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Source: Fortnightly Review
Source type: magazine
Document type: article
Document title: “Assassination a Fruit of Socialism”
Author(s): Langtoft, Geoffrey
Date of publication: 1 October 1901
Volume number: 70
Issue number: 418
Series: new series
Pagination: 571-80

Langtoft, Geoffrey. “Assassination a Fruit of Socialism.” Fortnightly Review 1 Oct. 1901 v70n418 (new series): pp. 571-80.
full text
McKinley assassination (personal response); McKinley assassination (international response); anarchism (personal response); anarchism (international response); anarchism (compared with socialism); Leon Czolgosz (public statements); Emma Goldman; Johann Most (public statements); socialism; assassinations (history); McKinley assassination (religious response: criticism).
Named persons
Abdülaziz [identified as Abdul Aziz below]; Alexander II; Gracchus Babeuf [identified as Joseph Babœuf below]; Mikhail Bakunin; John Bellingham; Richard Southwell Bourke [identified as Mayo below]; Gaetano Bresci; Jacques-Pierre Brissot de Warville; Thomas Henry Burke; Antonio Cánovas del Castillo; Marie François Sadi Carnot; Frederick Cavendish; Leon Czolgosz; Danilo I [identified as Daniel below]; Elizabeth; Friedrich Engels; J. G. Fichte; James A. Garfield; August Gildermeister; Emma Goldman; Humbert I; Juan Idiarte Borda [last name reversed below]; Ioánnis Antónios Kapodístrias [identified as Capo d’Istria below]; Abraham Lincoln; Luigi Luccheni; Karl Marx; William McKinley; Mihailo Obrenović III [identified as Michael below]; Johann Most; Nasir al-Din [variant spelling below]; Nemesis; Paul I; Spencer Perceval [misspelled below]; Terence V. Powderly; Juan Prim y Prats; Pierre-Joseph Proudhon; Theodore Roosevelt; Elihu Root; Jean-Jacques Rousseau; François Salsou [identified as Salson below]; Jean Baptiste Sipido; Stefan Stambolov [variant spelling below]; Auguste Valette.
The following footnote appears on page 571. Click on the asterisk preceding the footnote to navigate to the location in the text.
* “Socialism and Anarchism,” Fortnightly Review, October, 1900.


