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Over My Shoulder # 49: Sic Semper

Here’s the rules.

  1. Pick a quote of one or more paragraphs from something you’ve read, in print, over the course of the past week. (It should be something you’ve actually read, and not something that you’ve read a page of just in order to be able to post your favorite quote.)

  2. Avoid commentary above and beyond a couple sentences, more as context-setting or a sort of caption for the text than as a discussion.

  3. Quoting a passage doesn’t entail endorsement of what’s said in it. You may agree or you may not. Whether you do isn’t really the point of the exercise anyway.

Here’s the quote. This is from my class readings, Herodotus (c. 449 BCE), The Histories (trans. G.C. Macaulay and Donald Lateiner); I read it during one of my study jags over at The Coffee Cat. It’s Herodotus’s version of the end of the life of Cyrus the Great, the first King of Kings of the Persian Empire. At this time in his life, Cyrus had gained supreme power over the Persians, taken power over the old Median Empire, and set out on decades of large-scale conquest, subjugating nearly all of the peoples in Asia Minor, the Levant, and Mesopotamia. He then went with his army to the river Aras, in the hopes of expanding his conquest onto the Central Asian plains.

201. When [Babylon] also had been subdued by Cyrus, he desired to bring the Massagetai into subjection to himself. This nation is reputed to be both great and warlike, and to dwell towards the East and the sunrise, beyond the river Araxes and over against the Issedonians. Some say that this nation is of the Scythian race.

. . . 205. Now the ruler of the Massagetai was a woman, who was queen after the death of her husband, and her name was Tomyris. To her Cyrus sent and wooed her, pretending that he desired to have her for his wife. Tomyris, understanding that he was wooing not herself but rather the kingdom of the Massagetai, rejected his approaches. Cyrus after this, as he made no progress by craft, marched to the Araxes and campaigned openly against the Massagetai, forming bridges of boats over the river for his army to cross, and building towers upon the vessels which gave them safe passage across the river.

[. . . The captive king Croesus advised Cyrus to leave behind part of his army, along with preparations for a feast with strong wine, as a snare for the Massagetai warriors, who had no experience with Persian drinks.]

211. . . . After this when Cyrus and the sound part of the army of the Persians had marched back to the Araxes, and those unfit for fighting had been left behind, then one-third of the army of the Massagetai attacked and proceeded to kill, not without resistance, those whom the army of Cyrus had left behind. Seeing the feast that was set forth, when they had overcome their enemies they lay down and feasted, and being satiated with food and wine they went to sleep. Then the Persians came upon them and slew many of them, and took alive many more even than they slew, and among these the son of the queen Tomyris, who was leading the army of the Massagetai; and his name was Sparagapises.

212. She then, when she heard that which had come to pass with the army and also the things concerning her son, sent a herald to Cyrus and said: Cyrus, insatiable of blood, do not celebrate too much what has come to pass, namely because with that fruit of the vine, with which you fill yourselves and become so mad that as the wine descends into your bodies, wicked words float up upon its stream,—because setting a snare, I say, with such a drug as this you overcame my son and not by valor in fight. Now therefore hear this my word, giving you good advice:—Restore to me my son and depart from this land without penalty, triumphant over a third part of the army of the Massagetai. If you shall not do so, I swear to you by the Sun, who is lord of the Massagetai, that surely I will give you your fill of blood, blood-thirsty though you are.

213. These words were reported to him, but Cyrus disregarded them; and the son of the queen Tomyris, Sparagapises, when he sobered up and he realized his plight, entreated Cyrus that he might be loosed from his chains and gained his request. So soon as his hands were free, he put himself to death. 214. He then ended his life in this manner; but Tomyris, as Cyrus did not listen to her, gathered together all her power and joined battle with Cyrus. This battle I judge to have been the fiercest of all the battles fought by Barbarians,[1] and I am informed that it happened thus:—first, it is said, they stood apart and shot at one another, and afterwards when their arrows were all shot away, they fell upon one another and engaged in close combat with their spears and daggers; and so they continued their fight with one another for a long time, and neither side would flee; but at last the Massagetai got the better in the fight. The greater part of the Persian army was destroyed there upon the spot, and Cyrus himself died there, after he had reigned twenty-nine years. Then Tomyris filled a skin with human blood and had search made among the Persian dead for the corpse of Cyrus. When she found it, she let his head down into the skin and doing outrage to the corpse she said this over it: Though I yet live and have overcome you in fight, nevertheless you have destroyed me by taking my son with craft. I nevertheless according to my threat will give you your fill of blood. There are many tales told about the end of Cyrus, but this one is to my mind the most worthy of belief.

— Herodotus (c. 449 BCE), The Histories, Book I §§ 212-213. (Trans. G.C. Macaulay and Donald Lateiner.)

  1. [1] [Sic. By Barbarians, Herodotus simply means nations that do not speak Greek. —CJ]

“An Open Letter to Barry Goldwater,” by Karl Hess, in Ramparts (October 1969)

This is an article of Karl Hess’s, which appeared in the October 1969 issue of the New Left magazine Ramparts, pp. 28-31. Hess had been a close friend of Barry Goldwater during the early 1960s and had worked as the chief speechwriter in his 1964 presidential campaign.

An Open Letter to Barry Goldwater

It probably isn’t the highest or hottest item on your agenda, but every now and then you might think about why we are now on opposite sides of the fence—or why the fence is growing more like a barricade every day. My side is what is loosely called the New Left, a position to which you will undoubtedly refer a thousand times in a thousand speeches but about which, if the present is an indication, you will know less and less the more often you mention it.

The thing that first attracted me to the New Left was the familiar ring of what was being said there. Decentralization. The return to the people of real political power—of all power. There was also something very attractive in the New Left’s analysis of the American corporate system and its use of political power to preserve and enlarge itself. The way the largest corporations had so strenuously opposed you and supported Johnson, for instance, certainly made it seem fruitful to ask why. Could it have been that you might not have played ball quite so well as he?

There was, of course, a seemingly dissonant sound in the New Left’s attitude toward American adventures abroad. You had championed, and I had fully seconded, the notion that, morally, American arms could and should be used anywhere to fend off incursions by THEM. The crucial question which I permitted, even forced, myself to ask—and which you must never face if you are to hold onto your position in regard to THEM—was simply Who are THEY? And, lo and behold, THEY turned out to be a lot of US.

