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Source: American Monthly Review of Reviews
Source type: magazine
Document type: article
Document title: “The Treatment of Anarchism”
Author(s): Holt, Henry
Date of publication: February 1902
Volume number: 25
Issue number: 2
Pagination: 192-200

Holt, Henry. “The Treatment of Anarchism.” American Monthly Review of Reviews Feb. 1902 v25n2: pp. 192-200.
full text
law (criticism); anarchism (dealing with); Leon Czolgosz (mental health); criminals (dealing with); penal colonies (anarchists); anarchism (laws against); anarchism (legal penalties).
Named persons
George M. Beard; Thomas Carlyle; Marie François Sadi Carnot; Leon Czolgosz; Charles Darwin; Havelock Ellis; Enrico Ferri [identified as Férré below]; Emma Goldman; Charles J. Guiteau; George F. Hoar; Humbert I [identified as Umberto below]; Thomas Henry Huxley; Peter Kropotkin; Cesare Lombroso; Charles Lyell; Robert S. MacArthur; Louis E. McComas; William McKinley; Johann Most; Robert A. Pinkerton; Theodore Roosevelt; John Ruskin; Herbert Spencer; Robert C. Titus; Leo Tolstoy.


The Treatment of Anarchism



THERE was no text-book on criminal law used in the Columbia Law School when I was a student. The treatment was confined to a brief and non-compulsory course of lectures. To-day, they do not use a text-book on the subject at the great law school of the University of Michigan, and in all law schools it receives a degree of attention small enough to surprise the layman. It is difficult, in New York, at least, to find a lawyer of standing prepared, or even inclined, to undertake a criminal case. Such facts indicate the state of the criminal law,—there is probably no equally important department of human interest so neglected or in so primitive and irrational a condition. The members of the community whom it most directly concerns are the very basest,—the criminals themselves. Those next in interest—the victims—have very little interest indeed; some of them because they have been killed, and the others because they can seldom collect damages from the criminal, who is nearly always impecunious; and therefore they have no personal interest in developing the criminal law other than the old-fashioned one of revenge, which is fast growing weaker and briefer. The only remaining party interested (save a few studious people) is the community at large, and that party is too busy with other things, even with the law in its business relations, to feel any interest in the criminal law but a spasmodic and very superficial one at the moment of some exceptional crime. The criminal law is also at a special disadvantage in being almost entirely statute law. Instead of being made by judges, after thorough discussion by lawyers, it has been made by legislatures composed of men of all sorts of pursuits, many of whom have no training whatever for such work, and, like all men, generally have prejudices strong in proportion as their training is weak. For all these reasons, the criminal law is far behind the rest of the law, and behind civilization and common sense. As an illustration: beside the theory that a man must be punished for his intentions—a theory carried to the extreme that if he is too insane to have intelligent intentions he must not be punished at all—stands the utterly opposite theory that his punishment must depend upon the result of his acts,—if he intends murder, he is to be punished for murder only in case the victim die. The man commits his act, is arrested, and then the authorities wait, before trying him, for a set of physiological processes in the victim with which the criminal has no more to do than he has with the tides of Jupiter.
     Since the foregoing paragraph was written, the recent review of “Two Centuries’ Growth of American Law,” in the Yale Bicentennial Series, is cited in the Nation as showing that “progress in other departments of law has been far greater” than in the criminal department.
     No wonder that under such conditions the question of the treatment of anarchists has had little more systematic attention than occasionally hanging one who kills somebody, or coming as near to it as the local law allows. And what little attention it has had has generally been (with the exception of some unenforced laws excluding anarchists) as stupid as the criminal law in general, in finding nothing more educative than the old-fashioned pains and penalties.
     The main question of what to do about anarchism is made up of three subsidiary questions,—how to treat the crime, how to treat the man whose opinions lead to the crime, and how to treat the man in danger of forming such opinions.
     On the first point, little can now be said that can have any immediate effect. In spite of all that can be said, popular vengeance is going to dispose of the red-handed anarchist as it disposed of Guiteau and Czolgosz. No less an authority than the late Dr. Beard told me that Guiteau was plainly insane; but there were enough other experts to call him sane, as they called Czolgosz, and he was killed. Czolgosz was found guilty of murder, despite the judge charging: “If the defendant knew he was doing wrong at the time, the defendant was guilty of murder.” So far from knowing he was doing wrong, he believed he was doing right—a right for which he was ready to sacrifice his life, and from which he, in his grave, could gain no good. Nobody doubts this. But there is more. The Associated Press report says that after the charge—

     Lawyer Titus also asked the Court to charge the jury “that if they were satisfied from the evidence that at the time of the committal of the assault the defendant was laboring under such a defect of reason as not to know the quality of the act, or that it was wrong, he was not responsible, and the jury must acquit.”
