We Still Do Not Fear Anarchy

we do not fear the book cover

This month marks several noteworthy anniversaries: the suppression of the Paris Commune, the Haymarket affair, and Bakunin’s birthday (May 18 on the old Russian calendar; May 3o on the modern calendar), among others. It has also been about a year since the publication of ‘We Do Not Fear Anarchy – We Invoke It’: The First International and the Origins of the Anarchist Movement (AK Press). I discussed the roles of both Bakunin and the Paris Commune in the emergence of self-proclaimed anarchist movements in Europe and the Americas in that book. The quote in the title is taken from Bakunin himself, who first publicly identified himself as an anarchist in 1868, around the time that he joined the International. It is surprising then that in another book along similar lines, Social Democracy & Anarchism in the International Workers’ Association 1864 – 1877, René Berthier argues that the anarchist movements that emerged from the struggles within the International regarding the proper direction of working class and socialist movements constituted a break with rather than a continuation of “Bakuninism,” and that Bakunin is better described as a revolutionary socialist or syndicalist than as an anarchist. I think my book provides a good counter-argument to that position. I also included several selections from Bakunin’s anarchist writings in Volume One of Anarchism: A Documentary History of Libertarian Ideas But this is a blog, not a book, so today I thought I would just present some quotations from Bakunin in which he identifies himself as an anarchist and describes what he is advocating as a form of anarchism, in terms of tactics, methods, means and ends.

bakunin on anarchism

Bakunin’s Anarchism

“We do not fear anarchy, we invoke it. For we are convinced that anarchy, meaning the unrestricted manifestation of the liberated life of the people, must spring from liberty, equality, the new social order, and the force of the revolution itself against the reaction. There is no doubt that this new life—the popular revolution—will in good time organize itself, but it will create its revolutionary organization from the bottom up, from the circumference to the center, in accordance with the principle of liberty, and not from the top down or from the center to the circumference in the manner of all authority.” [Program of the International Brotherhood]

“Outside of the Mazzinian system, which is the system of the republic in the form of a State, there is no other system but that of the republic as a commune, the republic as a federation, a Socialist and a genuine people’s republic — the system of Anarchy. It is the politics of the Social Revolution, which aims at the abolition of the State, and the economic, altogether free organization of the people, an organization from below upward, by means of a federation.” [Circular Letter to My Friends in Italy]

“I am the absolute enemy of a revolution by decrees, which is the application of the idea of a revolutionary State and a sequel of it; that is, a reaction disguised by revolutionary appearances. As against the system of revolutionary decrees I oppose the system of revolutionary action, the only effective, consistent, and true system. The authoritarian system of decrees, in seeking to impose freedom and equality, destroys them. The Anarchist system of action evokes and creates them in an infallible manner, without the intervention of any official or authoritarian violence whatever. The first leads inevitably to the ultimate triumph of an outspoken reaction. The second system establishes the Revolution on a natural and unshakable foundation.” [Letters to a Frenchman on the Present Crisis]

“Let us turn now to the Socialists, who divide into three essentially different parties. First of all, we shall divide them into two categories: the party of peaceful or bourgeois Socialists, and the party of Social Revolutionists. The latter is in turn subdivided into revolutionary State Socialists and revolutionary Anarchist-Socialists, the enemies of every State and every State principle.” [World Revolutionary Alliance of Social Democracy (Berlin: Verlag, 1904)]

“To the Communists, or Social Democrats, of Germany, the peasantry, any peasantry, stands for reaction; and the State, any State, even the Bismarckian State, stands for revolution… Altogether, the Marxists cannot even think otherwise: protagonists of the State as they are, they have to damn any revolution of a truly popular sweep and character especially a peasant revolution, which is anarchistic by nature and which marches straightforward toward the destruction of the State. And in this hatred for the peasant rebellion, the Marxists join in touching unanimity all the layers and parties of the bourgeois society of Germany.” [Statism and Anarchy]

“Since revolution cannot be imposed upon the villages, it must be generated right there, by promoting a revolutionary movement among the peasants themselves, leading them on to destroy through their own efforts the public order, all the political and civil institutions, and to establish and organize anarchy in the villages.”

“When the peasants have felt and perceived the advantages of the Revolution, they will give more money and people for its defense than it would be possible to obtain from them by ordinary State policies or even by extraor­dinary State measures. The peasants will do against the Prussians what they did in 1792. For that they must become obsessed with the fury of resistance, and only an Anarchist revolution can imbue them with that spirit.”

“But in letting them divide among themselves the land seized from the bourgeois owners, will this not lead to the establishment of private property upon a new and more solid foundation? Not at all, for that property will lack the juridical and political sanction of the State, inasmuch as the State and the whole juridical insti­tution, the defense of property by the State, and family right, including the law of inheritance, necessarily will have to disappear in the terrific whirl­wind of revolutionary anarchy. There will be no more political or juridi­cal rights—there will be only revolutionary facts.”

“Once the wealth of the rich people is not guaranteed by laws, it ceases to be a power. Rich peasants are now powerful because they are specially protected and courted by the functionaries of the State and became they are backed up by the State. With the disappearance of the State, this backing and power also will disappear. As to the more cun­ning and economically stronger peasants, they will have to give way before the collective power of the peasant mass, of the great number of poor and very poor peasants, as well as the rural proletarians—a mass which is now enslaved and reduced to silent suffering, but which revolutionary anarchy will bring back to life and will arm with an irresistible power.” [Letters to a Frenchman on the Present Crisis]

“We revolutionary anarchists who sincerely want full popular emancipation view with repugnance another expression in this [Social Democratic] program – it is the designation of the proletariat, the workers, as a class and not a mass. Do you know what this signifies? It is no more nor less than the aristocratic rule of the factory workers and of the cities over the millions who constitute the rural proletariat, who, in the anticipations of the German Social Democrats, will in effect become the subjects of their so-called People’s State.” [Letter to La Liberté]

“The road leading from concrete fact to theory and vice versa is the method of science and is the true road. In the practical world, it is the movement of society toward forms of organization that will to the greatest possible extent reflect life itself in all its aspects and complexity.

Such is the people’s way to complete emancipation, accessible to all—the way of the anarchist social revolution, which will come from the people themselves, an elemental force sweeping away all obstacles. Later, from the depths of the popular soul, there will spontaneously emerge the new creative forms of social life.”

“We, the revolutionary anarchists, are the advocates of education for all the people, of the emancipation and the widest possible expansion of social life. Therefore we are the enemies of the State and all forms of the statist principle. In opposition to the metaphysicians, the positivists, and all the worshippers of science, we declare that natural and social life always comes before theory, which is only one of its manifestations but never its creator.”

“Such are our ideas as social revolutionaries, and we are therefore called anarchists. We do not protest this name, for we are indeed the enemies of any governmental power, since we know that such a power depraves those who wear its mantle equally with those who are forced to submit to it. Under its pernicious influence the former become ambitious and greedy despots, exploiters of society in favor of their personal or class interests, while the latter become slaves.”

“Our polemic had the effect of making them [the Marxist Social Democrats] realize that freedom or Anarchy, that is, the free organization of workers from below upward, is the ultimate aim of social development, and that every State, their own people’s State included, is a yoke, which means that it begets despotism on one hand and slavery on the other.”

“They say that this State yoke—the dictatorship—is a necessary transi­tional means in order to attain the emancipation of the people: Anarchy or freedom is the goal, the State or dictatorship is the means. Thus to free the working masses, it is first necessary to enslave them.”