Assassination a Fruit of Socialism

THE murder of President McKinley, under circumstances of peculiar atrocity and treachery, has once more called the attention of civilised nations to the perils to which they are exposed, or, more correctly, to which they expose themselves, in connection with the cult of Anarchism, and for a brief moment this event has startled them out of their lethargy.
     This latest assassination of one of the world’s chief rulers affords singular confirmation of the truth of what I set forth in this Review* just a year ago, when it was my melancholy duty to place before the readers a series of extraordinary declarations from Socialist and Anarchist leaders, together with some grave reflections intended to enforce the lessons suggested. The object of that paper was twofold: first, to show that the endeavour, so often made by apologists of Democracy, to discriminate between Socialism and Anarchism, however it may be sought to be justified on abstract and philosophical grounds, rests upon no solid logical basis, and is practically futile, inasmuch as Anarchism is found in actual affairs to be the natural and necessary fruit of Socialism and almost invariably exists in association therewith; and, secondly, to demonstrate that these noxious political growths are the progeny of Democracy itself, thus suggesting that the problem of effectually dealing with Anarchism may prove to be insoluble so long as democratic principles are permitted to formulate and dominate the policies of leading nations without adequate check from those higher and more stable elements of national life which are represented by proprietorship and intellect. Whether or no I have made good my contentions is a question which must be left to the judgment of the reader; but, for myself, I am more deeply convinced than ever of the truth of what I there advanced, the world’s history during the last year having, as I view matters, emphasised every assertion and verified every prediction which I then made.
     Then an attempt had just been made to murder the Shah of Persia, an Oriental despot, who was shot at in Paris by one Salson, who had imbibed the ideas of Bakunin through an Anarchist named Valette; whilst another Anarchist named Sipido had in Brussels fired at the Prince of Wales, who was not even a reigning monarch, but only the Heir Apparent of a constitutional monarchy, in no way associated with tyranny. [571][572]
     Now the world is again ringing with indignation by reason of an Anarchist atrocity, President McKinley having been twice shot in the most treacherous and cold-blooded manner by a miscreant named Czolgosz, who approached him under the guise of amity to shake his hand during a reception at the Buffalo Exposition on September 6.
     The significance of the action of this latest Anarchist assassin is many-sided.
     Mr. McKinley is neither an Oriental despot nor a constitutional monarch, but the elected ruler of a free Republic. So that not only Kings, Emperors, and Heirs-Apparent are made the targets of Anarchist hate; Presidents, Prime Ministers, and even inferior statesmen who come into prominence, are liable to be made, and several of them have been made, victims of this fiendish malignity. Out of the twenty assassinations of this character which took place during the last century, no less than eleven of them were of personages who belonged to the latter category. It would really seem, therefore, that royal personages are actually in less danger than those who stand immediately beneath them. The first attempt of the Anarchist assassin in the new century has been made upon an elected, and not upon a hereditary, ruler. Hence it is clear that Anarchists and Socialists are in revolt against authority per se, against all forms of authority, and not merely against such phases of it as are represented by absolutism; they are enemies of all law and all order; they are foes of civilisation itself. In their insensate hate and fury they would, if they could, destroy all ordered and civilised society, and as they cannot do this they take their revenge by foully murdering the most eminent representatives of such society. Men and women who are thus at war with society should receive no quarter.
     Note, again, the extremely significant fact that Czolgosz, Mr. McKinley’ murderer, avows that he was incited to this deed of murder by Anarchist speakers, notably by Emma Goldman, and that he was inspired by their literature. He says that he heard Emma Goldman lecture three times, and adds: “She set me on fire; her doctrine that all rulers should be exterminated set me thinking, so that my head nearly split with pain. Miss Goldman’s words went right through me, and when I left the lecture I made up my mind that I would have to do something heroic for the cause I love.” He bought a revolver and set out on his errand, and for days dogged the President’s steps, till at last he got his opportunity. “I am not alone in this,” is one of his avowals, and obviously it is true. For, apart from the influence of Emma Goldman upon him, he is declared to have attended an Anarchist meeting a week before he committed the crime, at which meeting the proposed assassination of the President was discussed. He says he agreed to do the deed, and that he and [572][573] an accomplice met in Buffalo a female conspirator and that they all went to Niagara, but that as no chance of killing the President could be obtained there they went to Buffalo. The two accomplices, the man and the woman, walked ahead of Czolgosz in the line that greeted the President in the Temple of Music. The man was the sixth or seventh ahead of Czolgosz, and had a white handkerchief tied about his right hand, the same as the assassin had. “We figured,” said Czolgosz, “that if he could pass safely by the guards with a handkerchief tied about his hand, I could also. The President’s guards allowed him to proceed and paid no attention to me when I approached Mr. McKinley. Then I shot him twice.”
     Now what is to be said of rulers who, with their eyes open, sanction a propaganda of rapine and murder, and allow it to be carried on under their very noses, not spasmodically or sporadically or secretly, but deliberately and openly and continuously by means of organisations, newspapers and other literature, and public meetings? This at least must be said of them, that they are guilty, not merely of the folly of placing their own lives in jeopardy, but of the crime of grossly betraying the most precious and sacred interests of their respective nations, of which interests they are put in trust. Their policy is suicidal. Nemesis is sure to dog their footsteps, and in the end he will deliver his blow. President McKinley’s assassination is in the nature of a retribution upon the people of the United States for their sins of omission in this matter.
     Take this Emma Goldman, for example. Ought such a woman to be at large? Her character is well known. For years she has been lecturing up and down the States, vehemently denouncing all laws, Divine and human, and stirring up her hearers to deeds of violence and outrage. She has specially singled out Mr. McKinley for attack, contemptuously referring to him as “Emperor McKinley,” sneering at his supposed friendship for the Tsar of Russia, with whom she has bracketed him as an oppressor of the workers. Eight years ago she was sent to prison for ten months for her revolutionary violence. Ten months! And then let loose again! What a farce! Now she has been arrested again, after the mischief is done, on the charge of conspiring to murder Mr. McKinley. Probably she will be released for lack of evidence, and let loose again, with a halo of martyrdom around her brow, to become more popular than ever. No evidence! As if the incitements to violence with which her every lecture teems were not evidence enough.
     But Emma Goldman does not stand alone. There is Johann Most, for example, who was sent to prison here for sixteen months for [573][574] defending the murder of the Tsar. This creature went to the United States, where he has continued to carry on his infamous work, though perfectly well known to the authorities. One was under the impression that such scoundrels could not well have in any civilised community greater license than they enjoy here, but in the United States they advocate actual murder with the utmost impunity. Even Terence V. Powderly, who was himself enough of an incendiary when he was at the head of the Knights of Labour, but who seems to have been sobered by his responsibilities as Commissioner-General of Immigration, declares that it is high time that aliens should be made to cease advocating murder, riot, arson, and general destruction in the name of free speech, and that “such fiends should be deported.”
     With reference to Mr. McKinley, Johann Most is quoted by the New York Tribune as saying:

     “What good is it to kill McKinley without Roosevelt; both must be put out of the way. People who say they are sorry are hypocrites in their hearts. They are glad; but they are afraid to speak. Gildermeister was not afraid, and he was right. It is mere politics to be sorry for the President. He is only a man. He has no right to be President. This hullabaloo is nonsense. Who would be sorry for me? Nobody. Why should anybody be sorry for McKinley? Secretary Root will expel Anarchists, will he? Bah! How will he do it? How will he know them? Where is the law? Such nonsense makes me laugh.”

     It is not surprising that Mr. Roosevelt, the Vice-President, one of the bravest of men personally, should have been surrounded with guards partly at his own wish. During his stay in Buffalo he was guarded night and day by detectives, two being constantly in the house, while a double guard was on duty outside, and whenever he ventured out he was accompanied by two or three secret service men. Subsequent to the attack on Mr. McKinley an Anarchist plot to kill the Vice-President developed.
     Moreover, it now appears that there was a conspiracy to kill the President in Arizona, while he was on his trip to the Pacific Coast, and one of the arrested Anarchists confesses that he was selected to shoot the President in San Francisco. Anarchist headquarters have been discovered in Paterson, Buffalo, Alleghany, Cleveland, Chicago, and St. Louis, all of which towns were visited by Emma Goldman not long before Czolgosz committed his crime. The officials at Buffalo received over twenty telegrams warning them that there was a plot afoot to murder Mr. McKinley.
     American Anarchists are mostly foreign immigrants, Italians and German Jews being specially prominent, and their headquarters are now at Spring Valley, Illinois, whence emanates their journal L’Aurora, an organ of Revolution. At Newark, N.J., there is an [574][575] Anarchist society called after Luccheni, the murderer of the Empress of Austria; in Ohio and Brooklyn there are groups named after Bresci, the murderer of the King of Italy (subscriptions, by-the-bye, are still being collected for Bresci’s family); and at Spring Valley there is a “Louise Michel” group. Thus there is a propaganda of murder, a glorification of murder, openly and defiantly carried on in the United States. Under the circumstances is it any wonder that Mr. McKinley was shot, or that Mr. Roosevelt is so closely guarded?
     According to L’Aurora of April 27 of this year the Anarchist programme is as follows:—

     “Free work.
     “Free use of things.
     “Communal possession of all the means of social wealth, and the machinery of production, of ways and communication, of land, of mines, of water, &c.
     “The abolition of all private property.
     “The doing away with government, with class, with militarism, with judges, with the nobility and bureaucracy. Social emancipation.

