Publication information
view printer-friendly version
Source: Literary Digest
Source type: magazine
Document type: article
Document title: “The Nations and the Anarchist”
Author(s): anonymous
Date of publication: 12 October 1901
Volume number: 23
Issue number: 15
Pagination: 443-44

“The Nations and the Anarchist.” Literary Digest 12 Oct. 1901 v23n15: pp. 443-44.
full text
anarchism (quotations about); anarchism (religious response); Leo XIII (public statements); anarchism (international response); anarchism (dealing with); anarchism (causes); Leon Czolgosz (family background).
Named persons
Marie François Sadi Carnot; Humbert I; Alphonse Humbert; Henry Labouchere; William McKinley.


The Nations and the Anarchist

THE European journals, almost without exception, conclude their comments on the assassination of President McKinley with some suggestions or a demand for suggestions as to how anarchistic propaganda is to be combated. A number of European statesmen have expressed emphatic views on the subject. One of the most significant of these utterances is that attributed to the Pope. The Viennese journal, Information, which is exclusively a news sheet, making a specialty of publishing, without comment, the opinions of eminent public men of Europe, prints this utterance as an address which, it asserts, was delivered by the Pope at a recent reception to several Southern Italian bishops. In the course of this address (treated in part in our religious department this week), the Pope is reported as declaring it to be “the sacred duty of all to combat Socialism in the form in which it is at present developing, which attacks society and threatens it with terrible ruin. In presence of the perils of Socialism, Freemasonry, Judaism, and Anarchism, we must multiply our endeavors.” After expressing his keen sorrow at the assassination of President McKinley, his Holiness, the Information reports, said further:

     “The President has not been the victim of personal enemies. He is the chief of a great state, which, by mighty conquests, acquired the Philippines and Cuba. In the United States there is the greatest freedom, but not even that sufficed to protect the President. It may be said that he was the victim of unrestricted liberty. King Humbert was a similar victim, as was also President Carnot. It is thus clear that the hatred of the sectaries aims at destroying the principle of authority, and that no régime, however free it may be, will satisfy the brutal passions of these enemies of society. It is necessary for Catholics to close their ranks and strain every nerve to oppose the enemy. If you all work together, your cause will not perish, even if, for the time being, Socialism gets the upper hand. . . . Our adversaries will at last recognize the fact that outside of the church there is no salvation. They will appeal to us for help and we will save them.”

     A number of continental and British journals, including the Kreuz-Zeitung (Berlin) and The Times (London) denounce this report as spurious. The Times points out that the address exhibits a lack of tact and diplomacy which would never be shown by the Pope. Besides, it continues, “Christian charity is not even to be read between the lines” of the address. Information is in very close touch with influential ecclesiastical circles and usually knows whereof it speaks, says the Berlin organ; but the sentiments are so at variance with the known mildness of the Pope that we must regard the address as spurious.
     Most of the Vienna papers demand strong measures against Anarchists. The Neues Journal declares that society must at once find means to crush Anarchism without endangering political liberty and the freedom of the subject in general. The Fremdenblatt blames the United States for being too lenient with Anarchistic propaganda, and the Vossische Zeitung (Berlin) declares that our Congress must adopt stringent laws against [443][444] Anarchists, such as are now in force in Europe, particularly in Germany. The Nachrichten (Bremen), an extremely conservative journal, which is often denounced as reactionary, makes a bold attack on liberalism as indirectly responsible for the crimes of Anarchists. If liberal institutions, it says, “do not permit of the curbing of anarchism, or if the [United States] authorities are indifferent in the matter of means to do so, these liberal institutions may be called a menace to humanity.” America, says this journal further, “must be made to understand that Europe is not willing to countenance the danger longer.”
     The French papers regard the subject as one calling for immediate action by the governments of Europe. The whole propaganda of crime is useless to bring about a change in the social order, writes M. Alphonse Humbert, in the Éclair (Paris), but, nevertheless, it must be combated courageously. This writer blames England and the United States for harboring the criminals and dangerous exiles from the Continent. It is now being recognized, he says, that the indulgent attitude of the British and American governments, but particularly of the latter, is really a breeder of crime. He refers to the “Paterson group” of Anarchists, and warns Americans to have a care. The République (Paris) declares that Socialism is the school of Anarchism. It says:

     “The Anarchists are simply Socialists who do things. The Socialists begin by shouting that the proletariat are the victims of intolerable injustice, and that no man ought to submit to such injustice. . . . It is true that they do not openly advocate violence. But the proletariat becomes exasperated. The morbid Anarchist can not wait for the distant solution pointed out by Socialists. He hates society, and Socialists have added rage to his hate. . . . He determines to strike a blow for liberty. He seizes knife or a revolver—and a king or president falls. . . . He is a fool, say the Socialists. Yes, but you have made his folly dangerous.”

