Fair Use Blog

Archive for January, 2011

Are All Forms of Anarchism Leftist? (2004)

Now available thanks to DFW ALL at DFW Alliance of the Libertarian Left:

All anarchists share a desire to abolish government; that is the definition of anarchism. Starting with Bakunin, anarchism has been explicitly anti-statist, anti-capitalist, and anti-authoritarian; no serious anarchist seeks to alter that. Leftists have consistently supported and promoted the functions of the State, have an ambiguous relationship to capitalist development, and are all interested in maintaining hierarchical relationships. In addition, historically they have either tacitly ignored or actively suppressed the desires of individuals and groups for autonomy and self-organization, further eroding any credible solidarity between themselves and anarchists. On a purely definitional level, then, there should be an automatic distinction between leftists and anarchists, regardless of how things have appeared in history.

Despite these differences, many anarchists have thought of themselves as extreme leftists — and continue to do so — because they share many of the same analyses and interests (a distaste for capitalism, the necessity of revolution, for example) as leftists; many revolutionary leftists have also considered anarchists to be their (naïve) comrades — except in moments when the leftists gain some power; then the anarchists are either co-opted, jailed, or executed. The possibility for an extreme leftist to be anti-statist may be high, but is certainly not guaranteed, as any analysis history will show.

Left anarchists retain some kind of allegiance to 19th century LH&R and socialist philosophers, preferring the broad, generalized (and therefore extremely vague) category of socialism/anti-capitalism and the strategy of mass political struggles based on coalitions with other leftists, all the while showing little (if any) interest in promoting individual and group autonomy. From these premises, they can quite easily fall prey to the centralizing tendencies and leadership functions that dominate the tactics of leftists. They are quick to quote Bakunin (maybe Kropotkin too) and advocate organizational forms that might have been appropriate in ...

Read the whole thing at DFW Alliance of the Libertarian Left.

The death of Alexander Agassiz, from The Dial (April 16, 1910)

Here’s a passage from The Dial: A Semi-Monthly Journal of Literary Criticism, Discussion, and Information. The passage is from the regular Casual Comment feature; this one taking notice of the death of the American scientist and industrialist Alexander Emanuel Agassiz (d. March 27, 1910).

The passing of a noted naturalist and a distinguished contributor to the literature of natural science is noted with regret in the sudden death, March 28, of Professor Alexander Agassiz, at the age of seventy-five. Gifted son of a gifted father, he shone not only as an original investigator in that father’s domain of science, but also as a mining engineer and a remarkably able man of business. His work at Harvard, where he stepped into Louis Agassiz’s shoes without getting lost in them, and where he built up a great museum of comparative zoölogy and made the university his pecuniary debtor to the extent of a half a million dollars, is well known. His success as superintendent and then president of the Calumet and Hecla mines is to be read in the astonishing rise of Calumet and Hecla stock from next to nothing until it is now quoted at six hundred dollars a share. The elder Agassiz used to declare, when invited to turn his scientific knowledge to his own and others’ pecuniary account, that he had no time to waste in money-making. The son found time to make moeny and to spend it beneficently, besides continuing his special researches in his favorite branches of science. His original and unostentatious ways of giving were in marked contrast with the methods pursued by some other public benefactors. When, six years ago, he was offered $75,000 for conducting some deep-sea soundings in the Pacific, on condition that the enterprise should be known as the Carnegie-Agassiz Expedition, he promptly declined the offer and found money elsewhere — chiefly in his own pocket. The life of such a man is full of inspiration to others; and it is to be hoped that a worthy biography of Alexander Agassiz may in due time be forthcoming.

–From Casual Comment, The Dial, April 16, 1910, p. 264

Review of C. L. James’s The French Revolution, from the New York Times (April 25, 1903)

We’ve been spending some time lately gathering material on C. L. James (1846-1911), the prolific but reclusive Anarchist pamphleteer and song-writer of Eau Claire, Wisconsin. James was something of an intellectual heavy in his day, and maintained frequent correspondence with (among others) The Alarm, Liberty, Free Society and Mother Earth, but he has since been almost entirely forgotten. Well, if the Fair Use Repository is good for anything, hopefully it is providing a platform for some diligent un-forgetting.

Along with a steady stream of pamphlets and articles, James wrote a book-length History of the French Revolution; for to-day’s post, we have a very mildly positive review of the book that ran in the New York Times, of all places, on April 25, 1903. Well, it’s certainly a kinder review than some he got in the Anarchist press. In any case, here we are.