     This programme bears a close family resemblance to all the Socialist programmes which have been issued during the last thirty years, from that of Gotha down to those of the present year.
     This Gotha programme, issued in 1875, after enunciating the familiar Socialist principles, said: “Starting from these principles, the Socialist Labour Party of Germany seeks by all lawful means to establish a Free State and a Socialist society,” &c.; the same ideas, and almost the very same words, as those in L’Aurora of April last. In 1883 the “International Working People’s Association” and the “Socialist Labour Party of the United States,” issued programmes which are practically identical with that of the Anarchists of to-day. It is highly significant that in programmes subsequently issued by the German Socialists in connection with conferences at Wyden and Halle the phrase “by lawful means” in the second section of the Gotha programme was omitted. This fact indicates that Socialism, as is abundantly proved by other evidence, has entirely changed its character of late years. It is no longer content to pose as a system of opinion, making its appeal to reason, and relying upon legitimate and constitutional methods for its success; it has degenerated into a propaganda of violence and terrorism, seeking to effect its ends by revolution. Not without reason has it adopted as its emblem the Red Flag, the banner of blood, the insignia of murder.
     There is nothing surprising in this development; it has grown naturally out of the germ of Socialism. Joseph Babœuf, “the father of modern Socialism,” who was guillotined in 1797, set him- [575][576] self, with all the ardour of a fanatic, to systematise and propagate the ideas which Rousseau and Brissot had left floating in society, using for this purpose a journal which he founded. One of Rousseau’s brilliant ideas was that it would be good for civilisation to cease and for mankind to return to the savage, or, as he called it, the natural state, in which primitive equality would reign, and no man would be able to boast of owning any part of the earth, while all men would revel in the freedom of gathering the fruits of the earth without money and without price—when they could find any. Of course there was no room in this “philosophy” for the idea of property. Of that idea these profound thinkers made short work. Rousseau settled the matter by declaring that every man had a natural right to whatever he needed. The fact that he needed it was proof enough that it belonged to him, and sufficient justification for his taking it. He advised governments not to secure property to its possessors, but to deprive them of all means of accumulating. Brissot stated that “exclusive property was theft,” both in the natural and civilised states.
     Babœuf organised a secret conspiracy, the object of which was to overturn society and the Government, and establish a true democratic republic, in which the State was to be the sole proprietor of everything (and everybody), and was to divide all property in equal shares, so that there should be neither rich nor poor, neither high nor low. The “surplus population” (even under Socialism it seems there would be people who were not wanted) was to be “removed,” the landlords being the first to go.
     Fichte taught that every man has a right to live, and therefore to the opportunity to earn a living. Consequently, if a man has no opportunity to earn a living he may, and must, steal; in which case theft is not theft, but is in the nature of reprisal against society, which has failed to secure him the natural right to which he is entitled, viz., the right to live. A man’s absolute property is his life, and in order to enjoy that he must live by his labour; if he cannot do that he is no longer under obligation to respect the property of any other man. The State has not secured him his property; why should other people keep theirs?
     Proudhon laid down as principles the following: that “property is robbery”; that any one man’s day’s work is equal to any other man’s day’s work, and that therefore no particular man should get more for his day’s work than any other man, but all receive alike; and that “government of man by man, in every form, is oppression. The highest perfection of society is found in the union of order and Anarchy.” The last is a distinctly Anarchist principle.
     Of Bakunin, who was a friend both of Proudhon and Marx, I [576][577] spoke at sufficient length in my former article, so I only here repeat that this dangerous revolutionist and conspirator, after being expelled from various continental countries, settled down in London to carry on his infamous work. The same thing is true of Marx, who is styled “the father of scientific Socialism,” and who was the chief founder of the International. In his work on Secret Societies in Switzerland, Marx said:—

     “The masses can only be gathered under the flag of negation. . . . We are content to lay down the foundation of the revolution. We shall have deserved well of it if we stir hatred and contempt against all existing institutions. We make war against all prevailing ideas of religion, of the State, of country, of patriotism. The idea of God is the keystone of a perverted civilisation. It must be destroyed. The true root of liberty, of equality, of culture, is Atheism. Nothing must restrain the spontaneity of the human mind.”

