Welcome to MAIWelcome to MAI

"Hello, I'm William McKinley."
partial cover image from "American Boys' Life of William McKinley"                                              
About MAI
Help MAI

Who I Am
Contact Me


Publication information
view printer-friendly version
Source: Mind
Source type: magazine
Document type: article
Document title: “A Psychic View of Anarchy”
Author(s): Morris, John A.
Date of publication: February 1902
Volume number: 9
Issue number: 5
Pagination: 330-35

Morris, John A. “A Psychic View of Anarchy.” Mind Feb. 1902 v9n5: pp. 330-35.
full text
McKinley assassination (personal response: psychics); criminals; McKinley assassination (personal response: anarchists); the press; yellow journalism; the press (criticism).
Named persons
William Cowper Brann; Marie François Sadi Carnot; Camille Flammarion; Humbert I; Alexandre Lacassagne; William McKinley; James F. Morton, Jr.


A Psychic View of Anarchy

     Now that the storm-waves of thought have expended some of their force upon the shores of dynamic expression, and the fires of passion in the public mind have been somewhat abated, one may calmly, coolly, critically, and dispassionately consider the assassination of President McKinley from a psychic and scientific viewpoint.
     Speaking in a straight and logical sense, every effect has a preceding cause; every fruit, be it bitter or sweet, has within it that inherent quality resident in the productive seed. Hence, properly to interpret a fact one must get behind it—to the preceding cause by means of which the subjective idea enters into the objective realm of fact. Thus the world has come into its present condition by the projection of thought and its potentialities into outward and actualized expressions of life. Behind the objective existence of resultant activity lies the subjective realm of the idea—the world of thought-causes; for never an act came into being without a dominating thought coloring and causing it to be like unto itself. Like cause, like effect; like thought, like deed.
     Man has a dual mind—subjective and objective. The subjective mind has relation to emotions, feelings, sensations, and sense-impressions, while in the objective mind are the reasoning, intellectual, critical, and discriminating faculties—those that weigh and examine the mighty matters that come before them.
     There are three kinds of people on the mental plane: (1) the psychic, who is controlled by the subjective mind; (2) the scientist, who is dominated by objective thought; and (3) the adept, who can, by means of his self-assertive will, trans- [330][331] fer his thought with equal facility from the subjective plane of emotion to the objective plane of reason and desire, and vice versa. The subjective mind is also the artistic mind, as the objective is the plane of the scientific and judicial.
     During the last fifteen or twenty years, many phenomena of a psychic nature have been presented to the world. There has also been an increase in insanity, suicide, crime, disease, and corruption in high places. In seeking for an explanation of these varied phenomena we find the cause to be first manifested on the thought-plane. Diseased conditions are first developed on the mental plane before they appear in the objective world. As a materialistic doctor once told the writer, the majority of people are frightened into sickness, especially in times of epidemic. But there are epidemics of anger and passion, of violent crimes, of insanity, of suicide, of abnormal and terrible conditions that result in acts of torture and the mania for war. In the recurrence of these phenomena, scientists have discerned the operation of a law of periodicity.
     Epidemics of whatever nature prove the law of thought-transference, as the mental healer proves its efficacy in the fact of healing. Criminals are true psychics. The ferocious thoughts of society, or any considerable proportion thereof, are often absorbed into a criminal’s mental system, and when an opportune moment comes he is impelled to commit a crime by which society is shocked; yet if the truth were known, thousands may have thought of that very deed, and by their thought caused its commission when the suggestion found a lodgment sufficiently strong in some poor psychic’s brain. Of criminals, Lacassagne, the noted French criminologist, says: “The social environment is the cultivation medium of criminality; the criminal is the microbe, an element that only becomes important when it finds the medium that causes it to ferment; every society has the criminals which it deserves.” If that is true, are we not all more or less responsible for the crimes that occur? [331][332]
     Let us consider the question from a psychic viewpoint and apply our reasoning to the assassination of President McKinley; and in so doing let us not unduly eulogize the victim nor unwisely condemn the assassin. I was somewhat disgusted to hear many of those who condemned Mr. McKinley in most emphatic and savage terms when alive eulogize him to a state of godhood when dead. The fact is, he was neither a devil when alive nor a god when dead, but only a man trying to do his duty as he saw it—failing, no doubt, as we all do to live up to his highest ideals, but nevertheless struggling to do the right as he perceived it. Why, then, should he have been assassinated? What was the antecedent cause?
     During recent years we have observed two reactionary tendencies—a desire to exterminate rulers, and a growing disregard for the sacredness of life. In ten short years we have had the assassination of President Carnot, of King Humbert, of the Empress of Austria, and several others. That human life itself is no longer regarded as sacred is seen in the universality of capital punishment and our indifference when scores of our fellow-beings are killed in some “accident.” Knowing these things, I have often wondered that some one in high official station in the United States was not killed long before September by some half-frenzied fanatic who might think that by so doing he was ridding the world of some detriment to it. I did not entertain this thought because I knew of any conspiracy against any one’s life, but because I knew something of the law of suggestion. That such acts in the Old World would suggest a similar course to some one in our own country seemed inevitable. Moreover, there was a power in certain internal dissensions that might tend to actualize such a deed in the physical realm.
     There are three classes of people in the civilized world that are desirous of bringing into outward form some change in governmental affairs. They may be designated as the icono- [332][333] clasts, the discontents, and the revolutionary reconstructionists. The first two of these are in my estimation much to blame for the assassination of Mr. McKinley—not because there was any conspiracy on their part to kill, but because they are ignorant of the law that governs the suggestibility of thought.
     What is an “iconoclast”? The term means a “smasher of idols,” and as a general rule the iconoclast has no power or inclination to give us anything better in their place. Though Brann, of the Texas Iconoclast, undoubtedly had the right of the argument in the Waco affair a few years ago, I think it probable he would have been living to-day had he not presented his views in so antagonistic a spirit; for antagonism breeds antagonism—war and strife tend to create these conditions. In resisting evil we but fight that which wages a heavier battle.
     What is a “discontent”? One who is dissatisfied with the conditions of society, and yet has no improvement to offer except a mere palliative. But a “revolutionary reconstructionist,” while voicing the discontent of the masses, knows also the remedy and the power of reconstruction. His is a healthy discontent, for he has also the hope that leads to better conditions.
     How were these iconoclasts and discontents responsible for the assassination of President McKinley? The following paragraphs, from the pen of James F. Morton, Jr., are suggestive:

     “Certain of the Administration organs are pointing out, with a considerable show of indignation, that many attacks on the late President in the Democratic papers of the country equaled if they did not exceed in ferocity any utterances attributed to the more radical press. It would be possible to go somewhat further, without passing outside the domain of fact. The Democratic assaults were more dangerous, more calculated to arouse envenomed passions, more liable to inflame a weak mind, than any statements which appeared in the Anarchist or Socialist press. Not only is the enormous circulation of the Democratic organs to be taken into consideration, but the radical difference in their methods of attack. With them the per- [333][334] sonal note was altogether predominant. McKinley as an individual was persistently and continually held up to ridicule, contempt, and hatred. For four years he has been the principal target for their most savage editorials and their most insulting cartoons. All that he has done or said has been systematically placed in the most unfavorable light. He has been pointed out as personally responsible for every policy of his party that was deemed in any way objectionable. The minds of millions of men have been kept constantly inflamed against this one man; and many who were not themselves readers of these papers were sensibly affected by the spirit of animosity engendered by them and permeating the whole atmosphere.
     “The Anarchist and Socialist press, on the other hand, criticized McKinley as the representative of a system. He was simply an illustration of conditions that they condemned; and they did not single him out as conspicuously better or worse than the large majority of the class to which he belonged. He was typical of the prevailing sentiment, nothing more; and their sole effort was to appeal to fact and argument in support of their contention that this sentiment was not founded on right reason. Nobody would glean from these papers any notion that the ‘removal’ of the individual McKinley would make room for a better man, or lead to the introduction of a better system. On the contrary, it was always made clear that the continuance or disappearance of a social system depends, not on the life or lives of an individual or of individuals, but on the action or consent of the great mass of the people. To change results it is necessary to convince the people that the suggested change is desirable. This calls for no more violent weapons than those of agitation, discussion, and education. The Democratic harangues, however, being mainly directed against the particular man, might well persuade a weak-minded person that the destruction of the obnoxious individual would speedily usher in a more satisfactory state of affairs. Therefore, if there is any prima facie evidence of guilt, it must rest with the Democratic party organs, and in no degree with the more radical press.”

     Again, “yellow journalism” is often directly or indirectly responsible for many lesser crimes; and there is a reason for this, which those who make a study of the phenomena of mind can easily explain. Through an inordinate desire for money on the part of the newspaper proprietors, “scare-head” sensationalism is more important than the truth; and shocking details of brutality, photographed scenes of crime, and depicted deeds of murder and violence are the order of the day. These ideas and pictures act as potent suggestions and sooner or later find their way into the susceptible mind of some psychic, [334][335] causing him to imagine himself a heroic figure of history in the performance of deeds of violence. Thus have we our Czolgoszes, our Brescis, and our Bergmans; for the news of the day (through the methods used by many of our great engines of publicity) is often used as a means of fostering criminality.
     Camille Flammarion, the French astronomer, in his “Omega,” written a few years ago, speaking of the modern newspaper, says:

     “As for that matter, the journals of the world had long since become purely business enterprises. The sole preoccupation of each was to sell every day the largest possible number of copies. They invented false news, travestied the truth, dishonored men and women, spread scandal, lied without shame, explained the devices of thieves and murderers, published the formulæ of recently invented explosives, imperiled their own readers, and betrayed every class of society, for the sole purpose of exciting to the highest pitch the curiosity of the public and selling the papers.”

     Let us, therefore, not condemn unwisely; and when it becomes necessary to expose a fault, let us not do it in the spirit of iconoclastic destructiveness but in the interests of universal justice. Neither should we forget to show the remedy—to point out the law of harmony and coöperation.



top of page