The French Revolution

New York Times, April 25, 1903

History of the French Revolution. By C. L. James. Pp. 343. Cloth 8vo. Chicago: Abe Isaac, Jr.

A sketch of the French Revolution by a theoretical Anarchist is likely to have whatever interest attaches to a peculiar point of view. Mr. James seems to be a theoretic Anarchist, and his book has the special interest that might be expected of such a work. It is, in fact, a readable essay, for the most part moderate in expression, usually distinguished by lucidity of style, and apparently based on wide reading. After that the book is a piece of special pleading. Mr. James’s method is not to exult over the bloodshed and madness of the Revolution, rarely to defned, though often to excuse, the atrocities of the time.

The Reign of Terror he regards as a dreadful period, and the Government of that time one of the worst that the world has known, but one of the strongest. He thinks the idyllic time of the revolution was the period of a year or more before the execution of the King, when France bordered close upon true anarchy, being almost without government. This opinion, as might be expected of an Anarchist, Mr. James is fond of repeating. He also declares that the influential men of the Revolution were not Socialists or Communists. Even while he condemns the government of the Jacobins, and many of their tyrannical measures, as a consistent Anarchist must, he is anxious to find acts of theirs to praise, and he is not often struck with the absurdities of the time. But perhaps Mr. James with all his keenness is a little defective in the sense of humor.

The attitude of the author is best illustrated by concrete examples. He appreciates the virtues of Louis XVI., and thinks imprisonment would have been better than death in his case, but believing him to have been guilty of the crimes of which he was convicted, is not struck with the travesty of justice implied in a trial by Judges who were constantly under the eyes and influence of an outspoken populace bitterly hostile to the accused. The Queen he thinks to have been guilty also of treason, but he is moved to generous disgust at the revolting charges of Hébert. Nevertheless he hardly permits himself one expression of pity for her fate, though he thinks her death a political mistake. The September massacres, the atrocities of Lyons and of Nantes he does not defend, but impliedly excuses by citing parallels in the doings of settled governments. This last is his favorite method of excuse, and it is sometimes effective. He pities the Girondists, but thinks they brought upon themselves their hard fate. Of Danton’s end he says: Thus died, in the noblest of causes, the best champion of freedom whom the crisis of his time produced. Robespierre he does not defend so earnestly as do some recent students of the period, possibly because he cannot forgive Robespierre’s ambition to be dictator. Marat’s demand for 200,000 heads, though repeated in open convention, Mr. James thinks hardly more than a piece of insincere bravado. He pronounces the terrible doctor of the sewers the most misrepresented man in the revolution.

This book is well worth reading, if only that one may see how hard it is for the historian, however intelligent, to do much more than make ex parte statement of his case. It is well, however, that we should have such a statement from the revolutionary side, for the larger part of what has been written on the subject in English deals with it from the very opposite point of view.

The Principles of Anarchism (1929)

Now available thanks to DFW ALL at DFW Alliance of the Libertarian Left:

Lucy Parsons

To my mind, the struggle for liberty is too great and the few steps we have gained have been won at too great a sacrifice, for the great mass of the people of this 20th century to consent to turn over to any political party the management of our social and industrial affairs. For all who are at all familiar with history know that men will abuse power when they possess it, for these and other reasons, I, after careful study, and not through sentiment, turned from a sincere, earnest, political Socialist to the non-political phase of Socialism, Anarchism, because in its philosophy I believe I can find the proper conditions for the fullest development of the individual units in society, which can never be the case under government restrictions.

The philosophy of anarchism is included in the word “Liberty”; yet it is comprehensive enough to include all things else that are conducive to progress. No barriers whatever to human progression, to thought, or investigation are placed by anarchism; nothing is considered so true or so certain, that future discoveries may not prove it false; therefore, it has but one infallible, unchangeable motto, “Freedom.” Freedom to discover any truth, freedom to develop, to live naturally and fully. Other schools of thought are composed of crystallized ideas-principles that are caught and impaled between the planks of long platforms, and considered too sacred to be disturbed by a close investigation. In all other “issues” there is always a limit; some imaginary boundary line beyond which the searching mind dare not penetrate, lest some pet idea melt into a myth. But anarchism is the usher of science-the master of ceremonies to all forms of truth. It would remove all barriers between the human being and natural development. From the natural ...

Read the whole thing at DFW Alliance of the Libertarian Left.