     In 1848 Marx and Engels wrote a manifesto for the International Socialists which was, and is, regarded as a sort of Confession of Faith. This document declared:

     “The Communists do not seek to conceal their views and aims. They declare openly that their purpose can only be obtained by a violent overthrow of all existing arrangements of society. Let the ruling classes tremble at a communistic revolution. The proletariat have nothing to lose in it but their chains; they have a world to win. Proletarians of all countries, unite!”

     This need not be pursued further. Enough has been said to prove the point which I wish to drive home, which is that there is no essential difference between the teachings of Anarchists and Socialists. Both are in antagonism to the existing social order, both propose to overthrow all the institutions of society by violence, both mark out rich men and rulers as enemies who are to be destroyed, and both deliberately use outrage and murder as instruments to accomplish their ends. The harvest which we are now reaping has grown from seed which was sown during the French Revolution, of which Socialism in its modern manifestation is the offspring. The Reign of Terror has in a sense never ended; it has but assumed a different form and spread to other countries. The fantastic and pernicious ideas of the French philosophers have never been eradicated; they are still growing as tares among the wheat. The question now has come to be this: Will the wheat hold its own against the tares, or will the tares root out the wheat?
     Here is a list of monarchs and rulers who were murdered during the nineteenth century:—

Tsar Paul of Russia
.       .       .       .       .       .       .       .       .     1801
Spencer Percival, Prime Minister, shot by Bellingham
.       .       .     1812
Count Capo d’Istria, Greek statesman
.       .       .       .       .       .     1831
Prince Daniel of Montenegro
.       .       .       .       .       .       .     1860


Abraham Lincoln
.       .       .       .       .       .       .       .       .     1865
Prince Michael of Servia
.       .       .       .       .       .       .       .     1868
Marshal Prim
.       .       .       .       .       .       .       .       .       .     1870
The Archbishop of Paris, killed by Communists
.       .       .       .     1871
Lord Mayo, Governor General of India, stabbed by a convict
     in the Andaman Isles
.       .       .       .       .       .       .       .     1872
Sultan Abdul Aziz of Turkey
.       .       .       .       .       .       .     1876
Alexander II. of Russia, killed by the explosion of a bomb
.       .     1881
President Garfield
.       .       .       .       .       .       .       .       .     1881
Lord Frederick Cavendish, Chief Secretary for Ireland, and
     T. H. Burke, Under Secretary, in Phoenix Park, Dublin
.       .     1882
President Carnot
.       .       .       .       .       .       .       .       .     1894
M. Stamboloff, ex-Premier of Bulgaria
.       .       .       .       .     1895
Nasr-ed-Deen, Shah of Persia
.       .       .       .       .       .       .     1896
Borda Idiarte, President of Uruguay
.       .       .       .       .       .     1897
Antonio Canovas del Castillo, Spanish Premier
.       .       .       .     1897
The Empress Elizabeth of Austria
.       .       .       .       .       .     1898
King Humbert I. of Italy
.       .       .       .       .       .       .       .     1900