Let’s face it, we were trying to have it both ways. On the one hand, we spoke of freedom and liberty; on the other, of arming, adventuring, seeking and grasping. We spoke of a world that could not be half slave and half free, but we worked for a world that would be all American. We spoke of the evils of federal power but clucked approval at the same evils on a local scale. We spoke of letting the blacks in on our shuck, but when it came to liberation, we spoke of law and order.

Contradictions like these inevitably tear apart any structure—even a friendship, even a world—once you see them. Because you are, so far as my experience has permitted me to judge, the most essentially honest and potentially radical major American political figure, I am still betting that they could tear apart your position and that some day you will find yourself on this side of the barricades. As a matter of fact, the last time we met you were edging in this direction anyway. You described it yourself one day during your successful 1968 campaign for reelection to the Senate. We were in your living room, just shooting the shit. When the histories are written, you said, I’ll bet that the old right and the New Left are put down as having a lot in common and that the people in the middle will be the enemy. That’s right. They do and they are.

That same week, as I recall, you spoke at the University of Arizona where you said that you had much in common with the anarchist wing of SDS. Anarchist! SDS! Remember? You said those words and you were not struck by lightning. And the point is that you have, or at least had, a lot in common with most of SDS. Now it’s probably their turn to snort in disbelief and even derision, and I do admit that I have passed over lightly such details as imperialism, but at least both of you—you then, SDS now—have sought to grasp certain political problems radically, by the roots.

Even before you made your speech about some commonality of interest with SDS, former SDS president Carl Oglesby knew that there was at least a historic echoing from the right of positions which have come to be regarded as New Leftist. Senator Taft, for instance, led the fight against NATO, making many of the same points that SDS makes on a broader scale about imperialism. I know that you departed long ago from a foreign policy position even roughly akin to Senator Taft’s, but perhaps knowing that the New Left’s position did not spring full-blown from the brow of Chairman Mao might at least let you examine, or re-examine, America’s role as the world’s policeman and protector of markets.

Why even bother with the suggestion? The answer is probably more romantic than reasonable. Common sense tells me that the rhetoric has ended and the revolution has begun. But nostalgia keeps suggesting that maybe we could speak for a minute and even agree that it would be far better, and so very much more decent, to give up power rather than having to go through, once again, the agony of having it taken away. I know you at least sensed this once as you contemplated the many changes you felt were inevitable and not very far off.

You caused virtual apoplexy among conservatives when you spoke, as you did in 1964, of the inevitability of world government, which you saw as developing through the political enlargement of such military arrangements as NATO. Your perception of change was right on. Your notion of how it would be accomplished, if you think about it (which I must admit too few of us did during the hectic days of the campaign), was a flat contradiction of your other principles—those regarding the return of political power to individuals. For a man as suspicious of central government as you were, the idea of accepting even the possibility of one huge, overall, overpowering government was 180 degrees off. Clarence Streit and other liberals thought it a silver lining in your otherwise cloudy aspect, of course. And there again you were quite correct in your perception: liberals are fatheads. The only thing worse than a big government is a bigger one!

It was the New Left that most sharply outlined the direction which was consistent with your root principles—decentralization. SDS’s early movement into neighborhood organizing was a manifestation of this. The current and, I think, monumentally significant work on neighborhood government by Milton Kotler—a colleague of mine at the Institute for Policy Studies—is more emphatically libertarian in nature than any single statement, action, stance or proposal of the entire Republican Party, with the Democrats thrown in to boot. And the present movement of SDS out into the neighborhoods, fields and factories, as well as into the schools, is deeply involved with putting power back where you, most emphatically of all working politicians, always said it belonged: in the hands of the people—not the people of some sociological abstraction, but the people in one-by-one, community-by-community reality.

In the long liberation of the blacks in this slave-haunted land, you also perceived a transfer of power as sharply as anyone—back then. You spoke of blacks having to have real political power before they could be free, and you risked and got a political mudbath by emphasizing that power far and beyond the then currently chic bullshit about bigger and better welfare checks, bigger and better federal fetters for a people already bloody from white, liberal legislation.

Today there are blacks who are putting into practice what you spoke about. They are struggling for real political power and they will get it even if they have to take it in combat. The Black Panthers are the vanguard of that struggle. Nineteen have died in it so far. They are in black reality the echo of a white past which you supposedly respect and even revere—the first American Revolution.

Senator, if you had been born black, and poor, you would now be a Panther or I seriously misjudge the strength of your character and convictions.

The Panthers are dying for the sort of liberty that you used to talk about. Dying, boss, not talking. Can’t you hear a brother’s voice even when it’s his last gasp? Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice and moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue, and where in the name of Jefferson, Adams, and that grandfather of yours who said fuck foreign kings and wars and came to the U.S., where in all their names is there a more extreme grasp for liberty and justice than in this black colony now breaking away? Here are people who desperately needed some fellow extremist somewhere up there in hazy Washington to talk to, and all they heard was law and order, law and order, the clanking of cell doors, the thud of clubs and the crack of small arms fire.

There won’t be a chance to talk now because wars are much too loud. But while there was a chance, where were you? Where were we all—all of us who made our living talking about liberty, and then didn’t recognize it when it started flowering at our feet, because the petals were black and red and not red-white-and-blue.

I guess it would have been political suicide to talk to a Panther when you wanted to get back into the Senate. But you faced that once before and didn’t even flinch. Remember?

In 1964, it seemed as if there were a real possibility of racial trouble resulting from your campaign. I happen to think you are as color-blind as any man in American politics, but the image of your most red-necked followers blurred it all, and the race issue was a rising concern. To make matters worse, some of your most respected political advisors (real professionals) had talked long and loosely enough about the beneficial effects of racial disturbances on your candidacy to ring alarms for anyone. They claimed that one good race riot would put you in office. They knew, long before Spiro Agnew and probably as soon as George Wallace, that millions of white Americans were just bone scared of the black liberation movement and that it would take very little violence to shake out any government and put in any man with a tough reputation—and that’s just the kind you had.

