Source type: magazine
Document type: editorial
Document title: “John Most”
Date of publication: November 1901
Volume number: 15
Issue number: 162
|“John Most.” Freedom Nov. 1901 v15n162: p. 67.|
|the press (criticism); Johann Most; anarchists (New York, NY); Freiheit; anarchism (newspapers, magazines, etc.); Johann Most (arrest); Johann Most (incarceration); freedom of speech (restrictions on).|
|Alexander II; Alexander Berkman [misspelled below]; Ludwig Börne [variant spelling below]; Edward Brady; Leon Czolgosz; Frederick N. Funston; Karl Heinzen [misspelled thrice below]; William McKinley; Johann Most [variant first name below].|
|In the original source, the fourth paragraph ends mid-sentence as given below (“. . . telling of Most’s treatment at New-”).|
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 (sic).]
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.