     “I so charge,” answered the judge. [192][193]

Yet the jury brought him in guilty, thereby asserting that a man supposing such an act could be of service to the world, was not “laboring under such a defect of reason as not to know the quality of the act.”
     But after Czolgosz was dead, the physicians were unable to find anything abnormal in his brain; and therefore he was not crazy, and it was all right to kill him. Note the reasoning of our law: he had a good brain, and therefore should have been killed; had he had a bad brain, he should have been saved. But the statement that he had a good brain assumes that the physicians could find all there was in the brain—even the physical signs of the insane notion that he could do some good by killing the President, not to speak of the other physical signs of the other insane illusion that the amiable President was, as the assassin said in his last moments, the enemy of the poor people. Now, they could find no such thing, though it was surely there. But they did not know—nobody knows—how to look for it. We know precious little more of the topography of the brain than we do of the topography of Mars. We do know gross outlines, and so sometimes we can tell when a brain is grossly wrong. But then it is no news: for we knew it before seeing the brain at all. We know regarding Czolgosz’s brain, or at least have reason to believe, that somewhere in it were tangles corresponding to the tangles of bad ideas that led him to commit the bad act; but where the tangles were, or what they looked like, or whether our microscopes could show them, we have not the slightest shadow of a suspicion. And yet the whole country is satisfied with the “moral responsibility,” whatever that may mean, of Czolgosz, simply on the strength of what we do not know about his brain.
     Now, can anything be more absurd than the whole reasoning?
     So new and complex are the relations of these problems to anarchy, that even the wisest are inconsistent before them. Senator McComas proposes to kill anarchists, while he attributes to them “abnormal minds,” though this would not be inconsistent if he were an advocate of euthanasia for the abnormal.
     Possibly we can get a little light on the causes of the absurdities and inconsistencies which hedge the subject, and on how they may be avoided.
     Before the discovery of the law of evolution, with its implication of slow but constant gradations in Nature, more importance was attached than now to rigid lines of classification, though the lines themselves were often mere spider-threads of abstraction. Nowhere does this attitude of mind survive more vigorously than in the antiquated criminal law, and nowhere in that mass of fossil ideas more than in those regarding responsibility and insanity. A line is fixed somewhere—where, a half-dozen experts on each side will disagree with the other side, and among themselves; but on one side of that line, such as it is, people are called sane, and on the other side insane. Meanwhile, all the common-sense world knows that insanity ranges from gentle passions for broad margins in unread books, or for superfluous lace handkerchiefs or silk stockings, all the way to homicidal mania. Few people of the world, the social or the scientific, are unaware that there are forms of insanity unsuspected by anybody outside of the patients’ homes but their physicians. Everybody knows that anarchical assassinations are frequently committed by the mildest of men, who are ready to lay down their lives for humanity. If such a deed as the assassination of McKinley, or King Umberto, or the Empress of Austria, or Carnot, for the alleged reasons, is not proof positive of insanity, it is high time the law’s definitions of insanity were revised. All the world knows, even when it is hot for retribution, that in such cases fine-spun psychical dissertations are cheap impertinences beside the plain question: Did the man do this utterly irrational and destructive thing? Why send for a doctor to tell you in long words whether a medieval theologian would call the act a crime? If the world is angry, the majority of the doctors are angry too, and the world kills the man, and after it has had time to cool down, admits that he was crazy, and that his very act proved it at the outset.
     Considering that the whole philosophic world has been wrangling as long as there has been a philosophic world, over the question whether there is such a thing as moral responsibility, what can we expect but absurdities when we take twelve men out of the street, especially at a time of intense popular feeling, and leave them to decide whether, in a difficult concrete case, a man is “morally responsible?”
     Now, what is the common-sense thing to do in view of such facts,—what would be done, as a matter of course, if we were not under an antiquated code of criminal laws, antiquated ethical subtleties, and antiquated impulses toward revenge? Why, simply, instead of putting the insoluble question of the assassin’s “moral responsibility” before the twelve men from the street, confine the jury to the much simpler question, reasonably within their capacity: “Did the man commit the act?” If they decide affirmatively, instead of following the antiquated, stupid, and barbarous course of killing him, try the [193][194] modern, intelligent, and civilized course of curing him? There would be no more trials protracted by quarrels of experts and by hypothetical questions thirteen pages long, and virtually no more miscarriages of justice. The criminal would at once be put where he could do no more harm, and handed over to experts who would do the best they could for a mind capable of his act. To cure him of his bad ideas is more difficult, of course—calls for more skill and patience and human charity than was called for by the method of the people who sent us our religion, of stoning him to death, or our method of the halter or the electric shock. But isn’t it more sensible, more Christian, despite the Jews who founded Christianity, than to destroy a man as you would a mad dog—especially a man who, the experts say, has a good brain?