“While the political and social theory of the anti-State Socialists or Anarchists leads them steadily toward a full break with all governments, and with all varieties of bourgeois policy, leaving no other way out but a social revolution, the opposite theory of the State Communists and scientific authority also inevitably draws and enmeshes its partisans, under the pretext of political tactics, into ceaseless compromises with governments and political parties; that is, it pushes them toward downright reaction.” [Statism and Anarchy]

“Between the Marxists and ourselves there is an abyss. They are the governmentalists; we are the anarchists, in spite of it all.” [Letter to La Liberté]

“In accepting the Anarchist rev­olutionary program, which alone, in our opinion, offers conditions for a real and complete emancipation of the common people, and convinced that the existence of the State in any form whatever is incompatible with the freedom of the proletariat, and that it does not permit the international fraternal union of nations, we therefore put forth the demand for the abolition of all States.” [Program of the Slav Section (Zurich) of the International]

“The lack of a government begets anarchy, and anarchy leads to the destruction of the State, that is, to the enslavement of the country by another State, as was the case with the unfortunate Poland, or the full emancipation of the toiling people and the abolition of classes, which, we hope, will soon take place all over Europe.” [Science and the Urgent Revolutionary Task]

“In a word, we reject all legislation- privileged, licensed, official, and legal — and all authority, and influence, even though they may emanate from universal suffrage, for we are convinced that it can turn only to the advantage of a dominant minority of exploiters against the interests of the vast majority in subjection to them. It is in this sense that we are really Anarchists.” [God and the State]

bakunin on freedom
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Anarchism and Working Class Struggles

The Robber Barons

The Robber Barons

Continuing with the installments to the “Anarchist Current,” the Afterword to Volume Three of Anarchism: A Documentary History of Libertarian Ideas, in this section I describe how, in the 1880s and 1890s, anarchists renewed their involvement in working class struggles in Europe and the Americas, leading to the emergence of anarcho-syndicalism.

maypole

Anarchism and the Workers’ Struggles

The Haymarket Martyrs were part of the so-called “Black International,” the International Working People’s Association. The IWPA drew its inspiration from the anti-authoritarian International, and adopted a social revolutionary anarchist program at its founding Congress in Pittsburgh in 1883, openly advocating armed insurrection and the revolutionary expropriation of the capitalists by the workers themselves (Volume One, Selection 55). Following the example of the anti-authoritarian International of the 1870s, the IWPA sought to create revolutionary trade unions that would press for the immediate demands of the workers, for example the 8 hour day, while preparing for the social revolution. Around the same time, similar ideas were being propounded by the Workers’ Federation of the Spanish Region (Volume One, Selection 36), and by anarchists involved in working class movements in Latin America.

But by 1894 in Europe, when Malatesta again urged anarchists to go to the people, many agreed with him that after “twenty years of propaganda and struggle… we are today nearly strangers to the great popular commotions which agitate Europe and America” (Volume One, Selection 53). One of those anarchists was Fernand Pelloutier (1867-1901). Sensing growing disillusionment among the workers with the electoral tactics of the socialist parties, some anarchists had again become involved in the trade union movement. Pelloutier argued that through participation in the trade unions, anarchists “taught the masses the true meaning of anarchism, a doctrine” which can readily “manage without the individual dynamiter” (Volume One, Selection 56). It was from this renewed involvement in the workers’ struggles that anarcho-syndicalism was born (Volume One, Chapter 12).

Pelloutier argued, as Bakunin had before him (Volume One, Selection 25), that revolutionary trade union organizations, unlike the state, are based on voluntary membership and therefore operate largely on the basis of free agreement. Any trade union “officials” are subject to “permanent revocability,” and play a coordinating rather than a “directorial” role. Through their own autonomous organizations, the workers will come “to understand that they should regulate their affairs for themselves,” and will be able to prevent the reconstitution of state power after the revolution by taking control of “the instruments of production,” seeing “to the operation of the economy through the free grouping,” rendering “any political institution superfluous,” with the workers having already become accustomed “to shrug off tutelage” through their participation in the revolutionary trade union, or “syndicalist,” movement (Volume One, Selection 56).

Also noteworthy in Pelloutier’s call for renewed anarchist involvement in the workers’ movement was his endorsement of anarchist communism as the ultimate goal of the revolutionary syndicalist movement. However, in France, after Pelloutier’s death, the revolutionary syndicalist organization, the Confédération Générale du Travail (CGT), adopted a policy of nonaffiliation with any party or doctrine, including anarchism. CGT militants, such as Pierre Monatte, claimed that within the CGT all doctrines enjoyed “equal tolerance” (Volume One, Selection 60). The CGT focused on the means of revolutionary action, such as direct action and the general strike, instead of arguing over ideology.

CGT

This was in contrast to anarcho-syndicalist union federations, such as the Workers’ Federations of the Argentine Region (FORA) and the Uruguayan Region (FORU), which, as with Pelloutier, recommended “the widest possible study of the economic-philosophical principles of anarchist communism” (Volume One, Selection 58). The anarcho-syndicalists sought to organize the workers into revolutionary trade unions through which they would abolish the state and capitalism by means of general strikes, factory occupations, expropriation and insurrection. For the most part, their ultimate goal was anarchist communism, the abolition of wage labour, private property and the state, and the creation of free federations of worker, consumer and communal associations, whether in Latin America (Volume One, Selection 95), Russia (Volume One, Selection 84), Japan (Volume One, Selection 107), Spain (Volume One, Selection 124), or elsewhere.

Anarcho-syndicalists were behind the reconstitution of the International Workers’ Association (IWA/AIT) in 1922, with a membership of about two million workers from 15 countries in Europe and Latin America. At their founding Congress, they explicitly endorsed “libertarian communism” as their goal and rejected any “form of statism, even the so-called ‘Dictatorship of the Proletariat’,” because dictatorship “will always be the creator of new monopolies and new privileges” (Volume One, Selection 114).

iwaaitbann

Anarchists who sought to work within revolutionary working class organizations or popular movements adopted different approaches regarding the proper relationship between their anarchist ideals and these broader based social movements. Some, such as Amadée Dunois (1878-1945), argued that anarchists needed their own organizations to coordinate their activities, to support their work within the trade unions and to spread their ideas, infusing the workers’ organizations “with the anarchist spirit” (Dunois, 1907). This model of dual organization was similar to what Bakunin had advocated during the First International, when he urged his comrades in his revolutionary brotherhood, the Alliance of Social Revolutionaries, which adhered to Bakunin’s anarchist program, to join the International in order to steer it in an anarchist direction.

Antonio Pellicer Paraire (1851-1916), a veteran of the anarchist Workers’ Federation of the Spanish Region (Volume One, Selection 36), acknowledged in an article from 1900 that, given the existing state of the workers’ movement, “parallel or dual organization has to be accepted,” with the anarchists maintaining their own revolutionary groups, but he argued that the primary focus must be on creating libertarian workers’ federations in which each worker is an equal and active participant, so as to prevent the development of a trade union bureaucracy and a de facto executive assuming control of the organization. Each organization must in turn retain “their autonomy and independence, free of meddling by other groups and with no one having methods, systems, theories, schools of thought, beliefs, or any faith shoved down his throat” (Volume One, Selection 57). Only through the self-activity of the masses can an anarchist society hope to be achieved.

In his posthumously published work, The Anarchist Conception of Syndicalism (1920), Neno Vasco (1878-1920), who was active in the Brazilian and Portuguese anarchist movements, warned of the dangers of self-proclaimed anarchist groups, “populated more by rebels than by anarchists,” seizing the initiative and forcing “emancipation” on the people by claiming “the right to act on its behalf,” instead of prompting the people “to look to its own liberation,” with “the persons concerned” taking matters “directly in hand.” For example, the provision of suitable housing “should be left to the tenants themselves,” a point later emphasized by Giancarlo de Carlo (Volume Two, Selection 18) and Colin Ward (1983), and “all the other production, transport and distribution services… should be entrusted to the workers working in each sector.”

Robert Graham

Anarcho-Syndicalism

Anarcho-Syndicalism

Means and Ends, War and Peace – November 11th

war_and_revolution_by_declarck-d6jife2

This is the next installment from the Anarchist Current, the Afterword to Volume Three of Anarchism: A Documentary History of Libertarian Ideas, in which I survey the historical origins and development of anarchist ideas. In this installment, I discuss anarchist views during the 1880s-1890s on the relationship between means and ends and the need to remain engaged in popular struggles. I briefly refer to the execution on November 11, 1887, of the Haymarket Martyrs, four Chicago anarchists framed for a bombing at a demonstration against police violence at the beginning of May 1886. I previously posted one of Voltairine de Cleyre‘s speeches commemorating their executions and excerpts from their trial speeches.

haymarketcol

In Britain and several of its former colonies, November 11th is celebrated as a day of remembrance for all the soldiers who have been killed fighting wars on behalf of their political and economic masters. Earlier this year I posted the International Anarchist Manifesto against the First World War. I have also posted Marie Louise Berneri’s critique of the hypocrisy of the politicians and patriots who condemn any acts of violence against the existing order as “terrorism” but venerate the mass slaughters known as “modern warfare” as great patriotic self-sacrifice.

Fight_the_state,_not_wars

Means and Ends

There were ongoing debates among anarchists regarding methods and tactics. Cafiero agreed with the late Carlo Pisacane that “ideals spring from deeds, and not the other way around” (Volume One, Selections 16 & 44). He argued that anarchists should seize every opportunity to incite “the rabble and the poor” to violent revolution, “by word, by writing, by dagger, by gun, by dynamite, sometimes even by the ballot when it is a case of voting for an ineligible candidate” (Volume One, Selection 44).
Kropotkin argued that by exemplary actions “which compel general attention, the new idea seeps into people’s minds and wins converts. One such act may, in a few days, make more propaganda than thousands of pamphlets” (1880).

