Publication information
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Source: Truth Seeker
Source type: magazine
Document type: editorial column
Document title: “Observations”
Author(s): Macdonald, George E.
Date of publication: 14 December 1901
Volume number: 28
Issue number: 50
Pagination: 791-92 (excerpt below includes only page 791)

Macdonald, George E. “Observations.” Truth Seeker 14 Dec. 1901 v28n50: pp. 791-92.
Theodore Roosevelt (first annual message to Congress); Theodore Roosevelt (criticism); anarchism (government response: criticism); anarchists; anarchism.
Named persons
Henry Addis; Jonathan P. Dolliver; Thomas Henry Huxley; Theodore Roosevelt.
Click here to view a letter to the editor by Henry Addis that appears in a preceding issue of Truth Seeker.


Observations [excerpt]

     His message to Congress gave President Roosevelt an opportunity, which he embraced, to liberate a mind somewhat perplexed on the subject of Anarchy. Mr. Roosevelt is no better able than Henry Addis to distinguish between the violence and crime called anarchy by the newspapers, and the political philosophy called Anarchy by those who enjoy the privilege of knowing what they are talking about. Mr. Roosevelt knows of but one variety, the criminal, and therefore when he says that for the “anarchist” we “need not have one particle more concern than for any ordinary murderer,” and that he is a “malefactor and nothing else,” he is saying what all rational men and women acknowledge to be true. We all know that the opinions of an assassin cannot make him less than a murderer and a malefactor, and we all want to see him hanged as such; and this being the fact, the President has unduly dignified the “anarchist” by treating him as belonging to a separate class. At the same time, in recommending that Congress “in the exercise of its wise discretion” should take into consideration the coming to this country of “persons professing opinions hostile to all governments,” Mr. Roosevelt is getting away from his text. He has stopped talking about malefactors and begun to deal with philosophers. If he had written less and read more he might have happened across these words in the writings of the late Professor Huxley: “Anarchy as a term of political philosophy must be taken only in its proper sense, which has nothing to do with disorder or crime, but denotes a state of society in which the rule of each individual by himself is the only government the legitimacy of which is recognized. Iu [sic] this sense, strict Anarchy may be the highest conceivable grade of perfection of social existence.”
     The President does right to urge the consideration of means to keep assassins away from this country, but he ought to have recommended to Congress that “in the exercise of its wise discretion” it should not confound, as he had, the “ordinary murderer” miscalled an anarchist, with the Philosophical Anarchist who would have all men to so respect the liberties one of another that no government would be needed to secure every individual from invasion.
     Men are to be found who are hostile to all churches, but they never kill priests. Others, while opposed to all medicine, do not murder doctors. They may be utterly down on governments, and yet never assault even a policeman. They are so civilized that they will not visit on an individual the faults of the community. These persons are outside the scope of Mr. Roosevelt’s mind: he can conceive of only the criminal wretch who uses the name of Anarchist in order that his offense may be taken out of the category of ordinary murderer, into which it naturally falls. I don’t think a commentary on Philosophical Anarchy by Roosevelt would be especially illuminating, but he might have made a bluff like that of Dolliver, when he recognized certain “noted men living lives of scholarly seclusion” whose teachings feed the springs of Anarchy, but whom we can hardly afford to hang.



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