institutions were supported by the rich and not by the poor.
Bercovici finally became almost frantic at the injustices and inhumanities that he saw about him. He says that they drove him to drink. Where the finest discrimination and delicacy, the warmest sympathy, were called for, he found the dullest stupidity and cruelty. He saw the office boy in the charity office spit in the face of applicants for relief and he determined to get even with him. "I got hold of him, boxed his ears soundly, and before any one had time to interfere I had turned up his head and spat upon him full in the face. It was a disgusting act, but a sweet revenge. I did it, then called out, "Feel how it tastes‑you do it to everyone.'" Needless to say, Bercovici himself was soon expelled from the office.
The note of indignation is what gives the book its tone. Bercovici feels as a humane, warm‑hearted man ought to feel in presence of frailty and suffering. He sets before us picture after picture. We recognize the quality of different nationalities. We see what Poverty actually means to helpless women and to little children.
In the eyes of Organized Charity, Poverty is a crime, to be punished; but after reading this book it is easy to understand that the real crime is not Poverty, but Organized Charity.
This letter was refused publication by the Ann Arbor Times News. It was written after the school board adopted the following resolution:
"RESOLVED, That in view of the fact that certain of the Ann Arbor high school students an now in jail for refusal to obey the registration laws of the United States, that the board of education direct that all credits and recommendations be withheld in their respective classes, until all disability is removed and the laws of the land are complied with by said students,"
which was aimed against Mr. Elwood B. Moore, a student of the Ann Arbor High School, who refused to register on June 5th for the selective draft because he felt that this was the most vigorous method of voicing his objections to conscription.
Editor the Ann Arbor Times News
The action of the school board, at its last meeting, in adopting the resolution "to withhold all credits and recommendations" of Mr. Moore "until all disability is removed," reminded me of an incident that occurred to me when I was but a boy. Of course, it did not happen in America. It happened while I was still in "darkest Russia."
I was brought up in a little town near the border of Russia and Germany, where no person, according to law, was allowed to leave his house without carrying with him his "border passport." Otherwise he was subject to arrest.
So it happened that one Sunday afternoon, as I was strolling along the border, and not having my passport with me for identification, I was arrested and brought to the Shtab (i.e., the Captain). The Captain, on discovering my nationality, decided to inflict upon me the most horrible punishment be could inflict upon a Jew, i.e., to force a piece of pork into my mouth. I was but nine years old then. Of course I resisted, but he nevertheless succeeded in his idiotic aim. I cried. I thought the world would tome to an end because I had committed such an outrageous crime as eating pork. My tears, I imagine, irritated the Captain, and suddenly he burst out: "If you don't eat pork, get out of this land!" I was quite dumbfounded for a minute or so. For indirectly he revealed to me a new idea, that perhaps there was some place in the world where people were not forced to eat pork against their will. Of course I obeyed him and got out of the land. But if I shall ever return to Russia I shall certainly look up that Captain and treat him with a good pork dinner, so as to show him my gratitude for sending me out into the wide, wide world. That Captain, I must confess, though unintentionally, did me a great deal of good. He opened my eyes to life.
As time went on, America became the object of my dreams. I pictured it to myself as the embodiment, the symbol of justice and equality. Very well do I remember the keen feeling that pervaded my being before I left Europe, and the expression I gave to it in a letter to one of my friends before departure, in which I said ". . .there I go to build my future, to work and to learn. There, on the American soil, on the soil where mobs do not butcher women and infants because of religious differences, where they do not degrade human beings to the level of animals, where they do not oppress and persecute, where the gates of knowledge and truth are open to everyone, where a person may think for himself and follow his own conscience. . .there I want to build my future, there I want to spend my years and energies, there I want to live and help the world move on."
To be concluded.
January 1918 Vol 1 No 4
VOL. I JANUARY, 1918, NEW YORK NO. 4
Farewell, Friends and Comrades!
The Supreme Court of the United States has spoken. Rest in peace, dear Fatherland! Firm stands the guard at Washington.
The draft law has been declared constitutional. The good citizen need worry no more about the justice of forced military service: it is constitutional. Involuntary servitude should give the free sovereign no more anxiety: it is constitutional and democratic. The humanity of forcing men to bear arms in violation of their conscience may not be questioned any more: it is constitutional, it is democratic, it is final.
The highest judicial tribunal of the United States has sustained the verdicts of the lower courts of the various states, EN MASSE. Without wasting its time on facts or arguments, the United States Supreme Court has decided, virtually, that the government has the right to do anything it pleases, and that there in no more to be said about it.
The decision also upholds the so-called conspiracy cases appealed from New York, Ohio, and other States, and affirms the sentences of Emma Goldman, Alexander Berkman, Morris Becker and Louis Kramer, convicted in New York for anti-draft agitation.
The action of the Court does not surprise us. We expected it. But we cannot refrain from expressing the pain we have felt at the limited social vision of the well-meaning friends who were so naively hopeful of legal justice, in spite of the all-too-numerous lessons to the contrary.
Be of good cheer, good friends and comrades. We are going to prison with light hearts. To us it is more satisfactory to stay behind prison bars than to remain MUZZLED in freedom. Our spirit will not be daunted, nor our will broken. We will return to our work in due time.
This is our farewell to you. The light of Liberty burns low just now. But do not despair, friends. Keep the spark alive. The night cannot last forever. Soon there will come a rift in the darkness, and the New Day break even here. May each of us feel that we have contributed our mite toward the great Awakening.
The BULLETIN will continue, with your help, even in our absence. It will have a thorny path, but we know we may depend on your interest and co-operation as generously and faithfully as you have helped in the past. By means of the BULLETIN we shall keep in touch with you, while we are in retirement, and you shall hear the voices that cannot be stifled by stone walls. Au revoir, some day,
P. S. Direct word from friends is a great joy to the prisoner. Mail will reach Emma Goldman at State Prison, Jefferson City, Mo. Alexander Berkman, Louis Kramer and Morris Becker are to be addressed at U. S. Penitentiary, Atlanta, Ga. The prison rules require correspondents to sign full name and address.
The Trotsky Idea
Only a few weeks ago the American press and jingo intellectuals were unanimous in denouncing Lenin and Trotsky as the agents and spies of the Kaiser. The Boylsheviki were branded as the tools of Prussian militarism, and anyone who dared to protest in this country against that infamous misrepresentation, was himself considered guilty of sedition.
All of a sudden the tune has changed. Quite unblushingly the New York Times, heretofore foaming at the mouth at the very mention of the Boylsheviki now writes: "The reactionary press (in England) has misrepresented Trotsky as an agent of Germany." It would be rather interesting to know what peculiar kind of journalism the ultra chauvinist Times regards as reactionary.
Wilson himself, in his latest peace message, was moved to acknowledge that the "Russian people," whose spokesmen now are the Boylsheviki, "will not yield either in principle or in action. Their conception of what is right, of what is humane and honorable for them to accept, has been stated with a frankness, a largeness of view, a generosity of spirit and a universal human sympathy which must challenge the admiration of every friend of mankind."
This tribute to Trotsky, though somewhat belated, is at least indicative of some understanding of the soul of Russia. No doubt it is a bitter pill for certain quarters, but it may lead the American people to revise their newspaper-made opinions of the Lenins and Trotskys, and help them to appreciate the true character of the Russian revolution.
Trotsky -- for the time being personifying the spirit of revolutionary -- Russia has in two short months done more for peace and humanity than all the diplomats and politicians of the combined governments of the world. He has torn the mask off diplomacy, and shown to the world that diplomacy itself is one of the chief causes of the war. He proved that revolutionary consciousness and frankness of purpose is a veritable David to the diplomatic Goliath. The undiplomatic honesty of Trotsky has wiped diplomacy off the map. There is a grave menace to ALL government in such smashing of the sacrosanct.
By far the greatest significance of Trotsky is the effect of his peace negotiations on the German people themselves. He has done more to discredit Prussian junkerism in Germany than all the military activities of the allies. Moreover, it is only too evident that the German government is more afraid of the Trotsky propaganda among German forces than of Allied artillery. Prussian militarists know that revolutionary IDEAS are more fatal to autocracy than the armed legions of the Entente. That is the true reason why Germany is loath to continue the peace parleys with Russia.
The world diplomats have entirely missed the mark. They fear a separate peace between Russia and Germany. Yet a separate peace may prove the undoing of Kaisertum. A general peace, on the contrary, will enable Prussian militarism, with the aid of its armies, to hold its own against an uprising at home. But with the necessity of keeping up the war against the Allies, a separate peace with Russia would prove a terrible menace to German militarism at home.
The original idea of Trotsky was a GENERAL peace with the initiative taken by Russia. But the Allies failing to join in his efforts, he may work for a separate peace -- a proletarian peace -- fully aware of the moral debacle it involves for Prussian autocracy and militarism.
The Great Hope
The attitude of dense ignorance and stupidity toward the most gigantic event since the French Revolution, the Boylsheviki movement in Russia, is not typically American. All great movements have met with the same fate in every land, since stupidity and ignorance have never been the monopoly of any particular country.
The Boylsheviki like all revolutionary movements, have faced three characteristic stages. First, calumny, misrepresentation, hatred, opposition, and persecution. After that came ridicule, scoffing, and cheap deriding of the movement. Finally, in the third stage, recognition though stinted and grudging.
It took the greet movements of the past more than a century to pass these varying stages, and that at the expense of untold suffering and sacrifice. The Boylsheviki have swept on and all but reached the third stage in just a few months. That itself is the most striking proof of how thoroughly the Russian soil was fertilized by the blood of her great martyrs since 1825. The Boylsheviki merely voice the inarticulate Russian people who, oppressed and suppressed for centuries, have not yet acquired the power of speech.
Yes, the Boylsheviki are beginning to be recognized. In fact they have struck like lightning into the hearts and minds of the masses everywhere; yes, even the hitherto so contented and self-satisfied American workers. To be sure, there is still a vast mass which regards as gospel truth the adulterated mental food it finds in the Press. It has not yet learned that American journalism is the worst poison mixer and scurrilous falsifier of great ideals. But thinking people have learned from bitter experience not to believe the papers. These days almost the sole medium of information is the spoken word. But as most lecturers in America are either woefully ignorant on all matters Russian, or too poor of vision to grasp the vast and world-wide significance of the Russian Revolution, the people everywhere are at a loss to account for the miracle which is now holding the world in awe.
That explains, no doubt, the tremendous interest and response aroused by my lecture: on the Boylsheviki and other phases of the Russian Revolution. In fact, never in my thirty years' experience have American audiences turned out in such numbers nor evinced such spontaneous interest as they have during my visit in Chicago and Detroit. Never did they respond with such warmth and enthusiasm to the message of the Boylsheviki. Aye, "illiterate, backward" Russia is yet going to become the spiritual awakener of the American masses, the bugle call to battle against the powers which have kept the peoples of the world in bondage.
The meetings in Chicago were arranged by the Nonpartisan Radical League, a body consisting of militant radicals. Among the most active in the League are our comrades William Nathanson, Billov, the Goodmans, and Slater, who were assisted by scores of other Comrades: Sadie Bernstein, C.V. Cook, Sara and Harry Gruber, Ben Reitman. Sveda, and several of the younger rebels, the Baers, Sachs, etc. All worked like beavers against great obstacles, zero weather, and the difficulty of securing halls, but all enjoyed the fruits of their labors in tremendously enthusiastic meetings. There were nine in all, and a farewell banquet attended by 175 friends united by the spirit of solidarity and devotion that made me realize how very worth while it is to be ready to pay the price for one's ideal. It was a glorious farewell and an inspiring memory to take with me to Jefferson prison.
Detroit was the next city of joy. Four meetings arranged by Comrades Jake and Minnie Fishman and J. Yanovitch, with the co-operation of a Serbian Comrade, Mrs. Marcowitz, a most interesting and rare type of woman. There were also some others who helped, as they always do when there is important work on hand.
An overzealous Chief of Police came near depriving the Detroit people of an opportunity to hear the truth about the Boylsheviki, but our old friend Lee Smits, of the Detroit News, helped to change the official mind, and all went well to the end.
As in Chicago, the halls proved entirely too small for the mass of eager humanity that came to learn about the Boylsheviki, their aims and aspirations. At one meeting fully a thousand people were turned away. But most inspiring of all was the spirit of the people present. It was beautiful to see the light of understanding on the eager faces of my hearers as I portrayed the historic background which prepared Russia for the social and economic demands of the Boylsheviki. It was all very wonderful. Never again will I doubt the revolutionary possibilities of the American workers. If only one could reach them with the social truth now proclaimed to the whole world by the heroic Boylsheviki.
My last meeting in Detroit on the Spiritual Awakening of Russia would have capped the climax of interest; but it had to be given up. A hurry call from New York, informing me that the government demands our immediate surrender to the Federal authorities, compelled me to cut short what would have proven the most inspiring tour I ever made and my most worth-while contribution to the American understanding of the Boylsheviki.
With it all, America itself was not forgotten. A campaign for the amnesty of all political prisoners as soon as peace is concluded was suggested at the farewell banquet in Chicago and placed before a huge audience in Detroit. The response was unanimous and overwhelming. Plans will be formed and the movement launched before we are taken back to prison.
To be sure, the American government is loath to recognize political prisoners. Like the ostrich hiding his head in the sand to deceive the hunter, our Democracy refuses to face the fact that every city has its quota of war casualties, men and women in prison for their political beliefs and activities. All other countries, whether monarchical or republican, recognize the right of amnesty. Will America, now engaged in war to make the would safe for democracy, refuse to do less than imperialistic Germany, autocratic Russia under the Tsar, monarchical England, or republican France?
It must be put to the test. New is the time to awaken public interest in cases like those of Louise Olivereau, doomed to 45 years in the Colorado penitentiary (concurrent sentence of ten years on condition of good behavior); Daniel H. Wallace, serving 20 years in the Federal prison at Leavenworth, Kansas; eleven Italians condemned in Milwaukee to 25 years each, among them a woman with her little child taken away from her, and scores of others in every prison throughout the land, all convicted of "crimes" of a political nature, the result of the war and conscription, and whose sentences must end with the war.
Two lectures were scheduled for Ann Arbor, the Michigan seat of learning. They could not be held because the antiquated Daughters of the antiquated American Revolution scared the poor German Mayor of Ann Arbor into suppressing the meetings. Little did these poor revolutionary mummies realize that they were instrumental in starting Russian revolutionary underground agitation among the students of Ann Arbor, a large number of whom gathered in a private house and there listened breathlessly to the dangerous story of the dangerous Boylsheviki of Russia and their effect upon Boylshevism in America.
The flames lighted by the Russian people will illumine the horizon and point the path of the peoples everywhere back to the Internationale, back to a deeper and better understanding of economic ad social freedom.
The Milwaukee Frame-Up
We are constantly assured in America that a man charged with a crime is innocent until proven guilty. But that does not prevent the daily occurrence of men and women from the people being found guilty even though they prove their innocence by the most authentic evidence. The practice of frame-ups is common in the police departments of every city. But the public still adheres to the credulous belief that if an unfortunate victim is in the hands of the authorities he must be guilty, for surely the police wouldn't deliberately take away a man's liberty and life.
Well, the Frame-up in San Francisco which was given no publicity by the press of this country until the demonstration for Mooney in Petrograd, exploded the faith in the methods of the Police. True, Billings continues to languish in prison. The noose is still awaiting Mooney. Fickert is back in the saddle to resume his criminal activities. Yet the San Francisco Frame-up is written in letters of fire upon the minds of the people, and unless Mooney and the others go free, San Francisco will go down to infamy for one of the blackest crimes upon Labor since 1887.
Now comes the news a another frame-up in Milwaukee so cruel, deliberate and revolting as to arouse even the sluggish minds and hearts of those who never care what happens to others just so they are allowed to exist.
In the M. E. BULLETIN of September the beginning of this latest frame-up was reported. But for the benefit of those who have net read the issue, I will give excerpts from the statement prepared by the attorney of the eleven Italian victims who were framed up by an ex-priest and members of the police department of Milwaukee.
A group of Italian Anarchists, Socialists, I.W.W.'s and others of general liberal leanings organized a little social club where they gathered for entertainment, amateur theatricals, dances and occasional lectures on social topics. Their activities and success aroused the ire and envy of an unfrocked Catholic priest, who found it more profitable to use the methods of the Evangelic church to save souls. Especially was he enraged over the audacity of the young Italian who would attend the Reverend's soul saving open air meetings and heckle him as to the greater importance of saving the bodies of the people. At any rate, the heckling continued at every meeting until finally the ex-priest went to the police with the story that a dangerous lot of Anarchists, pro-Germans, I.W.W.'s had desecrated the American flag, denounced the President, etc., etc. Of course the reverend gentleman was given "protection."
On the ninth of September, just a the Italians were filing out of their club room after a lecture on Socialism by La Duca, Secretary of the Italian Socialist branch, Reverend Guiliani shouted to police: "Here go the Anarchist, pro-German, I.W.W.'s!"
Immediately the police and detectives charged the crowd with drawn clubs and guns. Antonio Fornasier an Anarchist, was killed instantly; nevertheless, 10 shots were fired into the body of the dead man. Augusto Marinelli, another Anarchist, was mortally wounded. He died in the hospital five days later. Tostalia was slightly wounded in the shoulder.
In the general shooting several policemen were slightly injured. The usual hysterical arrests and round-up of Italians began. Anyone who could not prove good standing or respectable connections were dragged off to jail, among them the young wife of one of the men, Mary Nardini, the mother of a five-year-old child. The club rooms were raided and the "dangerous" evidence, consisting of pictures of Karl Marx and Peter Kropotkin, as well as Anarchist and Socialist literature, was confiscated. Then, after a process of elimination, eleven Italians, ten men and one woman, were held as the originators of the police riot. Though charged with the shooting, the defendants were really tried and convicted for the bomb explosion that happened long after they were attested and while they were in jail. Witnesses for the defense were arrested and terrorized, so that of fifty witnesses only six dared appear at the trial. We quote from the statement of the attorney of the prisoners:
"On November 24th Miss Richter, the Evangelist's chief aide was supposed to find a bomb beneath the Evangelical Church. She got some member of the choir of that church to deliver the bomb to the police station. The bomb was supposed to have been under the church for several days. At the time this bomb was delivered to the police station, the Evangelical minister was out of the city. The bomb exploded in the police station. Killing eleven persons and injuring others. At once the bomb explosion was associated with these defendants, the most preposterous thing in the world, because the defendants and their friends would be the last ones to place a bomb or to do anything of that kind out the eve of their trial, for nothing would prejudice more their chance of acquittal than anything of that kind.
