Source type: magazine
Document type: editorial
Document title: “Anarchy,—the Modern Scape-Goat”
Date of publication: August 1904
Volume number: 8
Issue number: 207
|“Anarchy,—the Modern Scape-Goat.” Co-Operator Aug. 1904 v8n207: pp. 19-22.|
|anarchism (personal response); society (criticism); anarchism; anarchism (poetry).|
|Sherman M. Bell; John Wilkes Booth; Leon Czolgosz; John Morrison Davidson; Ralph Waldo Emerson; William Lloyd Garrison, Jr.; Charles J. Guiteau; Henrik Ibsen; Jesus Christ; Peter Kropotkin; John Henry Mackay; William McKinley; James H. Peabody; Jean Jacques Élisée Reclus [middle name misspelled below]; Herbert Spencer; Leo Tolstoy [variant spelling below].|
Anarchy,—the Modern Scape-Goat
Every age has had its scape-goat and the present
is no exception to the rule. The most entirely conventional and conservative
school of thought has the largest number of adherents, who consider all the
rest rattle-brained enemies of society and so it goes thru all the different
shades of opinion, each throwing mud at those more radical until the most radical,
and therefore the least understood, is misrepresented and slandered by all the
rest in unison.
The Christian, the Jew, the Protestant, the Roundhead, the Quaker, the Abolitionist,—all these have been the scape-goats of their day. Who are the scape-goats of ours? The Socialists come in for a great deal of slander, but scape-goat of the present day is the Anarchist and to the eternal shame of the Socialists I am compelled to say that they who, of all men, should and know better join in and do a vast deal of this mud-slinging themselves.
If a shameful disregard of human rights is manifested anywhere in the country that portion of the country is heralded thruout [sic] the world by the press as being in a “state of Anarchy,” and the guilty ones as “Anarchists.” Such language is the result of one of two things,—either gross and pitiful ignorance or black and vicious slander. A most painful example of this is the recent manifesto sent out from the National Headquarters of the Socialist Party  bearing the heading “Who is responsible for the Anarchy in Colorado?” or words to that effect.
What is Anarchy? It is disbelief in organized government. It is the unwillingness on your part to have another rule over you, . Keep that clearly in mind and then ask yourselves if Peabody and Bell and the Citizens’ Alliance are Anarchists. Ten Thousand [sic] times !—because they are attempting to enforce their will on others.
Some Anarchists believe in forceful resistance to government control, but the majority of Anarchists do not even countenance force to that extent,—they are non-resistants to the utmost limit. Jesus of Nazareth was a communist Anarchist pure and simple; Tolstoi, the foremost citizen of the world today, is the same; John Henry Mackay, Morrison Davidson, Ibsen, Elise Recluse, Kropotkin and many other leaders of thought, both past and present, have been and are Anarchists and all are ardent advocates of peace.
It is true we are told by the police authorities that McKinley’s assassin was an Anarchist. We have that statement on police testimony only, however, as none but the officials were permitted to see the man after he was taken into custody. It is needless to mention how utterly worthless for all purposes of truth and justice is police testimony, as the sole object of the testifier is to convict his prisoner and in the case of which I speak a double purpose was served,—the prisoner was convicted and those concerned made themselves “solid” with the capitalistic-minded public generally by throwing the odium of the deed upon a scattered and unpopular class of people against whom the popular mind was so inflamed thru misrepresentation and slander that they could get no hearing in their own defence.
But allowing, for the sake of argument, that Czolgosz an Anarchist. What then? Booth was a Democrat. Guiteau was a Republican. Why not hound and defame all other Democrats and Republicans? It would be just as reasonable as to do the same with Anarchists. If we lay claim to the least particle of fair-mindedness and love of justice we must treat the advocates of the Anarchistic  doctrine of social philosophy as we do other people and judge them by the lives and acts of the majority of their number and not by those of an isolated and degenerate alleged adherent.
In any event, it is a curious thing for those who strenuously uphold the present form of government, which is slaying its scores in Colorado, its thousands in the Philippines and permitting its hundreds of thousands to be slain each year on the railroads and in the factories of the country to make profit for the men who own them,—I repeat, it is truly amusing to see such people wildly denouncing Anarchy . People who uphold a government which has done and is doing all it can to kill Free Speech and Free Thought,—these people, forsooth, denounce others because they say they have no respect for human life. “Verily, with how little wisdom is the world governed!” What is left to make life worth living if Free Speech and Free Thought are denied?
We count Emerson one of the greatest minds this country has produced, yet he said, “Good men do not obey the laws too well.” We revere the memory of William Lloyd Garrison. His creed was “No person will rule over me with my consent. I will rule over no man.”
The Anarchists believe in voluntary co-operation and have faith that men will do right without the club of government over their heads to make them do so. Does such a belief indicate a degraded and degenerate spiritual nature and a bloodthirsty disposition? It does not seem so to me. The kernel of Anarchistic philosophy is well expressed in the following words by Herbert Spencer,
“Free institutions can be properly worked only by men each of whom is jealous of his own rights and also sympathetically jealous of the rights of others— .”
Ponder every word in that sentence. Is it possible to voice a nobler social ideal?
Anarchy is to me the ideal social state, but I think we must have socialism first. We aren’t even ready for Socialism yet and Anarchy is as far ahead of Socialism as So-  cialism is ahead of Rooseveltian Republicanism. After a few generations of Socialism we may have risen to the spiritual heights where we can touch the hem of Anarchy’s garment, but not before.
The Anarchists are, as a rule, honest, high-minded and noble people. Dreamers?—Perhaps so;—but was not every good we enjoy today once nothing but a bright vision in the brain and heart of some dreamer? It is the dreamers who lead men on and on to better things. The Christs thru all the ages have been dreamers and we still continue, as of old, to crucify them. Is it not time for us to stop doing so and to find what this gospel is before we condemn its adherents so unmercifully?
Let the traducers of Anarchy hold their peace for very shame until they read the standard works upon the subject and learn something about it.
To learn the Russian language we do not ask an Italian, nor to obtain a definition of sight do we ask a blind man. To learn what Anarchy is, then, let us not ask its enemies, those who profit on the monstrous economic and social evils which it opposes, but let us take the words of one of its professors, John Henry Mackay, who is known the world over:—
Ever reviled, accursed,—ne’er understood,
Thou art the grisly terror of our age.
“Wreck of all order,” cries the multitude,
“Art thou; and war and murder’s endless rage!”
—O, let it cry. To them that ne’er have striven
The truth that lies behind a word to find,
To them the word’s right meaning is not given;—
They shall continue blind among the blind.
But thou, O word,—so clear, so strong, so pure,
That sayest all which I for goal have taken,
I give thee to the future!—Thine secure
When each at last unto himself shall waken.
Comes it in sunshine? In the tempest’s thrill?
I cannot tell,—but it the earth shall see!
I am an Anarchist!—Wherefore I will
Not rule!—and also ruled I will not be!