Jean Grave (1854-1939) explained that through propaganda by the deed, the anarchist “preaches by example.” Consequently, contrary to Cafiero, “the means employed must always be adapted to the end, under pain of producing the exact contrary of one’s expectations”. For Grave, the “surest means of making Anarchy triumph is to act like an Anarchist” (Volume One, Selection 46). Some anarchists agreed with Cafiero that any method that brought anarchy closer was acceptable, including bombings and assassinations. At the 1881 International Anarchist Congress in London, the delegates declared themselves in favour of “illegality” as “the only way leading to revolution” (Cahm: 157-158), echoing Cafiero’s statement from the previous year that “everything is right for us which is not legal” (Volume One, Selection 44).

After years of state persecution, a small minority of self-proclaimed anarchists adopted terrorist tactics in the 1890s. Anarchist groups had been suppressed in Spain, Germany and Italy in the 1870s, particularly after some failed assassination attempts on the Kaiser in Germany, and the Kings of Italy and Spain in the late 1870s, even before Russian revolutionaries assassinated Czar Alexander II in 1881. Although none of the would be assassins were anarchists, the authorities and capitalist press blamed the anarchists and their doctrine of propaganda by the deed for these events, with the Times of London describing anarchism in 1879 as having “revolution for its starting point, murder for its means, and anarchy for its ideals” (Stafford: 131).

The Lyon Anarchist Trial

The Lyon Anarchist Trial

Those anarchists in France who had survived the Paris Commune were imprisoned, transported to penal colonies, or exiled. During the 1870s and 1880s, anarchists were prosecuted for belonging to the First International. In 1883, several anarchists in France, including Kropotkin, were imprisoned on the basis of their alleged membership, despite the fact that the anti-authoritarian International had ceased to exist by 1881. At their trial they declared: “Scoundrels that we are, we claim bread for all, knowledge for all, work for all, independence and justice for all” (Manifesto of the Anarchists, Lyon 1883).

Perhaps the most notorious persecution of the anarchists around this time was the trial and execution of the four “Haymarket Martyrs” in Chicago in 1887 (a fifth, Louis Lingg, cheated the executioner by committing suicide). They were convicted and condemned to death on trumped up charges that they were responsible for throwing a bomb at a demonstration in the Chicago Haymarket area in 1886.

When Emile Henry (1872-1894) threw a bomb into a Parisian café in 1894, describing his act as “propaganda by the deed,” he regarded it as an act of vengeance for the thousands of workers massacred by the bourgeoisie, such as the Communards, and the anarchists who had been executed by the authorities in Germany, France, Spain and the United States. He meant to show to the bourgeoisie “that those who have suffered are tired at last of their suffering” and “will strike all the more brutally if you are brutal with them” (1894). He denounced those anarchists who eschewed individual acts of terrorism as cowards.

Malatesta, who was no pacifist, countered such views by describing as “ultra-authoritarians” those anarchists who try “to justify and exalt every brutal deed” by arguing that the bourgeoisie are just “as bad or worse.” By doing so, these self-described anarchists had entered “on a path which is the most absolute negation of all anarchist ideas and sentiments.” Although they had “entered the movement inspired with those feelings of love and respect for the liberty of others which distinguish the true Anarchist,” as a result of “a sort of moral intoxication produced by the violent struggle” they ended up extolling actions “worthy of the greatest tyrants.” He warned that “the danger of being corrupted by the use of violence, and of despising the people, and becoming cruel as well as fanatical prosecutors, exists for all” (Volume One, Selection 48).

Malatesta at the Magistrate's Court

Malatesta at the Magistrate’s Court

In the 1890s, the French state brought in draconian laws banning anarchist activities and publications. Bernard Lazare (1865-1903), the writer and journalist then active in the French anarchist movement, denounced the hypocrisy of the defenders of the status quo who, as the paid apologists for the police, rationalized the far greater violence of the state. He defiantly proclaimed that no “law can halt free thought, no penalty can stop us from uttering the truth… and the Idea, gagged, bound and beaten, will emerge all the more lively, splendid and mighty” (Volume One, Selection 62).

Malatesta took a more sober approach, recognizing that “past history contains examples of persecutions which stopped and destroyed a movement as well as of others which brought about a revolution.” He criticized those “comrades who expect the triumph of our ideas from the multiplication of acts of individual violence,” arguing that “bourgeois society cannot be overthrown” by bombs and knife blows because it is based “on an enormous mass of private interests and prejudices… sustained… by the inertia of the masses and their habits of submission.” While he argued that anarchists should ignore and defy anti-anarchist laws and measures where able to do so, he felt that anarchists had isolated themselves from the people. He called on anarchists to “live among the people and to win them over… by actively taking part in their struggles and sufferings,” for the anarchist social revolution can only succeed when the people are “ready to fight and… to take the conduct of their affairs into their own hands” (Volume One, Selection 53).

Robert Graham

malatesta anarchist spirit

Additional References

Cahm, Caroline. Kropotkin and the Rise of Revolutionary Anarchism, 1872-1886. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002.

Henry, Emile. “A Terrorist’s Defence” (1894). The Anarchist Reader. Ed. G. Woodcock. Fontana, 1977.

Kropotkin, Peter. “The Spirit of Revolt” (1880). Kropotkin’s Revolutionary Pamphlets. Ed. R.N. Baldwin. New York: Dover, 1970.

Stafford, David. From Anarchism to Reformism: A Study of the Political Activities of Paul Brousse, 1870-90. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1971.

Remembrance Days: Voltairine de Cleyre and the Haymarket Martyrs

Commemorating the Haymarket Martyrs

Commemorating the Haymarket Martyrs

In my last post, “War, Remembrance and Propaganda,” I mentioned that for anarchists November 11th is also a day of remembrance, for it was on November 11, 1887 that four anarchists were executed in Chicago, wrongly convicted of throwing a bomb at a demonstration against police violence. One of those anarchists, August Spies, cried out as he was about to be hanged, “The time will come when our silence will be more powerful than the voices you strangle today!” For decades after, anarchists the world over held tributes for the Haymarket Martyrs every November 11th. One of the most eloquent commemorators of the Haymarket Martyrs was the American anarchist, Voltairine de Cleyre. I included excerpts from de Cleyre’s writings on direct action and the Mexican Revolution in Volume One of Anarchism: A Documentary History of Libertarian Ideas. In the excerpts below, from a speech she gave on November 11, 1899, de Cleyre evokes with vivid and powerful imagery the ideas for which the Haymarket Martyrs paid with their lives. For anarchists, it is not the red or the white poppy which symbolizes the sacrifices people have made for freedom and justice, but the black rose, allusions to which are made by de Cleyre at the end of her speech.

De Cleyre quote

Chicago, November 11, 1899:

Greater love hath no man known than this, that he give up his life for his friend.

We are they to whom was given that utterest of love — we, into whose ears there came a crying through the wilderness of poverty and shame and pain, a wind through the desert from the Land of Promise; voices that said: ‘It is not right that you should hunger, it is not just that you should be denied one of the glories of this earth. The world is wide: it is not reason that you should bury yourselves in a narrow den and see the earth from behind a cave mouth, while a bird that you could grasp in your hand, so, is free to cross the continent and pick its food where it lists. It is not fairness that the thing you have made should be taken from you by the hand that did not make it, and you be left with nothing but the smut and smell and memory of the torture of its making. It is insane that men should rot for want of things and things for want of men; insane that millions of creatures should huddle together till they choke while millions of acres of land lie desolate; insane that one should pour down his throat the labor of hundreds in a single night, and those hundreds always near the gateway of famine. It is criminal to believe that the mass of us are to be dumb animals, with nothing before us all our lives but eating, sleeping and toiling at the best, with all the light and loveliness of nature and of art an unknown realm of delight to us to which we may look only as the outcast at Eden. It is stupid to allege, still more stupid to believe, that you who are able to do all the hard things of this world, to burrow and dig and hammer and build, to be cramped and choked and beaten and killed for others, are not able to win all for yourselves.

‘You are not helpless if you do not will to be, you workers who labor and do not share; you need not be the ever-tricked dupes of politicians, who promise what it is not in their power to perform, and perform what their buyers order them to; you have only to learn your own power to help yourselves, only to learn the solidarity of the interests of all those who work, only to learn to trust yourselves to take your rights, by no indirection, through no intermediary, but openly on the spot where they are denied from the one who denies them — and having taken, keep. The wealth and the love and the beauty of this earth are yours, when you are ready to take them; you are no beggars at your brothers’ table: children of one plenteous board, there is enough for all and none need want.