"I never spoke to these defendants except through an interpreter and never without a stenographer being present. The first time I spoke to them was in jail and after that I never saw them nor spoke to them except through an interpreter in the courtroom. The whole matter was investigated and the story above was fully corroborated. The defendants were forced to go to trial on the very morrow of the burial of those eleven people, with prejudice and feeling running high. Although we believe that we were entitled to nine challenges, we were only allowed four, and out of 37 men examined over half were excused because of prejudice, and some of the men were made to qualify on the jury who had little education and fitness to sit in judgment upon a case that involved understanding and reading and scanning and perusing matters of historical and economic significance and importance.
"Captain Sullivan, a very efficient and honorable officer, told me that he would be willing to let the whole bunch go free if the perpetrator of that bomb could be found; he believing honestly that the defendants were associated with that bomb throwing; I believing honestly that neither these defendants nor their associates had anything to do with the bomb whatever. There are many who believe that the bomb was placed by a friend of the Evangelist, some believe it was placed by an alien enemy, and others attribute it to a German. I make no personal comment on these statements.
"The tragedy which otherwise might hive been the joke of the whole trial, was that W.C. Zabel, the Socialist prosecutor, permitted himself and his assistants to misinterpret philosophic and economic excerpts from some of the master works of the world into criminal, anarchistic doctrines and make Karl Marx and the red flag the objects of his vituperous attacks."
After the farce of a trial, the jury was out seventeen minutes, returning a verdict of guilty. Then the Socialist Prosecuting Attorney, W. C. Zabel, delivered himself of a wild patriotic harangue that Milwaukee must be rid of the murderous Anarchists and undesirables, and suggested a vote of thanks to the instigator of the whole terrible business, Rev. Guiliani.
The ten men and Mary Baldini were given 25 years each, and the State appropriated Mary's five-year-old child, although her people are anxious and well able to take care of the child.
It goes without saying that such a terrible trim, cannot go unchallenged. Already an International Defense League has been organized in Chicago to begin a campaign of publicity so that the people may learn of this latest outrage in Milwaukee. For that and the appeal money is most urgently needed.
Send all communications and funds to William Judin, 1006 S. Ashland Blvd., care of Workers' Institute, Chicago. Ill. Arrange meetings! Bring the matter to the attention of the people! The eleven unfortunate victims of Milwaukee must be saved!
In the Trenches
In the Federal Court of Kansas City. Mo. nine people have been convicted, on December 6, for alleged conspiracy against the Draft Act. Judge Van Valkenburg gave all but one of them the maximum penitentiary sentence of two years and also fined each of the nine $1,000. The one woman in the case, Lenora Warneson, mother of a babe of four months, he did not send to the "pen," solely because "this court does not want to set the precedent of sending babies to jail." The defendants are going to appeal and have retained Redmond S. Brennan of the firm of Frank P. Walsh; he states that there is sufficient reversible error in the record to make the case worth contesting.
The nine people are: Lenora Warneson, known throughout the country as a staunch anti-militarist school teacher; Raymond I. Moore, Secretary International Radical Club and former Socialist candidate; Earl R. Browder; William E. Browder; Edward W. Eagan; Harry I. Doile, and Elea Luboshey. All but the last two are militant trade unionists, the first five being members of the Office Workers' Union, Eagan of the Iron and Tin Workers Union, and Doile, of the Typographical Union.
After war was declared, in the absence of a war-time program of the A.U.A.M., this group (except Doile and Luboshey, who were NOT members) formed the Federation for Democratic Control to work for the maintenance of civil liberties and to prevent the passage of conscription. When the latter became a fact, an injunction suit was filed against the state and city officials charged with the execution of registration. In the midst of this case, while the attorney was filing the appeal, some of the defendants were arrested in the courtroom and charged with conspiracy against the draft. This was on May 31; on June 6 a special grand jury returned an indictment against the nine people named above, and also a tenth, H.D. Kleinschmidt, who had helped rain funds to test the legality of the draft law.
The government based its case upon insinuation and innuendo. Thus it was shown that Doile (whose only connection with the others, by the way, was that of printer of its literature) had printed the Federation's declaration of principles; Kleinschmidt swore that Luboshey (who was not a member of the Federation) had given him some of the cards bearing the legend ("Kill Conscription-Don't Register") which were alleged in the indictment as one of the overt acts of the conspiracy), and that he (Kleinschmidt) had distributed them; therefore, by implication, Doile had printed these cards. The government's charges were supported by secret service agents, government officials, and reporters and editors of the capitalist press. Most of it was pure fabrication. Kleinschmidt told a perjured story full of contradictions when he turned states evidence. Samples of the government's testimony: Fred Tate, chief of the secret service agency, swore that he took an I.W.W. card from Eagan and that the color of the card was BLUE! Kleinschmidt testified that he was out of town on the date when the alleged cards were distributed. The judge's instructions to the jury were unfair and highly prejudicial against the defendants. The jury was made to understand that if it did not bring in a verdict of guilty, its members would be disloyal.
* * *
As previously reported in the Bulletin, Daniel H. Wallace, president and organizer of the League of Humanity, with headquarters in Chicago, Ill., has been condemned under the Espionage Act to twenty years prison for a lecture delivered by him in Davenport, Iowa on July 25th, 1917.
Wallace is the author of "Shanghaied into the European War," a unique book representing his experience of eleven months in the trenches ofFrance,Belgiumand the Dardanelles . He is now in the Federal penitentiary at Leavenworth, Kas., and no doubt he must be envying Karl Liebknecht, convicted in undemocratic Prussia of high treason and punished only with four years and one month prison.
* * *
It is not in the interest of those engaged in war to make known the number of conscientious objectors in the various camps and prisons. With the newspaper conspiracy of silence on this subject, the public at large is now under the impression that the great protest against conscription has fallen flat, and that conscientious objectors have at the last moment proven false to their convictions. Only occasionally, hidden in some corner of the papers, one is permitted to learn that there are still men who will not be daunted, no matter what the cost.
In a special to the New York Times the following case is reported from Camp Dix, Wrightstown, N.J.:
Not even the remission of the death sentence, that probably would have been carried out to-day had it not been revoked by. Brig. Gen. J. S. Mallory before relinquishing his command of Camp Dix, has failed to alter the defiance of military authority maintained by Rudolph J. Vrena, a drafted man from North Jersey. Verna, a Bohemian, although he has spent all but six months of his 27 years in the United States, bases his objection to becoming a soldier on his claim of being an International Socialist.
Vrena is the first man drafted into the national army to be sentenced by court-martial to the penalty of "death by musketry," for refusing to obey the order of Major J.E. Wilson to sign the declaration of a soldier and his assignment card and prepare for his physical examination. He pleaded not guilty, but was convicted on the first charge, and the court agreed on the death sentence. Brig. Gen. Mallory vetoed his sentence. Vrena, resting on his cot, displayed little interest in the outcome of his case this afternoon.
"I'll not pose as martyr. I am a Socialist of the most radical branch. We believe in universal brotherhood, and I am obliged, no matter what the consequences, to refuse to become part of the army, at least until assured that labor is to have a part in settling the questions at stake." Vrena has refund to don a uniform.
Evidently the Boylsheviki are not confined to Russia. Significant, is it not?
Another very interesting case is that of H. Austin Simons, a young American and brilliant writer, now at Camp Grant, Rockford, Ill. The case is reported in the Chicago American as follows:
H. Austin Simons, "conscientious objector," received a sentence of eight years before Judge Advocate Lieutenant Charles F. Dyer of the Three Hundred and Forty-second Regiment. When told of his sentence by the Chicago Evening American correspondent he merely smiled.
He took up his pen and "poemed" a bit to show his feelings have not been disturbed. His verse, written extemporaneously, follows:
"No moment more for weeping;
Now courage comes-free, uplifting,
With her I go to the long agony,
And I will be sweet and glad in my great beauty,
And with my love cheat the bitter seasons
Of their bitterness."
"What are then principles on which you object to wear the uniform of Uncle Sam?" His answer was:
"A humanitarian principle, which makes it impossible for me to do any thing that will contribute to the death of another person. In the second place, a conviction that it as my duty to live for the future; and the belief that I cannot serve the future properly by going into military service."
His last principle was that his life was dedicated to a creative impulse art particularly the art of literature; as art is creative and war is absolutely and entirely destructive.
"I am following the dictates of my conscience." were his final words.
During the trial another question asked of the objector was, do you believe in God? His answer was, "Yes, a God." "You have a God of your own, then?" Simons' face lit up for a moment end he answered, "A God that is believed in by the philosophical world."
Are They Going to Hang Tom Mooney
Of the labor struggle on the Pacific Coast, in which the trump play of the employers was the most picturesque perjury conspiracy in history, the question is being asked, "What is the outcome: are they going to hang and imprison men after the world has gasped at the brazen fraud of their trials?"
We very much fear that the answer is, "Yes."
If this were not true, why are the two defendants who were acquitted after the perjury exposures held in jail to this day exactly as though they had been found guilty? Indeed, it is astonishing to bear half-awake persons ask whether the sentences corruptly obtained against Billings and Mooney are going to be enforced, while the sentence against Billings has already been enforced; for Billings in now actually in Folsom Penitentiary serving a life sentence, and it is intended to keep him there until he dies; while Estelle Smith, the chief witness who caused his conviction, has retracted her testimony and brands the whole case as a foul frame up, naming District Attorney Fickert and the detective Martin Swanson as instigators of the conspiracy.
Are they going to enforce the fraud-born decrees? They don't even bother to answer Estelle Smiths accusations- except that they are "unworthy of reply!" Estelle Smith is good enough to send Billings to a life of torture but is "unworthy of reply," when she recants!
Anyone who has cut his eye teeth in public affairs is aware that every process of law is a mere cover for something else. Behind every national, International or local set of Society's machinery is a powerful class interest. When Leon Trotsky, the New York Jew, published the secret treaties that laid bare the sordid agreements and purposes of the world war, he exposed nothing new nothing but the condition that exists in exact duplicate in the rotten politics of New York, and perhaps worse in self-righteous politics. It is the system. It is the same thing in Patagonia, Berlin, Bucharest and California wherever private capital reigns.
When Frank C. Oxman falsely swore that he saw labor unionists commit the parade murders, he did not do it for fun, nor did he do it solely to win a few thousand dollars of reward. His was the voice of a great class demand, in committing that perjury; he would not have had the courage to do it without the moral backing of a powerful, self-justifying social force.
The Oxman crime was exposed by a bit of honesty in an unexpected quarter responding to another great social demand the interests of the awakening masses.
Estelle Smith has recently told one of the most remarkable stories ever suppressed by the newspapers, the bold details of how she, with a peculiar native ability for playacting (which we had occasion to appreciate when she made her dramatic appearance against Billings), was used as instructress for a group of perjurers gathered in a dental office to rehearse.
Estelle Smith's mother, Mrs. Alice Kidwell, has gone even further then the daughter into detail, and the story of how the employers' clique of California was able to command the death of its enemies through the gutter of police-trained perjury, is known as far a it an be known without the consent of newspaper capital.
But it is only the naive who will imagine that mere words of exposure will thwart the iron will that has decreed this attack upon Labor. The interest is still there; the will is unbroken, the motive has not been changed one whit by exposures. Capital was merely temporarily embarrassed. As soon as it can overcome the embarrassment, and the move to do so is now in progress, its will will be enforced. Oxman's acquittal was demanded and obtained by agreement between judge, defendant and the district attorney who hired the lawyer for the defendant. With Labor asleep, Capital is all-powerful and controls all the machinery of "justice;" It can do as it pleases, and it pleases that Billings rot and Mooney die.
Labor came very near waking up in this wonderful case. The newspapers are keeping quiet now until Labor can sink back into deeper slumber. Then Mooney will hang as if to show its power and its contempt for the rights of its subject class, Capital, through its contemptible servant, Judge Dunn, is keeping Weinberg and Mrs. Mooney in jail, after their acquittal, for the coming slaughter. And Nolan, who everyone thought had at least escaped from the murderous mesh, they now announce they will hang, too. They don't even let him know what the specific charge against him is, since the "high explosive" that a detective swore was found in his home, has proven to be Epsom salts.
These victims will live or die, the victory will be won or lost, according as Labor allows it or not. No other power can do it; there is no other power than the two, Labor and Capital.
The report of the Federal Commission for the investigation of the cases has not been published at the time of going to press.
Indictment As A Social Institution
In Russia of the old regime, everybody was born indicted. A blanket indictment for sedition was considered as covering the entire population, suspended only during the forbearance of the Tsar.
But in democracies it is different. The status of being under indictment is not born in one, but is voted upon individuals singly or in groups. This gives a power of discrimination in class making. The merit system can be applied. In America we have a newly-created class of the Indicted. It includes all persons who write on advanced social questions. All persons who think, if they can be caught thinking. Those who engage in discussion of the problem of freeing labor are rounded up with especial care and put into the class of the Indicted. Then all are placed under bail or under lock and key and the social order with the Unindicted in ascendancy is rendered safe.
The Indicted can be put in jail, fleeced or hanged at the pleasure of the Unindicted. It is a surprisingly facile luxury. A committee of the Unindicted can say, "Twenty thousand dollars," and, presto! one of the Indicted will have to pay up in a jiffy. Or "Ten years in prison!" and, just like magic, off goes an Indicted for whatever length of time the committee of the Unindicted may please to say. It is awfully easy. Try it yourself: "Ten thousand dollars! Twenty thousand dollars! Two years in prison! Fifteen years! Forty years! Life! Hanging! One is just as easy to say as another.
The Indicted are expected to go about with a weak-kneed, hang-dog look, end to be very much restricted in their actions.
It is a perfect riot of luxury for the Unindicted.
Why Has Academic Freedom
Recently we have witnessed a spectacle that puzzled many people. When our Republic entered upon a course of action the war that vitally concerned every citizen, citizens were deprived of the right to say that this policy was unwise and should be reversed. Had this deprivation been accompanied by a tearing off of the mask, a frank avowal that from a capitalist viewpoint the Prussian form of government had proved its efficiency, all would have understood the measure as a simple coup d' tat. But what makes the situation vastly more interesting to a psychologist is the fact that the very party which has shown itself so cynically contemptuous of trusting democratic principles in a supreme test, has justified each autocratic step in the name of "democracy" or of "liberty." In the scientific analysis of motives, it is a fundamental principle that we should base our judgment upon the evidence of men's actions, rather than upon what they declare with their lips.
In taking our side in any controversy, we ought to judge the aims of the two opposing parties, not so much by what they profess, as by the weapons and tactics that the parties choose to employ. Especially is it true that we should avoid depending too much upon the avowed ideals that the parties put forth for the consumption of outsiders in the present age, because the present is essentially an age of camouflage. To-day we have the spectacle a some twenty nations engaged in a terrific war in which it is manifestly impossible that all the nations can be fighting either unselfishly or on the defensive, and yet every nation engaged in the conflict excuses itself on the ground of absolute necessity, and even puts forward certain idealistic aims as additional justification for its barbarities. What is true of nations is no whit less true of individuals. Hypnotists will tell you that when you have told a hypnotized subject that on awakening from his sleep he will perform some action, as, for example, that he will rush to the window and look out, when he awakes, he will perform this action in due course, but on your questioning him as to why he did so he will not reply simply that he acted in response to an unreasoning impulse to rush to the window. Instead, he will evolve a rational justification for his act such as that he saw a fire engine dash along the street; and he will persuade even himself that this was the true reason. We always try to make our actions seem to be rational, when as a matter of fact, they are usually simply impulsive or instinctive. Bearing this in mind, we must not be surprised at the actions of financiers who profess, and in many ways put into practice, very high motives in the small details of their daily conduct, but whose entire public policy is guided by sordid interests of their social class, if not of their individual selves. We are not to consider that these men are consciously selfish in all cases, though they sometimes are so, but we must regard them as not fully understanding themselves and their own motives, and as projecting these personal motives into their social theories. When you hear of a governor who sends his militia to break up a peaceful assembly, or of a college president who must have his faculty intellectually docile, or of a mayor who makes belief in a military policy a requirement for membership on the school board in short, wherever some one declines to play fair, it is profitable to enquire "What class, or what greed, owns this human tool?"
Test out this theory by the showing of the war. Don't the men whose welfare is linked with the success of big banking houses and manufacturing establishments line up squarely for a foreign policy that will down their Teutonic rivals in the world-market? And why did these men purchase, almost openly, the control of the "public press" save that they realized that the masses' realization of where lay their own interests would cause those masses to decline the sufferings and sacrifices of a war which would bring them no good unless their judgment could be warped by misrepresentation of the facts.
To deny your opponent the right to state his case, is always a dangerous policy, since it at once excites hatred and mistrust. We therefore look to see such action only on the part of men who feel their case to be very hopeless, or know they lack the brains to defend it, or who are prompted by unworthy motives which they cannot confess to.
Certainly there is no lack of brains to defend the party of wealth. There are always able, honest brains to be hired by him who can pay for them. Therefore one or both of the other motives must be at the bottom of the present intolerance.
The anti-war patty has only asked for a "fair field and no favor." In answer to the militarists' hypnotic iteration and reiteration of old disproven arguments, these pacifists have brought out continuously new and more clinching evidence for their contentions; they have been far from despair of ultimate triumph along this line. The I.W.W. against whom the newspaper reports of setting fire to wheat-fields, spiking logs in the saw-mills, importing firearms, and accepting German gold, have never even been formally lodged by the government, and yet are charged against them by the papers these man have not retaliated with lynch-law for lynch-law, but have gone to prison like the early Christian martyrs with songs of a transcendent hope upon their lips.
