Anarchy and Anarchy
The foul crime by which an anarchist
laid low the chosen chief magistrate of a great people has naturally
given rise to a general discussion of the nature of the act.
It is clear that the element of the
deed which shocked mankind was not any abstract philosophy which
the murderer supposed that he had assimilated, for the other political
crimes, such as the assassination of President Garfield by a disappointed
office-seeker and the dynamite explosions of the Land-Leaguers,
although free from all imputation of philosophy, were equally shocking.
We must seek the common element in such acts if we wish to find
what it is in them that is especially reprehensible, and this common
element seems to consist in the sudden interruption of the orderly
progress of society by bloodthirsty violence of a political or quasi-public
nature. No merely private crime, however horrible, could so affect
the popular imagination, nor could any social theory whatever make
such an impression if violent means were not adopted for the purpose
of realizing it.
If this analysis of anarchistic outrages
is correct, and we look around us for examples of violent deeds
subversive of the orderly course of society, it is a matter of some
surprise to find that the governments of the world are themselves
the principal actors in this field. While civilization is clearly
founded upon the constructive arts, each government, though it may
or may not have its department of labor, of agriculture, of manufactures,
is perfectly sure to have a department of destruction and a minister
of anarchy, whose business it is to make elaborate preparations
at enormous expense to destroy in a few months, weeks, days, hours
or even minutes, thousands of picked lives and the choicest results
of generations of labor.
It is a thousand pities that the scales
cannot fall from our eyes, and that we cannot look, for instance,
at that amphibious reptile of an infernal machine, the torpedo boat,
with fresh and unperverted sight, and see it as it is, while it
moves rapidly over the calm sea on a summer afternoon, like an antediluvian
monster, the only jarring element in a peaceful scene. There it
is,—the result of the prostituted labors of a long line of brilliant
scientific men, who might have been devising blessings for the world,
embodying the toil in mine and workshop of hundreds of workmen,
manned by a crew that has long been exercised in the “noble” art
of manslaughter, representing taxes wrung from unwilling hands in
all parts of the country,—and all this energy, intelligence, effort,
ingenuity and expense culminating in an engine of insidious destruction,
the very pattern on which 
Czolgosz with his hidden pistol seems to have been modeled.
It may be said that the only object
of the torpedo boat is to destroy other similar monstrosities; but
even if this were true, which it is not, it is not true of the Long
Toms and other heavy artillery which are specially devised to bombard
the great cities of the world, if occasion offers. Strasburg and
Paris gave thirty years ago a faint picture of what a siege would
be to-day; nor is it so long ago that we were seriously contemplating
the immediate possibility of seeing bomb and shrapnel fall among
the skyscrapers of Wall Street. We have schools where these black
arts are taught by the nation, and we have maps and charts of the
ports of friendly peoples which we study so as to be ready to destroy
It is strange that this should be
particularly true of the Christian nations, and Christians are beginning
to as[s]ert, and with much show of reason, that the campaign against
war is peculiarly antichristian in its character. If this be so,
surely the competent ecclesiastical authorities should take steps
to abolish that curious misnomer of the Founder of church, the “Prince
of Peace,” and substitute some appropriate military title for it.
It is certainly true that in no heathen
countries are such extended preparations made for war as in Christendom,
except in those countries, such as Japan, which imitate Christendom.
China, the greatest non-Christian empire, although overcrowded with
its own population, has never entertained any designs against her
neighbors, and looks down upon the military caste; and this line
of conduct has kept her alive and vigorous while dozens of other
empires have risen and passed away. What little she knows of the
military arts she has learned from Christians, and the same is true
of Turkey, Egypt and other non-Christian countries. I have often
seen “Christian” officers in Egypt teaching brown Mohammedans the
most approved methods of slaughtering black Mohammedans.
If our armaments were designed simply
for police protection and self-defence, it might be going too far
to tax them with anarchy, but such is not the case. Our Constitution
gives Congress the fullest power to declare war under any circumstances,
and I think I am not mistaken when I say that it has always used
this power without any relation whatever to self-defence. The Mexican
War, at any rate, occurred long enough ago for all of us to be ashamed
of it now.
Hardly any of the European wars of
the past century had even a plausible excuse. No one knows to this
day what the Crimean War was about,—a war which dragged five great
nations into the horrors of carnage. It is amusing to read in the
most interesting pages of the Baroness von Suttner’s novel, “Lay
Down Your Arms,” the absurd and flimsy pretexts which were given
for the series of wars from 1859 to 1870 in which Prussia, Austria,
Denmark, Sardinia and France engaged. There was, indeed, far less
excuse for them than for the Irish outrages, and the damage done
by the infernal machines which they let loose upon Europe was incalculably
greater. Battle and murder, plague and pestilence, were spread broadcast,
and the powers again and again deliberately set up the worst form
of anarchy in place of law.
