The Anarchist Attempt at Buffalo
William McKinley, the president of
the United States, has been shot down by an anarchist in the [presence?]
of a large crowd on the exposition grounds in Buffalo, while shaking
the hand of the assassin.
We are revolutionary Socialists and
will not permit ourselves to be diverted by anything whatever from
our goal. We also declare that our aim is the overthrow of the present
system and the establishment of a new and higher order, a co-operative
commonwealth—in which poverty, prostitution and all the misery emanating
therefrom, will be unknown. In order to obtain this we try to convince
the majority of the people of the righteousness of our ideas, and
also point to the modern economic development which makes a Socialistic
commonwealth a necessity, sooner or later, if freedom and civilization
are to survive. And we make no secret of the fact that after we
have obtained the political power necessary for the [above?] outlined
changes that we may use force against such individuals or classes
as try to resist the [manifest?] will of the people. This is the
programme of the Social Democrats in a nutshell.
In accordance with this we have always
fought McKinley and his party, as we fought Bryan and his party,
and all other capitalist parties. But we turn aside with horror
and contempt from the despicable deed in Buffalo.
Horrors of that kind have [less?]
excuse in this country than elsewhere. For the first time in the
history of the world the oppressed class has the same fundamental
right as the ruling class, namely, the right of suffrage. Now, instead
of making use of this circumstance, the hare-brained fellows, who
call themselves anarchists, everywhere preach against it.
Any sane man must ask himself, what
right has a small minority—and the Anarchists are an infinitesimal
minority indeed—to force its views by means of bomb, pistol and
dagger, upon a majority, upon a thousand-fold majority? And has
not that tremendous majority a right in self-protection to turn
around and wipe out a brood of assassins who commit every crime
imaginable under the pretext of trying to make this world better?
The Anarchists have been a stumbling
block in the way of the labor movement in this as in every other
country. They hinder the progress of the proletariat not only by
casting suspicion upon its most energetic (and oftentimes really
the best) elements in the political and trades union movement, and
blocking their path in every way; but by the insane outbreaks of
this or that degenerate, who takes these bloody [phrases?] seriously,
they furnish to the reactionaries the wished for pretext to take
steps against the labor movement.
George Plechanow tersely says: “In
the name of revolution the Anarchists serve the cause of reaction;
in the name of morality they approve of the most immoral acts; in
the name of individual liberty they trample under foot all the rights
of their fellow men.”
The Socialists, however, need not
fear the Anarchist propaganda. Anarchism is the child of the bourgeoisie—its
youngest child, its “enfant terrible,” in a certain sense also its
favorite child, of which one easily becomes convinced upon reading
the bourgeois fin de siecle authors of the nineteenth century—but
for that very reason the Anarchists will never exert any serious
influence upon the proletariat.
Wherever Social Democracy is strong,
Anarchism is of no account, as, for instance, in Germany, Austria
and the Scandinavian countries. Although they did make some headway
in Austria and in France, before the rise of Social Democracy there,
the Socialist party soon annihilated the Anarchist propaganda and
absorbed all their good elements. For, whenever among the Anarchists
there are laborers who sincerely desire the welfare of their class
and sacrifice themselves for that which they consider the good [cause?],
this occurs by reason of misunderstanding and ignorance (when they
are not insane or epileptic, as is the case with most “propagandists
of the deed”). They know the battle for the emancipation of the
proletariat only under the form which the Anarchists seek to give
it. When they have become more enlightened they will come to us.
The same will hold good in the United
States—a country where the one-man ballot prevails. All the workingmen
need is enlightenment. And this very labor of enlightenment is a
duty which we must perform.