The Crime of Anarchy
The dastardly assassination of President
McKinley brings vividly before us the problem of the anarchist.
The argument that after all a prominent Government official is only
a single person and should be safeguarded by law with no greater
measures of protection than is supplied to his fellow citizens is
a fallacy of the most apparent kind. The assassination of such an
individual affects not only himself, but the entire community which
he represents. His death may bring about a panic of alarming magnitude.
It is only due to the intense stability of our Republican institutions
that such a panic was averted in the present instance. Under more
unsettled conditions the sudden death of a country’s chief official,
be he King, Emperor, or Czar, might perchance lead to a revolution.
The true fault lies in the fact that
our criminal law is radically wrong. It proceeds on a theory wholly
untenable in logic or in science. It considers that we are all endowed
with an equal power of resistence, certain anti-social tendencies
to our passions, and to inherited criminal propensities which are
necessarily inherent in a portion, unfortunately large, of the community.
On such an individual as Czolgosz, punishment can have practically
no effect. His ethical perceptions are obliterated. Spiritually
he is an imbecile. His execution will not deter in the slightest
degree any other individual of his type from the commission of a
precisely similar crime. Far better, we think, to provide a more
effective preventative in the shape of a stringent enforcement of
the immigration laws, the repression of anarchistic literature and
speeches, the breaking up of “Red” societies and the deportation
of their members. This festering sore in our body politic calls
for and should receive drastic treatment.
It is to be noted that the leaders
of the movement, such as Goldman and Most, are very careful to refrain
from commission of acts of violence. They confine their efforts
to the selection of some poor half-witted fool in whom secretly
they instill their fell doctrines, and who they fashion into a tool
fitted for their purpose. This country should join the International
League Against Anarchy. It is not going too far to say that we should
fix upon an uninhabited island in the Philippines to which those
who hold such destructive tenets should be deported. The latter
have no reason to complain. Their doctrines rest upon the belief
that every man is a law unto himself. Hence they cannot appeal to
law for they have repudiated all law and admit only the power of
The true measure to be resorted to
is rather the slow one of extirpation. The advocates of Anarchy
must be regarded as public enemies under a law to be passed by Congress
and under which deportation could be provided for. As the Philippine
Islands are now a portion of the United States, the erection of
a prison in one of the archipelago and the removal thereto of the
dangerous doctrinaries is governed by the same principle which permits
the confining of offenders against the National laws within any
of the Federal jails.
It only remains to add that in 1894
an act was prepared by John Carlisle, then Secretary of the Treasury,
which struck directly at the root of the evil by prohibiting the
assemblage of persons preaching and entertaining views inimical
to the institution of government in general. This failed of passage,
however, because Congress that year was entirely taken up with the
discussion of the Tariff bill.