Another strange feature of our departments
of anarchy is that—in Europe at least—they are the principal and
most honored part of the government. King Edward is a barrister,
I believe, but he never poses as one, while he is continually appearing
as an admiral or field marshal or colonel. The army is the main
thing in the state in the eyes of rulers and peoples,—in republican
France as well as in Russia and Germany. Destruction is held up
above construction, and anarchy above law and order.
To call war a form of anarchy is not
a mere figure of speech. We can see a good example of it now in
South Africa. It would be easy to give domestic examples, but I
find a curious inability in my fellow-countrymen to reason logically
when their own country is concerned, and it is to my fellow-countrymen
that I am speaking. Everything material, intellectual and spiritual
that civilization prizes and labors for, has been trodden under
foot in that disgraceful war. Such products of the arts, useful
and ornamental, as the Boers possessed have been ruthlessly destroyed.
Free speech and a free press have been suppressed. While societies
for the prevention of cruelty to animals have been at work at home,
awful sufferings have been inflicted on thousands of horses in the
field, many of them, I regret to say, exported from America. It
is pitiful to read the accounts of the war correspondents who marched
for miles along roads lined by the bodies, dead and dying, of exhausted
horses, some of them lifting their heads as they passed in the vain
hope of relief, while vultures picked out their still living eyes.
Hospitals at home have been engaged in caring for the sick, while
hundreds of Boer women and children have been confined in unhealthy
camps where the death rate was tenfold what it was outside. The
only explanation of the authorities was the prevalence of measles
among the children. Fancy sending children to pest-ridden camps!
While humanitarians at home have been agitating against capital
punishment and cruelty in prisons, men of Dutch blood have been
executed for acts which were only technically crimes, and which
in the opinion of many were really virtues, and great hardships
have been inflicted upon captives.* While in England
all good men are engaged in the task of civilizing and humanizing
manners, in South Africa men of culture and education have fallen
back to the rank of brutes, and their general-in-chief, a peer and
a man whom king and country delight to honor, reports the weekly
tale of butchered Boers as “total bag,” so many. It is anarchy and
nothing but anarchy that England has introduced into South Africa,
and no fine-spun theories of priests or statesmen can make it anything
else. It is the triumph of the infernal machine.
But, it will be argued, there is a
difference between the individual, sporadic acts of irresponsible
people, and those of a whole nation taken solemnly and deliberately.
Yes, there is a difference, but is it all in favor of the nations?
Is there not something specially diabolical in the long preparation
in time of peace for the undoing of our present friends, in the
building in cold blood of stupendous battleships, in the spending
on a single one of them of millions that might be devoted to teaching
 our children the arts of peace,
in the crafty ingenuity of our inventors, worthy of the Borgias
and Torquemadas at their worst, in the devotion of noble young men
to long careers of destruction? And it may at least be said of common
murderers that they pay their own expenses and buy their own weapons,
but I, who abhor this whole bloody business, am forced to contribute
to war after war, and my own money is applied to ends which I abominate
and detest. No assassin has ever obliged me to supply funds for
the furtherance of his designs, nor to affix hateful stamps adorned
with pictures of his infernal engines to my bank cheques.
There is just one way to “stamp out”
anarchy, and that is, to discourage violence in all its forms. I
know perfectly well that this cannot be done speedily. We all have
much of the savage in us, and it will be the task of generations
to extricate ourselves completely. But the direction of our efforts
should be clear. We must push in the direction of less violence.
We must have smaller navies, fewer soldiers, more arbitration. We
must rid ourselves of the superstition that we can, as individuals,
throw the blame on the state for the evil which we do in its name.
Lowell punctured this theory long ago.
“Ef you take a sword and dror it,
An’ go stick a feller thru,
“Guv’ment ain’t to answer for it,
God’ll send the bill to you.”
If, instead of seeking to put down
in ourselves and in our nation the spirit of violence, we encourage
it, and strive to increase it, we are bent towards anarchy, and
our tears over the bier of the President are crocodile’s tears.
It is conceivable that many red-handed lynchers in the South were
horrified at the assassination,—men who, when they could not find
the “nigger” they wanted, burned “any old nigger” that came along.
We may well question their right to take exception to any crime,
however terrible. But are we, who make war one of the chief ends
of the state, who set up a department of anarchy and are prouder
of it than of any other of our industries,—are we in a much better
plight? Let us be honest: we are not. If we intend to advance farther
along the path of licensed dynamite, let us frankly admit that at
heart we are anarchists, and let us call our next torpedo boat the
“Czolgosz” and our next battleship the “Anarchy,” and the next one
thereafter the “Hell.” There will be no doubt then about the anarchic
character of our designs.