How has it been now with the party that represents "law and order" and how with what has been called our "better controlled class" Surely we shall find their utterances to be free from all vulgar soap-box extravagance? Surely they will conduct their side of the quarrel with well-bread tolerance, even if with a disdainful hauteur in their reserve? Surely the best people, with aristocratic confidence in their case and their own ability, need never wallow in the muck of foul play?
Or has this party, on the contrary, mysteriously avoided free discussion, and drawn sophistical distinctions between free speech and "license," putting into the category of "license" every statement that seriously endangered its interests? Has it supported its mayoralty candidate with a million-and-a-half-dollar campaign contribution, and in the same campaign has it shown to every eye its control over the press, by swinging six of the seven available dailies into line? Has it mistrusted the people even while it preached a mission of democracy? Has it implied that college students were not mature enough to discuss public questions impartially, and secured the discharge eminent professors because was distrustful of their political position? Has it stooped so low as to catch even little children in its net, importuning them and sending them upon the streets to importune others for money to buy its bonds? Has it set them to work at drudging task to aid the military? Finally, has it peremptorily discharged all teachers who would not lend themselves to converting our public schools into mental straitjackets, to the end of indoctrinating childish minds with the official dogma, and warping innocence can not defend itself?
Gentlemen of the jury, the facts are known to you. The law also is known to you the psychological law that a man's conscience is disclosed by the way be fights his cause.
How meekly shall we stand for these things?
The Surgeon's Duty
"How can you Anarchists approve of Trotsky and support the Russian Boylsheviki?" a pacifist friend recently asked me. "Most of the Boylsheviki are Social Democrats," he added; "believers in government. Moreover, Trotsky has resorted to methods of suppression as in the dispersal of the Constituent Assembly. Can you explain why you support him?"
I shall try. As Anarchists we believe neither in government nor in violence, both of which are indeed synonymous in our philosophy. And no doubt we, the Anarchists would be the first to oppose the Socialist Boylsheviki should they attempt to establish themselves as a PERMANENT government with the power to "impose its authority upon the people. We believe, however, that the Russian Boylsheviki consisting as they do of Social Democrats, Social Revolutionists, Syndicalists and Anarchists do not represent the narrow-minded socialist type whose ideal is a strongly centralized Socialist government. On the contrary, we have reason to believe that the Boylsheviki in Russia are the expression of the most fundamental longing of the human soul that demands fullest individual liberty within the greatest social well being. That is why they have become, and are permitted to remain the public voice of revolutionaryRussia.
As to the Boylshevik activities at the present moment, and the immediate program of Lenin and Trotsky I can only say that an extraordinary situation may demand extraordinary measures.
It is most unfair to judge Trotsky and his co-workers on the basis of actions forced upon them by the stress of a most momentous crisis. Take, for instance, the suppression of the Constituent Assembly. We know Trotsky and his views. We know that Trotsky does NOT believe in the limitation of the freedom of the press and assembly, or indeed in suppression of any kind. But Russia is in the midst of a revolution, the greatest socio-economic upheaval of all times. A revolution is not a pacifist pink tea affair. A revolution is the reaction against the oppression of ages, and a violent reaction at that. As such it involves, necessarily, force and violence. It will be the great marvel of the future that this most momentous of all revolutions has been accomplished with comparatively so little violence, but has, on the contrary, been characterized by the greatest forbearance toward the hereditary tyrants, the most wonderful tolerance and kindest humanity.
It is the capitalist atrocities and governmental tyranny that produce crime and violence in time of peace, wholesale slaughter in war, and culminate in violent revolutions. Revolution is inherent in every social system based on slavery, and only the abolition of the system itself will usher in an era where force and violence will be things of the past.
Those that pretend to loathe violence and yet permit present conditions to continue, are in reality directly responsible for the perpetuation of the evil.
Russia is now by no means in a normal condition where our heart's desire of universal peace and brotherhood can actually be practiced. The great passion to make the world fit for such conditions, to clear the way for them, in the supreme justification of the Lenins and Trotskys, and is at the same time the explanation of our support.
The proletariat of Russia has suffered and bled for centuries. At last they have overthrown Tsarism and got rid of their tyrants. Shall they now meekly submit to a new set of bloodsuckers fastening themselves on their vitals? The Constituent Assemby was the saddle of the bourgeois exploiters eager to climb upon the back of the Russian proletariat. Away with the saddle!
Oh, my good man, when the patient's life is in grave danger, the surgeon is justified nay, it is his sacred duty to perform an operation.
Your letter has found me way up here among the hills, and it has burst open the door of a chamber in my heart from which long pent-up thoughts rush out tumultuous, irresistible. For months I have been out of touch with the world, the world of struggle, of striving of achievement. My beloved teacher has been ill.
We have been reading everything we could lay our hands on, and trying to catch up with the world. It is somewhat of a race; for as you know, things are moving very rapidly just now. Among other things we read of your arrest and "farcical trial." My heart was troubled, and I wanted to do something and I was trying to make up my mind what to do when your letter came. Believe me, my very heart-pulse is in the revolution that is to inaugurate a freer, happier society. Can you imagine what it is to sit idle in these days of fierce action, of revolutions and daring possibilities? I am so full of longing to serve, to love and be loved, to help things along and to give happiness, it seems as if the very intensity of my desire must bring fulfillment. But alas, nothing happens. I sit out here among the quiet hills under the pines and READ about the things I long to do with my whole heart. I cannot keep the pang of bitterness out of my reflections these days. Why have I this passionate desire to be part of a noble struggle when fate has sentenced me to days of ineffectual waiting? There is no answer. It is tantalizing almost to the point of frenzy.
But one thing is sure. You can always count upon my love and support. Those who are blinder than I because they refuse to see tell us that in dangerous times like these wise men hold their tongues. But you are not holding your tongue, nor are the I.W.W. comrades holding their tongues --- blessings upon you and them --- "Keep out of their vulgar brawls," beg those who are near to me in blood, but not in spirit. "Vulgar brawls" that is what they call your efforts to raise up those whom the cruel system under which we live has beat down and crushed. No, comrade, you must not hold your tongue. Your work must go on, even though all earthly powers combine against it. Never were courage and fortitude so terribly needed as now. Society on the war-path is an unmitigated ruffian. It knocks down every decent sentiment and noble ideal in the human heart, and regards those who retain the capacity to think as "slackers," traitors, cowards.
You have been arrested and condemned to the penitentiary for "obstructing the operation of the military laws of the United States ." What did you really do? You spoke and wrote openly against conscription against forcing men to fight, whether they wish to or not. Your magazine was confiscated without any reason being given you for holding it up. Other radical and Socialist papers have been suppressed, and in some instances the editors arrested without warrants Meetings have been broken up, literature burnt in the streets, citizens beaten and shot because they dared speak against militarism. When we consider the lynching of Frank Little in Butte, the lawless deportation of the miners from Bisbee, the expulsion of Fred Moon, the attorney for their wives and children, and the shameful "frame-up" in the Mooney case, we cannot but realize the need of brave men and women to protest against such despotism. How can there be a democracy unless people think and speak their minds freely --- unless the minority is treated with tolerance and justice? All the outrages I have enumerated are the negation of every principle of democracy, and we are told that we must enter the Great War in order to make the world safe for democracy.
We frequently hear it asserted that this country does not want you or your kind --- meaning those who oppose the ruling classes, those who fight against governments and authorities and the police for liberty and the elimination of poverty. You are told that this is a country of law and order where free men live. Are men free in a land where ten million Negroes are exposed to disenfranchisement eviction and lynching? Are men free when whatever the workers have got has been wrested from employers by strike after strike? Was it law and order to deny you bail? It is law and order to break up meetings of protest, opinions of the people? All the atrocities of this impious war are committed in obedience to law and order. It would be considered treason if any man in the armies of the countries at war refused to perpetrate these crimes at the command of his superiors. Behold the ruin of European civilization. It was accomplished in the name of law and order. The light of the spirit is more important to a people than a hundred victories. He who destroyeth that light kills more than the body politic he slays the nation's soul. Yes comrade, America has need of you and your kind. Long may you abide among us until your mission is fulfilled.
My heart aches for the people of all the nations. They do not hate one another. They do not want war. They want peace and liberty to enjoy the fruits of their labor. I have traveled the length and breadth of the land, and I know that the people want peace. I am told on good authority that the people of Great Britain, Germany and Russia want peace. They could rejoice in a peace without victory. What military victory could compensate them for this terrible waste of human life and treasure? We know that words once spoken will make their way. Although they fall upon the stony ground watered with tears and blood, yet they will spring up, and great shall be the harvest. They may imprison you, they may kill you; but the ideas for which you and my other comrades do battle are indestructible. In the years to come you will be honored and loved for a devotion to humanity that life could not tire, or death quench, or calumny shake. When the veil of prejudice and ignorance is torn away from the eyes of men, and they see with the sight God has given them, they will wonder at the blindness and stupidity of the generation that put such a woman in jail. For they will then see as I see now what you stand for.
I send you greetings from the everlasting hills glorious symbols of the Eternal God that shall Prevail. With a love that grows as I know more of you, I am,
Faithfully your comrade,
Books on War and Militarism
UNDER FIRE, by Henri Barbusse. E.P Dutton & Co., New York ($1.50)
The author, a soldier in the French army, relates what he saw and experienced in the trenches. He writes as a keen observer of conditions and men who is not blinded by national hatreds and prejudices. The soldier he knows from intimate personal acquaintance is not the soldier of the bragging patriotic newspaper brand, who is described as most willing to split the head of the enemy, because he is imbecile enough to believe what he read in the paper, namely, that this enemy is the 'outcast of the universe." Barbusse's soldiers are men, "good fellows of all kinds, rudely torn away from the joy of life. Like any other men whom you take in the mass, they are ignorant and of narrow outlook disposed to be led and to do as they are bid." They act under the instinct of self-preservation and cling desperately to the hope of pulling through. One of them, Volpatte, has both his ears neatly shot off. It makes him happy. He says to a comrade: "Old man, it's a good wound after all. I shall be sent back, no mistake about it." Faradet, of the same squad, remarks on this occasion: "At the beginning it sounded comic when I heard them wish for a good wound. But all the same, and whatever can be said about it. I understand now that it's the only thing a poor soldier can hope for if he isn't daft."
Life in the trenches consists chiefly of dirt, stink and lice, and when the squad is sent to a village to rest up and the soldiers are just dying to find a little comfort for themselves, the answer is: "No you see, I've got officers under officers, that is, you see, it's the mess for the band and the secretaries, and the gentlemen of the ambulance."
The nation demands your life, but the spoils belong to your superiors.
* * * * * ** * * * * *
A GERMAN DESERTER'S WAR EXPERIENCE. B.W. Huebech, New York ($1.00).
Fourteen months the writer endured it on the western front, compelled to fight and to march with his regiment through burning cities and villages, the fleeing inhabitants of which scatter in all directions. Then he succeeded in making his escape into Holland, and from there arrived in a coal-bunker on these shores. As a civilian he is a miner, a working man opposed to the war from the very beginning. What he learns of its beastly practice teaches him that be was right thousand times right in his opposition. When the mobilization orders came the soldiers did not know who was to be the enemy. Even after the human cattle had already been entrained for the shambles, nobody took the trouble to give any information. They care very close to the Belgian frontier before they were told by their captain that the Belgian was their enemy. "If we had been told," says the author, "the Hollander is your enemy, we would have been compelled to believe it, and would have shot him by order, for they give us our enemy and our friend according to the requirements of their own interests."
Sometimes it happens that this state of affairs does not create enough enthusiasm among the soldiers for the killing and burning business. Then the singing of patriotic songs may enliven them. But the company, tired and footsore, is not in a mood to sing. Up steps one of the officers and shouts at the men, "I tell you sing, you swine!" And the "swine" obey and sing, miserably though it sounds. There you have the wonderful discipline, the virtue, and the manhood of military life!
The revolutionary philosophy of the Boylsheviki may find a large field for action if Germanyhas many more young workingmen who hold opinions and convictions similar to those of the German soldier who wrote this book.
MILITARISM -- By Karl Liebknecht -- B.W. Huebach, New York ($1.00).
This book, translated from the German, is anti-militaristic from every point of view. It is not a pacifist treatise. Its arguments are those of the social revolutionist who knows that wars are the logical results of international capitalistic competition, and who is absolutely opposed to militarism because it has ever been the tool of the ruling classes to keep the proletariat in submission. By giving many examples of bloody military interference in strikes, etc., taken from the modern history of monarchies as well as of republics, the writer furnishes irrefutable evidence on this point. The American reader's attention may be especially called in this connection to pages 140-147. Considering that the German original of the book was published about eleven years ago, when talk of world peace and disarmament was much abroad, Liebknecht proved himself a prophet when he scornfully dismissed the twaddle of bourgeois pacifists a la Carnegie: "All the alleged plans for disarmament are thus seen to be for the present nothing but foolery, phrase-making and attempts at deception. The fact that the Tsar was the chief originator of the comedy at The Hague puts the true stamp on all of them."
The strongest features of the book are those parts which deal with the professional war promoters, the Krupps, Stumms, the Metal Trust, Powder Trust, etc. Karl Liebknecht's undaunted courage has earned him the special hatred of the German government. He was arrested after having spoken at an antimilitarist demonstration, and in the summer of 1916 he was sent to the penitentiary for four years and one month. High treason it was, the Court said the usual reward in these days for those who love humanity and champion the cause of labor.
The three books make very good reading.
Years have passed since. The object of my dreams has become a naked reality. I am in America, among Americans, and in American schools. I am learning the American ideals, customs, and traditions.
But alas! The same phrase I heard fifteen years ago from the Russian Captain, telling me to get out of the land if I don't eat pork, I hear now repeating itself in just a slightly modified form: "If you don't like this land, you should get out of it!" To be sure, it comes no longer from a Russian Captain but from a member of an American board of education, who wishes to deprive Mr. Moore of his diploma because he dares to stand firm for what his conscience tells him to be right. Think of it! Freedom of conscience, which was practically the watchword for the founders of this Republic!
Granting that Mr. Moore has committed a political offense, and disobeyed the law, the law provides the punishment, and Mr. Moore was perfectly aware of it, and submitted quietly and unresistingly.
There is no disgrace in being a political offender. We do not condemn O'Connel, Skeffington, Casement, of Ireland, who were executed in the most cruel and brutal manner, even though they were political offenders. Nor do we condemn Warren Hastings, John Brown, Garibaldi, Joan of Arc, Mme. Breshkovsaya, and hundreds of others, too numerous to mention. Not even Germany's '48ers. The greatest men in the world's history were for some reason or other political offenders. Even George Washington broke the laws of King George. But, as one of the members of the school board said: "He got away with it."
Mr. Moore has not stolen anything, nor has he robbed anyone, nor has he murdered anyone. He simply chose the alternative which the law provided for everyone who wanted to choose it, i.e., registration or go to jail.
Yet, along comes a member of the honorable school board and states, "It would be improper to confer a diploma on a criminal under his present circumstances," and "Let us wait until all disability is removed."
To my question whether "forced registration" would be considered as removing the disability, it was emphatically answered "No! All he (Mr. Moore) will have to do is register." Very well, then; where is the difference between the "forced registration," which our government will ultimately being to bear upon Mr. Moore and the "voluntary registration" which the honorable board demands of him in order that he should get his diploma? I confess that I do not see the difference, and I am inclined to think that neither do the gentlemen. It is simply the alternative of "eating the pork or of getting out of the land."
History To Be
Current events are chronicled, primarily, by newspaper reporters persons, generally, of no superior intelligence, and selected chiefly for their "instinct for news" and the knack of securing a "scoop." Superficially in observation, inadequacy of understanding, exaggeration, and even downright misrepresentation are the main characteristics of such description. Thus the press at the very outset often turns a false light upon events of importance, and the reading public becomes the unconscious victim of misinformation. The reader is still further deluded by the editorial bias which interprets important events from the narrow viewpoint of the particular group interests the editor happens to serve and often share.
Special contributors, magazine writers, etc., though of superior understanding than the average reporter, unfortunately but inevitably approach their task of investigation already influenced in some degree by the initial newspaper misinformation and the public atmosphere of prejudice already formed.
Subsequently a history of the event in written, based on contemporary chronicles and "data," and that is the reason why most of so-called history is so positively and mischievously false.
Vide the terrible judicial assassination of the pioneer idealists of America, in Chicago, in 1887, written down in American "history" as a "riot on the Haymarket that caused the death of a number of police officers, the murderous perpetrators expiating their crime on the gallows."
True history will be written only when the struggle of the classes will have been abolished and no social group will be vitally interested in distorting the truth and misleading the people.
Money collected at E.G. lectures in Chicago and Detroit for the following purposes:
For the use of the I.W.W. prisoners in Cook County jail: Chicago, $216.50; Detroit, $76.00. Amount turned over to the Non-Partisan Radical League, Chicago.
For the Italian Victims of the Milwaukee Frame-Up: Chicago, $175.50; Detroit, $76.00. Amount turned over to Secretary Checki and Judin.
For the Appeal of Louise Olivereau: Chicago, $21.50; Detroit, $139.00
Appeal for Comrade Levine: Chicago, $25.00.
MOTHER EARTH BULLETIN Sustaining Fund: Chicago meeting, $75.00; Banquet, $59.00. Promised pledges for Sustaining Fund, $40.00.
Campaign for Amnesty for the Political Prisoners in America on conclusion of Peace: Detroit, $167.60.
$170.00 collected in New York City for the I.W.W. was given as follows: Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, for trip to Chicago in re New York cases, $150.00; for care of boys in Cook County jail, $20.00.
February 1918 Vol 1 No 5
VOL 1. FEBRUARY, 1918, NEW YORK NO. 5.
On The Way to Golgatha
February 6, 1918.
Dear Faithful Friends:
How many have gone the way to Golgatha, and how many will yet have to go? Only Time, the Great Redeemer of all who are made to suffer for their ideals, can tell. Time hangs heavily an those who cherish great hope, but it moves with surprising swiftness and far beyond our fondest dreams.
Russia stands a glowing proof of that. In 1905 the Tsar's troops drenched the streets of Petrograd and other cities with the blood of the Revolutionists. In 1917 the revolutionary troops, more humane than those who did the butchery, drove the Tsar out of Russia.