“The Philadelphia Farce,” by Voltairine de Cleyre, from Mother Earth III.5 (July 1908)

Some of our recent items (“Emma Goldman Now Alien”, “To Drive Anarchists Out of the Country”) have focused on the anti-immigrant, anti-Anarchist panic of the 19-aughts. There have been a couple of stories from the establishment media of the time; to-day, we have a piece from the Anarchist press, in which Voltairine de Cleyre discusses the Philadelphia D.A.’s disastrous attempts to convict her, and fellow Anarchist Hyman Weinberg, for “inciting to riot,” based on speeches that they gave at a meeting of unemployed workers shortly before the “riot” (or police attack) in Philadelphia on February 20, 1908. This article was published in Mother Earth, Vol. III., No. 5 (July 1908), and is transcribed from the version reprinted in Peter Glassgold’s Anarchy! An Anthology of Emma Goldman’s MOTHER EARTH (2000), pp.246-252.

The Philadelphia Farce

Voltairine de Cleyre, Mother Earth III.5 (July 1908)

After the lapse of nearly four months from the riot of last February, the case of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania vs. Hyman Weinberg and Voltairine de Cleyre was called for trial on the 17th of June, the trial Judge being Mayer Sulzberger, a gentleman having a reputation of being somewhat more inclined to weigh the rights of citizens as against the attacks of the police than some other judges.

On the morning of the 17th, Weinberg and myself, the witnesses for the defense, and our respective lawyers were all ready in the court room. The State, however, was not ready; one of the arresting officers was not present.

Some very animated wrangling then took place between the Judge and the lawyers, in which the Judge, so far from upholding the dignity of office, presented, to me at least, the curious appearance of a scolding old woman; the effect was no doubt heightened by the black and somewhat out-of-date dress he wears. Under the regular rules of criminal court procedures, the case would then have gone over to the next term of court, but the result of the wrangling was that the case was continued to the next day. Accordingly, we appeared on the morning of June 18. The officer was now present, but the chief witness, in fact the only witness, was absent. The Prosecuting Attorney asked for a continuance of the case to search for the witness. The Judge ordered that the witness be called. The crier of the court holloed John Ká-ret, John Ka-rét. No response. Another crier went down the hall and out into the corridor calling John Ka-rét. John Karet did not appear.

The Judge asked if the State had Karet’s sworn testimony at the hearing in the Magistrate’s court. Upon the affidavit being produced, the Judge elected to read it himself because it was easier. Having done so, he doubled the paper up with a rather disgusted face, remarking, If that is all your evidence, we will submit the bill to the jury.

A motion of our lawyers to dismiss the case (or some legal phraseology to that effect) was denied by the Judge; the prosecution said it had other witnesses.

At this point Attorney Nelson asked the Court to appoint a stenographer, which was refused by the Judge with the remark: This Court is not here for the purpose of furnishing campaign literature to anybody.

We then engaged a stenographer on our own account; what follows is the verbatim report of the trial.

Hyman Weinberg and
Voltairine de Cleyre


Court of Quarter Sessions.
March Sessions, 1908
No. 18.

Before Honorable Mayer Sulzberger, P. J., and a Jury.

Philadelphia, June 18, 1908.

Present, of counsel:


Ralph Gold, called by Commonwealth, sworn.

By Mr. Wolf:

Q. You are a special officer of the 33rd District?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. You arrested those defendants?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. When?

A. February 20th.

Q. 1908. Where?

A. I arrested Mr. Weinberg at Fifth and Lombard, in a restaurant, and also Mrs. de Cleyre at her home.

Q. Under what circumstances did you make the arrest?

By The Court:

Q. What do you know about them?

A. In fact, we know nothing; only the warrant sworn out by this Karat.

Q. What do you know about the case?

A. Nothing.

Q. Did they confess anything to you?

A. Nothing.

Q. Did they say anything to you?

A. Nothing at all.

By Mr. Wolf:

Q. What did they say at the time you arrested them?

A. Nothing at all. I only placed them under arrest and said what it was for.

Q. They said nothing?

A. They said nothing; no, sir.

Q. Your first information was when this man Karat came to you?

A. He came to us and said these people were speaking.

Q. He said nothing in your presence?

A. Only at the hearing.

Q. You know nothing more about it?

A. No, sir.

(No cross-examination.)

Joseph Vignola, called by Commonwealth, sworn.

By Mr. Wolf:

Q. You are a special officer?

A. Yes, sir; of the 33rd District.

Q. Did you participate in the arrest of these defendants?

A. No, sir.

Q. What do you know about this case?

A. I don’t know anything about the case at all. I don’t know how my name comes on the bill.

(No cross-examination.)

John J. Fox, called by Commonwealth, sworn.

By Mr. Wolf:

Q. You are a special officer of the 2nd District?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. What do you know about the case?