I am convinced that, had it not been for one crucial action by you, efforts to incite racial trouble would have been inevitable. But you took the action, risking your entire candidacy as you did it. You called in some key reporters for an off-the-record briefing and made a single point: you said that if any racial trouble resulted from your candidacy, you would drop out of the race even if it were the day before the election. It was a flat unqualified pledge and I know you meant it. It not only stopped any insane incendiarism among your supporters, but it also put you on the line for killing your candidacy if there was trouble—whatever the cause.

You see, it’s things like that—the sort of gut courage and conviction that corporate liberals and the country club conservatives who so admire you couldn’t even imagine—that makes me miss you here on this side of the barricades.

But this side, you probably feel, is not anti-communist and you have spent an entire lifetime fighting Communism. Well, so had I. And because it was so easy just to fight, I had stopped thinking about what the hell it was we were fighting about in the first place. I would judge, by all I can read, that anti-communists today are operating almost exclusively from information, images and mind-sets formed in the Thirties and Forties.

Fresh from the horror of the purge trials, the slaughter in the Ukraine, the rise of Stalinism, it was easy to be anti-communist then. It was so easy, in fact, that it distorted the entire direction of the right in America. Its direction had been very individualistic, isolationist, decentralist—even anarchistic—and certainly radical compared to the corporate statism that had been rising ever since Herbert Hoover refined the process of federal rationalization of the economy.

Anti-communism twisted the direction of the right, which I feel, if left undisturbed, would today be near the New Left on most major issues. Unexamined anti-communism made possible these cop-outs: that the proper role of government could be the enhancement of industrial growth and corporate profit as a part of building a strong nation to beat back the Red peril; that citizenship training had to be intensified, education redirected, and certain liberties foresworn in order to—dig it—preserve liberty.

I will bet you an autographed picture of Jerry Rubin against a Readers Digest flag decal that not one of your friends who are so oburatelyobdurately anti-communist today can honestly fill you in on the essential differences between communism in North Korea, Viet-Nam, and Cuba—and Russia. Between China and Poland, between Rumania and Hungary and so forth. And I would double the whole bet that they wouldn’t even know where to look to find out what the Panthers, SDS, and the New Left in general have to say about Soviet Communism, about small c communism, about Marcuse, about anything.

Senator, the world has changed. The Provisional Revolutionary Government in South Viet-Nam (that’s our bunch, not yours) has issued a political platform which evidences much of the concern for individual liberty, freedom of trade and ownership of actually private property that Republicans used to rhapsodize about before they won political power. Have you read it? Or if you have read it but not believed it, have you actually tested your doubts?

I suppose that even mentioning Viet-Nam would cause you to stop reading this—if you’ve even begun. I know how deeply you feel about it, because once I did also and in just the same way. I’ll just sketch what happened and suggest that if you ever care to follow the same path, who knows, we might yet bump into each other again.

We thought that Viet-Nam was another case of international communism trying to bend the free world’s borderlines. Diem was reisting THEM—a story that was easy to buy and impossible to prove. But in truth, the NLF was local, and was bent on pursuing justice for the South Vietnamese who were being stripped of land and political power by Diemist politicians. From there on, the errors were compounded.

You once said that it wasn’t worth a single American life just to save face in Viet-Nam. But how many lives is it costing today to do just that? Today the face is Richard Nixon’s. Yesterday it was Lyndon Johnson’s. At least you took a crack or two at Lyndon. Is your friend Dick really any different? Or have you changed your mind about that fatal ratio between face and lives?

It occurs to me, Senator, that there is a document written by a fellow named Goldwater, an ex-Air Force general, that bears on this issue. It was a position paper you prepared for an Air Force project, as I recall. It discussed convergence between the communist and non-communist nations, but you didn’t see convergence as simply a matter of the two blocs coming together. You felt that perhaps as the communist bloc broke up and the demands of the people were felt, free institutions would develop strongly there, but that at the same time they might crumble in the other bloc. There could be a time, you felt, when Eastern Europe would be moving into freedom while America was sinking into tyranny.

Isn’t there something familiar going on today? Aren’t there in fact more difference between the communist parties of Eastern Europe than between, say, the Democrats and Republicans in this country? Aren’t we showing a tendency to side with the Soviets against dissident communist regimes—China being a foremost example? Isn’t there a revival among your very colleagues in the Senate and House of the security-law syndrome that did so little but hurt so much during the Fifties? Wasn’t there something more than just signpost sloganeering in the description of the Chicago police riot as Prague West? Isn’t Czechoslovakia just Russia’s Viet-Nam—not as brutal or bloody but just as politically obscene?

If you ever got a chance to read the New Left’s literature you might feel a jolt of recognition, page after page, as you found an analysis of the U.S.-U.S.S.R. detente that makes many of the points you once made. I can imagine that the word left would turn you off; yet, in an historical sense, you were a prominent leftist when you attacked established power, as you used to attack it. You even wrote several times of your position as being classically liberal—classically, that is, leftist. Is it socialism that still haunts the phrase for you? It shouldn’t. You are now supporting an administration which is practicing the sort of industrial-military socialism that Bismarck developed. Is the socialism of, for instance, neighborhood control of the community’s resources really more frightening than that?

Which reminds me of Ocean Hill-Brownville, or People’s Park. Senator, they were doing just what you used to talk about. You should have been there. Your old ideas were.

You used to make the liberals froth when you spoke against federal influence in the schools. Federal money, you used to say, inevitably leads to federal pupils, and the liberals turned pale, threw up their dickies, and said you were a heartless monster. Well, they treated McCoy the same way at Ocean Hill when he said that his folks should run their own school and not your folks.

And your old buddy Ronald Reagan! Now there’s a lesson in liberty for you. On one side of People’s Park there is the State of California with its right of eminent domain. It took the land. I would say it stole the land. How, I wonder, do you describe the right of eminent domain? On the other side are people who have an exotic notion about ownership. They don’t think it should be exercised at the point of a gun or a bayonet. They worked that land. They homesteaded it. They owned it in a sense far deeper than any government proclamation. Think of it that way: a scrap of government paper on one side; real people on the other, and your old friend Ronald Reagan, so help us, now supporting that scrap of paper against the people, with as much bloodcurdling diligence as any man you ever fought in the political arena. Senator, are you really sure you want to be a deputy sheriff for state power? That’s just what you are on the other side of the fence at the People’s Park!