This thought came to my mind when I was being dashed up Fifth Avenue in a police patrol automobile to the Pennsylvania Station on Monday, February 5th.
The Avenue and streets were lined with a curious mob, awaiting the parade of the soldiers from Camp Upton. Like the soldiers of the Tsar before 1905 who saw in every revolutionist an enemy to their country, the American soldiers would have greeted me with scorn and jeers and at the command of their Tsar would have taken my life in the ignorant belief that they were saving their country from a dangerous enemy.
Will Time do for America what it has done for Russia? Will her soldiers some day make common cause with her people? Who can say what the future will bring?
The idealist may not be a prophet, but he nevertheless knows that the future will bring change, and knowing he lives for the future he is given infinite strength to support the present.
So I, too, Dear Friend, will be strengthened while in prison by the passionate belief in the future, by the hope that the two years taken out of my life may help to quicken the great events Time has in store for the human race. With that as my guiding star, confinement, convict's clothes and the other indignities the guilty conscience of society heaps upon those it dares not face, mean no hardship.
You will want to help me while I am in prison, I know. You can do so in various ways. First, take care of my love child, Mother Earth Bulletin. I leave her to your sympathetic care. I know that you will look after her tenderly, so that I may find her bigger, stronger and more worth while when I return from Jefferson. Secondly, spread my Boylsheviki pamphlet in tribute to their great courage and marvelous vision and for the enlightenment of the American people. Thirdly, join the League for the Amnesty of Political Prisoners which is working for the release of all Political Prisoners. And finally, write to Berkman and myself. Always address us as Political Prisoners. Always sign your full name.
Good-bye, dear friends, but not for long -- if the spirit of the Boylsheviki prevails.
Long live the Boylsheviki! May their flames spread over the world and redeem humanity from its bondage!
U. S. Political Prisoner,
Jefferson City, Mo.
EMMA GOLDMAN Publisher and Editor
Office: 4 Jones Street, Now York City. Telephone, Spring 8711
10c a copy $1 a year
Gone to Jail
Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman have gone to jail. The struggle in the courts for eight months not only for Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman but for all conscientious objectors, for all who demand the right of liberty, of free speech and press, even in time of war, all of which was involved in the case, is ended as far as the courts are concerned, for the United States Supreme Court has spoken.
Men and women in America are going to jail for having ideals and consciences and for expressing their opinions for terms longer than they gave in Russia for the same offenses under the Tsar. And always the plea is "necessity of War". History shows that the plea is always some "necessity" to prevent human thought and progress.
Governments never seem to know what to do with idealists except put them in jail or kill them. Compulsion, always compulsion, or else conformity to the opinion of the masses or the opinion of those having governing power. Will civilization ever learn to do without jails, as we have learned to do without the ducking-school for heresy?
They took Emma Goldman from the Tombs to the Pennsylvania station in a patrol wagon. The offer of a taxicab for Miss Goldman and the officers was refused by the U. S. Marshal McCarthy. Justice, I presume, is symbolized by a patrol wagon. Being gentlemen, with the belief that insult need not be added to punishment, is perhaps too much for the public officials charged with carrying out the letter of the law. The mills of justice grind slowly, but, it is said, they grind exceedingly small. That is no reason why the mills should be small and the miners smaller.
Every generation thinks that what it does is absolutely right. But the study of history should give us pause in the belief that we are infallible. The fate of men like John Brown should make us hesitate to absolutely condemn. Idealists can only understand idealists. Have we in America ceased to be a people of ideals? Can we not be patient with those we do not agree? Can we not understand even that some people believe in the principles preached about 1900 years ago?
With true ideals the human race can reach real heights, without them it creeps along with wars and prisons, death and disease, and without hope. Idealism has blasted more institutions and done more for the betterment of humanity than any or all inventions of mankind. But we learn so slowly. Well does Don Marquis write in his poem "The Wages"
Earth loves to gibber o'er her dross
Her golden souls, to waste;
The cup she fills for her god-men
Is a bitter cup to taste.
Who sets he gyves that bind mankind
And strives to strike them off.
Shall gain the hissing hate of fools,
Thorns, and the ingrate's scoff.
Who storms the moss-grown walls of old
And beats some falsehood down
Shall pass the pallid gates of death
Sans laurel, love or crown;
For him who fain would teach the world
The world holds hate in fee--
For Socrates, the hemlock cup;
For Christ Gethsemane.
The New York Times, apparently with great moral satisfaction, reprints an article from the Sacramento Bee about the Mooney case, the writer of which must nearly have burst with poisonous gas when he composed it. His wrath is especially aroused by the fact that the Mooney case has become an international issue, and that the commission appointed by the President to investigate the crooked methods of Fickert & Co., instead of helping to deliver Tom Mooney and the others to the gallows, published a report, based upon facts, in favor of a new trial.
The author of the article who must have studied the psychology and morals of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce diligently writes on this score:
"In fact, the one 'gigantic frame up' in this whole matter has been the international 'frame up' for this professional dynamiter."
Not the tiniest shred of evidence is offered to prove that Mooney and the other defendants planted the preparedness parade bomb. The reader has to be satisfied with the again and again repeated epithet 'professional dynamiter.' And not one word is said about the activities of the notorious Oxman or about the fact that the chief witnesses who testified against Mooney and his friends have since signed sworn affidavits that they lied and perjured themselves under the pressure of threats, bribery offers and promises emanating in great abundance from the district attorney's office.
All these ugly features of the case which furnish only too convincing root that the frame-up exists and that it is one of the most reckless and infamous attacks upon justice ever made by corrupt officials, the writer of the Bee shoves away in the manner of Dickens' Mr. Podsnap.
But the workers of America and Europe understand the terrible situation Mooney and the others have been placed in. And they will continue to raise their voices and to demand that justice must interfere before it is too late.
* * *
The Boylsheviki consolidate their power in the wisest way possible. They don't care so much for nice dipomatic talk and agreements, but emphasize again and again the necessity of revolutionising society from the bottom up, not only in Russia but in all countries. To establish conditions that make the further existence of slave and master, of exploited and exploiters impossible is their grand aim.
The spirit in which they conduct the fight for international brotherhood and well-being expresses itself in a recent speech of Lenine, from which a few significant sentences, read:
"We have taken the land to give it to the poor peasants. External war is finished or is being finished now, internal war begins, but not a war with arms. This is an economic war. The masses must take back what has been stolen from them. Do not let the rich peasants or exploiters get the agricultural implements. Pit ten poor peasants against every rich one. The police are dead and buried, and the masses must take affairs in their own hands."
Very likely the big American dailies express on the sly their profound abhorrence of such doctrine, when they write that It is so awfully hard to understand the philosophy of Boylshevikism.
* * *
While the government insists that the President declared war upon Germany in order to save liberty and democracy more and more voices even from the camps of law and order are heard to the effect that liberty and democracy are the very principles which are most endangered by the warring government.
Quotations from recent newspaper articles criticizing the Overman bill which, if passed, would clothe the President with unexcelled autocratic power, indicate that the "reds" are not the only ones who discover more than one hair in the soup.
In the Boston Transcript we read:
"The enactment by the Congress of the President's bill, as it was introduced by Senator Overman and referred to the Committee on judiciary, of which he is Chairman, would overthrow "Government of the people. by the people, for the people," and set up in its place government of the President, by the President, for the President."
The Detroit News says:
"In the plain language of unvarnished truth the President asks to be made dictator for the period of the war and a year thereafter. The bill he has sent to Congress will bear no other interpretation. It makes him absolute."
The Evening Telegram, Portland, Ore., remarks:
"It would create an autocracy never contemplated by the American people as a war measure."
And the Pittsburg Gazette has this to say:
"President Wilson, already wielding more authority than any ruler on earth, would have Congress by deliberate act strip itself of supervisory authority and make the Executive supreme dictator, virtually responsible to no one."
From the Indianapolis Star:
"The bill invites such executive despotism as we have not seen even in Prussia."
None of the newspapers quoted have been suppressed or the writers imprisoned for seditious utterances.
Pro-government papers In Germany denounce the general strike of the workers in the big munition factories of the empire an the outcome of a propaganda by wicked foreigners. That's an old out-worn trick not only in autocratic Germany but in bourgeois republics as well.
The revolution of 1848 in Germany was the real genuine German article, the garrulous, educated German philistine being in the lead. Still the custodian of Wilhelm's castle in Berlin, probably to this very day, shows a stone to the visitor, explaining that it was thrown through a window of the castle during that uprising "which was brought about by Poles, Jews and Frenchmen."
This time, however, there is some truth in the matter. In all countries the invigorating influence of the Russian Revolution is strongly felt. The foreigners who are partly responsible for the general strikes in Austria and Germany are the Boylsheviki.
* * *
A wholesale indictment against 55 followers of the I. W. W. was returned on February 8th by the federal grand jury of Sacramento, Cal. This will probably increase the number of persons to over 200 who are indicted all through the country in connection with the raid on the I. W. W. headquarters and the arrest of Wm. D. Haywood and other spokesmen of the organization. The labor organization with an independent and militant spirit must be crushed, but coddled and praised to the spies must be the Gompers gang who sells the workers like serfs to the ruling classes to work for their further enrichment.
* * *
Under the bloody sceptre of Mars those famous guarantees for the free expression of thought and opinions have become so sickly and enfeebled everywhere that they cannot stand the mildest test any move. A cast in evidence is that of the English anti-war philosopher Bertrand Bussell. He has been sentenced by a magistrate in London to serve six months in prison for a statement made by him in "The Tribunal." What he wrote was in the opinion of the court "likely to prejudice Great Britain's relations with the United States." The paragraph in question reads as follows:
"The American Garrison, which by that time will be occupying England and France, whether or not they prove efficient against the Germans will no doubt be capable of intimidating strikers, an occupation to which the American army is accustomed at home!'
In writing this Bertrand Russell may have had in mind a report published soon after the time when the first American troops had landed in France. In effect this report said that American soldiers had proved helpful and efficient in quelling a strike of the French railroad workers.
The League for the Amnesty of Political Prisoners
Its Purpose and Programme
By Emma Goldman
In 1901 Peter Kropotkin, on his visit to America, addressed a letter to Alexander Berkman, then in Western Penitentiary, "Political Prisoner". The warden erased the title and wrote across the envelope: "No political prisoners in a Democracy."
That a prison warden should not know that Democracy, like autocracy, creates political opposition need not surprise us. Besides there were few political offenders in America in 1901. To be sure, John Brown and Mrs. Surrat were political offenders, so were the Chicago Anarchists, but they had been put out of the way. Those who were sent to prison were isolated and then forgotten.
Since 1901, and especially since the war, every city has contributed its share of men and women who have been sent to prison for periods of thirty days to forty-five years for their political opinions. But even to this day America refuses to recognize the existence of political Prisoners.
When the women pickets were forcibly fed in Washington jail, they were told by a gentleman from Congress that if they would stop hunger striking, they would be given all the privileges of political Prisoners but would not be recognized as such, for that would automatically establish a political status which a Democracy could not tolerate. So for Democracy's sake men and women, guilty of the great crime of holding non-conformist views on social and political questions, are given outrageous sentences and are treated as common felons.
Nothing like this condition exists anywhere in the civilized world. Even under the auto cratic rule of the Tsar distinction was made between the political and common offender. Imperialistic Germany distinguishes between the political prisoner and the so-called criminal. France and all the Latin countries were the first to recognize the distinction.
From time to time political prisoners are released in these countries by the declaration of General Amnesty. In fact in Italy and Spain Political prisoners who are elected to office, even while serving their sentences, are immediately released. Even England grants political Amnesty. The Sinn Feiners who had been sentenced to death and later had their sentences commuted to life imprisonment are now free through the declaration of a political amnesty.
Only Democracy has so far refused to face the fact that those opposed to war, or conscription, those who under no circumstance would raise a gun against their brothers, those who for social and economic reasons cannot subscribe to militarism -- that these men and women are not common felons but people of deep conviction. They have learned from history that institutions which have outgrown human need are subject to change and that the change can only be worth while if it is fundamental and from the bottom up.
Now, this may not be pleasant to the powers that be, but they must nevertheless learn to draw the distinction between men and women of ideals, the forerunners of the future, and the unfortunate victims who are forced by an iniquitous social system into crime.
The League for the Amnesty of Political Prisoners has been organized to perform a much needed function. The League declares its purpose as:
1. To educate the public to the fundamental distinction between Political offenses and common crime.
2. To work for the recognition in the United State of the status of political offenders.
3. To crystallize public sentiment in this matter to that it can be made a subject for representation at the General Peace Conference.
4. To obtain the release of all political off offenders through a general amnesty as soon as peace is declared.
No doubt a few well-known people may be released when peace is declared. What is to become of those who are unknown and have neither friends not money? Are they to rot in prison to the end of their terms for something which is the direct consequence of the war? That is exactly what will happen unless a campaign is begun and a powerful opinion created which will insist upon amnesty as one of the urgent demands at the peace parleys.
The League, then, can become not only of national importance, but of international scope in view of the fact that most political prisoners in America are from Russia and Italy. Certainly Russia will demand an amnesty for her citizens in America. She is already demanding that. The other countries will follow.
As a very interesting sidelight, it is well to call attention to the fact that one of the demands made by the strikers in Germany was: IMMEDIATE GENERAL AMNESTY FOR ALL POLITICAL PRISONERS. Thus do the German workers under imperialism demand even more than we do. We only ask for amnesty as soon as peace is declared. Little enough!
The method the League will pursue is as follows:
1. Headquarters will be established in New York. The work to be sustained by dues, contributions, subscriptions. through meetings and social affairs.
2. The League will organize branches in every city. These branches will contribute to the general work and provide for its local needs.
3. The League will receive from each local group and compile the number, names and terms of sentence of politicals in prisons in each city with a view of establishing an exact census of those who will benefit by the amnesty.
4. The League will correspond with prisoners and assist them in every way possible while they are in prison.
5. The League will carry on an educational campaign through literature and meetings with the assistance of labor, and other organizations, with the purpose of bringing public sentiment to bear upon Washington for the amnesty.
To sum up: The League for the Amnesty of Political Prisoners, the first of its kind in America, comes to do a great and urgent work. It aims to become the hope and sustenance of all those who for the sake of their ideas are now confined in every state and federal prison and who must be freed. For further information write to Miss M. E. Fitzgerald, Secretary. Send your contributions to Leonard D. Abbott of the Financial Committee of the League.
Address all communications to
MISS M. E. FITZGERALD
32 Union Square, New York.
The Boylsheviki and World Peace
By Leon Trotsky
Boni and Liveright, New York ($1.50)
The book for which Mr. Lincoln Steffens wrote an introducion, who, since his return from Russia, has done much to spread light upon the subject, should prove full of valuable instruction and data for those who "cannot understand the Boylsheviki mind." A title which would read somewhat like this: The Downfall of the International and how to rebuild it, would be more appropriate to the contents of the book, the chapters of which were written when Trotsky was still the propagandist of the Social Revolution, expelled by the governments and traveling from country to country spreading his principles.
International understanding and solidarity in action of the workers of all countries is to Trotsky and also to us the only possible solid foundation for world peace. Capitalism and government on the other hand are related to war like cause and effect. To talk about the possibility of world peace under capitalist rule is like talking about cholera as the best foundation for human health. Trotsky. it is true, has in his capacity as a representative of the Russian Revolution (only outside of Russia he is spoken of as "minister") negotiated on the war with delegates of capitalist governments, but to be sure he did that chiefly for the purpose of gaining greater momentum for the International Social Revolution. The German and Austrian governments may soon find out, now that according to reports peace has been established between Russia and Germany, that a "peaceful" revolutionary Russia is a much more formidable enemy to imperialism and capitalism than belligerent Tsarism could ever have been.
Strongly Marxian as the author of this book is, he could not altogether avoid noticing that it was just the old fatalistic doctrine of Marxism that could be used so readily by the Social Democratic parties of all countries to hide their ever increasing degeneration from revolutionary socialism to an opportunistic policy. He himself describes this process of degeneration and disintegration very vividly in the case of German Social Democracy, the chief leaders of which were always particularly keen to maintain that they were not willing to give up one iota of the Marxian theory. To-day when we look at Trotsky and his revolutionary activity, he impresses us as being spiritually more related to Michael Bakunin than to Karl Marx.
I have but one regret about having to go to prison now. It is that my work in presenting the truth about the Boylsheviki before American audiences has been cut short. The large attendance in each of the few cities I visited was sufficient indication of the awakened interest in the marvelous people of Russia who are compelling attention the world over. Even my "home town," Rochester, turned out in full force.
The first evening it seemed that the meeting would not take place. A miserable detective, who had not yet forgotten his defeat after arresting Dr. Reitman on the charge of having in his possession a birth control pamphlet, evidently wanted to get revenge. So he reported that a meeting was scheduled to the Fuel Administrator. Fifteen minutes before the meeting was to open, and with nearly a thousand people present, I was notified of the detective's action.
A long argument with the Fuel Administrator over the telephone finally induced the man to permit the meeting to go on, in view of the fact that the hall had been heated and that the war for Democracy had already sustained the loss.
As in Chicago and Detroit, my Rochester audience responded most enthusiastically to "The Truth About the Boylsheviki." The following evening brought a large gathering to the lecture on "Women Martyrs in Russia."
The two meetings have special significance because they were arranged by a few girls who work in shops all day and devoted their evenings to their labor of love.
Rose and Sara Cominsky, Fanny Rosenthal, the Mink sisters, Anna Drexler, Yetta Brenner -- ardent, devoted and zealous, they are the material from which the American Boylsheviki will come. A few of our Italian Comrades helped with the literature, and our good friend Mr. Howser showed his courage by presiding at the meetings.
A tour through the country would have been a veritable triumph. Perhaps that explains the great hurry on the part of Washington to send us away even before the customary thirty days' "grace."
I take solace now in the fact that the work has been started. Elsewhere in this issue you will see an outline of our plans. The League for the Amnesty of Political Prisoners promises to become one of the most important organizations in America. Lend it your support. Do what you can to spread my newly published pamphlet, "The Truth About the Boylsheviki." Single copies or large quantities can be obtained from us.