‘Do they tell you to look to the kingdom of God? We tell you to look to the kingdom of this world; for, verily, men have looked long enough to post mortem justice, and thereby only supported another injustice, the trade in salvation, and buying and selling of heaven. They tell you there have always been rich and poor, and that what has always been always must be. It is not true that there have always been rich and poor; neither is it true that what has always been must always be. Men and the societies of men are creatures of their conditions, responsive to the pressure upon them from without, like all other things, and not only liable to change but bound to change. Every age finds its own adjustment. There have been times and places wherein all men were poor, as we should think them now, yet no injustice done, for all shared alike. There have been whole races of men with indefinite history behind them, who never knew mine and thine. They have passed away, people and system together, with the method of making a living. And Property, with all its varying forms of attendant slavery, has come into existence in response to the irresistible demand for a change to suit new methods of production — and as it had to come so it will have to go.

The  Spirit of Anarchy

The Spirit of Anarchy

It is impossible it should continue; for under this plethora of products turned out by the newer methods, Property has lost its power to balance Man and the Thing. Shoved out by the tireless, flying steel hands, piled in great masses, products accumulate; the toiler at the base is flattened under the weight which Property makes it impossible to distribute. The mountain of riches crushes its creator; men and things alike waste. It cannot go on. The dead weight cannot forever press down the living energy: in the end distribution must come. Out from its burrow comes writhing a distorted, mangled, bruised, and bleeding figure —misshapen, ugly, black, covered with hell-light: suffocated, gasping, it struggles on to its feet at last, wipes the blood and sweat out of its eyes, gives a wild stare at this mountain of gold and glass and glitter it has made, catches a brief vision of the dwellers on the mountain, and with a mad cry leaps upon the thing to destroy it. He is a giant still: has he not, down there in the underground, been through the blows that temper and fires that try? Maimed and lamed, there is brawn in him yet; seared and numbed he can yet feel for a white throat. The hand that hammered the bolts has a wild grasp in it still, that lays hold and wrenches apart more desperately than it put together. The mountain is levelled, and — he begins again.

He is the Revolution, and he is a fool. For he will need to make and destroy, make and destroy, until he destroys the institution which makes accumulation possible. He! Why ‘he’? You, working people, you are that fool. You are he who scoops the sea and dies in the desert for a cup of water. You are he who piles that mountain of wealth, and finds nothing better to do with it when it crushes him thereafter than to set fire to it.

‘But listen, Fool, there is something better for you. This thing, Property, is not the final word of the human intellect with regard to the distribution of wealth. Beyond the smoke-edge of this frightful battle of Man and Machine, what lies? The ideal of Communism: perpetual freedom of access to natural sources of wealth, never to be denied by Man to his brother Man. Perpetual claim on the common wealth of the ages, never to be denied to the living by the dead. Perpetual claim upon the satisfactions of all common needs of the human body, never to be denied to the living by the living. Beyond the smoke wreath of the battle, what lies? Days of labor that are sweet, men and women doing the work that nature calls them to, that in which they delight — laboring at a chosen service, not one into which they have been forced; working and resting at reasonable hours, sleeping when the earth sleeps, not driven out into the darkness, like an unloved child, to turn night into day, and cripple the overdriven body by unnatural hours of pleasure stolen from sleep. Chosen toil, room, recreation, sleep — these, poor outcast animal, Man, are to be yours! Beyond the smoke-rim of the battle, what lies? The death of cities, the people resurgent upon the land, the desert blossoming into homes, the air and light of nature once more sending their strength through nerve and vein, and with it the lost power to feel the joy of existence, the realization that one is something more than flesh to feed and sleep — a creature of colors and sounds and lights, with as keen an ear for a bird’s song, as ready an eye for a tint of cloud, as any woodsman in the older days; a creature with as fine a taste for pictures and books and statuary and music, ay, and with a hand to execute them too, as any man who lives today upon your sweat, buys his library with your dribbled blood, and condenses the flesh that has vanished from your bones into the marble which adorns his alcoves.

‘Beyond the smoke-haze of the battle, what lies? Life, life! Not existence — life, that has been denied to you, life that has ever been reserved to your masters, the broad world and all its pleasant places, and all its pleasant things.’

This was the cry that came to us, and we listened and heard. We followed the crying voices through these wildernesses of brick and stone; for it was a fair hope, and who would not wish to dream it true? None but the masters, and they were afraid; they clamored for suppression of the voices; ‘Let not these work-cattle of ours get this vision of Man,’ they said, ‘else they will cease to be beasts, and we…?’

HACAT_DE1

The Handbill for the May 4, 1886 Haymarket Protest

Of all the political trials that ever outraged the forms even of legal justice to say nothing of the spirit, it has remained to republics to give the worst. If the Czar of Russia wishes an example of despotism, let him look to America. Here it is that we shoot men for marching on the highway and hang them for preaching ideas.

Yes, it is all fresh in our memories — fresh as that bitter November day twelve years ago when Parsons, Fischer, Engel, Spies waited within for the signal of doom, while without a helpless mother and wife plead for the keeping of a broken promise to the heartless cordon of the ‘law’ around the sullen hole of death; plead for the last clasp of the hand that in an hour could clasp no more, the last look from the eyes that would die and never know whose promise it was that had been broken; fresh as the memory of the singing voice that went up in the night and gloom calling sweetly, ‘she’s a’ the world to me’; fresh as the memory of the lifted hand and the voice repeating,

This hand is as steady
As when, in the old days,
It plucked the already
Ripe fruit from Life’s tree;

fresh as the memory of the deathless words:

Haymarket SiporinThe time will come when our silence will be more powerful than the voices you strangle today.

Long live Anarchy: this is the happiest moment of my life.

Will I be allowed to speak, O men of America? Let me speak, Sheriff Matson! Let the voice of the people be heard! O — ;

fresh as the memory of the gallows and trap and the swinging, dying bodies; fresh as the memory of him, the beautiful one, the brave, defiant one [Louis Lingg] who took his death not waiting for your hangman and from his poor mangled dying throat whispered hoarsely at the end, ‘Long live Anarchy!’

Fresh and fresh, and forever fresh, O rulers of the world, the memory of the deed you did that day! Green in our hearts as the holly at Yule — doubt not ye shall be remembered, doubt not ye shall be paid! With what measure ye mete unto others it shall be meted back unto you again. No item of the record shall escape. Shall we not recall the tricks that were done to turn the tide of sympathy which welled up, when terror and cowardice were abating, and decent human nature began to assert itself? Have we not before our eyes the picture of petition-tables overturned in the streets? In our ears the edict of Mayor Roach, ‘No public discussion of the Anarchist case, no singing of the Marseillaise’? Do we not remember the four ‘bombs’ found in Lingg’s cell conjured through the stone walls and deposited there by Anarchist magic! It is all remembered: we know you are our creditors still! Perhaps you would have interest: it is one of your institutions!

And what did you accomplish? You struck a welding blow that beat the hearts of the working people of the world together. You lifted out of the obscurity of the common man five names, and set them as beacons upon a hill. You sent the word Anarchy ringing through every workshop. You gave us a manifold crucifixion, and dignified what had been a speculative theory with the sacrificial cast of a religion. In the heart of this black slag heap of grime and crime you have made a sacred place, for in it you lopped off an arm from the Cross and gave us the Gallows.

And if it were given us to see tonight the thoughts of men made visible, we should behold the grave at Waldheim in the heart of a star whose rays shot inward from the uttermost earth. Ay, they are streaming over many waters, and out of strange lands where the English tongue is never spoken — they, the invisible phantoms that pass in the darkness, less of substance than the wind that floats the November leaf, but mightier than all the powers that ever mowed the human grass when governments went reaping! They are pouring in tonight, the intangible dreams that bind masses of men together in the bond of the ideal — a bond that ties tighter than all bonds of flesh; for it makes that one shall look into a stranger’s eye and know him for his own; shall hear a word from the antipodes, and hold it for a brother’s voice; shall ask no name nor station nor race nor country nor religion, but put himself beside his fellow-worker, needing no question since he knows that other’s labors and would be free. A surge of comradeship sweeping over the earth this night, the chant of rebellious voices singing the storm-song of the peoples, an earth-circle of reverberations from those lips that are dead — ‘Long live Anarchy’, rung out this hour from platforms in every great city in the United States, England, France, Australia; talked low in Italy and Spain and Germany; whispered in the cellars of Russia, the cells of Siberia! And murmured on the lonely islands where our prisoned comrades rot away, the words, ‘Twelve years ago today they hanged our comrades in Chicago, and the debt is yet unpaid’.