Student dissent generally? Why did you have to come down so solidly on the side of the police? Don’t you remember that they are the employees of the state, not the people? Why couldn’t we have heard your rebel voice, instead of your company manners, when push came to shove at Berkeley and Columbia? Wasn’t that a time to re-examine the entire structure of the system? Was there any more appropriate man to do it, after the years you had spent talking about the dangers of a schooling that might force people to conform rather than encourage them to think? Why couldn’t you, of all men, see what was on the other side of those broken windows on the campus?

We had a discussion once about the campus scene, and it seemed clear to me that you would be in a far different position as a student than you are as a senator. Not long ago, you reminded me, marijuana was as common a smoke as burley in the Southwest. Nobody thought much about it, you said. I don’t really know what you thought about it then, but I can’t imagine anyone else in the Senate with your sort of good, bull-headed devotion to politically inadvisable principles, who could better take the lead in stopping the insane rampage against young people going on across the country in connection with a drug which, you freely admit, was as common as and much less troublesome than whiskey back where you came from.

The draft is another raid on young people that you did take the lead on—once. It was your very first presidential campaign pledge. You didn’t bullshit about it. You said that as president you would end the draft. Period. Just end it. You didn’t fuzz it up with after the emergency or after we study it, like your chum Dick. You may recall that the draft was the subject of our very last conversation. In preparation for your return to the Senate, I had worked up material for a flat-out repeal of the draft which, I felt, could appropriately be your first order of business when you were in the Senate and, hopefully, raising hell instead of brownie points.

I don’t cry about politics anymore, but if I did, I surely would have when you replied that in regard to anti-draft legislation you thought you should wait and see what Dick Nixon was going to do! You know what Dick Nixon always does! He shillies for a while. Then he shallies. Then he very carefully sets out in every direction at once, arriving exactly nowhere some time later, but promising that tomorrow he’ll begin again.

But, since you’ve returned to the Senate, it seems as if you are forever checking with someone to see if the coast is clear. You used to tell a joke about the little old lady you met in the hotel lobby who asked if you didn’t used to be Senator Goldwater. It’s getting less funny as time goes on. Something is happening out in the world, out on the streets. Much of it involves things you have said and thought throughout your life; much it involves things with which you profoundly disagree but which you should at least subject to a new dialogue. All of it involves a basic crisis, the sort of broken faith in state power that you have urged, the sharp awareness of the meaning of political power as the power of people against the power of overriding institutions. On the other hand (I mean the other side, your side now), there is ossification, resistance to radical change, support of vested power, liberal reformism, rule and repression by fiat and that most abhorrent of all organically collectivist notions—that the state really can and should claim the loyalty, blood and lives of all born to its borders and its bias.

Maybe that’s where you want to be after all. If I had only read about you, over the years, I would come to that conclusion and let the matter drop as being of little real importance. But instead, I have worked with you over the years. I think that even with the absolute disagreement I now have with you in regard to American imperialism, corporate-state capitalism, and anti-communism, there is such a crucial point of mutual interest on the New Left in regard to political power (it properly exists only in the people and in their communities) that you should be here and not over there. Because that’s where it’s at today, Senator. Here or there. The left of the individual people of this entire earth, taking back the power that the politicians and the exploiters stole from them, or the right of reaction, of established authority, of vested interests, of police, politics, and power.

There was a time when you used to drive the professional pols stark, staring mad because whenever you discovered that you had made a mistake on a position you would just come right out and say, Folks, I was wrong. Now here’s how it is.

Well, again, take a long, hard look at the contradictions between liberty at home, imperialism abroad; anti-colonialism abroad, black colonialism at home; free markets in the speeches, state-industrial-complex in the reality; local responsibility in the platforms, local suppression in the precinct houses; anti-communism for Castro, detente for Brezhnev; unshirted hell about welfare programs, unzippered lust for warfare programs.

I will have to admit that there is not exactly a long line queued up on the New Left waiting to hear from you. But there’s a hell of a lot more room for you over here, I would think, than in a Republican Party which regards Everett Dirksen as a hero and you as a maverick, respectable now only because you seem to have been broken to the bit.

In case you want to visit my side some time, there are a lot of pamphlets and things around that you might find interesting. And ideas. And, most of all, people. Good people. Love to see you over here. But if not, that’s okay. We’ll be up your way sooner or later anyway. See you. Right on.

Karl Hess is a former editor of Newsweek. He was the principal author of the 1960 Republican platform, a co-author of the 1964 platform, and Goldwater’s chief speech writer.

“Justus Schwab Mourned: Anarchists Forget Their Differences at His Funeral,” in the New York Times (December 21, 1900)

Yesterday’s post mentioned Justus Schwab, a German-American radical and a fixture of the New York Anarchist milieu, who kept a radical “Beer-Hole” on First Street where Anarchists, socialists, writers, artists, and other radicals and misfits met to drink and talk into the night. Emma Goldman later described his saloon as “the most famous radical center in New York.” Here is an item from the December 21, 1900 issue of the New York Times, on Schwab’s death and his funeral, which brought together New York radicals across factional lines and putting aside schisms and personal breaks to celebrate his memory.

JUSTUS SCHWAB MOURNED

Anarchists Forget Their Differences at His Funeral.

The Tribute of John Swinton–Most in Tears–Emma Goldman Looks Calmly On.

The disciples of extreme Socialism and Anarchy in this city were assembled in harmony yesterday under one roof. This, it is declared, is without a precedent. The occasion was the funeral of Justus Schwab.

The Anarchists gathered in a dingy hall on East Fourth Street. All differences were forgotten, and there was not a single man or woman who gave evidence of any feeling other than sorrow at the loss of the dead disciple. At times during the speeches which were made over the body almost every one there broke down and wept. Dark, bearded faces that had worn a scowl of discontent for years were softened with grief, and men who had been bitter enemies of Justus Schwab while he was alive cried like children.

Emma Goldman, the woman Anarchist leader, who had been the dead man’s closest friend, was the only one present who did not give some indication of emotion. She sat calmly throughout the ceremonies, although John Most, who had been opposed to Schwab for years, gave way completely to his grief several times.