You can also help to maintain our work by ordering books from our new bookshop. We have opened, in connection with our new office, a shop where we will sell radical or any other books or pamphlets you may require. Communicate by mail with us and your order will be filled without delay.
To the Organized Workers of San Francisco
On Saturday list the Western newspapers were full of the story of the findings of the Presidential Commission sent to investigate the trials of Thomas J. Mooney and others, in whose cases there took place one of the most notorious miscarriages of justice that ever cursed this American Continent.
That report conclusively found that the officials entrusted with the administration of justice in San Francisco, had prostituted it in the service of the labor-hating corporations and the Chamber of Commerce. And it has established beyond all doubt, that District Attorney Fickert, in spite of his re-election on December 18th, had been guilty of criminal malfeasance in office.
But the same gang that was interested in the conviction of Thomas J. Mooney by every possible method, including perjury, was most vitally interested in his re-election in December last. And it is a matter of common knowledge, both in San Francisco and Sacramento, as well as a fact perfectly well-known to Governor Stephens and to the Federal officials in California, that the explosion at the Governor's mansion was the work of Fickert's friends, and was done with the sole purpose of securing his re-election.
To cover up their flagrant misdeeds, it was absolutely necessary that the gang should find a new goat. And as in San Francisco, they were already on the point of being shown up in their frame-up on Mooney, it was imperative that they should look elsewhere. That elsewhere was not hard to find, for in Sacramento there was a kindred gang that was desperately anxious to break up the local branch of that greatest modern national scapegoat, the I. W. W.
Both gangs jumped with joy. "The I. W. W. The very thing!" And at once they started a press campaign to blame the explosion on the I. W. W. in spite of the fact that the evidence pointed and still points in the direction of Fickert's friends, and was done with the purpose of influencing his re-election. They succeeded however, in holding sixty-five members of the I. W. W. by forcing the hand of the California Federals, who after investigating had found them absolutely clear of all share in the explosion.
But the official in direct charge of these prosecutions is so much at his wit's end to find any foundation for a case, that he has to resort to tricks of the most despicable meanness to prejudice the minds of the Grand jury and the public. And by his circulation of unfounded and utterly false press statements, he tends to reduce the Federal Government to the level of the same ghastly indecency that the findings of the Commission so bitingly scores in the Fickertian conduct of the Bomb cases in San Francisco.
We call your attention to the two sets of facts and the close connection between them; and if we are fortunate enough to secure your personal interest, we will keep you supplied with the latest developments.
CALIFORNIA DISTRICT DEFENSE
COMMITTEE I. W. W.,
95 Third Street,
San Francisco, Cal.
* * *
As this issue goes to press, announcement comes from San Francisco that the life of Israel Weinberg will be placed in jeopardy for the second time on charges growing out of the Preparedness Day Parade bomb explosion. At the first trial it required but one ballot for the jury to declare his innocence. But the Chamber of Commerce is persistent, and, regardless of the decisions of court and jury, will bend every effort to carry out its lynch program against labor.
* * *
Alexander Berkman -- Emma Goldman,
Tombs Prison, New York.
Your Chicago comrades gather at the Workers' Institute Ball and unite in sending love and greetings. The Revolutionary and Boylsheviki movement will go on during your stay in Atlanta and Jefferson City, The workers are spurred on to greater activity.
NATHANSON, KRUPNIC, GRUBER JUDIN, COHN, REITMAN.
Report of the Russian Convention
The First United Russian Convention in America was held in New York on February 1-4. The convention was called for the purpose of uniting the Russian colony and, mainly, its toiling elements. It may be said that this purpose was accomplished.
The convention was attended by over 160 delegates who represented different Russian organizations existing in America. There were delegates from Eastern States, from the Middle West, from the West and also from Canada. In some cities mass-meetings were held, which elected delegates to the convention. The convention thus represented not only organizations, but also the unorganized masses.
The convention was non-partisan. The different currents of Russian socialist and revolutionary thought were represented there, but there were also a quite considerable number of non-partisan delegates.
The convention was dominated by a revolutionary spirit. By a vast majority the policies of the Russian Councils of Workmen's and Soldiers' Deputies and of the Government of People's Commissaries were endorsed.
The following questions attracted the general attention of the convention: the form of the organization of the Russian colony, the attitude toward the present official "representatives" of Russia in the United States, and the attitude toward the draft. It was decided to organize Councils, which will take up the task of serving the interests and needs of the Russian Labor Colony. The activity of the Russian embassy, of the consuls and of the heads of the Russian Supply Commission was condemned as directed against the interests of new Russia. It was decided to request the Russian Councils and People's Commissaries to remove the present official "representatives" of Russia in the United States, because they really represent nobody but themselves. It was also decided to ask the People's Commissaries to replace the embassy and the consulates by organs which would express the real will and aspirations of the revolutionary people of Russia.
Among the resolutions passed were the following:
1. A demand that Russian citizens among whom are Alexander Berkman, Emma Goldman, Louis Kramer and Morris Becker, convicted for political offenses in America to imprisonment and deportation should be released immediately and sent to Russia.
2. A demand that all ports be opened to political exiles from Russia, and that passports should be supplied to all Russian citizens who desire to return, and that the Russian consulates in America provide transportation for such exiles.
At the close of the convention it was decided to send telegrams of greeting and assurance of solidarity to Alexander Bertman and Emma Goldman to their respective prisons, voicing the determination of the delegates that no effort would be lost in gaining for them their liberty.
Will you help maintain the BULLETIN while we are in prison, and at the same time aid the propaganda?
* HELP CIRCULATE THESE WORKS *
UNDER FIRE by Henri Barbusse
The greatest book written on the world catastrophe by an actual participant.
A GERMAN DESERTER'S WAR EXPERIENCE
Life in the trenches, with all its horrors and filth. Most vivid and realistic.
MILITARISM by Karl Liebknecht
A most lucid and powerful arraignment of militarism by a Socialist who remained true to Internationalism.
ANARCHISM AND OTHER ESSAYS by Emma Goldman
Most timely especially at this moment when the government is breaking down and current history is vindicating Anarchist ideas.
PRISON MEMOIRS OF AN ANARCHIST by Alexander Berkman
The greatest work on prisons in the English language. Masterly analysis of prison psychology resultant from social and economic forces. Autograph copies.
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The Boylsheviki Have Come to Challenge the World
THE TRUTH ABOUT THE BOYLSHEVIKI
By Emma Goldman
A compelling analysis of the historic background, the aims and aspirations of the Boylsheviki
--Miss Goldman's last contribution before her departure for Jefferson Prison for two years.
Price 10 Cents
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Introduction by Lincoln Steffens.
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March 1918 Vol 1 No 6
VOL.I. MARCH, 1918, NEW YORK NO.6.
Messages from Emma Goldman and
Missouri State Prison,
Jefferson City, March 3, 1918
To my Dear Ones:
To all those who have written me such loving, cheering, devoted letters. I greet you all. I wish I could reply to each one individually, but I am permitted to write only once a week and may only use two sheets of paper. So many of you dear friends have written me seventeen letters from one little gathering in my home town, Rochester, N. Y., were sent to me and innumerable others from all parts of the country since my imprisonment. I only hope you will return "good for evil," that you will keep on writing even though I can reply only collectively.
It is nearly a month since I was imprisoned, yet it has not seemed so long. You, my Dear Ones, have helped me each day to forget my surroundings and to take me back into my world of activity, my associations, my camaraderie with you and the great host of Mother Earth friends. Yes, your letters, full of warmth and eagerness have put color and interest into the place which Oscar Wilde described as "built of bricks of shame," a place which otherwise would have proven so dreary. Only those who themselves have been in prison will appreciate the importance of daily contact with the outside world, with one's friends and comrades by means of letters.
You will want to know how my life has been arranged for me. One ceases to be a free agent, once in prison. One becomes an automaton, moving with clock‑like regularity and never‑changing sameness each hour, day and year that the prison holds one.
We rise at 5:30, although we are awakened at five o'clock. Those are indeed fortunate who can sleep through the night with the bell clanging each half hour and the guards in the towers signaling that "all is well," meaning, of course, God is in his heaven, and his accursed children are safely locked away in H . We go down to breakfast about 6:15 and are in the shop at 6:30 a. m. Some day I will describe that shop; it is a "credit" to civilization. We work until 11:30, then march to dinner. We are in our cells from 12:00 to 12:30, then go back into the shop until 4:30. After that we are supposed to have an hour and a half in the open, but during this month, we were out only four times, not counting Sundays, when I, the atheist, could not partake of recreation because I did not attend chapel. How else are sinners to be brought to the throne of the Lord, if not by means of punishment. I always knew all sorts of methods are being employed to make the sinner feel the wrath of God, but that he should be deprived of much needed air unless he attends Church is new to me. Of course, one misses air in prison even more than outside of it. Somehow prisons are all engaged in a conspiracy against fresh air, which they no doubt consider an alien enemy.
That may explain why our recreation has to be spent indoors, walking round and round the corridor amidst the deafening noise of human voices, venting emotions pent up all day by enforced silence. Thus, for a few moments I saw only a "patch of blue which prisoners call the sky."
Yesterday was our first great treat. We were in the yard for more than two hours. It was a glorious day. The blessed sun, the vast blue sky looking down upon creature man contemptuously for his inhumanity to his brother. The sun heals all germs. Will it ever heal the germ of cruelty, injustice and ignorance? Will it ever melt the ice in the human heart?
I am leading a sort of double life, dear friends. One, the prison life is entirely mechanical. The other is far removed from here; it is too free, too unbounded, too colorful and serene for man made laws or rules or discipline to touch it. Nothing can touch that life even remotely. You are in that life with me, my dear ones, and all those who are imbued with a great Ideal, who work for a new world where beauty, comradeship and freedom shall take the place of this hideous world of ours.
My thoughts are with you always and with our fighter, Mother Earth Bulletin. I can do nothing for it now, but I depend upon all of you. Keep the child, Mother Earth, alive and growing. I know you love me, and for my sake will minister to the needs of the Bulletin while I remain in prison. When I return I shall resume our work with a new hope and deeper zeal. All that I see and experience during the two years will help me in the great battle to come. Good‑bye, my dear ones. Write again. I am deeply interested in all of your activities, particularly those for the League for the Amnesty of Political Prisoners.
* * *
I went to Atlanta and saw Alexander Berkman, Louis Kramer and Morris Becker at the United States Penitentiary on February 18th and 19th. They did not seem to believe that "stone walls and prison bars, a prison make." They were all cheerful, healthy, interested in the things of the outside world and interested in every current of thought and every ideal being struggled for in every part of the world.
They greeted me not with doleful faces, but with good cheer and smiling countenances. They wanted to know the news, the personal news, the big news, aye, even the gossip among their friends. They can only write one letter a week, but their friends and all who are interested in them should write them as often as possible, signing their full names. Receiving letters is a prisoner's great recreation, and one of the things that breaks the monotony.
Berkman felt that absolutely no relaxation in the efforts in Mooney's behalf and of the other defendants of the California frame-up should be allowed to take place, as the entire battle in their behalf may be lost if there is the least cessation of fighting and the arousing of public opinion.
Jails are civilization's confession of failure; and prisoners are prisoners only if they believe they are prisoners.
I am, Sincerely yours,
The Invasion of Revolutionary Russia
On the l8th of March 1871 the Commune was proclaimed in Paris. Two months later the fighters of the Commune, the vast majority of which were workingmen, were butchered by the regiments of General Gallifet, sent against Paris by order of the Provisional French Government operating from Versailles.
The victorious Prussian army was laying siege to Paris, but Berlin and Versailles, Bismarck and Thiers understood each other perfectly in one respect. From their point of view the crushing of the Commune was of first importance.
In order to accomplish this bloody end the French and Prussian leaders of reaction joined forces to a certain extent. Bismarck ordered the release of French prisoners of war in big batches to make the butchery of the Commune, prepared for by the French government, more efficient. And it really turned out to be efficient. Nearly 30,000 People were killed during the May days by Gallifet's hordes.
It was the end of the Commune. But the international proletariat has not forgotten the heroes and martyrs who fought and died for it, forerunners of the international social revolution as they were.
On a larger scale Russia became the scene of events similar in some of their significant phases to those here shortly related.
The armies of Germany, greeted by the adherents of the former regime in Russia, applauded openly by the German aristocracy and the wealthier parts of the bourgeoisie, and secretly by privileged classes of all countries, invaded revolutionary Russia.
Fake and sham were the German peace negotiations at Brest‑Litovsk. Adding to them clumsy lies and the slyness of a fox, the German government included in one of the reports about these negotiations the statement that the German representatives in Brest‑Litovsk did not have the impression that the Russian delegates were really in earnest in their expressed desire for peace.
This lie was exploded a few days later by the declaration of the Soviet that Russia would not continue the war, that the Russian workers and peasants did not wish to murder their fellow‑workers of Germany and Austria.
The real motive for the treacherous invasion of Russia, besides that of making booty and stealing provinces, was the desire to strangle the Revolution. On their march into Russia the German commanders took good care that in the cities and villages the members of the local Soviets were taken into custody first.
Prince Leopold of Bavaria, German commander‑in‑chief, has defined the purpose of his campaign himself:
"Russia is sick and is trying to contaminate all the countries in the world with a moral infection. We must fight against the disorder inoculated by Trotsky and defend outraged liberty. Germany is fortunate in being the incarnation of the sentiments of other order loving peoples."
That's it. The Germany of the Hohenzollern, of the Hindenburgs, and Krupps has now become the bloody representative of international reaction and capitalism. Petrograd was formerly considered the centre of all counter‑revolutionary forces the world over. Now Berlin has become this centre.
No mistake about that. Since the ascent of the Boylsheviki to power the capitalist mouthpieces in all countries have fairly foamed in their anger and wrath. They denounced them every day as filthy mob, as criminals, traitors, or at best as lunatics, and what else was there to be expected, seeing that the Russian revolutionists attacked in real earnest the sacred foundations of despotism and exploitation, seizing the land of the big proprietors, of the crown and church for the poor peasants, and expropriating the manufacturers, the rich and the banks.
What the ruling classes in all countries have wished for in the last months was a Russian Gallifet, who would lead an army against Petrograd. It was to their infinite regret that Korniloff and Kaledine did not succeed in accomplishing the defeat of the Boylsheviki.
And now that Hindenburg became the scourge of Russia, these same classes hope again that "order" will be restored an Russia.
We faced the scandalous situation that the only people standing up for peace absolutely sincere finds itself abandoned and delivered up to the shambles of the enemy.
But let us not cry about it. The lines should be drawn clear. The workingmen of all countries, the multitudes, or at least the thinking minorities in Berlin, Vienna, Paris, London, Rome must now understand clearer than ever before that the war has become the universal contest between the old social forces of oppression and the new revolutionary forces whose aim is the radical social and economic reconstruction of society.
Petrograd is now the capital of the International Social Revolution towards which all our thoughts and feelings concentrate.
There are signs even in Germany that the slavish obedience to the murderous commands of the military caste has weakened considerably. In the German Reichstag the Independent Socialist, Dr. Cohn, caused an uproar by saying:
"I see the day coming when the Revolution will reach Germany, and the people will take the fate of their rulers into their own hands."
An emergency peace treaty with Germany has now been signed by the Russian delegates at Brest‑Litovsk. Russian territories have been ceded to Germany and Turkey. To those who think this situation hopeless we refer to a remark of Nicholas Lenin, that seems to us full of revolutionary wisdom. He thinks it possible that the Revolution will make headway and he asks what difference it makes where the boundary lines are drawn, considering that it is the aim of the revolutionary proletariat to fight oppression everywhere and to establish international solidarity which would have no use for the cannon guarded frontiers of to‑day anyway.
Frightful Stubborness of Labor
Prominent personages have lately been disagreeably surprised in discovering that Labor is not always entirely satisfied with playing the role of Cinderella. Workmen, usually considered as mere "hands," have given here and there some evidence that they also possess brains. That was particularly perplexing to the daily press, and when the carpenters in the shipyards went on strike for shorter hours and better conditions, they were attacked right and left
William I. Hutcheson, President of the Carpenters' organization, was considered at least a Boylsheviki, if not worse, for the reason that he did not treat the carpenters as recruits, declining to order them back to work in command of print‑paper‑made public opinion. The writers who denounced him so fiercely probably did not know that. Mr. Hutcheson has always been a typical conservative labor leader, adhering, in general, faithfully to the deadening tradition and methods of the American Federation of Labor. In the present case he certainly did not want to do any more "mischief" than to obtain better working conditions for the members of his organization. Was that not his and the carpenters' inalienable right? Is it a sin against democracy on the part of the workingman to ask for a decent standard of life in exchange for his lifelong toil? Can that be a crime, especially now that foodstuffs, the chief provisions and necessaries of existence, have increased in price from 50 to 100 per cent?
President Wilson wrote a letter to Hutchenson closing with the alternative whether the President of the carpenters' organization would choose co‑operation or obstruction for his tactics. And still Hutchenson held out. He did not grow panicy, going even so far as to refuse having the whole matter transferred to the Adjustment Board. He probably knew from long experience that these boards and commissions become in many cases the burial ground for labor demands.
The editors stood aghast for a while and then sailed into Hutcheson again. They are often enough themselves victims of indirectly enforced obedience; so why should they allow other people to enjoy the possession of something like a backbone of their own!
Meanwhile Mr. Gompers, the old standby of the profiteering classes of society, and other leaders of like calibre, stepped in and did their utmost to bring about an abrupt ending of the strike.
Mr. Gompers denounces the Hebrew Trades Union Movement for tolerating radicalism in its ranks and is busy with arranging loyalty conventions and meetings for labor, giving the impression that loyalty is somehow synonymous with labor's submission to the wishes of Big Business, which, according to its own financial reports, bags enormous profits at this time. A writer in the "New Republic" phrases the agreeable situation in which Big Business finds itself at present in this way:
"In peace, when time is not a pressing matter, it is doubtless possible for the government to make contracts that leave no opportunity for excessive profits. In war this is not possible."
