Source: Chicago Sunday Tribune
Source type: newspaper
Document type: editorial
Document title: “Anarchists Deserve No Sympathy”
Author(s): Oppenheim, L.
City of publication: Chicago, Illinois
Date of publication: 15 September 1901
Volume number: 60
Issue number: 258
|Oppenheim, L. “Anarchists Deserve No Sympathy.” Chicago Sunday Tribune 15 Sept. 1901 v60n258: part 2, p. 13.|
|anarchism; anarchism (dealing with).|
A photograph of the author accompanies this editorial on the same page.
“By L. Oppenheim, Professor of Penal Law, University of Basle.”
Anarchists Deserve No Sympathy
ANARCHISTIC crimes are invariably manifestations of a perverted conscience.
The perversion of conscience means the highest degree of depravity which humanity
is capable of. An individual of perverted conscience doing wrong and yet believing
to be doing right is far more depraved than an individual who commits an offense
although his conscience tells him that he is doing wrong.
There is a tendency among many sentimentalists and other persons who are not Anarchists, but to some extent sympathize with their vague theories, to consider men who are suffering severe punishment for anarchistic crimes as martyrs of their conviction. That is decidedly a perversion of ethical principles and of sound logic. A martyr of his belief or conviction may hold opinions or ideas at variance with those of his time or surroundings, but he must not violate the foundations of moral ethics and propriety. If he commits or preaches murder, arson, perjury, or other crimes against human society he forfeits the claim to martyrdom and becomes a common criminal. Martyrdom presupposes an ethical basis and is incompatible with an overt perversion of conscience.
The fact that constancy and readiness of decision and action, as manifested in virtuous deeds, are founded in the character of an individual does not detract from the merit of dutiful and moral actions; neither does the fact that constancy and readiness of decision and action, as manifested in vice, are founded in the character of an individual lessen that individual’s responsibility for its immoral or criminal actions. This perfectly logical rule finds a direct application in determining the responsibility of persons who have committed anarchistic crimes. The circumstance that the individual committing such a crime possesses a peculiarly developed character savoring criminal tendencies only increases that person’s guilt and proves its dangerous nature.
The argument that anarchistic crimes are not crimes in an ordinary sense and, therefore, must be judged from an entirely different ethical standpoint is illogical and does not deserve serious consideration. Anarchistic crimes are offenses in the same sense and meaning as all other crimes against life and property, and, like the latter, should be punished according to the recognized principles of the theory of retribution upon which our system of law is based. It is the duty of society to protect itself, and that duty becomes absolutely imperative in the case of anarchistic crimes which represent one of the most dangerous manifestations of a perverted conscience.