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Source: Lucifer, the Light-Bearer
Source type: magazine
Document type: editorial
Document title: “‘Let Us Be Honest; Let Us Be Just’”
Author(s): Harman, Moses
Date of publication: 27 March 1902
Volume number: 6
Issue number: 11
Series: third series
Pagination: 83-84

Harman, Moses. “‘Let Us Be Honest; Let Us Be Just.’” Lucifer, the Light-Bearer 27 Mar. 1902 v6n11 (3rd series): pp. 83-84.
full text
McKinley assassination (personal response); anarchism (personal response); McKinley assassination (personal response: criticism); anarchism; McKinley assassination (lessons learned); society (criticism); R. Heber Newton; William McKinley (presidential policies); Chauncey M. Depew (public statements); William McKinley; William McKinley (criticism); William McKinley (presidential character: criticism).
Named persons
Leon Czolgosz; Chauncey M. Depew; John Hancock; Patrick Henry; William McKinley; R. Heber Newton; Leo Tolstoy [variant spelling below]; George Washington; William S. Waudby.
The date of publication provided by the magazine is March 27, E. M. 302.

Whole No. 910.

Alternate magazine title: Lucifer, the Lightbearer.


“Let Us Be Honest; Let Us Be Just”

     Near the close of an elaborate article on “Labor’s Rights and Wrongs,” by William S. Waudby of Washington D. C., in the March “Arena” (N. Y.) a paragraph in brackets—evidently editorial—reads, in part, as follows:

     The assassination of President McKinley should arouse the American people to a sense of their danger from unlimited and unrestricted immigration. Anarchists are always derived from these imports, and as the former are opposed to all forms of government—malcontents who would use violence to destroy the existing social and civil order—why should they be allowed to inflict their presence upon this Republic? Would it not be better to compel them to remain in their own countries?

     Now, while I impugn no man’s motives I would respectfully ask, in accord with the motto at the head of this article,
     First, Is it honest, is it just, to say that the people called Anarchists are opposed to all forms of government?
     While I belong to no Anarchist society or club, and while I do not call myself an Anarchist I know something of the principles taught by those called by that name, and I know that while they oppose despotisms of all sorts—including the despotisms that lurk under the forms of Democracy and Republicanism—these people believe in and practice SELF-GOVERNMENT; co-operative defense against invasion, in other words they advocate that form of government sometimes called the “Co-operative Commonwealth,” in which there are no rulers and no ruled, no millionaire monopolists and no proletaires or paupers, no tyrants and no slaves.
     Second, Is it honest, is it just to call all Anarchists “Malcontents who would use violence to destroy the existing social and civil order?”
     The word malcontent is thus defined by Webster: “One who is discontented; especially, a discontented subject of government; one who expresses his discontent by words or overt acts.”
     I take the ground boldly and freely that whoever is NOT a malcontent under “existing social and civil order” is not HUMAN; at least he is not humane or sympathetic with those who suffer wrong and outrage from the working of the miscalled “social and civil order.” All progress comes from discontent.
     While it is probably true that some who call themselves Anarchists believe in opposing force by force, violence by violence, murder by murder, there is also a large proportion of these people, perhaps a majority, who prefer peaceful means; who would depend upon the cultivation of a public sentiment, a public conscience, that will, in time, rectify all social and civil evils without resort to the methods of rulers, that is, of war, of assassination, of robbery and murder—as now practiced by every so-called government on earth.
     Count Leo Tolstoi, one of the most noted of the Anarchistic “malcontents,” deprecates the use of force even in defense of his own life or that of his family and friends.
     Third, Is it honest, is it just, to deny to the discontented, the oppressed, in foreign lands, the right to emigrate to this country where only a small portion of nature’s opportunities are as yet occupied and used? If this policy of exclusion had been enforced in time past, how many of the writers and speakers who thus would close the doors of America against the discontented of Europe, would now be here?
     The writer of the quoted paragraph seems unconscious of the fact that malcontents are born and bred here in this country, and hence that the closing of the gates against discontented foreigners will not stop the supply of malcontents—of those who “express their discontent by words and overt acts.”
     Query: Did the editor of the “Arena” ever hear of such men as George Washington, Patrick Henry, John Hancock and some others who, a little more than a century ago were denounced by the rulers of England because they dared to express their discontent in words, and even in “overt acts.”

*     *     *

     The responsibility resting upon the leaders of current thought—such as the editors of the great dailies, weeklies and monthlies of the country, is certainly very great. If these editors mislead the public mind, and either consciously or unconsciously prompt their readers to the commission of acts of injustice and of violence—by legal or illegal means—against innocent men and women, it were better for such leaders “that they never had been born”—to use the words of one of old.

*     *     *

     That some of the leaders of current thought are earnestly trying to so direct that thought that all may see and appreciate the real causes of the evils that now afflict the masses of people in this and other countries, is shown by paragraphs such as the following, found in the article of Rev. Dr. Heber Newton in the February “Arena,” entitled “Causes of Anarchism:”

     It may be that the martyrdom of our good President is to force open our blind eyes. The supreme lesson of the crime of September is that even our Republic must put its house in order, must make its government a real commonwealth, must make its industry humane, just and Christian. McKinley will not have died in vain if his death warns our nation of the rocks ahead from selfish commercialism, from our apostasy to the worship of Mammon. Perhaps by such horrors our people will be made ready to consider whether no other and higher industrial order is possible, no saner and more Christian civilization is attainable in the orderly way of evolution.