A. All I know is information received from John Karat, who swore out the warrant for Voltairine de Cleyre, and we arrested her.

Q. Were you present at the meeting at which the statements were said to have been made?

A. No, sir.

Q. Did you have a conversation with either of the defendants?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. What did they say about it?

A. They didn’t have anything to say.

Q. Did you have any conversation with Karat in the presence of the defendants?

A. Only at the hearing–that is, the hearing room.

Q. Do you know where Karat is now?

A. No, sir.

(No cross-examination.)

Charles Palma, called by Commonwealth, sworn.

By Mr. Wolf:

Q. Do you know anything about the case?

A. I don’t know anything about this case.

Q. Nothing at all?

A. Nothing at all.

Q. Nor about the defendants?

A. I don’t know anything about them.

Q. Nor about Karat?

A. Not a thing.

(No cross-examination.)

Louis Green, called by Commonwealth, sworn.

By Mr. Wolf:

Q. You are a guard at City Hall?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. Do you know anything about the facts of this case?

A. No, sir; nothing about the case.

Q. Or about the defendants?

A. No, sir.

Q. Or about Karat?

A. No, sir.

Q. Do you know how your name got on the bill?

A. At the time the arrest was made they brought me in to the hearing at Central Station. There was a couple of letters that was written in Yiddish that they give me, that I should read through a few lines–

Q. You translated them?

A. Yes.

Q. To whom were those letters addressed?

A. They were addressed to a little town in the State of New Jersey.

Q. I mean to what person?

A. It doesn’t state. It doesn’t state any person.

Q. Who gave you the letters?

A. The Assistant District Attorney, Mr. Rogers.

Q. Have you them now or did he take them back?

A. He took them with him.

(No cross-examination.)

Jean H. Beniakoff, called by Commonwealth, sworn.

By Mr. Wolf:

Q. You are an official interpreter in the Courts of Philadelphia.

A. I am; yes, sir.

Q. There were given to you certain letters.

A. Yes.

Q. Purporting to be addressed to whom?

A. To Mr. Weinberg.

Q. By whom were they given to you?

A. By Mr. Rogers, of the District Attorney’s office.

Q. Did you translate those letters?

A. I read the letters.

Q. In what language are they?

A. In Yiddish.

Q. Have you them with you now?

A. I gave them to you a while ago.

Q. You showed them to me. I didn’t know what they were. How many are there?

A. Ten letters. You have them.

Q. You say that you read them all?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. Is there anything in these letters which could be considered as at all inciting to Anarchy?

A. No, sir.

Q. Will you state what the substance of these letters was?

(Objected to by defendants.)

Q. Did Voltairine de Cleyre write them?

Mr. Wessels: No. They were written to Weinberg and were found in his possession. I object to the letters.

(Commonwealth rests.)

The Court: Gentlemen of the Jury: Under the evidence produced by the Commonwealth, which is no evidence at all against the defendants, you are, of course, to find a verdict of not guilty.

Comment is unnecessary.

The court officers began hustling us out; but presently we were recalled. Mr. Wessel, attorney for Weinberg, was asking that the police return Mr. Weinberg’s watch and letters which had been kept ever since the arrest. The Judge was endeavoring to be witty. What! said he to the police officer, is there any law in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania which says that because a man makes a fool of himself, the police should therefore take away his watch? All the sycophants laughed. Personally, I think it was a gratuitous insult, since the Judge had no evidence whatever to suppose Weinberg had made a fool of himself, and had just been saying he had not. Mr. Wessel arose with a smile, But, your Honor, what we want now is the watch!

Oh give the man his watch, protested the Judge.

And the letters.

More talk about the letters, and then the Judge, forgetting his former two-edged cut at the police and at Weinberg, remarked with judicial dignity, When a man is put under arrest, he is searched, and his property taken charge of for his own protection!

And so, for his own protection, the police have been holding Weinberg’s watch for four months, while he was out on bail! This is the limit.

I wish to thank all contributors to our defense and to say that we have still work to do. Four men are in prison, under most rigorous and unjust sentences. We wish to do what can be done towards freeing these men or supporting their families till they are free.

Those who wish to assist in the work may communicate with Joseph Cohen, 859 N. 7th St., Philadelphia.

Now Available: Three from Liberty on Alaskan Anarchy

I’m happy to announce that the Fair Use Repository now features full-text transcriptions of three articles from an early number of Benjamin Tucker’s Liberty — a discussion of stateless living amongst Alaskan indigenous tribes and what it might mean.

