Source type: magazine
Document type: editorial column
Document title: “Notes”
Date of publication: October 1901
Volume number: 15
Issue number: 161
|“Notes.” Freedom Oct. 1901 v15n161: p. 56.|
|society (criticism); McKinley assassination (international response: anarchists).|
|William Archer; Thomas Henry Huxley; William McKinley.|
|Omission of text within the excerpt below is indicated with a bracketed indicator (e.g., [omit]).|
Society is guilty of murder—cold, cruel, deliberate murder. It announces the fact itself, and makes no amends for the crime[.] It officially notifies the number of its victims, and in the next breath hypocritically eulogises the murderous machinery—the capitalist state—that has accomplished those assassinations. Fifty-three deaths from starvation in London in one year (1900) of course only account for those whose fate the Home Office is bound to acknowledge. In reality a whole army of unfortunate victims of the present social organisation perish every year from starvation indirectly; for Huxley told us years ago that there was a complete list of diseases due entirely to lack of sufficient food. This is true; but when it comes to tracing the cause of these tragedies there is none but the Anarchists, the Socialists, and a handful of reformers who dare face the situation, and tell s[o]ci[e]ty in plain language that every man and woman who heedlessly permits these things to go on without protest is responsible for these deaths, and all those who uphold the present system for the gratification of their idle, vain lives and base ambitions, are the enemies of their kind. We will quote some remarks from the Daily News and the Star which may help “respectable,” law-abiding people to understand why even kings, emperors and presidents sometimes become “victims” to the wild justice of revenge which our present society constantly provokes. The Daily News says:—“In this grim form that ancient wail of the forsaken and abandoned rises to us who sit at ease. We recommend the close perusal of this brief document to those excellent bewildered persons who have of late been seeking round for the cause of the spread of Anarchism. When men become outcasts and die in the street, some of them, like dying dogs, will bite before they die. . . . . . . . . Here indeed is a fairly serious indictment against our civilisation. In the midst of the richest city in the world, in a year of unexampled prosperity, over fifty, men, women and children died of literal starvation and exposure.” And the Star: “‘Tragedy,’ says Mr. William Archer, ‘is a massage of the emotions.’ Yet these tragedies do not massage our emotions to any [g]reat extent. We all prefer to forget and ignore the ugly side of life—until a Czolgosz thrusts it in our face.”
Just lately there has been a little fluttering of the official conscience in St. Pancras, owing to the outbreak of small-pox in that parish, and the sanitary inspector reports a hundred cases of families living in underground cellars, with scarcely any light or air and rack-rented to the last farthing by inhuman monsters calling themselves landlords. The Daily News compares these wretches to man-eating tigers, and we are not going to quarrel with the comparison. But the Daily News should be careful in its remarks about the conduct of the propertied classes. Such epithets nowadays are only allowable when speaking of Anarchists; in that case the more bloodthirsty the remark the more it will be appreciated by the sainted souls who pretend to be horrified at the assassination of one man, whilst revelling [sic] in the assassination of a whole nation.
Many of these unfortunate victims of landlordism are dying a harder and a slower death than McKinley. But who will weep for them? What paper will go in mourning on their account? Who will trouble to bring the assassin to justice?
In the foregoing “Notes” we have remarked upon a few of the more prominent features of a social war which is being waged every minute of every day in every year, and in all parts of the world where capitalism exists. Suddenly or slowly its victims die by tens of thousands, by “accidents,” by slow poison, by starvation. But it happens once in a hundred thousand times that the victim in this war is the head of a state. Then dismay seizes on the priestly gang, and a cry for blood goes up against those who recognise this social war, boldly point to its cause, and demand that it shall be ended by overthrowing the present system and replacing it with bread, liberty, and justice, for all.