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Source: Chicago Sunday Tribune
Source type: newspaper
Document type: editorial
Document title: “Anarchy a Crime, Not a Disease”
Author(s): Langtoft, Geoffrey
City of publication: Chicago, Illinois
Date of publication: 15 September 1901
Volume number: 60
Issue number: 258
Part/Section: 2
Pagination: 13

Langtoft, Geoffrey. “Anarchy a Crime, Not a Disease.” Chicago Sunday Tribune 15 Sept. 1901 v60n258: part 2, p. 13.
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Named persons
Mikhail Bakunin; Gaetano Bresci; Antonio Cánovas del Castillo; Marie François Sadi Carnot; Humbert I; Pierre-Joseph Proudhon; Jean-Jacques Rousseau; François Salsou; Jean Baptiste Sipido; Auguste Valette [misspelled below].
A photograph of the author accompanies this editorial on the same page.

“By Geoffrey Langtoft, British Sociologist.”


Anarchy a Crime, Not a Disease

IN the spirit which eliminates the individual responsibility of the assassin and throws the whole blame on society lies the real peril.
     Great as is the danger to which society is exposed from anarchism, it is less serious than that which arises out of the temper of society toward the anarchism which it dreads.
     Everywhere there is a tendency among those who live and thrive by pleasing the multitude to palliate anarchy, to tolerate it, to represent it as a disease for which those who suffer from it are not responsible, but for which society is responsible because it has not dealt with them more friendly. That blessed word “environment” leaps readily to the lips. That is, nobody is responsible. The Anarchist who stabs a ruler is not a criminal but an unfortunate; he is made what he is not by his own wicked heart but by the wickedness of society toward him and his class; his crime, which, of course, was really no crime at all, was rendered inevitable by circumstances over which he had no control.
     Anarchism is not a disease but a crime, and a crime of the most infamous nature.
     “What is property? Property is robbery,” said Proudhon. The germ of all the evil is in that. “Whoso hateth his brother is a murderer.” Hatred is murder in the germ. Similarly, whoso coveteth his brother’s goods is an Anarchist. Covetousness, the desire to possess what is not our own, lust of property, envy of the man who has more than we have—this is anarchy in germ. For thoughts, sooner or later, translate themselves into deeds, especially when they are dominating and overmastering thoughts, thoughts that seize us, and sway us, and possess us, and reign over us. And this is the case with the Anarchist whose one thought is hatred. These men think—a little, and then they act.
     Sometimes one person enunciates ideas and another carries them into effect. The man who murdered the Shah had been coached by another Anarchist, named Volette, who, “after having initiated him in the ideas of Bakunin, led him gradually towards the propaganda by force.” Could anything be more significant, more conclusive, as to the vital relations existing between these enemies of society?
     The ideas of Bakunin which he imbibed from Proudhon are still living and active, the idea that property is robbery, that a property-owner is a robber, that to rid society of such robbers is a meritorious deed, while the murder of the statesman who represents the present social order is not a crime, but a glorious deed of heroism which entitles a man to martyrdom’s brightest crown.
     These are the ideas which are fermenting in the minds of all Anarchists alike, exciting their brains, inflaming their passions, imbruting and dehumanizing them, and making them veritable wild beasts among men.
     The Anarchists who were hanged in Chicago, the murderer of Canovas, the murderer of President Carnot, Sipido, who fired at the Prince of Wales; Bresci, the murderer of King Humbert; and Salsou, who attempted to assassinate the Shah; all these are in that devil’s apostolic succession which begins with Rousseau and Proudhon and Bakunin, and which has continued down to the present time.
     One-half of the world is terrorized by anarchism; the other half pooh-poohs it with contempt. But too often contempt is only another name for blindness or insanity. However we look at it, the spectacle of anarchy springing at the throat of government and of the rulers of the most democratic countries in the world being afraid to grip it and grapple with it is not a pleasant one.
     Both in the United States and England, people who profess to understand the signs of the times, people who have much to lose themselves, and who are the trustees of the rights and liberties of millions of men and women, who confide in them, calmly sleep on over the slumbering volcano, from the mouth of which ominous rumblings are sometimes heard.



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