The funeral services were held in the assembly room of the Labor Lyceum at 64 East Fourth Street. The body was taken from the room over the saloon at 50 First Street, where Schwab had lived, early in the day and placed on a bier in the middle of the assembly room. The coffin was open so that the face of the dead man could be seen, and coffin and bier were draped with flags. The emblem of Anarchy was wrapped around the coffin and thrown over the lower part of it, and flags from various labor unions hung below. There was a pile of flowers that brightened up the dark hall, arranged on a table at one end. There were wreaths from Cigar Makers’ Union No. 90, from an Italian Anarchist society, and from the Social Science Club.

The funeral service was marked by the absolute absence of any religious ceremonial, and consisted of speeches by various friends of the dead man. The band of the Carl Sahm Club, which was stationed at one end of the hall, played a dirge that seemed to harmonize with the sombre surroundings, and the Lieber Tafel Singing Society, which the dead Anarchist had founded, sang Eventide. George Biederkapp, the author of a book of Socialist poems, recited an original poem eulogizing Schwab, entitled, The Storm Has Passed, and when he had taken his seat almost every one in the room was in tears. Alexander Jonas, a Socialist leader, made a short speech in German and was followed by John Swinton, who spoke in English.

I am entirely overcome, he said, when I attempt to speak of our dead brother. I have never known a man so self-sacrificing, so faithful, so noble.

John Most, who had been the leader of the Anarchist faction opposed to Schwab, was the next speaker. He spoke in German and in the most dramatic manner. When he had completed his speech he was evidently exhausted, and sank into a chair as the pall-bearers lifted the coffin and carried it out to the hearse, which was waiting for it.

As the hearse started slowly down Second Avenue, followed by a few carriages, nearly 2,000 people, many of them in tears, fell in line behind it. The procession passed by the little saloon where Schwab had lived and then proceeded slowly to the ferry at the foot of East Houston Street. All along the route the windows of the tenements were filled with people. At the ferry the carriages followed the hearse and the Anarchists on foot dispersed quietly. The body was taken to Fresh Pond, L. I., for cremation.

Source

Countereconomics on the shopfloor

So lately I’ve been reading through a cache of syndicalist and autonomist booklets that I picked up a couple years ago from a NEFACker friend of mine who was soon to move out of Vegas. Partly for my own edutainment, but also because I am doing some prep work for possibly introducing a sort of Little Libertarian Labor Library to the ALL Distro.[1] Anyway, here’s a really interest passage I ran across in a booklet edition of Shopfloor Struggles of American Workers — a talk by the Detroit auto-worker and autonomist Marxist Martin Glaberman — on the difference between asking workers to vote on an issue and asking them to strike over it, taking as an example the internal conflicts over the union bosses’ no-strike pledge during World War II.

One of the things I want to start with, because it does provide a framework, and is not simply an event from the past, is something I did some work on a number of years ago about auto workers in the United States during World War II, the kinds of struggles that went on on the shop floor, within the union, between the workers and the government, a complex reality. What it revolved around was the struggle against the no-strike pledge in the UAW When the United States entered World War II, virtually all of America’s labor leaders graciously granted in the name of their members a pledge not to strike at all during the war.

In the first months of the war, the first year, there was an actual drop off in strikes. The end of 1941 through 1942 was a period that put a finish to the late thirties, the massive organizational drives, the sit-down strikes, the violence, all the things that created the big industrial unions. The job hadn’t been entirely done. Ford wasn’t organized until early 1941. Little Steel wasn’t organized, unionized, until the war was well under way, and so on.

Gradually, however, as the war went on, the number of strikes, (by definition all of them were wildcats, all of them were illegal under union contracts and under union constitutions) began to escalate until by the end of the war, the number of workers on strike exceeded anything in past American labor history. What was distinct about the UAW wasn’t just that the wildcat strikes were larger in number and more militant, but the fact that something took place which made it possible to make a certain kind of record. It was the only union in which, because there were still two competing caucuses, leaving rank and file workers a certain amount of democratic leeway to press for their point of view, an actual formal debate and vote took place on the question of the no-strike pledge.

A small, so-called rank and file, caucus was organized late in 1943 and early 1944, to begin a campaign around a number of issues, but the central issue was the repeal of the no-strike pledge. … So[2] they proceeded to have a referendum. This referendum was in some respects the classic sociological survey. Everyone got a postcard ballot. Errors, cheating, etc. were really kept to a minimum. Everyone on the commission thought that it was as fair as you get in an organization of a million or more members. It took several months to do. When the vote was finally in, the membership of the UAW had voted about two to one to reaffirm the no-strike pledge.

The conclusion any decent sociologist would draw is that autoworkers on the whole thought that patriotism was a little bit more important than class interests, that they supported the war rather than class struggle and strikes, etc. There was a little problem, however, and this is why this is such a fascinating historical experience. The problem was that at the very same time that the vote was going on, in which workers voted two to one to reaffirm the no-strike pledge, a majority of autoworkers struck ….

To visualize it is fairly simple: you’re not voting on the shop floor; you get this postcard, you’re sitting at the kitchen table, you’re listening to the radio news with the casualty reports from Europe and the Pacific and you think, yes, we really should have a no-strike pledge, we’ve got to support our boys. Then you go to work the next day and your machine breaks down and the foreman says, Don’t stand around, grab a broom and sweep up, and you tell him to go to hell because it’s not your job and the foreman says he’s going to give you time off and the next thing you know, the department walks out. … The reality is that in a war which was probably the most popular war that America took part in, workers in fact, if not in their minds or in theory, said that given the choice between supporting the war or supporting our interests and class struggle, we take class struggle.

— Martin Glaberman, Shopfloor Struggles of American Workers (1993?)

Glaberman puts this out as a distinction between what workers say in their minds or in theory and what they say or do in fact. I’m not sure that’s right — doesn’t the story about the foreman involve the workers’ mind and beliefs just as much as the story about the kitchen table? — but I think the most important thing here is Glaberman’s attention to the context at the point of decision, and how that shapes what kind of decision a worker thinks of herself as making. Not just the outcome of the choice, but really the topic, whether the worker is asked to make some kind of political choice about what she ought, in some general and detached sense, she ought to value (isn’t Patriotism important?), or she finds herself making an engaged, personal choice about what’s happening — what’s being done — to her and her fellow workers right now, on the margin. There is a lesson here for counter-economists.