That is perhaps the reason why Mr. Gompers' endeavors do not show much of the desired great result. The logic of the workers is evidently often at variance with the logic of Gompers. Hardly a day passes that one does not read about impending strikes.
Now that Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman are in prison it is to be expected that all friends and comrades, every one of them, gets on board the good ship Liberty which is bound to reach the shores of a new future. Spreading our principles, making people aquainted with our literature, paying subscriptions, and securing new subscribers for "Mother Earth Bulletin", should now be considered more urgent than ever before. We have removed our offices from 226 Lafayette Street to 4 Jones Street.
* * *
Whatever crowned and uncrowned leaders of the nations may do or say to convince the world that the only means for stipulating relations between nations and races are competition in armament, bayonet and cannon ball, it will not avail in the end. A strong social under‑current gives assurance that development points in an opposite direction.
Out of the very turmoil of stimulated hate, of slaughter and suffering rises stronger and more powerful every day the conviction that man and countries must combine for mutual help and international solidarity if they want to gain a future worth while.
Russia gives the clue. The Proletarian Red Guard, fighting for the cause of internationalism against autocracy, exploitation and bourgeois rule, is the nucleus around which the social‑revolutionary forces of all countries will rally in ever‑increasing numbers, insight and strength.
* * *
Better than we could do it ourselves, Cardinal Farley has taken the trouble to define the spirit of modern Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular. In the Catholic weekly "America" he published an article from which the following paragraph was taken:
"The figures are eloquent. According to the Secretary of War, Mr. Baker, 34 or 35 per cent of the army are Catholics. The better Catholics they are, the better soldiers they are going to be? If there is one principle that must be the guiding star of the soldier, it is the principle of authority. Obedience is the soldier's duty. The necessity of that duty has been deeply impressed upon Catholics. By inculcating that principle upon her Children, the Catholic Church has conferred a lasting benefit upon the state, a benefit the results of which are now beginning to be apparent. Submission to authority is the backbone of an army. The Catholic soldier is already predisposed by his training to respect that fundamental law."
Thus writes the representative of Jesus, who in the night when he was betrayed by the kiss of Judas to the authorities, said to the disciple who wanted to defend the master:
"Put up again thy sword into his place, for all they that take the sword, shall perish with the sword."
* * *
French papers report the sending to jail of Sebastian Faure and Helen Brion for antimilitarist activity. Faure is one of France's greatest orators. He is the founder and conductor of the Bee Hive, the Modern School at Rambouillet near Paris. The school had to close soon after the beginning of the war, but Faure did not give up his propaganda, revolutionary not only from the religious point of a view but from the social as well.
* * *
Through a New York reporter the public was informed that tears glistened in the eyes of more than one detective when Capt. Wm. J. Deevy of the First Branch Detective Bureau told his men that he would give up his position and retire. The "famous arrests" made by the captain during his career were also reported. Matt Schmidt, accused together with the McNamaras and David Kaplan of having participated in dynamiting the Los Angeles Times Building and finally hunted down by the harpies of Burns' Detective Agency, was arrested by Capt. Deevy.
It is well known that crocodiles are supposed to be capable of shedding tears, but it may be interesting news to students of natural science that ferrets and scorpions are able to do the same stunt.
* * *
A New York comrade, writing a letter to Alexander Berkman, enclosed a newspaper clipping about the case of Bertrand Russell, who recently was sentenced in London to six months' imprisonment for having written a disrespectful comment on the American army. This letter was sent back to our comrade by the authorities of Atlanta Prison with the remark it could not be delivered to the addressee, because it contains "information concerning criminal matter which under the rules prevents its delivery to Mr. Berkman."
In other words, the prison rules do not allow that one "criminal" gets Information about another "criminal".
Sasha Berkman can stand it. We, his friends, also. But what about Earl Russell's family, very distinguished in English society. Verily, if even prison officials have lost all respect for the upper crust of society, what then can you expect from the Boylsheviki.
* * *
Dr. William J. Robinson, well known to the radical element of the country, has been arrested and placed under $5,000 bail. It happened because he published his opinions on the war in his magazine "A Voice in the Wilderness" and in other publications.
Having the misfortune not to be able to appreciate the assertion that crippling and annihilating millions of human lives are absolutely necessary in order to establish well-being and happiness for all nations, he recommended that the war should end and peace be restored to the world. That is the reason why he will have to stand in the dock.
* * *
Our well known comrade E. de Armand, director of "Par dela la Melee'" has been condemned by the military tribunal at Grenoble, France, to five years' penal servitude for so-called complicity in "assisting desertion". The fact was not established by the prosecution, who, when demanding a severe sentence for Armand, claimed it because "accused is a militant Anarchist." Which looks to us as if it works quite as well in democratic France, as it does in other countries. An appeal has been taken against this excessive sentence.
* * *
The Appellate Court in Cleveland sustained the verdict against Dr. Ben Reitman, who, charged with having propagated birth control, was sentenced in January of last year to six months' imprisonment and $1,000 fine.
If we had no courts what would become of decaying morality systems, of tumble‑down institutions, and superstitions! Be they ever so obnoxious in the way of improvement and progress, they must not be removed. The courts will see to it sternly that they are upheld. Imbued with a special instinct for preserving things that deserve to be discarded, the mills of justice grind down principles and ideas, which, put in practice, might ease the lot of suffering humanity.
The case will be appealed.
* * *
Labor bodies, radical organizations and groups sent encouraging cablegrams to Petrograd, urging to fight to the utmost the German invaders. A still better help for the fighters is the spreading of light and knowledge upon the fundamental principles of the Russian Revolution. We make this remark because we notice that some of the cablegram senders had only a few days before declared that the Boylsheviki must be done away with.
* * *
Alexandra Kollontay, who was in America for a propaganda tour before the Russian revolution started, and after her return held the position as Commissioner of Public Welfare under the Boylsheviki regime, has been arrested by government troops in Finland. She came with other Boylsheviki delegates to Finland for the purpose of arranging an International Socialist Conference.
With the German invaders in sight, the pillars of the old rotten system became more daring.
Not in one of the different commission reports about the labor troubles in the western mining and lumber districts are the I. W. W. held responsible for the deep‑rooted unrest.
The authors of these social documents seem rather to consider the brutal methods used by the employers for the purpose of frustrating the just demands of the workers as the real cause for the disturbances. ‑
One wonders whether these reports will have any bearing on the pending trial against about 300 members of the I.W.W. organization. That they have no influence on the stand taken by the Federal Department of Labor is indicated by the proposal of the department to round up all alien labor agitators who foment strikes, etc. in the Northwest for internment. The eternal curse: causes are left untouched, the effects denounced and punished.
* * *
Keep an eye on Milwaukee. Ten men and one woman were sentenced in that city to twenty‑five years penitentiary each. The circumstances under which the arrest and conviction took place were related in recent issue of the "Bulletin." They are of such a nature that even the worst pessimist would refuse to believe that the higher courts will sustain the sentence.
Letters and money for the defense are to be directed to William Judin, 1006 Ashland Boulevard, Chicago, Ill.
* * *
Developments in the San Francisco Bomb Case indicate that Fickert and his gang begin to lose confidence in their own ingeniousness for constructing a "good" frame‑up. The days of smooth sailing are over for them. Their most important witnesses, with the help of which they had Billings and Mooney convicted, are discredited. They are now known to the world as perjurers and bribed liars while some others of them have come out publicly, telling the story how they were threatened and coached for their mission to help ambitious rascals to hang legally innocent people. In one word the old frame‑up has been smashed into splinters.
The difficulty is now to fix up a new one. But into what dirty corner of the world could the perpetrators look for evidence and new "reliable" witnesses?
Facing this dilemma the honorable Fickert plays for time. No hurry for him. He is not in prison, yearning for liberty and justice as Billings, Tom Mooney, Rena Mooney, and Weinberg are.
It took a long time till Weinberg succeeded in having his case taken up again. When it finally came before judge Cabanis on February 13th, Ferrari, Fickert's assistant, did everything he could to throw obstacles in the way of the proceedings. He had, he said, important witnesses, one in Chicago, another one in Honolulu, whom it wit impossible to bring to San Francisco in so short a time. Judge Cabanis became angry, and it developed, from what he said, that obstruction had been systematically carried on from the district attorney's office for the purpose of bringing all the bomb cases for trial before Judge Dunne, whose bias against the defendants has shown itself frequently in the most bitter form.
The trial for Weinberg was set by judge Cabanis for the 25th of February, and then it seems that Fickert had played some technical trick in order to have the case removed from Judge Cabanis's court and to transfer it later to the judge of his heart's desire.
Protests against the now world‑infamous outrage keep on pouring into the office of the Governor of California. A telegram from the Philadelphia Central Labor Council read thus:
"Govenor Wm. Stephens, Scaramento, California:
"The Philadelphia Central Labor Council, representing thirty thousand workers, entered an unanimous protest against any further delay in handing out even justice to the defendants Mooney, Billings, Weinberg, Nolan and Mrs. Mooney. We are convinced that they are the victims of a dastardly frame‑up at the hands of labor's enemies. Our contention is sustained by the report of the Federal Commission which recently investigated the situation. May we look to your honor to see to it as Governor of California that the innocent go free and the guilty persecutors be made to answer."
Activities of the Political Amnesty League
For the purpose of awakening interest organizing local groups of the League, for the Amnesty of Political Prisoners, Prince Hopkins, Chairman of the League, has just completed a coast to coast tour. He visited Rochester, Cleveland, Detroit, Ann Arbor, Chicago, St. Louis and San Francisco. In each of these cities the message he bore was greeted with enthusiastic response. Pledges were made to further the work of organization, committees were selected and each group expressed its determination to carry on local and national agitation until recognition and amnesty are won for all political prisoners in America.
The meetings in these cities were arranged primarily to bring together the active workers from as many and as diverse organizations as existed in the locality, to acquaint them with the aims and programme of the League and to collect whatever available authentic data was to be had regarding prisoners who would be considered politicals. Local organizations were perfected, secretaries elected and arrangements were made for large mass meetings to follow the preliminary informal meetings begun by the Chairman of the League.
The first gathering was held in Rochester at the Labor Auditorium, where it was decided not to appoint any local executive committee but to have the group work as a committee of the whole. Our friends volunteered to visit the men and women in the jails and to give to their families whatever sustenance they can provide. Three cases were brought to the attention of Mr. Hopkins. Mr. Fisher was arrested for taking his daughter from school after she was asked to write essays to which she could not subscribe. He was sentenced to jail. Mr. Ensuc is serving a term after having been convicted of distributing a Jewish handbill, and a member of the Methodist Church also was given a prison sentence for the expression of an opinion in a hardware store.
Minnie Fishman was chosen Secretary of our Detroit group at a meeting held in that city. Mr. Walter M. Nelson informed us that there were 206 men in the Detroit House of Correction, detained for political offenses. Efforts will be made in behalf of these men by the local group so that they will receive friendly communication from the outside and assurances that the League is working for the status of Political Prisoners for them, and when peace is declared their liberty through an amnesty.
The cases of Elwood Moore and Max Frocht were brought to the attention of Mr. Hopkins when he spoke in Ann Arbor. These young men were sent to jail for their non‑conformist opinions about the war. In Ann Arbor Miss Martha E. Kern was elected Secretary of the organization, with Miss Burt as her assistant. A plan to send out a series of chain letters acquainting people in sympathy with the League of the conditions of their locality was evolved.
A successful meeting was held in Cleveland, where Carl Helser was elected local Chairman. The work was begun by procuring aid for Alvah Buchman, a political prisoner.
At a luncheon in Chicago, the establishment of a local group in that city was discussed. After some debate, it was decided to elect an organizing committee of five instead of a secretary and presiding officer. Accordingly Comrade, Lloyd, Nathanson, Engdhal, Cooper and Stedman constitute the committee for Chicago. It was also thought best to use the name "The League for the Amnesty of Political and Industrial Prisoners." This is the title by which the Chicago organization will be known. The inclusion of Industrial prisoners was considered necessary by the committee. Addresses on the subject of Amnesty were delivered by Mr. Hopkins at the Labor School, the Chicago Theatre, Chicago University and at I.W.W. Hall.
The report of meetings held in St. Louis and San Francisco has not arrived. They will be printed in the next issue of the Bulletin.
It is essential that our comrades all over the country come to the support of this urgent work. The issue of recognition and amnesty for political prisoners in America must be fought now. With peace declared and no recognition for political prisoners, thousands of men will remain in prison: "And by all forgot they will rot and rot."
Mooney's Death Sentence Affirmed by Supreme Court
According to the decision of the Supreme Court of the state of California, Torn Mooney is not entitled to a new trial. This verdict will be a bitter disappointment to Labor in America and Europe. Not only that but the manner in which it was rendered is bound to stir up sharp criticism and disapproval.
The main thing was, one would think, that the evidence on which Mooney was convicted, should have been submitted to a thorough review by the court. The evidently crooked methods used in procuring this evidence, prompted the appeal. The appalling revelations made in sworn affidavits as to the more than suspicious participation of members of the police and the district attorney's office in this game, and the exposure of Oxman were the things that stirred up indignation here and abroad. The whole labor movement and large parts of the other population felt keenly that Mooney and his friends were persecuted, not prosecuted.
This feeling spread over to Russia and other countries. A commission was appointed by the President to investigate and in the report of this commission a new trial was recommended.
All this the Supreme Court has passed by, has ignored and evaded it altogether. It passed opinion only in regard to the technical points of law. In reading some of its parts one may imagine a building inspector who is asked to inspect a house whether it is safe to live in and who would give the opinion that the color of paint on the walls made quite a good show.
Except perhaps the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce and those ferocious people who would hang radicals and sincere labor leaders anyway, evidence or no evidence, nobody will feel reassured by the decision of the Supreme Court.
The one necessary thing to do is that Labor must raise its voice still louder in protesting against the intended victimizing of Tom Mooney and the others. In the East and West big mass meetings have been held for this purpose. In New York the Ball and Bazaar given our San Francisco comrades was a huge success.
A Historic Reminiscence
Not for the first time has it happened in history that a great revolution clashed with a foreign autocracy as it does now in the occupied territories of Russia. They have never agreed together in the past, and they will never agree in the future, whether it be a feudal or a modern autocracy ruled by princes of finance and monopolists.
European autocracy felt it its sacred duty to mobilize its armies against the great French Revolution. England furnished a good deal of money for that noble purpose, regularly paying a large sum to Prussia in order to strengthen the military power of that country. Emperors, kings, and aristocrats of all countries combined to destroy the rebellious "canaille" and their aristocratic fellow parasites in France hailed them as their saviors. Their despotic rule and shameless exploitation of the people were in danger, and as to the foreign invaders they feared that the evolution would spread all over Europe and do away with their crowns, estates, and privileges.
The King and Queen of France sent treasonable messages to their dear brothers and cousins on the thrones of Europe, imploring them to make haste with the invasion of France. They were quite ready to help the foreign invaders to steal a march on Paris and to slaughter Frenchmen by the hundred thousands for the sole purpose of patching up and restoring again the old rotten regime, which had become absolutely intolerable to the people.
In July, 1792, Prussia was prepared to attack the "criminals and outlaws" in France who dared to be disobedient to the king whom the Lord himself had placed on the throne. Some moral justification seemed necessary. In a solemn proclamation the king of Prussia announced his coming to France in order to save that God forsaken country and all Europe from the terrible evils of insubordination, to which end he would establish the monarchial power on a more stable basis. One passage of the proclamation was quite amusing. It read as follows:
"The supreme authority, in France being never ceasing and indivisible, the King could neither be deprived nor voluntarily divert himself of any of the prerogatives of royalty, because he is obliged to transmit them entire with his own crown to his successors."
Chief commander of the allied armies of reaction was the Duke of Brunswick. He also published a manifesto, demanding categorically that their majesties, the King and Queen of France should be set at liberty immediately. Should they have to endure the least violence, or should a lawless rabble try to force the Tuilleries, the royal palace then the Emperor of Germany and the King of Prussia would inflict "on those who shall deserve it the most exemplary and ever avenging punishment."
But things turned out differently. The National Guard on whom the royalists had counted went over to the people. A revolutionary committee seized the city hall and their majesties became now in reality prisoners of the Temple. A few weeks later the army of the Revolution made up of "vagabonds, cobblers, and tailors" defeated the Prussians at Valmy. The Duke of Brunswick had come as an overbearing braggart. He was glad enough to get home again ignominiously and a good deal more silent.
There is not a great consolation for the Russian Revolution in this parallel, but true it is that any army of revolutionists, fired by enthusiasm for their cause, may be more formidable to deal with than with the soldiers of a czar, driven stupidly and slavishly towards the enemy by sheer fright and force.
By Stella Comyn
Six weeks have passed since prison doors shut from us our beloved comrades, Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman; and the February Bulletin went to press before we were able to give our readers any news of them. Their absence has left a void that is difficult to bridge, but we are struggling to maintain their standards in the Bulletin, using every means in our power to keep it alive and our subscribers together for the two years that we are deprived of their inspiring activity. We hope their heroic sacrifices for the cause of freedom and justice will bring us all closer, and make our own contributions more vital and valuable.
Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman are repeating their own past history. They are both engaged in the garment industry both are sewing ten hours a day at overalls, as they used to nearly thirty years ago when they first entered the movement. But that is where the similarity of their punishment ends.
Emma Goldman is permitted to get her own food and have certain personal things in her cell, but because she refuses to attend chapel, she is punished by not being allowed out of doors on Sundays during the recreation hour to get the necessary air and exercise. She is permitted to write one letter a week to a relative and one to her attorney, and she is allowed writing paper for all the literary work she can do after she has spent ten hours a day at the machine.
"If they send a delegate to the Labor Conference in England, I hope they send a man with a big vision. Oh, for an American Trotsky! It is heartbreaking how little understanding there is in this country for Russia. It is no doubt the same in England and France. Yet all these countries swear by the man who proclaimed "Peace on earth, good will to men" I hear them singing in the chapel as I write this, asking Jesus to wash them clean. Yet when the Boylsheviki come washed clean of all desire for loot and human sweat and blood, they are described traitors."