Ay, it is growing, growing — your fear-word, our fire-word, Anarchy.

Lean your ear to the wind and you will hear it, the never-dying, never finished speech, denied, choked by you that shameless day.

A warmer sanguine glows on the world’s communal flag, stamped out, stamped in, by you — the blood of the Rose of Death.

Voltairine de Cleyre

Published in Free Society, November 26, 1899

The Anarchist Black Rose

The Anarchist Black Rose

War, Remembrance and Propaganda

Patriotism

November 11 is a date commemorated by many people for many different reasons. In England and many of its former colonies, including Canada, November 11 is a national holiday to “honour” the countless soldiers who have died in the “service” of their countries. November 11 was chosen because that is the date in 1918 that the Armistice was signed in Europe putting an end to the First World War, an unnecessary mass slaughter of millions of people, civilians and soldiers. In the United States, November 11 is “Veterans’ Day.”  With the October Revolution in Russia the previous fall taking Russia out of the conflict and instilling fears in the other European ruling classes that their turn would be next, with mutinies and revolts spreading in Germany, the powers that be decided it was time to put an end to the conflict, lest they be consumed by it like the millions of their lowly subjects and now the Czar of Russia.

The October Revolution in Russia

The October Revolution in Russia

For anarchists, November 11 is the anniversary of the judicial murder of the Haymarket Martyrs, five anarchist revolutionaries condemned for their radical ideas and actions, for having had the audacity and the impertinence to challenge the violent rule of the state and its minions, the police, the army and the courts, and to call for the workers to fight back and reclaim their freedom and dignity.

The Haymarket Martyrs

The Haymarket Martyrs

In Canada, England and New Zealand, red plastic poppies are distributed by veterans’ groups every November to raise money and to commemorate the soldiers who died fighting other soldiers in other people’s wars. To counter these state-sponsored attempts to maintain patriotic loyalty by venerating those forced to commit violence against others, various groups have for decades distributed white poppies as symbols of peace.

poppies

The Conservative government in Canada is now waging a propaganda campaign against the white poppy, denouncing anyone for wearing one for trying to “politicize” Remembrance Day, as if Remembrance Day is anything but political. The architect of this campaign is Julian Fantino, the Minister of Veterans Affairs and the former head of the Toronto police and the Ontario Provincial Police. When head of the OPP, Fantino took an aggressive approach to protests by First Nations people, and was responsible for overseeing security at the G8 summit in Huntsville, Ontario in 2010. The Conservative government is big on “law and order,” bringing in more mandatory prison sentences, outlawing the wearing of masks at public demonstrations, and continuing the unsuccessful “war” against drugs. As with other right wing parties, the Conservatives are also waging a war against organized labour, banning strikes in various industries, imposing onerous reporting requirements to which corporations are not subject, and threatening to bring in “right to work” legislation.

right_to_work_1

In Volume One of Anarchism: A Documentary History of Libertarian Ideas, I included a short piece by the Russian novelist, pacifist and anti-authoritarian, Leo Tolstoy, against war and militarism, “Compulsory Military Service” (Selection 75), taken from his book, The Kingdom of God is Within You (1894). Here I present an alternate translation of part of that selection, published by Alexander Berkman in his paper, The Blast, in May 1916, during the ultimately successful “Preparedness” propaganda campaign to involve the United States in the war in Europe.

tolstoy-essence-of-slavery

Leo Tolstoy: The Workers and Patriotism

To keep the majority of men in submission, the minority in power employs the military caste.

Every government needs the army, first of all to keep its own subjects in submission, and secondly, to safeguard the exploitation of their labour. But there is not only one government, there are many of them which all rule by violence and are ever ready to filch their neighbour’s wealth created by subjects already reduced to slavery. That is why every government needs an army not only to keep in power at home, but also to defend its booty against greedy neighbours. The States are forced to compete in increasing their arms. The example set is contagious, as Montesquieu noticed 150 years ago.

Every increase in the fighting force by one State directed against its subjects causes uneasiness to the neighbouring State and compels it to increase its army, too. If the armies today run into millions of men it is not only because of the fact that one State threatens another, it is also due above all to the desire to crush labour unrest at home. One is the result of the others: the despotism of the governments grows with their power and their successes abroad, and their aggressive disposition keeps pace with their despotism at home.

This rivalry in armaments has brought the European governments to the necessity of establishing compulsory military service, which alone procures the greatest number of men with the least expenditure. Germany was the first to adopt conscription, and other nations followed suit. Thus all citizens have been called to arms to maintain the iniquities perpetrated upon themselves, so that the citizens of a State have become the supporters of their tyrants.

What is the motive power used by governments to induce peaceful nations to commit violence and murder? It is called patriotism. It is the art of proving that one group of population separated by a conditional imaginary line, called a frontier, is far superior and preferable in every way to another group of population which lives on the other side of this imaginary line. The most friendly relations, identity of religion, of language, of instruction, of common stock and most intimate friendship, do not prevent these two groups, at a given signal, from rushing at each other and cutting each other’s throats, after the fashion of the most ferocious beasts. And the cause for this signal to kill is often a trifling misunderstanding on the part of the rulers of these two groups of people. These peaceful, good, friendly, labouring people throw themselves upon one another in such a case to destroy one another, invoking to their aid a God who, no doubt, must be a fierce Moloch, and both sides express the same blasphemies in the name of God and civilization.

The Blast, Vol. 1, No. 13

blast cover

Haymarket Martyrs Page

I have now set up a Haymarket Martyrs page where I have consolidated the previous posts of the excerpts from their trial speeches. I have also incorporated links to some of the source material, such as the 1883 Pittsburgh Proclamation of the International Working People’s Association, Albert Parson’s Anarchism: Its Philosophy and Scientific Basis and the works of Peter Kropotkin referred to in my commentary. The image above is the Haymarket Memorial in Chicago, inscribed with August Spies‘ last words:

“The day will come when our silence will be more powerful than the voices you are throttling today.”

The Chicago Anarchists: Samuel Fielden

Samuel Fielden (1847-1922) was one of the few Haymarket defendants whose life was spared after pleading for clemency. Fielden joined the International Working People’s Association in 1884 (Anarchism, Volume One, Selection 55) and became a popular and effective speaker among the Chicago workers. He was speaking at the Haymarket protest meeting when the police arrived, right before the bomb was thrown. As he points out in his trial speech, he successfully defended himself against the charge of murder, only to find out after he had called the evidence in his defence that what he and the other defendants were really on trial for was preaching “anarchy.”

Samuel Fielden

Your Honor, I was brought into this court by the police officers and the civil authorities of the city of Chicago to answer to the charge of murder… I answered that charge in this court. My attorneys on my behalf met that charge; we brought evidence which we thought was competent to rebut and meet the charge of murder. After all our evidence was put in, after all the speeches had been made on both sides, with the exception of one, we were suddenly confronted with the fact—and there is in that statement of the State’s Attorney, in his closing argument, an acknowledgment that the charge of murder had not been proven—when all the witnesses had been heard, I am suddenly told that I am being tried for ‘Anarchy.’

If I had known that I was being tried for Anarchy I could have answered that charge. I could have justified it under the constitutional right of every citizen of this country, and more than the right which any constitution can give, the natural right of the human mind to draw its conclusion from whatever information it can gain, but I had no opportunity to show why I was an Anarchist. I was told that I was to be hung for being an Anarchist, after I got through defending myself on the charge of murder. Now, your honor, my reputation, my associations, my history, as far as the lynx-eyed detectives of Chicago could get it, has been raked up, as Mr. Foster has said, from the cradle to the grave. I have been charged here with being a disturber of the peace, an enemy of public order, and generally a dangerous man…

Being of an inquiring disposition or turn of mind, and having observed that there was something wrong in our social system, I attended some meetings of workingmen and compared what they said with my own observation. I knew there was something wrong. My ideas did not become settled as to what was the remedy, but when they did I carried the same energy and the same determination to bring about that remedy that I had applied to ideas which I had possessed years before.