  • A. P. Kelly, then associate editor of Liberty, leads off with Anarchy in Alaska, in Liberty Vol II., No. 16 (May 17, 1884).

  • F. R. B. replied with a general question about Anarchy and fallen humanity, and Kelly printed it along with his rejoinder, in The Cause of Crime, in Liberty Vol. II., No. 17 (May 31, 1884).

  • The Anarchist pamphleteer C. L. James replied in his turn, calling attention to the fact of violence against women in the society that Kelly had described, and challenging Kelly’s optimism about criminality in a free society. Kelly printed the letter, and his own, rather intemperate, rejoinder, in A Shadow in the Path, in Liberty Vol. II., No. 19 (June 28, 1884).

Many thanks to Shawn Wilbur’s invaluable Travelling in Liberty repository for making the needed issues of Liberty easily available.

Proudhon clears things up

Now available thanks to Shawn P. Wilbur at Contr'un:

Proudhon was fond of scandal and provocation—and it got him, and his friends, into hot water. In his System of Economic Contradictions, he wrapped his already provocative thesis about the evolution of institutions around a scandalous narrative about "the hypothesis of God." Proudhon was fascinated with Christianity, and wrote about it from a variety of perspectives and in a variety of tones, but he is probably best remembered for writings like his "Hymn to Satan" and the final chapter of the first volumes of the Economic Contradictions, where he worked himself up to a sort of declaration of war against the very idea of God:
"If God did not exist"— it is Voltaire, the enemy of religions, who says so, — "it would be necessary to invent him." Why? "Because," adds the same Voltaire, "if I were dealing with an atheist prince whose interest it might be to have me pounded in a mortar, I am very sure that I should be pounded." Strange aberration of a great mind! And if you were dealing with a pious prince, whose confessor, speaking in the name of God, should command that you be burned alive, would you not be very sure of being burned also? Do you forget, then, anti-Christ, the Inquisition, and the Saint Bartholomew, and the stakes of Vanini and Bruno, and the tortures of Galileo, and the martyrdom of so many free thinkers? Do not try to distinguish here between use and abuse: for I should reply to you that from a mystical and supernatural principle, from a principle which embraces everything, which explains everything, which justifies everything, such as the idea of God, all consequences are legitimate, and that the zeal of the believer is the sole judge of their propriety.


Read the whole thing at Contr'un.

Gertrude B. Kelly, “Mr. Walker’s Neo-Nonsense,” from Liberty Vol. IV. No. 4 (June 19, 1886)

This is a contribution to the debate over Malthusianism that was conducted in the pages of Benjamin Tucker’s newspaper Liberty, in which the natural-rights anarchist and individualist feminist Gertrude B. Kelly called fellow anarchist E. C. Walker, also a free-love and birth control advocate, to task over his advocacy of “Neo-Malthusianism,” an rehabilitate the work of Thomas Malthus as a component of radical, pro-labor economics. The column appears as “Mr. Walker’s Neo-Nonsense,” on the back page (p. 8) of Liberty Vol. IV., No. 4 (June 19, 1886).

Mr. Walker’s Neo-Nonsense

I am sorry to see that E. C. Walker, having taken a position on Malthusianism, probably without due consideration, seems to feel himself bound now, for the sake of consistency, to maintain that position at all hazards. Consistency is a very fine thing but truth is far finer. Mr. Walker is still determined to call himself a Malthusian, though he denies the fundamental doctrine of Malthusianism,–i.e., that the working-people would be better off, everything else remaining unchanged, if their numbers were diminished. Does Mr. Walker know that Malthus’sTheory of Population” was written in answer to Condorcet’sEsquisse des Progrès de l’Espirit Humain” and Godwin’sPolitical Justice,” the two most Anarchistic works of the last century, which demonstrated that poverty and vice and crime were due to the inequality of conditions, generated and fostered by unjust political systems. Both Godwin and Condorcet foresaw that some day the population question would come up for consideration but they saw also, as we see today, that it was not the burning question, calling for immediate solution, not the question on the solution of which depended the solution of all the others, but that it was a dependent question, secondary to that of justice. Condorcet especially has shown that with improved conditions, and the increased morality necessarily resulting from this improvement, the population question would settle itself, for no man would then desire to bring beings into existence for whose happiness he could not provide, and that recklessness in this respect today was due to the general degradation of the people. Malthus came to the rescue of the rising bourgeoisie, and was one of the most noted signs of the reaction following the French Revolution. He endeavored to show that any attempt made to improve the conditions of the people would only make things worse, as it would make room for a larger population. Mr. Malthus’s followers have since pointed with pride to India as a proof of their master’s insight. The positive checks, of war, of pestilence, etc., to overpopulation having been removed by the motherly care of the British government, the Indian people have been reduced to a condition of more hopeless poverty than that in which they were before. They take no note of the part which the fostering care of the British userers has had in the production of this poverty; it is not part of their scheme to recognize that.