Freedom is not something you vote on. It’s something you struggle for. And what’s far more important than trying to figure out how to get people to endorse the right ideology, or, worse, the least-bad set of policies and candidates to each other across the kitchen table, is figuring out how you and your neighbors can best cooperate with each other, practice solidarity and withdraw from maintaining and collaborating with the state. People who would never respond to a smaller-government candidate or a libertarian ideological pitch often will act very differently when you open up opportunities to support grassroots alternatives and withdraw from the day-to-day inhumanities of war taxes, regulations, police, prisons, borders, and the state-supported and state-supporting corporate capitalist economy. Meanwhile, those who talk all day about changing votes, and building parties to more effectively capture a few more votes here and there, and have nothing else to offer, are wasting time, resources, and organizing energy on efforts that are not merely futile, but in fact actively lethal to any hope of motivating and coordinating effective practical action.

See also:

  1. [1] The basic idea: L4 would encompass some of the material we already have (Chaplin’s General Strike, Carson’s Ethics of Labor Struggle) and a lot of new and classic material, with new titles published at regular intervals, all with the basic underlying goal of (1) providing some decent labor-oriented materials for ALL locals, and (2) providing a decent source (mostly, currently, lacking) for IWW local organizing committees and other radical labor efforts to find some decently produced, low-cost booklet-style materials for lit drops and outreach tables, beyond just the IW, Anarcho-Syndicalist Review, and the relatively expensive books you can purchase through GHQ.
  2. [2] [After an inconclusive floor debate in convention. —RG]

Friday’s Reading: one on post-WWII bohemian-anarchism, one on early anarcho-capitalism, and some mutualist portraits

I spent most of the day booked with a consulting client and doing some house-cleaning, which was much-needed anyway but especially so in light of an impending family visit from Michigan and from Maine. Still, I had the time to catch up on some things I’ve been meaning to read. It all turned out to be PDFs I’d accumulated, but now that I have a Kindle (thanks to a Christmas present) it’s actually no longer excruciating for me to sit around reading PDFs. In any case:

  • I got the chance to read The New Cult of Sex and Anarchy (!), Mildred Edie Brady’s shocking exposé of the emerging Northern California counter-culture — of 1947. (The article went into the April 1947 issue of Harpers. (Suggested by Jesse Walker.)

    This is, roughly, the intellectual and artistic milieu that the Beats would eventually emerge from, and monopolize in the public consciousness; but that particular coffeeklatsch was still 10 years away from their public breakthrough, and in 1947 there was a lot more attention on Henry Miller, California surrealism, and the occasional cameo by Man Ray and Kenneth Rexroth. I should say that the article is not as stupidly alarmist as the title that some editor no doubt inflicted on it; maybe the whole thing would have read like more of an awful calumny when the story was published, on the eve of the Great Sexual Backlash, when sexualism was something more hotly contested than it now is.

    Anyway the sex part in the article has to do with the author’s obsession with the bohemian mens’ obsession with Wilhelm Reich. The anarchy part refers, by turns, either to an artistic radical indifference to State and social authority; or, at times, to genuine intellectual anarchism. Anyway, I don’t know that the article will offer you any really deep insights, but it’s fun, and a nice time-piece, and also a rare glimpse (even if distinctly from the outside) of the anarchist/bohemian milieu, such as it was, in the now-rarely-discussed, now-mostly-forgotten years just after World War II. It also told me little about, but gave me the titles of, a number of new little publications to chase down. Anyway. Here’s some of the interesting, and some of the ugly, on the part of the subjects:

    Pacifica Views was openly anarchist and its influence was enhanced by the sympathetic representation of the [Conscientious Objector’s] position in the community. Its editor, George B. Reeves, successfully accomplished this not only through the magazine itself but also in the Human Events pamphlet Men Against the State. Even in Pacifica Views, however, the anarchism-sexualism tie was aired by several weeks’ discussion of Wilhelm Reich’s thesis and the magazine’s political position was embellished with a sure come-on for the young—sexual freedom for the adolescent and the deep political significance that lies in developing a healthy sexuality among the masses of the people who are endemically neurotic and sexually sick.

    ANARCHISM is, of course, nothing new to the West. There have been in both Seattle and San Francisco small anarchist groups ever since the first World War and before, and remnants of them have persisted. Some are hangovers from the days of the Wobblies. Others are made up of first and second generation European immigrants—like the San Francisco group, the Libertarians, which is largely Italian. All during the thirties these small groups existed without benefit of attention from young intellectuals who in those days were most apt to be thumping their typewriters on behalf of the United Front.

    Not long after December 7, 1941, however, the poet Kenneth Rexroth left the ranks of the Communists in San Francisco and turned both anarchist and pacifist. Around him, as around Miller, there collected a group of young intellectuals and writers who met weekly in self-education sessions, reading the journals of the English anarchists, studying the old-line anarchist philosophers like Kropotkin, and leavening the politics liberally with psychoanalytic interpretations from Reich. It was and is, however, a decidedly literary group in which politics is all but submerged by art, where poems, not polemics, are written, and where D. H. Lawrence outshines Bakunin—Lawrence the philosopher, of Fantasia and the Unconscious rather than Lawrence the novelist.

    Nevertheless, the anarchism of this group is taken seriously enough to call forth tokens to the political as well as the sexual; and at meetings of the Libertarians, today, you will be apt to find young intellectuals sprinkled among the moustachioed papas and bosomed mamas [sic! Really? —R.G.] who, until recently, had no such high-toned co-operation. In this particular group around Rexroth, the Henry Miller kind of anarchism is held to be irresponsible, for Miller goes so far on the lonely individualistic trail as to sneer at even anarchist organization.

    To the outside observer, however, the differences between the Miller adherents and the Rexroth followers are more than outweighed by their similarities. They both reject rationalism, espouse mysticism, and belong to the select few who are orgastically potent. And they both share in another attitude that sets them sharply apart from the bohemians of the twenties. They prefer their women subdued—verbally and intellectually.