     Let us try to clear up, a little more, some of the foggy notions regarding “punishment” amid which we have grown up. One of the clear things in the fog is an idea of balance—of justice—of that feature of the system of things which Spencer has taught some of us to call equilibration, which was very early expressed as “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth,” and which, for a long time later, made it the privilege, even the duty, of a murdered man’s kin to take the murderer’s life or a money ransom for it. But notwithstanding the persistence of these ideas, even till to-day, as far back as nearly two thousand years ago a voice of highest authority pronounced them antiquated then, and they all simply mean revenge. A kindred antiquated notion is that the spectacle of retributive punishment is a deterrent. Hence, a man no older than I, can remember his father’s employees taking a day off to go and see a murderer hanged. But cumulative experience says that such brutifying spectacles did more to encourage criminal impulses than to discourage them; while recent science talks about the mere spectacle of punishment for a crime conveying some strange hypnotic suggestion toward its commission. And our fresh experience regarding the lynching of negroes seems to back up this mysterious scientific dictum.
     Senators Hoar and McComas both admit the proved inadequacy of capital punishment for anarchistic murder, yet Senator McComas proposes it.
     Vengeful and deterrent punishment having, then, lost its standing before Religion and Science, what is there left to do about the criminal? To this mystery comes the answer regarding all mysteries which has been distributed through our part of the thinking world mainly by the cumulative labors of Lyell, Darwin, Huxley, and Spencer, and later, and more specifically regarding the criminal, by those of Lombroso, Férré, and Havelock Ellis: “Study him.” Well, he is found to be (at all events, since the days of the robber barons and bold buccaneers) a puny, stupid being, on the borders, if not in the domain, of insanity. Nobody who has seen much of criminal courts will deny this. Nearly all the anarchist-assassins are of this low type in mind and body. When the Kropotkins and Tolstoys become anarchists, they do no violence. Most readers on these subjects have some idea of the marvels (from an earlier point of view) that have been effected upon the morals of criminals at Elmira and elsewhere, by mere physical treatment,—good food, cleanliness, massage, and regular living. Results also abound that seem less marvelous only because they came from agencies more directly moral. This experience is fast breaking down the old ideas of punishment; and instead of regulating the term of the sentence by the “degree” of crime, is tending to make it indeterminate—to be measured only by the time needed for a cure. Thus the idea of killing a wrongdoer before trying to cure him is fast losing repute. If after the experts have done their best for a reasonable time, they become convinced that after all the man has not a good brain, and is incorrigible, and never could become anything but a dangerous member of society, then for the first time, if at all, the question of killing him could reasonably come up. Much of the world’s best thought is now occupied with the problem whether a defective whose cure is hopeless, and whose life is a danger to others, should be kept alive.
     So far, then, our reasoning, such as it is, seems to demonstrate that the only rational thing to do with the anarchist-murderer is to hand him over to the mental experts, and, as he is dangerous, confine him. The asylum is his only logical destination.
     Are there any other considerations pointing the same way? Yes, the papers are full of one set. The most efficacious way of making a saint is to begin by making a martyr. As all reasonable people expected, the anarchists are now burning incense before the portraits of Saint Czolgosz, and bringing up their children to court similar sanctification. Killing, as we know, tempts the poor creatures by distorted ideas of the hero’s death and the martyr’s crown. Suppose that instead of making a martyr of Czolgosz, you had simply declared him the lunatic he was, and immured him in a place which inspires only pity and aversion: would anybody be burning incense before his picture? Would anybody be bringing up children to emulate him?
     But be that as it may, it is plain that for a good while to come, there is little to be gained by [194][195] arguing for putting the anarchist-murderer in the asylum. Until the world is controlled vastly more by reason than now, he is going to be killed—put to “the worst use,” as Carlyle said,—made a martyr of for his whole crazy constituency,—instead of made an object-lesson of the ridiculousness of their “cause.”


     Inasmuch, then, as for the red-handed anarchist, killing it is to be, perhaps we may turn with more immediate profit to the question of how to prevent the anarchist from becoming red-handed, and we may as well include with it the question of how to prevent people from becoming anarchists at all.
     Of course, outside of the slow processes of education and improved production and distribution of wealth, these results must be effected by law, and the law must prescribe that something shall be done. Also, of course, in the present state of our ideas, that something must be in the nature of a punishment. So far as we have reasoned, there would be only the threat of the asylum in case of murder, and people would be slow to apply it before murder.
