The modern journalist glories in
being the instrument of all government and police crimes—by preparing
weak-minded public opinion with lies for every new infamy they perpetrate.
An example of this, is the way in which John Most has been hunted
down once more by the vile American press, the idolizers of the
low traitor Funston, and we see English papers (Morning Leader
and Star, Oct. 15) joining them in this congenial work. The
Morning Leader’s [sic] “own correspondent” represents
Most as a Yellow journalist, a rich saloonkeeper, an actor appearing
on the scene with hands dyed in blood, and the editor of a “little
rag” (Freiheit) wherein he published a bloodthirsty article
on McKinley for which he was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment.
All these are, of course, lies; and
the facts leading to Most’s last condemnation—after eight years
previously passed in various prisons—are the following (as stated
by Most himself in Freiheit of Sept. 7, 14, 21, 28).
No. 36 of Freiheit (Sept. 7)
was printed in New York on Sept. 5, and published on Sept. 6 about
noon, several hours before Czolgosz fired on McKinley in far away
Buffalo. The editor explains that from various reasons he was prevented
from giving the usual care to this particular issue and so he reprinted
as leading article an extract from what Karl Heinzen, a German republican
and freethinker, wrote about fifty years ago on “Murder versus Murder”,—just
as he printed after this an extract from Boerne’s “Letters from
Paris” (1832), a translation from Les Temps Nouveaux, etc.
Heinzen says: if murder is permitted to some, it is to all; against
tyrants no crime is possible, they are outlaws, etc.,—in the usual
style of writing of a republican refugee of 1848-49, and with no
allusion whatever to America. It is evident that similar remarks
have been printed thousands of times in American papers, and also
that, if Most could have helped it, this article on this particular
subject would not have been reprinted just at the time of an attempt
on the President,—witness the remarks of quite a different character
on the attempt at Buffalo, written by Most himself in the issue
of Sept. 14 and the reprint of his article on Berkmann’s act, written
in 1992 [sic], in Freiheit of Sept. 21. It is known
to all how the Freiheit is watched by spies of all sorts
at such times, and Most took good care not to give them a chance
by what he wrote himself on the attempt (Sept. 14).
Still, the usual happened; as on a
former occasion the New York World, this time the New York
(German) Staats Zeitung became informer by publishing extracts
from Heintzen’s article; the American press took the matter up,
adding their vile lies, and Most was arrested and placed in in [sic]
a dirty prison full of vermin until after some days he was liberated
on bail (all on the charge of having published the old article by
Karl Heintzen). On the following Sunday (Sept. 22) he made an excursion
to Newtown, took part in a social gathering of a singing club and
spent the evening with some of this club in a dancing hall. This
hall was raided by the police and Most and others put in prison.
The next day he was charged with an incitement to sedition at an
alleged meeting in that hall—all of which he declares are lies.
He was transported handcuffed on a trolley-car all over the town,
exposed to the insults of the mob before a saloon and to other indignities.
Bail for $5,000 was demanded, the production of “evidence” delayed,
etc. Meanwhile, the New York printer refused to publish the Freiheit,
and No. 39 is replaced by a single sheet telling of Most’s treatment
at New- [see note above].
Since then we hear that he has been
sentenced to one year for the Heintzen article. We can hardly believe
the matter will rest there.
In any case, the Freiheit will
survive this as it did so many other persecutions since its first
issue in London, in January 1879, and so will Most, now fifty-five
years old, pass through this year of prison as he previously passed
through eight years of imprisonment, in Austria, Germany, England
and America, since 1970 [sic]. Most joined the International
in Switzerland in the late sixties, when working as a bookbinder
in the Jura; he was an active propagandist of Socialism in Austria
until his expulsion in 1871; from that time until 1878 he edied
[sic] Socialist papers in Germany and became a member of
the German parliament, but spent nearly half of the time in prison.
From the end of 1878 to the summer of 1882 he stayed in England,
passing the last eighteen months in prison for publishing an article
on the death of Alexander II. of Russia.
Since the autumn of 1882 the Freiheit
has been issued in America; on two more occasions—after the bomb
of Chicago and somewhere about 1890—he was hunted down by the American
press and imprissoned [sic] for two years. Now they are at
their dirty work again. How stupid and powerless they are, after
all! Four governments using all the means in their power these last
thirty years to silence this one man and his spoken and written
utterances—and they never succeed. Nor shall they this time! [The
address of the Freiheit is 69 Gold Street, New York city
From the latest issues of the Freiheit
we gather that after several adjournments asked for by the prosecution,
Most’s case at Newtown was entirely settled on Oct. 2, when he was
discharged and set free. A few days later he was tried at New York
for the publication of the old article by Heinzen which was considered
as “disorderly conduct” by the prosecution. Three magistrates sentenced
him t[o] one year’s penal servitude (Blackwell’s Island). He was
at once arrested.
This means that any article or book
which does not contain anything against any of the existing
laws, can nevertheless lead to its author’s imprisonment if any
scoundrel chooses to denounce it and another set of scoundrels,
some petty magistrates, choose to call the obnoxious article “disorderly
conduct”! We see from this how closely related the laws and institutions
of all States are—from despotic Russia and police-ridden
Italy to “free” America. In Russia, an author who cannot be prosecuted
for a definite “crime” is transported to remote provinces or to
Siberia by order of the administration. In Italy, an Anarchist who
cannot be prosecuted for transgressing any of the laws is sent to
domicilio coatto (transported to one of the Mediterranean
islands). In the United States, a man goes to the “hell on Blackwell’s
Island,” if infa[m]ous journalists call for his suppression—a thing
which does not happen in either Russia or Italy, where the press
has not sunk to that level of degradation yet.
Of course, the possibility of an appeal
remains, which does not suspend imprisonment until granted and m[e]ans
large sums wasted on lawyers’ fees. In the case of Most an appeal
was made successfully, we hear, and a new trial granted, the judge
accepting the lines of the defence: that the rei[s]sue of an article
fifty years old before ever McKinley met his doom, had evidently
no connection with the latter fact. So perhaps our old comrade will
be spared his ninth year of prison.
The address of the Workingmen’s Defence
Association formed on his behalf is: Ed. Brady, 172 E. 82nd Street,
New York, U.S.A.