Thursday, 15 May 2014

ANARCHY

The assassination of the American President, followed by the usual scare arrests, once again illustrates the hopeless attempts of governments to suppress Anarchy. The ruling classes are slow in learning and swift in forgetting that it is not safe to neglect too much the welfare of the lower strata of society or to allow oppression to descend below a certain stage without courting retaliation. The conditions of modern capitalistic society are responsible for untold evils, and among those subtle influences woven into the warp and woof as cause and effect may be traced the blows aimed at a Russian Czar, an Austrian Empress, an Italian King, a French or American President. Anarchy is the peculiar child of trust-haunted, landlord oppressed, wage-serf, slum-built, and hell-on-earth "civilised " communities. The character of a Republican or Monarchical constitution touches in no way the palpable results. There is no vital difference between the wage-slave at the lowest rung of the competitive ladder in millionaire-ridden New York and his brother of the landlord-ridden United Kingdom, of military ridden Europe, or of land-dummying Australia. The analogy is complete in every instance. Under the glamour of all modern forms of government the same cruel economic conditions prevail. And against these conditions Anarchy is a violent protest.
*    *    *
The common conception of Anarchy as expressed in the daily press is wildly ludicrous. The Anarchist is raved about as a bomb-throwing, misguided, insane, and inveterate enemy of mankind running amuck socially— a kind of political “Jack the Ripper.” The blood curdling, ghoulish tales circulated about Anarchy find credence only among densely stupid or densely ignorant persons. It is true that the physical-force Anarchist in his dire necessity calls upon the bomb, the bullet, or the knife to avenge the wrongs of himself and his long-suffering class. The Czar, the Empress, or the President ceases to exist in his fevered imagination except as the head and personification of a vilely corrupt and ever demoralising system of callous wagedom, and at that head, in the name of its victims, he aims his deadly blows.
*     *    *
 Men like the learned and famed French geographer, Elise Reclus, Prince Kropotkin, Auberon Herbert, and others of world wide note, openly profess Anarchism. But they do not, however, belong to the physical-force school of Anarchy. They may hold the same social ideals as the physical force Anarchists, but they differ as wide as the poles in the means of achieving their ideal social state, an ideal that is the nearest approach to the Kingdom of Heaven on earth yet suggested. To it all government is but superficial. All government is wrong. Governments are but machines for holding in subjection and exploiting the masses. Through the agency of so-called State regulation of society chaos has resulted, and the scholastic Anarchist asks: “What proof have we that the machinery of government is not inherently defective ? “ The abolition of governmental restrictions is the theme of Tolstoi's political philosophy, and Jean Jacques Rousseau (tho French Revolutionary social reformer) preached doctrines of a similar character. In his Contrat Social (' Social Contract ') he advocated as a remedy for social ills that humanity should return to its primitive simplicity, dispense with as little restriction of personal liberty as possible, and   cultivate a spirit of mutual trust and esteem. Rousseau, in effect, was the founder of the modern philosophical Anarchist school, a school that does not, however, ally itself in its methods with the extreme physical-force Anarchism represented, by Bakounin and the Pole who slew the American President.
*     *    *
 Anarchy, then, is a doctrine taught by the highest intellects of European and American reform movements. In its physical force phase it is at the same time an application to society itself of its own gospel of physical force. The tendency of all capitalistic countries is now strongly trending in the direction of militarism, and militarism is physical-force Anarchy writ large. Until the Augean stable of modern capitalistic development is swept clean, there seems to be scant hope of preventing Anarchistic revivals. Anarchy is the effect and the outcome of the rottenness of 20th century, “ civilised ” society. Physical-force methods of exterminating Anarchy can never hope to succeed. On the contrary, such attempts only serve to encourage its spread and growth. In the direction of ameliorating the lot of the lower strata of society, in the direction of elevating and educating humanity, in the direction of true social reform lies the one and only cure for the widespread and ever-growing doctrines of physical force Anarchy.
*     *     *
 Modern society is sitting upon a slumbering volcano. The rank growths of pestilential, fever-stricken, sweating dens are breeding a race of men to whom the fear of death is absolutely unknown. The awfully sad surroundings of “wage children” born into this artificial age, without the least hope of emerging from their environment, are telling their own tales. The language of sorrow and the gospel of despair are finding vent in a bloody scroll. The deeds of isolated, partially demented men— made so by the criminal neglect of boodle-hunting and syndicate mongering Governments — are reacting with volcanic fury upon the sunken mass of lethargic ignorance. Anarchy alone cannot alter the commercial age, the era of greed and profit mongering; it can only by brutal force call the attention of rulers of “submerged millions"— that are victimised on the altar of Mammon— to a sense of the voiceless injustice of the existing order, by hurling itself blindly against the Thing that grinds the faces of the people —the Thing we call Society.

 Worker 21 September 1901,

No comments: