The Assassination of the President
I, in common with all other Socialists,
deplore the assassination of President McKinley. A man making an
assault on the head of the nation is like a fool attempting to guide
a horse by beating him over the head with a club. There are wrongs
in our social system, but if there is any one thing the philosophy
of Socialism teaches us it is that no individual is to blame for
either the existence of such wrongs or for their perpetuation. Modern
society is like a youth stupidly trying to continue wearing his
outgrown boy’s clothes and refusing to put on the new suit laid
ready for him to wear. The boy’s suit is uncomfortably tight and
fails to protect half his body, yet he is so foolishly conservative
that he will make no change.
Society is ready to-day to change
her outgrown capitalistic garments for the Socialistic ones, all
ready laid out and waiting her. But while she is ready economically,
she is not so intellectually. To make the final change she must
either be convinced intellectually or forced physically. The forcing
can only be done by the growth of Society breaking asunder the capitalistic
garments and making the clinging on to them absolutely impossible.
However, waiting for this event is slow work. It may take five or
six years anyway. Hence the natural impatience of man induces the
Socialist to try and shorten this wait by persuading society to
make the change at once.
Hence it is seen that violence or
force has no place in the program of the Socialist. He is a “persuader,”
pure and simple. If there is any forcing to be done he leaves that
job to Dame Nature.
The mission of the Socialist is to
prepare society for an inevitable change and so to prevent dangerous
and stupid resistance of a natural and irresistible evolutionary
There is heard a great outcry on all
sides for what is generally called the suppression of anarchy, and
particularly is the idea set forth that the great remedy lies in
the restriction of immigration. It would seem superfluous to point
out that there is no practical method of looking into an immigrant’s
mind at Ellis Island and determining his political beliefs, for
we may be sure that no anarchist wishing to land will avow his sentiments
if he knows the avowal will bar him. In the case of the present
assassin the examiner would have had to have decide[d] against admitting
his parents thirty-five years ago and seven years before he had
been privileged to be born in this free and enlightened country.
Czolgosz, it must be remembered, is but twenty-eight, and his parents
had been in this country seven years before he was born. It is also
to be remarked that none of his family nor their associates have
any affiliation or sympathy with anarchism, or Socialism either,
for that matter. It would seem self-evident, in his case at least,
that his anarchism was of purely American growth. There is no use
of our hugging the delusion that there is no soil in this country
fit to sprout the germ of anarchy. The facts are stronger than any
theory. The anarchist is here and is a force to be reckoned with.
That it is to the interest of society that he be suppressed, both
capitalist and Socialist are for the once in agreement. They only
differ as to the best method to do the suppressing. The problem
reduced to its simplest form is: “How are we going to prevent the
assassination of our Presidents by men who, though more or less
insane, are yet ingenious enough to override the ordinary obstacles
placed against the accomplishment of such a crime?” Against the
murdering of the ordinary citizen, who cannot have a company of
soldiers surrounding him at all hours, there is but one protection,
namely, the punishment of the offender. But when it comes to defending
one’s self against a lunatic, that has no care for his own life,
then the case is different. There is no use of reasoning that this
is a free country and that as long as men have a [f]ree press, free
speech and the ballot there is no reason for any sane man to advocate
assassination. This argument falls flat when the answer is that
it is not the sane but the insane that must be guarded against.
The whole amount of the matter is
that it is quite probable the exalted office of a popularly elected
presidency is in itself a dangerously inviting target for the half-witted.
There is no use arguing with the night moth that singes his wings
against your candle. The light is such an irresistible attraction
to him that he will give up his life rather than not fly into it.
There is but one remedy for the moth—either enclose the light and
bar him out or blow out the candle. Yes, there is one other remedy—wait
till daylight breaks. This last is really the Socialist plan. When
we have Socialism every man will be in such comfort and luxury that
the chief executive of the nation will be so inconspicuous by contrast
that he will not be the mark for the assassin-lunatic he is to-day.