Two Kinds of Anarchists
in the violent form, prevail in this country to a very limited extent.
Anarchists are divided into two classes—the intellectual or theoretical
anarchists, whose idea it is that the power of government should
gradually be lessened until it is practically extinct, but who do
not approve of violence, and the revolutionary anarchists, who propose
to wipe out all existing social and political institutions. Count
Tolstoď is an anarchist of the first type, and his fundamental principle
is non- resistance. He does not believe in any kind of force or
compulsion. Prince Kropotkin, as I understand, is an anarchist of
this type; he does not, I believe, approve of violence, though he
did make a speech to the Haymarket anarchists in Chicago, which
they applauded. I do not know what he said.
The other group of revolutionary anarchists
has nests in several places—in Paterson and Hoboken, N. J., in some
portions of New York City, in Chicago, and probably in other cities
where Italians, Poles, and Russians congregate. I think that their
numbers are small. Anarchy has not even threatened to assume the
proportions of an insurrection. The valorous offer of the old soldiers
to volunteer for its suppression is patriotic but superfluous. There
is no need of an army. The police can manage the business anywhere.
The intellectual anarchism is not
at all a dangerous thing, so long as it sticks to its principles.
The belief that that is the best government which governs least
is a common and harmless belief. The motto under the title of the
old Congressional Globe used to be: “The World Is Governed
Too Much.” Herbert Spencer and his school of political philosophers
may be called anarchists; they believe in constantly restricting
the sphere of government.
This is a rather belated theory, for
all the tendencies are toward the extension, rather than the restriction,
of the sphere of government; but there is no harm in preaching it
if one believes it. If one doesn’t believe in the use of force,
and refuses to use it himself, and does all that he can to dissuade
others from using it, I do not see that he is a dangerous person
in society. It will be well for anarchists of this class to find
another name. All we can ask of them is that they keep themselves
free from all relations with those of the other class. No man has
any right to make a speech to a gang of assassins for any other
purpose than to denounce assassination.
But these revolutionary anarchists,
the anarchists of the pistol, the poniard, and the running noose;
the anarchists who are opposed to government because it uses force,
but whose entire programme consists in the use of force in the most
cowardly and infernal ways—these are the people who are outside
the pale of reason and humanity; their words and deeds prove them
impervious to all rational and humane motives; they are the sworn
foes of society, and it is absurd for society to harbor and protect
combinations of men whose only purpose in life is the destruction
of the order which protects them. Society must, in its own defense,
do what it can to make such combinations impossible. It is preposterous
to say that society has not the right of self-protection. Any legal
refinements which stand in the way of this primary right should
be swept away.
Legal action should be taken by both
the national and State governments. The national government should
 make it a crime, punishable
with death, for any one to attempt to destroy the life of the President—perhaps,
also, of certain other high officials of the government; and the
States should all make laws defining anarchy of the revolutionary
kind, describing all such organizations as traitorous conspiracies,
and forbidding, under heavy penalties, all associations or assemblages
for such purposes. It is monstrous that men should meet and take
counsel together, under the protection of our laws, for ends which
involve the subversion of all law and the murder of men whose only
crime it is that they represent law.
Now I can partly understand, though
I can by no means justify, the existence of anarchy in some European
countries. But that it finds lodgment here and ripens its plots
of destruction on our soil; that its emissaries and agents abide
here in haunts well known and go forth from our gates unchallenged
upon their errands of assassination is a fact shameful and astounding.
Perhaps the tragedy by which our own chief ruler has been stricken
down may lead us to question whether the limits of liberty are not
somewhat strained by the permission of such conspiracies.
There should not, it seems to me,
be much difficulty in coming to a distinct understanding with this
class of persons. The tribe must be exterminated. There must be
no dallying or temporizing. This is the first and the last and the
only thing to do. I do not believe in any harsh or unjust punishment,
but the action of the law should be prompt, swift, and sure. When
groups of men here and there in American cities adopt the theory
that their function is to scatter through society firebrands, arrows,
and death, with no other purpose than that society shall be overthrown,
there is simply nothing to do but to turn on these people and crush
them. Society must not harbor its own avowed destroyers; it must
stamp them out. The more promptly, the more relentlessly the thing
is done, the more merciful and kind is the deed.