     The most intelligent writers seem agreed that the principal cure must, after all, be educative. Yet even those holding this view do not entirely deprecate some punitory element in the treatment. For preaching anarchy, as for every other crime, the present ideal is an educative punishment. The first principle in seeking such a one has been announced by the leading teacher of our age, in one of those utterances that prove his leadership, to be that in decreeing “punishments” man should, as always, learn from Nature, and make his penalties as nearly as possible like hers,—direct consequences of the acts themselves. Dyspepsia, katzenjammer, much rheumatism and gout, all loss of vigor from overindulgence or overwork, poverty from overspeculation or laziness, or even bad judgment,—all these and hosts of kindred evils are Nature’s punishments. They follow directly from the acts themselves, they are in a sense self-inflicted, they tend to teach the victims to avoid the sins against Nature which cause them, and they are generally accepted with a candid, submissive, and even stimulating “It’s my own fault; I must try to do better next time.” Such “punishments” are not only repressive, but educative, and consequently preventive. Human treatment of the offender should follow them as closely as possible, especially in the feature of making the undesirable result as nearly as possible self-inflicted. In that element lies the “Serves me right” which makes avoidance and repentance natural.
     Of course we can seldom emulate Nature with absolute success, but that is no reason why we should absolutely disregard her example, as we do with the merely brutal repressive punishments which are arbitrarily tacked on to the criminal’s acts, without in any natural sense growing out of them. A parent whips a child simply from being too ignorant or incompetent to impose a more rational punishment. The state acts in the same way when it kills, imprisons, or fines for offenses which have no more relation to killing or to confinement or to money than they have to the motions of the stars. The legislature of Georgia, the only State legislature which has acted between the assassination of President McKinley and the time of this writing, started in the old hammer-and-tongs way—dealing out only imprisonment and death, the former even for preaching anarchy. President Roosevelt’s message, and the bills of Senators Hoar and McComas, have done much better, though Senator McComas likewise deals largely in imprisonment and death. But he also, as do the other two, pays due respect to the two natural-consequence punishments—exclusion and exile, which have been widely discussed, and are both generally advocated in the press. Both are absolutely logical consequences of proclaiming anarchistic opinions. The law can say, with irrefragable logic: You declare yourself at war with organized society. Very well; you can’t expect organized society either to move away and leave its territory to you, or to retain in its midst a pronounced enemy whose like have proved themselves dangerous the world over. If you don’t clear out, or if you ever return, of course you leave us the only resource of putting you out by methods that will make return impossible. Moreover, if you go alive, we are not going to be put in the position of unloading you on other organized societies, but shall send them means of identifying you. If they are wise, they will also exclude you, and the only place where you can actually stay is the only place where you can logically stay,—where there is no organized society—the desert.
     Senator Hoar, however, has carried his logic to what may seem an extreme, in proposing deportation of all anarchists to some island where they could work out their own theories. Until all nations were united in such a course, and probably even then, this would not do away with the necessity of each nation guarding its own borders, while it would impose the additional burden of guarding the island. A still graver objection is that a community (to use the word provisionally: it could never be a community) of [195][196] such people would soon perish of starvation and mutual extermination. You might almost as well empty an insane asylum on an island. Even if their physical needs were supplied, if left free from the control of saner people, they would soon destroy one another. One is tempted to say that there would be a state of affairs beside which all previous conceptions of Pandemonium would seem Arcadia. The spectacle might be instructive, but it would be fatal to the participants, and too horrible for the contemplation of the world. Euthanasia in the first instance, or even the electric chair or the gallows, would be more merciful, if less educative. Some writers say that an organized society under the rule of the strongest would soon be evolved. But that is too optimistic. Organized society presupposes a vast majority of its members sane enough to recognize the necessity of organization, and organization means control, if only by elected agents. “The strongest,” even if elected by those whose principle (?) is against election, would soon be assassinated.
     But there has been proposed still another course, not at all inconsistent with exclusion and exile, more directly self-inflicted, perhaps even more obviously logical, perhaps more educative, and leaving more room for a change of heart. Yet it is very radical, and, so far as I know, novel. It has had scarcely any discussion, and what little it has had has shown many objections, though apparently no fatal ones. Yet further discussion or trial may prove some of them fatal, or show other weaknesses which are. Nevertheless, several competent persons have pronounced it well worthy of serious consideration. I proposed it in the Forum after Carnot’s assassination, and in the New York Evening Post after McKinley’s. Later, I offered it in a Phi Beta Kappa lecture, and it received some opposition and some hearty indorsement. The only other suggestion of it that I have seen was in the London Times, but the writer expected effects somewhat different from those I expect, and not so desirable.
