Publication information
view printer-friendly version
Source: Truth Seeker
Source type: magazine
Document type: letter to the editor
Document title: “‘Reds’ vs. Philosophical Anarchists”
Author(s): Livesey, Francis B.
Date of publication: 19 October 1901
Volume number: 28
Issue number: 42
Pagination: 666

Livesey, Francis B. “‘Reds’ vs. Philosophical Anarchists.” Truth Seeker 19 Oct. 1901 v28n42: p. 666.
full text
Republic [organization]; anarchism (dealing with); anarchism (public response); anarchism; Leon Czolgosz (as anarchist); schools, public; society (criticism); society (impact on Czolgosz); anarchism (Home, WA); anarchism (personal response).
Named persons
Kate Austin; William Jennings Bryan; Leon Czolgosz; Francis B. Livesey; James F. Morton, Jr.; David Overmyer [misspelled below]; Leo Tolstoy.
Click here to view a letter to the editor by Henry Addis written in response to the letter below.

Click here to view a letter to the editor by J. A. Wilson written in response to the letter below.

Click here to view the letter to the editor by Kate Austin referenced below.


“Reds” vs. Philosophical Anarchists

To the Editor of The Truth Seeker.
     Press dispatches state that an organization, to be known as the “Republic,” is being formed in Chicago to do battle under oath-bound processes with Anarchists. At the same time it has been declared that men of the Czolgosz type are not true Anarchists and that true Anarchism is perfectly peaceable—of the Count Tolstoy type. It is a fact that the philosophic Anarchists of the Tolstoy type are diametrically opposed to the “reds,” and it is also a fact that for the past few years they have been exerting a wholesome influence upon the “reds” by showing them a “more excellent way.” It only needs a little further work along this line, together with the enforcement of such laws as we already have, to make of red Anarchy a thing of the past, so far as this country is concerned, at least.
     An organization such as the “Republic” is calculated to interfere greatly with the pacific work of the philosophic Anarchists, and throw the reds back to all those detestable resorts for which they have been famous. When we see converts approaching the mourner’s bench under the peaceable teaching of some proficients in the line it should be the part of wisdom to encourage them on to the new, rather than to excite them to go back again to their past. The country is in no danger from Anarchists. Czolgosz would never have been heard of had he found the “luck” in life that he expected. He was an offshoot of our public schools and not of Anarchy. He said: “I received my education in the public schools of Detroit. I never had much luck at anything, and this preyed upon me. It made me morose and envious.”
     There are thousands of young men in this country at this minute who say the same as the above. They are to be found everywhere. They expected to receive “soft snaps” as their portion in life. They were educated to believe that the work of their fathers was beneath them. In their disappointment, some take revenge on society in one way and some in another. Socialists tell us there are 3,500,000 tramps, other authorities say 60,000. They are all the product of the public schools. Our fathers knew them not. Added to them is the large number of young men, like Czolgosz, who are drifting around without steady employment and from whom anything can be expected. If we were educating the rising generations aright, these tramp and half-employed classes would cease to exist[.] Czolgosz assumed the role of a red Anarchist; but the philosophical Anarchists repudiate him, his act, and all who agree with him.
     Anarchists of the Tolstoy type seek to live in perfect harmony with mankind. They want to educate men up to the regenerated heart condition in which each may be a law unto himself, and, in harmony with God, man, and nature, live out life without law and without war. As the churchman says, he wants “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is done in heaven,” so the philosophic Anarchists would seek the same practical end. Both should have an equal right to preach their doctrines and work for their goals. As we do not extirpate a church community because a murderer develops in its midst, so we should not seek the extirpation of those peaceful Anarchists who in word and deed show their abhorrence of blood. Many of the philosophic Anarchists will not take animal life, and there are some who refuse to eat any flesh that ever had life, or even wear [l]eather that is made from hide.
     It is, of course, folly to suppose that in the present condition of society, life and property would be for a moment secure without law. The Jacksonville fire and the Galveston flood prove that. We also know that in no city or hamlet of the land can a man keep one thousand dollars in his own home and be certain of his life. We should welcome any sect or party that, however remotely, seriously attempts to remedy human crime either by educating the mind philosophically or by regenerating the human heart. A precedent for life without rulers has been furnished by the scriptures. It is found in Judges xvii, 6: “In those days there was no king in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes.” As men grow into obedience to the law of nature, or the law of God witten [sic] in the heart, they must become of one mind in all things, in which “the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man” is recognized, and it follows that they can live without any human law whatever. But this highest of attainments is the very opposite of the lowest of vices, and men seeking either nature’s harmony or God’s image should not be confounded with assassins.
     One of these philosophic groups of Anarchists has heen [sic] in existence for some time at Home, Washington; and since the assassination they have been visited by a reporter of the News, of Tacoma, and long accounts are given of them in that paper of Sept. 11 and 12. The editor, much fairer than the Tacoma Ledger, gave Editor Morton of the Home group a full hearing, but, yielding to the excitement of the moment, pronounced against the group and advocated their extermination, or deportation, or suppression in some form. If these people were “red” Anarchists I would have no word of defense for them, but as it is, I have sought to defend them in the News and all other Press-Writers should do the same. Many editors, politicians, and others are coming forward with quite a change of front toward the Anarchists and are publicly demanding that the philosophical class, Quaker-like as they are, are not to be classed with the “reds.”
     The Kansas City Times lately gave an article on this line from the pen of the veteran old Democrat, Hon. David Overmeyer of Kansas. The same was copied in Bryan’s Commoner of Oct. 4, Mr. Bryan indicating that he, too, is partial to a distinction being made. Among other things, Mr. Overmeyer says:
     “I have long known that there are people calling themselves Anarchists who do not believe in murder or violence. The time has come, however, when these should change their name. Anarchy was always a bad name for people who want peace and who yearn for a Platonic age. They adopted that name after it had gained an evil significance. If they look forward to Utopia or the millennium, they might call themselves ‘Utopians’ or ‘Millennialists.’ If they favor the idea of non-resistance to evil they might be ‘Tolstoians.’ The word Anarchy should be blotted from the vocabulary of civilization.”
     My idea was along Mr. Overmeyer’s line before I heard from him, and I now find that many of the Press-Writers think the same. We have among our Press-Writers a number of these philosophical Anarchists. Miss Kate Austin is one of them and she has just appeared in the Baltimore American in repudiation of assassins and force in every form. In circular 3300 a few of the Press-Writers are classified as specialists on philosophical Anarchists; but in all of that circular that I henceforth send out I will substitute “Individualism” as their specialty, and I trust that others will do the same without equivocation. “A rose is just as sweet by any other name.”
     The bigots of every class are availing of the present excitement to call for the suppression of every species of Liberalism, and every Liberal in the country must in one way or another gird himself to do battle for his liberties. The Boston Banner of Light of Sept. 21, under the heading of “Danger,” valiantly called upon the Spiritualists to do their duty. So it must be with all of the Liberal school. The Masons have also come forth in defense of free speech and free press, and argue that the nation betrays its imbecility in exhibiting such a terror over a handful of Anarchists as would jeopard [sic] the very fundamentals upon which the government is founded in securing power for their extinction. For myself, I say abolish the public schools; maintain the people’s voice in the press, and apply such laws as we already have, and these, accompanied with the propaganda of the philosophical Anarchists, will be all-sufficient to preserve us from the red Anarchists.


     Sykesville, Md.



top of page