    No budding Edna St. Vincent Millay or caustic Dorothy Parker appears at their parties. If the girls want to get along they learn, pretty generally, to keep their mouths shut, to play the role of the quiet and yielding vessel through which man finds the cosmos. Although there are a few women writers found now and then in Circle [a prominent literary magazine from the San Francisco scene] — Anais Nin is a favorite and Maude Phelps Hutchins (wife of Robert Hutchins, chancellor of the University of Chicago) has appeared—the accepted view of both the wome nand the men seems to be that woman steps out of her cosmic destiny when the goal of her endeavor shifts beyond bed and board. This doesn’t mean that the women are economically dependent, however. Most of the girls hold down jobs. But the job is significant only in that it contributes to a more satisfactory board.

    — Mildred Edie Brady (1947), The New Cult of Sex and Anarchy, Harper’s (April 1947).

    Well, nobody could say that revolooshunerry chauvinism is some kind of new problem in the scene; Manarchy abides.

  • I also finished off Jarret Wollstein’s Society Without Coercion: A New Concept of Social Organization (1969), one of the first documents (to my knowledge) to advocate self-described, self-identified anarcho-capitalism. Wollstein was a dissident Objectivist (less dissident and more uniformly Objectivist-influenced than, say, Roy Childs). It’s been suggested that Wollstein was the first to coin the phrase anarcho-capitalism. I don’t know if that’s right or not, but in any case here’s some of his reasons for employing the term; in this one he mentions it as a term already floating around the circles he’s a part of.

    2.4 Naming A Free Society

    To name the social system of a free society is not as nominal a task as at first it may appear to be. It is not only the existence of complete social freedom which is absent from today’s world, but also the idea of such freedom. There is, in truth, probably no word in the English language which properly denotes and connotes the concept of the social system of a free society.

    A number of persons who have recognized the fallacies in the advocacy of not just this or that government, but who have also recognized the inherent contradiction in government itself (such as Murray Rothbard and Karl Hess) have decided that since archy means rule, or the presence of government — which they are against — they will designate their sociological position as anarchy — no rule, or the total absence of government. This decision is unfortunate, to say the least, since it embodies several epistemological fallacies. Firstly, the term anarchy is a negative one; to say that one is for anarchy is only to say that one is against government. It is not to say what are the positive social forms which one advocates. This may be perfectly fine if one, in fact, advocates no positive social forms. However, if one advocates freedom and its economic expression laissez-faire capitalism, the designation anarchy or anarchism, of itself, will hardly suffice. Secondly, anarchy merely means no rule not no coercion. It is perfectly possible to have an anarchist society with coercion initiated by random individuals and robber gangs. So long as these persons do not claim legal sanction or create formal and enduring institutions, one would have a very coercive anarchist society. Further, it is possible for there to be an anarchist society in which no force was initiated, although due to the personal irrationality and mysticism of its occupants, no rational person would want to live in it. For example, imagine a society occupied exclusively by non-violent schizophrenics, or equivalently, by Zen Buddhists. [sic. Really? —RG]

    Less important, but also significant, is the fact that the term anarchy, in present usage, has come to mean not only no rule but also has come to imply social chaos and senseless violence. This is a corruption of the original meaning of the term, but nevertheless it makes the word anarchy an impediment rather than an implement to communicating the concept of a free society. When one wishes to defend in principle and implement in reality a free society, it is irrational to deliberately choose a term which one knows will alienate, at the outset, persons with whom one eventually intends to deal.

    Another term has been suggested by Robert LeFevre, advocate of the free market and founder of Ramparts College [sic—RG] in California. Mr. LeFevre rejects the term anarchy primarily because of its past close association with collectivism and, recognizing the fallacy of limited government, proposes in its stead the word autarchy, meaning self-rule. Again this term suffers several epistemological faults. It fails to state how one should rule oneself, and in fact says nothing about the nature of social order.

    Next we have the term voluntarism, also advocated by many proponents of the term anarchism. This expression is superior to the term anarchy in that it does exclude coercion from its subsumed concept of social order. It is therefore acceptable for this communicative purpose. However, several necessary differentia in the valid concept of a free society are still lacking. Conceivably one could have a voluntary collectivist society (at least for a while), in which individuals voluntarily become slaves, as well as a voluntary individualist society, in which the individual is his [sic —RG] own master. Consequently, this term is not fully satisfactory.

    A phrase in increasingly popular use which I advocate as the best presently available specification of the socio-economic position of persons advocating a society of consistent rational freedom is anarcho-capitalism. Here the prefix anarcho indicates the lack of coercive government, and the word capitalism indicates the positive presence of free trade based upon respect for man’s [sic] rights. This term is not ideal: the prefix anarcho has negative semantic value, and the term capitalism is intimately associated with the present American statist mixed economy. However, it would seem to be the best term which we now have, and consequently we will use it (and in more limited contexts voluntarism) in the remainder of this essay.

    — Jarret B. Wollstein (1969), Society Without Coercion: A New Concept of Social Organization. Society for Rational Individualism. 21-22.

    A bit further down there’s also some material on strategy. After rejecting retreatism, and purely theoretical education, Wollstein advocates counter-institutions. Sort of….

    4.1 Alternatives to Government Institutions

    How often have you presented a brilliantly stated, logically air-tight thesis to a collectivist only to have him [sic] say, That’s fine in theory, but in practice it wouldn’t work. THis of course is an absurdity, but it is next to impossible to convince most collectivists of this fact by purely forensic ability. Clearly, if we are to convince the great majority of American intellectuals, something more than logical theorizing is necessary.

    What I propose is the actual creation of alternatives to government institutions — initially schools, post offices, fire departments and charity; later, roads, police, courts and armed forces. Libertarians recognize that government services are hopelessly obsolete and inherently economically unsound. With the present system it is patently impossible to assess the costs of education and police investigations at all. Rather than trying to politically convince two hundred million Americans that this is so on the basis of rational economic theory, libertarians should instead demonstrate the fact by actually creating the far superior institutions of a free society. Fire departments, schools and post offices should immediately be set up by men and women who understand the free market and who are competent as businessmen [sic].

    One way to do this would be for rational businessmen [sic] to cooperate with libertarian students and theorists in order to establish such enterprises as franchise operations, using all of the skills of modern industry. Simultaneously, libertarians should act politically to free the market to facilitate these enterprises; meanwhile theoreticians should attempt to infiltrate the mass media, or start their own popular magazines and telecommunications facilities to emphasize to the American people that these institutions are working far better than their governmental equivalents; and then to explain why they are doing so. Such a dramatic demonstration of the efficacy of the free market might well accomplish what mere talk alone is unable to do: free America.

