Source: National Magazine
Source type: magazine
Document type: editorial
Document title: “The Creed of the Unhappy”
Author(s): Farquhar, Anna
Date of publication: October 1901
Volume number: 15
Issue number: 1
|Farquhar, Anna. “The Creed of the Unhappy.” National Magazine Oct. 1901 v15n1: pp. 106-07.|
|anarchism (personal response).|
|Leon Czolgosz; Emma Goldman; William McKinley.|
The Creed of the Unhappy
EVERYONE after carefully observing family relations knows that disagreeable
offspring born with a special faculty for making himself and everybody else
unhappy; not that he particularly desires to do so, but for the reason that
his nature admits of no other course for him to pursue unless circumstances,
or special guidance, in a measure changes his habit of mind. Apparently he has
inherited all the disagreeable qualities of both parents and no single redeeming
trait of their characters, and, owing to this misfortune, he is greatly to be
pitied even when he is most to blame. The disagreeable member of a private family
provokes within us a strong desire to see him stamped out of existence; but
when we think better of this, and attempt a bit of missionary work in his behalf,
we do our best for him, and those coining compulsorily in contact with him.
The growing body of anarchists constitute a parallel factor in the universal
human family; they are the born misanthropes whose creed finds its inception
in personal unhappiness applied to general conditions. When the growth of anarchy
or socialism is thwarted in one spot it springs newly to life in another locality,
for the aggressively unhappy are constantly born again.
The principles of anarchy lie dormant in the brain of every unsuccessful man, although perhaps he does not recognize them as such when he gloomily loafs, soiled and tattered, on a seat in our public parks, waiting for something to turn up, cursing fate and all of the successful world for his own situation. The representative head of a government embodies for him this great unsurmountable force of riches and power which he unreasonably holds accountable for his own failures; in other words, he is a child striking its mother because she will not constantly feed him sweets. While it seems necessary for public safety to punish to the full extent of the law, or to make new and stringent laws to meet the demands made upon justice by the cowardly criminal acts of such despicable unfortunates as Leon Czolgosz, is there not also room for personal reform of all  morbid reformers? Wholesome missionary effort is certainly as applicable to these misguided vipers on the bosom of our national life as to the heathen at the antipodes.
Emma Goldman will tell you that her philosophy of life contains admirable clauses devoted to general education and individual liberty, which is all very well if there were no unreasonable criminal clauses in addition. In all probability the force of Miss Goldman’s enthusiasm in behalf of individual rights would be greatly diminished were she fed the kind of sugar plums she wishes every day.
Her same principles I have heard expressed by law-abiding citizens, men that would scarcely kill a mosquito in self defense, and invariably the birth of such theories could be traced back to some point of failure or unhappiness in each man’s own life.
It is true that the abstract anarchist has no more personal wish to kill than has any other unpractical Irrationalist; it is only the concrete expression of any set of ideas that is to be apprehended; but every abstraction intrinsically dangerous to the good of a community is morally responsible for at least one criminal concretion. A laboring man, thinking over this problem in the midst of his patriotic rage, incited by the cowardly assassination of President McKinley, suddenly broke out with: “I guess them anarchists never shipped on a vessel or they’d know it takes a captain to keep her goin’. All hands can’t keep the bridge at once.” This man was a practical thinker, and his battle with life had not left him with running sores. Every anarchist is covered with sores, and it seems reasonable to believe they will not be healed until some measure is devised for eradicating the source of these afflictions, originating in minds diseased by pondering over the individual need for sweets rather than the general demand for wholesome, if coarse, fare, only to be acquired step by step through the centuries.