Source: Advocate of Peace
Source type: magazine
Document type: article
Document title: “Anarchy and Anarchy”
Author(s): Crosby, Ernest Howard
Date of publication: January 1902
Volume number: 64
Issue number: 1
|Crosby, Ernest Howard. “Anarchy and Anarchy.” Advocate of Peace Jan. 1902 v64n1: pp. 10-12.
|McKinley assassination (personal response); anarchism (compared with war); governments (criticism); death penalty [in notes]; governments (impact on society).
|Leon Czolgosz; Edward VII; James A. Garfield; James Russell Lowell; Bertha von Suttner.
The article (below) includes the following footnote. Click on the asterisk preceding the footnote to navigate to its location in the text.
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 them.
It is strange that this should be particularly true of the Christian nations, and Christians are beginning to assert, 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.
R , N. Y.