     Before stating it again here, I want to say as distinctly as I can, that, although I have not read very far into jurisprudence, especially criminal jurisprudence, I have read far enough to destroy the simple faith prevalent among those who have not read at all,—that it is easy to make a law that will cure any given evil. It has become a commonplace, but cannot be said too often, that the most careful statutes often effect nothing, and not seldom aggravate the ills at which they are aimed. The statute books are as full of useless inventions as the Patent Office, and any one suggesting a statute should have little more faith in it than in other untried inventions.
     The one I suggest is simply to take the anarchist at his word. He says: “I want no government.” Say to him: “All right. As long as you behave yourself and pay your way, and do not endanger our health by bad sanitation, you sha’n’t have any. The law shall not know you. So far as your person and property go, government shall not exist. If anybody harms you or robs you, there’s no government for you to appeal to. On the other hand, so long as you claim no protection from us, we shall not look to you for any: you shall be relieved from duty on jury and in the militia.”
     Now the very bold anarchist might answer: “Very well. If you won’t tax me, I’ll take my chances.” But this retort could not be pertinently made in one case in fifty: for in more than that proportion of cases, he would have nothing to tax. But if he should make the retort in a State where the poll tax exists, the answer would be: “As long as you stay here, you use our streets, with their lights and drainage, and though you set aside the protection of our police and courts, you are inevitably protected by our boards of health; and while we want to oblige you as far as we can, ‘the law takes no account of trifles,’ and we can’t separate the little cost of what protection you refuse, from the cost of the facilities and protection you inevitably use.” Should he have any property worth taking into account—a stock in trade, for instance—Government could also answer: “Your goods have to be bought by customers whom you could not get were it not for our streets and lights, and police and laws, and your goods must be carried to or by the customers by virtue of those same facilities; the facilities cost us money, and we shall have to reimburse ourselves, just as in the case of the facilities you inevitably enjoy while you are here.” If the property were real estate, or stocks and bonds, which must be ultimately based on real estate, the same argument would hold: real estate is valueless without the government facilities already indicated.
     Possibly, however, the question would not arise in practice; for if government protection were withdrawn from the anarchist’s property, he might not be able to hold it until the tax-gatherer should come around.
     But there are graver objections to the scheme. It may be said: “If you withdraw the protection of the law, you are practically making the man an outlaw, and outlawry is a medieval and obsolete penalty, and, with many other penalties, has become obsolete largely on account of its cruelty and its tendency to demoralize the community.” I answer: “But as a penalty of preaching anarchy, outlawry has not been tried [196][197] at all. It is a logical punishment for preaching anarchy, and it certainly has never been a logical punishment of any other crime, unless it be treason. But as a penalty of treason, it was used, often corruptly and tyrannously, only to punish opposition—often justifiable opposition—to the government in power; never, probably, has it been used against opposition to all government whatever. Moreover, when used in darker days, it was attended with confiscation, and it was given up largely because rulers used it to get possession of their opponents’ property. But as logically applied by the impecunious anarchist to himself, it would not be attended with such dangers of corruption of government,—there would be no personal or dynastic considerations to interfere with absolutely colorless justice.”
     It would, of course, be very stupid for the judge to pass sentence by merely saying, in effect: “You are convicted of uttering anarchistic sentiments, and therefore you are sentenced to outlawry.” I doubt if he should “pass sentence” at all. He should rather say, in effect: “As it has been proven that you wish the destruction of all government, we go as far as we can to meet your wishes, and it is decreed that hereafter, as long as you pay your way and do not endanger us, government for you shall not exist.” Then, of course, the judge could “improve the occasion,” as the judge generally does.
     When I have suggested this remedy, I have often been told: “Why, you are advocating the very thing that the country has been congratulating itself on having escaped, and that McKinley’s noble and pathetic ‘Let no man harm him’ helped save the country from.” Not at all; McKinley simply did not want the man punished before trial and conviction, and the country justly congratulates itself that he was not. Neither do I want the man punished without trial and conviction.
     I have also been met with the more general objection: “You are advocating lawlessness.” Not at all; I want the penalty made lawful.
     “Then you want it made lawful to kill a man or take his goods?” Where’s the novelty in that? It is already lawful to do it in dozens of ways. You send better citizens through greater jeopardy than such a law would impose on the anarchist, to fight fire, to arrest the desperado, to brave pestilence, to carry on war. You not only take the rich man’s money for schools his children don’t use, and the money of people who have no children to send, and the Quaker’s money for wars he loathes, but you take the laborer’s and farmer’s and merchant’s money to pay protective taxes, that the manufacturer may grow rich.
     “Yes, but in all of those ways it is done by duly appointed officers of the law.” Certainly, and in this case I want the law to duly authorize everybody who is disposed to do it—to make all men officers of the law. Considering the secrecy and pervasiveness of the evil in question, it cannot have too many active enemies.
