Mittwoch, 20. Mai 2009

Confessions of an anarchist

Here is an excerpt from the great book "Confessions of an anarchist" from W. C Hart.

I have said that a logical
Anarchist despises morality. Try to reason
with him, and he will argue somewhat in this
strain : " Every action of the individual, whether
viewed from the orthodox moral standpoint as
good, bad, or indifferent, is really performed
because the individual cannot help performing it ;
ergo, there are no such acts as good and bad
ac ts all actions are indifferent." So that, as
was candidly admitted by a speaker at the
Paris Anarchist Congress of September, 1889,
and reported in the London Anarchist Journal
Freedom, " Anarchy is a negation of both morals
and principles."
Surprising as it must appear to some
to learn that Socialists are the bitterest enemies
of Anarchists and Anarchism, yet anyone ac-
quainted with the two theories will see at once
that this is as it should be, for Socialism is the
exact opposite of Anarchism, both in theory
and tactics. The late Herr Leibknecht, the
well-known Socialist Member of the German
Reichstag, once divided the Anarchists into three
divisions: (i) criminals and semi-criminals who
throw an Anarchist cloak over their crime ;
(2) police agents ; and (3) the defenders of
so-called " propaganda by deed." Strictly speak-
ing, there is another section : (4) that of the
"perfect beings" I have already mentioned;
but these, as I said, are Anarchists only in name.
As to which of the four sections predominate in
the party it would be hard to say certainly not
the last-mentioned.
For nearly two years a large number of the
most active members of the German Anarchist
Group of the International Working Peoples'
Association in New York City, and of the Social
Revolutionary Club, another German Anarchist
organisation in that city, were persistently en-
gaged in getting money by insuring their property
for amounts far in excess of the real value thereof,
secretly removing everything that they could,
setting fire to the premises, swearing to heavy
losses, and exacting corresponding sums from
the insurance companies. Explosion of kerosene
lamps was usually the device they employed.
Some seven or eight fires, at least, of this sort
were set in New York and Brooklyn in 1884/85 by
members of the gang, netting the beneficiaries
an aggregate profit of thousands of dollars. In
one of the fires set in 1885 a woman and two
children were burned to death. The two guilty
parties in this case were members of the Bohemian
Anarchist Group and are now serving life-sen-
tences in prison. Another of the fires was
started in a six-storey tenement house, endanger-
ing the lives of hundreds, but fortunately
injuring no one but the incendiary.
It is
said there is honour among thieves. But among
this particular section of Anarchists this virtue
is conspicuous by its absence. I speak on this
subject with a feeling of bitterness, for I have
been a victim to these rogues time and
I could never understand, when among the
Anarchists, why so many of them are so remiss
in paying their debts, and loose in money matters
generally, until enlightened by Dr. Creaghe,
editor of the Sheffield Anarchist. " Let me tell
you clearly," he says, " once and for all, that
I believe in, and as long as I live shall do all
in my power to encourage, resistance on the
part of the workers to all kinds of payment, be it
rent or otherwise. I shall also try to persuade them
to TAKE whatever they are short of, be it food or
other things, wherever they find them." The doctor
soon found that this new and convenient " prin-
ciple " could be applied in other ways than those he
had contemplated.
he literature of Anarchism is interesting only
in so far as it denotes the peculiar mental char-
acteristics of its devotees. Couched in an exalted
strain, its sickening grossness and sentimentalism
leave little or no impression on the mind of the
thinking social student (unless it be that of
disgust). Strictly speaking, there are two classes
of Anarchist literature. The one the idealist
voices the sentiments of the " perfect beings "
I have before enumerated, but who in reality
are not Anarchists at all ; the other is the advo-
cate of that pessimistic and criminal Anarchism
which sees no good in any institution extant, nor
hope for the future, and consequently seeks to
destroy. My object, however, is not so much
to criticise the literature of Anarchism, as to
expose the canting professions of these humbugs
who pose as the " real and only friends of labour.'*
For whilst there are none so loud as Anarchists
in denouncing sweating and lauding trade-unionism,
yet, strange to say (or, is it strange ?)
the difference between precept and practice is
alarmingly conspicuous. The Anarchists have
reduced sweating to a fine art !
The history of the Anarchist movement in
England is strewn with the corpses of dead
journals ; and among them may be mentioned
the following : The Commonweal, which de-
scribed "itself as a "revolutionary journal of
Anarchist-Communism," was first suspended at
the time its editor was arrested and sentenced
to serve a term of eighteen months' imprisonment
for an article inciting to the murder of Mr.
Justice Hawkins, and Home Secretary Matthews,
in 1892. Two years later the compositor who
set up the paper was arrested for a speech which
he had made on Tower Hill.
It is quite true that a person who has but
an imperfect grasp of Socialist principles may
possibly tend in an Anarchist direction, so true
is it that a little learning is a dangerous thing.
But to the Socialist who is also a student of
history and economics no such mental contortion
is possible ; he sees that as between Socialism
and Anarchism there must be war to the death
the one being the actual antithesis of the other.
In the early infancy of the Socialist movement,
when the essentials were a red tie and a belief
in the daily expected " revolution," many well-
intentioned but certainly unlearned men and
women flocked to the Socialist banner in the ex-
pectation of the near approach of the millennium.
When the Socialist party attained its majority
these childish notions were cast on one side, and
the task it set out to accomplish was not that
of overturning society and establishing the
complete Socialist Commonwealth at a blow,
but that of convincing men and women that the
gradual adoption of Collectivist principles by
the State and the municipalities would prove so
plainly beneficial to the community that the
principle would be extended until finally all
industries would be absorbed.
The result of
my experience is the conviction that that con-
stable was right that the Anarchist agitator is
simply the mouthpiece of the criminal classes.
We punish the man who breaks the law, but
leave the maker of law-breakers untouched.
" What matter the victims,"
exclaimed the Anarchist poet, Laurent Tailhade,
on the evening of Vaillant's outrage in the French
Chamber ; " what matters the death of vague
human beings if thereby the individual affirms
himself ? " *
It is a fact that every
Anarchist group is composed largely of mere
youths. To such, Anarchist views have some
attraction, as being calculated to allow a reckless
independence, freedom from control, and a kind
of intellectual audacity which, for a time, fasci-
nates. Accordingly, in the interests of such, my
call is to everyone who has the moral and material
welfare of the nation at heart to political and
social reformers, to Socialists, and to every kind
of ethical and religious propagandist to unite
in calling for the total suppression of violent
Anarchist publications, and the dealing out of
equal punishments to those who incite to crime
as for those who commit the actual offences

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