A large part of Mr. Walker’s article is more suited to the columns of the Women’s Christian Temperance papers than to the columns of Liberty. It betrays about as much sense in regard to the population question as the ordinary Christian is in relation to the temperance question. Mr. Walker probably admits that the condition of the individual workingman is made worse by intemperate habits, but nevertheless he would consider it a very superficial movement which confined itself to treating the intemperance, but left the poverty which produced the intemperance untouched. Intemperance and the large families will disappear with the conditions that produce them, and therefore it is to these conditions that our attention must be directed.

In his desperate thundering endeavor to maintain the position which he has assumed, Mr. Walker has deserted the high plane of the Anarchist for that of the ordinary bourgeois or trade-unionist. He says that the workingman “is living in the present, and not in some millennial future.” In his criticisms of the ideas and actions of the trades-unionists, Mr. Walker has shown an impatience and disgust with them which a really philosophical student of society would never have displayed, and just because of this very impatience and this disgust I am not at all surprised to see him descending to the arguments of the trades-unionists. The trades-unionists always tell us:–“Your theories are very fine, but what we want now are better wages and shorter hours.” When we say that, when these become general, they will be no better off than they were before, they answer that they are dealing “with the present, and not with some millennial future. When we have higher wages and fewer hours, we will then have more intelligence to consider the labor question,” etc. etc. Mr. Walker ought to join Mr. Atkinson in his improved system of domestic economy, and also to take lessons from Miss Corson on how to make a neck of beef last a family of six persons for three weeks. All these subjects are highly important, and deal with the “here and now.”

But Mr. Walker has really begged the whole question of Malthusianism. Malthus said that, in proportion to the food-producing capacity of the world at any time, the number of people has always been too great, and hence war, famine, and pestilence are absolutely necessary, and that the only way poverty (which is due to over-population) can be removed is by lessening the population. Mr. Walker says that the individual workingman is better off when his family is small, but admits that, if small families become general, poverty would exist in as great a degree as before, but that all men, from the training they had received in lessening the size of their families, would be more fitted to combat the difficulty. Wondrous training-school! He has changed the discussion from a question of political economy to one of domestic economy, with which the question of the just distribution of wealth has nothing whatsoever to do.

As to France, France is a proof that Malthusianism–that is, a restriction of the population–is a failure as a means for the destruction of poverty. It is in the country districts of France, if I understand J. S. Mill rightly, that the small families originated, for it was to the country people and not to the city people that the Revolution guaranteed a certain means of support which could not be easily increased. In the tables of population of France from 1870 to 1880, I find that more than one-third of the increase of population is credited to the large cities. Now whether this increase in the cities be due to an increased number of births in the cities, or to increased emigration from the country, the population of the country districts must in either case be almost stationary, and, according to the theory of Malthus, the country people should be much better off than in those countries in which large families prevail. This we have already shown not to be the case. Much admiration as I have for the French people, I cannot admit that “they more quickly and effectively than any other modern people resent invasions of their rights, and have a higher ideal of industrial and social life.” In the first place, they do not resent invasions of their rights by the State nearly as much as the English people do, but are constantly clamoring for more and more State regulation, and in the next, the ideal of even the most advanced of them is not all that high in our sense of that word, as even “Le Révolté” cannot keep out of communism.

No, the Anarchists or Anti-Malthusians do not assume that the “wage-system is to be eternal,” and it is for this reason that they are not Malthusians, for the true Malthusian does assume the wage-system to be eternal. I will quote from what seems to be Mr. Walker’s Book of Common Prayer, “The Elements of Social Science,” which he recommended to Mr. Heywood in the last number of “Lucifer” as representing his views on Malthusianism: “There is one method, and one only by which they [the working class] may escape from the great evils which oppress them,–the want of food and leisure, hard work and low wages. This is, by reducing their numbers, and so lessening the supply of labor in proportion to the demand.” One method only, remember; no hint at the abolition of the wage-system. And again: “Wages cannot rise, except through there being more capital or less laborers, nor fall, except through there being less capital or more laborers.” “Poverty arises from an overcrowding of the labor-market and an undue depression of the margin of cultivation.” “The great social evils of old countries, when reduced to their simplest expression, are found to arise from the vast superiority of increase in man, over the powers of increase in the land.” “Profits are the rewards of abstinence [not of monopoly] as wages are the rewards of labor.” This book not only supports all the theories of the orthodox economists, which are true under present conditions, and all the orthodox deductions from these theories, but also all their absurdities, such as the existence of a “wages-fund,” and Mill’s absurd proposition that a “demand for commodities is not a demand for labor.” The book is so full of economic absurdities that I am not at all surprised at Mr. Walker’s temporary state of mental aberration after reading it.

