A Blast from the past... - Alexander Berkman

With American Imperialism running rampant and war with Iraq looking only a matter of time, we have taken the opportunity to reprint these articles by Alexander Berkman from The Blast.

From Black Flag #222 (2002).

Submitted by Fozzie on July 6, 2021

Originally published in 1917, these articles indicate why anarchists oppose capitalist wars and how little the rhetoric and activity of the state at war has changed. As such, their message is as relevant and as important as when they were written: No war but the class war!

A leading light in the anarchist movement for decades, Berkman was imprisoned along with Emma Goldman for their anti-war activity.

To The Youth Of America
By Alexander Berkman

Tyranny must be opposed at the start.

Autocracy, once secured in the saddle, is difficult to dislodge.

If you believe that America is entering the war "to make democracy safe," then be a man and volunteer.

But if you know anything at all, then you should know that the cry of democracy is a lie and a snare for the unthinking. You should know that a republic is not synonymous with democracy, and that America has never been a real democracy, but that it is the vilest plutocracy on the face of the globe.

If you can see, hear, feel, and think, you should know that King
Dollar rules the United States, and that the workers are robbed and exploited in this country to the heart's content of the masters.

If you are not deaf, dumb, and blind, then you know that the American bourgeois democracy and capitalistic civilisation are the worst enemies of labour and progress, and that instead of protecting them, you should help to fight to destroy them.

If you know this, you must also know that the workers of America have no enemy in the toilers of other countries. Indeed, the workers of Germany suffer as much from their exploiters and rulers as do the masses of America.

You should know that the interests of Labour are identical in all countries. Their cause is international.

Then why should they slaughter each other?

The workers of Germany have been misled by their rulers into donning the uniform and turning murders.

So have the workers of France, of Italy, and England been misled.

But why should you, men of America, allow yourselves to be misled into murder or into being murdered?
If your blood must be shed, let it be in defence of your own interests, in the war of the workers against their despoilers, in the cause of real liberty and independence.

By Alexander Berkman

ALLIES - The fairies of Democracy.
BARBARIANS - The other fellows.
CONGRESS - The valet of Woodrow the First.
CENSORSHIP - The rape of Free Speech.
CONSCRIPTION - Free men fighting against their will.
DEMOCRACY - The voice of the Gallery Gods.
FREE SPEECH - Say what you please, but keep your mouth shut.
HUNS - Loyal patriots from Central Europe.
HUMANITY - Treason to government.
JUSTICE - Successful target shooting.
KAISER - A President's ambition.
LIBERTY BOND - A bone from a bonehead.
LIBERTY LOAN - The bread line of the Unborn.
LOYAL CITIZEN - Deaf, dumb, and blind.
MILITARISM - Christianity in action.
PATRIOTISM - Hating your neighbour.
REGISTRATION - Funeral march of Liberty.
SEDITION - The proof of Tyranny.
SLACKER - Jesus Christ.
TRENCHES - Digging your own grave.
UN-AMERICAN - Independent opinion.
UNIFORM - Government strait-jacket.
VICTORY - Ten million dead.
WAR - The propaganda of Democracy.

Which is the braver? The man who falls in line with the great majority or he that faces the wrath of millions for conscience sake?

Do not confound us with the pacifists. We believe in fighting.

Aye, we have been fighting all our lives - fighting injustice, oppression, and tyranny. Almost single handed at that.

We are not pacifists. But we want to know what we are fighting for, and we refuse to fight for the enemies and the exploiters of humanity.

Alexander Berkman