    How can the men and women of America fail to understand the value of freedom in all areas of human enterprise when private post offices, roads and police are actually providing far better services than government is capable of delivering?

    — Jarret B. Wollstein (1969), Society Without Coercion: A New Concept of Social Organization. Society for Rational Individualism. 40.

  • Finally, I got a start on Dear Tucker: The Letters from John Henry Mackay to Benjamin R. Tucker, which run from 1905 to 1933 (ed. and trans. by Hubert Kennedy, 2002). I haven’t gotten deep enough in for any interesting pull-quotes from the text. But I did come across these rad portraits of Clarence Lee Swartz (a frequent contributor to Liberty and author of What Is Mutualism?) and Steven T. Byington (another frequent Liberty correspondent, founder of Liberty’s Anarchist Letter Writing Corps, and the translator of Stirner). Both photos are from the Labadie Collection.

    Clarence Lee Swartz (1868-1936)

    Steven T. Byington (1869-1957)

Ignorance and Markets

This is an unsigned editorial from the January 2009 issue of Philosophy (vol. 84, no. 327). Submitted for comment, without much commentary from my end. (Yet.)

Editorial: Ignorance and Markets

It may not be true that no one predicted the recent crash in the financial world. But it is certainly true that most well-informed observers and participants, including most importantly those who believed they were actually running things, were caught unawares. If they had been aware, they would have been able to avoid the worst consequences, at least for themselves, and even profit from the situation.

The 2008 financial crash has been compared to the fall of the Berlin Wall, in that just as the one signalled the end of an uncritical belief in socialism, at least of a centralised sort, the other signals the end to an uncritical belief in markets.

Let us leave aside the point that the markets of 2008 were actually heavily regulated in all sorts of ways, and so hardly unfettered. There is in fact an interesting parallel between 1989 and 2008 in one significant respect. Both events were largely unforeseen.

In one sense this is encouraging. For all our knowledge and technology there is much, even in human affairs, which is unpredictable and uncontrollable. This is, in a sense, judgment on hubris. It can also be liberating, particularly for those who do not see themselves as masters of the universe.

But should 2008 be seen as a decisive moment as far as belief in markets is concerned? Much will depend on what is meant by a market, no easy question when, as already mentioned, no markets to-day are unfettered, and are not likely to be in the foreseeable future.

We should, though, not forget that for followers of Adam Smith, such as Hayek, one of the main philosophical arguments in favour of markets was precisely the unpredictability of human action and of events more generally. From this perspective markets are not seen as perfect predictors, which there cannot be. But in situations of uncertainty they are seen as the most efficient and least hazardous way of disseminating information in a society and of responding to what cannot be predicted. It would be somewhat paradoxical if a failure of prediction was in itself taken to be an argument against a system which takes unpredictability as its starting point.

— Philosophy 84 (2009), 1. Cambridge University Press.

Thoughts?

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.

“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.

TO DRIVE ANARCHISTS OUT OF THE COUNTRY


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


INDORSED BY ROOSEVELT


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.

Have You A Country? (Revolt, January 15, 1916)

This is a letter published in Vol. I, No. 2 of Revolt (dated January 15th, 1916), an Anarchist newspaper edited by Hippolyte Havel and published by the Revolt Publishing Association, 63 East 107th Street, New York, N. Y. The copy came to us by way of a facsimile edition published by The Match!, a journal of Ethical Anarchism, published from Tucson, Arizona. The letter was contributed by Robert Minor, and appears on pp. 6-7 of the issue.

British Labor shows fight. The army poison hasnt twisted their brains as much as their bosses had hoped for. It gives a fellow’s heart a quicker throb to know that even in the mob-crazy war country, Labor can hold up its head and be Labor still. In times of peace, workers know that capitalists are their enemies; in time of war they are often fools enough to go fight their friend workers of another country for the sake of the capitalist enemies that they have been fighting at all other times. They’ve got to learn better, and it looks as though the English are learning. Hurrah for the English! (That means English Labor, not the Greedy British Empire, their greatest enemy.)

They are not perfect by a long sight, but neither are we, nor any other labor. They are improving, that’s the point. They have got their bosses so badly worried as to be afraid to make a daring stand for their crooked privileges. It is really amusing. Go to it, friends; you may weaken and be fooled later on, but even then, the little start you have made in defying conscription will not be forgotten, and the world will profit by the example.

May we do as well here in America. It’s our turn now. Conscription is at the door, the back door, trying to sneak in. Stand up, American Labor! You ought to do even better, without the disadvantage of actual war upon you. You haven’t any country. No labor, anywhere, has any country. So don’t be patriotic. Be Labor. And fight to GET your country, not to help your bosses hold it.

HAVE you a country? Then, why do you pay rent?

Robert Minor.

Emma Goldman Now Alien (New York Times, April 9, 1909)

This is a side column from Page 2 of the New York Times on April 9, 1909, reporting the U.S. Attorney’s success in convincing a federal court to strip Emma Goldman of her citizenship, which she had gained by marriage to a naturalized citizen in 1887.

EMMA GOLDMAN NOW ALIEN.

Deprived of Rights of Citizenship by Disenfranchisement of Her Husband.
Special to The New York Times.

Buffalo, N.Y., April 8.–Judge Hazel, in the United States Court this morning, granted an order canceling the citizenship papers of Jacob A. Kersner. Through this order all rights of citizenship also are taken from Kersner’s wife, who is none other than Emma Goldman, the woman leader of the Anarchists in this country, whose fiery teachings, it was charged by many, incited Leon Czolgosz to the assassination of President McKinley.

The order was granted upon motion of Special United States Attorney P. S. Chambers of Pittsburg, and the evidence upon which it was based was presented principally by Kersner’s own father, who was subpoenaed from his home at Rochester.

Kersner obtained his citizenship documents in 1884, when the statutes governing such procedure were quite lax compared with the present laws. He was two years under age at the time. Three years later he married Emma Goldman. She was a foreigner herself, but by virtue of her marriage to a citizen she was clothed with the rights of citizenship. Emma was only a girl, then, and had barely begun the career that later connected her so closely with the Reds in the public eye.

The New York Times (April 9, 1909), Page 2.