There is always a period in every individual’s life when some sympathetic chord is touched by some other person. That is the open sesame that carries conviction. The ground may have all been prepared. The evidence may all have been accumulated, but it has not formed any shape. In fact, the child has not been born. The new idea has not impressed itself thoroughly when that sympathetic chord is touched, and the person is thoroughly convinced of the truth of the idea. It was so in my investigation of political economy. I knew there was something wrong, but I did not know what the remedy was; but discussing the condition of things and the different remedies one day, a person said to me that socialism meant equal opportunities—and that was the touch. From that time I became a socialist; I learned more and more what it was. I knew that I had found the right thing; that I had found the medicine that was calculated to cure the ills of society. Having found it I had a right to advocate it, and I did. The constitution of the United States, when it says: ‘The right of free speech shall not be abridged,’ gives every man the right to speak his thoughts. I have advocated the principles of socialism and social economy, and for that and no other reason am I here, and is sentence of death to be pronounced upon me?

What is socialism? Taking somebody else’s property? That is what socialism is in the common acceptation of the term. No. But if I were to answer it as shortly and as curtly as it is answered by its enemies, I would say it is preventing somebody else from taking your property. But socialism is equality. Socialism recognizes the fact that no man in society is responsible for what he is; that all the ills that are in society are the production of poverty; and scientific socialism says you must go to the root of the evil.

There is no criminal statistician in the world but will acknowledge that all crime, when traced to its origin, is the product of poverty. It has been said that it was inflammatory for me to say that the present social system degraded men until they became mere animals. Go through this city into the low lodging houses where men are huddled together into the smallest possible space, living in an infernal atmosphere of death and disease, and I will ask you to draw your silks and your broadcloths close to you when these men pass you. Do you think that these men deliberately, with a full knowledge of what they are doing, choose to become that class of animals? Not one of them. They are the products of conditions, of certain environments in which they were born, and which have impelled them resistlessly into what they are. And we have this loadstone. You who wish it could be taken from the shoulders of society. What is it? When those men were children, put them into an environment where they have the best results of civilization around them, and they will never willfully choose a condition like that. Some cynic might say that this would be a very nice thing for these men. Society, with its rapidity of production of the means of existence, is capable of doing that without doing injury to a single individual; and the great masses of wealth owned by individuals in this and the old world have been produced in exactly the same proportion as these men have been degraded—and they never could have been accumulated in any other way.

I do not charge that every capitalist willfully and maliciously conspires to bring about these results; but I do charge that it has been done, and I do charge that it is a very undesirable condition of things, and I claim that socialism would cure the world of that ulcer. These are my ideas in short, on socialism. The ultra patriotic sentiment of the American people—and I suppose the same comparative sentiment is felt in England and France and Germany—is that no man in this country need be poor. The class who are not poor think so. The class who are poor are beginning to think differently; that under existing conditions it is impossible that some people should not be poor.

Why is it that we have ‘over-production?’ And why is it that our warehouses are full of goods, and our workshops have to shut up, and our workmen are turned out on the highway because there is nothing to do? What is this tending to? Let me show the change of conditions as shown in Boston in forty years. Charles Dickens, a man of acute perceptions, visited this country forty years ago, and be said that the sight of a beggar in the streets of Boston at that time would have created as much consternation as the sight of an angel with a drawn sword.

A Boston paper in the winter of 1884-5 stated that there were some quarters in Boston where to own a stove was to be a comparative aristocrat. The poor people who lived in the neighbourhood paid a certain sum of money to rent the holes on the top of the stove that belonged to the aristocrats. You see the change, and there is this comparative change in the working classes of that city, and in every large city in the Union. It is a noted fact that within the last twenty or thirty years the farms of this country have been gradually going out of the possession of the actual cultivators until today there is a little more than a quarter of the actual cultivators of farms in this country who are renters; and within twenty years in the states of Iowa and Illinois the mortgages on farms have increased thirty-three per cent of the actual value of the farms. Is it not enough to make any thinking man ask if there is not something wrong somewhere? Possibly it would be answered ‘yes, a man has a right to inquire whether there is something wrong or not, but for God’s sake, don’t think that socialism will do it any good, or if you do we will hang you! It is all right to think, but we will punish you for your conclusions.’

The Haymarket Martyrs: Albert Parsons

Albert Parsons (1848-1887) was perhaps the best known of the Haymarket Martyrs prior to their execution on November 11, 1887. Parsons published the Alarm, at the time the leading English language anarchist newspaper in North America. He played a prominent role in the struggle for the 8 hour day and was already well known as an advocate for socialism. Prior to becoming an anarchist in 1880, Parsons had been involved with several political parties, including the Socialist Labor Party of America. He ran for office several times but came to the conclusion that meaningful change could not be achieved through the ballot box. He was influenced by Marx‘s critique of capitalism, as clearly illustrated in the passages set forth below taken from his trial speech. Parsons believed that the capitalist system was destroying the middle class, creating a vast and impoverished working class reduced to starvation wages. While he could have accepted this state of affairs and become himself a successful capitalist, he refused to do so, rejecting the power and privilege of the master. As with many other 19th century socialists, Parsons compared wage labour to chattel slavery, describing the former as a form of “wage slavery.” He denied that he wished to destroy the machinery that was putting thousands out of work, objecting rather to the uses to which modern technology was being put. While awaiting execution he wrote his memoirs and edited a collection of writings, Anarchism: Its Philosophy and Scientific Basis, which included some of Marx’s writings on political economy, essays on anarchism by Peter Kropotkin and Elisée Reclus, and the trial speeches of himself and his fellow defendants. His references to anarchy being the next step in progressive evolution illustrate the influence of Kropotkin and Réclus. As he was about to be hanged he cried out, “Will I be allowed to speak, O men of America? Let me speak Sheriff Matson! Let the voice of the People be heard!”

Albert Parsons

Labour is a commodity and wages the price paid for it. The owner of this commodity—of labour—sells it, that is himself, to the owner of capital in order to live. Labour is the expression of energy, the power of the labourer’s life. This energy of power he must sell to another person in order to live. It is his only means of existence, he works to live, but his work is not simply a part of his life; it is the sacrifice of it. His labour is a commodity which under the guise of free labour, he is forced by necessity to hand over to another party. The reward of the wage labourer’s activity is not the product of his labour—far from it. The silk he weaves, the palace he builds, the ores he digs from out the mines—are not for him—oh, no. The only thing he produces for himself is his wage, and the silk, the ores and the palace which he has built are simply transformed for him into a certain kind of means of existence, namely, a cotton shirt, a few pennies, and the mere tenancy of a lodging-house. In other words, his wages represent the bare necessities of his existence, and the unpaid for or ‘surplus’ portion of his labour product constitutes the vast superabundant wealth of the non-producing or capitalist class. That is the capitalist system. It is the capitalist system that creates these classes, and it is these classes that produce this conflict. This conflict intensifies as the power of the privileged classes over the non-possessing or propertyless classes increases and intensifies, and this power increases as the idle few become richer and the producing many become poorer, and this produces what is called the labour movement. Wealth is power, poverty is weakness. If I had time I might answer some suggestions that probably arise in the minds of some persons not familiar with this question. I imagine I hear your honor say, ‘Why, labour is free. This is a free country.’ Now, we had in the southern states for nearly a century a form of labour known as chattel slave labour. That has been abolished, and I hear you say that labour is free; that the [Civil] War has resulted in establishing free labour all over America. Is this true? Look at it. The chattel slave of the past—the wage slave of today; what is the difference? …