     “But,” I have been asked, “do you really want all the hoodlums, with perhaps a sprinkling of high-minded enthusiasts, to begin robbing and stoning the anarchists?” No, I don’t, and I haven’t the slightest idea that they would. There might be a little disorder here and there, but I don’t believe that the law would prove much else than a powerful object-lesson in logic; and I do believe that that would effect more good than all harm from pillage and killing. Yet, to be candid, the writer in the London Times who proposed the same experiment, said that the anarchist from whom government protection was withdrawn would be torn to pieces before he left the court-house. I doubt if the same writer thinks so now. If the anarchist were assaulted, the people doing it would show an enthusiasm for government vastly greater than is generally evinced by people in the habit of committing assaults, and the suggested law would certainly have its educational side regarding such people.
     But I suggest it mainly because of its educational side regarding the anarchists, and not because I think (for I don’t) that it would lead the rest of the community to extirpate them by violence; I do think, though, that it would tend powerfully to extirpate them by practically illustrating the absurdity of their position, and by preventing recruits to so absurd a position. People who lack or pervert the reasoning power too much to learn through it, can often learn through experience. Suppose, for instance, that Herr Johann Most, professor of anarchy in New York, found facetious young gentlemen dropping into his beer saloon and, after refreshing themselves, going off without paying, and that then said Professor Most, on appealing to the police to arrest said young men, were reminded that he had disclaimed connection with the government, and of course could not have its assistance; or suppose that, government failing him, on attempting to obtain justice from an intruder, or to justifiably expel him, with his own good right arm, he should get sadly the worst of it, and find himself without redress; or suppose that before appealing to his own strength, he should reflect that he was starting a quarrel which his opponents could carry to the point of killing him without fear of the law. Is it not probable that Professor Most’s pupils in anarchy, seeing their teacher in such plights, would lose faith in his doctrines; or is it [197][198] not even possible that the professor himself, when so situated, might ultimately be led, not only by lack of disciples, but by seeing new light, to the abandonment of his chair?
     Or take another case. There is more than one amiable, cultivated, and wealthy man whose sympathies with those less fortunate than himself are so much stronger than his reasoning powers, that he is doing infinite harm to those he seeks to help by preaching all sorts of quack remedies for their distresses,—anarchy, at least by implication, among them. Suppose such a gentleman wished to divest himself of some of his real estate for the benefit of those with whom he sympathizes so deeply, and that the lawyers would not pass his title, because, of course, he could convey no more rights in the land than he had himself, and he had forfeited the aid of government in ejecting any one who might squat upon the property; or suppose that he were to find that he could not get a notary to attest his signature to a deed, or that if, through some inadvertence of a notary, he were able to get his deed attested, he were to find that his grantee could not get the deed recorded; or suppose that his means of doing good were to be apparently increased by a legacy, and he were to find the executors unable to pay it to him because his receipt had no standing at the surrogate’s court; or suppose he were to break his leg by stepping upon an insecure coal-hole cover, and wish to sue for damages (perhaps that he might give them to the poor), and were to find that the courts were not open to him. The suppositions are legion—outside of any violence or robbery that might be perpetrated upon him— where, if government were to take him at his word, and, so far as possible, dissolve its connection with him, his education in the usefulness of government would be powerfully promoted without any severe tax upon his unbalanced reason. As most people, even the disorderly, know him to be a well-meaning man (One who, even unintentionally, does so much evil cannot reasonably be called a “good” man), the probability of his suffering damage in person, or direct damage in property, from the withdrawal of government protection, is not very great; but even if he did, the circumstance would, it seems to me, be of no importance compared with the good to be expected by placing him and others who would abolish government, in their logical relations to it.
     The treatment suggested, or any other, should be visited with special care upon the preacher of anarchy through the press, and the most competent juries should be impaneled to pass upon the anarchistic subtleties of the yellow journals. Senator McComas does not wish to touch anything but direct counseling of violence, though he includes belonging to bodies at whose sessions violence is counseled. But that is taking the disease only when it has reached the acute stage. It is really disregarding the ounce of prevention and using only the pound of cure. The egg of anarchy is the repudiation of government, and that egg is sure to hatch advocacy of the overthrow of government. It may be glibly objected that this whole scheme attacks freedom of speech. But it is not attacking freedom of speech to take a man at his word. Moreover, doing so in the way suggested would abbreviate nobody’s freedom to criticise the government in power: it is aimed only at opposition to all government whatever. But even if it did attack free speech, nobody is entitled to freedom of speech who does not grant it. Shortly after Carnot’s assassination, the anarchists killed an editor in Palermo for commenting unfavorably upon it; and a threatening letter was sent to Dr. MacArthur, of New York, for his memorial sermon on McKinley. Moreover, no government grants freedom of speech in time of war, and the anarchists’ constant attitude toward the government is one of war. The line is distinct enough on both counts.