Alexander Berkman, with his usual calm, has adapted himself to the inconveniences of prison life, though he is not allowed any privileges. Lack of writing materials is the greatest hardship he has to bear. Recognition of political prisoners as such is all the more imperative when literary abilities like Comrade Berkman's are not permitted expression in the only time and place an agitator finds necessary quiet and leisure he needs a prison cell!
* * *
The "Friends of Freedom" group will give a Flower Ball and Package Party at Parkview Palace, 110th Street and Fifth Avenue, Saturday evening, April 13th, for the benefit of the new semi‑monthly Anarchist paper, "The Blast," which is now appearing in Jewish. Tickets are 25 cents each.
* * *
A LETTER OF LOUISE OLIVEREAU
This letter dated Canon City Jail, Col., January 31st, was written to Comrade Emma Goldman before she had to go to prison. At the time she was contemplating a lecture tour to the far West in order to spread the understanding of the ideas and aims of the Boylsheviki. On that tour she intended to stop off at Canyon City and to visit Louise Olivereau in jail there. However, time was too short. Our comrade had to return East from Chicago, meetings having been arranged for her in Detroit, Rochester and other places. The letter follows:
I received a letter from Minnie Rimer yesterday, stating that you were to return to New York without coming further West than Detroit. I am sorry I shall not see you until both of us have served our terms. I'm very, very sorry you must "rest" at Jefferson City, but after all, you will not be in long, especially if you are paroled.
I like your idea of starting a campaign for the release of all political prisoners at the end of the war. I have thought for a long time that it would be better for all of us to accept our prison terms with that in view. I'm sorry to be where I can't help carry on the campaign.
Only a week or so ago I learned that when you wired Minnie to appeal my case, you thought the sentence was 45 years. I am very sorry the error occurred; for of course had you known it was only ten, you would not have urged an appeal. I thank you for your efforts in my behalf, and hope that even if the appeal has to be abandoned, enough propaganda value has resulted to justify all the work done. Poor Minnie will be bitterly disappointed: she has worked so devotedly, and against heavy opposition from those who should have helped her.
I continue well and in good spirits. Except for those discomforts which are inseparable from prison life, I fare very well. You, who know prisons, will not need to be told that the inspiration to any happiness I may enjoy comes from outside the walls. As nearly as I can judge, the outlook is very hopeful for the cause. In spite of many exceptions, the workers appear to be steadily growing conscious of where their real strength lies, and are taking action accordingly. A friend in Spokane reports a gain of 1311 new woodsmen enrolled in L.W.I.U. No. 500 during December. Such news is hope‑inspiring and patience‑sustaining.
"Zarathustra" is meat and drink to the soul. I've never read much Nietzsche before, for some reason. The other books, also, are very good to have.
Again I thank you, and Berkman, and others who have worked with you for me; and send you both my most Comradely good wishes for a prison term as little irksome or injurious as may be. "After the War" we can have a reunion‑till then I remain,
Cheerfully yours, for Freedom,
April 1918 Vol 1 No 7
VOL. I. APRIL, 1918, NEW YORK NO.7.
To All My Dear Ones
Jefferson State Prison,
Sunday, March 24th, 1918.
I am so glad my message of March 3rd has reached you. I wish I were certain this letter too would reach you. But I am not. Since March 7th all my incoming mail and my outgoing weekly letters have been held up, "by orders of the Federal authorities," I was told. It seems the rigid censorship which the prison officials here exercise over the prisoner, every move they make, line they write or thought they have, does not satisfy Washington in my case. So if you ever doubted my importance you will be convinced now. You see I have the proud distinction of being considered dangerous, therefore a U. S. Deputy now reads my mail, after it has been thoroughly read by the prison officials. Well, there is no objection to that, if only the U. S. Deputy would deliver my mail after he reads it. But no, he keeps it in to the bargain. Still I mean to keep the Federal authorities busy. I will continue to write and I ask you to do the same. If they are so anxious to ascertain who my correspondent are, what they feel for me and what I feel for them, we must not disappoint Washington. It would be really comic, if it were not so pathetic, that a mighty Government of a hundred million people, now engaged in a mighty war for Democracy should pursue those whom it has placed behind prison bars with unnecessary and cruel persecution. But I will survive that too, never doubt that, my dear ones.
Since I wrote you last I have advanced in my speed. I now make 36 jackets a day. It is going some." It means incessant grind for nine hours without let up. It is Katorga alright. It is what the Tzar used to impose upon the political prisoners, but strange to say never did the women politicals have to do it. I see that even Babushka Breshkovsky, who spent so many years in Siberian prisons and exile was exempt from "Katorga." Apropos you must read "the Reminiscences and Letters of Babushka edited by Alice Stone Blackwell. What a wonderful woman! What a wonderful life! Her letters are most fascinating even though they show childish naiveté about American Institutions; so amusing to one who has lived under them for thirty years. Babushka's description of her daily life while in Siberia is most inspiring. There is one factor which sustained her through all the years --- her association with kindred spirits; men and women political offenders like herself. She writes that the hardest conditions were as nothing compared with the mental sufferings she endured, when she was deprived of seeing loved comrades. How well I can understand that! Since April, American prisons are being crowded with political prisoners, strange to say all men. Is it that American women have not yet learned to love liberty well enough to pay the price for it? There are a few exceptions; Louise Olivereau, who fortunately has been sent to the Colorado penitentiary. How I should enjoy her companionship, but I am glad she is not here, I know the air is better in Colorado than Missouri. Then there is Kate Richards O'Hare, who got five years, but she is still at large. I hope she will remain so. My companions in misery while most kind to me, indeed more generous and human than the average lot outside, are yet separated by worlds from me. They are victims of a cruel social arrangement, but they have no social vision. They consider their trouble a misfortune imposed upon them by fate, or God, or some cruel judge, or their own wickedness. They do not know that they are each and all cogs in the machine of social injustice. My heart goes out to all of them. My deep regret is that I can do nothing to alleviate their hard lot. They are like children so eager for every little act of kindness and affection, hungry all the time for the things prison can not give. I listen to their small talk which always centers around the same topic: the dreaded work and how to meet it, day after day. But deeply as I feel with them and for them, there is no intellectual or spiritual kinship save the strong tie which always brings human beings together when they are souls in pain. How stupid of those who prate of criminal tendencies. Not one of my fellow prisoners is inherently criminal. The circumstances and a cruel lack of understanding for the human, all too human, bring them here; nor are they likely to return to society with a more kindly spirit when their time is up. But I am fortunate in having the Babushkas, the Louise Michels and the other great ones to draw from. I am rich after all. Then there is your friendship, my dear ones and my faith in your comradeship. Nothing can shake that. May I hope that you feel the same about me? This hope is giving me strength and will keep my spirit alive until I may again see you all and clasp you by the hand. This is the month of the Commune. They said it was dead when they slaughtered thirty thousand, but it lives forever.
To the letter on the first page we add information that in the meantime comrade Emma Goldman's mail, held back for a time, has been released. The friends she has all over the country may write to her frequently and help in that way to lighten the burden of prison life.
* * *
Parcels with things to eat addressed to Alexander Berkman, sojourning at present in Atlanta Federal Prison, will not reach their destination. It is against the rule of that educational institution that a student should receive such tokens of love. Instead write letters to him often. In his own letters he recently said that he suffered from headache and pain in the neck. The sewing machine, on which he has to work, probably is the cause of these troubles. Otherwise his philosophy is up to date and has a good effect upon his letters, which bear witness that his mind is calm and serene.
However, no mail from comrade Berkman has been received for more than two weeks. We hope that he is not ill nor that the writing privilege has been taken away from him.
* * *
The "Prison Memoirs of an Anarchist," Berkman's book, is at present in good progress of being translated into the Jewish language. A. Frumkin is the translator, the name being guarantee enough that it will be a first‑class translation. It will take a considerable amount of money to pay for the translation, and to have the book printed. For this reason we ask the comrades to subscribe for the book in advance. The price will be only $1.00. Later it will be more.
Send advance subscriptions to M. E. Fitzgerald, 32 Union Square, Room 1015, New York City.
* * *
Dr. Ben Reitman,
having begun to serve his term of six months several weeks ago at Warrensville, Ohio, is comparatively "well off." We were glad to hear that he works there in his capacity as a physician. He is practically in charge of a hospital with twenty‑five beds and also works in the clinic. He is not bolted up in a cell and can always go out in the yard for fresh air. The food is good, also the bed, and the opportunity to learn much about medicine and men is great, as he writes himself.
Our civilization has weak spots; no doubt, it is in delicate health and must be protected; but decent treatment of the prisoners will do the trick just as well and better as inhuman treatment.
* * *
From Louise Olivereau the authorities of the State Prison of Canon City, Col., withheld for a month all papers, magazines, and any other literature, including the "Public" and the "Union Record," an American Federation of Labor publication. But pardon, we exaggerate, Louise Olivereau enjoys the privilege of being permitted to read the "Christian Science Monitor!"
In a short time a pamphlet about Louise Olivereau's trial will be published, including her speech to the jury. It will no doubt find a hearty welcome and wide distribution.
"Is it not curious," somebody wrote in a communication to one of the New York dailies, "that in these days of exalted praise for democracy, Thomas Jefferson should not be considered a more popular interpreter of the nation's ideal than Washington or Lincoln?"
To our mind it seems not curious at all. The nation's ideal is an elusive quality. How is one going to find out what it really consists of, when the masses of the subjects are inert, silent, and only "represented" by officials and politicians? As long as they remain in this state it means, we suppose, that order and law prevail. But if they should begin to take things into their own hands, as in Russia, for instance, it would, in official language, signify "that disorder and terrorism reign supreme."
This brand of democracy Jefferson hated as a pretense and a deception. It was for this reason that he fought Hamilton, Chief Justice Marshal, and the Supreme Court. Of the latter he wrote to Spencer Roane:
"The Constitution on this hypothesis is a mere thing of wax in the hands of the judiciary which they may twist and shape into any form they may please."
The hypothesis mentioned was upheld by the Federalists who, in reality, wanted an ironcast centralization with power invested in the big land owners.
The tendency of many democrats of to‑day is the more government the better. Jefferson felt quite contrary. His idea on the subject is expressed in the words:
Let the general government be reduced to foreign concerns only, and let our affairs be disentangled from those of all other nations, except as to commerce, which the merchants will manage the better the more they are left free to manage for themselves, and the general government, may be reduced to a very simple organization, and a very inexpensive one; a few plain duties to be performed by a few servants."
Jefferson's distrust of government and centralized power is further elaborated in the Kentucky resolutions of 1798, of which he was the author. These resolutions were directed against the Alien and Sedition Acts passed by Congress. Jefferson advised the people of the individual states "to stop the progress of the evil" by refusing to have the provisions of the bill carried out in their territory. The people of that time must have been different from the people of to‑day. They must have thought such conduct and vigorous opposition very becoming to a good citizen. They didn't cross themselves on account of it, neither did they call for the police, but instead elected Jefferson President of the United States two years after he had written the following passage:
"Confidence is everywhere the parent of despotism; free government is founded in jealousy, not in confidence; it is jealousy, not confidence, which prescribes limited constitutions to bind down those whom we are obliged to trust with power. In questions of power, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution."
More than that, in regard to "Shay's Rebellion," Jefferson said that the tree of liberty would never grow properly unless refreshed now and then with the blood of patriots and tyrants, patriots meaning at that time fighters for liberty.
"What country can preserve its liberties if its rulers are not warned from time to time that the people preserve the spirit of resistance."
And worst of all, Jefferson divined the future when he wrote during the war against England:
"The spirit of the times may alter --- will alter. Our rulers will become corrupt, our people careless. A single zealot may become persecutor, and better men be his victims. It can never be too often repeated that the time for fixing every essential right, on a legal basis, is while our rulers are honest, ourselves united. From the conclusion of this war we shall be going down hill. It will not then be necessary to resort every moment to the people for support. They will be forgotten, therefore, and their rights disregarded. They will forget themselves in the sole faculty of making money and will never think of uniting to affect a due respect for their rights. The shackles, therefore, which shall not be knocked off at the conclusion of this war, will be heavier and heavier, till our rights shall revive or expire in a convulsion."
No, Jefferson would not fit well into the present scheme of things. Not one single word of his, one must be afraid, could be used properly for the purpose of intensifying the glory of the present system and its protagonists. His day has not yet arrived.
The British Labor Movement
By Leonard D. Abbott
The most important outcome of the war, thus far, has been the Russian Revolution. A second result, of immense significance, is the awakening of British labor. Four million British trade‑unionists, allied with Socialists and Co‑operators, have lately drafted a notable manifesto. These same trade‑unionists have met in several conferences with representatives of the labor movements in the allied countries and are now striving to bring about an international working‑class conference of all belligerent countries. They are discussing peace terms, and they propose to influence the official peace conference, whenever held.
The leader of this movement, Arthur Henderson, is a Member of Parliament who was ousted by Premier Lloyd George from the British Cabinet because of his radical sympathies. He had been sent to revolutionary Russia by the British Government to argue against the proposed international Socialist conference at Stockholm. He returned from Russia an advocate of the Stockholm conference. When compelled to choose between his new conviction and his position in the Cabinet, be resigned from the Cabinet.
A little later, Lloyd George himself was called before the British Trade Union Congress. He was asked to tell the British workers what they were fighting for. At the close of his address he was mercilessly heckled. When he told the workingmen that revolutionary Russia must be left to her late, they replied that they stood with Russia.
The statement of principles put forward by the British Labor Party is notable not only because of its largeness of view, but also because it represents a distinctively working‑class attitude. It declares for the Russian ideals of peace and for self‑government of peoples in the empire. "We seek," it says, "no increase of territory. We disclaim all ideas of 'economic war.' We believe that nations are in no way damaged by each other's economic prosperity or commercial progress; but, on the contrary, that they are actually themselves mutually enriched thereby."
The view of the Labor Party in relation to internal affairs is that what has to be reconstructed after the war is "not this or that government department, or this or that piece of social machinery; but, so far as Britain is concerned, society itself." What is needed is "a new social order, based not on fighting but on fraternity --- not on the competitive struggle for the means of bare life, but on a deliberately planned co‑operation in production and distribution for the benefit of all who participate by hand or brain."
As steps toward this end the Party proposes:
(a) The Universal Enforcement of the National Minimum;
(b) The Democratic Control of Industry;
(c) The Revolution in National Finance; and
(d) The Surplus Wealth for the Common Good.
When we come to look into the details of this program we find that the minimum wage that the Party wants enforced --- of course by the Government --- is 30s, ($7.50) per week. When we look for an explanation of the phrase, "democratic control of industry," we find that it means "the immediate nationalization of railways, mines and the production of electrical power" and the establishment of the "common ownership of the means of production" by parliamentary methods. The "revolution in national finance" pertains chiefly to taxation, which is to be "steeply graduated so as to take only a small contribution from the little people and a very much larger percentage from the millionaires." Surplus wealth, now absorbed by individuals, is, under the new program, to be devoted to the sick and infirm, to the aged and those prematurely incapacitated, to education, to public improvement of all kinds, to scientific investigation, and to the promotion of music, literature and fine art.
The manifesto, which is well written, declares for the complete abolition of the House of Lords, and asserts the right of freedom of speech, freedom of publication, freedom of travel and freedom of choice of place of residence and kind of employment, after the war. The obligation resting upon the Government to find employment for returning soldiers; social insurance against unemployment at all times; workmen's compensation; reduction of working hours to forty‑eight a week, are some of the other themes discussed. In practically every case it is to "the Government" that British Labor looks for relief. A Social‑Democratic spirit informs the entire document.
We do not wish to depreciate unduly the importance of a statement of principles that may turn out to be, quite literally, epoch-making. The fact that such men as Theodore P. Shonts and William R. Hearst regard this platform as "too radical" shows that there must be virtue in it. The platform is radical; it is not revolutionary, except in a Social‑Democratic sense. From a libertarian point of view its demands are too moderate; it leans too much on government. When will the workers of Great Britain, like the workers of Russia, come to realize that they must depend not upon government, but upon themselves, to attain the "new social order" of which they dream?
When reaction closed in on all sides, Heinrich Heine, the poet, living in exile, called himself a "forlorn sentry in liberty's war."
The "Bulletin" is something like it. But in the dark, with voices hushed, aims and goals obliterated and confused, it is perhaps a pleasant feeling to come across such a sentry.
We are eager to send the 'Bulletin" to new subscribers, to have new customers for the book shop.
Pass the torch on to others.
* * *
The German monster gun with a range of seventy‑five miles, and able to kill off women and children in Paris from a great distance, was undoubtedly invented with the help of the same God whom the Kaiser appointed for his war specialist.
Yet this is not a godforsaken country either. Fierce competition between gods has been witnessed before, they may now be tempted again to enter the arena, urged on by the prayers from the pulpits of all countries to help to destroy the enemy. This would account for the invention of an American gun, which, according to reports, has a range of 105 miles, Pray on priest, pray! Whether in these days the priests have more cruel fun with the gods or the gods with the priests, that is a question not easy to answer.
* * *
Thomas Paine wrote to a friend shortly before his death:
A thousand years hence, perhaps in less, America may be what England is now. The innocence of her character, that won the hearts of all nations in her favour, may sound like a romance, and her inimitable virtue as if it had never been. The ruins of that liberty, which thousands bled to obtain, may just furnish materials for a village tale, or extort a sigh from rustic sensibility; while the fashionable of that day, enveloped in dissipation, shall deride the principle and deny the fact."
Only one of those pesky American Boylsheviki, who are so bitterly attacked by Roosevelt with all the extraordinary power of his jaw, would be daring enough to maintain that Paine showed some ability for prophesy.
* * *
In Chicago the trial against 112 members of the I.W.W. is in progress before Judge Landis. Some of the defendants will have a separate trial. A number of cases were dismissed, also the charge against Arturo Giovanitti. The fact that he translated years ago a syndicalist pamphlet from the French will not go on record as coming under the Espionage Act. Great is wisdom!