     Here are twenty assassinations, only seven of which took place during the first seventy years of the century, and average of one in ten years. The other thirteen took place in thirty years, or an average of over four in ten years. This is not all. Starting from 1881, when the Tsar of Russia was killed by a bomb, there occurred during the ensuing twenty years no less than twenty-four attempts to murder heads of States or Governments, or which ten were successful, and seven of these occurred during the last six years of the century, or more than one a year.
     Now these figures are not fortuitous or accidental. They teach a serious lesson. That lesson is that these murders and outrages increase as the principles of democracy gain wider acceptance and as the Socialist propaganda becomes more active. The one increase is the cause of the other; there is a vital connection between the two. As Socialism spreads assassinations multiply. The men whose names appear in the above list, and President McKinley himself, are as truly victims of the French Revolution as though they had lived in Paris, and been sent to the guillotine, during the Reign of Terror itself. It is by no mere chance that the increase of murders of this class synchronises with the rise and progress of Democracy.
     To this, then, has Democracy brought us—to rapine and outrage and violence; to murder—murder organised, systematised, cold-blooded. By Democracy tens of thousands of people have been taught to believe, and apparently they do believe, that not only are theft and murder not crimes, but are positive virtues, provided they be committed in the name and to further the interests of some political cause. We are face to face with this anomalous condition, that at a time when civilisation has reached perhaps its greatest perfection it [578][579] is menaced by whole armies of men and women, many of them educated, some cultured, and a few rich, who would gladly see civilisation destroyed and mankind plunged back into barbarism. What a pitiable spectacle it is that we witness! Great nations cowed and terrified by the spectre which they have themselves evoked. Mighty world-powers like England, America, Germany and France, boasting of the unfettered liberty of their peoples, and yet finding in that liberty, or in their permitted abuse of it, the danger which threatens to drag them down into the dust. In the United States the President has been murdered, and the Vice-President scarcely dares to venture forth for fear of the assassin’s dagger or bullet; our own King’s son can be made to feel safe in the Dominion only by the wholesale arrest of suspicious characters; the French President is watched and guarded by a small army of picked men, and cannot take a walk or drive without their attendance and surveillance; whilst the Tsar during his visit to France will have for his protection not only the regular and secret police, but the Republican Guard, and at Reims a special extra guard of 400 picked gendarmes in addition. At the Château de Compiègne every person employed about the place has been photographed and the portrait pasted on a card of identification, which must be produced on demand. So almost impossible is it to evade the ubiquitous assassin!
     My space is filled. Upon the discussion of a cure for this lamentable state of things I cannot now enter. It must suffice to repeat with emphasis my deep and settled conviction that the root cause of the evil under consideration is Socialism, of which Anarchism is but the effect. Wise peoples and rulers will deal directly with the cause, and leave the effects to look after themselves. As things stand at present almost everybody is using the word Anarchism where they ought to use the word Socialism; they are mistaking the effect for the cause.
     I conclude by asking what Christianity, as represented by our sects and churches, has to say to this condition of things. Have the leaders of these churches no guidance to offer to people and rulers on matters so vital and momentous? The Pope is said to be writing an Encyclical against Anarchism (so that he is making the same mistake as others and attacking the effect instead of the cause), which is to be published this month, and which will probably urge “the Christian Powers” to initiate some sort of joint action against this modern wickedness. So far, so good. The Pope stood alone in condemning the Plan of Campaign in Ireland, a most extraordinary fact when one comes to think it over, particularly as the Roman Church was supposed to be a great gainer through this illegal conspiracy. Why did no other Church condemn the Plan of Campaign? [579][580] Will the Pope be left to stand alone again in denouncing this greater evil? We have plenty of denunciatory resolutions passed by all sorts of bodies when an assassination, or an attempt at assassination, takes place, and no doubt they are more or less sincerely intended. But one would have greater confidence in the bona fides of those who pass them if they would calmly and boldly grapple with the causes that produce the effects which they formally deplore, which effects, after all, are only what may be expected if the causes are allowed to continue in operation without check or condemnation.
     While President McKinley was lingering between life and death the Methodist Ecumenical Council was meeting in London, and as a majority of the delegates were from the United States, and a few of them personal friends of Mr. McKinley, who was himself a Methodist, we might have expected an outspoken utterance from this body in reprobation of the motives and causes which led up to his assassination; but they separated without making any such deliverance, so far as my observation goes. This timidity, this lack of courage on the part of public and even religious bodies, is in some ways a graver danger than even anarchism itself, and it is likely to be construed, even by those who are not censorious, in a sense very damaging to those bodies. It is, indeed, a symptom as suspicious as it is discouraging.



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