     But a tremendous difficulty does arise here regarding the distinction between the anarchist who preaches violence, and the anarchist who deprecates it—the anarchist of the “deed” and the “philosophical” anarchist—the fierce demagogue who would overthrow government by violence, and the gentle dreamer who talks (to what purpose no one can tell) of the “far-off divine event” of a people so just and kindly that all repressive government will be superfluous. The idea of forbidding these pretty vaporings is repugnant to freedom. Yet President Roosevelt speaks strongly of the responsibility of “the foolish visionary who, for whatever reason,  .  .  .  excites aimless discontent,” and to myself, I confess, the inoffensive wambler with a touch of genius appears more dangerous than the coarse agitator. I found a larger proportion of impossible statements in Tolstoy’s recent North American article than I remember finding anywhere else in serious literature. Now, untruths are always dangerous, and people of powerful imaginations are apt to utter them when they speak of economics and politics, because usually they have not the character of mind that really investigates these subjects, or even delights in history. What they don’t know, they generally supply, as Tolstoy does his admirable fiction, and Ruskin did his beautiful rhapsodies, from their imaginations. Because their imaginations have done good work in their own spheres, they use them with the same confidence in spheres where imagination is dan- [198][199] gerous. Ruskin raved over the seamy side of industrialism as if there were no other side, until he periodically raved himself into the asylum; Tolstoy’s final remedy for the differences of fortune, is teaching, by example, that the gentleman must degenerate into the peasant, and the scholar into the manual laborer. No realization appears to have struck him that the peasant is evolving into the gentleman, and the manual laborer into the scholar, and at an accelerating rate; and that the true solution is to help the evolution in that direction—not to encourage regression in the other.
     Now, such amiable men as these, with their wide and pseud-intellectual [sic] following, do more against right reason than all the Emma Goldmans; and I will venture the assertion that more moral support is drawn from their works by such violent anarchists as know them, than from writings that have less claim to moral elevation. But to limit the expression of such loftier writers, and, much more, to “punish” them for it by withdrawing government protection from them and their property, would certainly be fraught with evil, whatever good might also follow; and therefore it may be wiser, even if it should deny the education I have suggested for a certain type of philanthropist, to stop at the line which divides the dreamer of beatitudes from the preacher of war. To determine where one merges into the other, we have the resource that has served us, after a fashion, in other questions,—that of leaving twelve men to decide. And yet should the dreamer go so far as to advocate the abolition of government now, it would probably do more good than harm to take him at his word in some such way as I have suggested. That could hardly be called a “punishment” in the old offensive sense, and probably would bring no violence to the person or property of any kindly and peaceable man.
     It may further be objected to the remedy I suggest, that, to be consistent, if the law withdraws its protection from the anarchist, it must also withdraw its authority over him. Certainly not, so far as keeping him in order; it cannot prevent his defending himself if he sees fit; neither, then, can it logically be prevented from defending itself if it sees fit; and in its defense of itself is of course included the defense of its constituent parts—all law-abiding citizens. The preacher of anarchy is not a law-abiding citizen, at least in spirit, and will not be in fact as soon as we get rid of our false sentimentality regarding free speech far enough to make preaching anarchy distinctly against the law, as Georgia has already done, and as the President and Senators Hoar and McComas now propose.
     The most weighty objection I have heard is, that turning the hoodlum loose upon the anarchist would whet the hoodlum’s appetite for other prey. The answer must be found in the answers to the further questions—(1) Whether the threat of doing so would not at once limit the opportunity, by shutting the anarchist’s mouth and even smothering, with the logic of facts, the illogical combustion in his brain; (2) whether, even if such legislation did lead to occasional pillage, or even destruction, of an anarchist, the evil would be greater than the good? This, at best, can yet be but matter of opinion. In forming opinion, however, it should be carefully remembered, let me repeat, that such violence would not be lawlessness, but would be done for law’s sake, even though on territory from which the protection of law is withdrawn. Moreover, if the hoodlum should attack the anarchist, the rôle of vindicator of law and government would perhaps do the hoodlum more good than the violence of his vindication would do him harm. For one, let me repeat again, I do not believe that any violence worth considering would result, while I do believe that fear of it would drive anarchists away and suppress incendiary talk, and that the logic of the step would substitute much right thinking for wrong thinking, at least among neophytes; and leveling reform at the young is becoming recognized as the most hopeful direction to give it, especially with anarchism, whose worst enthusiasts are young.