     Throughout the article, and also throughout the previous article on the same subject, in the “Arena” for January, this same distinguished leader of current thought seems trying to convince his readers that revolutionary anarchism is not the real disease that afflicts this country but only a SYMPTOM of the real disease, which is the false economic, political and religious systems that now curse mankind, in the United States and in all lands called Christian—as when he says: “The burning wrongs entailed by this now out-grown system—unethical, immoral, irreligious— [83][84] fire the revolt which we know as anarchism. Anarchism is at one with socialism in the belief that our present competition [rather our monopolistic system that defeats normal competition] is essentially and unescapably [sic] unjust and oppressive; that it imposes a new slavery on labor; that it wrests to the luxury of the few the provision of Nature for the support of the many; that it turns bread-winning into a strife more cruel than the struggle for existence among the lower lives around us; that it corrupts morality. . . . . that, in short, most of the ills our life is heir to, against which we vainly struggle, are the results of a system. . . which dooms reform to impotence, government to failure, and religion to hypocrisy.”
     These be strong, brave and true words; words that would do honor to the head and heart of any leader of thought, be he Christian, Theist, Agnostic or Atheist. But while giving due honor to this learned and earnest “doctor of divinity,” let us not forget the injunction that forms the caption of this article.


     Webster says: “Martyr—a witness who testifies with his blood. Hence, one who sacrifices his life, his station, or what is of great value to him, for the sake of principle, or to sustain a cause.”
     With the facts before us, is it honest, is it just, to speak of the “martyrdom of our good president?” That is to say, is Dr. Newton honest with himself, is he just to himself and to the brave and true utterances which we have quoted from him, when he thus, by implication, SANCTIONS the system, the principles, the policies, the doctrines for which the man William McKinley stood sponsor during his whole life, as well as at the time of his tragical death?
     In thus questioning I do not sit in judgment upon and condemn the man whose tragical death was mourned as the death of no man had ever been mourned in America before. William McKinley’s heredity and environment made him what he was, and compelled him to do as he did. It is with systems, policies and doctrines we now have to deal, rather than with men, and hence the question is legitimate[.]
     What were the policies, what the systems, what the doctrines in defence [sic] of which William McKinley gave up his life?
     Will Rev. Newton say that William McKinley was not an honest, able and faithful champion of the system, the doctrines, the principles of government and ethics which he himself has so bravely and truly denounced in his “Arena” articles?
     Hear what Chauncey M. Depew, a leading Republican politician, and always a great friend and admirer of William McKinley, has to say of him, in a recent speech, according to press reports:

     Though always a poor man he made possible the gigantic fortunes which have been amassed by master minds [sic] in the control, use and distribution of iron, coal oil, cotton and wool and their products. Though never an organizer or beneficiary of combinations or trusts, yet the constant aggregation of most industries in vast corporations of fabulous capital, while due to the tendencies of the age and common to all countries, received tremendous acceleration from his policies. The dominant idea which governed his public life was that measures which brought out our national resources and increased our national wealth added to the security, comfort and happiness of every citizen.

*     *     *

     What were these “policies” that so “tremendously accelerated” the great aggregations in the hands of the few?
     First, A robber tariff—in the interest of the already rich.
     Second, The single, gold standard of currency—in the interest of the already rich.
     Third, Imperialism, conquest of the Philippines—in the interest of the wealth-loving, the power-loving, the office-seeking classes.
     Whatever may be the merits or demerits of Mr. Depew, as a man or politician, he certainly deserves the thanks of all truth-lovers for this clear statement of the basic principles of the dominant elements in both the Republican and Democratic parties. Not often have we heard the Hamiltonian idea better expressed, namely, that the government should “protect the rich so that the rich could be able to protect the poor.”
     Depew takes more words to express this idea than did the father of the Federal “constitution,” but the central thought is the same, and for the purposes of this present argument the important feature of the “Hon. Chauncey’s” utterance is that the centralization of wealth and power in the hands of the few was the “dominant idea that governed the public life” of William McKinley, and if so then this idea, this policy or doctrine, is that for which our late President suffered “martyrdom”—if we accept the common and popular statement that the bullet of Czolgosz put the martyr’s crown upon the head of his victim, in which opinion Dr. Newton evidently coincides.

*     *     *

     “Always a poor man,” says Depew of McKinley. This, from the standpoint of the plutocrat, is an “honest and just” statement. To be rich a man must be a millionaire, if not a multi-millionaire. McKinley died the possessor of a few hundred thousands only—besides certain stocks of uncertain value, also a paid-up insurance policy that would make his wife independent of want though she should live a few centuries longer—living on the interest alone.
     While not immediately pertinent to the main purpose of this argument we may remark that McKinley was wise in not being himself “an organizer of combinations or trusts.” He knew, or might have known, that the men who make it their business to organize these combinations would see that his wants would be well cared for, so long as his “policies” gave such “tremendous acceleration” to combinations and trusts.
     The high priests of law and politics, like the high priests of the “gospel,” do not need to engage in gainful occupations or enterprises. High salaries and big fees are much better—much less trouble, much less risk and worry, and even more “respectable.”

*     *     *

     From the foregoing it would appear that Rev. Dr. Newton and those who agree with him, are not intellectually honest, not morally just, to and with themselves, that is, to the principles of equity and humanity for which they seem to be contending, and those who are not honest and just to and with themselves are not apt to see clear enough to be honest and just to and with others.



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