Formerly the master selected the slave; today the slave selects his master and he has got to find one or else he is carried down here to my friend, the jailer, and occupy a cell alongside myself. He is compelled to find one. So the change of the industrial system, in the language of Jefferson Davis, ex-president of the Southern Confederacy, in an interview with the New York Herald upon the question of the chattel slave system of the south and that of the so-called ‘free labourer,’ and their wages—Jefferson Davis has stated positively that the change was a decided benefit to the former chattel slave owners who would not exchange the new system of wage labour at all for chattel labour, because now the dead had to bury themselves and the sick take care of themselves, and now they don’t have to employ overseers to look after them… They say: ‘Now, here, perform this piece of work in a certain length of time,’ and if YOU don’t (under the wage system, says Mr. Davis), why, when you come around for your pay next Saturday, you simply find in the envelope containing your money, a note which informs YOU of the fact that YOU have been discharged. Now, Jefferson Davis admitted in his statement that the leather thong dipped in salt brine, for the chattel slave, had been exchanged under the wage slave system for the lash of hunger, an empty stomach and the ragged back of the wage-slave, who, according to the census of the United States for 1880, constitutes more than nine-tenths of our entire population. But you say the wage slave has advantage over the chattel slave. The chattel slave couldn’t get away from it. Well, if we had the statistics, I believe it could be shown that as many chattel slaves escaped from bondage with the bloodhounds of their masters after them as they tracked their way over the snow-beaten rocks of Canada, and via the underground grapevine road—I believe the statistics would show today that as many chattel slaves escaped from their bondage under that system as could, and as many as do escape today from wage bondage into capitalistic liberty. I am a socialist, I am one of those, although myself a wage slave, who holds that it is wrong, wrong to myself, wrong to my neighbour and unjust to my fellowmen, for me, wage slave that I am, to undertake to make my escape from wage slavery by becoming a master. I refuse to do it; I refuse equally to be a slave or the owner of slaves. Had I chosen another path in life, I might be upon the avenue of the city of Chicago today, surrounded in my beautiful home with luxury and ease and slaves to do my bidding. But I chose the other road, and instead I stand here today upon the scaffold. This is my crime. Before high heaven this and this alone is my crime. I have been false, I have been untrue, and I am a traitor to the infamies that exist today in capitalistic society. If this is a crime in your opinion I plead guilty to it. Now, be patient with me; I have been with you, or rather, I have been patient with this trial. Follow me, if you please, and look at the impressions of this capitalistic system of industry. Every new machine that comes into existence comes there as a competitor with the man of labour… as a drag and menace and a prey to the very existence of those who have to sell their labour in order to earn their bread. The man is turned out to starve and whole occupations and pursuits are revolutionized and completely destroyed by the introduction of machinery, in a day, in an hour as it were. I have known it to be the case in the history of my own life— and I am yet a young man—that whole pursuits and occupations have been wiped out or revolutionized by the invention of machinery.

What becomes of these people? Where are they? Tens of thousands are thrown out of employment, and they become competitors of other labourers and are made to reduce wages and increase the work hours. Many of them are candidates for the gibbet, they are candidates for your prison cells. Build more penitentiaries, erect new scaffolds, for these men are upon the highway of crime, of misery, of death. Your honor, there never was an effect without a cause. The tree is known by its fruit.

Socialists are not those who blindly close their eyes and refuse to look, and who refuse to hear, but having eyes to see, they see, and having ears to hear, they hear. Look at this capitalistic system; look at its operation upon the small dealers, the middle class. Bradstreet’s Commercial Statistics tells us in last year’s report that there were 11,000 small business men financially destroyed the past twelve months. What became of those people? Where are they, and why have they been wiped out? Has there been any less wealth? No: that which they had possessed has simply transferred itself into the hands of some other person. Who is that other? It is he who has greater capitalistic facilities. It is the monopolist, the man who can run corners, who can create rings and squeeze these men to death and wipe them out like dead flies from the table into his monopolistic basket. The middle classes, destroyed in this manner, join the ranks of the proletariat. They become what? They seek out the factory gate, they seek in the various occupations of wage labour for employment. What is the result? Then there are more men upon the market. This increases the number of those who are applying for employment. What then? This intensifies the competition, which in turn creates greater monopolists, and with it wages go down until the starvation point is reached, and then what?

Socialism comes to the people and asks them to look into this thing, to discuss it, to reason, to examine it, to investigate it, to know the facts, because it is by this, and this alone, that violence will be prevented and bloodshed will be avoided, because, as my friend here has said, men in their blind rage, in their ignorance, riot knowing what ails them, knowing that they are hungry, that they are miserable and destitute, strike blindly, and do as they did with Maxwell here, and fight the labour-saving machinery. Imagine such an absurd thing, and yet the capitalistic press has taken great pains to say that socialists do these things; that we fight machinery; that we fight poverty. Why, sir, it is an absurdity; it is ridiculous; it is preposterous. No man ever heard an utterance from the mouth of a socialist to advise anything of the kind. They know to the contrary. We don’t fight machinery; we don’t oppose these things. It is only the manner and methods of employing it that we object to. That is all. It is the manipulation of these things in the interests of a few; it is the monopolization of them that we object to. We desire that all the forces of nature, all the forces of society, of the gigantic strength which has resulted from the combined intellect and labour of the ages of the past shall be turned over to man, and made his servant, his obedient slave forever. This is the object of socialism. It asks no one to give up anything. It seeks no harm to anybody. But, when we witness this condition of things, when we see little children huddling around the factory gates, the poor little things whose bones are not yet hard; when we see them clutched from the hearthstone, taken from the family altar, and carried to the bastiles of labour and their little bones ground up into gold dust to bedeck the form of some aristocratic Jezebel, then it stirs me and I speak out. We plead for the little ones; we plead for the helpless; we plead for the oppressed; we seek redress for those who are wronged; we seek knowledge and intelligence for the ignorant; we seek liberty for the slave; socialism secures the welfare of every human being…

Anarchists do not advocate or advise the use of force. Anarchists disclaim and protest against its use, and the use of force is justifiable only when employed to repel force. Who, then, are the aiders, abettors and users of force? Who are the real revolutionists? Are they not those who hold and exercise power over their fellows? They who use clubs and bayonets, prisons and scaffolds? The great class conflict now gathering throughout the world is created by our social system of industrial slavery. Capitalists could not if they would, and would not if they could, change it. This alone is to be the work of the proletariat, the disinherited, the wage-slave, the sufferer. Nor can the wage-class avoid this conflict. Neither religion nor politics can solve it or prevent it. It comes as a human, an imperative necessity. Anarchists do not make the social revolution; they prophesy its coming. Shall we then stone the prophets? Anarchists do not use or advise the use of force, but point out that force is ever employed to uphold despotism to despoil man’s natural rights. Shall we therefore kill and destroy the anarchists? And capital shouts, ‘Yes, yes! exterminate them!’

In the line of evolution and historical development, anarchy—liberty—is next in order. With the destruction of the feudal system, and the birth of commercialism and manufactories in the sixteenth century, a contest long and bitter and bloody, lasting over a hundred years, was waged for mental and religious liberty. The seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, with their sanguinary conflicts, gave to man political equality and civil liberty, based on the monopolization of the resources of life, capital—with its ‘free labourers ‘—freely competing with one another for a chance to serve king capital, and ‘free competition’ among capitalists in their endeavours to exploit the labourers and monopolize the labour products. All over the world the fact stands undisputed that the political is based upon, and is but the reflex of the economic system, and hence we find that whatever the political form of the government, whether monarchial or republican, the average social status of the wage-workers is in every country identical. The class struggle of the past century is history repeating itself; it is the evolutionary growth preceding the revolutionary dénouement. Though liberty is a growth, it is also a birth, and while it is yet to be, it is also about to be born. Its birth will come through travail and pain, through bloodshed and violence. It cannot be prevented. This, because of the obstructions, impediments and obstacles which serve as a barrier to its coming. An anarchist is a believer in liberty, and as I would control no man against his will, neither shall anyone rule over me with my consent. Government is compulsion; no one freely consents to be governed by another, therefore there can be no just power of government. Anarchy is perfect liberty, is absolute freedom of the individual. Anarchy has no schemes, no programs, no systems to offer or to substitute for the existing order of things. Anarchy would strike from humanity every chain that binds it, and say to mankind: ‘Go forth! you are free! Have all; enjoy all!’

Anarchism or anarchists neither advise, abet nor encourage the working people to the use of force or a resort to violence. We do not say to the wage-slaves: ‘You ought, you should use force.’ No. Why say this when we know they must—they will be driven to use it in self-defence, in self-preservation, against those who are degrading, enslaving and destroying them.

Already the millions of workers are unconsciously anarchists. Impelled by a cause, the effects of which they feel but do not wholly understand, they move unconsciously, irresistibly forward to the social revolution. Mental freedom, political equality, industrial liberty!

This is the natural order of things, the logic of events. Who so foolish as to quarrel with it, obstruct it, or attempt to stay its progress? It is the march of the inevitable; the triumph of progress.

The Haymarket Martyrs: George Engel

George Engel (1836-1887) was one of the four Chicago anarchists hanged on November 11, 1887 for his alleged participation in the Haymarket bombing in May 1886, despite the fact that he was at home playing cards when the bomb went off. Engel, as with the other Haymarket Martyrs, was a member of the International Working Peoples Association (Anarchism, Volume One, Selection 55). Engel expressly rejected any plea for clemency and shouted “Hurrah for anarchy!” as he was being hanged. The following excerpts from his trial speech show that Engel was not one to compromise his beliefs, not even when facing death. As with the other defendants, Engel denounced the hypocrisy of his prosecutors and the so-called justice system, which turned a blind eye to striking workers being shot dead and workers being maimed and killed on the job, but condemned him and his comrades to death for urging the workers to overthrow their oppressors.