     The Osservatore Romano (Rome) publishes a long article on “The Anarchist Peril,” the general tenor of which is that nothing can be done to avert the peril.
     A number of English newspapers advance the idea that the best and surest way to combat Anarchism is to remove the unhealthy social conditions from which it springs. Henry Labouchere emphasizes this point in an article in his journal, Truth. Anarchism, he says, is a disease, and the most effectual way of dealing with it, as with all diseases, is to resort to social sanitary measures. The state plagued with anarchists, declares the Manchester Guardian, is verminous, and it should be fumigated. The Guardian says further:

     “Of course there will always be plenty of persons with one of the attributes of the homicidal Anarchist—the belief that all present systems of government would be better out of the way. That belief is held by many persons who would not for the world be so much as uncivil to a policeman. But the two other attributes—a belief that murder is justifiable and a feeling that his own life is worth nothing to him—are things that can only be produced in men by the most violent processes of mental and moral wrenching and corrosion; and to keep down the production of such monstrosities we must not merely deplore and destroy them when made, but wage war more methodically on the social evils that render them possible.”

     The danger of Anarchism, says The Daily News (London), arguing in the same vein, is that it may give a wrong direction to men who are driven to desperation; but at the same time it would be foolish to shut our eyes to the fact that violence is often “the result of conditions,” whether it be labeled Anarchism or not:

     “The first duty of society is to deal with the conditions which make for ignorance, cruelty, starvation, poverty, and suffering. Improved conditions will not rid the world of crime or misery, and murder and robbery may be hatched in Park Lane as well as in Whitechapel. But the problem of Anarchy is wrapped up with conditions for all that; and until the modern state learns how to lessen the volume and the intensity of the social misery arising from bad conditions, Anarchism will go on breeding in the shadows of its cities.”

     The Speaker (London) also believes that “social sanitation” is the only remedy. To restrict liberty, it remarks, “is no remedy at all, and if it were, liberty is far more precious than the opportunity of making crowned heads and rulers a little more secure.” In the course of a bitter attack on all kinds of Anarchistic thought, The Saturday Review (London) says:

     “The Anarchists have no political program which can either be granted or refused. They have no part in any of the ideals and aims of the nations amongst whom they show themselves. At a time when, throughout Europe and America, every current of political thought tends more and more toward the idea of strengthening state action, in order to carry out more effectively beneficent changes in the condition of the poorer classes of society, Anarchism raises its head as the ghastly reductio ad absurdum of individualism and the antithesis of every form of Socialism.”

     The question of fighting Anarchy, says The Weekly Freeman (Dublin), is one rather of police methods than of state policy:

     “Anarchism, no doubt, is the product of lands watered with the tears of afflicted peoples. Italy, Poland, Russia—these are its forcing-grounds. Were the burdens that oppress the people in those countries lightened, were a measure of comfort to grow in their homes, the remainder of Europe would be less troubled with the monstrous specter. . . . All that can be done is to increase the watchfulness that guards those charged with the leadership of civilized states, and to avoid in countries where it is an exotic and a hateful presence those blunders that have fostered it in less fortunate lands.”

     The World (Toronto) calls attention to the fact that the assassination took place “at a time when the greatest struggle yet known on the American continent between capital and labor is running its course.” The Anarchist pest, continues this Canadian journal, is “in a large measure the product of conditions for which the people of the United States are responsible”:

     “While it is foreign peoples such as Hungarians, Italians, and Poles who furnish the large majority of the Anarchists, it must be remembered that the American nation, as represented by its capitalists, deliberately brought these hordes into the United States for the purpose of securing cheap labor.”

     Zgoda (Chicago), the organ of the Polish National Alliance of the United States, declares that, as Anarchism is a disease foreign to all nationalities, therefore true patriotism, affection for one’s nationality, is the best protection against the disease and the best remedy for it.

     “No true patriot, no man who believes that the best way of rendering humanity happy is to render the Fatherland happy, can become an Anarchist. It is only when the idea of nationality is discarded, when that which is dearest to the masses of normal people is disowned, when the head is spiked with the wild idea of saving all humanity at once with the neglect of the nearest tasks, when the last remnant of patriotism is wholly extirpated from the soul and heart,—it is just then that the topsy-turvy brain is open to the teachings of Anarchism.”

     Zgoda closes with a vigorous repudiation of the assassin, Czolgosz, as a Pole. Even if his father was born on Polish soil, it says, this does not make the assassin a member of the Polish nationality:

     “A Pole is not everybody whose father was or is a Pole. Many things contribute to the high dignity of a Pole. Besides that particle of Polish blood in the veins, one must possess a Polish soul and heart, one must love Poland, one must think Polish, one must serve, or at least, want to serve the Polish national cause. Who ever does not possess that, is not a complete Pole—he is only a dry leaf fallen from the live Polish tree. The author of this base attempt has nothing Polish in him.”

Translations made for THE LITERARY DIGEST.



top of page