     To outlawry and exclusion and exile for the man who has only spoken, of course the objection will be raised that the man has committed no crime, and that you are punishing him in advance. The gentle and industrious Chinaman has committed no crime: you exclude and exile him. President Roosevelt went so for [sic] in his message as to say: “No man  .  .  .  preaching anarchistic doctrines should be at large.” Moreover, the objection illustrates the primitive ideas still prevailing regarding “crime.” Of the many queer things that have been called crimes, all the way from celebrating the mass to kissing your wife on Sunday, there remains but a little residuum called crimes to-day, and they all have the common feature of being acts considered detrimental to the general good. Judged by this standard—the only one now generally accepted by sound authorities—the preaching of anarchy is a very serious crime, and legislation is rapidly recognizing it as such. But even pick up the gauntlet as flung,—are you going to punish in advance? As reasonably ask: When you hear the snake rattle, are you going to wait for him to strike?
     Of course there are many more arguments both [199][200] ways than I have given, and many questions of detail, but if the main proposition is sound, the details can be adjusted. The scheme is not advanced as a cure-all, nor does it preclude the use of other remedies. At the worst, if it were found productive of more harm than good, as so many laws are, it could be repealed before it had done much damage.
     To sum up, the suggestions advocated here are:
     I. Exclusion of immigrants of avowed anarchistic sentiments. And I would exclude Kropotkin and Tolstoy as much more carefully than I would exclude “Jerry the Red” (or whatever the gentleman’s name may be) as their vaporings exceed their fellow-prophet’s in subtlety and eloquence. Kropotkin’s lecture tour here was making anarchy respectable in the season preceding McKinley’s assassination. There is much nonsense talked about the difficulty of exclusion. Of course it cannot be done perfectly, any more than any other human function can be; but the Berthelot system can make it worth doing as well as we can.
     II. Taking the anarchist at his word,—obliterating his relation to the government so far as permitted by his unavoidable use of government facilities and by his power of self-defense, which power involves the reciprocal power of defense against him. To arrange the details of this proceeding,—the conditions of information, indictment, testimony, court findings, etc.,—is no easy task, but it is far from an impossible one.
     III. The exile of all persons treated under II. who should continue recalcitrant after a reasonable time for profiting by the educational facilities of that treatment.
     IV. For the exiled anarchist returning without permission, imprisonment for life.
     V. For the anarchistic assassin (and he is as much the assassin if he tries and fails, as if he succeeds), the asylum.
     It may be objected that I suggest a heavier penalty for return after exile than I do for assassination. That is a matter of taste; for one, I do not think so. But I do not make the suggestions with any thought of “penalty”—an idea which I consider stupid and outworn. I merely seek, so far as I can, the best sanctions for the suggested laws. The man returning from exile might do so from the sanest of motives, under the most natural and even commendable of temptations,—piety for his aged parents, or love for his wife or children or sweetheart: so that for that act, taken independently of his anarchistic opinions, the asylum might be the height of absurdity. The fact is that we need something, and are on the way to have something, quite different from either our present prisons or our present asylums. Elmira points the way.
     How much special espionage would be needed to carry out this programme, or any other, can be determined only after much discussion and experiment. Some valuable suggestions touching it may be gathered from Mr. Pinkerton’s article in the North American Review for November, 1901. Special difficulties may arise in guarding against corruption and blackmail among the officers, but why those difficulties need be materially greater regarding anarchists than regarding gamblers and other objectionable people is not apparent. The difficulties, whatever they may be, would tend to diminish as fast as any programme might prove effective in excluding, converting, and exiling anarchists, and preventing accessions to their faith.
     As already indicated, exclusion and exile need to become general before they can have their full effect. When banished from one nation, the anarchist should not be free to make his home in another just as desirable. The suggestion in President Roosevelt’s message that anarchism should be made “an offense against the law of nations, like piracy and  .  .  .  the slave trade,” is of radical importance. But to appreciate reforms, popular sentiment generally takes a long time after they have become clear to students, and this is especially true when the reform, to be effective, must be in operation throughout the civilized world; even international extradition, though long generally approved, by no means yet covers everywhere all the crimes it should. And as concerns the exclusion of anarchists, an enthusiasm for freedom that can fairly be called an intoxication, has made the freest nations in the world— England, Switzerland, the United States—the very vipers’ nests of anarchy. So to temper that intoxication as to admit the stern logic by which alone, short of the slow progress of education and morality, the growth of anarchy can be checked, will probably take more than the fate of Carnot and McKinley, or even the fact that such fate was met under the régime of universal suffrage itself. The “educative effect” that was expected from setting the ignorant to outvote the educated, and those who can produce little to dispose of the property of those who can produce much, whatever may be its showing in other relations, has hardly been illustrated in the history of anarchism.



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