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Publication information
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Source: Free Society
Source type: magazine
Document type: article
Document title: “Who Are Trustworthy?”
Author(s): Austin, Kate
Date of publication: 17 August 1902
Volume number: 9
Issue number: 33
Pagination: 3

 
Citation
Austin, Kate. “Who Are Trustworthy?” Free Society 17 Aug. 1902 v9n33: p. 3.
 
Transcription
full text
 
Keywords
society (criticism); lawlessness (mob rule); government; law (criticism); Leon Czolgosz (incarceration).
 
Named persons
Leon Czolgosz; Ulysses S. Grant; William McKinley; Theodore Roosevelt.
 
Document

 

Who Are Trustworthy?

 

     I am not certain whether I am an Anarchist or not. The government is bad, but are not “the people” still worse? It seems to me they are always bawling out for somebody to be hanged or burned. Bad as they are, the police protected Czolgosz from mob violence.

     The above is from a private letter. The writer still hugs the ancient delusion that the governors are better and more to be trusted than the governed. Now let us see upon what grounds this idea rests. In those countries where men are elected by votes instead of birth to rule their fellows, a certain number of individuals are selected from among “the people, who are always bawling out for somebody to be hanged or burned.” These individuals who are in themselves but units that go to make up that much distrusted sum total known as “the people,” are then armed with power to enact laws or to administer them, according to their respective functions. Then these individuals, who but a few days before their election to the exalted position of rulers were “the people,” mere “bawlers” for the blood of their fellow men, what are they now? Why, they are now “bawlers,” having the authority to exercise certain privileges, and aside from losing any of that innate cussedness supposed to belong exclusively to those not having the privilege of authority, we see only too plainly that the very position they occupy but increases their power for evil. They are few; the people are many. They can easily combine. A public office is a private trust run in the interest of the gang in power.
     The people are torn into warring factions, each worshipping a political idol, who is their god, the only savior, tho [sic] he may be a whiskey tub like U. S. Grant, an oily knave like McKinley, or a bully like Roosevelt, he is yet an idol, and our correspondent, who is “not certain that he is an Anarchist,” yet has the nerve to think this “people,” which gropes in political darkness, like a blind mole in the earth, can raise up governors far better than they are themselves! What an absurdity, since in our governors we behold the very tendencies of the mob, so feared by our friend, empowered to act. Under that power these tendencies expand till we find those who in their native state of mobhood could only kill when fired by a mad sympathy for the victim of a real or imaginary wrong, now committing the most cruel and unspeakable acts, seemingly with no realization of their direct responsibility in the matter. Take for instance that western judge, after admitning [sic] his conviction of the defendant’s innocence, yet fined the victim $100—because the law required him to “impose a penalty.” And this Waisbrooker case is but a fair sample of the mental depravity that judges exhibit. How can it be otherwise, since the law is their supreme arbiter of right and wrong? Indeed we plainly see that the judge sustains the same relation to the law that the priest sustains to the pope; and in the Home case we see the judge obeying his “pope,” the law, while openly admitting the innocence of the prisoner.
     Government is founded upon the law; and what protection can we expect from a class who will murder and rob because the law requires them to, when they do not happen to be inspired by their own cupidity, avarice, or brutality? History teaches us that we have the least to fear from our fellow man when he is not in a position to lay the responsibility of his act upon god or the law, but must himself take the consequences of his act. As necessity or poverty is the cause of the major part of the real crimes committed by the unprivileged class of criminals, and as poverty is the result of the privileges granted the governors, we must acquire sense enough to abolish the latter, refuse longer to support in idleness and corruption a horde of worthless parasites and all the menial hangers-on which their class creates. Then poverty will no longer blight this earth. But we can never do this by looking up to our governors as superior beings. Let us learn to look upon them as they are—dangerous men; and when we yield allegiance to the authoritarian idea, we arm them and disarm ourselves.
     As for that form of protection extended Czolgosz by the police, the less said the better. The mob would have taken his life as an insane expression of sympathy for one whom they mistook for a victim. The officials saved Czolgosz from a speedy death, in order that the beasts of authority might subject him to every species of mental anguish their diabolical cunning could inflict, and then led him forth and gave him the stroke of death. It is not a humane instinct that inspires the police to defeat the aim of the mob. This is especially true in the case of a regicide. The law must do the bloody deed to vindicate its awful majesty. The authorities not only prevent the mob from getting their lawful prey, but they also guard the prisoners condemned to death with great care, lest the poor wretches take their own lives.
     Let our correspondent ponder on these matters, and consider if the actions of our governors are a matter for self-congratulation by any intelligent man.

     Caplinger Mills, Mo.

 

 


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