A true Malthusian (I have been unable to discover what constitutes a Neo-Malthusian) sees no other cause for poverty but over-population, no other remedy for poverty but a reduction of the population, and therefore a Malthusian who is a labor-reformer is an anomaly, a contradiction, an absurdity. As to the Malthusians tending towards Anarchy, I wish Mr. Walker would point them out. Mr. Walker and Mr. James tend toward Anarchism, but Mrs. Besant tends just as strongly towards State Socialism. Which tendency is due to the Malthusianism? Are not both in opposition to it? And the people who practically carry out Malthusianism, the French, have a very much stronger leaning towards State Socialism and Communism than the English, whose families are proverbially large.

Gertrude B. Kelly.

The Violence of Laws (1900)

Now available thanks to DFW ALL at DFW Alliance of the Libertarian Left:

What is legislation? And what enables people to make laws?

According to science, legislation is the expression of the will of the whole people; but as those who break the laws, or who wish to break them, and only refrain from fear of being punished, are always more numerous than those who wish to carry out the code, it is evident that legislation can certainly not be considered as the expression of the will of the whole people.

For instance, there are laws about not injuring telegraph posts, about showing respect to certain people, about each man performing military service or serving as a juryman, about not taking certain goods beyond a certain boundary, or about not using land considered the property of some one else, about not making money tokens; not using articles which are considered to be the property of others, and about many other matters.

All these laws and many others are extremely complex, and may have been passed from the most diverse motives, but not one of them expresses the will of the whole people. There is but one general characteristic of all these laws, namely, that if any man does not fulfill them, those who have made them will send armed men, and the armed men will beat, deprive of freedom, or even kill the man who does not fulfill the law.

If a man does not wish to give as taxes such part of the produce of his labour as is demanded of him, armed men will come and take from him what is demanded, and if he resists he will be beaten, deprived of freedom, and sometimes even killed. The same will happen to a man who begins to make use of land considered to be the property of another. The same will ...

Read the whole thing at DFW Alliance of the Libertarian Left.

“To Drive Anarchists Out of the Country,” from the New York Times (March 4, 1908)

In line with some of our other recent material from the anti-immigrant and anti-Anarchist panic of the 19-aughts, here is a long front-page story from the New York Times in 1908, in which the Times declared that The United States has declared open war on Anarchists. The form that the war would take was a mass crackdown on immigrants — one of the first major immigration enforcement actions in United States history — in order to round up and deport Anarchists with radical political beliefs.


Secretary Straus Orders Immigration Men to Co-operate with Police in Locating Criminals.


Added Precautions to be Taken in Excluding Aliens–Three Assassinations Were Plotted in Chicago.

Special to The New York Times.

WASHINGTON, March 3.–The United States has declared open war on Anarchists. As a result of the great increase in crime and the growing boldness of those who are enlisted under the red flag, Commissioners of Immigration and immigrant Inspectors have been instructed by Secretary Straus of the Department of Commerce and Labor to ally themselves with the police and detectives of the cities and aid in putting an end to terrorism. The order was issued to-day, and is said to have the hearty indorsement of President Roosevelt.

Secretary Straus orders that the immigration authorities shall take steps necessary to securing the co-operation of the police and detective forces in an effort to rid the country of alien Anarchists and criminals falling within the law relating to deportation.

Secretary Straus’s Order.

The order of Secretary Straus follows:

To all Commissioners of Immigration and Immigrant Inspectors in charge: It is hereby directed that, with a view to promptly obtaining definite information with regard to alien Anarchists and criminals located in the Untied States, you shall confer fully with the Chief of Police or the Chief of the Secret Service of the city in which you are located, furnishing such official with detailed information with regard to the inhibition of that statute against aliens of the criminal classes, explaining the powers and limitations imposed by said statute upon the immigration officials with respect to such persons.

You should call to the attention of the Chief of Police or Chief of the Secret Service the definition of Anarchist contained in Sections 2 and 38 of the act of Feb. 20, 1907, and the provisions of Section 2 placing within the excluded classes persons who have been convicted of or admit having committed a felony or other crime or misdemeanor involving moral turpitude, pointing out that if any such person is found within the United States within three years after landing or entry therein he is amenable to deportation under the provisions of Section 21 of said act.