George Andreychine and J.A. McDonald were released from custody on account of sickness. Andreychine has contracted tuberculosis in Cook County jail, the food and general conditions of which are an abomination. Another defendant has become insane in the jail. Stanley Jansharick died, one is nearly blind, others got pneumonia and tuberculosis. But the boys on trial are undismayed. When assembled for lunch during recess in a room in the court house they nag the Internationale.
To pick out the required number of jurors will probably take at least two weeks' time.
The correspondent of the New York Tribune wrote that much excitement was going on in the corridors of the court house, deputies moving about, watching for bombs.
That was necessary, indeed, the Chicago police having been famous since the Haymarket affair and after that they are great in discovering bombs planted by some of their own smart acquaintances.
* * *
New developments in the San Francisco bomb case seem to indicate, that the big cracks in the frame‑up have become so wide and yawning, that the final crash is only a question of time. A dismissal of three charges against Israel Weinberg took place in the court of Judge Griffin. After this the State Supreme Court admitted bail for Weinberg, who is still charged on two counts. Also Rena Mooney was admitted to bail. Both are now free and warmly they are welcomed by hundreds of thousands of men and women who helped to get justice for them and will continue to do so. Judge Dunne had to comply with the decision of the Supreme Court but could not refrain from showing his animosity against the accused. He said, when fixing bail for Rena Mooney: "It is my personal conviction that they all should be held in prison."
In regard to Mooney and Billings, the clamor for their liberation gains impetus every day. The protests become more urgent and greater in number. In behalf of Mooney, President Wilson and Gompers have written to Gov. Stephens, asking him to take action in the matter. Mooney will appear before judge Griffin on April 13. The judge is supposed to repeat the death sentence. The entangled mess of technicalities, it is maintained, leaves him no other choice; but according to a report he said that he was dead tired and disgusted with the whole game. It is unbelievable that Mooney will hang after all what has happened in the course of the infamous proceedings against him and the others, but a "pardon" with commuted sentence for life would certainly be nothing less than a bitter ironical climax of this miscarriage of justice. Mooney and Billings must get a new trial or be liberated altogether.
* * *
What charming things have been said about the workingmen in the last couple of months! By highly distinguished men, mark you, not by some I.W.W. sabotteur with a prison record. The Bethlehem multi‑millionaire Schwab predicted a future with labor on the top. In a recently published letter President Wilson gave a strong hint in the same direction and now the Rockefeller family starts out to establish sweet harmony between its own interests and those of labor.
The millennium seems close at hand. The next report will be that the Rockefellers will pick out half a million of the neediest families in the country and divide their fortune of $l,200,000,000 with them. The share of each of these families would be $2,400. Don't say that capitalism is not s good thing for the poor people!
* * *
Philanthropists, prison reformers, etc., should not miss reading the I. W. W. papers. About 2,000 members of the I.W.W. organisation are at present in jail. They are as a rule trustworthy, intelligent observers. Their accounts of the conditions they find in the prisons from West to East, from North to South are veritable mountains of valuable information that beats all official investigations and commission reports to splinters.
Only such reformers whose nerves cannot stand much may be warned before reading these accounts. They may however get away with a half dozen nightmares as a result of their studies, while those who are compelled to live in these vermin‑infested pest‑holes, called prison cells, experience a foretaste of real hell.
* * *
After Carl Muck of the Boston Symphony Orchestra has been driven out, the scalp of another music director --- Stransky of the Philharmonic Society --- is demanded. It makes even the music critic of the "Evening Sun wild.
"So Mr. Stransky is the next on the blacklist of our musical nationality! The society lady and the society magazine have willed it so, and their will be done! Against such as these how can art prevail?
But if Mr. Stransky does depart from the Philharmonic (which we hope in the particular instance he will not) it should be for other and better founded reasons. The chief of them lies in his baton, not in his nation; in his past programmes rather than in any of the present propaganda, one direction or the other. The lisping triviality of this new campaign is the saddest commentary of all upon a patiently musical New York!"
The critic must have slipped in his copy while the rabid chief editor had a consultation with a specialist on blood poisoning.
* * *
Arrests and charges under the Espionage Act come thick and fast. Victor Berger, Adolph Germer, Louis Engdahl, William F. Kruse, and Irwin St. John Tucker of the Socialist Party have been indicted by the Federal Grand Jury. They are accused of sixteen overt acts committed against the law mentioned.
A preacher Clarence H. Waldron, was convicted by the Federal Supreme Court of Burlington, Vt., and sentenced to a fifteen years' term in the Atlanta federal prison. He was charged with having spoken against the draft and the liberty loan.
Scott Nearing and Rose Pastor Stokes are also in the net. Nearing is charged with having violated the law in his writings and Rose Pastor Stokes with having done the same in statements made during her tour through the West.
People who believed that war and liberty of opinion could come to an agreement, at least in a republic if not in a monarchy, have indulged in too much optimism.
* * *
It is announced that a truce between capital and labor has been concluded for the period of the war by a body of men called the Labor Planning Board.
Attempts in the same direction have been made in all the belligerent countries of Europe, and as a rule they have missed the mark. Representatives of organized labor, affiliated with the American Federation of Labor, may sign the agreement, but it will chiefly pertain only to the "aristocracy of labor." It has always been the medieval policy of the Federation to exclude the "unskilled" laborer masses of modern industry from the benefits of this organization, which, besides, are of very doubtful quality anyway.
* * *
On March 21 Ricardo Florence Magon was arrested again in Los Angeles and placed under $25,000 bail, which it was probably impossible to obtain. Accusation is based on an editorial in "Regeneracion," of which the Los Angeles correspondent of the New York "Times" has to say that it advocated the destruction of existing governments all over the world." Simply dreadful! The Magon family has lately been overwhelmed with misfortune. They have been hounded terribly by the police for years.
And now comes the arrest of Ricardo Florence Magon. We have received no direct information about the cases, but will certainly do what we can to give at least publicity to the facts as widely as possible under the circumstances.
By David Leigh
Courtrooms always make me think of the story of the woman who tried to match her thread. She hung on to her garment so long that it wore out during the search. Meantime, the styles changed; but she was not aware of it.
At the Hindu trial, now going on in San Francisco, I expected to see red. I saw black. Even the light, as reflected from where I sat, gave the judge a dusky hue; and the soldier bailiff (also in the shadow) could easily have been mistaken for a Filipino. We are fooled often --- all of us --- by appearances.
The doorkeeper said I could not go in, at first; but, somehow, after a little, he made room for me (in his heart), and so I stepped in.
The place was face‑packed, full of eyes, but black to me, very black. There were so many Hindus. One glance made me almost believe India, en masse, had come to pay us a visit. But that, of course, was a mirage. There are blond defendants also.
Twelve or more astute attorneys flank the defendants, as accepted counsel. These men are patriots, with possibly one exception. They look well fed and unworried. Nobody excepts to their remunerated interest. Nobody questions the fact of their association with those who are, at present, in bad odor officially. Nobody even hints that it is not in line with patriotism to defend individuals so charged. Theirs, evidently, is a course in conformity with the code de facto. The code de facto abounds with irreconcilable angles. Pay and way, while not synonyms, have a certain correlative significance, in this, our warring day.
At the prosecutor's table sits one man --- and a woman. One would not mention the woman did she not have light hair. There is something about light hair which attracts. The prosecutor looks small, sitting. He is tall, standing; and he has a stentorian voice. It savors of "that deep and dreadful organ‑pipe." To sit behind him is to hear the sea roll. To sit opposite him is to see contentious waves spurt foam. Personally, he lacks impress. He arrests one's attention through sound only.
Behind the prosecutor sat half a dozen ladies, knitting, friends of his, I am told, society ladies. They appeared to knit very well. They seemed so interested --- in their knitting. One of these ladies, I learn, once attended a lecture given by one of the Hindu defendants, on Prostitution. She was present the other day when the District Attorney grilled this same defendant for his ideas, in re this subject. She said not a word in the courtroom --- not even that she had attended the lecture.
Knitting appears to be an absorbing occupation. They say it takes one's mind off other things. If that is so, would it not be a capital idea to have the men who frequent houses of prostitution learn to knit? Just an idea, of course.
The judge is a little man. Chair‑framed, he appears diminutive. He drinks water constantly. The water reposes in a beautiful silver pitcher. Filled as the room is with human beings, nothing in it stands out like that pitcher. It wafts serenity from its inert sides. In fact, it has a distinct judicial air.
Two electric fans whir over the judge's head. Introducing perpetual motion, they seem to clash with ensconced precedent. Nobody pays the least attention to them; but they keep on whirring. Electricity has given us action, if not ideas.
The defendants sit bunched together. I say defendants, meaning Hindus. The seeing eye can only be conscious of darkness in that room: and the Hindus, of course, being black, overshadow the blond presence. They are a splendid‑looking lot of men, thoughtful, perceiving, purposeful. As the session continued, their poses were various. One, with a face supernal, tilted his chair slightly backwards and gazed at the ceiling. I read in his look conceptions of a beyond that would shock the earthly‑centered, could they see it. Another, bespectacled, with classical nose and ebullient intelligence, gave his attention exclusively to the perusal of a court transcript. He smiled esoterically at parts of it.
The jurors are youngish‑looking men, business men, evidently. They do not look like a theatre party. I noticed, though, during the recess, they smiled (at each other) with the grace of free men. The recess seems to be wisdom's contribution to court proceedings. Its effect is magical on everybody. It puts stress to flight, it transforms artifice into feeling, it releases sympathy. Let Providence be thanked for the idea of recess. So powerful is it that it lingers (if only for a moment) after the session reconvenes. The judge brought back a smile with him that would have dispelled a London fog.
So many old men, among the spectators. (I counted fifteen.) And young men there, too, in plenty, equally old. Only one did I see who was ageless. He sat beside me. Came in during the recess, with a paper and opinions, which he rattled and aired. He knew the man next to him. He talked to him and at me, --- beyond. "They're a bloody lot, the bunch of 'em. They ought to hang the whole crowd. (Pause; glances.)
I tell you I'm a good American. My people was born in Germany; so was I; but that don't matter. No better 'Mericans ever lived than me and my people. (More observation.)
"We've got to kill this Kaiser business --- and the niggers that are in with 'em. They're a dirty bunch. They ought to hang 'em all first --- and try 'em afterwards. That's what they'd do to 'em in Germany." . . .
After attending the court session I accompanied one of the Hindu defendants to the studio of a friend, a young Russian pianist. The sudden change nearly unbalanced me. For a moment I felt light‑headed. It was like being hoisted to Mt. Ararat after a sojourn in a coal pit.
In the room were a grand piano, several chairs, stacks of music and --- that comforter divine --- the unspoken welcome. Judge, jury, bailiff, counsel were noticeably absent.
"Play what you set to music for me," said the Hindu to his friend, --- that last one. You remember."
The pianist glanced comprehension. Then he brought forth some typewritten verses and a sheet of stiff paper, on which was penciled an amazing succession of cryptic bars and dots --- his own work. Without preliminary, he began to play. But play is scarcely the word. Rather did he caress the page unto himself (and us) till there was no presence in the room, save Beauty.
"Bravo!" cried the Hindu. That is great, my friend."
Then they sang the words (written by the Hindu), which gave Beauty the mate of Sympathy and gladness its spiritual raiment: and, looking upon them, I wondered why courts are places where sound alone presides. I wondered why it is that men venture so little in a sphere which is freighted with so much. I wondered what it is non‑observers get out of life.
I wondered then; and I still wonder.
3 A.M. In Jail
By Louise Olivereau
In the stark hours
Like a great bird
The unquiet Spirit of the Jail
Broods close above me
Till I gasp for breath ---
And now it settles,
Beak and claws upon my heart,
Its evil, searching eyes within my soul.
In the bed beneath me
Writhes in her sleep, and cries out
"Jesus God! Mother of Christ,
Obscene oaths and shuddering moans of pain
Follow her prayers; half‑wakened
She beats her pillows, curses,
Groans, and prays again.
Across the room in the half‑light,
Prostrate like the Magdalen at the feet of her
A sweet wild slip of a girl,
--- Just seventeen ---
Whose thirst for beauty and joy
We have answered with --- Jail ---
Through her frightened sobbing whispers,
"Mother, I will be good; take me home!"
The others sleep: a gentle idiot in the lowest bed;
Endless toil through all her girlhood on a lonely farm;
Marriage with one whom toil and drink made brutish;
These have brought her here
To wait the verdict that will pen her up for life
With others of her kind.
And she, that other frail one,
Mother and wife and daughter of joy
And would‑be suicide,
Slave of the drug‑fiend,
Turned thief for those white grains
More precious far than life to her;
Still but a child in years,
But ageless in knowledge of evil,
Loose lips half‑smiling,
Tear‑wet lids veiling her harlot's eyes,
Sleeps peacefully as any little child.
--- Ah, how the tearing beak and claws
Work their harsh will upon my heart,
And the ever‑questioning eyes,
Glittering, evil, not‑to‑be‑denied,
Ask their relentless "Why? --- Why?
Why are these here?"
In the next room the Matron sleeps;
No bird disturbs her even breath and placid dreams;
The jailer in his office yawns
And stretches in his chair
Until it squeaks and groans again;
He drops his keys; a paper falls
And flutters like a frightened bird;
Then for a space
Only the tearing, tearing
Beak and talons at my heart,
And over, over, over,
In a hammered rhythm,
The terrible question,
"Why? --- Why? --- Why?"
Then splitting the unquiet silence
Like jagged lightning a stormy sky,
The yell of a maniac
Far down the corridor.
The caged tiger's rage
And nameless grief of the wolf
Starving alone on snowy wastes
Blend in that dreadful human cry.
The jailer snarls "Shut up, damn you!"
And hunts his mad charge away from the bars
Back to the far corner of his cage.
The creature whimpers and cries;
A murmured confusion of curses and groans
Swells from the cells where sleepers have wakened,
For sleep is precious in jail ---
Another snarled order for quiet;
The jailer returns to his chair,
Yawns again ---
And again all is quiet:
Only the bird
At my heart
Only its eyes,
In my soul,
"Why? --- Why?
Why did you let them come?"
Work for the Political Amnesty League
The need for an organization, spreading the idea that better treatment should be accorded to political prisoners and full amnesty granted to them after the war, becomes more urgent every day. The number of political prisoners grows rapidly.
In the Chicago court room, where over 100 I.W.W. are tried, the presiding judge had to take personal action in order to afford the defendants a prison treatment not altogether beastly.
Under prevailing circumstances the question is not whether a league for the recognition and amnesty of political prisoners is necessary, but how it can be carried on and impress the public mind.
The league has done good work in the short time it exists. As a result of the meetings and conferences, held by Prince Hopkins on his trip to the West, branches have been organized in a number of cities. Ten thousand copies of a little pamphlet have been distributed, in which the principles and aims of the league are set forth. Many have written that they liked the idea. It will be necessary to have ten thousand more of these pamphlets printed. Also a list of all political prisoners, as far as it is possible to obtain the names, place of imprisonment, and other data is in progress.
In order to accomplish this the league appeals to friends and sympathizers for their cooperation and financial help.
Letters and contributions can be addressed to:
32 Union Square, Room 1015, New York.
Cassius V. Cook
In Chicago the secretary‑treasurer of the "League of Humanity," Cassius V. Cook, has been arrested and placed under $10,000 bail. The league has for its object a consistent propaganda against the violation of human rights, freedom of the press, freedom of speech, actual freedom of conscience and belief. Meanwhile charges have been brought against Cook for conspiracy to obstruct the draft, etc. Cook has been a good worker in the radical movement for long years. Financial aid for his defense will be needed. Contributions to be sent direct to C.V. Cook Defense Committee, 143 N. Dearborn St., Room 30, Chicago. Ill.
Attention! New York
A performance of Butler Davenport's play: Deferred Payment" will be given at Bramhall Playhouse, 27th Street and Lexington Avenue, on May 3, for the benefit of the Russian syndicalist‑anarchist paper, "Golos Truda." A large attendance is expected. Tickets $1.00.
With this issue of the "Bulletin" a catalogue of the Mother Earth Book Shop was mailed to our subscribers.
THE CABIN, By V. Blasco Ibanez. English translation by Dr. Francis Haffekine Snow and Beatrice M. Mekota. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. $1.50.
Writers of former periods thought it necessary that the authors of novels and tragedies should prefer to select their heroes and heroines from the exalted ranks of society. Because, they argued, ordinary people neither can rise very high nor fall very low. Their fate is commonplace, and therefore lacks the material to build up the great passionate tragedy of life. For this reason kings, dukes, barons, princesses, marquises, countesses crowded the books and stages, being not only a nuisance in life, but in literature also. Many a ferocious young reader wonders to this very day where all these perfectly superfluous people come from. ‑
The Cabin, of whose author the introduction says: "In theory, he might almost be said to be a disciple of Ferrer," leads us into an agricultural district of Spain. It is a bitter, hard life which the tenant farmers have to endure. Their wives and children carry manure in baskets on their shoulders from Valencia in order to fertilize the patches of land. They work fiercely away from dawn to sunset, but in the end it is hardly possible to scrape the rent together, payable to rich, usurous land‑owners in the city, who try their best to squeeze out the last penny from them. Sometimes it is not possible at all. Such a case is that of the farmer Barrett. His grandfather and his father owned the piece of land on which he now lives as a tenant. He is blessed with four daughters. Deeper and deeper he gets into debts with Don Salvador, who owns the fields. The day comes when the law sends him notice to leave house and land. Old as he is, hard as he has worked, now he is a beggar. Despair and wrath overwhelm him. He kills Salvador. The farmers rejoice over the death blow, which Barrett dealt to the oppressor. It becomes a silent agreement among them that no other tenant will be tolerated on the Barrett place, tabooed under the people's curse, and the life of any newcomer is made miserable. Finally the heirs of Don Salvador succeed in getting Batiste, a robust, fearless man to settle down on the place. A struggle of life and death begins between this man and the community. Batiste kills his worst enemy, Pimento, but his house is set on fire and burned to the ground. Under wreckage and ruin he waits in the night with his family for daylight, when they will start out again in search for another meagre existence.
"Bread! At what cost is it earned! And how evil it makes man!" There is tragedy and fierce passion enough for you.
It is a genuine book. The author possesses considerable artistic power for description and characterization.