George Engel

All that I have to say in regard to my conviction is that I was not at all surprised; for it has ever been that the men who have endeavoured to enlighten their fellow man have been thrown into prison or put to death, as was the case with John Brown. I have found, long ago, that the working man has no more rights here than anywhere else in the world. The state’s attorney has stated that we were not citizens. I have been a citizen this long time; but it does not occur to me to appeal for my rights as a citizen, knowing as well as I do that this does not make a particle of difference. Citizen or not—as a working man I am without rights, and therefore I respect neither your rights nor your laws, which are made and directed by one class against the other: the working class.

Of what does my crime consist?

That I have laboured to bring about a system of society by which it is impossible for one to hoard millions, through the improvements in machinery, while the great masses sink to degradation and misery. As water and air are free to all, so should the inventions of scientific men be applied for the benefit of all. The statute laws we have are in opposition to the laws of nature, in that they rob the great masses of their rights to ‘life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.’

I am too much a man of feeling not to battle against the societary conditions of today. Every considerate person must combat a system which makes it possible for the individual to rake and hoard millions in a few years, while, on the other side, thousands become tramps and beggars.

Is it to be wondered at that under such circumstances men arise who strive and struggle to create other conditions, where the humane humanity shall take precedence of all other considerations. This is the aim of socialism, and to this I joyfully subscribe.

The state’s attorney said here that ‘anarchy’ was ‘on trial.’

Anarchism and socialism are as much alike in my opinion, as one egg is to another. They differ only in their tactics. The anarchists have abandoned the way of liberating humanity which socialists would take to accomplish this. I say: Believe no more in the ballot, and use all other means at your command. Because we have done so we stand arraigned here today—because we have pointed out to the people the proper way. The anarchists are being hunted and persecuted for this in every clime, but in the face of it all anarchism is gaining more and more adherents, and if you cut off our opportunities of open agitation, then will all the work be done secretly. If the state’s attorney thinks he can root out socialism by hanging seven of our men and condemning the other to fifteen years’ servitude, he is labouring under a very wrong impression. The tactics simply will be changed—that is all…

If anarchism could be rooted out, it would have been accomplished long ago in other countries. On the night on which the first bomb in this country was thrown, I was in my apartments at home. I knew nothing of the conspiracy which the state’s attorney pretends to have discovered.

It is true I am acquainted with several of my fellow defendants; with most of them, however, but slightly, through seeing them at meetings, and hearing them speak. Nor do I deny that I too have spoken at meetings, saying that if every working man had a bomb in his pocket, capitalistic rule would soon come to an end.

That is my opinion, and my wish; it became my conviction, when I mentioned the wickedness of the capitalistic conditions of the day.

When hundreds of workingmen have been destroyed in mines in consequence of faulty preparations, for the repairing of which the owners were too stingy, the capitalistic papers have scarcely noticed it. See with what satisfaction and cruelty they make their report, when here and there workingmen have been fired upon, while striking for a few cents increase in their wages, that they might earn only a scanty subsistence.

Can anyone feel any respect for a government that accords rights only to the privileged classes, and none to the workers? We have seen but recently how the coal barons combined to form a conspiracy to raise the price of coal, while at the same time reducing the already low wages of their men. Are they accused of conspiracy on that account? But when workingmen dare ask an increase in their wages, the militia and the police are sent out to shoot them down.

For such a government as this I can feel no respect, and will combat them despite their power, despite their police, despite their spies.

I hate and combat, not the individual capitalist, but the system that gives him those privileges. My greatest wish is that workingmen may recognize who are their friends and who are their enemies.

The Haymarket Martyrs: Louis Lingg

Louis Lingg (1864-1887) was the youngest and the most militant of the Haymarket Martyrs. In his final speech at the trial of the Chicago anarchists he denounced the hypocrisy of the state authorities, in particular the prosecuting attorney, Grinnell, who accused Lingg and his fellow defendants of cowardice, when it was Grinnell who was urging the execution of the defendants based on their beliefs, not on any hard evidence, in order to advance his own career, and without any risk to himself. Lingg remained defiant to the end, cheating the executioner by committing suicide on the eve of his execution.

Court of Justice! With the same irony with which you have regarded my efforts to win, in this ‘free land of America,’ a livelihood such as humankind is worthy to enjoy, do you now, after condemning me to death, concede me the liberty of making a final speech.

I accept your concession; but it is only for the purpose of exposing the injustice, the calumnies, and the outrages which have been heaped upon me…

It is not murder… of which you have convicted me. The judge has stated that much only this morning in his resume of the case, and Grinnell has repeatedly asserted that we were being tried, not for murder, but for anarchy, so that the condemnation is—that I am an anarchist!

What is anarchy? This is a subject which my comrades have explained with sufficient clearness, and it is unnecessary for me to go over it again. They have told you plainly enough what our aims are. The state’s attorney, however, has not given you that information. He has merely criticized and condemned not the doctrines of anarchy, but our methods of giving them practical effect, and even here he has maintained a discreet silence as to the fact that those methods were forced upon us by the brutality of the police. Grinnell’s own proffered remedy for our grievances is the ballot and combination of trades unions, and Ingham has even avowed the desirability of a six-hour movement! But the fact is, that at every attempt to wield the ballot, at every endeavour to combine the efforts of workingmen, you have displayed the brutal violence of the police club, and this is why I have recommended rude force, to combat the ruder force of the police.

You have charged me with despising ‘law and order.’ What does your ‘law and order’ amount to? Its representatives are the police, and they have thieves in their ranks. Here sits Captain Schaack. He has himself admitted to me that my hat and books have been stolen from him in his office—stolen by policemen. These are your defenders of property rights!…

While I… believe in force for the sake of winning for myself and fellow workmen a livelihood such as men ought to have, Grinnell, on the other hand, through his police and other rogues, has suborned perjury in order to murder seven men, of whom I am one.

Grinnell had the pitiful courage here in the courtroom, where I could not defend myself, to call me a coward! The scoundrel! A fellow who has leagued himself with a parcel of base, hireling knaves, to bring me to the gallows. Why? For no earthly reason save a contemptible selfishness—a desire to ‘rise in the world ‘—to ‘make money,’ forsooth.

This wretch—who, by means of the perjuries of other wretches is going to murder seven men—is the fellow who calls me ‘coward!’ And yet you blame me for despising such ‘defenders of the law‘—such unspeakable hypocrites!

Anarchy means no domination or authority of one man over another, yet you call that ‘disorder.’ A system which advocates no such ‘order’ as shall require the services of rogues and thieves to defend it you call ‘disorder.’

The Judge himself was forced to admit that the state’s attorney had not been able to connect me with the bomb throwing. The latter knows how to get around it, however. He charges me with being a ‘conspirator.’ How does he prove it? Simply by declaring the International Workingmens’ Association to be a ‘conspiracy.’ I was a member of that body, so he has the charge securely fastened on me. Excellent! Nothing is too difficult for the genius of a state’s attorney!

It is hardly incumbent upon me to review the relations which I occupy to my companions in misfortune. I can say truly and openly that I am not as intimate with my fellow prisoners as I am with Captain Schaack.

The universal misery, the ravages of the capitalistic hyena have brought us together in our agitation, not as persons, but as workers in the same cause. Such is the ‘conspiracy’ of which you have convicted me.

I protest against the conviction, against the decision of the court. I do not recognize your law, jumbled together as it is by the nobodies of bygone centuries, and I do not recognize the decision of the court. My own counsel have conclusively proven from the decisions of equally high courts that a new trial must be granted us. The state’s attorney quotes three times as many decisions from perhaps still higher courts to prove the opposite, and I am convinced that if, in another trial, these decisions should be supported by twenty-five volumes, they will adduce one hundred in support of the contrary, if it is anarchists who are to be tried. And not even under such a law, a law that a schoolboy must despise, not even by such methods have they been able to ‘legally’ convict us…

I tell you frankly and openly, I am for force…

I repeat that I am the enemy of the ‘order’ of today, and I repeat that, with all my powers, so long as breath remains in me, I shall combat it. I declare again, frankly and openly, that I am in favour of using force. I have told Captain Schaack, and I stand by it, ‘if you cannonade us we shall dynamite you.’ You laugh! Perhaps you think, ‘you throw no more bombs but let me assure you that I die happy on the gallows so confident am I that the hundreds and thousands to whom I have spoken will remember my words; and when you shall have hanged us, then, mark my words, they will do the bomb throwing! In this hope do I say to you: “I despise you. I despise your order, your laws, your force-propped authority.” HANG ME FOR IT!