The co-operation of said officials should be requested, making it clear that in order that any particular Anarchist or criminal may be deported, evidence must be furnished showing (1) that the person in question is an alien subject to the immigration acts; (2) that he is an Anarchist or criminal as defined in the statute; (3) the date of his arrival in the United States, which must be within three years of the date of his arrest; (4) the name of the vessel or of the transportation line by which he came, if possible, and (5) the name of the country whence he came, the details with respect to the last three items being kept at the various ports of entry in such a manner as to be available if information is furnished with respect to the Anarchist’s name, the date of his arrival, and the port of entry.

It is desired that the above indicated steps shall be taken at once and that no proper effort shall be spared to secure and retain the co-operation of the local police and detective forces in an effort to rid the country of alien Anarchists and criminals falling within the provisions of the statute relating to deportation.

Uneasy Over Anarchy’s Spread.

The Administration has viewed with increasing uneasiness the spread of Anarchy and Socialistic teachings. The threats made against citizens of wealth and position are becoming more numerous with every month. The attempt to kill the Chief of Police of Chicago, the riot in Philadelphia following the dispersal of an Anarchistic meeting, and the threats made against clergymen have brought the Government to a realization that something must be done to make life and property more secure.

With the activity of the immigration authorities and the police in running down criminals in the United States, there will be taken added precautions against admitting to the country any more of the same class. The examination of the hordes of aliens that come yearly to these shores will be made so severe that it will in the future partake of the nature of an inquisition. The Government is beginning to realize that it has been employing too lax methods in the past.

A case in point, they say, is the presence in this country of Emma Goldman. This woman is declared to be a firebrand and an Anarchist of the most rabid type. She went abroad some months ago, and at that time it was openly stated that she would not be readmitted to the country. In spite of these declarations Miss Goldman is back again in the United States spreading the propaganda of revolutionary Socialism.

It is cases such as these, in the opinion of officials, that lend encouragement to the vicious element. The laws, in the first place, are held to be too lenient, and secondly, they are not administered with the severity the situation demands. More stringent laws, coupled with emphatic application of them, are said to be the crying need of the time.

As the law now stands, an Anarchist may go about unmolested by the police after he has spent three years in this country and has not been connected with the perpetration of a crime in that time. He is immune from deportation. It does not matter whether the criminal is a citizen or not, he can legally resist all efforts to return him to the country from whence he came.

Possible to Exclude Anarchists.

It is possible, however, under the existing law to exclude Anarchists. The law declares that, among others, there may be excluded from the country anarchists, or persons who believe in or advocate the overthrow by force or violence of the Government of the United States or of all government or of all forms of law, or the assassination of public officials.

Section 20 of the Immigration act, which covers the exclusion of aliens, provides: That any alien who shall enter the United States in violation of the law shall, upon the warrant of the Secretary of Commerce and Labor, be taken into custody and deported to the country whence he came at any time within three years after the date of his entry into the United States.

Section 21 provides that in case the Secretary of Commerce and Labor shall be satisfied that an alien has been found in the United States in violation of this act, or that an alien is subject to deportation under any law of the United States, he shall cause such alien within the period of three years after landing to be taken into custody and returned to the country whence he came.

This makes it mandatory upon the Secretary to deport any alien Anarchist whom he may discover who has not been in the country three years.

General Enemies of Society.

In addition to these provisions, which ordinarily would cover the case of an Anarchist, a separate section dealing with enemies of society generally was included in the act. Section 38 says:

That no person who believes in or who is opposed to all organized government, or who is a member of or affiliated with any organization entertaining and teaching such disbelief in or opposition to all organized government, or who advocates or teaches the duty, necessity, or propriety of the unlawful assaulting or killing of any officer or officers, whether of specific individuals or of officers generally, of the Government of the United States, or of any other organized government, because of his or their official character, shall be permitted to enter the United States or any territory or place subject to the jurisdiction thereof.

This section shall be enforced by the Secretary of Commerce and Labor under such rules and regulations as he shall prescribe. That any person who knowingly aids or assists any such person to enter the United States or any territory or place subject to the jurisdiction thereof, or who connives or conspires with any such person or persons to allow, procure, or permit any such person to enter therein, except pursuant to such rules and regulations made by the Secretary of Commerce and Labor shall be fined not more than $5,000, or imprisoned for not more than five years, or both.

The New York Times, March 4, 1908, pp. 1-2.